Louisiana Bred Believe in Bertie Looks to Rebound in Mint Julep

Believe in Bertie Looks to Rebound in Mint Julep
Photo: Hodges Photographyy / Amanda Hodges Weir

Believe in Bertie won the Red Camelia Stakes in March

Klein Racing’s homebred Believe in Bertie, first or second in 10 of 12 starts, tops the field of seven fillies and mares entered in the $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap (G3T) June 10 at Churchill Downs.

The Mint Julep Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile test over the Matt Winn Turf Course, is carded as race 10 on an 11-race program with an approximate post time of 5:21 p.m. EDT.

A Louisiana-bred daughter of Langfuhr   trained by Brad Cox, the 4-year-old Believe in Bertie is coming off a game head runner-up effort to favored Roca Rojo in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by Longines (G2T) on the  Derby Day undercard. Trained by Chad Brown, Roca Rojo is among the top contenders for the grade 1 Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park Saturday.

The Distaff Turf effort ended a four-race win streak for Believe in Bertie, who won a trio of stakes wins this winter at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots led by a 7 3/4-length romp in the Pago Hop Stakes at one mile on turf and a half-length triumph in the Daisy Devine Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on grass. Topweighted at 122 pounds, $393,682-earner Believe in Bertie will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, who won last year’s Mint Julep with Cash Control for Richard Klein’s Klein Racing and Cox. The Klein family also took the 2013 edition of the race with Miz Ida.

Expected to give the front-running Believe in Bertie a stiff challenge is Janis R. Whitham’s Whitham Thoroughbreds’ 4-year-old homebred Linda, third in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile for trainer Ian Wilkes. Unplaced in only one of 10 starts and with earnings of $336,110, the 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly typically settles off the early pace before making a late run.

Over the Churchill turf course and at the same distance as the Mint Julep, Linda last year won the grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes to complete her sophomore season. The filly began her 2017 campaign with a third in the Honey Fox Stakes (G2T) won by Celestine at Gulfstream Park.

Dona Bruja, a homebred for Ivan Gasparotto’s Dom Felipe stable, will be making her U.S. debut in the Mint Julep after beginning her career in Argentina. Trained by Ignacios Correas, the 5-year-old mare has won eight of 10 starts, with two seconds, including the group 1 Copa de Plata Roberto Vasquez Mansilla Internacional over 1 1/4 miles on turf at San Isidro in her most recent start last December and was named champion older female. She has been with Correas at Keeneland this spring.

Old Forester Mint Julep H. (G3T)

Churchill Downs, Saturday, June 10, 2017, Race 10
  • 1 1/16m
  • Turf
  • $100,000
  • 3 yo’s & up Fillies and Mares
  • 5:21 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1Believe in Bertie (LA) Shaun Bridgmohan 122 Brad H. Cox 7/5
2 2Majestic Angel (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Joseph Rocco, Jr. 113 Eric R. Reed 30/1
3 3Sky My Sky (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Sophie Doyle 116 Mark E. Casse 9/2
4 4Dona Bruja (ARG) Declan Cannon 119 Ignacio Correas, IV 3/1
5 5Lots o’ Lex (KY) Calvin H. Borel 114 Gerald Russel Aschinger 15/1
6 6Dynazar (KY) Gabriel Saez 115 Dallas Stewart 15/1
7 7Linda (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 121 Ian R. Wilkes 5/2

TRF Fundraising Initiative Gives Ownership Feel

TRF Fundraising Initiative Gives Ownership Feel
Photo: Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation

Esteemed Friend, who won more than $800,000 in 69 starts, is part of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s herd

An initiative launched by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation gives donors an opportunity to help provide for the care of a former racehorse while getting the feel of horse ownership without the added responsibilities.

If a donor chooses to become a sponsor, which starts at $250, the TRF will send regular updates on the horse and may allow visits as well, depending on the horse’s location.

“It is like having your own horse,” said Jennifer Stevens, assistant director of development and horse sponsorship for TRF.

“Horse Sponsors receive a personalized package about their horse that includes pedigree, past performances, and photos of the horse. In addition, there are different gifts depending on donation level,” she said, adding that most of the horses available for sponsorship are part of TRF’s Second Chances program at correctional facilities.

