MAY 31 – JUNE 6
Expressing concern over the health of New York’s horse industry, governor Mario Cuomo appoints a committee to investigate the restructuring the New York Racing Association (NYRA). The committee will consider privatizing the racetracks currently operated by NYRA, which include the state’s top three tracks – Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga.
NYRA is a non-profit organisation which pays the state a portion of revenue from all bets wagered at its tracks and also gives the state its profits at the end of each fiscal year. However, NYRA had no profits at the end of last fiscal year, and is not expected to have any this year. “Few would argue that the racing industry is in decline” states Cuomo. “Both attendance and turnover have fallen. This is an opportune time to examine NYRA’s structure”.
NYRA as a quasi public/quasi private non-profit association is not accountable to stockholders, the state, or any other entity. Privatization would entail allowing NYRA (which owns deeds to all three tracks) to operate the tracks for profit without state cooperation. Cuomo has been trying to strike a deal with NYRA to sell Aqueduct to lower persistent state budget deficits. NYRA has been seeking to extend its franchise, which expires in December 2000. The committee is likely to address the franchise extension issue and whether to open the franchise to competitive bidding. Several proposals have surfaced in the Assembly, including a measure that would allow NYRA to purchase New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation, and to make major changes in the take-out of super exotic and multiple wagers.
NYRA in a deteriorating state of affairs is an ironic position given that its original charter was to save New York racing from a slow death.
Cuomo’s willingness to reach the best solution for the most number of people indicates that there is a dawning realisation that the interests of the state, off-track betting, horsemen, the racetracks and the racegoers are not as divergent as once believed.
At Newmarket experiments are conducted with lighting, to establish what kind of light-levels are needed for night racing. Newmarket hopes to stage its first night meeting sometime in September 1993.
Two grooms are caught redhanded in the stables of Cape trainer Derek Dalton at Clairwood, when trying to administer “muti” to one of Dalton’s horses in the dead of the night.
A new form of investment becomes available to racing people when the new “Club Sati” advertises in the press. SATI stands for South African Thoroughbred Investments (Pty) Ltd.
Club members make an initial investment, which is returnable when members introduce two new members. The Club promises inside stable information, and a dividend in winnings derived from bets selected by the Club Sati committee at all racemeetings accross the country.
Club Sati also intends to purchase “the highest quality young bloodstock, both locally and internationally”.
Could it be that Norman Tilley is getting competition?
Two down, one to go. Fine Regent wins the second leg of the Newmarket Triple Crown when he wins the Computaform Derby from stable companion and SA Derby winner Launching Pad, the 7/10 favourite.
There is a R300.000 bonus for the winner of all three legs of the Triple Crown.
Dr Devious upstages stable companion Rodrigo de Triano in the Epsom Derby. The latter, ridden by Lester Piggot, started favourite, but never got a blow in. Dr Devious, an 8/1 chance, raced handy all the way to win well. The horse had run seventh in the Kentucky Derby a month ago.
Dr Devious was bought earlier this year by American Jenny Craig as a 60th birthday present for her husband Craig.
Doug Whyte and Anton Marcus announce plans to swop centres when the season ends. Marcus will take up the position of stable jockey to Tony Millard when Felix Coetzee leaves for Hong Kong. Whyte, currently second on the National jockey’s log, will join the Payne string in Natal.
On-course bookmakers in the Eastern Cape go on strike in protest against the raising of their stand-up fee, showing they don’t take things lying down. The stand-up fee, an amount paid by on-course bookmakers as a group, was increased from R2800 to R5000. The stand-up fee had last been increased four years ago.
Bookmakers describe the new fee as totally unrealistic and exhorbitant, and vow to seek assistence from the Cape Provincial Administration to help settle their dispute.
The Fairview meeting takes place without bookmakers, but has to be postponed to Monday after the running of third race because of wet track conditions.
Empress Club tastes defeat for only the second time in her career. The 1/10 favourite runs well below best when failing to beat the Ferraris trained Fluent Stride in the Gr1 Daily News 2000, run at a false pace. An objection by a stipendiary steward on behalf of the filly against the winner is overruled.
Empress Club’s defeat causes Pick Six carry-overs in Natal and the Cape, and a bumper pay-out in the Transvaal.
Basil Marcus wins the Hong Kong jockey championship, nineteen winners ahead of his nearest rival.
Marcus will return to South Africa for a working holiday (he’s booked to ride Secret Rites in the Rothmans July), before leaving to ride in England and France.
