Thursday, September 27, 2012
AMERICA'S BEST RACING Thoroughbred Notebook
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Mark Verge
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My Miss Aurelia before her win in the $1,000,000 Cotillion Stakes at Parx. Image via the @Maggie_Kimmett Twitter feed.
Carla Gaines watches her trainees school in the paddock at Santa Anita. Image via santaanitapark’s Instagram
Trinniberg heads to the paddock before the Gallant Bob at Parx, where he finished second. Image via the @BabsJrPlythMtg (Barbara Lynch) Twitter feed
Image courtesy of Mark Verge

As Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles Turf Club, Incorporated (LATC) since March 2012, Mark Verge is “The Guy” in charge at Santa Anita Park. It’s a labor of love for Verge, who has been a Thoroughbred owner for over 20 years and a racing fan for over 30. He is also an entrepreneur and businessman who owns more than 20 companies—including Westside Rentals, which owns and operates short-term hotels in Santa Monica, Venice and Hollywood, as well as apartment buildings and motels that cater to college students. Verge also owns and manages restaurants and nightclubs in the L.A. area, and he launched which offers entrepreneurial training courses and business planning software for aspiring entrepreneurs.


Name: Mark Verge

What I do for a living: Entrepreneur

How and when I was introduced to Thoroughbred Racing: When I was 13 years old at Santa Anita

My favorite racetrack: Santa Anita

My favorite Thoroughbred racing event: Breeders’ Cup Classic

Other sports/teams I follow: None

What I would like to see more of in Thoroughbred Racing: Fun

What I would like to see less of in Thoroughbred Racing: Joe Drape

Three words that define what Thoroughbred Racing means to me: Unmatched historical tradition

Favorite All-time Thoroughbred: John Henry

My personal best moment in the sport of Thoroughbred Racing: When Zenyatta won the Breeders’ Cup Classic

Best racetrack food can be found at: FrontRunner at Santa Anita

My favorite jockey: Aaron Gryder

My favorite trainer: Bob Baffert

My Heroes: Rex and Malia (my kids)

Person in Thoroughbred Racing I’d like to have dinner with:  Doug O’Neill

My philosophy on life: We are here for a good time, not a long time.

Favorite quote or motto: “If I go to a funeral, I would want to be a guest.”

Favorite animal other than a horse: Dog

Favorite non-Thoroughbred racing sports event I have attended: Notre Dame football game

Favorite food: Steak

Favorite vacation spot: My house

Favorite city: Santa Monica

Favorite Musician/band: Tom Petty

Favorite all-time movie(s): Big Wednesday

Favorite TV Show: The Wire

Favorite hotel: Venice on the Beach

Websites I visit daily:

What I drive: My wife crazy

Pet Peeve: Complainers

Favorite movie about horse racing: Seabiscuit

Which actor would play me in a movie: Someone with a big nose.

Alma Mater: Santa Monica CC + USC

Favorite Radio shows/channels: Tim Conway Jr. radio show

Best Book I recently read: Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richard Branson

Favorite Memento: Picture of my brother

Favorite Dessert: Chocolate chip cookies/ice cream

Favorite Drink: Tequila

What I like about my job: The people

Favorite tech gadget: iPhone

Twitter Handle: @markverge

People I follow on Twitter: Rex Chapman

No. 1 Bucket List Item: Win the Kentucky Derby

Congratulations to photographer Mary Keener, winner of this week’s Fan Photo Contest! From Mary: "Shackleford having a quiet moment before his last workout at beautiful Saratoga. Or knowing Shack the way I do, he is probably thinking 'I don’t need no stinkin’ pony to baby-sit me'." Want in? E-mail your submissions with a brief description to!


Trainer Ron Ellis on whether his multiple Grade I-winning filly Include Me Out is being overlooked in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic division amid all the talk about Royal Delta, Questing, My Miss Aurelia and Awesome Feather:  
“To tell you the truth, I’ve been a little bit insulted by the lack of respect my filly has gotten. She’s proven she’s the best filly on the West Coast. I understand the East Coast bias, and the press building up those other fillies, but my filly loves that racetrack. She’s done everything that we’ve asked of her this year. She should be unbeaten.”

