Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Looking Past the Travers

Big news in the horse racing world this week as Rachel Alexandra's contingent has decided not to run the filly in this weekend's Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. 1) at Saratoga, saving her instead for the Woodward Stakes (gr. 1) next weekend. The New York Racing Association has sweetened the Woodward considerably to draw top level contenders to compete with Rachel, by increasing the race's purse from $500,000 to a sizable $750,000. Should she add the Woodward to her impressive list of wins, "Alexandra the Great" would be a prime 2009 Horse of the Year possibility by year's end. No need to fear that the Travers will go uncontested by the big guns however - Derby winner Mine That Bird (slated to run, though currently recovering from throat surgery) and Belmont winner Summer Bird will be among the top class draw set to compete for the 140th running of Saturday's historic stakes race.

Other notable Horsebites:

  • To mark its long association with, and high population in the State of Texas, officials there have declared the American Quarter Horse to be the Texas state horse. The legendary stock horse has a long history of breeding in the state. This commemoration gives the breed recognition for the indelible stamp it has laid on Texas cow culture. Will the Thoroughbred now be commemorated as the official state horse of Kentucky?
  • As an almost inevitable result of the constricted economic climate, the Jockey Club has predicted that next spring's Thoroughbred foal crop will total about 30,000 babies, the smallest crop on record since 1977. The number of mares bred has declined yearly since 2006, to meet the tight economy's lessening demand for new bloodstock.
  • One of the summer circuit's biggest competitions got underway this weekend in Bridgehampton, NY, with the beginning of the 2009 Hampton Classic. The 34th Classic, home to the NY region's most distinguished show jumping and hunter horse competitions, will continue through this Sunday, August 30th.

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