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Updated: 55 min 26 sec ago

N.Y. Chaplaincy to Honor Debbie, Terry Finley at Annual Saratoga Brunch

Wed, 2019-02-27 12:00

The New York Race Track Chaplaincy will honor Debbie and Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds for their continued support of the backstretch community when the organization hosts its annual N.Y. Chaplaincy Brunch at the Saratoga National Golf Club in Saratoga Springs, NY Wednesday, Aug.14, it was announced Wednesday.

The Finleys, who founded West Point Thoroughbreds in 1991 and have grown it into one of the largest Thoroughbred racing partnerships in the game, have offered assistance to stable workers and their families through committee work and support of the chaplaincy’s initiatives. Terry Finley serves on the boards of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Catholic Leadership Institute, Thoroughbred Charities of America, the PenFed Foundation, and the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund.

“Debbie and Terry Finley have consistently devoted their time and their energy to improve the quality of life for people throughout the Thoroughbred industry and we are proud to recognize them not only for their efforts but also for the example they have set for others to follow,” said Humberto Chavez, the chaplain for the New York Race Track Chaplaincy. “They have been especially generous with their support of the various programs that are organized by the New York chaplaincy.”


Oaklawn Increases Purses of Five Stakes; Brings Back Fifth Season

Wed, 2019-02-27 11:47

Oaklawn Park will increase the purse of five of its stakes races–the Mar. 16 Essex Handicap, Apr. 13 GIII Count Fleet H., Apr. 14 GI Apple Blossom H., May 3 Oaklawn Mile and May 4 Oaklawn Invitational–it was announced Wednesday. The Essex, Apple Blossom, Oaklawn Mile and Oaklawn Invitational will each see $50,000 boosts, while the Count Fleet will see a $100,000 increase.

Additionally, the $150,000 Fifth Season S., which was not originally on the 2019 stakes schedule, has been brought back as a prep for the Oaklawn Mile and will share the card with the Apple Blossom April 14, the final day of the track’s Racing Festival of the South.

“We couldn’t be any more excited about how the 2019 racing season has started and for the future of our racing program,” Oaklawn’s President Louis Cella said. “We have seen tremendous support for our races from around the country and locally, we’ve had great crowds on track that are staying after the races and enjoying our gaming area afterwards. And, there’s still over two months of racing remaining for people to enjoy one of the best entertainment destinations in the region.”

The track’s full stakes schedule can be found here.


Santa Anita to Remain Closed Wednesday as Track Analysis Continues

Tue, 2019-02-26 18:47

After more than a day-and-a-half of evaluations of the racetrack base and surface to determine a possible cause for the rise in fatalities this winter, Santa Anita has decided to keep the main track closed for training another morning, “in order to give us more time to thoroughly analyze soil data,” said Santa Anita director of publicity, Mike Willman. It will also give Mick Peterson, an expert in racetrack surfaces, time to conduct his own analysis of the track when he arrives Wedneday.

The track had been scheduled to re-open Wednesday morning, but trainer Eddie Truman, who sits on the California Thoroughbred Trainers board, said he believes they’ve made the right decision. “If it’s an inconvenience, so what?” he said. “It’s nice that they’re on top of this. Let’s get things right.”

The main track closed Monday morning at 9 a.m., after which, track superintendent Andy LaRocco and his crew began to “peel back” about five inches of the track’s pad and cushion to examine the base, and to analyze the surface’s soil consistency and moisture content.

Originally, the plan had been to close the main track completely Monday morning, but push back from some of the trainers saw the track opened until the 9 a.m. cut-off. Another horse was catastrophically injured during training hours Monday morning, meaning that 19 horses have been fatally injured 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.

The track at Santa Anita consists of three main layers–the hard base, the pad and the cushion.

“I’ll be able to do an inspection of all layers of the track with a ground penetrating radar,” said Peterson.

The ground penetrating radar tests the consistency of the dirt surface, to ensure that it has not been compromised by the 11 1/2 inches of rain that have lashed the track this winter.

Why is this important? Racetrack consistency is described in this Grayson-Jockey Club Racing Surfaces White Paper as being integral to the “performance and orthopedic health of the horse.”

According to Peterson, the work superintendent Andy LaRocco and his crew conducted Monday and Tuesday falls into two main categories. The first will be to conduct a visual inspection of the surface and the base. The second, Peterson said, consists of mixing the surface to evenly distribute the finer particles of silt and clay, which could have washed to the inside of the track, with the larger, coarser particles of sand which he said he believes have remained 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 combination of sand, silt and clay in the track. 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.

“What’s funny is the differences between the different tracks,” said Peterson. “But what isn’t different between them is that the safe tracks always seem to be the ones that are consistent.”

Nevertheless, it would be wrong to focus attention on the track entirely, for experts describe the variables that weight into any one catastrophic injury as being multi-factorial.

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 fatalities also include sudden cardiac death, the cause of one training fatality at Santa Anita this winter.

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 further explained 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.”

Arthur also added that additional “data” could be collected as part of the CHRB’s fatality review program, but that the data would be primarily informational and educational “rather than investigative.” Arthur didn’t say what that data would consist of, but stressed that the fatality review process had started only a year ago, and that they were still working out specifics. He also said that “if we saw something we thought warranted an investigation in the law enforcement sense, we would do so.”

“We are still working through the protocols and trying different protocols to get the type of information we need,” Arthur said. “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.”

An ad hoc committee is in the process of being put together, comprising Peterson, Hall of Fame retired jockey Alex Solis, now a CHRB commissioner, P.J. Campo, executive vice president, Racing Division, for The Stronach Group, a Southern California trainer, an active jockey, and an exercise rider.

