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Updated: 1 hour 45 min ago

Hard Spun’s A Thread of Blue Makes the Grade

Sat, 2019-03-02 13:26

A Thread of Blue claimed his first graded victory and third straight win in Saturday’s GIII Palm Beach S. at Gulfstream Park. The dark bay rushed up to the front before settling in third behind fractions of :23.78 and :47.99 set by King Ottokar (Temple City) and 99-1 longshot Hard Belle (Hard Spun), while Casa Creed raced fourth under jockey John Velazquez. A Thread of BLue spurted into contention with a three-wide move leaving the backstretch, took a slim lead at the top of the lane and gamely held off Casa Creed to the wire.

“It was great to be able to lay third, second, third and then move when he wanted to move,” said winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “He’s a really nice horse and does everything right. He obviously loves it in Florida, winning three in a row here and we’ll probably give him a little more time in between races this next time and we’ll look at Derby day. I definitely think he can stretch out to a mile and a quarter, should be no problem. The mile and half might be a little far for him, but certainly we’ll try a mile and a quarter.”

A Thread of Blue, a maiden winner in an off-turfer at Belmont last October, was third in the Nov. 4 Awad S. over the Aqueduct lawn before ending his juvenile campaign with a front-running allowance tally over the Palm Beach’s course and trip Dec. 22. He cut back to a mile to score a 3 1/2-length victory in the Feb. 3 Dania Beach S. last time out.

Pedigree Notes:

Bred by Flaxman Holdings Limited, A Thread of Blue sold for $150,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September sale and was purchased by Leonard Green’s D J Stable for $430,000 after working a furlong in :10 1/5 at last year’s OBS March sale.

His dam, Enthused, also bred by Flaxman, and campaigned by the Niarchos family, won the 2000 G2 Lowther S. and G3 Princess Margaret S. She has a 2-year-old Union Rags colt named Fused and produced a filly by Temple City last year before being bred back to Karakontie (Jpn).

Enthused is a daughter of Magic of Life, who was purchased for $2.5 million as a weanling from the Newstead Farm dispersal in 1985 and won the 1988 G1 Coronation S. in the Niarchos colors. The mare was sold to Barronstown Stud for $610,000 at the 1998 Keeneland November sale.

Saturday, Gulfstream Park
PALM BEACH S.-GIII, $150,000, Gulfstream, 3-2, 3yo, 1 1/16mT, 1:41.93, fm.
1–A THREAD OF BLUE, 118, c, 3, by Hard Spun
1st Dam: Enthused (MGSW-Eng, $142,639), by Seeking the Gold
2nd Dam: Magic of Life, by Seattle Slew
3rd Dam: Larida, by Northern Dancer
1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($150,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP;
$430,000 2yo ’18 OBSMAR). O-Leonard C. Green; B-Flaxman
Holdings Limited (KY); T-Kiaran P. McLaughlin; J-Luis Saez.
$90,210. Lifetime Record: 7-4-1-1, $241,590.
Werk Nick Rating: A+.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Casa Creed, 118, c, 3, Jimmy Creed–Achalaya, by Bellamy
Road. ($15,000 Ylg ’17 OBSWIN; $105,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP).
O-LRE Racing LLC & JEH Racing Stable LLC; B-Silver Springs
Stud, LLC (KY); T-William I. Mott. $29,100.
3–Louder Than Bombs, 118, c, 3, Violence–Orabella, by More
Than Ready. ($47,000 RNA Wlg ’16 KEENOV; $37,000 Ylg ’17
KEESEP). O-Sandra New; B-Hidden Brook Farm & Spruce Lane
Farm (KY); T-David Fawkes. $14,550.
Margins: 3/4, 1, 3/4. Odds: 0.50, 6.60, 3.50.
Also Ran: Art G Is Back, King Ottokar, Stirling Drive, Castlewood Terrace, Hard Belle. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Quality Road’s Roadster Back in a Big Way for Baffert

Fri, 2019-03-01 20:17

8th-Santa Anita, $57,342, Alw (NW1$X)/Opt. Clm ($80,000), 3-1, 3yo, 1m, 1:37.53, ft.
ROADSTER (c, 3, Quality Road–Ghost Dancing {SW, $163,897}, by Silver Ghost) was a somewhat surprising second choice at 4-5 behind the 3-5 odds of Jan. 4 track-and-trip maiden winner Nolo Contesto (Pioneerof the Nile), but the talented TDN Rising Starasserted his superiority with a promising 2 1/2-length tally. Hailed by Bob Baffert at one point before he had ever run as the potential heir apparent to barn stars and Triple Crown winners American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) and Justify (Scat Daddy), the $525,000 KEESEP yearling lived up to 4-5 backing with a good-looking 4 1/4-length debut score at Del Mar in July. He ran into another Baffert-trained superstar in eventual champion and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}) when third as the favorite in the Sept. 3 GI Del Mar Futurity, and was ruled out of the Breeders’ Cup himself when requiring minor throat surgery after reportedly displacing in the Futurity. Away alertly off of a workab that included a Feb. 17 bullet six-furlong breeze in a very swift 1:10.60 (XBTV video), the grey took the first turn in about the three path and grabbed second from Nolo Contesto down the backside. His main rival seemed to need some encouragement through a :47.85 half, but Roadster was going strong as he took over between foes heading for home. He quickly stiff-armed a mild bid from longshot Manhattan Up (Street Boss) in upper stretch, and showed a niceburst of speed to increase his margin of victory in the run to the wire. Nolo Contesto outfinished Manhattan Up for second before galloping out with very good energy and well past Roadster. Roadster is a half-brother to Moro Tap (Tapit), GSP, $161,816; and Ascend (Candy Ride {Arg}), GISW, $859,980. His dam produced a Twirling Candy colt in 2018 before being bred to Candy Ride (Arg) himself. Sales history: $525,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 3-2-0-1, $106,200. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-Speedway Stable LLC; B-Stone Farm (KY); T-Bob Baffert.


