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Updated: 6 hours 42 min ago

Into Mischief Filly No Joke in ‘Rising Star’ Worthy Unveiling

Sun, 2019-05-26 17:56

ERJ Racing LLC, Dave Kenney and Westside Racing Stable’s Comical (Into Mischief) turned heads Sunday at Santa Anita with a sharp unveiling worthy of ‘TDN Rising Star’-dom. With three consecutive gate works on display, most recently in :48 flat here May 20 (click for XBTV video), the narrow 8-5 second choice nearly beat the bell and came out running. Soon confronted by favored Gold Star Lady (Candy Ride {Arg})–a $300,000 OBSMAR grad–the bay knocked heads with that foe through an opening quarter in :22.71. Those two were in a race of their own heading for home, but it quickly became a one-horse affair as Comical hit another gear near the eighth pole and left her rival in the dust to score by about six lengths before galloping out much farther in front. The $100,000 KEESEP yearling stopped the clock in :52.32. Comical’s dam is a full-sister to MGISW Colonel John (Tiznow) and to Grade I-placed flat runner and steeplechase extraordinaire. She has half-sisters by Candy Ride (Arg) born in 2018 and 2019 and was preceded by two more Candy Rides who brought $550,000 and $500,000, respectively, at auction. Comical’s romp comes on the back of a particularly strong Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale for Into Mischief, who was responsible for a record-breaking $1.8-million filly and a colt who was the third topper at $710,000.

4th-Santa Anita, $65,351, Msw, 5-26, 2yo, f, 4 1/2f, :52.32, ft.
COMICAL, f, 2, Into Mischief
1st Dam: Kayce Ace, by Tiznow
2nd Dam: Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman
3rd Dam: Grande Dame, by Zen
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $39,000. Click for the chart, or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-ERJ Racing LLC, Kenney, Dave and Westside Racing Stable; B-Susan Casner (KY); T-Doug F. O’Neill. *$100,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP

The post Into Mischief Filly No Joke in ‘Rising Star’ Worthy Unveiling appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Tacitus Breezes for Belmont

Sun, 2019-05-26 16:09

Juddmonte Farms’ multiple graded stakes winner Tacitus (Tapit) breezed five furlongs over the Belmont main track Sunday morning in preparation for the June 8 GI Belmont S. The gray, last seen finishing third in the GI Kentucky Derby, covered the distance in 1:00.16 (3/11) in company with GSW Multiplier (The Factor). Regular rider Jose Ortiz was aboard.

“It was very good, very even; I liked the rhythm of it–12, 12, 12, 12. Each furlong was in about 12 seconds and he went out six furlongs in about 1:12, so I thought it was a very steady, solid work,” said trainer Bill Mott.

Mott also provided an update on his Kentucky Derby winner Country House (Lookin At Lucky), who was forced to miss the GI Preakness S. with a fever and will be pointed for a summer campaign.

“Country House is back on the track at Churchill–he’s jogging, he’s doing fine,” said Mott. “He’s a horse you’d look at for the [July 27 GII] Jim Dandy with the [GI]Travers as the [longer term] goal.”

In other Belmont news, Japanese hopeful Master Fencer (Jpn) (Just A Way {Jpn}), sixth in the Derby, jogged at Belmont for the first time early Sunday morning.

“Master Fencer had one lap of jogging on the training track, with a jog and light gallop at the main track as his schooling,” said Mitsuoki Numamoto, racing manager for owner/breeder Katsumi Yoshizawa. “The horse was very fresh and energized because of his day off yesterday, and shows no tiredness from shipment. Since the surface is pretty similar to Japan dirt, he seems okay for [racing on] this surface.”

Master Fencer is scheduled to breeze five furlongs on the Belmont main track Wednesday morning under Julien Leparoux, who’s slated to ride the colt in the Belmont.

The post Tacitus Breezes for Belmont appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

The Week In Review: Holiday Dawns, Sport Yawns. Will Star Power Fill the Void?

Sun, 2019-05-26 14:32

The Week in Review, by T.D. Thornton

Remember when Memorial Day was a big deal in horse racing?

For decades, this was the start-of-summer holiday that the sport “owned.” Traditionally, Memorial Day attendance and handle eclipsed turnouts on Independence Day and Labor Day, and a number of tracks nationwide set all-time records for those metrics on Memorial Day that still stand.

The final Monday of May (the holiday used to be May 30 before the feds gave us the three-day weekend in 1971) was known for all sorts of creative on-track giveaways and promotions. And Memorial Day in general always seemed to be a useful barometer to judge the health of the racing industry, because it featured both a long list of top-notch national stakes and solid grass-roots racing at smaller venues.

As recently as 1991, 48 North American tracks carded races on Memorial Day. This year there are 26 tracks running, a 46% reduction.

The bulk of Thoroughbreds who raced on that 1991 holiday came from mid-1980s foal crops that topped out between 49,000 and 51,000–the largest ever in North America. The horses entered to race this Memorial Day are from 21st century crops in the 22,000-23,000 range–a 55% drop.

The number of Memorial Day graded stakes has also slid off the grid. This year there are only four on Monday in all of North America–a $100,000 Grade III at Golden Gate Fields and a decent trio of $500,000 Grade I races at Santa Anita Park.

At Belmont Park, where the prestigious GI Metropolitan H. for decades was the Memorial Day fixture, they now run six state-bred stakes races. In 2014, the Met Mile was moved off the holiday to the GI Belmont S. undercard as part of the practice of stacking top stakes races as supporting features on big-race Saturdays.

It pains me to write “Met Mile” and “undercard” in the same sentence, because that status doesn’t match the gravitas of the race. Everyone in the racing industry can recall a big race that got them hooked on the sport for good, and the 1990 version of the Met Mile is anchored in my mind as the most defining matchup of heavy hitters I witnessed in the formative years of my budding racetrack degeneracy.

The Met Mile is usually an intriguing race because it matches 3-year-olds against older rivals and stretch-out sprinters against proven routers cutting back to a one-turn configuration. But the 1990 nine-horse Met Mile was loaded in terms of horseflesh, and will likely never be matched in terms of depth because it featured a fascinating four-way go of past and future champions:

  • Easy Goer, the toast of New York and juvenile Eclipse Award champ from 1988 who had never run worse than second and had not lost to any horse other than Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup nemesis Sunday Silence in 19 months.
  • Criminal Type, who would use the Met Mile as a springboard to 1990 Horse of the Year and champion older horse honors.
  • Housebuster, who had won eight straight races (seven stakes) and was on his way to sprint division dominance, including 1990 and 1991 Eclipse Awards in that category.
  • Black Tie Affair, who would emerge as a star in 1991, when he would win both champion older horse and Horse of the Year titles. (To illustrate how much of an outlier he was at the time, his odds in the 1990 Met Mile were 132-1).

Housebuster, the only 3-year-old in the field, blitzed straight to the front and led until the final few jumps when Criminal Type surged past for a neck victory. Easy Goer closed late but could do no better than third at 2-5 odds (watch it here).