Solis said that he met this morning with Campo to discuss who will fill the remaining slots. But he hopes that the first committee meeting will be held this Thursday, once Peterson has arrived and the other members chosen. Solis said that the specifics are a little hazy at the moment, but he believes that the committee will meet every Thursday, and could continue until the end of the meet. “We’re all just here to help figure out a solution to all of this,” Solis said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued a statement saying that they had canceled a planned protest at Santa Anita, “following a meeting with track representatives who pledged to take definitive steps, including extending the review of medication records to horses who are in training—and not just before races.” The statement, from PETA President Ingrid Newkirk continued, “Horses who require medication should not be anywhere near a track. PETA believes that there are innumerable problems with horse racing, but, as a bare minimum, all medications should be banned for at least a week before a horse races or trains, which would effectively stop lame horses from being able to run. PETA will continue to meet with Santa Anita officials in the coming days.”


Anothertwistafate to Sunland Park Derby

Tue, 2019-02-26 17:27

Peter Redekop’s Anothertwistafate (Scat Daddy), impressive winner of the Feb. 16 El Camino Real Derby, is expected to make his next start in the Mar. 24 GIII Sunland Park Derby.

“That’s where we are leaning,” trainer Blaine Wright confirmed Tuesday. “Unless something changes drastically, that’s where we’ll go.”

Anothertwistafate has now won three straight races over  Golden Gate’s synthetic surface, all in front-running fashion. He graduated by four lengths going 1 1/16 miles Dec. 9 and added a five-length one-mile allowance tally Jan. 4. The handsome dark bay made his stakes debut in the nine-furlong El Camino Real Derby and came home a resounding seven-length victor (video).

“He was training super all along and we were pleased he put it all together,” Wright said of that effort. “Of course, you don’t go into a $100 grander expecting that, but he answered a lot of questions.”

In addition to its $800,000 purse, the Sunland Park Derby offers the winner 50 qualifying points to the GI Kentucky Derby. But a berth in the Kentucky Derby isn’t the only goal for Anothertwistafate, who earned a spot in the GI Preakness S. starting gate with his El Camino Real Derby win.

“Looking at last year, running first or second [at Sunland] should get into the Derby,” Wright said. “So if he runs great there and we get into the Derby, that’s great. But if he doesn’t, we’ll regroup. The timing of the race will be good because it will give us time to get a race at Golden Gate to prep and to possibly go to the Preakness.”

The Sunland Park Derby will be Anothertwistafate’s second race over conventional dirt. He was a well-beaten ninth on debut at Santa Anita Nov. 3, but Wright is willing to forgive that lackluster performance.

“I’m going to draw a line through that race,” he said. “It was the first race of his life and it was a sprint and he’s not a sprinter. We have to find out how he gets over it. But right now, I’m not worried about it.”

Champion World Approval Retired

Tue, 2019-02-26 16:58

Champion World Approval (Northern Afleet–Win Approval, by With Approval) has been retired from racing and will return to his birthplace, Live Oak Stud in Florida, where he will live in a paddock beside his dam and siblings, MGSW millionaires Revved Up (Sultry Song) and Za Approval (Ghostzapper). He is also a half-brother to fellow champion turf horse Miesque’s Approval (Miesque’s Son).

“How lucky we have been at Live Oak Stud/Plantation to have championed such a winning family,” said owner/breeder Charlotte Weber. “I am proud and privileged to have experienced this Sport of Kings with such outstanding racehorses and shall protect them as we grow older together.”

Trained by Mark Casse, the now-7-year-old gelding boasts a record of 27-12-2-4 and earnings of $3,062,363. Winner of the GIII American Derby and GII Saranac S. in 2016, the gray hit the board in a pair of Grade I events early in 2016 before breaking through at the highest level with a victory in Monmouth Park’s GI United Nations S. that summer.

Kicking off 2017 with a pair of black-type scores, including the GII Longines Dixie S., World Approval suffered just won loss that season in the GI Woodford Reserve Manhattan S., but rebounded with strong victories in the GI Fourstardave H., GI Woodbine Mile and GI Breeders’ Cup Mile. His exceptional season earned him the Eclipse Award for top male turf horse. The Florida-bred opened 2018 with a win in the GIII Tampa Bay S. and made his last racetrack appearance in the GII Wise Dan S. at Churchill Downs in June.


Malpractice Suit Involves Death of Derby-Winner Sibling

Tue, 2019-02-26 16:03

Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings has filed a malpractice lawsuit against Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital over the 2017 death of a 12-hour-old foal that was a half-sibling to the 2010 GI Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.

The Blood-Horse first reported news of the Fayette Circuit Court lawsuit in Kentucky Tuesday, noting that a jury trial has been set for July 23. The story included a comment from Rood & Riddle’s attorney, who said veterinarians at the clinic “complied fully with the standard of care, and we believe that the hospital will be exonerated in the lawsuit.”

The case involves the mare Supercharger, who, according to the Blood-Horse, had a 2016 foal that died after not being ideally positioned in the womb. Because of this, Supercharger was sent to Rood & Riddle as a precaution to deliver her subsequent Curlin foal in early March 2017.

According to the Blood-Horse, “Supercharger went into labor the evening of March 8, 2017. Dr. Bonnie Barr, the lead veterinarian on the case, and Dr. Brett Woodie determined this foal also was awkwardly positioned, and they placed Supercharger under anesthesia in order to perform a controlled vaginal delivery, in which they manually pulled the foal out of the mare.”