Trainer Chad Brown after his undefeated 4-year-old filly Awesome Feather returned from an eight-month layoff to win last week’s Nasty Storm Stakes at Belmont Park by 11 ½ lengths:
“Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this great filly comes out of the race in good shape, and everyone gets to see the showdown they want to see at Santa Anita.”


Videos: The five most exciting races of the year so far (Horse Racing Nation)

Video: Gangnam Style with an Emerald Downs twist (emeralddowns YouTube channel)

Photos: 115-year-old Fort Erie Race Track set to close and sell (Examiner)

Video: Race at Hastings shot in super slow-mo with beautiful results (frankplusjen’s YouTube channel)


Ron the Greek seeks to join elite pair in Jockey Club Gold Cup (Daily Racing Form)

Santa Anita's opening statement: honoring Eddie Delahoussaye (Los Angeles Times)

Thirteen entered as Santa Anita opens with the Eddie D. (The Blood-Horse)

Governor Cuomo says private companies could run NY racetracks (The New York Times)

Brown first female trainer to win Assiniboia title in 55 years (Winnipeg Free Press)

Jockey Diane Crump included among pioneering women of the 1960s (CNN)

Sutherland loses chances to win Classic  (The State Press)

Wise Dan continues atop NTRA Poll (The Miami Herald)

Algorithms returns to training at Belmont (The Blood-Horse)

Suffolk trainer Botty helps in race to save one of his former runners from the slaughterhouse (Boston Herald)

Visit a farm, a sale or a race to capture Kentucky's love affair with the horse (Lexington Herald-Leader)

Touching base with Gainesway Farm’s Antony Beck (Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation)

Thomason newest member of NTRA Board (The Blood-Horse)


Super Saturday at Belmont Park and Santa Anita Park (SB Nation)

East Coast bias? Really, Ron Ellis? (Horse Racing Nation)

Trainer Steve Asmussen watches with fans as My Miss Aurelia wins the Cotillion (ST Publishing)

An early look at the Breeders’ Cup Turf (Horse Racing Nation)

PA Derby day 2012 - making history at Parx (Daily Racing Form)

Hawthorne can only look to 2014 for Illinois Derby’s inclusion in Kentucky Derby series (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Should NY racing fans buy selling NYRA? (ESPN)

Latest “fix” for NY racing (

What if Churchill doesn’t want to run the NY tracks? (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Kentucky Downs wants spring races (Business First)

Two kinds of horsepower in Saratoga (The Horsey Set Net)

Coraggioso wins, and Durkin goes wild (Harness Racing

Off-the-track Thoroughbred showcase: Above All Odds (AKA “Red”) is a one-eyed wonder (Paulick Report)


Play in the DRF Bets Breeders' Cup Challenge.  Make eight $10 WIN wagers on Breeders' Cup Challenge races on Saturday September 29 and Saturday, October 6.  There will be over $18,000 in cash prizes and two NHC seats up for grabs in this challenge.  There is no entry fee.  You must be a DRF Bets member to play.  Click here for contest details. satellite qualifiers are running every Wednesday through Sunday.  Click here for the online schedule and contest details. is hosting an online qualifier September 29.  Three NHC berths are guaranteed and a  maximum of six NHC berths will be awarded in this $160 one-day qualifier. 

The fifth annual Lone Star Park Handicapping Series will conclude on October 6,awarding six NHC berths. Click here to view the qualifiers for the October 6 Championship.

Win an entry in both the National Handicapping Championship and Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge on October 6 at Hawthorne Race Course.  Click here for contest details.

Surfside Race Place will be conducting its next series of NHC qualifiers the weekend of October 12-14.  The Friday mini tournament will be followed by a two-day contest.  Click here for Surfside Race Place contest information.


The Leader Boards reflect incomplete standings from Kentucky Downs.  I need the fifth-place finisher and the ninth through twelfth-place finishers to contact me as soon as possible. 

Click here to view the overall full Leader Board standings.

Click here to view the second-half full Leader Board standings.

Click here to view the current list of NHC 14 qualifiers.


2H LB Points


Full LB Points

Mark Streiff


Mark Streiff


Jacque Hong


Mark McGuire


Paul Parker


Rhonda Sylvester


Judy Wagner


Christopher Larmey


Cheryl McIntyre


Edmund Teicht



Player Profile



Eric Moomey


Louis Constan

Louis is from Glendale, CA.  He will be making his 10th appearance at the NHC. 

Click here to read Louis' complete NHC player biography.