Even though this showdown among four champions happened 29 years ago, some aspects of the race make it seem like a relic from a more distant era: Easy Goer, handicapped at 127 pounds, was spotting Housebuster a gargantuan (by today’s standards) weight spread of 14 pounds, and he gave Criminal Type seven. Easy Goer had raced only 12 days prior, using a $45,000 stakes as a tune-up, a training move you rarely see today. In terms of overall race spacing, it was only the end of May, but Criminal Type was already making his eighth (!) start of the year; Housebuster his seventh. None of the horses raced on Lasix, which was banned in New York. Even the 32,139 attendance seems unfathomably robust.

So what does all of this reminiscing have to do with today? It’s not like we’re capable of turning the clock back to rosier times for racing. You don’t even have to go back 29 years to recall when the industry was facing far fewer crises. Remember just six months ago when the biggest brouhaha in the headlines was that Santa Anita was changing announcers?

Since then, the sport has endured the California equine fatality emergency, highly charged debates about whip and drug reforms, the messy Stronach clan lawsuits that threaten the family’s portfolio of tracks, the ongoing battle between the Maryland Jockey Club and the City of Baltimore over the future of Pimlico Race Course and the GI Preakness S., and the unprecedented GI Kentucky Derby disqualification and its cumbersome snarl of litigation.

All that is a large collective burden to bear, and the year isn’t even half over yet.

But here’s hoping that at least one historical constant will remain the same: That A-level, on-track matchups of the game’s top equine stars will act as a balm to help ease the pain and strain, at least temporarily.

Even if you think that Gary West’s $20 million head-to-head “match race within a race” challenge to rival horse owners is a kooky idea, you have to admit that at least he’s on the right track about harnessing the attention-grabbing power of an old-fashioned grudge match.

Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) versus War of Will (War Front) might not ever carry the cachet of Sunday Silence versus Easy Goer. But thicken the plot by looking forward to the returns of Derby-winner-by-DQ County House (Lookin At Lucky) and Omaha Beach (War Front), who was forced to scratch as the commanding Derby fave two days before the race, and there could be a four-way go later this season that might recall that Memorial Day Met Mile from 1990.

The post The Week In Review: Holiday Dawns, Sport Yawns. Will Star Power Fill the Void? appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

McGaughey: Code of Honor Spooked in Derby, Too

Sun, 2019-05-26 12:19

Whatever it was that startled Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) in the Derby also startled Code of Honor (Noble Mission), said trainer Shug McGaughey, who sat down with the TDN’s Patty Wolfe to give an update on the Derby runner-up.

“Johnny (Velasquez) jumped off him said Maximum Security bolted, and he said whatever he saw, Code of Honor saw, too. He said he kind of did like this,” said McGaughey, making a startled motion. “And then he said, `I had a hard time getting him going again.’ I said, `well, what did they see?’ and he said, `I don’t know what they saw, but they saw something.'” McGaughey debunked the theory that it was the photographer off the inside rail, as some people had speculated. “I can tell you one thing: it wasn’t the little red man behind the pole. I can tell you that right now.”
McGaughey said that Code of Honor had joined the stable at Belmont and will be pointed towards a summer campaign.

“He’s doing excellent. He’s not even the same horse today that he was when he ran in the Derby. So we’re really looking forward to a summer campaign for him. That was what I had in my mind and that was perfect for Mr. Farish. If everything goes perfect, we’re going to start him in the Dwyer on July 6 and then hopefully, we can use the Saratoga races when they come along and see where it takes us from there.”

Watch the entire interview below.

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Street Sense Colt ‘Strikes’ Late at Santa Anita

Sat, 2019-05-25 20:46

Air Strike (Street Sense), dismissed at 12-1 while facing a tough enough bunch in the GII Triple Bend S., flew home to earn a first graded tally Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita. Cutting back after finishing fourth following a very wide journey in Lone Star’s GIII Steve Sexton Mile Apr. 28, the bay colt dropped all the way back to last early as last-out GII Kona Gold S. romper Cistron (The Factor) showed the way. The frontrunner was still clear heading for home after a :44.53 half, but Air Strike began to slingshot past rivals while well widest. Cistron dug deep, but Air Strike had more left in the tank and collared that stubborn foe late to prevail by a head. Lightly raced Nero (American Pharoah) completed the trifecta. According to Trakus data, the winner covered 39 ft. (approx. 4 1/2 lengths) more than the runner-up.

Saturday, Santa Anita
TRIPLE BEND S.-GII, $201,053, Santa Anita, 5-25, 3yo/up, 7f, 1:23.12, ft.
1–AIR STRIKE, 121, c, 4, by Street Sense
1st Dam: Omnitap, by Tapit
2nd Dam: Classic Olympio, by Olympio
3rd Dam: Palm Beach Dewey, by Talc
Stables LLC, Slam Dunk Racing and Nentwig, Michael; B-Gary &
Mary West Stables, Inc. (KY); T-Philip D’Amato; J-Norberto
Arroyo, Jr. $120,000. Lifetime Record: 10-3-2-1, $279,310.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick
Rating: A.
2–Cistron, 123, h, 5, The Factor–Major Allie, by Officer.
($180,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-Hronis Racing LLC; B-St. George
Farm, LLC (KY); T-John W. Sadler. $40,000.
3–Nero, 121, c, 4, Pioneerof the Nile–Ocean Goddess, by
Stormy Atlantic. ($950,000 Ylg ’16 FTSAUG). O-Tabor, M.,
Magnier, M., Smith, D. and Stonestreet Stables LLC;
B-Thor-Bred Stables, LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert. $24,000.
Margins: HD, 1HF, HF. Odds: 12.70, 5.90, 4.00.
Also Ran: American Anthem, Majestic Eagle, All Out Blitz, Law Abidin Citizen, The Hardest Way. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Air Strike was book-ended by next-out winners when a close second at third asking last July at Ellis for breeders Gary and Mary West and Steve Asmussen. He was acquired privately after that by Nick Cosato’s red-hot Slam Dunk Racing, and made good on that investment with a 6 1/4-length romp at Del Mar last August first time for the Phil D’Amato barn. Sol Kumin’s Madaket and Michael Netwig had bought in before he ran back and won again at the optional claiming level going 1 1/16 miles here in October. A close second as the chalk in the Nov. 21 Zia Park Derby, Air Strike was sixth behind GI Santa Anita H. hero Gift Box (Twirling Candy) in the GII San Antonio S. on opening day Dec. 26. Given some time off after that, he returned to be fourth behind Nero going an additional furlong Mar. 30 before his trip to Texas.

“He made a huge move that day at Lone Star, he just petered out that last eighth of a mile so we were left scratching our heads, is he a late running sprinter? Is he a grass miler? And we answered that today,” D’Amato said. “He’s got the pedigree, the looks and he just looks like a great horse, he just has to put it all together and [jockey] Norberto [Arroyo, Jr.] brought him a long way today, hopefully we will keep going forward.

Pedigree Notes:

Air Strike is the 61st black-type winner and 30th graded winner for Street Sense and the 18th black-type winner and eighth graded winner out of a Tapit mare. Hailing from a family developed by the Winchells, his two-time-winning dam was purchased by Ben Glass on behalf of Gary and Mary West at the 2014 Keeneland November sale for $225,000 while she was carrying Air Strike. A daughter of MSW/MGSP Classic Olympio (Olympio) and a half to two multiple stakes winners, Omnitap has an unraced 2-year-old filly by Tiznow ($190,000 OBSAPR grad) and a yearling filly by Union Rags. She was most recently bred back to Street Sense.


