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Updated: 6 hours 57 min ago

Bound For Nowhere Staying Home

Thu, 2018-07-19 18:35

Trainer Wesley Ward was unable to secure a deal with the remaining slot-holders for the A$13-million The Everest in Sydney in October, meaning that GSW and G1 Diamond Jubilee S. third placegetter Bound For Nowhere (The Factor) will remain in Kentucky for the balance of the season, with the Breeders’ Cup the long-term goal.

“No deal,” Ward confirmed. “We had him in quarantine trying to secure a spot. It was all working out great. When I came back [from Royal Ascot], we put him in Ashford in a beautiful spot and we had a couple of weeks to try to find something. But [the slot-holders] didn’t see the little bit of a break as a positive, they seemed to have viewed it as a negative. James Ross from the ATC [Australian Turf Club, one of two remaining slot-holders] worked hard to try to sell it, but we’re staying home. It didn’t materialize and I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.”

Bound For Nowhere, winner of the GIII Shakertown S. earlier this season, is back in the Ward shedrow at Keeneland and will build up to a return to the races come September. Australia’s loss could be Kentucky Downs’s gain.

“He’s trained beautiful the last couple of days and I’m really looking forward to the next couple of starts he’s got,” Ward said. “I’ll breeze him in about a week’s time and we’ll look at either the [$750,000] Tourist Mile [Sept. 1] or the [$500,000 Kentucky Downs Turf] Sprint [Sept. 8] and then on to either the [GI] Shadwell Mile or I might stick to sprinting. With Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy) retired, he moves up into the number one spot for sprinters.”

Though his Breeders’ Cup destination–Mile or Turf Sprint–will hinge on his upcoming performances, Ward said that would be the end of the line for 2018.

“Win, lose or draw, he’ll do exactly what he did last year. He’ll get the winter off and I’ll try to have a 5-year-old campaign with him,” the conditioner said. “He’s very lightly raced, I own him and so I can call the shots with him. I’ll start him back in the spring again, hopefully he has a big Keeneland and we’ll decide if he’s still worthy or good enough to go back to Ascot again. He’s one guy I think can do it.”


A Frustrated Ron Paolucci to Leave Sport

Thu, 2018-07-19 17:38

Ron Paolucci, who owns more than 120 horses and was the second leading owner in the U.S. last year in wins with 159 victories, has decided to leave the sport.

The story was first reported by the Daily Racing Form.

Paolucci, whose horses ran under the name of Loooch Racing Stables, likes to do things his way and that led him to make several unconventional moves that rubbed some people the wrong way.

In 2017, two of his horses were barred from racing because officials did not believe they belonged in the race. He entered May B (Werblin) as a rabbit for his top horse at the time, War Story (Northern Afleet) in the GI Woodward S., but the entry was not accepted. The stewards ruled that the horse was scratched because they believed May B was not entered with the intent of winning. Some two months later, the Breeders’ Cup would not allow Paolucci to enter Heavenhasmynikki (Majestic Warrior) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies because she had never raced before.

“I was an outsider looking in in my first year in racing,” he said. “Now, I realize it was all about politics. This is a game that says it wants guys like me. But it really doesn’t. I speak my mind, run where I want to, I don’t believe in the politics. Just because something isn’t done, it shouldn’t mean you can’t do it. If it’s going to grow, this is a game that needs people like myself who think outside the box.”

Paolucci said he had been wavering on whether or not he should remain in the horse business for quite some time, and that a July 9 race at Thistledown was the breaking point. He ran an entry with Game Over (Mineshaft) as the much stronger half. At odds of 1-5, Game Over won by 1 3/4 lengths. But the stewards disqualified him, ruling that his entrymate Chromium (Vronsky) was ridden in a way to interfere with Game Over’s competition. Chromium’s rider Luis Rivera received a 30-day suspension.

“They questioned Luis dozens of times, kept asking him what did they tell you to do, how did they tell you to ride the race?” Paolucci said. “Game Over was 1-5. He didn’t need any help. It was the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I think they gave Rivera 30 days because he didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. They wanted him to say that I cheated and set this up. I won’t let anyone defame my name like that.”

Paolucci’s horses are spread around the country with several different trainers. He said he will continue to race some expecting that they will get claimed away. Any horses he still owns in the fall will be sold at either Fasig-Tipton’s November sale or at an Ohio mixed sale in December.

Paolucci, who is from the Cleveland area, started with Standardbreds in 2011. A year later, he began building his Thoroughbred stable. In the first two years he owned horses he tried to compete mainly at the top level and had little success. He changed his strategy and became a top owner at the Ohio tracks while maintaining a few classier horses that raced elsewhere.

He said once he started concentrating on Ohio racing, his stable became profitable.

“I was making money–that’s an anguishing part of this decision,” he said. “I did very well in Ohio and that became the backbone of my operation. In my first six months in the sport, I got my butt kicked. I couldn’t compete with these big guys. I came back home and put together a financial plan where I could make a profit. I didn’t get rich off of it but was making a decent living.”

Paolucci’s greatest success came with Ria Antonia (Rockport Harbor), who was placed first through disqualification in the 2013 GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. He also owned War Story through much of his career. War Story has earned $2.6 million.

“I learned a lot from the day I started,” he said. “I like to think I evolved as an owner. I know that I don’t know everything, but I tried to do my best and to help the sport. It’s not a sport that wants help. I’m done.”


Summer at the Spa Begins With Tight Races Expected

Thu, 2018-07-19 15:29

Saratoga opens its doors for opening day of the historic track’s 40-day summer stand Friday, with the GIII Schuylerville S. and GIII Lake George S. anchoring the initial card. The premier meet, which runs through Labor Day, will host a total of 69 stakes events worth a record $18.85 million in purses.