Sept. 27, 1894: Aqueduct Racetrack opened its doors. The building was torn down in 1955 and the new Aqueduct was reopened on Sept. 14, 1959.

Sept. 27, 1924: In the second his three specially staged International races, the French colt Epinard was again defeated, this time by a nose to Ladkin, at Aqueduct. A crowd of 40,000 witnessed the race.

Sept. 27, 1947: Armed, then the world’s leading money-winning Thoroughbred, met 1946 Kentucky Derby winner Assault in the first $100,000 winner-take-all match race, held at Belmont Park. Armed earned an easy victory over Assault, who was not in peak racing condition.

Sept. 28, 1960: Forty years after Man o’ War won the Lawrence Realization Stakes by 100 lengths in the record time of 2:40 4/5, Kelso equaled his time in the same event.

Sept. 28, 1983: Atlantic City Racecourse and The Meadowlands became the first U.S. tracks to engage in simulcasting. The previous year, Woodbine and Fort Erie in Canada had been the first to experiment with simulcasting.

Sept. 28, 1996: Jockey Lanfranco “Frankie” Dettori won seven-of-seven races at Ascot, a single-day wins record in England. His win streak was estimated to have cost English bookmakers £30 million and to have caused the closing of as many as 40 bookmaking shops, which suffered heavy losses after paying off winning punters.

Sept. 28, 1996: Jockey Dave Gall had his 7,000th career win, at Fairmount Park aboard A. J. Onray. He was the fourth rider to attain 7,000 wins.

Sept. 28, 2008: Multiple Eclipse Award-winning jockey John Velazquez gained his 4,000th career win when he guided Rogue Agent to victory in the first race at Belmont Park.

Sept. 28, 2008: Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin surpassed Cigar’s all-time North American earnings record, and became the continent’s first eight-figure earner, when he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. The win brought his career bankroll to $10,246,800.

Sept. 28, 2010:  Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Horse of the Year, was retired with a record of 19-13-5-0 and earnings of $3,506,730.

Sept. 28, 2011: Jockey Tammi Piermarini won the first five races on the Suffolk Downs race card and moved into fourth place on the all-time victory list among women riders with her 2,020th career tally.

Sept. 29, 1973: With Meadow Stable’s Riva Ridge scratched because of rainy weather, his stablemate Secretariat was left to compete in the 1 1/2-mile Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park. Prove Out, trained by Allen Jerkens, beat the 3-10 favorite Secretariat, who faded after 1 1/4 miles to finish second by 4 1/2 lengths. Another Jerkens trainee, Onion, had defeated Secretariat in the Whitney Stakes on Aug. 4 at Saratoga.

Sept. 30, 1898: Jockey Tod Sloan rode five consecutive winners at England’s Newmarket racecourse.

Sept. 30, 1922: After a six-year hiatus, racing returned to Chicago with the reopening of Hawthorne Park. The popular gelding Exterminator, winner of the 1918 Kentucky Derby and the then-second-leading money winner of all time, made a special appearance, racing solo against the track-record time of 2:04 3-5 for 1 1-4 miles.  He completed the distance in 2:10.

Sept. 30, 1969: Jockey Kathy Kusner won her first career race, at Pocono Downs. Kusner, a former rider with the U.S. Equestrian Team, had sued to obtain a jockey’s license in Maryland in 1968. She won her case but was subsequently sidelined by a broken leg suffered in a training accident.

Sept. 30, 1981: Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. had his 5,000th career win, aboard Wander in the seventh race at Santa Anita Park.

Sept. 30, 1990: Bill Shoemaker had his first graded stakes win as a trainer when Baldomero (IRE) won the Grade III Golden Harvest Handicap at Louisiana Downs.

Oct. 2, 1943: Belmont Park hosted “Back the Attack” day in support of the war effort. Admission was by
purchase of $25 or $100 war bonds. Approximately $25 million was raised.

Oct. 2, 1981: At age 17, Behavin Jerry, the oldest Thoroughbred in racing competition, set the record for most career starts by a Thoroughbred, 307. Behavin Jerry began his career as a two-year-old in 1966 and raced every year thereafter through 1978. He took two years off, 1979-80, and returned to racing at age 17 in 1981.  