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No Sneaking into Summertime

Sat, 2019-05-25 16:09

KMN Racing LLC’s Sneaking Out (Indian Evening) heads into Sunday’s GII Summertime Oaks as the winningest runner of the five-horse field. A first-out second against state-breds at Del Mar last August, the bay romped by 10 1/2 lengths over six panels next time at the seaside oval in September. Shelved for the remainder, the Jerry Hollendorfer pupil returned with a professional score going 5 1/2 furlongs against open company over the Golden Gates synthetic Mar. 22. Victorious in Santa Anita’s 6 1/2-furlong Evening Jewel S. Apr. 6, Sneaking Out crossed the wire first in the Angels Flight S. May 4, however, was demoted to second behind My Miss Rose (Magician {Ire}). TDN Rising Star‘ Flor de La Mar (Tiznow) was heavily backed for her career debut at Santa Anita Jan. 20 and did not disappoint, scoring by an easy five lengths. Fifth in a sloppy seven-furlong optional claimer Mar. 20, the Bob Baffert trainee finished 5 1/4 lengths behind winner Bellafina (Quality Road) but well in front of Grade I scorer Chasing Yesterday (Tapit) in the Apr. 6 GI Santa Anita Oaks. Far out of it in her latest in the GI Kentucky Oaks May 3, the Godolphin runner gets a significant class break here. Stakes placed Colonial Creed (Jimmy Creed), victorious going nine panels in an optional claimer on the Santa Anita turf May 3, tries dirt for Richard Baltas, who strikes with 16% of runners switching from turf to dirt. Victor Espinoza, up for her latest win, gets back aboard.


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Karakontie Filly a ‘TDN Rising Star’ at Belmont

Sat, 2019-05-25 13:56

Breeze Easy may be in line for a return trip to Royal Ascot after Karak (Karakontie {Jpn})’s ‘TDN Rising Star’ debut win at Belmont Saturday. Sent off at 8-5 while facing the boys, the bay filly jumped out to the early lead. She was soon joined by her favored stablemate No Nay Maybe (Ire) (No Nay Never) and those two went stride for stride through a half in :45.38. Karak easily surged past that foe with a furlong to run and, despite repeatedly changing leads, drew away without being asked to win by three lengths, completing the five furlongs in :57.38. No Nay Maybe was 3 3/4 lengths in front of Now Is (Sidney’s Candy) in third.

Karak is the first winner for her freshman sire, GI Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie (Bernstein). A half-sister to Aqua Frio (Uncle Mo, SW, $177,112), she was purchased by Breeze Easy for $365,000 after working a furlong in :9 4/5 at the OBS March sale. She sold for $22,000 as a Keeneland November weanling and RNA’d for $30,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

Down the Well’s yearling filly by Violence, who RNA’d for $37,000 at last year’s Keeneland November sale, sold for $35,000 at this year’s Keeneland January sale. The mare produced a colt by Animal Kingdom this year.

Sam Ross and Mike Hall’s Breeze Easy won the G2 Norfolk S. at Royal Ascot last year with Shang Shang Shang (Shanghai Bobby).

1st-Belmont, $96,500, Msw, 5-25, 2yo, 5fT, :57.38, fm.
KARAK, f, 2, by Karakontie {Jpn}
                1st Dam: Down The Well {Ire}, by Mujadil
                2nd Dam: Batchelor’s Button, by Kenmare (Fr)
                3rd Dam: Boutonniere, by Sir Gaylor
$22,000 Wlg ’17 KEENOV; $30,000 RNA Ylg ’18 KEESEP; $365,000 2yo ’19 OBSMAR. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $50,000.
O-Breeze Easy, LLC; B-Parrish Hill Farm, Amanda Roach Cole & Karakontie Syndicate (KY); T-Wesley A. Ward. *1/2 to Aqua Frio (Uncle Mo), SW, $191,007. Click for the chart, or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


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Santa Anita Purse Supplements to Continue Through End of Meet

Sat, 2019-05-25 10:22

The Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) and Santa Anita Park will continue to supplement overnight race purses by $5,000 each per race ($10,000 total) for the remainder of the meet at the Arcadia oval, which ends June 23. This is an extension of the agreement that was set to expire June 2. The final two weeks will be funded solely by the purse account.

“We are happy to be able to offer our owners this incentive, which we believe will continue the momentum of the past seven weeks,” said Gary Fenton, Chairman of TOC’s Racing Affairs Committee. “We greatly appreciate the generous contribution of The Stronach Group to this innovative program, and we felt it was important to keep it going, especially considering the health of the Santa Anita purse account.”

TOC Chairman Nick Alexander added, “In light of the recent events in California racing, we are all trying to do everything we can to keep horses in the state, and this purse enhancement has been an important component of that effort. Our obligation is to the California horse owners, and it is our goal to provide them some relief through these monetary incentives.”


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Letter to the Editor: `Crupi the Best’

Fri, 2019-05-24 16:43

I only met J.J. Crupi in 2012, but since then every occasion we were together was a very joyful, triumphant and entertaining experience, from Roma and Marks in Ocala, to Lexington, to Il Gabbiano and the little restaurant by the Miami River Crupi loved so much; talking about Sassicaia, Brunello, scungilli and Italian horse racing, he was such a wonderful and generous man. With my Italian trainer and friend Agostino Affe, we named a horse Crupi the Best. He won twice in Roma, Italy and Crupi loved watching the video over and over and listening to the Capannelle Racetrack caller screaming, “Crupi the Best, Crupi the Best!”
J.J. was very proud of his Italian heritage. Once by chance I was at his farm’s clocker’s stand with some of the most prominent thoroughbred owners in the U.S. Crupi turned from his throne chair at the corner where he used to sit, gave a quick look and said: “Raise your hand whoever is not Italian!” Not a single palm went up. He turned his face again toward the racetrack so happy and fulfilled. My biggest regret: I never had a chance to take him to Italy with me.

My most affectionate thoughts and prayers to his beautiful family.

—Paolo Romanelli

Watch Crupi the Best win at Capannelle below:

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Harlem Rocker Wins Hearts in Racing and His Second Career

Fri, 2019-05-24 15:16

When Eric Hamelback, currently the CEO of the National HBPA, read a story in the TDN two weeks ago about how high school students from Mechanicville, N.Y., were benefitting from a program with ACTT Naturally, Inc., he was so thrilled to see that the horse in the program was MGSW Harlem Rocker (Macho Uno) that he became emotional.

“Stacie [Rogers] told me that Harlem Rocker was going to a charity program,” said Hamelback. “But, I hadn’t kept up with what he was doing. It made my day to say the least.”

Harlem Rocker, bred by Adena Springs, was a yearling at Adena Springs South under the care of Hamelback, who was yearling manager at the time. He suffered a serious injury and his future was uncertain.