As has been the case in past years, much attention will be devoted to the race for the trainers’ title, which once again features an expected battle between the powerhouse stables of Todd Pletcher and Mechanicville, New York native Chad Brown. In 2017, Pletcher’s 40 wins bested Brown’s 39, turning the tables on the results of the 2016 season, which saw Brown put a brief halt to Pletcher’s prevailing dominance at the Spa. The Texas native emerged victorious at Saratoga in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 prior to reclaiming the title in 2017. Brown, meanwhile, is considered by many to be the favorite in 2018 with a stable loaded with talent, particularly for the meet’s ample turf opportunities. That forte figures to be on full display in Saturday’s featured GI Diana S., where Brown will send out the trio of Sistercharlie (Ire) (Myboycharlie {Ire}), New Money Honey (Medaglia d’Oro) and A Raving Beauty (Ger) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}).

The jockey’s race could prove equally intriguing, with the Ortiz brothers–Jose Ortiz and Irad Ortiz, Jr.–establishing themselves as mainstays atop the New York Racing Association standings in recent years. Younger brother Jose Ortiz has captured the Saratoga title each of the last two seasons, but his older brother claimed a title of his own in 2015. As a preface to this year’s Saratoga meet, Irad claimed the riding title at the 54-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet.

Saratoga Stars
by Mike Kane

While we know that Saratoga is an important meeting, since we keep score in sports, a quick review of the numbers shows that a high percentage of North America’s champions and elite performers compete at the Spa every summer. Last year, eight of the 11 Eclipse Award winners–including Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg})–made at least one start at Saratoga Race Course. Two of the no-shows were injured when the 40-day meet was held, and Sprint champ Roy H (More Than Ready) did not leave California in 2017.

An ankle issue will keep Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy)–certain to be the 3-year-old male titlist and Horse of the Year–from Saratoga, but it is a very safe bet that plenty of other champs will race at America’s oldest track before the meet closes on Labor Day, Sept. 3. They certainly did last year:

–53 of the 159 horses that competed in the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar–33%–made at least one start at Saratoga.
–Six of the 13 Breeders’ Cup winners–46%–went to the post at the meet. A seventh, GI Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Rushing Fall (More Than Ready), trained at Saratoga by Chad Brown and was scheduled to make her debut on the final day of the season, but was scratched when the race came off the grass.
–11 of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races had at least one Saratoga veteran finish in the top three. Fourteen of the 39 horses–36%–that hit the board in the Breeders’ Cup raced at Saratoga.
–Eight of the 20 horses that started in this year’s Kentucky Derby had “Sar” in their past performances. Half of the eight Preakness runners and three of the 10 in the Belmont came through Saratoga, as well.
–Gun Runner was the 10th of the 17 Horses of the Year this century to race at least once at Saratoga during the year they were honored. Three others competed at the Spa at some point. And Gun Runner, who won the GI Whitney S. and GI Woodward S. last summer, was the eighth straight winner of the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic to run at the Spa.

Making the Most of It

The quality of racing at the 40-day Saratoga meet is arguably unparalleled, and although it only spans less than a month-and-a-half on the calendar, it is possible for in-form horses to register multiple wins at the meet. Last year, trainer Linda Rice’s charges Voodoo Song (English Channel) and New York’s Finest (City Zip) posted records of 4-for-4 and 3-for-3, respectively, over the Saratoga turf. Both 4-year-olds return for this year’s meet off winning efforts: Voodoo Song captured the Forbidden Apple S. at Belmont last Saturday, while New York’s Finest dominated a Monmouth allowance event July 13.

In total, 28 horses won multiple races at Saratoga in 2017, with GI Diana S. entrant and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Proctor’s Ledge (Ghostzapper) among the most prominent names, having won both the Lake George and GII Lake Placid S.

“Live” Racing Returns

The 2018 meet also marks the return of NYRA’s widely acclaimed “Saratoga Live, Presented by Claiborne Farm,” which features 2 1/2 hours of live coverage from the Spa on nearly every day of the meet. The program airs nationally on Fox Sports 2 from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. ET.


Bolt d’Oro to Join Asmussen Barn

Thu, 2018-07-19 12:05

MGISW Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro), who is in the midst of a 60-day freshening period at owner Mick Ruis’s Farm in Lexington, will be transferred to the care of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen when he returns to the racetrack, Shelbe Ruis of Ruis Racing confirmed via Twitter Thursday. As first reported by the Blood-Horse, Mick Ruis, who trained the horse through the first eight starts of his career–including victories in the GI Del Mar Futurity, GI FrontRunner S. and GII San Felipe S.–elected to transfer the horse to Asmussen.

A good second behind eventual Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy) in the GI Santa Anita Derby Apr. 7, the bay subsequently went off form, finishing 12th in the May 5 GI Kentucky Derby and 11th facing older rivals in the June 9 GI Met Mile H. Upon his retirement, Bolt d’Oro is slated to stand at B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift Farm.

Shelbe Ruis added that 2016 GI Del Mar Debutante S. heroine Union Strike (Union Rags) would also join the Asmussen barn. The 4-year-old, most recently third in the GIII Chicago H. June 23, worked at Keeneland July 5.


TBA Proposes GB-Bred Premium Scheme

Thu, 2018-07-19 11:52

NEWMARKET, UK—”An industry that has a seismic crack in it,” was how Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA) board member Philip Newton described British breeding during an address to members at the 101st annual general meeting of the TBA on Thursday.

Newton’s assertion was part of his overview of a recent Economic Impact Study undertaken by the TBA, the full results of which are yet to be published. In short, the review points to a “dire” situation for the smaller breeder in Britain, where breeders collectively can expect to receive 2% return on capital investment.

A similar study undertaken in 2014 highlighted the fact that 45% of British breeders operate at a loss. Just four years later that figure has risen to 66%. A total of 353 breeders, or 8%, have left the industry in the last five years.

“Many small to medium-sized breeders are facing extinction if the return on their investment does not improve,” Newton warned. “Breeders selling in Book 1 of the October Sale can expect to make on average a profit of £118,000, while those selling a Book 3 yearling are looking at an average loss of £23,500. The average loss to a breeder producing a National Hunt filly is £12,000.”

With a third of the British-bred foals being produced by breeders owning one or two mares, the TBA is naturally keen that the decline in the number of smaller British-based breeders—which currently stands at 3,318—is halted.

“We need 20,000 individual runners to sustain the British racing programme and roughly 50% of those currently are British-breds,” added Newton, who also pointed to the demand for horses bred in Britain and by its close neighbours, illustrated by the fact that members of more than 30 different nations were listed among the buyers at last week’s July Sale at Tattersalls.