Oct. 2, 2010: Six-year-old mare Zenyatta ran her record to a perfect 19-for-19 by winning the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park. The 19th straight win tied Zenyatta with Peppers Pride, a filly who ran up her streak against restricted, New Mexico-bred competition from 2005-2008.

Oct. 3, 1942: With a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Whirlaway, ridden by George Woolf, became the first Thoroughbred to amass more than $500,000 in lifetime earnings.

Oct. 4, 1762: Nineteen members of England’s Jockey Club announced an agreement at Newmarket to register their racing colors for purposes of distinguishing runners among a field of horses. The Duke of Devonshire chose “straw,” and the color, still registered for the family, is the oldest continuously used color in racing.

Oct. 4, 1970: Nijinsky II’s 11-race winning streak came to an end when he ran second to Sassafras in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Oct. 4, 1972: Secretariat worked a mile in 1:37 in preparation for the Oct. 14 Champagne Stakes.

Oct. 4, 1980: Less than an hour before post time, Spectacular Bid was scratched from the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the race that was to have been his last. Trainer Bud Delp claimed that “Bid” had a slight leg injury, but refused to allow a veterinarian to examine the horse and insisted he be retired. Despite this ignoble end to his career, Spectacular Bid’s 1980 racing season was perfect: he won each of his nine starts, all of them stakes, and was subsequently voted Horse of the Year.

Oct. 4, 1989: Secretariat, 1973 Triple Crown champion, was euthanized at Claiborne Farm, Paris, Ky., after suffering a severe case of laminitis. He was 19.

Oct. 4, 2003: Trainer Bobby Frankel saddled Sightseek to victory in the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park. For Frankel, it was his 23rd Grade I stakes winner of the year, breaking D. Wayne Lukas’ record of 22 set in 1987. 

Oct. 4, 2003: Thanks to Belmont Park victories aboard Sightseek in the Beldame Stakes and Birdstone in the Champagne Stakes, jockey Jerry Bailey surpassed his own single season record for North American purse earnings--$19,271,814--set in 2002.

Oct. 4, 2008: Undefeated five-year-old mare, Peppers Pride, became the first modern North American-based Thoroughbred to win 17 consecutive races when she captured an optional claiming race at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M.

Oct. 5, 1933: Jockey Gordon Richards concluded a 12-race winning streak that had begun on Oct. 3 when he won the last race at Nottingham, followed by a six-for-six day at Chepstow on Oct. 4 and five wins at Chepstow on Oct. 5.

Oct. 5, 1953: Twenty-one years after he retired from riding, 54-year-old Earl Sande, ‘the Handy Guy,’ returned to the saddle, finishing third on Honest Bread at Belmont Park.

Oct. 5, 1973: In his final workout for his first grass race, the Man o’ War Stakes, Secretariat went five furlongs on the turf in :56 4/5 at Belmont Park.

Oct. 5, 1983: Jockey Jorge Velasquez won his 5,000th career race, riding Banquet Scene to victory in the fourth race at Belmont Park.

Oct. 6, 1949: Col. Matt J. Winn, credited with making the Kentucky Derby the greatest horse race in America, died at the age of 88. He witnessed all of the first 75 Derbies.

Oct. 6, 1979: In their only race together, champions Affirmed and Spectacular Bid met in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Odds-on favorite Affirmed, ridden by Laffit Pincay Jr., won by 3-4 of a length and became the first horse ever to earn more than $1 million in a single racing season. Affirmed was later voted Horse of the Year off this convincing victory over Spectacular Bid, who was named champion three-year-old.

Oct. 6, 1989: Parimutuel racing returned to Texas with a meet held at G. Rollie White Downs. Racing had been banned in the state since 1937.

Oct. 7, 1956: In his final start of his career, four-year-old Ribot won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for the second consecutive year and retired a perfect 16-for-16.

Oct. 7, 2001: Jockey Jerry Bailey became the first jockey in history to surpass $20 million in purses in a single year, eclipsing his own single-season record of $19,465,376 set back in 1996.

Oct. 8, 1973: Secretariat made his grass-racing debut in the Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park, winning the 1 1-2-mile race by five lengths in a time of 2:24 4-5.  He overran the finish line by another furlong, running 1 5-8 miles in a world-record-equaling time of 2:37 4-5.

Oct. 8, 2007: Two-time Horse of the Year and seven-time Eclipse Award winner John Henry was euthanized at the Kentucky Horse Park at age 32.