“Throughout the year we send updates on the horse with photos whenever possible. Most people want the option to visit their horse, and we can usually arrange that depending on the program that particular horse is in. It is best to know if someone wants to visit before we pick out their horse,” Stevens said.

With 24 locations in nine states across the United States, the 800-horse herd owned by TRF consists of some adoptable off-track Thoroughbreds and many long-term retirees that are unable to be ridden or adopted (around 200 of their horses are 20 years old or older). The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance-accredited organization estimates that many of these lifers—most of the horses needing sponsorship—will remain in their care for 10-15 years and cost approximately $2,500 per year per horse. This puts the cost for one off-track Thoroughbred anywhere from $25,000 to $37,500 for the organization. While some breeders or past owners help pay for their care, the organization said only 5% of its herd is fully supported by former connections.

From the sponsor’s perspective, the way Stevens and the TRF view it, $250 for one year is a workable donation for many who are interested in giving to a charity. While a $2,500 platinum sponsorship may be out of reach for an individual, groups of horse lovers have joined forces to share in a retired racer like a syndicate.

“Sponsorship starts at $250. If you break that down it is only $20.83 per month, which is really like one lunch out,” she said. “Our goal is to get at least $1,000 for each horse. A platinum sponsorship fully takes care of a horse for one year for less than $3 a day. Often there are several people sponsoring the same horse that allows us to get to that level. One group of friends even created a ‘Syndicares’ sponsorship where each person pledged $1 a day to care for a horse we rescued.”

Some of the horses needing sponsors are listed on the TRF’s website along with short biographies that Stevens hopes will grab someone’s attention or spark a memory of good times at the track.

For horse lovers unable to have one of their own, a TRF sponsorship may offer a next-best option.

“Usually someone will choose a horse who speaks to them in some way—the name, the pedigree, where it raced, the physical location of the horse or sometimes just how the horse looks will remind them of a horse they once knew or loved,” Stevens said. “Sponsoring a horse is a great way for people who love horses or racing to help out a former racehorse.”


By Eric Mitchell

Louisiana freshman sire Flashpoint’s rst runner eventually become his first winner when Flashy Coop took a five-furlong maiden claiming race May 19 at Hipodromo de las Americas in Mexico City.

The colt out of Cajun Camp, by Forest Camp, was making his fourth start for the ownership entity Cuadra X and trainer Vicente Flores Lomeli. He placed third in his first two starts and came into the May 19 race off an unplaced effort four weeks ago. In breaking his maiden, Flashy Coop stopped the timer in 1:00 2/5.

Bred by Gerard Melancon in Louisiana, Flashy Coop sold through 5 B Farm’s consignment at the 2016 Equine Sales of Louisiana yearling sale for $1,500 to Enrique Cantarell. Cajun Camp has now produced three winners out of five foals to race.

Flashpoint is a 9-year-old son of Pomeroy—Two Punch Lil, by Two Punch, who raced for John Fort’s Peachtree Stable. He won the 2011 Hutcheson Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park and the Jersey Shore Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park. He also won or placed in four other black-type stakes. He retired with a 5-1-2 record out of 15 starts and earned $361,722.

The stallion retired to stud at Brett Brinkman’s La Mesa Stallions near Carencro, La., where he stands for $1,500. Flashpoint has 32 foals in his first crop.

Stewart String Poised for Top Class Summer


Trainer Dallas Stewart knows how to get the good ones right and that is exactly what he is doing with stable star Forever Unbridled.

Given a little extra time following an ambitious and fruitful 2016 campaign, the daughter of Unbridled’s Song has returned to training for the Kentucky-based, New Orleans native.

“She’s doing great,” Stewart said of the Charles Fipke homebred. “She worked (May 20) going a half-mile in :48 4/5, so she’s coming along well. We’re looking at four races this year, hopefully. We’re hoping to make the (Longines) Breeders’ Cup (Distaff, G1) again. She’s coming along and she looks great.”

The daughter of Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Lemons Forever has two registered works since returning to Stewart’s Churchill Downs barn, including a May 13 three-furlong drill in :37 flat. Last year, she had a 10-month, six-start campaign that included victories in a pair of grade 1 events—the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park in October and the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April—and the grade 3 Houston Ladies Classic Stakes in January.