The implementation of bonus schemes is nothing new in the racing industry in Britain and beyond, but in order to try to help British breeders, the TBA has prepared a paper outlining a British-bred Premium Scheme, to some extent a beefed-up version of the Plus 10 Bonus Scheme, which it is hoped will be in place from 2019.

Detailing this proposal, which will need to be ratified by the wider racing industry, Newton’s fellow board member Bryan Mayoh said, “The aim is to provide significant incentive, either for British-bred horses or for those sired by stallions standing in Britain, to encourage increased demand at the sales and increased participation by owner-breeders.”

With a nomination to be paid by the breeder, it is, to a degree, another form of self-help scheme, but one which it is hoped will be significantly boosted by Levy funding, with the aim being to have a pool of £7.75 million specifically targeted at British-bred or -sired horses. The small print has yet to be finalised, but it is proposed that horses carrying a GB suffix and by a British stallion would receive 100% of a bonus payment, while those bred in Britain by an outside stallion, or those by a British stallion but foaled elsewhere, would receive 50%. There would also be breeders’ prizes of up to 20% of each bonus and no limit on the number of bonuses won.

Mayoh, the co-breeder of 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John (GB) (Midnight Legend {GB}), was the architect of the Mare Owners’ Prize Scheme (MOPS), which was introduced two years ago by the TBA’s National Hunt committee in order to help boost the popularity of jump-bred fillies at the sales. MOPS, which offers bonus payments of £5,000 for bumper winners and £10,000 for hurdles or steeplechase winners, is widely considered to have been a success, with the previously overlooked National Hunt filly foal or store now being given greater consideration at the sales by pinhookers and owners alike.

For the last two years in Britain, there has been no escaping the topic of Brexit, and the Thoroughbred industry is not exempt to the concerns regarding the implications of the country’s departure from the European Union.

In his chairman’s speech, Julian Richmond-Watson updated members on the TBA’s attempts to encourage the upholding of the Tripartite Agreement. He said, “It was clear to us at an early stage that Brexit and the freedom of horse movement between Great Britain, France and Ireland was extremely important to TBA members and so we became involved from the start and have led negotiations with those two countries, Brussels and our own DEFRA. With the support of Weatherbys and the BHA we have made good progress in ensuring that everyone has a good understanding of the issues involved. This is not going to be easy and the politicians and Brussels can still cause us problems.”

The result of the election for two seats on the TBA board was announced at the AGM, with Bryan Mayoh being re-elected and Anita Wigan joining the board for the first time, replacing the retiring vice-chairman Paul Greeves.

Medaglia d’Oro FTKJUL Topper Named ‘Rising Star’ in Del Mar Unveiling

Wed, 2018-07-18 20:23

Brill (f, 2, Medaglia d’Oro–Hung the Moon, by Malibu Moon), who topped last year’s Fasig-Tipton July Yearling Sale at a cool $1-million–$690,000 more than the next-priciest lot–entered Del Mar’s opening day baby race Wednesday with significant steam and ran to it despite a less-than-perfect journey to garner the ‘TDN Rising Star’ distinction. Showing an upbeat series of drills at Santa Anita, the bay opened at 3-5 and never drifted up. Awkwardly away, she settled into a mid-pack spot out wide behind an opening quarter of :22.07. Getting going with a nice move as they spun for home, Brill continued on into the lane and out-kicked game longshot Del Mar May (Jimmy Creed) to score by a 1 1/4-length margin, stopping the clock in :57.86.

Brill is the first foal out of Hung the Moon (Malibu Moon), who just missed with a troubled trip on debut at Oaklawn in January of her sophomore season before reeling off two subsequent scores on the stretch-out. She’d add a two-turn stakes victory at Prairie Meadows the following season, and the Pin Oaks Stable homebred was eventually scooped up for $280,000 by Mike Levy on behalf of Southern Equine at the 2015 Keeneland November sale with Brill in utero. Hung the Moon’s Curlin filly of last season was a $420,000 Fasig-Tipton November weanling purchase by John Dowd, an advisor to Brill’s owner Larry Best. She produced a Laoban filly Mar. 8. Brill is bred on a version of the Medaglia d’Oro–A.P. Indy cross responsible for the likes of Grade I winners Plum Pretty, Bolt d’Oro and Dickinson.

Best and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer also boast one of the most promising juvenile colts in the country in $1.2-million FTFMAR grad Instagrand (Into Mischief), named aTDN Rising Star himself for a 10-length drubbing at Los Alamitos June 29.

7th-Del Mar, $61,725, Msw, 7-18, 2yo, f, 5f, :57.86, ft.
BRILL, f, 2, Medaglia d’Oro
1st Dam: Hung the Moon (SW, $170,092), by Malibu Moon
2nd Dam: Storm Breaking, by Storm Cat
3rd Dam: Sigrun, by Crafty Prospector
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $36,000. Click for the chart, VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton or the free catalogue-style pedigree.
O-OXO Equine LLC; B-Southern Equine Stables, LLC (KY); T-Jerry Hollendorfer. *$1,000,000 Ylg ’17 FTKJUL.


Sports Leagues Fire Return Salvo to Stifle $150M Damages Claim

Wed, 2018-07-18 17:08

The four major United States professional sports leagues and the National College Athletic Association have collectively fired a return legal salvo in an attempt to dismiss a claim by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) that Monmouth Park and the state were allegedly deprived of nearly $150 million in revenue while the legality of sports betting was fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case dates to October 2014, when Monmouth’s operator, Darby Development LLC, first believed it had the authority to take sports bets on National Football League games. The leagues joined forces and filed a lawsuit in an attempt to halt the bet-taking, but had to post a $3.4 million bond, which the court deemed to be Monmouth’s projected revenue losses for a month while the temporary restraining order (TRO) was in effect.

But the case ended up taking 42 months—as opposed to just the one month that the bond covered—to resolve.