Citing the lawsuit, the Blood-Horse reported that Barr “observed an indentation at the base of the foal’s rib cage on its left side that she subsequently, after repeated palpations, could no longer detect.”

The Blood-Horse wrote that “the foal was moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit, and by 6 a.m. the following morning was showing signs of discomfort. The foal died at approximately 7:30 a.m., and a subsequent necropsy performed at the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory revealed six fractured ribs on the foal’s left side as well as acute internal bleeding.”

The lawsuit, according to the Blood-Horse story, charges that the foal should have had an ultrasound performed on it instead of relying on manual palpations, and that overnight vet technicians “should have notified Dr. Barr when the foal’s heart and respiration rates both rose dramatically.”


Maximus Mischief Injured, Off Derby Trail

Tue, 2019-02-26 14:28

Cash is King and LC Racing’s graded stakes-winning ‘TDN Rising Star’ Maximus Mischief (Into Mischief) has been injured and taken off the GI Kentucky Derby trail, Cash is King principal Chuck Zacney confirmed to TDN Tuesday. The previously undefeated Butch Reid trainee was coming off a third-place run as the favorite in the GII Holy Bull S. Feb. 2 at Gulfstream (video). The story was first reported by Blood-Horse.

“He was having a workout Sunday morning at around 8 a.m., Jose Ortiz was up and about halfway through, he didn’t feel right and kind of slowed down,” Zacney said. “We discussed it with Butch and brought a vet in. At this point, it’s a soft tissue issue, and we’re taking a couple of days to try to figure things out. We should have a better idea by Monday.”

Bought for $340,000 as a 2-year-old in training after breezing a furlong in :10 1/5 at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic, Maximus Mischief debuted an 8 1/2-length winner last September at Parx and earned his ‘Rising Star’ badge with a similarly facile allowance score there Oct. 20. He passed the acid test with a front-running success in the GII Remsen S. Dec. 1 at Aqueduct, but flattened out some after chasing a quick pace in the Holy Bull.

“We were disappointed in the Holy Bull, but after a couple of days he bounced back to where he was before,” Zacney said. “All the reports I was receiving were good, so I was calling the Holy Bull a mulligan and we were moving forward towards the Derby, but we’re unfortunately in kind of a holding pattern now.”

Zacney and Cash is King burst onto the scene in 2005 with GI Preakness S. and GI Belmont S. hero Afleet Alex (Northern Afleet), who came within a length of the Triple Crown by finishing third in the Derby. Cash is King has been a mid-Atlantic staple since then, but has yet to return to the Run for the Roses.

“Thinking back to the Afleet Alex days, he was really our first horse and we didn’t know any better,” Zacney said. “Fast forward 10-15 years and we’re kind of realizing now how difficult it is to get back there.”

Fortunately for Zacney, he has something major to look forward to this weekend that will likely soften the blow of Maximus Mischief’s misfortune. Along with Len Green’s D. J. Stable, he owns reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Filly and GI Breeders’ Juvenile Fillies heroine Jaywalk (Cross Traffic), who is set to make her sophomore debut in Saturday’s GII Davona Dale S. at Gulfstream. The John Servis pupil completed preparations for her return with an easy half-mile breeze in :50.55 (22/31) Sunday at Palm Meadows.

“The Greens and I are very, very excited,” he said. “We are getting nothing but positive reports from John and she’s training really well. I’m driving down for the race, then am going to head up to Ocala to watch a couple of our 2-year-olds. We’re very, very lucky to have a filly like that and as excited as I am, I’m thrilled to death for the Greens.”

Amendment In Pipeline for Costly Kentucky Tax Law

Mon, 2019-02-25 17:37

A Kentucky state senator with professional ties to the racing industry is endeavoring to change a recently-enacted state tax that he believes unintentionally penalizes racetrack bettors by taking away their ability to offset gambling winnings with losses when calculating income.

“There was never any specific intent to target horseplayers,” Damon Thayer, the Republican Majority Floor Leader, told TDN via phone on Monday. “I’m trying to get some language in [a new bill] to fix the problem.”

Although the tax changes brought about by HB 487, Kentucky’s sweeping tax reform bill, were first enacted on Apr. 27, 2018, many horseplayers and tax professionals are just now becoming aware of the potentially costly gambling-related consequences as they prepare their 2018 tax returns.

Frank Angst of Blood-Horse first broke the story Sunday, detailing complaints from bettors who could face thousands of dollars in new taxes because they can no longer mirror federal income-calculating guidelines that pertain to gambling winnings when filing their 2018 Kentucky state income tax returns.

A closer look at HB 487, which passed the House (51-38) and the Senate (24-14) before becoming law without the governor’s signature last year, shows that only a single line of text within the bill without any reference at all to “gambling,” “winnings” or “losses” is what has triggered the potentially onerous tax liability for bettors.

The clause within the 417-page bill was inserted on page 166, where in a section detailing how the calculation of income should follow federal standards, one of ten exceptions to following the federal code states that “Any deduction allowed by 26 U.S.C. sec. 165 for losses” is no longer permitted.

Section 165 of the federal code reads, in part, “Losses from wagering transactions shall be allowed only to the extent of the gains from such transactions [and] the term ‘losses from wagering transactions’ includes any deduction otherwise allowable under this chapter incurred in carrying on any wagering transaction.”

This means Kentucky residents are still able to deduct losses to the extent of winnings on their federal returns, but not on their state returns for 2018.

Thayer, upon first hearing word Monday about how this clause will negatively affect Kentucky taxpayers, said, “It was news to me, because I was in the room with [Speaker of the House] David Osborne, who is also a horse racing industry participant like me, and there was never any mention of pari-mutuel wagering, losses, deductions, anything. So I think it’s a misapplication of the law by the finance cabinet.”