Bravazo to Miss Dubai World Cup

Fri, 2019-03-01 16:32

Calumet Farm’s Bravazo (Awesome Again) will miss an intended start in the G1 Dubai World Cup later this month and instead undergo surgery at Rood and Riddle for a knee issue. The problem was detected by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas during training Thursday morning.

“He had some gravel and garbage that they wanted to clean up,” Lukas said, adding he expects Bravazo to return to his barn by June 1.

A MGISP multi-millionaire, Bravazo has danced every dance since early last year and was most recently fourth in the GI Pegasus World Cup Jan. 26 at Gulfstream.

“He had a long, hard campaign, so this might not be all bad,” Lukas said. “He’ll get a little break. He’ll be back by the first of June and that gives him a chance to have a real good summer and fall campaign.”


Patternrecognition Retired

Fri, 2019-03-01 15:42

GI Cigar Mile hero Patternrecognition (Adios Charlie–Almost a Valentine, by High Cotton) has been retired from racing, trainer Chad Brown confirmed Friday. It is unclear at this time where the Florida-bred will stand at stud. The story was originally reported by the Daily Racing Form.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t come out of the last race, the [GI] Pegasus [World Cup] sound and we feel the horse has done enough,” Brown said. “He has been a great horse for us and we just don’t want to risk any worse injury by going on with him. We are going to retire him. He has earned it and we are seeking out potential stallion deals for the horse.”

A $420,000 OBSAPR purchase for Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, Patternrecognition won five of his 12 races and finished second five times as well for earnings of $1,012,325. He captured Belmont’s GII Kelso H. last September and followed suit with a career-high in the Cigar Mile Dec. 1. The 6-year-old faded after setting the early pace last time in the Jan. 26 Pegasus.


Instagrand & Much Better Headed to the Gotham

Fri, 2019-03-01 15:21

‘TDN Rising Star’ Instagrand (Into Mischief) was originally scheduled to make his highly anticipated to return to action in the Mar. 9 GII San Felipe S. at his hometrack of Santa Anita, but has been re-routed to Aqueduct’s GIII Gotham S. on the same day. The Gotham is one-turn as opposed to the two-turn San Felipe, which is being targeted by undefeated Bob Baffert pupils and fellow ‘Rising Stars’ Improbable (City Zip) and champion Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}).

“The distance of the race seems to be a better place to start going a one-turn mile rather than a mile and a sixteenth at Santa Anita. He’s been off for a while,” said Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, who will ship his charge in to New York Wednesday.

An ultra-impressive debut winner sprinting at Los Alamitos June 29, Instagrand romped by 10 1/4 lengths in the six-panel GII Best Pal S. at Del Mar Aug. 11, after which his owner Larry Best decided to give him the rest of the season off to prepare for his 3-year-old campaign. The blaze-faced bay returned to the worktab Dec. 30 and has been breezing steadily since, most recently covering seven panels in 1:26.60 in Arcadia Feb. 25.

“He’s training very nice. We think we have the horse good enough to run,” said Hollendorfer. “He was always a well-meant horse, and Larry Best [OXO Equine] spent quite a bit of money for him and he’s proven to be worth it.”

Though Instagrand will avoid a clash with Baffert’s unbeaten heavy hitters for now, he will still face a runner for the two-time Triple Crown winner’s barn in Much Better (Pioneerof the Nile). Opening his account with a win sprinting on dirt at Del Mar in September, the Three Chimneys homebred checked in second in the grassy Zuma Beach S. a month later and was well-beaten in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Nov. 2. Third in the GIII Sham S. when getting back on dirt Jan. 5, the dark bay scored a decisive win in a 6 1/2-furlong main track optional claimer at Santa Anita last time Feb. 9.

“We were thinking this might be a good race to stretch him back out and see his ability,” said Baffert. “I thought he ran solid in his last start and we’d really like to see what he can do at two turns. He’s a Pioneerof the Nile and he has a lot of speed.”

The Hall of Famer continued, “Previously, in the Sham when he went two turns, he seemed to be moving well and just came up a bit short towards the finish. He won his debut sprinting and then we tried him out on the turf, but he’s shown us enough on the dirt where we want to give him another shot to stretch out and at a mile this could be a good spot to do it.”

Also possible for the Gotham is GI Breeders’ Futurity S. winner and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Knicks Go (Paynter), who was last seen finishing fifth in the GIII Sam F. Davis S. at Tampa last month.

“It’s certainly a possibility that we enter for the Gotham,” said trainer Ben Colebrook. “He’s seemed to come out of the Sam F. Davis well. He’s had one breeze since then that we were happy with and he’s remained healthy. We’re still trying to pick our spots and find our way to the Derby.”

He added, “Obviously, cutting back to the mile [distance] for the Gotham could certainly work in his favor, but the race is also looking like it will come up real salty, so we’ll weigh all of our options.”


Jaywalk Tops 115 KY Oaks Nominees

Fri, 2019-03-01 14:58

Champion Jaywalk (Cross Traffic), who makes her seasonal bow in Saturday’s GII Davona Dale S., tops a list of 115 sophomore fillies nominated to the 145th running of the GI Kentucky Oaks May 3 at Churchill Downs. Other well known nominees include regally-bred GISW and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Chasing Yesterday (Tapit), MGISW Bellafina (Quality Road) and MGSW Serengeti Empress (Alternation).

The purse for this year’s renewal was raised from $1 million to $1.25 million. Each of the 115 fillies nominated to the Oaks was made eligible by a $200 payment that was due Feb. 16. A complete list of nominations is available at here. Click here for a list of Oaks prep races.

Fillies not nominated to the Kentucky Oaks can be made eligible through a $1,500 late fee due April 13 or a $20,000 supplemental nomination due at the time of entry. The Oaks field is limited to 14 starters and up to four fillies can be designated as “also-eligible” to start. Eligibility to compete is determined by points amassed during the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” point series.