And when the Supreme Court finally issued its landmark decision to strike down the federal law barring wagering on team sports on May 14, 2018, Monmouth soon after sought damages in U.S. District Court based on all the bet-taking revenue it allegedly lost, extrapolating the initial $3.4 million bond to extend over the entire time frame from when the TRO went into effect until Monmouth was legally allowed to begin accepting wagers.

The leagues’ July 16 memorandum of law in opposition to the NJTHA’s motion for judgment states, in part, “NJTHA is not entitled to recover anything from the TRO bond, and its motion should be denied for several reasons,” outlined as follows:

“First, as a matter of law, NJTHA may not recover damages allegedly sustained after the expiration of the TRO on November 21, 2014.

“Second, NJTHA’s effort to recover more than the amount of the bond for damages allegedly sustained after the expiration of the TRO by asserting that the Leagues acted in bad faith in pursuing their rights under PASPA is frivolous and should be rejected.

“Third, NJTHA is not entitled to recover anything under the bond because, as a matter of law, it was not “wrongfully enjoined” by the TRO.

“And fourth, NJTHA has not proven the existence or amount of any alleged damages during the four weeks that it was restrained by the TRO.”

The NJTHA now has until Aug. 13 to file its reply in federal court.

Globetrotting Lady Aurelia Retired

Wed, 2018-07-18 16:59

‘TDN Rising Star’ Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy-D’ Wildcat Speed, by Forest Wildcat), the fleet filly who won Group 1 races in both England and France, has been retired. The news was first reported by TVG.

According to trainer Wesley Ward, the filly is sound and doing well, but owners Stonestreet Stables and Peter Leidel thought that since her recent form had been a bit below norm it was a good time to call it a career.

Lady Aurelia last raced in the G1 King’s Stand S. at Royal Ascot June 19. As the 2-1 favorite, she finished seventh. She was also beaten in her prior start, the Giant’s Causeway S. at Keeneland. She was the 3-5 favorite in that race and finished second.

“This morning she was bucking and kicking and playing in her stall,” Ward said. “It was probably selfish of me to do so, but I pitched them to let me keep going with her because I thought she still has that fire in her. She’s feeling good and is perfectly sound and the Breeders’ Cup is at Churchill this year. She’s trained her whole life right down the street at Keeneland. Ward continued, “Maybe cooler heads prevailed. Looking at the bigger picture she hasn’t been the same lately. Mentally, physically she seems to be fine, but when she had laid it down on the racetrack in her last couple of runs she hasn’t been as good as she was last year. In the last race at Ascot, she just didn’t fire on the day, for whatever reason.”

To Ward, Lady Aurelia is the type of horse every trainer dreams of having.

“If you’re lucky, you get blessed with something like her maybe once in your career, so I was very lucky and fortunate to be able to train her,” he said. “She’s been very special to me and my family and she gave us life-long memories from what she accomplished at two and three going over to Royal Ascot. She had a fantastic run. She’s certainly the most accomplished horse I’ve ever trained and the best 2-year-old I ever trained.. To come back and be vindicated at three (with a win in the King’s Stand) was very special. I’ve had some great horses and she’s certainly at the top of that list.”

Lady Aurelia is the only American-based horse to win a Cartier Award, Europe’s version of the Eclipse Awards. She was named champion 2-year-old filly in 2016 thanks to wins in the G2 Queen Mary S. at Royal Ascot and the G1 Prix Morny in France. Her 2017 King’s Stand win made her a two-time winner at Royal Ascot.

The $350,000 KEESEP yearling, bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, won five of 10 career starts, good for $834,945 in earnings. She ran more times in Europe (6) than she did in the U.S. (4).

The owners have yet to decide who she will be bred to.

Oaklawn to Stage Two $1M Races in 2019

Wed, 2018-07-18 16:39

Having already announced an historic extension of their winter meeting into May for the first time, officials at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, said Wednesday that the GII Rebel S. will see its purse boosted by $100,000 to join the GI Arkansas Derby as seven-figure events to be staged in 2019. New to the stakes schedule are the $250,000 Oaklawn Invitational S., a nine-furlong test on Kentucky Derby day May 4, and the $200,000 Oaklawn Mile, the centerpiece of the track’s May 3 program.

“The Rebel S. has become a significant prep in its own right and warrants a one-million dollar purse with runners like Smarty Jones, Lookin at Lucky, Curlin, Oxbow, Will Take Charge, American Pharoah and Creator,” Oaklawn President Louis Cella said. “We’re extremely proud to offer the richest and most proven path to the Triple Crown.”

Oaklawn is the only track in the country to offer a pair of seven-figure lead-up races into the Triple Crown.

Some of the track’s other black-type races have seen their purses increased. The GIII Fantasy S., the local prep for the GI Kentucky Oaks contested on the opening day of the Racing Festival of the South, will be worth $500,000 in 2019, up $100,000 on 2018, while the GIII Bayakoa S., a steppingstone to the GI Apple Blossom H., sees its prize money hiked to $200,000 from its previous level of $150,000. The Bayakoa is part of a triple-stakes card on President’s Day, Monday, Feb. 18, sharing the bill with the $500,000 GIII Southwest S. and the $500,000 GIII Razorback H.

“We couldn’t be more excited about our new stakes and racing schedule,” Cella said. “We are now able to present some of our best racing during the best time of the year weather-wise in Arkansas. While the Racing Festival of the South will remain the focal point of the season, we look forward to growing the new stakes races and providing our fans with world-class racing into May.”

Oaklawn will stage 30 stakes events worth $8.85 million during the 2019 season, which runs Jan. 25 through May 4.

Depth of Class–Rest of the ’18 Freshman Sires

Wed, 2018-07-18 14:58

It’s been 11 years since the first yearlings from Tapit, Candy Ride (Arg), Medaglia d’Oro and Speightstown hit the market. That epic sire class now has 68 Grade I winners between them, according to the TDN Sire Lists, and no fewer than 88 active sire sons.

We haven’t seen a comparable group since–and really, not many before. But the incoming freshman, those with their first yearlings in 2018, hold as much latent promise as any of the past three decades, and it wouldn’t be a shock if we look at them the same way 11 years from now.