Thayer explained how in the wake of passage of any wide-ranging state tax reform, lawmakers typically have to come back and put together a “cleanup bill” as constituents come forward with complaints. That process, he said, already began months ago in Kentucky, and is not limited to Thayer’s efforts to change the way gambling winnings are reported.

“Any time you do a major tax overhaul like we did last year, there are always unintended consequences that you have to do a cleanup bill [for],” Thayer said. “It just passed the House last week. We just got it. It’s in the possession of our Appropriations and Revenue Committee, and I’m already working with Senator Chris McDaniel, the chairman of the committee, to see if we can insert some language. He’s working on an amendment to the House bill, and I’m going to try to get some language in there to fix it. We’ve only got 12 days left in our legislative session, so time is of the essence.”

But Thayer said it is unlikely that the changes will help horseplayers on their 2018 returns.

“It’s difficult to do those things retroactively,” Thayer said.

So is 2019 the target date for rolling back the tax change?

“That’s to be determined, but I would say that’s a likely application,” Thayer said.

TDN attempted to contact Republican Phillip Pratt of Georgetown, who sponsored last year’s sweeping tax bill, to ask why HB 487 stripped out the ability to deduct losses from winnings in the first place. But a message left with a staffer did not yield a return call prior to deadline for this story.

Jeff Platt, the president of the Horseplayers Association of North America, told TDN via phone that one “silver lining” for Kentuckians is that because of tax-friendly code changes initiated at the federal level in 2017 (in which a bettor’s entire-pool investment, as opposed to only the amount wagered on the correct result, determines the amount reported or withheld for tax purposes), the number of “signers” is down significantly. Thus, for Kentucky residents, there are fewer documented winnings that need to be reported at the state level.

“Me personally, I’m against these kinds of tax code changes,” Platt said of the new Kentucky law. “Give the taxpayer the option of either using a short form or a really extensive long form to deduct stuff like this.

“The thing is, so few people actually win on horse races,” Platt continued. “Even those who might hit lots of signers during the year, they tend to churn most of it back. The number of people who win in this industry is maybe 1% or 2%, something like that. The maddening thing is that this type of statute discourages someone from even going to a horse track.”

As Santa Anita Fatalities Rise, Officials Search for Answers

Mon, 2019-02-25 15:58

The four horses catastrophically injured at Santa Anita over the past four days have underscored once again how fatalities at the track this winter are higher than in comparable periods over the last three years, leaving track management, regulators and the horsemen themselves scrambling for answers that aren’t always easy to come by.

In an unusual turn of events yesterday, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) released the numbers on horses fatally injured at Santa Anita between Dec. 26, when racing started, and Feb. 23. During that time, 18 horses died-6 on the dirt during racing, 5 on the turf during racing, and another 7 during morning training. Another horse, a 3-year-old gelding named Charmer John, was euthanized during training hours this morning. Typically, information on fatalities as granular as this could only be accessed by the public through stewards minutes, which aren’t always accurate.

In a decision made Sunday, the main track was closed for training this morning at 9 a.m. It will remain closed through Tuesday. During this time, track superintendent Andy LaRocco’s crew will “peel back” about five inches of the track’s cushion to examine the base, while the surface’s soil consistency and moisture will also be analyzed.

The track was originally scheduled to be closed this morning for maintenance work, but push-back from horsemen saw it re-opened until 9 a.m. “Maybe they shouldn’t have opened it,” California Thoroughbred Trainers president Jim Cassidy said, in light of the breakdown this morning. Cassidy has two horses entered on Thursday, and if track management don’t find anything wrong with the surface, he plans to run them. “If they find a problem, then yeah, they probably should hold off [with the races]” he said. “If they don’t find anything, then you have to go along with it.”

Myriad factors weigh into any catastrophic injury. As CHRB medical director Rick Arthur routinely points out, between 85 and 90 percent of all musculoskeletal-related fatalities have pre-existing pathology at the site of the injury. Race-day catastrophic injury risk factors include racehorse age and race distance. And not all fatalities are due to musculoskeletal injuries, of course. One of the training fatalities at Santa Anita this year was due to sudden cardiac death.

All horses fatally injured at Santa Anita this winter underwent, or will undergo, a standard necropsy. According to Arthur, about 1/3 of the necropsies have been completed. Some necropsies take longer than others, “depending on the circumstances,” said Arthur. A typical range is between six and 12 weeks. If the pathologist performs certain special procedures, like bone demineralization and histological examinations, the longer the necropsy typically takes.

Among the completed necropsies, Arthur was unwilling to comment on any possible underlying trends. “Anything I say at the moment would be speculation,” he said. “We’re always looking for trends-always looking for issues that can be addressed. It’s an ongoing process.”

Nevertheless, it’s on Santa Anita’s racing surfaces that the bulk of the attention has been focused, and that’s due largely to the 11 1/2 inches of rain that has this year lashed the facility. “At Santa Anita, it’s dry, dry, dry, and then suddenly it floods,” said Mick Peterson, an expert in racetrack surfaces, who will head out to Santa Anita on Wednesday to assist the track superintendent, Andy LaRocco. At the heart of the issue, said Peterson, is the matter of consistency-what is described in this Grayson-Jockey Club Racing Surfaces White Paper as integral to the “performance and orthopedic health of the horse.”

So, what do we know of the consistency of Santa Anita’s racing surfaces?

