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Keeneland 2019 April Two-Year-Olds In Training Sale Set For April 9

Keeneland officials announced September 14, 2018, that the 2019 April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale will be held Tuesday, April 9. The Preview Day, which will offer breezes over both the main dirt track and turf course, will be held Monday, April 8.

“Keeneland looks forward to the return of the April Sale, and we anticipate we will see several 2018 September Yearling Sale graduates participating,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said.

“The April Sale affords horsemen several unique advantages,” Elliston said. “One is the opportunity to present a consignment before a number of prominent owners and trainers at Keeneland for opening weekend of the Spring Meet, which begins April 5, and includes the Toyota Blue Grass. Another is the chance to breeze your juvenile over Keeneland’s dirt track and turf course, two of the best racing surfaces in the country.”

Keeneland conducted its April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale from 1993-2014. The sale has been on hiatus since 2015.

The April Sale has a proven record of success, having produced 2017 champions Lady Eli and Roy H in its final edition in 2014. The auction counts six classic winners among its graduates: Belmont (G1) winner Palace Malice; Preakness (G1) winner and champion Lookin At Lucky; Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness winner and champion Big Brown; Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner and champion Thunder Gulch; and Kentucky Oaks (G1) winners Keeper Hill and Gal in a Ruckus. Champion Beautiful Pleasure also is an April sale graduate.

Sports Wagering Symposium Outlines Changing Landscape

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In a gravelly voice that clearly has spent many hours cheering teams and horses, race and sports book legend Victor Salerno offered racing some verbal encouragement as it prepares for fast-emerging legal sports wagering.

Salerno, a 40-year veteran of the race and sports book industry in Nevada, offered that encouragement at the Sports Wagering and Impact on Horse Racing Symposium presented by BloodHorse and Breeders’ Cup Sept. 6 at Keeneland. Three panels at the symposium outlined the opportunities and potential challenges for racing, as legal sports wagering comes online throughout the country. Racing relies on pari-mutuel wagering as its economic engine.

“You shouldn’t be afraid to do this,” Salerno said of tracks also offering sports wagering, noting tracks that do so will increase their foot traffic, providing opportunities to reach new customers. “Racing’s a great sport; we have to keep it going.”

At the three-hour presentation, panelists touched on wide-ranging topics related to sports wagering, including the benefits and challenges of offering sports wagering at tracks; opportunities for current advance-deposit wagering companies to expand to sports wagering or partner with sports wagering sites to cross-promote one another; an opportunity for racing to provide needed content for wagering in this new environment; the addition of non-pari-mutuel wagers in racing, like fixed-odds bets; and challenges that could include a competitive disadvantage as high-takeout racing in an atmosphere where low-takeout sports betting will be readily available.

Monmouth Park vice president of business operations Bill Knauf offered some firsthand experience since the New Jersey track brought in William Hill to operate on-track sports wagering in June. Knauf said the sports betting crowd is largely male and younger than the typical horseplayer. He noted the sports betting crowd has helped the track improve its simulcast handle as bettors are showing up early and staying late to watch West Coast baseball games.

Knauf said tracks have plenty of available parking, interior space that readily can be used to build first-rate sports books, and through their simulcast operations are familiar with bringing in multiple TV signals. He noted tracks routinely offer more such signals than even a Las Vegas sportsbook.

Panelist Victor Bigio, an online gaming marketer at Sportech, said tracks also have the space to host eSports events that are quickly gaining in popularity with young people. He said tracks should take advantage and offer those events and accept wagers on them.

Many states soon will be making these decisions. Beyond the three racing states that have already launched full sports wagering this year—New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia—Sara Slane of the American Gaming Association noted another 19 states have had bills proposed.

William Hill U.S. executive Dan Shapiro noted the planning that went into Monmouth has produced a facility where sports betting and race betting are well-integrated. He said a sports betting facility at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is in the casino and separated from racing. He thinks the Monmouth model has a better chance of success for both sports wagering and race handle.

“What Monmouth has done with that integrated experience is the model we think tracks should look at in the future,” Shapiro said.

Just hours after TVG (FanDuel Group) announced Thursday plans to add a pair of Sunday morning shows that will largely focus on betting the NFL, FanDuel Group general counsel John Hindman said that variety should bring a more diverse group to the racing channel and its various sports and race wagering platforms.