“I got a call on a holiday that one of the yearlings had jumped the fence and hurt himself,” said Hamelback. “I rushed in to see Harlem Rocker, who had obviously fallen and landed on his neck, scraped up and dragging his toe. Nothing was broken so we treated it as radial nerve damage which meant long-term stall rest.”

“”Fast forward and he matured into a stunning 2-year-old,” said Hamelback. “We were kind of shocked.”

Harlem Rocker missed his 2-year-old season, but impressed everyone by winning his first start easily even after breaking badly and circling the field four-wide. In only 12 starts, he won four races and close to $600,000 in purse money. Harlem Rocker won two graded stakes and the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. He crossed the wire first, but was disqualified to second in the GI Cigar Mile behind Tale of Ekati.

At that point, the gray was forced to take another year off for successful tie-back surgery. He returned to racing for just four starts. Upon retirement, he went to stud at McMahon’s in Saratoga Springs.

After one season at stud, Hamelback who was then at Adena Springs in Kentucky, received a call that Harlem Rocker was showing signs of neurological problems. Hamelback brought him to Kentucky where he underwent spinal surgery.

“He recovered and we wanted to put him back in service,” said Hamelback. “We test bred him, but saw a weakness that could, in the stress of breeding, be risky to handlers or to mares. So, we pensioned him in 2013 and turned him out. I felt terrible for him. He had no job and he really wanted one.”

His exercise rider, Valerie Buck, never forgot him.

“I rode lots of great horses, but he was one of my favorites,” said Buck, who rode racehorses for more than 25 years. “He loved his job. He was always happy to go to the track and he knew when to work hard and when to take it easy. It was always fun to ride him.”

“In 2013, I called McMahons to ask if I could visit him and they told me that he had been moved to Adena Springs in Kentucky,” said Buck. “I learned that he was just turned out and not breeding because of his condition. So, I called Stacie Rogers to ask if I could have him.”

“Her husband Mike Rogers told me to write a letter to Mr. Stronach,” said Buck. “So I did. I really poured my heart out. They got a recommendation from Todd Pletcher and called me right away to say yes. They gelded him for me, gave him some time to recuperate, and then I picked him up on my birthday. He’s my unicorn.”

Harlem Rocker’s new fan base is not only high school students. He is the star of programs for veterans, families of veterans, and most recently, employees of the Hilton Hotel in Saratoga Springs. The hotel group is engaged in team-building and personal growth through horsemanship.

“Hanging out with Harlem Rocker for the day was a pick-me-up for my soul, “said Emma of the Saratoga Hilton group. “He is playful and forgiving and much more personable than most people I know.”

“It’s so wonderful to see a horse like Harlem Rocker do so much to help people in his second career,” said Stacie Rogers of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. “I’ve seen Harlem work with Valerie and her clients. It’s the kind a feel-good story we should be telling in horseracing all the time. It shows how those in the business love their Thoroughbreds.”

“At one time, as a racehorse, he was at the top of his game and Harlem Rocker is proving that even an older stallion, if properly trained, will do everything he can to serve people. He is at back at the top of a new game. The sensitivity and the willingness of a horse like Harlem is typical of the potential for all thoroughbreds after racing.”

“He was always a good horse and always a smart horse,” said Hamelback. “That he persevered after two more surgeries and ended up so happy is a great story and telling about Frank and Frieda Stronach. The horse always comes first for them and by giving this horse the chances he deserved to keep going got him to this meaningful second career with someone who really loves him.”

Diana Pikulski is the editor of the Thoroughbred Adoption Network.


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Quip Targeting Stephen Foster

Fri, 2019-05-24 13:36

‘TDN Rising Star’ Quip (Distorted Humor), a narrow last out winner of the GII Oaklawn H. Apr. 13, is preparing for a start in the GII Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs June 15. Last term’s GII Tampa Bay Derby winner was sidelined after finishing a distant eighth in the GI Preakness S.

“Since we gave him six months off after the Preakness, he’s really changed and matured,” trainer Rodolphe Brisset said. “We really had to crank on him last year to get him ready for the Triple Crown races, but once we backed off him, you could really tell a difference. We got him back and he’s grown and become a new horse. I think we could set ourselves up for a big second half of the year leading into the [GI] Breeders’ Cup Classic. The older horse division is pretty wide open and hopefully we can stamp ourselves as one of the top horses.”

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Colonial Downs Names Jason Beem Race Caller for 2019 Meeting

Fri, 2019-05-24 13:04

Colonial Downs officials announced that veteran race caller Jason Beem will be the official track announcer for the 2019 Colonial Downs meeting, Aug. 8 – Sept. 7.

Beem, who began calling races in 2006, is currently the race caller at Monmouth Park through late June. He was raised in Washington state, was the race caller at Portland Meadows from 2006 to 2014, and was the full-time race caller at River Downs (now Belterra) from 2006-2008; as well as calling the races at Louisiana Downs in 2015, along with stints at Gulfstream Park West and Emerald Downs. Beem will also take part in race analysis, handicapping as well as social media posts for Colonial Downs.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the Colonial Downs team for the rebirth of racing in Virginia,” said Beem. “I have many fond memories watching and playing the great turf races from Colonial Downs for several years, so the opportunity to get to call those races is something I’m really looking forward to experiencing. I’m also very excited about the team they are putting together and look forward to helping make this first season back a successful one.”

Colonial Downs also announced Merv Huber as the track’s Racing Analyst and Paddock Host for this year’s meet. He co-hosted the Churchill Downs Today show and filled in as paddock host and handicapper while also working in the marketing department.

“Jason balances a thoroughly engaging style of precision race calling and a flair of fun and excitement to his craft,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing Operations. “I’ve worked with Merv over the years and his passion and enthusiasm for horse racing and handicapping draws in everyone around him. Jason and Merv make a great team to provide our fans and patrons with expertise handicapping insight and race information on track, through our simulcast signal, and on all social media platforms.”

Through the investment of the Colonial Downs Group, Colonial Downs has been reestablished for the 2019 season. Located between Richmond and Williamsburg, Colonial Downs will offer daily purses averaging a minimum of $500,000, which will comprise an approximate $7.5 million in total purses allocated for the meeting, highlighted by the $250,000 GIII Virginia Derby for 3-year-olds on Aug. 31.

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Crupi `Leaves a Huge Void

Fri, 2019-05-24 10:06


by Chris McGrath

The American Turf is a less colorful place today as horsemen everywhere mourn the loss overnight of one of its most vivid and accomplished characters, James “J.J.” Crupi. He was 79.

His many grieving friends in the business could comfort themselves that while Crupi had suffered health problems for some time, he had been able to persevere in what he loved doing—and did as well as the very best—right to the end. In fact, some of them had enjoyed listening to him holding court, despite his deteriorating health, on the opening day of the Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic 2-Year-Old Sale this very week. For he had never allowed his difficulties to interfere with his ebullient embrace of life.

Only weeks ago, he had hit the headlines at the same company’s Gulfstream sale, topping the auction with a $3.65 million son of Curlin sold to agents Donato Lanni and Jamie McCalmont on behalf of M.V. Magnier. If he can justify his price, however, that colt will only be the latest in a litany of Grade I winners educated by Crupi at his New Castle Farm outside Ocala, including Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming (Bodemeister) and champion juvenile Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie).