According to Peterson, the moisture content is routinely monitored, and samples of the track are taken monthly and sent for analysis at a laboratory in Kentucky. The samples are tested to determine the combination of sand, silt and clay in the track. As for how the samples are taken, there are two main protocols. Ordinarily, four samples are taken at the quarter poles roughly seven feet from the inside rail. After periods of rain, two samples-one at three feet and one at 15 feet from the inside-are taken at the quarter pole and the wire, and further samples are taken at the 1/8 pole, the 3/4 pole, and the 1/2 pole at seven feet from the rail.

“You can picture what we’re doing-we’re looking at the variation from the middle of the racing lanes to the inside of the racing lanes,” said Peterson. “And we’re looking circumferentially at the variation around the track. We’ve got to keep both consistent.”

The first set of samples since the rain-using the second testing protocol-have been sent to Kentucky. The results could be back by Thursday.

What Peterson expects to find is the finer particles of silt and clay in the racetrack surface to have washed to the rail, leaving the larger, coarser particles of sand towards the outside. If that’s the case, there are two possible responses the track management can take, said Peterson. The first is to take a “grader” to move the materials to the middle of the track before pulling it back to the edges. “It’s just like mixing dough,” he said. Or else, the track staff can go “round and round” with the harrows. “What you’re looking for is consistency.”

This “mixing” process will begin when the track is peeled back, said Peterson, and could continue after he arrives Wednesday. “We will keep taking samples until the consistency is within the error of our testing,” he said. “The process is not unusual, just the intensity.”

Five of the 18 fatalities at Santa Anita this year have been on the turf track, which was completely renovated last year. Peterson said the “drainage at Santa Anita is fine.” But identifying any potential issue with the turf is that much tougher than with the dirt because of a dearth of diagnostic technologies, said Peterson.

“We need better tools. Right now, turf is a huge frustration to me,” said Peterson, who added that “if done carefully and consistently,” the turf moisture probe can be a “terrific” tool. “You know what I look at? Hoofprints. What I’m looking for is a hoof that penetrates down in, where the toe penetrates down in, and it doesn’t sheer out the surface. You don’t get it cupping out or divoting.”

Where data holes exist, so does speculation. And contrary to widely-assumed wisdom, a sealed track is not an unsafe track, as has been proven by data out of Minnesota, said Peterson. “The challenge is when you transition from a sealed track to an open track. You run the risk of a very hard sealed track as it’s beginning to dry out.”

Exacerbating this problem is how different parts of the track dry at different rates, said Peterson. “You’ve got the shadows on the front stretch. The clubhouse turn tends to get a lot of wind across it. The sun and the wind hits turn one and two, but turns three and four are very different. There’s no way to fix that, and that’s where the experience of the trackmen matter.”

Andy LaRocco recently assumed the position from long-time superintendent Dennis Moore. “It was pretty seamless from Dennis to Andy,” said Peterson. And what LaRocco has done successfully, said Peterson, is to maintain his usual approach-an approach shaped by Moore-to the maintenance of Santa Anita’s dirt course. “The worst thing you can do when something like this happens is make changes without using data to guide you,” Peterson said. “Maybe some of the races should have come off the turf. That’s all I can say. People are making judgements, and this is where data is critical.”

Jim Cassidy said that he and his fellow horsemen are pleased that the track management are “trying to figure out what’s going on,” especially as he sees the condition of the racing surfaces as fundamental to the problem. “All this rain we’ve had, you’d have to blame it mostly on the track.”

The Cassidy-trained Amboseli was recently euthanized after breaking down on the turf in the GIII Astra S. Cassidy said that mare didn’t have any signs of a pre-existing injury or problem. “It was a complete shock to me-she was 100 percent.” Cassidy added that the horsemen he has spoken to, those who have also lost horses in recent months, are equally perplexed. “However, if someone sent one out there with an issue, well, that’s another story.”

According to Arthur, the track can be a factor in any injury. “I think it’s particularly problematic when you have so many off-tracks that require it to be sealed,” he added. “It’s very challenging.” Nevertheless, Arthur stressed the “multi-factorial” nature of any catastrophic injury. “Is there one thing to change to correct the problems we face?” he said. “No, I don’t believe that’s the case.”

An ad hoc committee has been put together comprising Peterson, Hall of Fame retired jockey Alex Solis, now a CHRB commissioner, a Southern California trainer, an active jockey and one member of Santa Anita’s management team. According to Solis, that last slot has been filled by P.J. Campo, executive vice president, Racing Division, for The Stronach Group. The trainer and active jockey slots have yet to be filled, Solis said.

Solis said that the committee was put together to gather together and analyze feedback from a variety of parties, including the horsemen, the jockeys and exercise riders. “That’ll give us a better idea of what’s going on,” he said.

Though retired from race-riding, Solis still exercises horses for Richard Mandella of a morning, and he’s hesitant to pin blame entirely on the track surface. Rather, he sees recent events as a “wake-up call” for all sectors of the industry to assess and perhaps re-assess their role in the issue. “One of the main things is owners putting pressure on their trainers to run when they’re not quite ready,” said Solis. “At the end of the day, this is a team effort.”

UK Researchers Seek Survey Participants

Mon, 2019-02-25 14:26

University of Kentucky researchers Karin Pekarchik (College of Agriculture, Food and Environment) and Kimberly Tumlin (College of Public Health) are seeking participation for an online research survey to better understand who participates in horse activities and sports.

“Portrait of a Rider: Characterizing Active Participants in Horse Activities and Horse Sports,” is a survey that will help qualify socioeconomic factors and type of participation of equestrians, which includes any person–rider, handler, worker–who interacts with horses. Compared to the amount of research on horse health, little research has been conducted on equestrians, despite the economic importance of this industry globally.