He said the FanDuel platform will market race wagering, noting it will be presented in a way that will make sense to sports bettors. He also noted the benefits of cross-marketing—millions of dollars have been spent promoting FanDuel, initially a Daily Fantasy site, in recent years.

One aspect of betting sports those customers understand, on some level, is takeout in the 5% or 6% range. Ed Hannah of The Stronach Group said with those expectations, racing will need to thoroughly examine its much higher takeout (the amount of money not returned to bettors in winnings, which in racing is retained largely for tracks and purses) as it tries to attract new customers and retain current players.

“Lesson No. 1 is the takeout rate is too high. We need to figure out a more optimal takeout rate,” Hannah said. “There’s a little more wiggle room on multi-race or multi-interest wagers.”

He noted that in the online atmosphere, sports bettors will quickly notice the difference.

“People putting money in their deposits will notice that difference,” Hannah said, explaining that because of takeout, the average sports bettor can make a $100 deposit last much longer than the average horseplayer. “We have to do a lot of thinking about (takeout).”

Sports betting faces its own battle for customers, many of whom currently wager through illegal bookmakers, local or offshore. Panelists noted that one way legal operators will be able to compete is by offering a greater variety of wagers and events. They said the frequency of races, offered throughout the week, should prove attractive to sports betting sites.

Hindman noted that race wagering routinely is one of the top sports in terms of handle in other countries that already allow sports wagering.

While panelists offered a wide variety of opinions and ideas, all acknowledged the fast-changing landscape and racing’s need to be innovative rather than shrink away.

“We can take (the emergence of sports wagering) and put it toward the enhancement of the racing industry here,” Salerno said. “Don’t be afraid.”

Breeders’ Cup Host Sites Announced Through 2021

Breeders’ Cup officially announced Santa Anita Park, Keeneland, and Del Mar as the host sites for the next three editions of the World Championships.

In a press conference Aug. 17 at Santa Anita, it was announced the Arcadia, Calif., track would host the two-day event for a record-setting 10th time Nov. 1-2 in 2019. Keeneland, which hosted its first Breeders’ Cup in 2015, will welcome the 2020 edition Nov. 6-7. Del Mar—a first-time host in 2017—gets the event back Nov. 5-6 in 2021.

All three tracks planned press conferences Friday to announce Breeders’ Cup plans.

“Everybody knows how great Santa Anita is, so it’s never a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when’ for this place,” Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel said after the announcement Friday at Santa Anita. “Given the success of Del Mar and Keeneland, the same holds true for those.”

Churchill Downs is hosting the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Nov. 2-3, the ninth time the Louisville oval has put on the fall spectacle. With Friday’s announcement confirming a California-Kentucky rotation for the next three seasons, the two states will have combined to host 14 consecutive editions of the event.

“The Bluegrass served as the ideal backdrop for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup, and we could not be more excited to have Keeneland serve as the host of the 2020 edition of the World Championships,” said Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason. “Building on the success of the event for the industry and the community, we anticipate an even greater spectacle in 2020 and look forward to the Breeders’ Cup returning home once again.”

The last time the Breeders’ Cup was held at a track outside of Kentucky or California came in 2007, when Monmouth Park hosted the first year the event was expanded to a two-day format, and Fravel said Friday there is still interest from tracks outside of the two states.

“When I started in 2011, there was an option of two places, and there wasn’t anybody else in the mix to hold an event like this. One of the things we tried to do with Keeneland and Del Mar was to validate the different track model for holding the event, and that’s what happened,” Fravel said. “To me, we have greater and greater options going forward. We have inquiries from Laurel Park, who has made no secret of their interest, and our friends at Monmouth Park, now that they have sports wagering and some new dollars coming in … I think they’d like to be considered, and obviously we’ve talked about New York.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a static rotation. I hope to create an environment where people are wanting us to be there, asking us to be there, and doing what’s best for racing to encourage us to come.”

Tim Ritvo of The Stronach Group, which owns both Santa Anita and Laurel, said he would have liked for Laurel to be one of the three future sites but was hopeful for a 2022 bid for the Maryland track.

“We were hoping to get (Laurel) involved in this round, but we’re eager to make a strong bid for 2022,” Ritvo said. “We weren’t really ready yet, with the facility, but we had a great meeting yesterday about the build-out will look like, and the state is going to put together an advisory committee to give a really big push for 2022.”