American Pharoah is the runaway market leader, and for obvious reasons. His first-crop weanlings–the first available by a Triple Crown winner in 36 years–averaged $467,307 from 13 sold in 2017. That’s a massive figure about 3 1/2 times the average number of the crop’s leading sire for the past five years. He is joined by Honor Code, Tonalist, Liam’s Map, Carpe Diem, Constitution, Palace Malice, and Bayern, each one a multiple Grade I winner.

A month ago, we launched a videos series that put a spotlight on these stars, and spoke with connections about what to expect now that their first foals are yearlings.

In this last installment of the series, we’ll focus on some of those freshman sires who stood for $15,000 or less. These are sires that, though without the big price tag, aren’t exactly short on credentials. They include Gainesway’s GI Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Karakontie (Jpn), WinStar’s Grade I winner Daredevil and the impeccably bred Commissioner, and the Grade I winners Mr Speaker and Lea, who stand at Lane’s End and Claiborne, respectively.

Lea (First Samurai) was maybe the surprise sire of the lot last year, when 17 of 21 weanlings on offer sold for an average of $88,294. A $230,000 session topper at Keeneland November was notable, and that off a $12,500 fee (he’s now down to $7,500). Lea’s race record reflected his transatlantic pedigree. Out of a Galileo (Ire) mare, he was first or second in 13 of 19 starts and earned $2.3 million; he beat Will Take Charge in the GI Donn H., ran third in the G1 Dubai World Cup, and was a close-up second in the GI Woodbine Mile on turf.

“He’s very versatile, and I think that’s what led his weanlings to sell so well,” said Claiborne’s Walker Hancock. “I think a lot of buyers saw that potential in his offspring, that he could be dirt or turf, and that’s very attractive.”

Karakontie (Jpn) (Bernstein) is another with an international pedigree, hailing from the family of the current phenom Alpha Centauri (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}). The Japanese-bred Flaxman colorbearer is a great-grandson of Miesque, so his second dam is a half to Kingmambo. A Group 1 winner at two, Karakontie emulated Kingmambo’s victory in the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains as a sophomore. Then, like Miesque, he shipped to Southern California to win the BC Mile while still a 3-year-old. His 2017 weanlings average $68,866 off at $15,000 fee.

“I think his stock have progressed very well,” said Gainesway’s Michael Hernon. “They have plenty of size. He dominates his mares, and I think [his yearlings] strongly resemble him. He got very strong initial support from [Gainesway owner] Antony Beck, who really gave this horse a huge chance, breeding 40 of his own mares in year one. Maria Niarchos has also supported the horse well through the first three years.”

WinStar has four freshman sires in 2018. Carpe Diem and Constitution headline, but both Daredevil and Commissioner have offered breeders bang for the buck. Daredevil (More Than Ready), at $12,500 initially, very much fit the mold of that explosive Todd Pletcher-trained 2-year-old who looks like any kind. In fact, he’s not completely dissimilar from his sire, another Pletcher pupil. Daredevil romped in his six-furlong debut at Belmont in 1:09.87, then beat Upstart by 2 1/2 lengths in the GI Champagne S. with a huge 107 Beyer.

“More Than Ready has established himself as one of the best 2-year-old sires, year in and year out, not only here in America, but worldwide,” said WinStar’s Sean Tugel. “His 107 Beyer in the Champagne was the fastest 2-year-old mile in over 20 years. So he set himself apart from many other sons of More Than Ready with his early speed and Grade I ability.”

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Daredevil had three sell at Fasig-Tipton July for an average of $63,000.

It’s easy to remember Commissioner (A.P. Indy) as the Classic-performing 3-year-old he was. The striking colt was just touched off a head by Tonalist in the GI Belmont S., and returned at four to win a trio of graded stakes, the GII Hawthorne Gold Cup H. among them. But the half to the good sprinter Laugh Track (Distorted Humor) was early enough to break his maiden at Saratoga as a 2-year-old, albeit in a rare nine-furlong main-track event for juveniles. He went for $7,500 in his first year.

Commissioner had a big group of 10 at July. Seven sold for an average of $60,714, led by a pair of colts who made $100,000 each.

“Being by A.P. Indy, sometimes you can get labeled as a little bit later-developing horse,” said Tugel. “But the fact that there [was] such a large cross-section of his crop in the first sale shows that there’s quite a bit of precocity to him. Not only to himself, but to his first crop of yearlings.”

Lane’s End’s Mr Speaker (Pulpit) was bred to be a sire. He’s out of a Grade II-performing Unbridled daughter of Personal Ensign and thus shares a cross with Tapit. As a runner, he was a versatile sort for Shug McGaughey. He aired by four lengths in the GIII Coolmore Lexington S. on the Poly at three, then upset a deep field in the GI Belmont Derby over turf a few starts later. Backers of Mr Speaker, who stands for $10,000, had to be encouraged by the $180,000 yearling colt that sold at Fasig July. (Another by the sire was bought back for $95,000.)

“He’s got a great syndicate behind him and the support has been excellent,” said Lane’s End’s Bill Farish. “I think certainly being bred the way he is, you’d think that dirt is a real possibility, and the fact that he was a really good turf horse himself, I think he’ll be versatile. I think what we’re seeing in his yearlings is not making us thinking any differently.”

To view the entire videos series on this year’s freshman class, click here.

California Chrome to Receive Comeback Award

Tue, 2018-07-17 17:19

The 2018 Rood & Riddle Comeback Award, presented to a horse who “has performed at the highest levels of competition, faced a medical/ surgical issue, received veterinary care by a Rood & Riddle veterinarian, and subsequently returned to compete at his/ her previous performance level” has been awarded to California Chrome.

Winner of the 2014 GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S., the flashy chestnut was aimed for an English campaign following his runner-up effort in the G1 Dubai World Cup, but was subsequently sidelined and was treated by Dr. Larry Bramlage, who decided to treat California Chrome medically and give him a break. Returned to trainer Art Sherman in late 2015, the California-bred won the 2016 World Cup to assume the mantle of world’s richest horse at the time. California Chrome now stands stud at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky.

