Tag Archives: MTOBA

A Midwest Thoroughbred double feature

I have a pair of stories in the latest news cycle of The Midwest Thoroughbred magazine.

The print edition features a preview story for the upcoming meet at Indiana Downs. The Shelbyville, Ind. track had a banner year in 2010, and faces the unique challenge of keeping that positive momentum going. To find out how they plan to do it, I spoke to racing secretary Raymond “Butch” Cook and trainer Randy Klopp, who is also president of the Indiana HBPA.

Click here to read my preview of the 2011 Indiana Downs meet.

On the publication’s website, I have a feature on Michigan’s breeding industry. The story discusses the impact the state’s flagging business has had on its breeding operations, and highlights five of its top stallions. To get some insight on Michigan’s breeding industry I spoke to Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association president Patti Dickinson, trainer/breeder James Jackson, McMaster Farm manager Dan Boik and breeder EJ Hubel.

Click here to read my story on Michigan’s breeding industry.

Also, if you’ll notice on page six, I have been added to the publication’s masthead as a contributing editor. I’m honored to be part of the team.

This is not the first time I have had work published in The Midwest Thoroughbred. Back in September, I interviewed jockey and trainer Richard Rettele for the magazine’s “Jockey Shorts” section.

The Midwest Thoroughbred is a fantastic publication for readers interested in horse racing in the region, and the effect its native sons and daughters have on the national scene. Though the magazine focuses its coverage on the business in Illinois and Indiana, it frequently covers topics pertaining to racing in surrounding states, including Michigan, Ohio, Iowa and Kentucky.

The publication is getting better with every issue, and is definitely worth the time to check out. And I’m not just saying that because I write for them. The feature writing is creative, entertaining and covers topics that the national publications may overlook.

I’d like to thank The Midwest Thoroughbred for having me on board, and I look forward to working together in the future.

If you like what you see, click here to subscribe to The Midwest Thoroughbred.

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Michigan Notebook: January 19, 2011

- The Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association is hosting its annual¬†Stallion Season Auction on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Bidding will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This year’s auction features seasons from some of the best sires Michigan has to offer. Perennial leaders such as Demaloot Demashoot, Elusive Hour, Syncline and the state’s 2010 stallion of the year Equality will have seasons up for bids, along with up-and-comers like Fire Blitz, Comedy Show, Monetary Star and Gainango. The sale also features out-of-state sires from Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Loiusiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

For more information on the auction, and for a constantly updating list of the sires involved, click here.

- The Michigan HBPA board has voted to focus negotiations for the 2011 Thoroughbred meet on Pinnacle Race Course for the time being. From the Michigan HBPA website

The Michigan HBPA board met Tuesday to discuss the 2011 live season, during the meeting the board took a “straw poll” as to what track they preferred to have the 2011 meet. The board moved to prefer Pinnacle and work through the issues until March 1, 2011 and pursue other options at that time, if necessary.

- MTOBA has rolled out a multi-pronged effort to increase its web presence. The organization recently opened up a Facebook fan page and Twitter account to go along with it’s redesigned website. Be sure to include Michigan’s Thoroughbred owners and breeders in your social networking endeavors.

- Voting for the Michigan-Bred Claimer Photo of the Year poll is still open and will remain so through the end of the month. The clubhouse leader is photo #18, titled “Affection”, depicting newly-crowned Horse of the Year Zenyatta and her groom Mario Espinoza in the Churchill Downs shedrow. If you agree with that outcome and want to lock it down, or if you think another photo is more deserving, the cutoff date is sometime during Feb. 1. Don’t get shut out!

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Michigan Thoroughbred of the Decade (2000-2010)

Another year is quickly coming to a close.

Year-end honors are being awarded or debated, while racing fans and participants alike are reflecting on the 2010 racing calendar.

The end of 2010 also allows for the opportunity to reflect on a much bigger scale. Depending on one’s guidelines for defining the decades, we are either wrapping up the current ten-year stretch or we are in the midst of the ’10s.

Either way, enough time has elapsed to discuss the last decade in Michigan Thoroughbred racing – the highs, the lows and all points in between. For the purposes of this post, we will focus on the highs.

Over the last 11 years (to account for both schools of thought and avoid confusion we’ll include 2010), Michigan has produced solid runners on the local, regional and national levels. Michigan has proven it can produce a Thoroughbred that compete anywhere.

This state has had some good ones in the ’00s, and it is time to decide who is the Michigan-bred Thoroughbred of the decade?

Behind the jump are ten horses whose careers have put them head and shoulders above the rest of their Michigan-bred counterparts. Some have exemplified dominance at Michigan’s Thoroughbred ovals, Great Lakes Downs and Pinnacle Race Course. Others have competed, and won, at some of the most prestigious racetracks in the world.

