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Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith to be honored

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith will be honored by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters with the Mr. Fitz Award.

The Hall of Fame rider will receive the award, named for longtime trainer “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, for typifying the spirit of racing at the group’s 59th annual awards dinner on Oct. 31 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Smith rode Justify to a sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont this spring for horse racing’s second Triple Crown in four years. The 53-year-old Hall of Famer will be in Louisville to compete in the Breeders’ Cup world championships at Churchill Downs. Smith is the all-time leading rider in Cup history with 26 wins and nearly $36 million in purse earnings.

Others to be honored at the NTWB dinner are former jockey Donna Barton Brothers, who will receive the Jim McKay Award for excellence in broadcasting; publicist Jim Gluckson, with the Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing; and Daily Racing Form writer Marty McGee, with the Walter Haight Award for career excellence in turf writing.

Santa Anita cancels racing after heavy rain inundates track

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Santa Anita has canceled its eight-race card because of wet weather after 3+ inches of rain dropped on the Southern California racetrack in three days.

Officials at the track in Arcadia say heavy overnight rains and more rain throughout the day Thursday made it necessary to cancel. They say the track will make every effort to reschedule the races in the immediate future.

Track superintendent Andy LaRocco says an additional 2 inches of rain was forecast for Thursday.

Live racing will resume on Friday with eight races.

Kentucky Derby purse up to $3 million

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Derby’s purse will be raised to $3 million this May, an increase of $1 million and the first boost in 14 years.

Churchill Downs said Thursday the winner of the 145th running will receive $1.86 million. The runner-up will earn $600,000, with third place worth $300,000, fourth place $150,000 and fifth place $90,000.

The Derby purse had been $2 million since 2005 and $1 million from 1996-2004.

Track President Kevin Flanery attributes the increase to more bettors using historical racing machines – the electronic form of parimutuel betting – at a recently opened facility near the track.

The second and third legs of the Triple Crown offer total purses of $1.5 million in the Preakness and Belmont stakes.

The purse for the Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on May 3 was raised by $250,000 to $1.25 million. It had been worth $1 million since 2011 and was worth $500,000 from 1996-2010.

Churchill Downs also increased purses for some races on the Derby Day undercard on May 4.