New Withholding, Reporting Rules Near Enactment

A document outlining upcoming federal regulatory actions released July 20 by The White House indicates that modernized tax guidance relating to withholding and reporting of pari-mutuel winnings is nearing enactment, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said.

The “Current Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions” describes the Amendment of 3402(q) Regulations providing new rules for pari-mutuel wagering as in the final rule stage.

The regulation, detailed by the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury in the Dec. 30, 2016 Federal Register in a section titled “Withholding on Payments of Certain Gambling Winnings,” accomplishes goals started and spearheaded by the NTRA three years ago.

“We are pleased to see this latest indication that the regulation continues to make its way toward final approval,” said NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop in a release. “We take nothing for granted, though, and will continue to work closely with our allies in Washington, D.C., to get this important change completed. We urge Treasury and the IRS to act quickly so horseplayers, the racing industry, and the federal government can all start benefitting from these landmark rules.”

The proposed regulations, developed with the NTRA’s guidance, clarify “the amount of the wager” to include the entire amount wagered into a specific pari-mutuel pool by an individual—not just the winning base unit as is the case today—so long as all wagers made into a specific pool by an individual are made on a single tote ticket if the wager is placed onsite. The proposed regulations would have the same positive results for advance deposit wagering customers and would not impact how those wagers are currently made.

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.

The NTRA said the regulations will positively impact a significant percentage of winning wagers, particularly those involving multi-horse or multi-race exotic wagers, and result in tens of millions of dollars in additional pari-mutuel churn.

Gentlemen’s Bet Retired to Journeyman Stud

Gentlemen's Bet Retired to Journeyman Stud
Photo: Coady Photography

Gentleman’s Bet retires with seven wins and $744,155 in earnings

Gentlemen’s Bet, a three-time black-type stakes winner and twice grade 1-placed son of Half Ours  , has been retired and will stand the 2018 breeding season at Brent and Crystal Fernung’s Journeyman Stud near Ocala, Fla.

Racing for owner Harry Rosenblum, Gentlemen’s Bet won five of his first six starts. Overall he won seven of his 22 lifetime starts and collected $744,155 in earnings. Among his victories was the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes and Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

In addition, Gentlemen’s Bet placed in the Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint and Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (both G1) and the grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap.

“Gentlemen’s Bet is the perfect horse for Florida,” said Brent Fernung. “He is a big, beautiful, fast horse with a great pedigree. The Frank J. De Francis Stakes has made quite an impact in Florida in the past. Among the winners of that race to go to stud in Ocala are Wildcat Heir, Montbrook, and Yes It’s True, arguably the best three stallions to stand in Florida in the past 20 years.”

In the Frank J. De Francis, Gentlemen’s Bet defeated Palace  , a grade 1 winner of more than $1.5 million, Stallwalkin’ Dude, a graded winner of $1.4 million, and Trouble Kid, a graded winner of more than $500,000.

Gentlemen’s Bet placed a close-up third in the 2013 Breeder’s Cup Sprint. Beaten less than two lengths in the Sprint by Secret Circle  , Gentlemen’s Bet finished ahead of champion sprinter Trinniberg   and graded winners Private Zone, Justin Phillip  , The Lumber GuyBahamian Squall  , Fast Bullet, Majestic Stride, and Sum of the Parts.

One of three foals out of the Gentleman mare Lady of Sun, Gentlemen’s Bet descends from the family of grade 1 winner Consolidator (by Storm Cat). His stud fee for 2018 will be announced at a later date.

Grade 1 Winner Bonapaw Euthanized

Grade 1 Winner Bonapaw Euthanized
Photo: Rick Capone

Bonapaw at Old Friends

Grade 1-winning sprinter Bonapaw was euthanized July 7 at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Ky., due to complications caused by the equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. He was 21.

Bonapaw (Sabona—Pawlova, Nijinsky II) was nothing short of a Cinderella horse for his owners, Louisiana-based twin brothers Dennis and James Richard, who purchased the bay gelding as a yearling for $6,500 at the 1997 Keeneland September sale. Bonapaw took his owners far and wide. He captured 18 of 49 starts and earned more than $1.1 million.

He broke his maiden as a 2-year old at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, and over the years became the pride of the track, where he won five stakes.

Bonapaw’s first graded stakes victory came in 2001 at Oaklawn Park, where he won the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). In 2002, at the age of 6, he journeyed to the United Arab Emirates for a chance at the group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, where he ran sixth. He then captured the Hanshin Cup Handicap (G3) at Arlington International Race Course before he won the grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park.

His Vosburg win encouraged the Richard brothers to invest a $90,000 supplemental fee to enter Bonapaw in the NAPA Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Arlington, but he finished 10th in a field that included Kona Gold, Xtra Heat, and winner Orientate  .

Retired from racing in 2005, he was donated to Old Friends in 2009 by James Richard Jr.

“We are so grateful to have had these years with Bonapaw,” said Old Friends president Michael Blowen. “He was a great racehorse, and he meant so much to his owners, as well as all of his many fans. Jamie (Richard) even donated Bonapaw’s Vosburgh trophy to us, and we will cherish it always.”

Louisiana Downs Among Tracks To Reach Deals With Contest Site Derby Wars

Several Tracks Reach Deals With Contest Site Derby Wars
Photo: Coady Photography

Ellis Park is one of six tracks to come to a partnership agreement with Derby Wars

Horse racing contest site DerbyWars.com announced June 30 it reached partnership agreements with several tracks and racing associations that will allow the site to use those racing signals as part of its handicapping contests.

The agreement comes just over two weeks after Derby Wars owner Horse Racing Labs agreed to pay The Stronach Group at least $500,000 to resolve a lawsuit brought against the contest site, which had used signals from Stronach-owned tracks without permission or compensation.

On Friday Derby Wars said partnership agreements were reached with New York Racing Association, Monmouth Park, Meadowlands, Ellis Park, Kentucky Downs, Louisiana Downs, and Fairmount Park. The agreements include revenue-sharing with the tracks and horsemen for use of their races in contests at DerbyWars.com, as well as video and data sharing opportunities to enhance customer experience.

“Our mission is to be an innovator in horse racing and establishing these additional track partnerships will help us continue to introduce new players to racing, re-engage others, and ultimately grow the sport,” said Derby Wars founder Mark Midland. “We continue to see tremendous growth opportunities for the sport through contests and we’re thrilled to be working with more tracks going forward.”

Derby Wars had previous revenue-sharing agreements with Thoroughbred tracks Hawthorne Race Course, Kentucky Downs, and Sam Houston Race Park. Midland said Derby Wars was the first site to establish such revenue-sharing agreements three years ago.

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.”

FRESHMAN FLASHPOINT GETS HIS FIRST WINNER

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.

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