Never failing to hit the board in 2016, she arguably put forth her best efforts in defeat. In the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1), she was caught behind horses turning for home and could not reel in multiple grade 1 winner Cavorting once she broke free, finishing a flying second.

In her season finale, she burst off the rail and into the clear under regular rider Joel Rosario at the top of the stretch in the Distaff, putting forth a furious rally to be the only horse gaining on dueling champions Beholderand Songbird at the wire. Finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind those super-horses, she out-finished phenomenal fillies and fellow 2012 crop members Stellar Wind, I’m a Chatterbox, and Curalina. Stellar Wind since resurfaced to successfully kick off her 5-year-old campaign in this year’s Apple Blossom.

Some wear and tear after such top efforts over the course of a demanding campaign was not unexpected, but luckily it was nothing career-threatening.

“She had minor surgery over the winter and that is why she’s just getting rolling now,” Stewart explained. “She had a small chip taken out of her left front ankle and she’s doing great now; good as new.”

Stewart is over the moon with how the filly looks after a freshening, which is not surprising considering how much praise he threw on his darling over the last couple seasons. Long thought of as one of the best fillies with whom he has been associated—keeping in mind that he used to gallop Kentucky Derby-winning champion Winning Colors while an assistant to D. Wayne Lukas—he is pumped to get her going again.

“She looked good last year and looks just as great this year, if not better,” he said. “She’s just strong-looking all over. She is what a wonderful horse looks like. She’s massive and has a presence to her on the racetrack—you just know she’s a good horse. When she walks into the barn, she’s like an amazon.

“I’m not sure where we’ll point to first,” he continued. “We’ll just have to see where she is. If she’s out there working three-quarters (of a mile) in (a minute and) 12 (seconds) and doing it easily, then I know she’ll be ready to go against the best right off the bat. We’ll just have to see how that comes along. As far as racing (at age 6 in 2018 after an expected light 2017 campaign), you never know with Chuck (Fipke). It’s always possible. He has the mother and the sister (fellow grade 1 winner Unbridled Forever). Her sister just had a Medaglia d’Oro   and her mother just went to Medaglia d’Oro, so you never know.”

If things go according to plan, Forever Unbridled, who has earned in excess of $1.5 million, will become Stewart’s leading earner. At the top of said honor roll with just over $1.8 million is grade 1-winning Rachel Alexandra chaser Macho Again, while such standouts as Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine, grade 2-winning and grade 1-placed Dollar Bill, and both of Forever Unbridled’s aforementioned family members are not far behind.

Stewart was also quick to praise two other stable standouts on the improve and with ambitious schedules.

G M B Racing’s multiple graded stakes winner and 2016 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) and Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) alum Tom’s Ready kicked off his 2017 impressively, rallying for third against a top field in the Churchill Downs Stakes Presented by Twinspires.com (G2) May 6.

Additionally, Mark Stanley’s 3-year-old Hollywood Handsome exits a driving neck allowance victory against older horses eight days later, also at Churchill. Both are likely to head to Belmont for its biggest day, June 10.

“I really like how (Tom’s Ready) ran the other day,” Stewart said. “He ran hard and stepped up against good horses. We’re looking at the Met Mile next with him. It’s a step forward, but he made a step forward in the Churchill Downs and is doing very well and has since the race.”

A run in the Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap (G1), historically the top open dirt mile event, would mean a return to the site of the colt’s best effort, a rousing victory in last year’s seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes (G2). The last time the son of More Than Ready   ran a one-turn mile, he was the winner of the Ack Ack Stakes (G3) last fall.

“Hollywood Handsome is a strong possibility for the Belmont (Stakes),” Stewart continued. “We could have gone to the Preakness after the Illinois Derby, but we just wanted to win a race with him and get his head right. He had a bad trip at Hawthorne and we think he moved forward last time. (Jockey) Florent (Geroux) said that a mile and a half will be right up his alley and he will ride him in the Belmont.”

A photo-finish from being considered for the Kentucky Derby when he placed fourth, a nose astern third, in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), the late-running son of Tapizar   has upped his game and could be a longshot to watch—as all Stewart trainees have come to be known in the Triple Crown.

A big effort would signal a turn of the tide in the Stewart barn, which has had its fair share of ups and downs already, including the loss of barn favorite and Stewart homebred Saints Fan.