Crupi’s ability to cultivate talent had been honed by a long first career on the racetracks of the North East, extending more than 30 years and featuring four titles at Monmouth Park, before he redeveloped the former Happy Valley Farm in 1995. But his horsemanship, exceptional as it was, was more than matched by the enjoyment he gave his clients.

Boyd Browning, president and chief executive officer of Fasig-Tipton, tried to put into words what could be expected when you would visit Crupi’s barn at the sales.

“Well, it would be loud,” he said. “It would definitely be loud, and there would definitely be a lot of enthusiasm. Jimmy would tell you this was one of the best fillies on the farm, and that this colt was so fast he didn’t know how he was going to be able to control him during the under-tack show. But then, after you got through listening to a few stories, Jimmy would look you in the eye and say: ‘I really do like this horse.’ And buyers always knew they could have a lot of confidence when doing business with Jimmy.

“His slogan was always ‘There’s no hassle at the Castle.’ And that was because Jimmy dealt very straightforwardly and honestly with people. He was one of the best customers we had, but also one of the most enjoyable people to do business with that I’ve ever run across. He was beloved by all the people within our company, and across our industry. He leaves a huge void. Huge.

“He was one of a kind, an amazing horseman, and obviously the number and quality of horses that passed through his hands was remarkable. But more important was just the number of people Jimmy helped, the people he gave a leg-up. It would be impossible to estimate how many were down on their luck, and needed a job, and he helped them out on the farm; how many needed a little boost to the confidence, and he’d give them a kind word; how many needed a couple of horses, trainers who were struggling, and he’d find them a couple of clients to give them an opportunity.”

That recollection was matched by New Jersey-based trainer Al Goldberg, who knew Crupi for 40 years. “He was the kind of person that would help anybody, and he had helped all kinds of people in the past 20 years,” said Goldberg, who first knew Crupi as a trainer at Monmouth and also did business with him once he opened the training center at Ocala. “Any person who needed help could go to Jimmy Crupi, and he would help him. People with an addiction getting started again, people who needed a job—they could go to him and he would help. Nobody knew that about him because he came across as this big, gruff guy, but he would help anyone.”

Browning suspects that Crupi owed much of his success to learning how horses prepare for races, long before he ever thought of preparing them for sales. “I think one of the things that made him unique was the vast experience he had as an actual trainer,” he explained. “A lot of those nagging things that might have bothered other people didn’t bother him. But he damned sure knew when to slow down on a horse. And how to take care of each horse, individually. It wasn’t a case of here’s the program and the horse would have to adapt: he evaluated each and every horse, and kind of had a sixth sense about what to do with them.”

Cherished as he was for his reliably coveted offerings at Fasig-Tipton, Crupi was a shareholder in OBS, whose president Tom Ventura likewise remembered him as “one of a kind.”

“They certainly broke the mould when J.J. was born,” Ventura said. “Everybody loved him, and he’s going to be sadly missed. He always made things entertaining, and he treated everyone the same—whether the grooms in his consignment, or the wealthiest people he dealt with at the high end. He put a very good team in place, and he was a straight shooter, a believable guy. The fact that he knew both sides of the racetrack meant that when he told somebody this horse was good to go, or that this one needed a little time, just give him a breather, they had the information they needed for their best chance to succeed.

“He was always very giving. Even in recent times, when he had to resort to needing oxygen a lot of the time, he’d always be thinking of little things to make somebody feel appreciated. One Sunday morning I was in the office, and he was just bedded down for a sale, and he showed up with all these pies. Said he’d found this place that makes the best pies in the world, and wanted the girls to have some. That was typical of him. He enjoyed being around people, and he didn’t take anything for granted.”

That expansive nature was familiar across the generations. Bloodstock agent Justin Casse will always remember his son telling Crupi how much he wanted a pellet gun, and that when they next visited the farm Crupi had one waiting for him.

“He was always very welcoming and generous, he was a giver,” Casse said. “After that, whenever we pulled into OBS, he was always the first person my son wanted to see. It’s been a sad year for our community, after we lost J.B. McKathan as well, so this is a tough day. The Crupi shoes will be very tough to fill. He was big with the Italian community, he had a number of high profile clients, everybody liked to congregate at his farm in the morning.

“And when you go through that long list of good horses he’d been associated with, you’ll see there was a little bit of everything: some he bought, some he’d been sent; he’d buy nice horses for cheaper prices, but would also have higher profile yearlings that were being re-offered too. So it’s not like he was buying the obvious horse. He was just very good at his job.

“And, of course, a very welcoming character: very charming with the women, hilarious to be around, he almost had like a Rodney Dangerfield sense of humor. Dinners with him were very memorable, he had a ton of one-liners, though I don’t know if any of them would be suitable for print!”

Among those who knew him well, grief is unmistakably assuaged by the fact that Crupi had lived his allotted span of life to the full. Only last Saturday he hosted a Preakness party at his hotel in Maryland, and was evidently the life and soul as usual.

“Listen, I saw him at the horse sale four days ago,” stressed Casse. “He continued to do what he loved to do, until his last days. It was less than two years ago went to France for the first time, to buy at Arqana, and he was trying to get customers interested in going again. So albeit his health wasn’t the greatest, he wasn’t going to be stopped or even held back.”

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CHRB Extends Lasix Reduction to Other Tracks

Thu, 2019-05-23 18:30

Following the Lasix dosage reduction protocol that was approved for Santa Anita Park in March, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) on Thursday voted to approve similar agreements to allow racing secretaries at four other tracks to also establish conditions that will lower the allowable maximum race-day dosage of the drug from 500 mg to 250 mg.

Los Alamitos Race Course, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (DMTC), the California Exposition and State Fair, and the Alameda County Fair all petitioned for that change to take effect for their upcoming race meets.

In order to make that change happen, the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) entered into Lasix-reduction agreements with all four of those venues to satisfy the required horsemen’s group approval as per CHRB Rule 1581, and the California Authority of Racing Fairs similarly gave its permission for the two fairs venues.

“This is substantially the same agreement that we reached with the Stronach Group…with one exception: that this does not address, for now, post-2019 Lasix [usage]. This is for this particular race meet agreement, and we support it,” said Greg Avioli, president and chief executive officer for the TOC, when speaking during the agenda item pertaining to Los Alamitos.

“Our medication reforms are going to match exactly what’s currently in place at Santa Anita,” said Tom Robbins, DMTC’s executive vice president for racing and industry relations.

Each of the four Lasix-related measures passed by unanimous voice vote.

Del Mar’s summer meet dates request also gained CHRB approval on Thursday, and track executives outlined several items of interest to horsemen.

“Regarding training, as we started a couple of years ago, we’re going to continue with ‘workers only’ for the first 10 minutes after the first two renovation breaks. We’re also going to continue with our program of keeping our numbers down to a manageable number of horses stabled at Del Mar,” said Robbins.

“For the first time ever, on [GI] Pacific Classic Day, we’re going to offer five stakes races,” said David Jerkens, the DMTC racing secretary, adding that “we’re happy to report a purse increase across the board at all levels for the upcoming summer meet.”