At Borrowdale Park, Zimbabwe, full brothers Latin Eagle and Eager Eagle fight out the finish of the feature event, the $150.000 OK Grand Challenge. Five-year-old Latin beats his three-year-old brother Eager by a short head. Latin Eagle is one of the few horses that managed to beat Zim champion Circle The Sun, before the latter came to race in SA.
JUNE 7 – 13
The Gr1 Belmont Stakes, third leg of the US Triple Crown, is won by A.P. Indy who missed the first two legs through injury, but who’d won the Santa Anita Derby prior to the triple series. A.P. Indy ran the Belmont in 2m 26sec, the second fastest time recorded (only Secretariat’s 2m 24sec was faster). A.P. Indy is the son of a sister to Al Mufti, last year’s Rothmans July second and now doing stallion duty at Ascot Stud.
An outsider wins the French Derby, as 36/1 shot Polytain survives an objection and stewards inquiry.
Still no bookmakers at Fairview when the remainder of last Saturday’s postponed card is completed. Peaceable Kingdom’s son Court Messenger wins the EP Nursery Futurity to give Cape trainer James Lighheart another boost. Lightheart had a week or so earlier won the Langerman Handicap, the biggest Cape winter race for juveniles.
At the same Fairview meeting Stanley Greeff reaches a new milestone when he saddles his 2000th winner.
At a cocktail party at Clairwood the final field is announced for the R1 million Natal Bloodline Derby, the third leg of the SA Triple Crown. The winner of the first two legs, Empress Club, is withdrawn after her shock defeat in the Daily News 2000, two days earlier.
New stallion import Dolpour gets overwhelming media attention. A radio interview with acting TBA GM Graeme Hawkins is broadcast from Clairwood (during the Derby party), while a day later Dolpour features in the regular news bulletin on TV1.
Senor Santa is withdrawn from the final line-up of the Gr1 Schweppes when found to be suffering from a viral infection. It is likely that the Senor will now also have to miss the important Gr1 Gilbeys (sprint) in three weeks time.
First-season sire National Assembly (a son of Danzig) makes the big time when Stamford Bridge wins the Gr3 JG Hollis Futurity over 1400m at Clairwood.
Sydney Trimmer is voted the new chairman of the South African Turf Club (Kenilworth) at the club’s AGM.
Transvaal trainer Roy Magner has a warning-off sentence reduced to a fine of R40.000 on appeal. The appeal was dismissed, but the sentence nevertheless reduced. The original warning off sentence arose when one of Magner’s horses, Super Sussex, tested positive after a race in December 1990 – not the first time this had happened to a horse in the care of the trainer.
Magner’s reduced sentence clearly puts the 6-months warning off and R25.000 fine of Cape trainer Hodgson in perspective – Hodgson, you’ll remember, brought racing into disrepute by giving “dope” to a punter.
Schweppes Day is Ladies Day at Clairwood. The yearly race for jockeys of the “weaker sex” is won by Gail Uppink who makes all the running on Bateleur, virtually without moving a muscle.
Flaming Rock comes in a couple of points in the betting for the Rothmans July after he wins the Gr1 Schweppes Challenge, the ultimate test for milers during the Natal season. Flaming Rock beats Spanish Galliard by a neck in the weight-for-age event, his jockey Karl Neisius stating that he wasn’t quite at his peak yet. Flaming Rock will indeed have to improve to do the same in the July, when Spanish Galliard enjoys a pull in the weights of 3.5 kilos, which is equivalent to at least 4 lengths.
At Milnerton the Pick Six isn’t won and the pool carried forward to the following midweek meeting – the fourth Saturday in a row that this has happened in Cape Town.
JUNE 14 – 20
The Transvaal TAB announces new rules and host of exciting bets, a result of the introduction of its new “Spectrum” computer system.
Couplings will disappear for all races except those in the Jackpot and Pick Six, bringing the Transvaal in line with the rest of the country.
For the consolation of the Pick Six, punters with any five legs in will win now, and not just winners of the first five legs, as was the case in the past.
New bets (to be introduced gradually) include Exacta (first two in right order), Quartet (first four in order, and already successfully in operation in the Cape), Superfecta (first six in order, just to keep the stipes on their toes), All-Up betting (which failed in the Cape a few years ago) and Fractional Betting (where you determine your own unit of betting for perms, and get paid out proportionally).