Ritvo also said there will be $5 million in renovations at Santa Anita before the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, including new open-air suites in the grandstand and improvements to the upper levels of the clubhouse area. He said the upper-level grandstand suites would be like a “deck at your house, where you can sit and be casual.”

Regarding a potential Breeders’ Cup at a New York Racing Association track, Fravel said “capital improvements” would likely be required for a successful bid.

“I know they have a plan. It’s just the timing that’s unclear,” Fravel said. “I’m hopeful that within the next six months or so, we’ll have a clear picture of what their plan is. … There would have to be more concrete indications of what would happen and when. The experience, unfortunately, in New York is that best-laid plans get waylaid by factors outside of people’s control.”

Keeneland Reinstates April Sale, Tweaks September Format

Keeneland will reinstate its April Sale in 2019, as one of three changes to its sales calendar announced Thursday. The April auction, last held in 2014, will be staged as a one-day sale of 2-year-olds in training, as well as horses of racing age. Dates for the preview and sale will be announced at a later date.

“Keeneland’s April Sale produced a number of champions and Classic winners, including 2017 champions Lady Eli and Roy H in its final edition in 2014,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “Horsemen are very supportive of the sale returning this spring, and we are excited to expand the auction from previous years by offering a limited number of horses of racing age.”

Keeneland also announced the format for its upcoming September Yearling Sale. Book 1 of the auction, which was one session in 2017, will be held Monday through Thursday (Sept. 10-13) this year and will include approximately 1,000 yearlings with sessions beginning at 11 a.m. After a dark day Friday, Book 2 will be held Saturday and Sunday with sessions beginning at 10 a.m. The Book 2 portion of the 2017 sale was three days. Books 3-6 of the September sale will be held the following Monday through Sunday (Sept. 17-23).

Keeneland introduced a bonus structure tied to its one-session Book 1 in 2017. With the longer Book 1 section in 2018, the bonus will not be applicable to graduates of the sale this year.

“Keeneland engages in an ongoing dialog with our clients to collect their feedback and adapt our sales formats to meet the ‘market of the moment,’” Elliston said of the changes. “The market is fluid from year to year, and our primary goal is to create a sales environment that will produce the best results for our sellers and buyers.”

Finally, Keeneland announced it will open its November Breeding Stock Sale with an exclusive Book 1 session to be held Monday, Nov. 5.

“The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are at Churchill Downs the weekend before the November Sale begins, so what better way to continue the excitement than to host a select Book 1 on opening day,” said Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason.

The entire November Sale schedule will be announced later.

CHURCHILL DOWNS AND KEENELAND ANNOUNCE HISTORIC PARTNERSHIP TO PROPOSE CONSTRUCTION OF TWO NEW RACING FACILITIES IN CORBIN AND OAK GROVE, KENTUCKY

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) (“CDI”) and Keeneland Association, Inc. (“Keeneland”) announced today an historic partnership to propose the construction of two new state-of-the-art racing facilities. One will be in southeastern Kentucky in Corbin (Knox County), and the second will be in southwestern Kentucky in Oak Grove (Christian County). The proposed facilities will feature live horse racing and historical racing machines for guests from Kentucky and beyond.

To share the news, the two companies released a video featuring CDI Chief Executive Officer Bill Carstanjen, Keeneland President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Thomason, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association Executive Director Chauncey Morris and Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Marty Maline.

“Horse racing is a $4 billion industry in the Commonwealth that creates thousands of jobs, strengthens our statewide economy and attracts millions of visitors from around the globe,” Carstanjen said. “Churchill Downs and Keeneland share a deep commitment to making Kentucky’s horse racing industry the very best version of itself, and the new racing facilities in Corbin and Oak Grove will help us achieve this by generating much needed funds to increase purses and breeders’ incentives.”

“Keeneland is excited to partner with Churchill Downs on this initiative which builds upon our mission to strengthen the sport and create new opportunities for horsemen and fans,” Thomason said. “Not only will these racing facilities strengthen Kentucky’s vital horse industry, but just as importantly, they will positively impact the Commonwealth and the local communities by stimulating significant economic growth, generating hundreds of new jobs and enhancing tourism and hospitality.”

Churchill Downs and Keeneland are working closely with the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and other state and local officials on a number of incentives and necessary infrastructure improvements to bring the Corbin and Oak Grove facilities to fruition.

“Corbin is thrilled to be a part of this historic venture between two of the horse racing industry’s most iconic names,” Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said. “The new racing facility will be a welcome addition to our city’s already long list of sites and attractions for local residents and visitors.”