Oct. 9, 2008: jockey Patrick Valenzuela gained the 4,000th win of his career when he guided Burst of Light to victory in the 2nd race at Louisiana Downs.

Oct. 10, 1974: With female riders still a novelty, Lincoln Downs staged a $5,000 match race between jockeys Denise Boudrot and Mike Lapensee. The race, dubbed the ‘contest of the sexes,’ was won by Boudrot. In a rematch one week later, in which the riders switched their mounts from their previous encounter, Boudrot again prevailed.

Oct. 10, 2009: Champion older-mare Zenyatta equaled Personal Ensign’s mark of 13 wins without a loss when she won the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.

Oct. 10, 2010: Charming Fella, a 10-year-old gelding, made his career debut in a maiden claiming race at Turf Paradise and won – on 10/10/10.


Lonesome Glory Steeplechase Stakes, 4&up, $150,000, Grade I, 2 1-2M (Steeplechase), Belmont Park

Arts and Letters Stakes, 3yo, $85,000, 1M, Belmont Park

Eddie D. Stakes, 3&up, $100,000, Grade III, 6 1-2F (T), Santa Anita Park

Home of the Free Stakes, 3&up, $80,000, 7F (T), Belmont Park

Kip Deville Stakes, 2yo, $75,000, 6F, Remington Park

TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational, 3&up, $1,000,000, Grade I, 1 1-4M, Belmont Park

Flower Bowl Invitational, 3&up (f&m), $600,000, Grade I, 1 1-4M (T), Belmont Park

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, 3&up, $600,000, Grade I, 1 1-2M (T), Belmont Park

Beldame Invitational, 3&up (f&m), $400,000, Grade I, 1 1-8M, Belmont Park

Vosburgh Invitational, 3&up, $400,000, Grade I, 6F, Belmont Park

Kelso Handicap, 3&up, $400,000, Grade II, 1M, Belmont Park

Awesome Again Stakes, 3&up, $250,000, Grade I, 1 1-8M, Santa Anita Park

Chandelier Stakes, 2yo fillies, $250,000, Grade I, 1 1-16M, Santa Anita Park

Frontrunner Stakes, 2yo, $250,000, Grade I, 1 1-16M, Santa Anita Park

Rodeo Drive Stakes, 3&up (f&m), $250,000, Grade I, 1 1-4M (T), Santa Anita Park

Zenyatta Stakes, 3&up (f&m), $250,000, Grade I, 1 1-16M, Santa Anita Park

Birdonthewire Stakes, 2yo, $100,000, 6F, Calder

Cassidy Stakes, 2yo fillies, $100,000, 6F, Calder

Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Stakes, 2yo, $100,000, 6 1-2F, Presque Isle Downs

Flaming Page Stakes, 3&up (f&m), $100,000, 1 1-2M (T), Woodbine

H.P.B.A. Stakes, 3&up (f&m), $100,000, 1M 70 yds., Presque Isle Downs

Presque Isle Downs Debutante Stakes, 2yo fillies, $100,000, 6F, Presque Isle Downs

Speed to Spare Stakes, 3&up, $100,000, 1 3-8M, Northlands Park

Blue Hen Stakes, 2yo fillies, $75,000, 1M 70 yds., Delaware Park

Futurity Stakes, 2yo, $200,000, Grade II, 6F, Belmont Park

Matron Stakes, 2yo fillies, $200,000, Grade II, 6F, Belmont Park

Oklahoma Derby, 3yo, $400,000, 1 1-8M, Remington Park

Remington Park Oaks, 3yo fillies, $200,000, 1 1-16M, Remington Park

Remington Park Sprint Cup, 3&up, $200,000, 6F, Remington Park

John Henry Turf Championship, 3&up, $150,000, Grade II, 1 1-4M (T), Santa Anita Park

Remington Green Stakes, 3&up, $125,000, 1 1-16M (T), Remington Park

Avowal Stakes, 3&up (f&m), $100,000, 7F (T), Woodbine

Stacked Pack Stakes, 3yo, $85,000, 1M (T), Belmont Park

Valor Lady Stakes, 3&up (f&m), $80,000, 7F (T), Belmont Park

Whose Super Saturday raceday are you looking forward to most? Belmont’s or Santa Anita’s? Tweet your answers to @ABRLive! Tweet your answers to @ABRLive!