Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett approved a new state budget that did not divert $72 million from the Race Horse Development Fund as had been originally proposed in the preliminary budget. The decision drew applause from the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition, a state-wide group representing more than 10,000 trainers, owners and breeders of the horse racing industry. The fund derives income from slots revenue at racetracks and is used to support purses and breeding programs for Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds in the state.
Pennsylvania-owned, Maryland-based Union Rags learned his early lessons at owner/breeder Phyllis Wyeth’s historic Point Lookout Farm, along the Brandywine River in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Sold as a yearling and bought back as a 2-year-old on a gut feeling by Wyeth, the son of Dixie Union trained at Fair Hill by Michael Matz won the Belmont Stakes with an electric stretch run to defeat Paynter by a neck. The win validated the promise in the flashy bay, who was a Grade 1 winner at 2 and entered 2012 the early Kentucky Derby favorite, in which he finished seventh.
The Belmont was Union Rags’ last start. He was retired after a small lesion was detected on a suspensory while preparing for the Haskell. Standing at Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky., he has sired five Grade 1 winners and is a top-30 sire nationally.
Turf-sprinting dynamo Ben’s Cat smashed Parx Racing’s course record for 5 furlongs in the Parx Dash, posting a 2-length tally in :54.96 for 5 furlongs, eclipsing the old mark of :55.53 set by Smart Enough in the Turf Monster five years earlier. The 6-year-old was dismissed at odds of 10-1 after two off-the-board finishes. His record improved to 16-for-24 for earnings of $939,090.
Ben’s Cat never went off at double-digit odds again in his remaining 39 starts.
Minstrella, one of the retirees who remained at Spring Hill Farm in Casanova, Va., following Edward P. Evan’s 2011 dispersal, was euthanized at age 28. The daughter of The Minstrel and Flight Dancer, foaled at Spring Hill and sent to Europe to race, became an Evans foundation mare. The three-time Group 1 winner was Ireland’s champion 2-year-old filly of 1986, and went on to produce 16 foals – 14 raced, 11 won, three were stakes winners. She was buried on the farm.
Trainer Al Stall Jr. picked Bob Manfuso and Katy Voss’ homebred colt from the first crop of former Kentucky stallion Thewayyouare as grand champion of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association Yearling Show. Carol Kaye’s colt by Great Notion was reserve champion.
The champion – named Idiosyncratic and the older half-brother to stakes winners Cordmaker, Las Setas and Corvus – won once in eight starts and earned $78,060. The son of Great Notion was 2015 Maryland-bred champion turf runner Phlash Phelps.