“So far, so good this year,” Stewart concluded. “We have had some good performances from a lot of our horses and have some babies coming along who look great and we’re taking our time with those. The older horses are fighting it out, so everything is good. I’m happy with where we are and things look good.”

Easy to root for with his friendly disposition and hands-on horsemanship, Stewart keeps things in perspective and seems poised for the pendulum to swing back.

H-2B Provision Stays in Congress-Approved Spending Bill

An industry-supported provision that could allow additional foreign, seasonal H-2B visa workers made it through Congress as part of the government-funding bill signed by the Senate May 4.

As the House of Representatives approved the spending bill earlier this week, it now awaits an expected quick signature from President Donald Trump.

Currently only 66,000 H-2B seasonal work visas are allowed to be granted this year, but a provision in the spending bill, which funds the government through the fiscal year that ends in September, would give the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, the authority to nearly double the H-2B cap when it’s determined there is an economic need.

National Thoroughbred Racing Association president Alex Waldrop said the NTRA will now work with the administration to get the H-2B provision implemented.

Horse racing is just one of many industries that relies on the H-2B visa program, joining businesses such as landscaping and seasonal resorts.

Congress in 2016 failed to renew the “returning worker exemption” that permits H-2B workers from the previous three years with clean records to enter the country again without counting against the 66,000 cap. That exemption had effectively raised the number of workers under H-2B from 66,000 to approximately 190,000.

Albarado Fractures Lower Leg, Off J Boys Echo in Derby

Albarado Fractures Lower Leg, Off J Boys Echo in Derby
Photo: Coady Photgraphy

Robby Albarado

Jockey Robby Albarado sustained a fracture of his lower left tibia and fibula after falling from Chiltern Street at the beginning of the eighth race at Keeneland April 23 and will be off mounts for approximately three to four weeks, including Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) hopeful J Boys Echo, agent Rob Ebanks said.

The 5-year-old horse stumbled at the start of the 5 1/2-furlong race on turf unseating Albarado, who was immdiately attended to on the track. After being taken to first aid at Keeneland, he was then transported to UK Chandler Hospital.

In an official statement, Keeneland medical director Dr. Barry Schumer said: “Robby’s horse stumbled at the start of the race and Robby was thrown to the ground. He braced himself. He suffered an injury to his left ankle. He is being transported to UK Chandler Hospital (at the University of Kentucky in Lexington) for X-rays and further evaluation.”

Albarado underwent surgery April 24 at UK Chandler Hospital and had a rod and two pins inserted in his lower left leg, per Ebanks.


Race Track Chaplaincy of America Founder Roberts Dies


Horace William “Salty” Roberts, founder of Race Track Chaplaincy of America, died April 7 in Hollywood, Fla., after a sustained illness. He was 85.

Roberts witnessed and experienced firsthand the needs of what he considered to be his family—the workers who care for horses on a daily basis on the backside of racetracks. Following a spiritual conversion, he began ministering to track workers in 1968. Roberts took the first step toward establishing the first recognized worship services on the backside of a Thoroughbred race track in 1970.

His efforts spread to other tracks and led to the establishment of the RTCA in 1972. From that early beginning, the RTCA today supports 43 chaplains ministering at 36 tracks and training centers throughout the nation.

“Salty had a real burden on his heart for the people that he worked with,” said long-time friend Pat Day, a Hall of Fame jockey and currently president of the Kentucky chapter of RTCA. “He eagerly shared that burden by establishing a ministry to serve them right where they worked and often lived—on the backside of racetracks.”

“Countless lives and generations to come have been and will be impacted by the Christ-centered work of Salty Roberts,” said Dan Waits, executive director of the RTCA. “We stand on his shoulders, and RTCA will continue to honor his legacy by carrying out the mission he established.”

“I never did become a top jockey or a leading trainer, but God has given me something better than all that,” Roberts once said. “He gave me the gift of salvation through his Son, and at the end of my life, when I hear him say, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant,’ I’ll know I’ve won my race. That’s the greatest honor I could ever receive.”

Roberts is survived by his wife Dallas, three sons, two daughters, nine grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Fields Set for Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds Oaks


Brad Grady’s lightly raced Girvin headlines the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) set for April 1 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, which drew their Louisiana Derby Day card March 25.