Although the actionable agenda items unfolded swiftly and with little drama, just like at the previous CHRB meeting in April, the earlier public commentary part of the meeting was once again dominated by anti-racing activists who spoke out against the sport and/or called for an outright ban on horse racing.

On several occasions during 72 sometimes-volatile minutes of public comments, Winner had to impose order upon anti-racing speakers by asking them to refrain from personal attacks on individual CHRB commissioners.

Winner also had to verbally warn jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. after the journeyman California rider used a portion of his allotted three minutes of commentary to make disparaging remarks about women, including one sexism-charged statement likening the anti-racing protesters to female Thoroughbreds that he rides in races.

“Fillies, they liked to be loved, they like to be talked to very sweet. I’m sure you like that, right you women?” Arroyo asked sarcastically, drawing audible gasps from the audience. “Because all I see here is a bunch of single women criticizing what we do here.”

Later in the meeting, just prior to adjournment, Winner announced there would be a policy change for future CHRB meetings aimed at keeping public commentary more concise and civil.

“Going forward, the public comment period will be held as the last item on the agenda [instead of the fourth], and the reason is so that people can have the opportunity to hear what has happened during the course of the meeting, so that when they make their public comments they can tale that into consideration,” Winner said. “This is what’s done at most legislative hearings and other boards, and we think it’s appropriate to do it here.”


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Catalina Cruiser to Return in True North

Thu, 2019-05-23 18:24

Catalina Cruiser (Union Rags), off since a disappointing sixth-place finish as the 4-5 favorite in the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs, is slated to make his 5-year-old debut in the GII True North S. June 7 as part of the GI Belmont S. Racing Festival.

Owned by Hronis Racing and trained by John Sadler, Catalina Cruiser won his first four career starts in ultra-impressive fashion, including the GII Pat O’Brien S. last summer at Del Mar.

“He’s coming back really well,” Sadler said. “There’s nothing for him at Santa Anita that fits in the schedule and he had a great work last week. He’s probably one of the best looking horses in training right now, so hopefully we go over there and make a good showing.”

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VA Derby Highlights Colonial Stakes Schedule

Thu, 2019-05-23 17:36

Officials at Colonial Downs have announced a $1.8-million stakes program for the track’s first meeting since 2013, scheduled for Aug. 7 through Sept. 7. Through an investment from the Colonial Downs Group, the track will offer daily average purse money of at least $500,000, which will comprise an approximate $7.5 million in total purse money allocated towards the season.

“As a native Virginian, it is exciting to be part of a strong team effort bringing racing back to Colonial Downs,” said Jill Byrne, former on-track and on-camera personality who serves as Colonial Downs’ Vice President of Racing Operations. “We are dedicated to the horse racing industry and making a positive impact in all aspects of it. We’ve received so much interest and support from horsemen, patrons, media and industry leaders and look forward to providing a fantastic racing experience for everyone.”

The stakes schedule is highlighted by the GIII Virginia Derby, a $250,000 event at nine furlongs on the turf and is the anchor of an Aug. 31 program that also features the $150,000 Virginia Oaks (Listed) and a pair of added-money heats for 2-year-old males and fillies.

The Colonial barn area is slated to open July 25 and the condition book and stall application are available at

“We are excited to welcome back horsemen to race at Colonial Downs with a highly competitive daily purse structure and comprehensive stakes schedule,” said Colonial Downs Racing Secretary Allison De Luca. “We offer a strong turf racing program with the widest grass course in the country that holds up extremely well to all weather conditions along with our 1 1/4-mile main track allowing us to provide a broad base of race options.”


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Brant Seals Deal for Payson Park

Thu, 2019-05-23 13:22

The return to the Turf of Peter M. Brant, a man of deep engagement with wider concerns of art and society, has not just enriched the sport’s cultural fabric. It has also now secured the future of a valuable piece of its heritage in Payson Park.

Thursday, with the dust still settling on its landmark 1-2-3 finish in the Kentucky Derby, Brant closed a deal that ends a period of prolonged uncertainty for the South Florida training center. Payson Park has been on the market since 2012, most recently advertised at $7.95 million. And, for all Brant’s acumen as a businessman, it is understood that he views Payson not as an investment vehicle, but primarily as a benevolent intervention in the interests of horsemen.

Brant himself, admittedly, is making no such claims on his behalf. He is simply stressing a personal faith in the excellence of the facility, as sampled by his own horses both in his first stint in the game and since his comeback. He is also at pains to compliment the custodianship of vendor Virginia Kraft Payson, who hands over the site in infinitely better repair than when she and her late husband rescued it 40 years ago.

That said, he is already promising to upgrade a facility that has managed, even without the kind of expenditure only warranted by an indefinite commitment, consistently to maintain elite performance by horse and horseman alike. He also said he intended to emulate the barn ownership model so successfully developed at Fair Hill in Maryland.

“In the late ’70s and in the ’80s I had a lot of my horses at Payson Park,” Brant recalled. “Horses like Gulch, Track Barron, Mogambo and Class Play, among many other stakes winners trained by LeRoy Jolley. I always did very well with 2-year-olds coming out of there, and early 3-year-olds, so I’m a big fan of the place; and I felt it would be better for our operation to have some horses–both younger and older–winter there.

“A lot of the horsemen there, the trainers and owners, weren’t too sure what was going to happen. Mrs. Payson has obviously been a great steward, but the future was a little unknown so I thought it would be a good idea to step in there. And we’ll try and find a way so that everybody can own a piece of it and help it carry on.”

Brant has taken advice on the facility from various expert consultants and been encouraged by feedback from those trainers already based there. “This summer we’ll be widening the turf course and changing the sprinkler system,” he said. “We’ll be screening the track, checking the base, making sure everything is good. Nobody is complaining about the racetrack, it’s one of the best in North America for sure, but I think we have a very good plan.”

So far as the wider interests of the industry are concerned, Brant acknowledged the importance of looking to its laurels in terms of the training environment. A distressing start to the year at Santa Anita has illustrated the sensitivity of this area, and centers like Payson and Fair Hill provide a hybrid alternative, taking the best from both the European and American systems. The welfare of horses in training, after all, is ultimately reflected in their performance. The Payson Park slogan, in fact, has long been “Happy Horses Win.” So everyone gains from any improvements that can be sought in their daily theaters of operation.

“Absolutely,” assented Brant. “And this is a perfect place for that. I’ve had a lot of experience of it personally, had horses there this year and last, older horses too. Their coats look good, and mentally they’re very on top of things. It’s out in the country, around 30 minutes from Palm Beach, maybe 50 minutes from Palm Meadows and probably an hour and 25 minutes from Gulfstream. So it’s right there in the middle of things-but the air is much fresher, you don’t have any major highways, and that makes a big difference.”

Though Brant will preserve Payson Park under the same name, his association with the site places him in line with some of the American sport’s most resonant postwar patrons. The St. Lucie training farm was built at Indiantown in 1957 by Bull Hancock, C.T. Chenery, Michel Phipps and Townsend Martin. But it fell into such dilapidation, after their deaths, that cattle and alligators had to be cleared off the track when Mr. and Mrs. Payson first leased it in 1979. The following summer, having established that the fundamentals retained great potential, they bought the freehold and began the work that would keep Payson Park fully booked, with a wait list, from that winter all the way through to the downturn of 2008.

