News and STORIES

Horse Racing News and Notes: April 20, 2019

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Saturday April 20, 2019

Just Like His Dad
American Pharoah, who captured the imagination of race fans worldwide with his Triple Crown triumph in 2015, is now in the breeding shed, producing a new generation of racehorses. On Friday, Maven, trained by Wesley Ward, took the first at Aqueduct, marking the first time progeny of one of the game’s all-time greats won a race in North America. Sent to post as the odds-on favorite in the 4 ½-furlong maiden sprint, Maven went straight to the lead under jockey Dylan Davis. The chestnut colt led the entire way, repelling a challenge from Lebda to win by a half-length.

“With the horse being by American Pharoah, everyone expects a lot and he ran really well,” Davis told “I was jogging and galloping him in the mornings, so I got a good feel for him. A huge thanks to the connections, I’m sure they’re looking for bigger and better things.”

Maven’s stay in the claiming ranks and North America is going to be short-lived as Ward plans to target the Norfolk Stakes at England’s Royal Ascot as his next start.

“I’m getting texts from everyone watching the race,” Ward told “It’s fantastic for racing, for Coolmore, for owner Richard Ravin and most importantly, for me. What I see is that he’s going to be a good sire. He’s had outstanding works over the Polytrack at Turfway which translates to turf.”

Day To Remember
Until now, racing enthusiasts in southern California remember September 2, 2018, as the day violence erupted at the beloved Del Mar racetrack.  Prior to the last race on the card, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said a man fired several rounds from a semiautomatic handgun when he was told that no more tickets for the Ice Cube concert were available. Deputies returned fire, and the man was taken to a hospital with unknown injuries.

Earlier that day, in Del Mar’s 10th race, a one-mile affair on its turf course, a young horse finished third despite being shuffled back and making the final turn three wide. That horse turned out to be none other than Richard Mandella’s Omaha Beach, the presumptive Kentucky Derby favorite who was the beaten favorite that day in a race won by, ironically enough, a horse named More Ice.

Wrona to Call Races in Prescott
One of the more picturesque and breathtaking venues in racing has a new life in 2019 as Arizona Downs begins racing with a meet that starts in mid-May and continues through Labor Day. Following a nine-year hiatus, the site of the old Yavapai Downs has been reconditioned and re-branded and is now ready to host a meet. Enter Wrona, considered one of North America’s most seasoned race callers who elected to spend his summer in the beautiful Prescott Valley.

“In this year of exploring fresh opportunities, it seems fitting to become associated with a brand-new project,” Wrona told “The racing industry is contracting in so many ways, so everybody should be supportive of a new track. There’s an air of anticipation and excitement surrounding Arizona Downs, and I’m looking forward to helping launch this new venture.”

The 53-year-old Australian-born Wrona has earned a reputation as one of the sport’s most colorful and entertaining announcers, weaving humor into precise calls. His simple proclamation of “Racing!” as the horses spring from the gate is among the best-known race-call signatures in the sport.

His extensive resume includes calling the action at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, Chicago’s Arlington Park, Retama and Lone Star Park in Texas, New Orleans’ Fair Grounds, Los Alamitos thoroughbreds and California’s Sonoma and Fresno fair meets.