The Louisiana Derby is the final Fair Grounds prep for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) and offers 170 qualifying points toward that May 6 event on a 100-40-20-10 basis. Girvin, who exits a facile two length win in last month’s Risen Star Stakes (G2), drew post 8 and will be ridden by regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr.

WINCZE HUGHES: Girvin Upsets Risen Star Stakes

Coffee Pot Stables’ hombred Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) winner Farrell highlights the $400,000 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), coming in on a three-race win streak for Wayne Catalano. Channing Hill has the return call from post 6 in a field of eight.

The undercard includes the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (G2) and the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2T).

Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2)

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, April 01, 2017, Race 11
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $1,000,000
  • 3 yo
  • 5:21 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Patch (KY) Tyler Gaffalione 122 Todd A. Pletcher
2 Hollywood Handsome (KY) Francisco C. Torres 122 Dallas Stewart
3 Local Hero (KY) Florent Geroux 122 Steven M. Asmussen
4 Senior Investment (KY) Channing Hill 122 Kenneth G. McPeek
5 Monaco (KY) Rajiv Maragh 122 Todd A. Pletcher
6 Guest Suite (KY) Robby Albarado 122 Neil J. Howard
7 Sorry Erik (KY) Kent J. Desormeaux 122 J. Keith Desormeaux
8 Girvin (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 122 Joe Sharp
9 Hotfoot (KY) James Graham 122 Joe Sharp

Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2)

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, April 01, 2017, Race 10
  • 1 1/16m
  • Dirt
  • $400,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 4:41 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Majestic Quality (KY) Richard E. Eramia 122 J. Keith Desormeaux
2 Daria’s Angel (KY) Robby Albarado 122 W. Bret Calhoun
3 Wicked Lick (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 122 Brendan P. Walsh
4 Corporate Queen (KY) Florent Geroux 122 Mark E. Casse
5 Vexatious (KY) Kent J. Desormeaux 122 Neil D. Drysdale
6 Farrell (KY) Channing Hill 122 Wayne M. Catalano
7 Summer Luck (KY) Patrick Husbands 122 Mark E. Casse
8 Queen Bernardina (KY) Miguel Mena 122 W. Bret Calhoun

Muniz Memorial H. (G2T)

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, April 01, 2017, Race 9
  • About 1 1/8m
  • Turf
  • $300,000
  • 4 yo’s & up
  • 4:06 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Enterprising (FL) Tyler Gaffalione 119 Michael J. Maker
2 Blarp (KY) Miguel Mena 114 Thomas M. Amoss
3 Sky Flight (KY) Richard E. Eramia 114 Michelle Lovell
4 Roman Approval (KY) Rajiv Maragh 115 Michael J. Maker
5 One Mean Man (KY) James Graham 115 Bernard S. Flint
6 Granny’s Kitten (PA) Shaun Bridgmohan 119 Michael J. Maker
7 Pumpkin Rumble (PA) Mitchell Murrill 114 Gary M. Scherer
8 Kasaqui (ARG) Robby Albarado 118 Ignacio Correas, IV
9 Bullards Alley (KY) Marcelino Pedroza 116 Tim Glyshaw
10 Oscar Nominated (KY) Florent Geroux 119 Michael J. Maker
11 Special Ops (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 113 Brad H. Cox

New Orleans H. (G2)

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, April 01, 2017, Race 8
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $400,000
  • 4 yo’s & up
  • 3:39 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Breaking Lucky (ON) Luis Contreras 118 Reade Baker
2 Iron Fist (KY) David Romero Flores 116 Steven M. Asmussen
3 International Star (NY) Tyler Gaffalione 118 Michael J. Maker
4 Honorable Duty (KY) James Graham 119 Brendan P. Walsh
5 Aglimpseofgabby (KY) C.J. McMahon 112 Dallas E. Keen
6 Hawaakom (KY) Miguel Mena 118 Wesley E. Hawley
7 Roman Approval (KY) Rajiv Maragh 114 Michael J. Maker
8 Mo Tom (KY) Robby Albarado 115 Thomas M. Amoss
9 Noble Bird (KY) Florent Geroux 121 Mark E. Casse
10 Eagle (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 118 Neil J. Howard


NTRA Keeping Busy on Tax Withholding, Reporting Changes

NTRA Keeping Busy on Tax Withholding, Reporting Changes

When it comes to making industry favorable changes on tax withholding and reporting of pari-mutuel winnings a reality this year, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is continuing its efforts to what it hopes will be a successful finish, while working with the industry to make sure it will quickly transition to the new rules.