“We are extremely pleased to present the 2018 Rood & Riddle Comeback Award to California Chrome,” said Dr. Tom Riddle. “He exemplifies the characteristics of an outstanding equine athlete who suffered a health issue, returned to elite competition and continued his winning ways.”

Previous winners of the Comeback Award include multiple horse of the year Wise Dan and the World Champion Fine Harness Saddlebred mare Tempt Me.

KHBPA ‘Excited’ Over Pending Ellis Sale; Smooth Transition Expected

Tue, 2018-07-17 17:15

The weeks-long rumored sale of Ellis Park got a step closer to reality on Tuesday, when the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) approved the transfer of Ron Geary’s 70% ownership to Saratoga Casino and Hospitality Group (SCHG).

With the deal expected to close within days, the message to the Ellis backstretch community from leadership in the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is to expect an untroubled management transition, largely because SCHG is a known entity. The gaming and hospitality company, based in Saratoga Springs, New York, has owned a 30% minority stake in Ellis since 2012.

“We’re excited with the sale. We worked with Saratoga in the past when they purchased a portion of Ellis Park, so it would seem like this is the most seamless way to continue on a pretty good meet,” Marty Maline, the KHBPA executive director, told TDN via phone shortly after the commission meeting concluded.

“Any time you have any kind of situation where you get new [racetrack] management, you can kind of be a little bit disjointed and lose your continuity,” Maline said. “But with them already being familiar with Ellis Park, I think it will be a smooth transition. We understand it will be fairly soon, and I think it will work very well. I think it will be business as usual.”

When TDN attempted to contact Ellis general manager Jeff Hall to discuss short-term expectations, he said he was involved in a meeting with attorneys about the pending sale and would not be able to speak on the record. SCHG officials in New York could not be reached for comment prior to deadline for this story.

But Geary, Ellis’s outgoing owner, said via press release that it is his understanding that SCHG’s intent is to keep the current Ellis management team intact.

“That’s what I recommended,” Geary said.

As for his reason for selling, Geary said this: “It’s been 12 years, and I just turned 71. My wife and my two kids and my nine grandkids for years have asked me to slow down. I think it’s time. I’ve enjoyed working with Saratoga over the years. It’s been a really fun and fast-moving 12 years. I feel like we’ve had some great successes and we’ve brought it a long ways with so many people’s help. I know Saratoga will be focused on continuing the progress.”

When Geary teamed with SCHG in 2012, the 30% stake cost $4 million. Geary then invested that money into the launch of historical race gaming at Ellis.

The terms of the pending deal for the remaining 70% stake were not disclosed.

This year Ellis is offering a record $230,000 a day in purses, made possible in part because of a relationship with Kentucky Downs in which the KHBPA facilitated the transfer of $2.9 million in purses from Kentucky Downs to Ellis to bolster purses and encourage horsemen to stay in Kentucky for the summer.

“With the extra purse money that we were able to provide from Kentucky Downs, we’ve been able to entice more horsemen from areas such as Churchill and even Chicago in maiden-allowance and allowance races,” Maline said. “Even our claiming purses have allowed us to have a better body of horse, and obviously with the fuller fields, the race meeting is going very well.”


Sequel Mares and Foals Die in Van Fire

Tue, 2018-07-17 16:31

Three mares and their accompanying foals died Tuesday in a van that caught fire in an accident on the way from Kentucky to New York, Sequel Stallions New York announced Tuesday afternoon. Among the horses who died were Red Diamond Stables’s La Java (Medaglia d’Oro) and her colt by Constitution; Starship Stables’s Starship Voodoo (Roar) and her colt by Macho Uno; and Sequel’s own Southern Sunshine (High Cotton) and her filly by Orb.

“These were not just any mares, as they were foremost in our hearts,” read a post on Sequel New York’s website. “We send our condolences to all the connections that are sharing in this loss.”


King, Leonard, TDN to Partner on Australia-New Zealand Edition

Tue, 2018-07-17 16:00

Thoroughbred Daily News Australia-New Zealand, a comprehensive website and eNewspaper, will debut on Aug. 15, 2018. TDN AusNZ is co-founded and owned by Gary King, the Vice President of International Operations of TDN, and Vicky Leonard, formerly the Marketing and Projects Manager at Arrowfield Stud.

It will operate in partnership with the world-renowned Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN) brand, but will be its own distinct entity and ownership structure. The company will be based in Sydney, Australia.

“I’m delighted to be launching TDNAusNZ with Vicky Leonard,” said King. “I have always wanted to develop a product for the Australasian marketplace, and that time has arrived. Vicky’s reputation within the industry for creativity and forward thinking needs no introduction.”

“The TDN has an excellent reputation as a customer-focused brand delivering quality bloodstock editorial. I am excited to continue that mission with TDNAusNZ,” said Leonard. “We will launch with an interactive digital platform, designed for our increasingly mobile lives and to provide innovative opportunities for advertisers.”

King will continue in his current role with TDN as Vice-President of International Operations, but will also be a managing owner of TDNAusNZ. “We plan on bringing many of the same qualities that has made TDN so successful, but we have some exciting new additions tailored for an Australian/New Zealand audience.”

Just as the TDN before it, and the popular TDN European edition which King oversees, TDNAusNZ will be aimed at the busy industry professional with the goal of delivering the information he or she needs in a comprehensive yet digestible offering.

“It’s difficult to allocate time each day to filter through various media sources,” said Leonard. “Yet our roles depend on keeping up with the most essential industry news, stallion trends and pedigrees; plus up-to-date race and sales results. We need quality information at our fingertips, and we need to understand what it means for us, our business and our clients.”

TDNAusNZ will investigate, interpret and deliver the most valuable content in an easy-to-read, palatable format. It will dissect and discuss important events, tell stories and analyse industry trends, and bring relevant ideas from the outside world to help grow the readers’ knowledge and help them in their business. Breaking news will be covered and circulated immediately.

The paper will be delivered in a mobile-optimised format that works in conjunction with the daily routine of readers. Over time the TDNAusNZ platform will develop additional interactive and helpful tools, guided by feedback from readers and advertisers.

Kelsey Riley, TDN International Editor, will be a frequent contributor to TDNAusNZ. TDNAusNZ has hired Paul Vettise and Brendan O’Brien as associate editors. The publication will also use a global team of freelance journalists.