“We are proud of the significant investment Churchill Downs and Keeneland are committed to making in our community, and are excited to see the infusion of tourism, economic development and new jobs it will bring to Oak Grove and Christian County,” Oak Grove Mayor Bea Burt said.

Each facility is contingent on receipt of an initial pari-mutuel racing license by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and Churchill Downs and Keeneland are filing their applications with the commission today.

“Churchill Downs and Keeneland have the support of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association as they move forward with their plans to bring two new racing facilities to our state,” Morris said. “The proposed facilities will benefit our industry and the Commonwealth as a whole through new jobs, greater revenues and more tourism.”

“The Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is excited for what this announcement means for our sport,” Maline said. “We represent more than 6,000 owners and trainers who depend on a strong racing industry, and we know this historic partnership will help draw the eyes of millions to Kentucky’s signature industry.”

For more information, please watch this short video and visit www.historicpartnership.com.


Initial rendering of the proposed Corbin facility

Initial rendering of the proposed Oak Grove facility
About Churchill Downs Incorporated
Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) (“CDI”), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is an industry-leading racing, gaming and online entertainment company anchored by our iconic flagship event—The Kentucky Derby. We are a leader in brick-and-mortar casino gaming with gaming positions in eight states, and we are the largest legal mobile betting platform for horseracing in the U.S., through our ownership of TwinSpires.com. We are also one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of mobile games through Big Fish Games, Inc. Additional information about CDI can be found online at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.

About Keeneland Association, Inc.
For more than 80 years, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. As the world’s largest Thoroughbred auction company, Keeneland conducts sales every January, September and November. Its sales graduates dominate racing across the globe at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. In 2015, Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a private, for-profit corporation that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses, and it has donated millions of dollars in charitable contributions for education, research and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. To learn more about Keeneland, visit Keeneland.com.

Benoit Invests in Top Keeneland Mares to Breed in Louisiana

Excerpted from BloodHorse.com reports

 

Evelyn Benoit is not your typical horse breeder.

Most buyers of a top-class, $850,000 Thoroughbred mare at public auction would plan a mating for the following breeding season to one of North America’s more fashionable stallions.

Not Benoit.

At the Nov. 11 session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, Grovendale’s James Keogh won a bidding war to acquire the multiple stakes winner and graded stakes-placed mare Moment of Majesty for $850,000 from Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency’s consignment.

The 9-year-old daughter of Saint Liam was purchased in the name of Benoit’s Star Guitar Inc., named after the Louisiana breeder’s top homebred Star Guitar.

Keogh said Benoit bought the mare specifically to breed to Star Guitar, who stands at Clear Creek Stud in Louisiana for $4,000—a far cry from the $100,000 fee for Curlin, the Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm stallion to whom Moment of Majesty was bred this year.

A day later, Benoit struck for another high-priced mare to breed to her stallion Star Guitar, going to $550,000 for the durable runner Five Star Momma during the fifth session of Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale.

Sold in foal to top WinStar Farm stallion Tiznow, Five Star Momma topped the Nov. 12 session, in which the sale enters a new realm, beginning Book 3 after the best lots in the auction were offered in Books 1 and 2.

Keogh said Benoit’s decision to breed such an expensive mares to Star Guitar reflects her desire to give the stallion the best opportunity to succeed.

“It’s not about the money with her. It’s about the horses,” Keogh, part of Benoit’s team of advisers, said of the disparity between the mare’s purchase price and the stallion to whom she will be bred. “It’s family to her. She loves (Star Guitar) so much. He means the world to her.”

Racing for Benoit’s Brittlyn Stable, Star Guitar won 24 of his 30 starts, including 22 stakes, and retired as the all-time leading Louisiana-bred earner of over $1.7 million. In his only graded stakes placing and rare venture outside Louisiana, Star Guitar finished third in the Alysheba Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.

Represented by 36 juveniles of 2016, Star Guitar has had two winners from six starters to date, and Keogh said Benoit is getting ready to send out several of her promising homebreds trained by Al Stall Jr.

Keogh said the breeder has supported Star Guitar since he entered stud, sending some 15 of her 22 broodmares to the stallion annually.

“He’s a beautiful-looking horse. He’s show-hunter pretty,” Keogh said. “He’s a fabulous-moving horse. He wouldn’t break eggs, he’s so light on his feet.”