While the United States Treasury will not say much either way during the current 90-day comment period that runs through the end of the month, in December it issued a 31-page document that clarifies the total bet amount on a ticket will be used to determine the 300-1 threshold in reporting and withholding of large winnings.

Currently a $1 trifecta wheel of 10 combinations is viewed as 10 bets of $1 each. If a payout of $600 or more at odds of 300-1 or higher is awarded, that payout must be reported to the IRS. If that same wager pays $5,000 or more on odds of 300-1 or higher, some of the winnings must immediately be withheld for taxes.

The change would affect how the 300-1 threshold is determined. Under the change, the $10 ticket in the scenario above would be considered a $10 wager. To reach 300-1 odds, the payout must be more than $3,010, which means far fewer big payouts will need to be reported.

While the December report was favorable, the NTRA is working to make sure the changes clear any final hurdles while also acting to make sure horse racing will be ready to act should the changes become official.

During the 90-day comment period, the NTRA again called on the industry to show its support through e-mails in support of the change. The NTRA reports that virtually every comment submitted to the Treasury has been supportive of the proposed regulatory changes, and there appears to be no organized opposition to the updates.

Also, the NTRA is actively seeking the support of a bipartisan group of members of Congress from key racing states to urge the Treasury to finalize the changes in a timely manner once the public comment period concludes March 30. While nothing is guaranteed, it is expected to take a month to 45 days to become official after the public comment period closes.

The NTRA is leading the way on making sure the industry is ready to put the changes in place.

“We’re determined to implement this new tax structure on Day One without a hitch,” said NTRA president Alex Waldrop. “There are a lot of moving parts but fortunately everybody is working together. We have a broad cross-section of the industry, technology providers who are familiarizing themselves with the (regulations). We’re very optimistic.”

The NTRA continues to engage with its lobbyists in Washington, as well as major tote companies, racetrack operators, and ADWs—both individually and as a group—to outline an implementation plan for the proposed rules. Just last week, the NTRA led a conference call that included officials from tote companies AmTote, United Tote, and Sportech; as well as the Las Vegas Dissemination Company, William Hill, TVG, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, among others.

Tote companies would update their software to recognize the new definition of how the 300-1 threshold is determined.

“The collaboration around this effort is unprecedented and we are confident that we will be prepared to implement these important regulatory changes as soon as the new regulations become law,” said NTRA chief operating officer Keith Chamblin.

The NTRA also plans additional communication and education for horseplayers. A big part of that will be emphasizing the potential advantages of including multiple wagers on a single ticket.

“We realize that there may be a period of adjustment for customers as they gain a better understanding of the benefits derived from the new regulations,” Chamblin said. “A customer communications plan already is under way and will continue well after the proposed regulations become law.”

Broussard Balances Riding and Motherhood

Broussard Balances Riding and Motherhood
Photo: Marshall Blevins

Jockey Ashley Broussard’s mounts have won more than $5 million in purses

They’re up there in the dense fog. Circling. You can hear them, but you can’t see them. It’s a long migration from Canada to the rice fields of Rayne, La., but geese don’t rely on GPS.

Inside her modest kitchen, jockey Ashley Broussard is fixing breakfast for her 2-year-old son Bentley while going over a mental checklist for the day: exercise two horses at the Evangeline Downs Training Center, need talcum powder, check the oil in the car, take down the Christmas tree, out of cough medicine, call Mom, clothes in the dryer, macaroni and cheese for Bentley, leave a note for Uncle Cliff the baby sitter, ride five horses tonight at Delta Downs.

It’s not easy being a single parent, but like the geese, Broussard knows where she is going and how to get there.

The challenges of being a mother and maintaining her riding career have proved a steep climb full of surprises.

“In the beginning it was sleep deprivation,” Broussard admitted. “Having to wake up every three or four hours was a mental stress that was hard to overcome. My brain was totally consumed with different issues. I have always been around kids, but putting in a car seat was a new experience. I used to be in the gym all the time before I had Bentley, but now there is not a lot of time to go and lift weights.”