Blame’s Mucho Returns a Winner at Gulfstream

Fri, 2019-03-01 13:35

2nd-Gulfstream, $44,060, Alw (NW1X)/Opt. Clm ($75,000), 3-1, 3yo, 6f, 1:10.35, ft.
MUCHO (c, 3, Blame–Extent, by Pulpit) had to work a bit more for it than his 1-2 odds suggested he might have needed to, but theTDN Rising Star kicked off his sophomore season on a winning note Friday at Gulfstream. Second on debut at Belmont last June, the homebred aired by 9 3/4 lengths in fast time to don cap and gown at Saratoga in August. He’d last been seen finishing a close second to Mind Control (Stay Thirsty) as the favorite in the Spa’s Sept. 3 GI Hopeful S., but exited that event with an ankle issue. Mucho had fired three straight bullet breezes at trainer Bill Mott’s Payson Park base for this, but broke a half-step slow from the rail and was briefly shuffled back before pilot Jose Ortiz pushed him through to sit third. Impressive debut winner Lutsky (Yes It’s True) showed the way with Releasethethunder (More Than Ready) in hot pursuit, but by midway on the turn Mucho had caught up to that pair while three deep. They hit the quarter pole in :45.53, and Mucho began to inch away from his rivals in the lane, ultimately crossing the wire 1 1/4 lengths to the good of Releasethethunder. Lutsky held on for third. “I thought maybe he’d be good enough to win,” Mott said. “It looked like maybe he got a little tired there at the end; he’s been off six months. Jose said they made a pretty long run from the three-eighths pole home. They were moving right along. It was a pretty good race, I’d say.” As for what could be next, the conditioner said, “I think we need to sit down with the powers that be and just figure out if we want to stretch out next time or what we want to do, distance-wise. I think that’s the main thing we’ve got to talk about. I’m sure we will [stretch him out] at some point, whether it’s next time or not. We’ve got to start somewhere.”Mucho is a half to fellow Mott trainee Size (First Samurai), GSW, $212,453, the 2-year-old colt Extreme (Speightstown); and a yearling colt by Curlin. His dam, who hails from deep female family that includes the likes of Nureyev, Archipenko and Mucho’s sire Blame himself, was barren to Ghostzapper last breeding season. Lifetime Record: GISP, 4-2-2-0, $158,150. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O/B-Claiborne Farm & Adele B. Dilschneider (KY); T-William I. Mott.


Track Re-Opens at Santa Anita, Day Goes Off Without A Hitch

Thu, 2019-02-28 19:08

After being closed since 9 a.m. Monday morning, the main track at Santa Anita re-opened Thursday and there were no incidents or reports of serious injuries during training hours. Yesterday also marked the return of racing to Santa Anita after three regularly scheduled dark days and the races were also concluded without any reported incidents.

The track has been closed so tests could be taken to see if experts could find any specific problems with the racing surface. Nineteen horses have died at Santa Anita since Dec. 26, either during races or during training hours. The most notable horse among the group was 2017 GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway (Smart Strike).

The green light was given to resume training after the track was inspected by a team headed by racetrack surface expert. Mick Peterson, the director of the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Program.

“Things went well during training,” Peterson said. “Everything is progressing positively and everything looks good. Santa Anita management is being proactive and they’re not taking this lightly. That’s when I get worried, when a track has been complacent and that isn’t the case here at all.”

Retired jockey Alex Solis, who doubles and as an exercise rider and a Member of the Board of Directors of the California Horse Racing Board, echoed Peterson’s sentiments.

“It went very well this morning,” Solis said.. “I thought they did a great job. I was very satisfied with the track and with the way the horses were moving this morning. We’re all trying to find solutions. I worked two horses around the racetrack and I galloped two others and was very satisfied with it. At this point, you don’t sense that there’s anything wrong with the track. Before it was inconsistent because they had to seal the track and open it up because of all the bad weather we’ve had. You never know what’s going to happen when that happens.”

Trainers did not appear to shy away from normal work schedules as there were 45 recorded works on the main track. Bob Baffert sent out two of his better horses. GI Starlet S. winner Chasing Yesterday (Tapit), worked six furlongs in 1:12.40 (video). Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man), who is among Baffert’s top contenders for the GI Kentucky Derby, also worked, going a half-mile in :47.60 (see related story).

Peterson, who has done extensive tests, has not been able to find anything wrong with the track.

“We’re not seeing anything wrong,” he said. “The comparison here is what they do with the National Traffic Safety Administration. We’ll put all our material together, we’ll give it to the California Horse Racing Board and they’ll combine that with the necropsy data. If we have an unusual pattern of injuries, that begins to raise questions about all sorts of issues that have nothing to do with the track. We have to look at everything.”

Peterson will continue to study the track over the next few days and see if he can come up with some answers as to why its condition may have led to so many fatalities. So far, he has already tested the composition of the soil and compared it to similar tests done in October. He also used what he calls “ground penetrating radar” to take and study images of the base, the cushion and the pad.

“The weather has been unusual so that makes it a lot more challenging, but we really aren’t seeing anything wrong at this point,” he said.

Many believe that an unusual run of wet and cold weather might have played a role in whatever possible problems there have been with the track. Peterson agreed that could be a factor.

“One of the most important things we have to look at is moisture and how we respond with the maintenance to the rain and then the drying out,” he said. “That’s all part of the puzzle that we’re looking at. I think we should be fine, but until we’ve had a few more days of racing and training that are safe I don’t think anybody is going to be complacent.”

If Peterson is not able to find any answers, perhaps the California Horse Racing Board will, as it is in the process of performing necropsies on each of the horses who have died. California State Equine Medical Director Rick Arthur said it may take as long as a month before all the necropsies are completed.

Arthur is of the opinion that pre-existing injuries are what normally lead to catastrophic breakdowns and said these sorts of problems are never just about the racetrack.