With his breeding and superb running ability, Star Guitar likely could have been gone to a farm outside Louisiana, but keeping him in the Bayou State fit with Benoit’s support of the state breeding program. Star Guitar’s fee will remain at $4,000 for 2017.

“It’s everything to her to support Louisiana’s breeders’ program,” Keogh said. “She had several offers to stand him in Kentucky, but she wouldn’t consider it because she wants to support Louisiana racing and breeding. She is passionate about racing. She watches racing three hours a day.”

Louisiana Bred Colt Sells for $350,000 at Keeneland September; A Record High Price for a Louisiana Bred in Keeneland History

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img_4337 An Accredited Louisiana-bred yearling colt by Curlin sold for $350,000 on Wednesday, September 14, Day 3 of the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. This is the highest price ever for a Louisiana Bred to have run through the Lexington, Kentucky Sale.

Bred in Louisiana by Hargroder Farms, LLC, the attractive bay colt is out of Moonlight Lover, an unraced Bernardini mare. Consigned by VanMeter-Gentry Sales as agent, he was purchased by Katsumi Yoshida.

Breeder Don Hargroder says of the colt, “This colt was very special from the time he hit the ground, and we are very proud to have been part of his life. Several years ago, I said my goal was to get national respect with Louisiana breds, and I think we did that with this colt. His dam has a very attractive Lewis Michael filly by her side and we are shopping now for stallions for her next breeding. ”

“As Louisiana follows the trend of the rest of the country with smaller foal crops, our breeders have embraced the idea of quality over quantity,” states Roger Heitzmann, III, Secretary/Treasurer of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association. He continues, “This colt is a prime example of where I believe we are headed. I believe you will see Accredited Louisiana Breds selling at higher prices moving forward.”

Four-Win Saturday Gives Louisiana Native Lanerie Lead In Keeneland Jockey Standings

 

 Corey Lanerie
Corey Lanerie
 

Jockey Corey Lanerie won with half of his eight mounts on Keeneland’s Saturday card, taking over the lead in the local jockey standings with a total of 14 wins. With just four racing days remaining, Lanerie has a one-win lead over both Javier Castellano and Luis Saez, both of whom were absent on Saturday.

Lanerie won his first leading rider title at Keeneland last fall with 25 wins over the course of the meet. Castellano captured the leading rider title for last year’s Spring meeting with 21 victories.

The wins began in the first race on Saturday for Lanerie, when he piloted Cheray to a one-length starter allowance victory for trainer Mark Cristel. His next win came in the fifth race, booting home Mike Maker’s Try Your Luck to a 9 1/4-length maiden special weight victory. He captured back-to-back events to close out the day, winning the seventh aboard Scooter Dickey’s Shadow Rock and the eighth on Charlie LoPresti’s Dear Elaine.

Castellano spent Saturday riding at Charles Town Race Course in West Virginia, where he won two races including the Charles Town Classic aboard Stanford. He is scheduled to return to Keeneland for racing on Sunday. Saez, who got off to a smoking-hot start at the Keeneland Spring meeting with seven wins over the first three days, has been riding in New York since Wednesday, and captured three races, including two stakes, on Saturday’s card at Aqueduct.

 

 

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Benoit Purchases Roan Inish for $500,000 at Keeneland

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Canadian Oaks winner Roan Inish, an Elusive Quality  mare in foal to Arch  was purchased by Evelyn Benoit’s Star Guitar Inc. for $500,000 during  the second session of Keeneland’s January horses of all ages sale.

The price for the 9-year-old mare consigned by Mill Ridge Sales was the highest of the Jan. 12 session at the time she went through the ring.

A homebred racing for Robert Costigan in Ireland and Canada, Roan Inish won two of eight starts, with four placings, and earnings of $598,619.

Roan Inish was produced from the two-time Canadian grass champion mare Inish Gloria.

Georgia Keogh, the daughter of James B. Keogh, who operates Grovendale, signed the ticket on behalf of Benoit, who raced Star Guitar and plans to breed the mare to that horse who now stands in Louisiana.

“She’s a beautiful mare, she’s in foal to Arch,” James Keogh said. “We just loved the Elusive Quality, loved the racehorse. She belonged to the Costigans, and Evelyn said she just had to have her. She’ll breed her to her stallion in Louisiana.”

Roan Inish will be sent to Clear Creek Stud in Louisiana.

Glenye Cain Oakford contributed to this story

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