“I’m very excited to be apart of TDNAusNZ,” said Riley. “I have made frequent trips to Australia the past five years to cover sales for the TDN, and have long felt that there was room in this thriving marketplace for a dynamic digital product like TDNAusNZ. I think users will find it to be a good blend of components that have traditionally served TDN readers well, and innovative new ideas.”

Click here to sign up for free to TDNAusNZ.

Gary King
+1 732 320 0975

Vicky Leonard
+61 405 601 152

Finger Lakes Barn Quarantined for Strangles

Tue, 2018-07-17 15:18

A confirmed case of strangles has led to a state-imposed quarantine of Barn 19 at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack and at a separate off-track training stable in Ontario County.

The national Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) database reported Tuesday that the precautionary quarantine was mandated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets after a horse (that was not identified) became clinically ill July 10 after leaving the track July 8.

“Both quarantined premises have biosecurity procedures in place,” the EDCC reported. “Horses in Barn 19 will not be allowed to race until July 29 but will be allowed to train under certain restrictions. If there are any confirmed cases or signs consistent with strangles found, the quarantine may be extended. Officials will continue to monitor the situation.”

Strangles, also known as “equine distemper,” is a contagious upper respiratory tract bacterial infection that can produce coughing, nasal discharge and fever while causing lymph nodes to swell. Left untreated, the swelling can cause airway obstruction leading to death (thus the name “strangles”).


Hall of Fame Jockey Manny Ycaza Dies

Tue, 2018-07-17 15:09

Panamanian-born Hall of Fame jockey Manuel (Manny) Ycaza, who laid the groundwork for jockeys of Latin American origin in finding success in the United States, passed away July 15 in New York. He was 80 years old.

According to biographical information from the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Ycaza began riding horses as early as age six and was riding professionally in his native Panama already as a 14-year-old. He also rode for a time in Mexico before shifting his tack to the U.S.

The first two-time winner of the prestigious D. C. International in 1959 and 1960–both times with the Cain Hoy Stable-owned and Woody Stephens-trained Bald Eagle-Ycaza was subsequently hired by owner E. P. Taylor of Windfields Farm to ride Canebora and the duo teamed to take the 1963 Queen’s Plate. Ycaza added an American Classic to his resume the following season, guiding Rokeby Stables’ Quadrangle to victory in the Belmont S. to short-circuit the Triple Crown bid of Northern Dancer, owned, ironically, by Windfields. Ycaza tasted further success in New York in 1968, piloting Dark Mirage to the first Filly Triple Crown, then consisting of the Acorn S., the Mother Goose S. and the Coaching Club American Oaks.

Ycaza won four riding titles at Saratoga and in 1959, posted 41 wins, a record that stood for 38 years. Though his aggressive riding style landed him in frequent hot water with stewards, Ycaza was selected by his peers as winner of the George Woolf Memorial Award in 1964, retired from the saddle in 1971 due to injuries and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

“People say to me that I must be rich by now,” Ycaza said in a June 1960 Sports Illustrated article. “I say, ‘No, to be rich is not to have only money. To be rich is to be warm in here, in the heart. If you have five friends, you are the millionaire.'”

According to Daily Racing Form, visitation will be held Friday, July 20, from 2-5 p.m. and from 7-9 p.m. at the Fox Funeral Home, 98-07 Ascan Avenue, Forest Hills, NY. A funeral mass is to be held Saturday, July 21, at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs with burial in the Mt. St. Mary cemetery in Flushing, Queens.

Del Mar Opens With Strong Field Sizes

Tue, 2018-07-17 12:11

Del Mar opens its doors for its 36-day summer meet Wednesday with large fields highlighting the opening day card. While the first three races on the card are claiming events with nine horses signed on for each, the back end of the day features ample quality–including an overflow field of 16 entered for the grassy Oceanside S. for 3-year-olds, which goes as race eight. While in years past the Oceanside would often be split into two smaller divisions due to the over-subscription, the track has opted to run the popular race in one larger division in recent seasons.

In total, Del Mar will run 41 stakes races during the meet, which runs until Labor Day Sept. 3, highlighted by the $1-million GI TVG Pacific Classic Aug. 18. An emphasis on turf racing is evident from the outset, with four grass races–including the Oceanside–carded on opening day.

Competitive Bunch in Oceanside

The morning line odds board tells the story in Wednesday’s Oceanside, with Desert Stone (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) established as the slight 4-1 favorite. The colt carries a two-race winning streak into the opening day feature. Due to the race’s restriction for sophomores who have not won a $50,000 stakes purse at a distance over a mile in 2018, a number of the top contenders must answer questions about the two-turn trip. Holly and David Wilson’s Calexman (Midshipman) was a course-and-distance winner last November, but recently has enjoyed success sprinting down the hill at Santa Anita. Rail-drawn Arawak (Uncle Mo) shortens up in distance off an even third-place finish in Santa Anita’s nine-furlong Rainbow S. and could be dangerous if able to replicate his close fourth-place finish in the GII American Turf S. at Churchill Downs May 5.

The race also features an appearance by Faversham (Lucky Pulpit), a California-bred full-brother to 2014 and 2016 Horse of the Year California Chrome.

Accelerate’s Turn to Take the Spotlight?

While North America’s all-time richest Thoroughbred Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) was undoubtedly the talk of the town heading into the 2017 summer meet, Hronis Racing’s Accelerate (Lookin At Lucky)–the horse who defeated him twice in last year’s GII San Diego H. and GI Pacific Classic (when both finished behind Collected {City Zip})–has inherited the throne as the headliner of the 2018 meet. Accelerate has seemingly taken his game to a new level this year, capturing the GI Santa Anita H. and the GI Gold Cup at Santa Anita, and is expected to follow a similar path to 2017, with a start in this Saturday’s San Diego as a springboard to a tilt in the Pacific Classic.

Don Alberto Stable’s Unique Bella (Tapit) will get her share of the spotlight as well with an expected appearance in the July 29 GI Clement Hirsch S. The ultra-talented ‘TDN Rising Star’ was last seen notching a decisive victory in the GI Beholder Mile S. at Santa Anita June 2.