“I don’t find it surprising that the track is good now,” he said. “Nobody was on it for a couple of days and we’ve had fairly good weather here for 10 days or so. We certainly know from past experience that it takes 10 days to two weeks for a track to get back to good condition after a hard seal. I don’t want to blame the track, but I’m not going to take a position that the track was not a factor. Trainers get upset at me when I point out that 85 to 90% of the time, horses have pre-existing pathology at the site of the fatal injury. On the other hand, they want to blame the track for everything. What we really need to do is address this as an industry and use science.”

Track Re-Opens at Santa Anita, No Problems Reported During Morning Training

Thu, 2019-02-28 16:17

After being closed since 9 a.m. Monday morning, the main track at Santa Anita re-opened Thursday morning, and there were no incidents or reports of serious injuries.

The track has been closed so tests could be taken to see if experts could find any specific problems with the racing surface. Nineteen horses have died at Santa Anita since Dec. 26, either during races or during training hours.

The green light was given to resume training after the track was inspected by a team headed by racetrack surface expert Mick Peterson, the director of the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Program.

“Things went well during training,” Peterson said. “Everything is progressing positively and everything looks good. Santa Anita management is being proactive and they’re not taking this lightly. That’s when I get worried, when a track has been complacent and that isn’t the case here at all.”

Peterson, who has done extensive tests, has not been able to find anything wrong with the track.

“We’re not seeing anything wrong,” he said. “The comparison here is what they do with the National Traffic Safety Administration. We’ll put all our material together, we’ll give it to the California Horse Racing Board and they’ll combine that with the necropsy data. If we have an unsual pattern of injuries, that begins to raise questions about all sorts of isuses that have nothing to do wth the track. We have to look at everything.

This story will be updated.

Strychnine Detected in Three Turf Paradise Horses

Thu, 2019-02-28 15:33

Strychnine, the active ingredient in rat poison, has been detected in post-race drug testing of three horses from the same owner/trainer at Turf Paradise.

All three horses additionally tested positive for caffeine. A fourth horse from the same outfit tested positive for caffeine alone.

Alex Torres-Casas, the owner/trainer of all four horses, was fined $2,625 and suspended 180 days for the offenses according to Arizona Department of Racing (ADR) ruling 18-19TP107 dated Feb. 27.

Torres-Casas appealed the ruling the same day it was issued, according to Caroline Oppleman, the public information officer for the Arizona Department of Gaming.

Strychnine is listed as a Class 1 Penalty/Category A substance on the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Uniform Classification of Substances list–the most dangerous level. Caffeine is listed as 2/B. The ARCI’s recommended penalty for a 1/A violation is a minimum one-year suspension and a minimum fine of $10,000.

But this is not the first Class 1/A offense for Torres-Casas. According to the May 30, 2017, ADR ruling 16-17TP126, he was also fined $2,650 and suspended 180 days for a cocaine positive in horse he raced at Turf Paradise in February of that year.

The ARCI guidelines for a trainer’s second lifetime Penalty Category A offense in any jurisdiction call for a minimum three-year suspension and a minimum fine of $25,000.

TDN attempted to contact both Rudy Casillas, the ADR director, and the Turf Paradise stewards to find out if there were mitigating circumstances that resulted in a penalty well below what the ARCI recommends.

A voicemail left with Casillas was returned by Oppleman, who said she did not know whether investigators are pursuing the case as intentional doping or if the horses accidentally ate rat poison. The person who answered the phone at Turf Paradise said the stewards won’t be at the track until Saturday. A working phone number for Torres-Casas could not be located prior to deadline for this story.

The three Turf Paradise horses that tested positive for both strychnine and caffeine were:
Windi’s Moment, an 0-for-11 maiden claimer who ran third in the first race at 26-1 odds on Jan. 15.
Straightcash Homie, an 0-for-11 maiden claimer who ran second in the seventh race at 85-1 odds on Jan. 16.
Giro Candito, a 2-for-13 claimer at the $3,000 level who was pulled up and vanned off at 5-2 odds in the eighth race Jan. 23.

The caffeine-only horse was S S Taylor, a 1-for-19 claimer at the $3,500 level who ran fifth in the eighth race at 25-1 odds Feb. 2.

Unless the case gets overturned in the appeals process, all of the above horses will be disqualified from purse money and placed on the stewards’ list for 60 days. They then would have to be retested and be proven to be clear from foreign substances prior to being allowed to race.

According to Equibase, Torres-Casas has been a licensed trainer since 2016 with a 9% lifetime win percentage.

Although strychnine would seem like an unlikely performance-enhancer given its widespread use as a rodenticide, over a century ago it was one of the first substances to cause a major sports doping scandal in America. At the time, it was believed that in very small concentrations, strychnine boosted neuromuscular capabilities.

In 1904, Thomas Hicks, the Summer Olympics marathon winner in St. Louis, openly downed a mixture of egg whites and brandy laced with strychnine handed to him by an assistant during the running of the race. A formal protest was lodged, but the Olympic Games director refused to consider it and the results stood.

According to published reports at the time, it was not Hicks’s chemical consumption that caused the controversy. Rather, the outrage stemmed from strychnine cocktails not being available to all Olympic runners in the searing, 90-degree heat.

Goggles-As-Whip Earns Top Oaklawn Jock $200 Fine

Thu, 2019-02-28 14:57

Oaklawn Park’s leading jockey, Ricardo Santana Jr., was on the lead in the third race Feb. 17 and half a furlong from victory aboard Rockport Kat (Rockport Harbor) when the whip accidentally slipped out of his left hand. He hand-rode the horse hard for a few strides, then snatched his goggles from atop his helmet and flailed right-handed with them in an attempt to win the $27,000 race.

The effort came up three-quarters of a length short. One week later, the Oaklawn stewards added an additional $200 sting to the defeat by hitting Santana with a fine for violating state Rule #1214, which states, in part, that no device “other than the ordinary whip, shall be possessed by any one or applied by any one to a horse at any time.”