T-he 405-acre site accommodates 21 barns, comprising 499 stalls in all; a mile dirt circuit independently evaluated by an MIT study as the most consistent in the land, plus a seven-furlong turf track; 62-berth staff dormitories; 76 turnout paddocks; a veterinary clinic; a café, a floodlit soccer pitch and miles of riding trails. In contrast with the typical backstretch, the Paysons ensured that “you won’t find an inch of concrete anywhere.” And, of course, there are no competing priorities, no pressure on schedules or maintenance, from a racing office.

That was enough to secure winter migration from Hall of Fame trainers like Bill Mott, Shug McGaughey and Roger Attfield, and equine “campers” of the stamp of Cigar, Easy Goer and Kraft Payson’s own 12-length Irish Derby winner, St Jovite.

Brant–who said he understood that Chad Brown will stable some of his best horses at Payson Park, not just for him but for other clients as well– has appointed Alan Quartucci of North Shore Bloodstock to handle barn sales under the new regime.

“Peter is a big believer in Payson, and the history of the facility,” Quartucci said. “It’s a great track and a lot of great horses have come out of there. The people who built it had a great vision, and a lot of engineering knowledge; they knew all about drainage for instance. And it’s such a tranquil setting for the horses.

“Mrs Payson has done a great job there but it’s been for sale for a while. Really it wasn’t Peter’s wish to run a training center, but to preserve a great one; not to let it be developed or turned into something else, but to keep it going and hopefully to improve it.

“Peter’s always believed it’s been a great place for 2-year-olds to be developed, and the number has always been under 500 horses so it doesn’t get overcrowded. I think that’s what makes the track and facility so good. I think a lot of horsemen will be thankful that someone has stepped up to the plate.”

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Goresbridge: New Venue, Same Ethos

Thu, 2019-05-23 12:43

The Goresbridge Breeze Up Sale will have a slightly more cosmopolitan feel to it this year as the event transfers from the small Kilkenny village it takes its name from, 80 miles north to Tattersalls Ireland in Meath. While the Goresbridge sale complex benefitted from access to nearby Gowran Park to facilitate the breeze, vendors at Tattersalls Ireland have an even shorter commute with their offerings, walking them directly across the road to Fairyhouse Racecourse, and this was where approximately 200 lots were put through their paces on quick but watered ground in front of a decent-sized crowd of onlookers on Thursday afternoon. Every prospective buyer present on Friday will need to play their part if this transplanted sale is to keep pace with previous editions, each one having outperformed the previous year’s metrics, save for last year.

Despite a small dip last year, 2018 was still a very respectable edition which saw 170 of the 204 offered lots change hands for an aggregate of €5,054,900. This gave an average of €29,735, a median of €16,000 and a clearance rate of 83%. Friday’s slightly reduced catalogue will make it a challenge to surpass last year’s aggregate, but it should help the clearance rate, something that has been put to the test this current breeze-up season.

The original Goresbridge Sale was developed by Martin Donohoe who was on hand on Thursday helping to coordinate the breeze and he still holds a strong attachment to the event since handing over the reins to Matt Mitchell and his team. “I’m still involved in an advisory capacity but obviously the Tattersalls Ireland team are running the show now,” Donohoe said. “They are a top-class team and have been great to work with and I am delighted to be associated with them. Peter Roe and his ground staff have produced beautiful ground here at Fairyhouse and also deserve a lot of credit. Although I am not calling the shots anymore I am still anxious that the sale goes well and that it continues to develop, something that Matt and his team are committed to achieving.”

Irish Thoroughbred Marketing have worked closely with both Donohoe and the Tattersalls Ireland team in maximizing overseas participation in the sale and ITM Chief Executive Officer Charles O’Neill reckoned there would be 15 or 16 different nationalities here to do business. Tattersalls Ireland Chief Executive Officer Matt Mitchell was also buoyed by the international spread of those present for the breeze and said, “This year is about establishing the sale’s new identity and location in people’s minds and providing the best service possible in our new surroundings. We will then be seeking to build on this year’s foundation and have ambitious targets with regard to the growth of the sale. I think the new Tattersalls Ireland-Goresbridge partnership is a brilliant opportunity to enhance the quality of the horse coming through the sale based on the facilities on offer and provide both vendors and buyers with plenty of opportunities.”

As always the standard of horse will ultimately have a major bearing on how the sale fares and the Goresbridge Breeze-Up has certainly punched above its weight in supplying its share of high-class performers. The 2018 sale topper East (GB) (Frankel {GB}) is a case in point and while on the day her €315,000 price tag may have been out of many people’s reach, the Kevin Ryan-trained filly has certainly augmented her value with a Group 3 win last year and two significant placings on her last two outings in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the G1 The Emirates Poules d’Essai des Pouliches.

‘Kingmania’ is a new word that has cropped up recently and the exciting Juddmonte stallion, who has already topped one breeze-up sale this year with a filly, has a sole female offering in this sale. The Kingman (GB) filly, offered as lot 101 by Mick Fitzpatrick’s Kilminfoyle House Stud is the second produce out of the stakes winner Pure Excellence (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), and with Craven Sale topper Divine Spirit (GB) making such an impression and earning a ‘TDN Rising Star’ on her recent Windsor debut, this filly should generate plenty of interest after putting in a professional breeze.

An earlier lot that catches the eye is lot 29 from Norman Williamson’s Oak Tree Farm. This Siyouni (Fr) colt was bought as a foal last year by Mags O’Toole for 60,000gns and is out of the French stakes winner Adventure Seeker (Fr) (Bering {GB}). The dam has already produced a stakes performer and this colt’s year older brother American Graffiti (Fr) (Pivotal {GB})–a €320,000 yearling purchase by Godolphin–was an emphatic winner of his maiden a few months back for Charlie Appleby. Williamson’s colt also left a good impression after making his way up the Fairyhouse straight.

Friars Lough Stables parted with £55,000 at Goffs UK last year for a Kodiac (GB) half-brother to G3 March S. winner Maid Up (GB) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) and the colt returns to the ring as lot 116 today, while the very last horse into the ring, lot 211, received a good boost when his half-brother Loving A Boom (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) won at Happy Valley in Hong Kong on Wednesday for trainer Richard Gibson. The Knockatrina House-offered colt’s sire Gutaifan (Ire) was also represented by a winner the same day when Seraphinite (Ire) won a maiden at Kempton.

Another first-season stallion who is the subject of very positive vibes is Night Of Thunder (Ire) and Katie Walsh’s Greenhills Farm, vendor of last year’s sale topper, offers lot 147, a colt by the Darley stallion from the family of Banimpire (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}) and Twilight Payment (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}).

Rathasker Stud stallion Anjaal (GB) has also made a decent start with his 2-year-olds this year and that should aid the cause of lot 118. For good measure, the Mocklershill offering is also a half-sister to GI Natalma S. winner Capla Temptress (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}).