Each horse on the list has a reasonable claim to the title. The resumes for each candidate are included to display that claim and help voters make their decisions.

Does the flash of brilliance Cashier’s Dream showed in her tragically short career put her over the top? Tenpins’ graded stakes coups? Secret Romeo’s regional dominance? Valley Loot’s success in the latter half of the decade? Meadow Vespers’ near-invincibility in the Sire Stakes? That Gift’s transition from a stakes-level competitor to a hard knocker? Rockem Sockem’s staying power in the middle of the decade? Sefa’s Rose’s ownership of her division? Weatherstorm’s quick start? The early-decade success of Born to Dance?

To make your selection, just go to the poll on the left side of the page and click on the horse you feel is the most deserving of the title “Michigan Thoroughbred of the Decade”. Feel free to back up your vote or campaign for a horse in the comments. I look forward to hearing some constructive debate on the subject and reminiscence on the careers of the state’s best.

And the nominees are…

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Meadow Magic named MTOBA’s 2010 Horse of the Year

The connections of Michigan Horse of the Year Meadow Magic celebrate their victory with MTOBA president Patti Dickinson.

Meadow Magic took his place among Michigan’s elite after earning Horse of the Year honors at Sunday’s Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association year-end awards dinner.

The three-year-old Meadow Prayer gelding punched his ticket on the strength of his wins in this year’s Dowling Stakes and Michigan Sire Stakes, along with finishes on the board in the Mackinac Handicap and Lansing Stakes, all at Pinnacle Race Course. He was the only horse to win multiple stakes races during Pinnacle’s 2010 meet.

Meadow Magic is owned by Laura Jackson and Red Riding Hood Stable, the nom de race of George and Chrissy Kutlenios. He resides in the barn of trainer James Jackson. Those connections celebrated another award earlier in afternoon when Paris Prayer was named champion two-year-old filly.

Arnold Farm, perennially successful at the year-end awards, had another strong showing in 2010. The Hillsdale Mich. farm accounted for four trophies on the afternoon, including Breeder of the Year. Co-Stallion of the Year Meadow Prayer, who stood at Arnold Farm, sired the most award-winners in 2010, with three divisional champions, as well as the horse of the year.

Also taking home their fair share of awards was Owner of the Year Mast Thoroughbreds, who earned honors in both older horse divisions.

On a personal note, I took home my usual awesome haul in the silent auction. I came home with box seats and a dinner package from Arlington Park (got this last year and it was awesome), a gift basket from Hoosier Park and an American Racing Manual from 1972.

As one of the people who helped broker donations for the silent auction, I would like to personally thank Arabian Finish Line Magazine, Midwest Thoroughbred Magazine, Hoosier Park, ThoroFan and Hello Race Fans for their generosity. Others who donated include publications Thoroughbred Times, Blood Horse and Daily Racing Form; information services Equineline and BRISNet; racing organizations Breeders’ Cup and NTRA; stallion farms Adena Springs, Darley America, Hill ‘n Dale Farm and Winstar Farm; and many more, including contributions by several MTOBA members.

One final note related to the silent auction – The Zenyatta Breyer Christmas ornament is easily the Tickle-Me-Elmo of the 2010 holiday season. Its combination of low supply, high demand and the white-hot popularity of its subject make it a coveted item. There was one offered in the silent auction, and it did not take long for it to surpass its Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. For those that seek it, I can only wish them good luck on their journey.

For a list of all the nominees and winners from the 2010 MTOBA year-end awards, click the link below.

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Horsemen’s groups pay Gaming Control Board to keep Pinnacle open

The Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association website reports that the additional funds demanded by the Michigan Gaming Control Board to continue regulation at Pinnacle Race Course have been paid.

The Gaming Control Board requested $57,000 by noon on Friday, or else it would not regulate the weekend’s races, effectively shutting the track down. The money was provided by the state’s HBPA and the Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

It was not stated whether the full amount was paid or if a deal was reached to pay in installments over the remainder of the meet.

In April, Michigan’s horsemen’s groups paid the Gaming Control Board over $170,000 from its overnight purse pool after the regulatory body announced it would only regulate two days of racing at Pinnacle without additional funding.

The per diem cost of regulation has steadily risen over the last year and a half. In 2009, the Gaming Control Board required $4,300 per day to operate. When it was announced in March that the board would only regulate two days without additional support, that figure rose to $5,923. The most recent figure to come from the Gaming Control Board stated it would actually require $7,000 per race day to regulate Thoroughbred racing.