Such spontaneous use of goggles or a nylon cap cover is hardly unprecedented in United States racing. But the Oaklawn seems to be the only jurisdiction where a jockey gets in trouble for it.

The only other such stewards’ ruling in America in recent memory was handed down at Oaklawn for a similar incident one year and one day prior to Santana’s violation, when jockey David Cabrera’s wallet was lightened by $200 for using goggles as a substitute whip to propel a horse to victory after he too had dropped his crop. At the time, his agent told TDN the fine was worth winning a $76,000 race.

Similarly, Santana’s longtime agent, Ruben Munoz, said via phone on Thursday that he also thought his jockey was just trying to be resourceful. They won’t be appealing the fine, he added.

“You want to give a 100% effort. The goggles just keep the horse interested,” Munoz said. “The thing is, the goggles never hit the horse, because with the length of Ricardo’s arm, I don’t think he can even reach down and hit the hindquarters of a horse with goggles, if you want to look at it that way. It was just something to keep the horse going, to encourage him.

Munoz said he didn’t even want to discuss which object hits a horse more forcefully–a standard whip or a much smaller, lighter and flimsier pair of plastic riding goggles.

“I’ve seen [jockeys using goggles or a cap] a lot of times before, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it [result in a penalty],” Munoz continued. “But I didn’t question it. I didn’t ask them why. I don’t even go up to the stewards. I don’t even think an appeal is worth it, honestly. I didn’t even give it a second thought. I try to do the opposite of anything that is drama.”

Santana has won every riding title at Oaklawn since 2013 and currently tops the 2019 standings in both wins and purse earnings.

“He’s trying to win the race,” Munoz summed up. “If you don’t do that, if you don’t put in the effort, then you get penalized. You know, we’re in a sport that punishes excellence, so what are you going to do?”

Union Rags Colt Wins For Fun in Laurel Debut

Thu, 2019-02-28 14:52

5th-Laurel, $41,200, Msw, 2-28, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:43.61, ft.

HOFFA’S UNION (g, 3, Union Rags–Malibu Red {SP, $141,684}, by Malibu Moon), unveiled at 7-1, seized the early advantage, ticking off comfortable splits of :23.71 and :48.57. The $11,000 EASMAY buy was in a race of his own in the lane, cruising clear, while drifting out a few paths, to win by a whopping 15 1/2 lengths. Favored Candy Store (Twirling Candy) was best of the rest in second. Hoffa’s Union is the first foal out of Malibu Red, who is also responsible for a juvenile filly by Cairo Prince and a Frosted filly born earlier this year. The winner hails from the family of last term’s GI American Oaks winner Competitionofideas (Speightstown). Sales history: $40,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP; $11,000 2yo ’18 EASMAY. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $22,800. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

O-Non Stop Stable, Rose Petal Stable and Foard Wilgis; B-Frederick Allor (KY); T-Gary Capuano.

Mastercraftsman to Shuttle to Argentina in 2019

Thu, 2019-02-28 13:09

Champion Mastercraftsman (Ire) will shuttle to South America again in 2019. The son of Danehill Dancer (Ire) will return to Argentina for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season to stand at Haras Firmamento, where the gray stood in 2016.

Sire of champion Alpha Centauri (Ire) and MGISW A Raving Beauty (Ger), Mastercrafstman is currently leading Chile’s stallions ranks, with his son Yo Primo (Chi) winning G1 El Derby earlier this month.

A four-time Group 1 winner, Mastercraftsman stands at Coolmore Stud in Ireland for a fee of €30,000.

“It is a great pleasure for us to again have this great stallion at the farm,” said Ezequiel Valle of Haras Firmamento. “His first crop foaled here will hit the rings this year and we are very happy with them. Not all the sires can have good records in both hemispheres, but Mastercraftsman is one of them who does. We will run a lot of his fillies next year under our name”.

Mastercraftsman will stand alongside GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Hit It a Bomb (War Front), another former Coolmore horse.

Turfway Barn Search Yields Injectables

Thu, 2019-02-28 12:01

A Turfway Park barn search that turned up injectable medications, syringes, and needles has led to a pair of 90-day suspensions for trainer Amanda Dimmett and owner Jerry Dimmett.

According to three Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards’ rulings dated Feb. 21 and 22, the Jan. 11 search of Turfway’s barn 14 came in the wake of a Dec. 26 positive post-race test result for ibuprofen and naproxen in Miss Discreet, who won a $6,250 claiming sprint at 10-1 odds.

Both ibuprofen and naproxen are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications commonly administered by tablet in human usage.

As Miss Discreet’s trainer, Amanda Dimmett was fined $1,000 and suspended an additional 10 days for the Class 4/Penalty Category C violations. The horse was disqualified and purse money will be redistributed.

Jerry Dimmett was not the owner of Miss Discreet, but he has partnered with Amanda Dimmett in other ownerships. According to Equibase, they have an 0-for-36 combined partnership record. As a solo owner, Jerry Dimmett’s career record is 1-for-14.

Amanda Dimmett has been a licensed trainer since 2017 with a 1-for-51 lifetime record per Equibase.

Richard Budge Named Margaux Farm General Manager

Thu, 2019-02-28 11:40

Richard Budge has been hired as Margaux Farm’s new general manager effective Mar. 4, it was announced Thursday.

“I am thrilled to have Richard, with his extensive Thoroughbred training and management experience, join the team at Margaux,” said Jim Hill, Margaux Farm owner. “The farm has many experienced, but still young managers, who are looking forward to the mentorship that Richard can provide.”

Budge, a respected horseman, brings over 40 years of international experience to Margaux. He comes to the farm following 17 years at WinStar Farm as head trainer, where he oversaw the training of many Grade I winners, including Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy), Songbird (Medaglia d’Oro), Honor Code (A.P. Indy), Super Saver (Maria’s Mon), Forever Unbridled (Unbridled’s Song) and Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie).