“This survey is an important step in making sure we understand who participates in the industry, where they are, and generally get more detail on their backgrounds. There are some pressures to participation rates and workforce development in different areas of the industry, and this is one way to give everyone an opportunity to be counted,” Pekarchik said.

“We hope that characterizing equestrian participants in 2019 will yield new insight into trends and facts that could be used to fine-tune recruitment and training for workforce development, participation rates, etc. We will literally be painting a portrait of the horse rider/handler with facts.”

“I love the collaborative nature of the equestrian community of practice. All of the women freely give their time and expertise to further an industry that is clearly important to them. The research paper that we are working on is a big effort, but we hope it will be really useful for other researchers and industry groups, whether they are in the Thoroughbred racing, eventing, Pony Club, or any of the other diverse groups that make up the equestrian world.”

Although there are generalizations about who participates, it is unclear if those generalizations are reflective of accurate socioeconomic factors or are perceptions based on stereotypes.

“There are many pre-conceived notions that being involved in the equine industry is precluded by having economic stability. This survey is aimed at understanding potential disparities that we have observed but are not widely documented in the various sectors of equestrian participation,” Tumlin said.

Pekarchik and Tumlin aim to receive completed surveys from at least 1,000 people so they can create a statistically valid portrait of who participates in horse activities. The online survey is open to anyone over the age of 18 and will be distributed in the United States and internationally. The survey will be open until March 31, 2019. To participate, click here.

An interdisciplinary team, Pekarchik and Tumlin have been engaged in equestrian research for several years. Currently, Tumlin and Pekarchik, with Mike Sama, Ph.D., PE, an engineer at the University of Kentucky, have funding from the UK Central Appalachian Regional Education and Research Center to explore impacts of biomechanical forces on the jockey/equestrian spine more fully. The funding will support a collaboration with the North American Racing Academy (NARA), the Lexington, Ky., race-training program. NARA’s students will participate in both live animal and simulated racing experiences while wearing newly engineered sensor systems that will measure spine forces. Eventually, Pekarchik and Tumlin will compare the impacts of riding to other sports activities to better understand the effects on the body.

To learn more about the Female Equestrian Community of Practice, visit

Fourth Equine Fatality in Four Days at Santa Anita

Mon, 2019-02-25 13:58

A 3-year-old gelding suffered a catastrophic injury during training at Santa Anita Monday and was euthanized, adding to three deaths at the Arcadia oval Friday and Saturday, according to Daily Racing Form. Santa Anita announced Sunday its main track would be closed for training Tuesday as officials conduct an examination of the racing surface in response to an increase in equine fatalities from last year to the current meeting.

Charmer John (He’s Top) broke down soon after turning into the stretch during a work shortly after the track’s 7:30 renovation break Monday, DRF’s Jay Privman reported. The once-raced gelding was taken by horse ambulance back to the barn of trainer Mark Glatt, but was euthanized shortly after.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

Santa Anita Alters Main Track Training Monday and Tuesday

Sun, 2019-02-24 18:53

Santa Anita Park has altered training hours on its main track Monday and Tuesday in order to evaluate the track, it was announced late in the day Sunday. After an initial announcement on the track’s Friday overnight sheet indicated that training was completely suspended over the surface on both days, the track later revised the schedule to open training from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Monday–while keeping the track completely closed for training on Tuesday.

“[The] main track will be closed for training beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday and all day Tuesday in order to fully evaluate sub-surface conditions such as moisture content and soil consistency,” the track said in a joint statement issued with the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB). “If the results of these efforts indicate the track is in prime condition, regularly scheduled training will resume Wednesday morning and live racing will proceed on Thursday.”

The move comes one day after a Saturday morning training session which saw two fatal injuries to racehorses, including GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway (Smart Strike). Sunday morning training was held as usual, with 173 horses working over the main track.

According to multiple reports surfacing later in the evening Sunday, the initial announcement was met with considerable push-back from local horsemen with horses scheduled to work Monday, resulting in the decision to open the track on a limited basis.

Santa Anita cited the fact that the track has received 11 1/2 inches of rain and near-record cold temperatures in the month of February as a driving force behind the decision to evaluate the surface before warmer temperatures return in the spring.


Win Win Win Works for Tampa Derby

Sun, 2019-02-24 17:54

Live Oak Plantation’s Win Win Win (Hat Trick {Jpn}) continued his preparations for a stretch-out attempt in the Mar. 9 GII Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby Sunday morning, breezing a bullet five furlongs from the gate in :59 1/5 with Antonio Gallardo aboard at the Oldsmar oval. Win Win Win was last seen establishing a new seven-furlong track record in the local Pasco S. Jan. 19, stopping the clock in a blistering 1:20.89.

“He is one of those kind of horses that does what you tell him to do,” said trainer Michael Trombetta. “If I want him to work a half-mile in :52, he does it, and if I need him to work faster than that he’ll do that, too. I’ve made several trips [to Tampa Bay Downs] to watch him work [since the Pasco], and he is doing everything I would have hoped for.”

Win Win Win has won three of his four career starts, notching maiden and allowance wins at Laurel Park before finishing second in that venue’s Heft S. Dec. 29. With all four starts coming at sprint distances, the homebred colt will be asked to navigate a two-turn trip for the first time in the Tampa Bay Derby.

“We’ve been putting some nice gallops and nice breezes under him and he is doing everything he’s supposed to, so I’m as anxious as anyone else to see what he will do,” Trombetta said.


