Thoughts from the quarter pole…..
- This time last year, the Pegasus Invitational World Cup was all the rage. I wonder if they are having trouble filling the race this year. My thoughts after last year was to increase the race to a mile-and-a-quarter and spread the winnings out a bit. Stay tuned.
- What if they tied the Pegasus-Dubai World Cup-Stephen Foster-BC Classic together as a series with bonuses for older horses, the four horse racing “majors” to produce a potential Grand Slam winner? Add the Whitney and Awesome Again with a points system to produce something similar to a FedEx Cup winner that golf uses to retain interest. Just a thought.
- Another successful Woodbine Mile two weeks ago, the second straight year the race was held on a Saturday instead of going head-to-head with the NFL on Sunday. The 13-race Ricoh Woodbine Mile card boasted a record $13,659,735 handle surpassing last year’s mark of $9.6 million.
- Up the Thruway on Saturday, Finger Lakes will run its richest stake of the season. The $219,875 Breeders’ Futurity for 2-year-old New York-breds drew eight rivals, two from the Jeremiah Englehart barn. Englehart will send race favorite Aveenu Malcainu to post at odds of 5-2. The meet-leading trainer has 34 wins, winning at an amazing 40 percent clip at the Canandaigua track.
- Another year, another missed Presque Isle Mile and Masters. I’ll get there one of these years, as opposed to a random Monday.
- Good news came down from our nation’s capital this week. The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that they will formally adopt modernized regulations regarding the withholding and reporting of pari-mutuel proceeds. Under the new regulations, the IRS will consider the inclusion of a bettor’s entire investment in a single pari-mutuel pool when determining the amount reported or withheld for tax purposes, as opposed to only the amount wagered on the correct result. This is huge.
- Future development at Belmont Park could involve the NHL, a soccer team or Amazon’s second headquarters. Is your head spinning yet? According to Newsday, the Islanders have “submitted a comprehensive proposal to create a world-class sports and entertainment destination at Belmont Park.” A soccer team owned by the Yankees is also proposing a 26,000 seat stadium at the site. The future second headquarters, which is also being courted by Buffalo, has Belmont in the conversation as one of two top sites on Long Island as part of the statewide effort to attract Amazon to New York.
- Fort Erie has six race dates left on its calendar, wrapping up on Tuesday, Oct. 17 on Fan Appreciation Day. Free pocket programs will be available on track and lucky draw prizes will take place between races.
- The Classic could have four Baffert horses that have legitimate shots at winning. Arrogate, Collected, West Coast and Cupid are all probables for the $6 million race on Nov. 4 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. The race is set for 8:45 p.m. EDT in prime time where the Turf meets the Surf. Gun Runner will be the likely favorite after sweeping the Saratoga handicap races and will likely spoil thoughts of a Baffert superfecta.
- West Coast made a statement in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby last weekend and is making a Will Take Charge-like run on the 3-year-old male division. He won the Travers-Pa. Derby in 2013 and came a head away from winning the Classic and overturned Florida-Kentucky Derby winner Orb in the Eclipse vote. Sound familiar?
- One “under the radar” 3-year-old will try older horses next weekend when the Doug O’Neill-trained Pavel will run in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont. He skipped the Pa. Derby after winning the local prep, deferring to stable mate Irap, who was vanned off after his second-place finish.
- Abel Tasman came back down to earth after some brilliant performances in the spring and summer in the Cotillion after a curious ride by Mike Smith. Don’t count her out in the Distaff, which is shaping up to be a terrific race with Unbridled Forever and Stellar Wind waiting in the wings.
- Woodbine hosts a pretty good 2-year-old race on Sunday, when the Grade 3 Grey Stakes will be run. Fort Erie-based trainer Nick Gonzalez will send out the favorite, Like What I See.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.