“I am honored by the confidence and trust put in me by owners Jim and Susan Hill,” said Budge. “I am excited about this opportunity, along with the new set of challenges that will be presented, and I look forward to continuing the growth of Margaux into an elite farm, rehabilitation and training center.”

Hotline Tip Leads to Trainer Suspension for Equine Neglect

Thu, 2019-02-28 11:18

An equine neglect tip called in to Oaklawn Park’s “whistleblower hotline” has resulted in local horsemen and track management partnering to care for seven underfed Thoroughbreds found languishing in filthy stalls for at least 10 days at an off-site training facility 12 miles from the track.

The anonymous call-in has also resulted in a six-month suspension for trainer Tina Marie Nicks, whom the Oaklawn stewards found responsible for violating Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) rule #1269, which deals with the humane treatment of horses, plus a state statute that prohibits cruelty to animals.

The circumstances and timeline of the case were detailed in Oaklawn stewards’ ruling 2019-OP-15 dated Feb. 24.

According to the ruling, Nicks had been assigned five stalls in Barn 27 at Oaklawn but also kept seven horses at an off-grounds training facility on Whited Farm Road in Hot Springs.

Oaklawn has a “whistleblower program” supported by the ARC and the Arkansas Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association that is designated to receive confidential reports on any questionable activities or concerns. On Feb. 16, the hotline received the tip that Nicks’ off-site horses were underfed and had not been out of their uncleaned stalls for several days.

Retired trainer Hal Wiggins, who now serves as Oaklawn’s integrity officer, was dispatched by track management to the training center along with backstretch security manager James Ingram. The ruling states that the two documented with photographs “that the horses were lacking in proper care, were standing in unbedded stalls filled with urine and feces, and, in several cases, were showing they had been underfed.”

The ruling further states that the owner of the training center, James Lovett, “had provided hay and feed for the horses [and] Sergio Vazquez, who works for Mr. Lovett, had provided feed and care to the horses.”

Track officials subsequently purchased feed and hired Vazquez to make certain the horses received meals, water and clean bedding. But by the time the Oaklawn-purchased feed was being delivered to the training center, the ruling states, Nicks had reappeared and “was feeding her horses and stripping or cleaning the stalls.”

A stewards’ hearing was held Feb. 20. According to the ruling, “there was a 10-day period in which Ms. Nicks indicated she was sick and couldn’t care for the horses.”

In addition to the above-mentioned ARC rule and the state statute dealing with neglect, the stewards also cited ARC violations pertaining to “questionable conduct” and “the trainer’s responsibility to guard and protect all horses in the trainer’s care.”

During her suspension Nicks is not permitted on the grounds of Oaklawn or any training facility in Arkansas. The horses may not be transferred to any family member or employee of Nicks, and all horse transfers from her care must all be approved by the stewards.

According to Equibase, Nicks has been a licensed trainer since 2017 with six wins from 97 starts in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. She is 0-for-12 at the current Oaklawn meet.

Churchill To Offer Record High Purses at Spring Meet

Thu, 2019-02-28 10:56

Track-record high first condition book purses that represent a whopping 46% increase over last year will greet horsemen when the Churchill Downs spring meet opens Apr. 27.

The wave of the future has been bolstered by a blast from the past, as a top Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) official explained on Thursday that the purse windfall has been created by a better-than-expected surge in wagering on historical horse race betting machines at the corporation’s nearby Derby City Gaming venue that opened last September.

“Derby City Gaming has really exceeded our expectations,” R. Alex Rankin, the chairman of CDI’s board of directors, told TDN via phone. “We really thought it would be good–our team that does casino work, they really think they can win in any market– but sometimes you predict these things and they don’t come true. But this time it did, and it’s really a great story because this is a cooperative effort with the horsemen and the state of Kentucky, and it’s really doing exactly what all the stakeholders hoped it would. This purse increase is because of that facility, and because of the statutory split that goes into purses.”

The first condition book, which covers the first half of the 38-day spring meet, pegs purses for the 189 offered races at $20.1 million, up from $13.7 million in 2018. The daily average will be $1,056,842 compared to $722,579 last year, or $106,243 per race versus $72,640, according to a CDI press release.

More than $30 million in total purses is expected to be offered over the entirety of the spring meet. Last year, $22.2 million in total purses were paid out over the same time frame.

Additionally, the CDI release stated that purses during GI Kentucky Derby week will see further boosts, with maiden special weight races offering $100,000 purses. Total purses on GI Kentucky Oaks Day will exceed $3.6 million, and Derby Day prize money will be worth a record $6.9 million.

After Derby week, maiden special weight races will reset to $85,000 (up from $53,000 in 2018), and allowance races will range from $87,000 to $94,000 (up from $55,000 to $61,000 in 2018).

“There’s no question that maiden special weight purses are the proxy for the health of a racing program,” Rankin said. “And as you saw in the past two or three years, those numbers have gone up dramatically in New York and Arkansas, so we’re catching up now.”

Within the past four months, the national landscape has shifted significantly in terms of purses, particularly in Arkansas. Oaklawn Park in November won voters’ approval to construct a full-blown casino on its property, and that news has sparked purse jumps and an increase in the duration of the meet, which will overlap with Churchill’s for one week for the first time this year. There is the promise of more to come at Oaklawn, as the company is slated to start construction on a $100 million hotel and casino right after the meet ends May 4.

“The timing of [the CDI purse increase] has been great because of Oaklawn’s success and good fortune,” Rankin said. “But what we’re focused on is trying to make the Kentucky circuit such that our horsemen can run for competitive purses vis-a-vis Oaklawn, Saratoga, Belmont, and those places. That’s the goal. Premier racing for our stakes program and solid purses for our Kentucky horsemen are really what we’re trying to achieve. And that drives field size, that drives handle, that drives business for That’s what it’s all about–that’s the engine.”