Sippin Fire Tops Washington Champions

Sun, 2019-02-24 15:31

Sippin Fire (Harbor the Gold) has been named Washington state’s horse of the year, champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old male for 2018, it was announced at the Washington Thoroughbred awards held Saturday night at Emerald Downs. Other winners included Psycho Sister (Freud; champion older filly and mare and turf runner); Invested Prospect (Abraaj; champion sprinter); Hit the Beach (Harbor the Gold; champion older horse); Bella Mia (Harbor the Gold; champion 3-year-old filly); Baja Sur (Smiling Tiger; champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old male); and Money Inthe Stars (Abraaj; champion 2-year-old filly).

Rick and Debbie Pabst were named Washington’s leading breeder for the fifth time, while Atta Boy Roy was named leading sire of 2018.


Maximus Mischief Ruled out of Fountain of Youth

Sun, 2019-02-24 13:18

Cash is King LLC and LC Racing’s Maximus Mischief (Into Mischief) has been ruled out of Saturday’s GII Xpressbet Fountain of Youth S. at Gulfstream Park following a sub-par work in Hallandale Sunday morning.

“The horse didn’t breeze too good, so he is out of the Fountain of Youth,” trainer Butch Reid told the Gulfstream press office. “He just kind of went through the motions. The jockey wasn’t happy with the way he galloped out. All things considered, we’re going to go back to the drawing board and look for another spot.”

Maximus Mischief breezed a half-mile in :49.02 under jockey Jose Ortiz at Gulfstream Park Sunday.

An 8 3/4-length debut winner at Parx last September, Maximus Mischief was tabbed a ‘TDN Rising Star’ after a six-length allowance tally Oct. 20 and he became a graded stakes winner with a 2 1/4-length victory in the Dec. 1 GII Remsen S. He suffered his first loss when third in the Feb. 2 GII Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull S. in his

Sagamore Farm and WinStar Farm’s Global Campaign (Curlin), named a ‘TDN Rising Star’ after a 1 1/16-mile allowance victory at Gulfstream Feb. 9, remained possible for the Fountain of Youth after working five furlongs in 1:01.85 (4/9) at Palm Meadows Sunday.

“He went in company, but it was a nice, controlled work,” said trainer Stanley Hough. “We were happy with it.”

Hough both the Fountain of Youth and the Mar. 9 GII Tampa Bay Derby were under consideration for Global Campaign’s next start.

“He likes this track [Gulfstream] and it’s close to home, so we’re leaning toward that way, but we’ll talk it over,” Hough said. “Global worked good and came back good, so I think he’s prepared to go either place. We’re going to see how the week goes and try to do the best thing for us and the horse. As far as the work today, it was very satisfying.”

Also at Palm Meadows Sunday, last year’s juvenile filly champion Jaywalk (Cross Traffic) put in her final work ahead of her sophomore debut in next Saturday’s GII Davona Dale S., going four furlongs in :50.55 (22/31).

“She worked this morning and went good,” trainer John Servis said. “Everything went perfect. The race is Saturday, so I was just letting her stretch her legs a little bit and put a little wind in her. She came out of it good and looks fine.”

Owned by Cash is King and D.J. Stable, Jaywalk has been away from the races since winning the Nov. 2 GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. She also won last year’s GI Frizette S.

most recent trip to the post.


First-Season Sire Verdicts: Cathy Grassick

Sat, 2019-02-23 20:54

The first juvenile race won’t be run until the end of next month but the buzz and feedback on the stock of young stallions always starts early, and Fitzdares has already opened a market on the first-season sires’ championship. We’ll be asking a number of horsemen and women for their opinions over the coming weeks and today, bloodstock agent Cathy Grassick gives us her view.

TDN: Who do you think will be leading first-season sire?

CG: More than ever it is very difficult to single out one horse from the pack due to the increased number of first-season sires this year.

While Muhaarar (GB) is a gorgeous horse with exceptional talent, he was at his best, in my opinion, at three and this combined with having Linamix (Fr) as his broodmare sire makes me think we might not see the best of his progeny until the second half of the year.

I have high hopes for Gutaifan (Ire) to emulate his sire, Dark Angel (Ire), as he was a very good 2-year-old himself and he has a fantastic number of 2-year-olds to run for him.

TDN: Did you see/purchase many by first-season sires at the yearling sales?

CG: This year, more by chance than design, I did not actually purchase any yearlings by first-season sires but I did see a large percentage of their yearlings offered at the major sales in Europe. I was particularly impressed by the yearlings by Gutaifan as they looked very athletic individuals and I really like his pedigree. Hot Streak (GB) was another horse who really appealed to me after seeing the quality of his yearlings. We break a number of yearlings here at Newtown Stud every year and my pick of the first-season horses that have been through our hands was a Golden Horn (GB) filly. I think that his stock will be very interesting to follow later in the year.

TDN: Which stallion do you think will go on to be the best of this intake?

CG: I would love to have the crystal ball to answer that question! It’s a hard one to call with so many horses to choose from but I think Muhaarar, Golden Horn and Gutaifan all have all the right ingredients: the pedigrees, performances and support of good books of mares, and I can see them all being well-established sires of the future.

Dream Maker Tunes Up For Tampa

Sat, 2019-02-23 18:55

TDN Rising Star‘ Dream Maker (Tapit), who returned from an October absence to romp by 8 1/2 lengths in a two-turn allowance at the Fair Grounds Feb. 9, turned in his first timed workout since that effort zipping a half-mile in :47.80, the best of 111 moves at the distance Saturday morning in New Orleans. A homebred for John Oxley, he is expected to make his next appearance in the GII Tampa Bay Derby Mar. 9.