The Transvaal TAB will negotiate with individual raceclubs as to when each of the new bets comes into operation.
Two Thousand Guineas winner and failed Epsom Derby favourite Rodrigo de Triano clashes with failed Kentucky Derby favourite Arazi at Royal Ascot, in the Gr1 St James Palace Stakes. Both fail again when the race is won by Brief Truce.
The odds-on ruling Rothmans July favourite Empress Club shorten day by day. On offer at 7/2 early in the week, the filly moved first to 33/10, then to 3/1. Bookmakers nationwide report steady demand.
The Natal Derby was first run in 1930, when the colt Turn Again came off best in the œ1.000 race. This year, with a stake of R1.000.000, the race falls to Ferraris trained Fine Regent, who comes from the clouds to win going away.
The Clairwood Turf Club repeats last year’s experiment, when major entertainment is laid on after racing ends on Derby Day. This year Wendy Oldfield and Robin Auld perform live at the track.
JUNE 21 – 27
Scottsville stages a “Racing Expo” as part of their Gilbeys Festival. The public is invited to come and listen to an array of speakers, which include jockey Felix Coetzee, trainer Willie Pieters, stipe Rudi Diener, owner Roy Eckstein, vet Brian Baker, handicapper George Kinnear, and others.
At Newmarket, racetimes are streamlined. There will be exactly half an hour between the running of all races. A ten-race card can now start at 12.45 and finish by 5.15. The Club claims that this will make it more attractive for punters to attend midweek racing at the track.
Michael Roberts, 38 last month, rides a 406/1 hattrick at Ascot and is installed by bookmakers as the 8/11 favourite to win the English jockey title – with half of the racing season still remaining. Roberts is quoted as saying he’ll give the championship a full go, “even if it means I’ll have to ride on the all-weather track at Lingfield on New Year’s Eve”.
Scottsville has Gilbeys Day with three Grade One races all run on the same day: the Allan Robertson, Gilbeys and Oaks. The firm going on the day conforms to tradition, and has even the hardened Transvaal trainers in awe. The straight course shows a bias towards the inside rail on the day and appears to give the advantage to runners drawn on that side.
Foveros filly Fov’s Dancer gives trouble at the start and at one stage looks in danger of being left behind by the starter in the 16-runner Allan Robertson Bloodline Championship. But at the finish the roles are reversed: Fov’s Dancer (drawn 2) gets there first from Tight Drums (drawn 1). The race is a triumph for Foveros, who is sire of the winner, and broodmare sire of the runner-up. The much favoured Hancock Park appears to be unsuited by the firm going.
Signor Amigo and Polished Silver confirm the result of the Cape Flying Championship run earlier in the Cape season at Milnerton, when they finish in the same order in the Gilbeys Stakes. Winner Signor Amigo (drawn 1) is a son of Politician.
Former Australian champion jockey Brent Thomson, on a visit here, rides Delta Force. The duo fails to find a place.
Interference mars the running of the Oaks, where favoured Sparkling Tandy is disqualified and placed last after destroying the chances of several of the runners halfway up the final straight. Sparkling Tandy’s jockey Delpech earns himself a three-week holiday for his riding. The race, controversially reduced in distance from 2400m to 2000m this year, is won by the Peacetime filly Sweet Secret, who comes from stone last and escapes much of the scrimmaging.
Hero of Gilbeys Day is Cape jockey Glen Hatt, who rode both Fov’s Dancer and Signor Amigo to victory. Daily News cartoonist Leyden claims that Hatt’s the only jockey to have ridden a Gr1 Hattrick on only two horses.
Villain of Gilbeys Day is the on-course Tote, which goes on the blink early in the day, causing irritation and frustration. The off-course punters were not affected.
At Turffontein jockey Piere Strydom rides a six-timer on the nine-race local card.
In Ireland, Epsom Derby winner Dr Devious bites the dust when St Jovite wins the Irish Derby at the Curragh by a mammoth 12 lengths.
Third finisher Classic Earl is missed by the judge in a tight photofinish in the second race at Kenilworth. But as attention of the stipes is drawn to this after the all-clear is sounded, the result as given by the judge cannot be amended for punters. The Tote pays out on the “wrong” trifecta, quartet and place bets. Classic Earl’s connections do earn their prizemoney as they should have, however, when the stipes investigate.
Classic Earl’s trainer lodges a complaint against the judge, and the stipes undertake to open an enquiry.