Asked about non-purse-related improvements that might be in the pipeline–like upgrading backstretch amenities at Churchill–Rankin said: “We’ve got some projects in the works and under consideration that I’m not really in a position to talk about in detail that will affect the backside and add some resources that we feel like we need for the horsemen.

He continued, “You know, we bought all this property around Churchill Downs, and some of that property is adjacent to the backstretch, which gives us flexibility,” Rankin continued. “So there’s room to do other things, and we’re trying to model that and figure out how we’re going to do that.

“But as far as being willing to commit the capital,” Rankin summed up, “I think you would see from what we’ve done that [backstretch improvements] are going to be a positive [priority] when we start making those investments. This Derby City Gaming success obviously fuels the ability to really envision that, not just do what we think we can afford on a piecemeal basis.”

Horsemen–no shocker here—warmly embraced the prospect of bolstered purses.

“Bigger purses are always a positive,” said Dale Romans, the all-time leading trainer at Churchill. “I think the success of their new venture has been great, and the money is going right where it’s supposed to.”


Santa Anita Training and Racing to Resume Today

Thu, 2019-02-28 06:59

Edited press release

Santa Anita’s one mile main track, which has been closed to training for the past two days, has been deemed “one hundred percent ready,” by Mick Peterson, PhD, who serves as the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Programs, and who evaluates soil samples from Santa Anita on a monthly basis. The news was issued late last night via press release from Santa Anita.

In addition to soil samples and a thorough examination of the track’s cushion, pad and base, which was conducted by Peterson and Santa Anita Track Superintendent Andy LaRocco, Peterson employed ground-penetrating radar to ensure uniform consistency throughout the one mile oval.

“The ground penetrating radar verified all of the materials, silt, clay and sand, as well as moisture content, are consistent everywhere on this track,” said Peterson on Wednesday afternoon. “This testing ensures all components, the five-inch cushion, pad and base, are consistent and in good order.

“Andy (LaRocco) has inspected the entire oval and has made sure that by pulling the soil (cushion) off and reapplying it, this surface is in fact one hundred percent consistent and ready for training and racing.”

Peterson was also quick to note that physical soundness is a seven-day-a-week, 24 hour-a-day challenge which involves myriad issues, in addition to a consistent surface.

“All of the testing and research we’ve done, worldwide, clearly indicates soundness is multi-factorial,” said Peterson. “We must approach this challenge with the knowledge that this is always a process and we need to always strive to get better and that no matter how good the results may be, we must get better.

“If there are issues, they’re going to be addressed. The safety of the horses, jockeys and exercise people is our number one priority and always will be.”

Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer, The Stronach Group, said, “At the Stronach Group, we consider the safety and security of the athletes, both equine and human, who race at our facilities, to be our top priority,” said Ritvo. “All industry stakeholders, including our company, must be held accountable for the safety and security of the horses and we are committed to doing just that.”

Santa Anita’s main track will open for training Thursday at 5 a.m. and will remain open until 10 a.m. The inner training track, will open at 4:45 a.m. and remain open until 10 a.m.

First post time for an eight-race card on Thursday is at 1 p.m.

Santa Anita Surface Tests Continue

Wed, 2019-02-27 18:21

At the time of filing this story, Santa Anita management hadn’t made a decision about re-opening the track for training Thursday morning. Racetrack surface expert, Mick Peterson, who had flown Wednesday morning from Kentucky to Los Angeles, was still performing his own evaluation of the dirt surface.

The track was originally scheduled to re-open Wednesday morning, but track management decided to keep it closed another morning in order to perform further “soil analysis,” and to allow Peterson, director of the University of Kentucky’s Ag Equine Program, time to test the surface consistency using a ground penetrating radar.

This maintenance is being conducted to help determine a possible cause for the 19 horses who have been fatally injured at Santa Anita since Dec. 26–six on the dirt during racing, five on the turf during racing and another eight during morning training. The overall total is higher than in comparable periods over the last three years.

Santa Anita’s dirt track–which consists of a hard base, the pad and the cushion–has been closed for training since 9 a.m. Monday morning. Since then, track superintendent Andy LaRocco and his crew reportedly peeled back about five inches of the track’s pad and cushion to examine the base.

Peterson told the TDN Tuesday that the work LaRocco and his crew conducted the past few days falls into two main categories. The first was to conduct a visual inspection of the surface and the base. The second, Peterson said, consisted of thoroughly mixing the sand, clay and silt that make up the track surface. Because of the 11 1/2 inches of rain that Santa Anita has recently taken, Peterson said that the finer particles of silt and clay could have washed to the inside of the track, leaving the larger, coarser particles of sand accumulated nearer the outside of the track.

As part of a broader maintenance program at Santa Anita, the surface moisture content is routinely monitored, said Peterson, and samples of the track are taken monthly and sent for analysis at a laboratory in Kentucky. The samples are tested to determine the exact combination of sand, silt and clay. As for how the samples are taken, there are two main protocols. Ordinarily, four samples are taken at the quarter poles. After periods of rain, a much broader set of samples are taken, to better understand the track consistency both near the rail and further out.

The first broader set of samples taken of the Santa Anita track since the rains are currently at the laboratory in Kentucky, where they’re undergoing a particle size analysis, and a bulk density measurement, “to make sure [the cushion will] set up on the pad correctly,” said Peterson. The results are expected back Thursday.

While the greatest attention has been squared on the racetrack’s surfaces, experts stress the multi-factorial nature of the possible causes behind any individual catastrophic injury.

Evidence has shown that 85% to 90% of all musculoskeletal- related fatalities have pre-existing pathology at the site of the injury, while certain other risk-factors, like the age of the horse, whether it raced at two, and the distance of the race, can all have a bearing on race-day fatalities. What’s more, racetrack fatality numbers also include those from sudden cardiac death, the cause of one training fatality at Santa Anita this winter.