“He worked beautifully this morning,” said David Carroll, who oversees the Mark Casse Fair Grounds string. “It was just very smooth and very professional. The track was a bit quick this morning. He did it in hand and his gallop out was beautiful. He came back, cooled out great. We’re very happy with him.”

A pair of unplaced efforts in the GI Hopeful S. and GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity called a premature halt to his freshman campaign, but those efforts were a distant memory when striding home as much the best two weeks ago.

“He hasn’t regressed from his race at all,” Carroll said. “He’s just been very professional with what he’s doing. [Jockey] Florent [Geroux] was very impressed with him. Right now it’s just a matter of keeping him happy. He’s plenty fit enough. We have a great crew and everyone takes pride in their job. We’re having a good meet and everyone’s in a good mood. All the horses are doing well.”

The Casse barn is also represented by leading GI Kentucky Derby candidate War of Will (War Front).


Uncaptured Colt Stays Perfect at Gulfstream

Sat, 2019-02-23 17:46

Yes I Am Free (c, 3, Uncaptured–Yes It’s Valid, by Yes It’s True), a game debut winner over the Gulfstream lawn Jan. 17, stayed perfect in Saturday’s $75,000 Texas Glitter S. in Hallandale. The 2-1 shot chased on the inside from fourth through a :21.41 opening quarter, tipped out three deep at the top of the stretch and kicked clear down the lane to win by a half-length. Jackson (Kantharos) was second; Gladiator King (Curlin) was third. The final time for five furlongs was :56.21. Sales history: $135,000 2yo ’18 OBSJUN. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0. O-Gary Barber; B-Sherry R. Mansfield & Kenneth H. Davis (FL); T-Mark Casse.

Santa Anita to Enhance 2YO Program

Sat, 2019-02-23 17:19

Officials at Santa Anita have announced that the track will write maiden special weight races for 2-year-olds beginning Apr. 18 and 19 and that the track will offer a pair of five-furlong stakes, each worth $75,000, for the juvenile set on closing day of the winter/spring meet June 23. The Landaluce S. for fillies and the Santa Anita Juvenile S. were last contested in 2017.

In the spirit of cooperation and to offer a more comprehensive and cohesive 2-year-old product, Santa Anita has struck an agreement with Del Mar that will allow juveniles who race in Santa Anita maidens to have preference to enter like races at the seaside oval when it opens its 2019 season July 17.

“We want to sincerely thank [racing secretary] Tom Robbins and his team at Del Mar for recognizing the importance of granting those maidens which have started here preference in terms of their ability to run later in the summer,” said P.J. Campo, executive vice president, racing division, for The Stronach Group. “All told, this is a comprehensive approach that will serve all of us well.”

He continued, “In consultation with all of our stakeholders…we realized that we need to work together to provide more opportunities to race, market and sell our juvenile horses, who truly represent our future.”

Added Robbins: “What we’re essentially doing is giving those 2-year-olds that run in maiden special races in May or June, Cal-bred or open, preference when entering any maiden special or maiden claiming races at sprint distances on the main track here for the first 10 days of racing this summer. These horses will have automatic preference over those horses that did not race at Santa Anita.”

Campo also expressed his support and excitement for the Fasig-Tipton 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale that will take place at Santa Anita June 5. Fasig-Tipton has stepped in to fill a void created by the exit of Barretts from the sales calendar.

“Having Fasig-Tipton come here for their June 5 sale is tremendous news for our horsemen and fans as well,” said Campo. “They are going to be offering top-quality horses and we’re going to be offering more races to run in, including of course our brand new stakes on June 23.”

Horses for the sale will begin arriving in late May and will be stabled in temporary barns near the seven-furlong chute, which will provide easy access to the main track.

“All of us at Fasig-Tipton are very excited to launch our inaugural 2-year-old sale at Santa Anita June 5,” said Boyd Browning, President and CEO, Fasig-Tipton. “Santa Anita is the perfect venue for both buyers and sellers and the sale should provide a boost for 2-year-old racing in California.”


Signalman Headlines Saturday’s Gulfstream Worktab

Sat, 2019-02-23 13:42

Signalman (General Quarters), third-place finisher in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and a last out winner of Churchill’s GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. Nov. 24, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.75 (15/44) at Gulfstream Park Saturday. He is slated to kick off his sophomore campaign in next Saturday’s GII Fountain of Youth S.

“It was a nice solid workout,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “We wanted a maintenance breeze. We didn’t want to work too fast at this point in the season. We still have a couple months for the big races. This is a prep. This will be his first race of the season. This is a nice horse. He galloped out good.”

Signalman worked in company with Harvey Wallbanger (Congrats), whom McPeek saddled for a 29-1 upset victory in the GII Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull at Gulfstream Feb. 2. Harvey Wallbanger was also clocked in 1:01.75.

“We’re going to wait on Harvey,” McPeek said. “He still needs to get a little bigger and stronger for that next step. We’ve got plenty of time. We’re going to wait probably for the [GI] Florida Derby [Mar. 30].”

Dale Romans-trained Fountain of Youth nominees Everfast (Take Charge Indy) and Admire (Cairo Prince) also breezed at Gulfstream Saturday morning. Everfast, runner-up at 128-1 in the Holy Bull, worked five furlongs in 1:02.52 (30/44). Admire, fifth in the GIII Withers S. Feb. 2, covered the same distance in 1:00.82 (7/44).

“I’m not sure which one is running, but I’ll figure it out in the next day or two,” Romans said. “They both worked well enough to run.”