Bonuses for Horsemen and Bettors Alike

If the robust opening day entry box was any indicator, the Del Mar team’s efforts to bolster the quality and quantity of the racing product are off to a successful start. Most notably, the track’s “Ship and Win” program seeks to incentivize participation from out-of-town barns that send horses to Southern California for the summer months.

“We’ve enhanced our Ship And Win program so that it’s now $2,000 for the initial start,” said Del Mar racing secretary David Jerkens. “Last year it was $1,500, two years ago $1,000. Plus a 30% purse bonus. We aggressively put the word out everywhere that we could. The [2017] Breeders’ Cup exposure helped with a lot of people seeing Del Mar for the first time. Ian Wilkes, I think especially attributes that partly to his being here.”

Bettors focusing on the Del Mar meet will also feature a new late Pick 5 wager on the day’s final five races that offers a “bonus” payout to any gambler holding the lone winning ticket on the bet. With a bonus of $1 million on weekends and $500,000 on weekdays, the move puts Del Mar in line with a number of other tracks who have moved to offer “jackpot” payouts in recent years. Del Mar will also feature a new early Pick 4 that begins on race two every day.

Mutuel Tellers’ Strike Averted

According to a Tuesday release from Del Mar officials, the track has reached an agreement in principle with the Pari-Mutuel Employees Guild of California, Union Local 280, for a new collective bargaining agreement that will extend through the 2019 summer season at Del Mar. The two sides had reached an impasse over staffing levels. Wagering locations on Wednesday’s opening day program will be staffed at maximum levels.

Handle Increase at Belmont Meet

Mon, 2018-07-16 16:12

Belmont Park’s spring/summer meet, which concluded Sunday, recorded a 9.1% increase in all-sources handle over 2017, according to figures released Monday by the New York Racing Association. All-sources handle for the 53-day meet was $634,276,776. Average daily handle was $11,967,486, an 11.1% increase over 2017.

The meet was highlighted by Justify (Scat Daddy)’s sweep of the Triple Crown in the June 9 GI Belmont S. All-sources handle for that card was $137,954,895, the second-highest one-day handle in NYRA history behind Belmont Stakes Day in 2014.

The July 7 Stars & Stripes Racing Festival, comprised of five graded stakes, generated all-sources handle of $24,612,465, the highest such handle figure since NYRA launched the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival in 2014.

Lady Lucy Joins D’Amato Barn

Mon, 2018-07-16 15:48

Lady Lucy (Into Mischief), purchased for $200,000 at last week’s Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale, has shipped out west to the Del Mar barn of trainer Phil D’Amato and could see graded stakes action in the Aug. 5 GII Sorrento S. The juvenile was purchased by Little Red Feather Racing and Louisville attorney Sam Aguiar in a 50-50 partnership.

Bloodstock agent Tom McCrocklin signed the ticket on Lady Lucy (hip 465) last Monday night at Fasig-Tipton.

“I’m trying to buy Into Mischief yearlings and can’t get them for $200,000,” McCrocklin said. “This is a filly who has already broken her maiden at Churchill Downs and I can get her for $200,000. She’s not perfect in front, but to me when you get to a horses of racing age sale, it’s no longer a beauty contest. The PPs are more important to me. And we thought, when all was said and done, we got great value. The consignors don’t want to hear this, but we had quite a bit more money we were willing to pay for her.”

Lady Lucy defeated Sunday’s Texas Thoroughbred Futurity winner Adventurous Lady (Kantharos) when she broke her maiden at Churchill Downs June 15 for owner Bernard Schaeffer and trainer William Connelly. It was the filly’s second career start.

“Of course, with these 2-year-olds with one or two starts, you don’t know if they are going to be able to transfer that form to the stakes level,” McCrocklin said. “We’re very happy to get her. She’s a typical Into Mischief, very compact. From the knees up, she is very pretty and she vetted very clean. We’re hoping to get her to the Sorrento and the [Sept. 1 GI] Del Mar Debutante. Obviously, with the sale and shipping her out there, she’s lost some time as far as training, but that’s what we are hoping for.”

Hinchinbrook, 11, Passes Away

Mon, 2018-07-16 14:38

Hinchinbrook (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}–Snippet’s Lass {Aus}, by Snippets {Aus}), a champion first-season sire during the 2014/15 season, has died after sustaining a broken hind leg, Yarraman Park Stud announced early Monday morning. The three-quarter brother to champion sire Snitzel (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}), slated to cover a full book of mares at A$55,000 this coming season, was 11.

“We are devastated as you can imagine,” said Harry Mitchell of Yarraman Park. “He’s been a special horse for us and we believed in him from the start. He wasn’t an easy horse to get going as he was not the most fertile, but he kept proving himself and getting that good horse. It just breaks your heart, but it’s something that happens. It happened to Northern Meteor (Aus) and it happened to Scat Daddy, as sad as it is, you have to regroup and move on.”

Bred by Francois Naude in Queensland and foaled and raised at Yarraman Park, the bay won the G3 Skyline S. and also ran third in the G1Inglis AJC Sires’ Produce S. to end his juvenile season. At three, the Peter Moody trainee faced off against worldbeaters Black Caviar (Aus) (Bel Esprit {Aus}) and Hay List (Aus) (Statue of Liberty) among others, but did manage to fill the frame when third in the G1 Oakleigh Plate and G1 William Reid S. The September foal ended his career with a runner-up performance in the G1 All-Aged S. and retired to stand at Yarraman Park sporting a record of 14-2-1-6, $566,585.

Hinchinbrook’s success at stud-he started out at A$16,500-was immediate, with MG1SW Press Statement (Aus) flying the flag from his first crop. Already the sire of 14 black-type winners to date, the 11-year-old has been represented by G1 Champagne S. victress Seabrook (Aus) among his five black-type winners and 100 scorers who have earned north of A$6.2 million for the 2017/2018 season alone. Hinchinbrook’s influence will continue to be felt for many years, as he covered books of 148 and 129 mares, respectively, at fees of A$38,500 and A$44,000 the past two breeding seasons.