In light of the rash of mainstream coverage the fatalities have garnered–including a segment on NBC News–a number of the more prominent trainers were cagey about voicing publicly their thoughts on the issue, but discussed on background Wednesday morning how it has affected their businesses. “I’ve got 10 horses coming in soon,” said one Grade I-winning trainer, who wished to remain anonymous. The trainer displayed a long list of text messages from people, some of them clients, concerned about events at the track. “I’ve [owners] who have invested millions in horses.”

Trainer Leonard Powell sent an e-mail to his owners Tuesday evening in which he wrote, “since the first time they sealed it, I’ve had reservations about the main track and we have been using it only extremely cautiously. I don’t think that the track surface is the only reason for that many injuries, but it is definitely a contributing factor. Santa Anita is sparing no expense at finding the reasons for the streak of horses getting hurt. Please be assured that I will only use the tracks in which I’m 100% confident will not put our horses in harm’s way.”

Powell told the TDN that he wrote the e-mail to his owners to try to dispel and to clarify some of the rumors circulating.    “When an owner sends a horse [into training], it’s like sending a kid to camp,” Powell said. “You like to hear first-hand, who you have your child with, that it’s being taken care of.”

Last month, the Powell-trained Like Really Smart fatally broke down on the dirt during a race. Powell has a horse entered on the turf on Friday. Despite the five horses catastrophically injured on the turf these past two months, Powell said he isn’t concerned about the condition of the turf course, he said, because he uses the main course judiciously during morning training.

“A lot of the breakdowns on the turf are because of training too much on the main track of a morning,” he said. “Horses accumulate micro-fractures every time they gallop and work, which can transcend to fatal injuries once they race, whether it’s dirt of turf.”

All the horses fatally injured at Santa Anita this winter underwent, or will undergo, a standard necropsy. CHRB equine medical director told the TDN Monday that about one-third of the necropsies have been completed, and that the necropsy process can take up to 12 weeks to complete, “depending on the circumstances.”

Arthur explained Tuesday that “a few” of the catastrophic injuries were “surprising,” in that the fractures were “atypical.” Though Arthur was unwilling to add any further information on those horses with “surprising” fractures, including specific numbers of horses, he said that “in instances of unusual fracture configurations,” he can request “special necropsy examinations” on a case-by-case basis.

“Most fractures occur in fairly predictable locations in fairly predictable configurations,” he said. “We’re interested, also for research purposes, in specific legions, like we see in sesamoid fractures that we think are predisposing injuries not readily amenable to current diagnostic techniques.”

On Wednesday, Arthur further clarified the CHRB’s fatality review program.

When a necropsy report is completed, a state veterinarian will interview the trainer of the catastrophically injured horse–sometimes with a safety steward present–and ask them a series of questions, to find out if the horse had any prior medical problems, for example, or if any diagnostic procedures had been performed within the last 60-90 days. The veterinarian will also explain the findings of the necropsy with the trainer.

The program is voluntary–there’s no state law mandating trainer participation. A proposed regulation mandating participation in a postmortem examination review program was introduced a number of years ago. The proposal failed to pass into law. Arthur said, however, that most trainers willingly partake in the current voluntary program.

“We are still working through the protocols and trying different protocols to get the type of information we need,” Arthur said of the program. “When you talk to trainers about fatalities, there’s a natural defensiveness. There’s an emotional aspect that we want to try to get around, so we’re trying to make it collegial and educational and informative. We’re not trying to accuse anybody of anything.”

Practicing racetrack veterinarians are also required to routinely submit veterinarian reports to the CHRB, detailing any treatments given to individual horses. The report isn’t designed to keep a comprehensive list of all veterinary procedures performed on a horse, said Arthur. It is a treatment report, not a medical record, he added. Diagnostic procedures like X-rays don’t have to be listed. What’s more, the reports aren’t in an electronic format that can be organized in a quick and easily accessible manner, said Arthur.

“CHRB and private veterinarians have been cooperating with The Jockey Club on an electronic system which would be searchable,” Arthur said. That effort is “ongoing,” he said.

The ad hoc committee has been finalized, and will comprise Peterson, Hall of Fame retired jockey Alex Solis, now a CHRB commissioner, P.J. Campo, executive vice president, Racing Division, for The Stronach Group, California Thoroughbred Trainer president Jim Cassidy, jockey Aaron Gryder, and exercise rider Humberto Gomez, who exercised the Triple-Crown winning Justify. According to Solis, the committee could also include state veterinarian Tim Grande.

Solis said that the committee will hold its first meeting this Thursday, and after that, the committee could convene every Thursday until the end of the meet.

Oxbow Half-Sister to Roy H Dominates at First Asking

Wed, 2019-02-27 15:36

6th-Gulfstream, $43,280, Msw, 2-27, 3yo, f, 5f (off turf), :59.21, ft.
VINCA (f, 3, Oxbow–Elusive Diva {MGSW & GISP, $484,510}, by Elusive Quality) was bet from a morning line of 10-1 into 9-2 for a rained-off maiden at Gulfstream Wednesday afternoon was kicked straight into the lead by Tyler Gaffalione, got a fairly easy time of it up front and coasted through the final eighth of a mile to graduate by a half-dozen lengths. Brad Kelley’s team acquired three-time graded winner and GI La Brea S. third Elusive Diva for $75,000 in foal to Algorithms at Keeneland November in 2013 and the mare’s value has skyrocketed since, given the exploits of her half-brother Roy H (More Than Ready), MGISW-US, G1SP-UAE, $3,139,765, who landed a second consecutive GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint last November and just last month became the first horse since Housebuster to be named Eclipse champion sprinter in consecutive years. Elusive Diva is the dam of 2-year-old filly Spicy Legacy (English Channel) and was most recently bred to Mr Z. Libbyris, the filly Elusive Diva was carrying at the time of her purchase, was a $210,000 buyback in foal to More Than Ready at last year’s Keeneland November sale. *1ST TIME STARTER. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $25,800. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O/B-Calumet Farm (KY); T-Michael J Maker.