Broussard tipped the scales at 138 pounds during her pregnancy. She now weighs a fit 101.

“Chasing Bentley around keeps me in shape,” Broussard said with a laugh. “The everyday routine of working horses and riding puts you into a level of fitness. You have to have a strong core as well as back and legs. All of that translates into your arms, wrists, and shoulders so when you get on a really tough horse you find out what you got.”

The sharp turning, balance, and maneuverability against the clock of barrel racing contributed to Broussard’s skill as a jockey. The rodeo sport also revealed her tenacious urge to compete. As a teenager, she was ranked first in Louisiana for multiple years and was fifth in the world on two occasions.

Broussard was also raised with horse knowledge. Her father was a match-race jockey on the local bush tracks and became a longtime assistant to trainer Gene Norman. With a cowboy reputation of being able to handle the toughest horses, Clarence Broussard kept his daughter away from the racetrack but close to the farm and breaking babies.

“The animals are not strangers to me,” the 24-year-old Broussard said. “I’ve learned that every horse has its own personality and character. The trick is to persuade them to do things without being forceful or making them do it. When you treat them with kindness, it’s amazing how much smarter they are than humans.”

The gift of an exercise saddle from one of her father’s clients stimulated the dream of Broussard (then 16) to become a jockey. She sat down with her parents and told them she wanted to be a jockey, with a plan and the patience to carry it out. At 18, she got a job at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots with trainer Steve Asmussen. Then, in the spring of 2013, Asmussen needed an exercise rider at Keeneland, and he needed one immediately. It was time to put up or shut up.

“I still had a lot to learn, but it was time to take a jump,” Broussard said of her decision to pack her bags. “I figured I might not ever get another chance to work for a Hall of Fame trainer. I’ve never been one to do things half-assed. If I am going to do something, I want to go all the way, so I took a deep breath and took off.”

Far from home for the first time, Broussard stayed in a cheap hotel on the interstate and went to the track early each morning. She “manned up” and there was no relief. Some days she was legged up on a dozen horses. Her next milestone was a move to Churchill Downs to get serious about becoming a jockey. She secured a salaried position with trainer Kellyn Gorder, received gate approval from the stewards, and was given her jockey license. She won her first race at Ellis Park in August 2013. She had been galloping horses for more than three years.

“A lot of people nowadays that have never been around a racetrack decide one day that they want to be a jockey,” Broussard said. “Three weeks later they are in a race somewhere. I’m not sorry or apologizing for taking so long. I wanted to learn everything from the ground up.”

The 2014 fall/winter meet at Fair Grounds landed Broussard in the same jock’s room as the meet’s leading rider, Rosie Napravnik, who drilled Broussard like it was basic training for the Navy SEALS. Her learning curve shot through the roof, and Broussard went on to become the meet’s leading apprentice rider.

“First of all, she looked good on a horse,” Napravnik remembered. “Ashley is smart and level-headed, and she somehow manages to listen to the right people that can help. You can preach, preach, preach to some young riders, but Ashley listened and then went out on the racetrack and applied what she learned.”

Broussard’s sacrifice has paid off. Despite the detours of child birth and an accident (broken collarbone and busted ribs) that kept her away three months, her mounts have won more than $5 million in purses. Her 130 wins in 2016 ranked 110th of the jockeys’ list in North America. The multiple stakes-winning rider is currently second in the standings at Delta Downs. She has had too many riding triples at Evangeline Downs to count. She won honors as the Jockey’s Guild’s Jockey of the Week after winning six consecutive races for five different trainers last Dec. 14 at Delta Downs. Two weeks prior to that performance, Broussard booted home five winners on a single card at Delta.

Wherever Broussard’s internal compass tells her to go, she has the markings of a bright future, and son Bentley will be right there with her.

“I just want him to stay healthy and follow his dreams,” Broussard said. “My parents never pushed me in any certain direction. They let me find my own path and just made sure I was safe along the way. I do want him to see that nothing happens in one day. That you have to work for what you want. Horse racing has offered me many life lessons, and if that is the path he loves, then I will be right there to follow him.”

This story first appeared in the Feb. 18 edition of BloodHorse Magazine. To purchase a copy including the full version, visit www.bloodhorse.com/subscribe.