In protest to Gaming Control Board’s latest invoice, the HBPA filed an emergency motion with the Wayne County Court to stop the regulatory body from halting the races. The motion was denied, but a hearing was scheduled for Sept. 21.

For a Detroit Free Press story outlining the situation, click here.

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Filed under Pinnacle Race Course, Politics

Michigan Notebook: August 26, 2010

Jockey Oscar Delgado has found success at tracks across the country, including Mount Pleasant Meadows.

- Crain’s Detroit Business has been monitoring the situation surrounding Pinnacle Race Course’s sale of a parcel of land to the Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa Indians and the ensuing controversy it has generated in the local government. The publication has published several updates since the deal was publicly announced, outlining Pinnacle’s economic situation, tax snafus by the Huron Township government, and concerns by local leaders about the handling of Pinnacle’s incentives to purchase and build on the property.

Here is a list of stories published on the site in recent days. There are some inaccuracies in a few of the details (most notably suggesting the racetracks themselves are footing the bill for additional State regulation when it is actually coming from the horsemen’s purse pools), but the general idea paints an unsettling picture of the relationship between the track and local government.

8-25 – Text of Wayne County Commission’s concerns about Pinnacle Race Course

8-25 – Commissioners weigh legal issues of Pinnacle land deal

8-24 – Tax bill snafu puts Pinnacle in arrears, Racecourse fights assessments, battles other financial problems

- Detroit News editorial page editor Nolan Finley discussed the state government’s treatment of Michigan’s horse racing industry in his column on Thursday. Finley notes the hypocrisy of offering movie studios hundreds of millions in breaks and incentives to film in Michigan, while leaving horse racing, an industry that generates money for the state and provides jobs without the massive state investments, out to dry. Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association president Patti Dickinson and Pinnacle Race Course owner Jerry Campbell are quoted in the piece, as is spokeswoman for Governor Jennifer Granholm, Liz Boyd.

- Hoosier Park put out a news item on Aug. 12 about Quarter Horse jockey Oscar Delgado, also a regular at Mount Pleasant Meadows. The piece profiles Delgado’s life and racing career, where he has won riding titles at Mount Pleasant and the inaugural Quarter Horse meet at Hialeah Park. He also discusses racing against his brother, Juan, who is among the leading Quarter Horse riders at Mount Pleasant and the Indiana circuit. Oscar Delgado currently hangs his tack at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.

- The Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association Yearling Sale is this Sunday at the Michigan State University Pavilion’s south barn. The yearling show begins ay 9 a.m. followed by the sale at 1 p.m.. For an online catalog of the sale, click here. To view this site’s preview of Sunday’s sale, click here.

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Bubble Watch

Will Meadow Wise be Michigan's THoroughbred of the Year in 2009? He's as live as any.

Will Meadow Wise be Michigan's Thoroughbred of the Year in 2009? He's as live as any.

The Sire Stakes has a way of sorting things out when it comes to year-end awards.

In 2008, the winners of the marquee race’s six divisions accounted for all seven of the Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s awards (one for each division and horse of the year) and six of the seven awards from Pinnacle Race Course, as decided by the track’s announcer, Matt Hook. Though the purses for this year’s installment will likely be no higher than the average stakes prize of $50,000, the races will no doubt still hold a special weight with voters.

With the Sire Stakes a week away, most of the division honors are still very much up for grabs. This Saturday will give the horses on the bubble a chance for a statement win to pad their resume.

With that in mind, let us take a look at each of the divisions and see who is in the driver’s seat heading into the Sire Stakes, who has some work to do, and who is grasping at straws.

In my forecasting of the divisions and their awards, I operated under the assumption that the Pinnacle awards are based solely on performance at the Detroit racetrack, while the MTOBA awards took into consideration the entire campaign of Michigan-breds in and out-of-state. If I am wrong in my assumptions don’t hesitate to correct me.

While reading these projections, keep in mind this analysis is strictly the opinion of this blogger. The views, rankings and projections do not necessarily represent those of the people actually deciding the year-end awards. These predictions are based on the horses’ projected paths through the end of the Pinnacle meet. If one of these horses goes crazy and takes down a graded race in Kentucky or something along those lines, these predictions will obviously change.

Now touch gloves and fight clean…

Two-Year-Old Male: With only one of the three stakes races for juvenile males complete, Prince of Paulie is the clubhouse leader by virtue of his win in the Sep. 12 Patrick Wood Stakes. Finishing first in either the Sire Stakes or the Michigan Futurity ought to be enough for the Meadow Prayer gelding to lock the award down with both groups. The horse with best chance of moving up should Prince of Paulie falter could be the runner-up in the Patrick Wood, Power of Titus. A win in the Sire Stakes would go a long way in grabbing the voters’ attention, especially if Prince of Paulie finishes off the board. The two-year-old season is just getting started in Michigan, so much is left to shake out.

Two-Year-Old Female: Similar to their male counterparts, Hustle Now holds the top spot in both jurisdictions on the strength of her victory in the Sep. 12 Sickle’s Image Stakes, the division’s only blacktype race to date. One more stakes win would give her two out of three, which ought to be enough. Second place finisher Top Touch showed a lot of grit during her stretch battle with Hustle Now in the Sickle’s Image. However she will be hard-pressed to shake her rival from her post because Top Touch is not eligible for the Sire Stakes. Her sire, Touch Gold, stands in Kentucky. A win in the Michigan Juvenile Fillies and some help might get the job done, though. All things considered, it is much too soon to declare solid favorites in this division. The picture for both juvenile classes will be much clearer after the Sire Stakes.

Three-Year-Old Male: Meadow Wise has shown up to every dance and has yet to turn in a clunker. A finish in the top two next Saturday will put him in the driver’s seat for year-end honors. Juggle and Perfect Start both have stakes wins to their credit, but would need a win in their next race (and for Juggle, probably some help) to overthrow Meadow Wise in either poll. Perfect Start’s out-of-state sire will likely keep him out of the discussion for the Pinnacle honors because he can not compete in the Sire Stakes. However, the Jump Start colt could have a date elsewhere on Sire Stakes day, as he is nominated for the Oct. 3 Ohio Derby (G2) at Thistledown. Regardless of what Meadow Wise does at Pinnacle, a graded stakes win might be enough to persuade MTOBA’s voters.

Three-Year-Old Female: This division has been a game of musical chairs between Moon Charmer, Hakuna Matata, and Baba Booyah. Each has finished in the top three in the last two sophomore filly stakes races and the orders have been shuffled each time, once even further by a disqualification. Heading into the Sire Stakes though, Moon Charmer holds the upper hand based on her win against older company, including 2008 Horse of the Year Valley Loot, in the Sep. 12 Farer Belle Lee Handicap. That win will need to leave a lasting impression, because the Indian Charlie filly will not be eligible for the Sire Stakes. Her two rivals need to win the Sire Stakes by a serious margin to offset a win against older company. A second place finish or worse by Hakuna Matata or Baba Booyah will likely dash their hopes for the sophomore filly honors.

Older Male: Meadow Vespers controls his own destiny in this division. A fifth straight Sire Stakes win, or maybe even a strong second or third, will clinch the older male title in both jurisdictions. His closest rivals, All I Can Get and Fiery Lake, will not be in the gates for next Saturday’s race and have not shown enough this year to pass the defending champion, which works even further to Meadow Vespers’ advantage. If Meadow Vespers should come up empty in the Sire Stakes, a dominant victory (at least five lengths and visually impressive) could vault perennial runners-up Hot Chili or Demagoguery into the discussion, but they would both face an uphill battle.

Older Female: Valley Loot has had a pretty good year by most standards, with a stakes win at Mountaineer and a third place finish in a $100,000 race at Presque Isle Downs. She just hasn’t done much winning at Pinnacle. Still, a first place finish on Saturday would clinch the MTOBA award and give her the inside track in the Pinnacle race. Having the name recognition as the defending Horse of the year doesn’t hurt either.¬†Yawm Estoora is the only horse on the grounds to have won two stakes races at Pinnacle this year, but her disappointing performance in the Farer Belle Lee and ineligibility in the Sire Stakes leaves her closing argument lacking. Her resume may be strong enough to win the Pinnacle award though, especially if Valley Loot runs poorly or skips the Sire Stakes for greener pastures.

Horse of the Year: If Meadow Wise wins his Sire Stakes race, he’ll hold all the cards for Horse of the Year in both polls. No one else will have run as consistently and successfully at Pinnacle throughout the meet. If he has an off day, the door is open for Meadow Vespers and Valley Loot, assuming they win their division’s races. Meadow Vespers would likely hold the advantage in the Pinnacle poll because he already has a stakes win at the track under his belt. Valley Loot’s complete body of work in 2009 would probably give her an advantage in the MTOBA awards. The wild card in this equation is Perfect Start. Michigan does not get too many graded stakes winners, so if he pulls the upset in the Ohio Derby, all bets are off, at least for the MTOBA award.

Those are my thoughts. Who do you think sits at the head of the class going into the Sire Stakes? Who has some work left to do? I invite your discussion on Michigan’s six divisions and Horse of the Year honors.

Look for previews of the Sire Stakes races throughout the upcoming week.

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