Another filly with a classy page is lot 43, who bids to continue the fine breeze-up season of Mick Murphy and Sarah O’Connell’s Longways Stables. This Holy Roman Emperor (Ire) filly is out of the very smart Mango Mischief (Ire) (Desert King {Ire}) and is an own-sister to G2 Kilboy Estate S. winner Mango Diva (GB).

Lot 126 from Aguiar Bloodstock is a Muhaarar (GB) colt who is the first produce out of the MGSW New Providence (GB) (Bahamian Bounty {GB}) while Muhaarar is also the sire of one of the supplementary entries, lot 116A. This filly from Jim McCartan’s Gaybrook Lodge missed her intended date at Arqana two weeks ago and the 130,000gns yearling purchase is a half-sister to G1 Prix de l’Abbaye winner Wizz Kid (Ire) (Whipper).

The sale begins at 10a.m. and all breezes are available to watch on the Tattersalls Ireland website.

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Industry Leaders Speak at Sacramento Hearing

Thu, 2019-05-23 08:04

In a rare hearing on horse racing in the California state Capitol in Sacramento Wednesday, industry leaders such as Mike Smith, Bob Baffert and The Stronach Group (TSG) chairman and president Belinda Stronach took turns before state lawmakers to discuss the efforts the sport has taken to improve the welfare and safety of the sport’s equine and human athletes, as well as the measures that still need to be instituted.

Early last month, California state senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, and assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, announced the joint hearing in response to the high number of equine fatalities at Santa Anita this past winter. Giving this hearing unintended timeliness were the two fatalities at Santa Anita over the weekend—something that lawmakers brought up on various occasions.

Wednesday’s speakers were broken into groups covering various talking points. Though never adversarial—and in most cases noticeably deferential towards the speakers—lawmakers were perhaps most vigorous in the questions they aimed towards Dionne Benson, the newly minted chief veterinary officer for the TSG, and Stronach, who in her opening remarks described California racing as “the safest in North America,” before running through the changes that Santa Anita has already instituted, along with further ones on the horizon.

“Since we have re-opened Santa Anita, just to put a little context around things, we’ve had about 100,000 sessions on the track,” said Stronach, highlighting the number of horses racing, training and breezing during that time. “We’ve had 200,000 since the opening of this season, which was in December. We’ve had 1500 horses racing. We’ve had over 7000 workouts, which means breezing. We’ve had over 90,000 horses galloping. And every single day we have about 1700 horses on the track. So those are very high numbers.”

Dionne Benson, the freshly titled TSG chief veterinary officer, highlighted the stricter standards that TSG instituted concerning NSAIDS, corticosteroids, and pre-race examination protocols, and she described the new PET scan machine—scheduled to arrive at Santa Anita later this year—as “a game changer for us.”

Assemblyman Gray repeatedly pressed TSG representatives about their focus on whip and Lasix usage, and the questions that linger about their connection to breakdown rates.

Stronach responded that whip and Lasix usage are “significant” public perception issues for the sport, and without addressing them, the industry would see a “continued decline.”
Gray wasn’t satisfied, however, and continued to press the issue.

“I’m often asked, ‘well, if they can run in Europe without Lasix, why can’t you?'” responded Stronach, before adding that there remains a “mixed debate around the science” of Lasix and catastrophic injuries.

Senator Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park—in whose district Santa Anita sits—said that she takes calls “all the time” from constituents who cite inflated numbers of fatalities at Santa Anita. “And I don’t know how to accurately defend it,” she said. “The message keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Stronach responded that there is “more work to do” in that regard.

Kicking off proceedings, CHRB executive director, Rick Baedeker, gave an overview into the ongoing investigation into the equine fatalities this year at Santa Anita. The investigations could be completed within a month, said Baedeker, who added during a later line of questioning that a common thread between the fatalities is unlikely to be identified.

To a question about the speed of the industry’s response as fatality numbers mounted at Santa Anita, Baedeker expressed frustration that the CHRB didn’t have the authority to unilaterally suspend racing. In context here, senator Dodd and assemblyman Gray introduced new legislation in April authorizing the CHRB such authority. That bill is passing through the state legislature.
Attendees gave a round-of-applause when Baedeker explained that there is a provision in veterinary medical law that means the CHRB can require veterinary records be transferred with a horse. “That’s a relatively new provision in our rules and reg’s,” he said.

When asked about the latest two fatalities over the weekend at Santa Anita, Rick Arthur, CHRB equine medical director, explained that they were “different” to the first 23.

Because the afternoon hearing started late, many of the speakers were asked to cut their prepared statements short, including Smith, who explained that there are risk factors in all sports, and that these inherent risk factors were exacerbated by the weather during the winter. However, “if you gave me two more races to ride, it would be at Santa Anita and Del Mar,” he said, emphasizing how safe he thought California tracks are.

Smith then explained how the cushioned riding crop was designed not to hurt the horse, and he described it as a “necessary tool,” when asked by assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, to explain the three-strike rule. When Gipson followed up, asking what the industry can do to improve its safety record, Baffert jumped in to emphasize how California is the most regulated racing jurisdiction in the country.

“[Horses] jump through a lot of hoops before they get to that starting gate,” he said. “My two Triple Crown winners train on that surface,” he added, about the Santa Anita track. And the recent fatalities, he added, have led to substantive change. “Trainers are going to do a better job policing themselves.”

Helping to provide the national perspective, Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, ran through a series of industry acronyms central to the safety issue, including the Racing and Medication Testing Consortium (RMTC) and the National Uniform Medication Program.

“I will note that California has adopted, or is in the process of adopting, all of our RMTC recommended national model rules,” said Waldrop.

Mick Peterson, director of the University of Kentucky’s Ag Equine Programs and an expert in racetrack surfaces, took the lawmakers though a crash-course in racetrack maintenance. “Our goal in this is to treat a racetrack like you would an airplane,” said Peterson, listing as an example the sorts of safety protocols that commercial airplanes undergo before each flight.

Among those illustrating the economic impact of horse racing in the state was John Valenzuela, president of the Pari-Mutuel Employees Guild of California, who explained how the recent events have hit his members hard.

“One of our local 280 members,” said Valenzuela, “has been deeply impacted by the reduction to three days a week. She was forced to get another job to supplement her income, and is using a car given to her by her family for transportation. She is barely making ends meet. And as her income is below poverty level, she has moved into section 8 housing.”

The closing public comment period was taken up by two animal rights advocates. One was Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of PETA, who said that “every year, dozens and dozens of horses die on California racetracks,” and that “there’s more that can be done” to protect racehorses in the state.

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Chad Brown Must Pay $1.6M for Federal Labor Violations

Wed, 2019-05-22 18:48

Chad C. Brown, who has won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in each of the past three seasons, will pay a total of $1,617,673 in back wages, liquidated damages, and civil penalties after agreeing to a federal consent judgment for “willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the labor provisions of the H-2B non-immigrant visa program,” according to a United States Department of Labor press release issued on Wednesday.

The massive monetary outlay for back pay and fines that Brown was ordered to pay was the result of a three-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division into Brown’s New York-based training business not paying overtime wages for all hours when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek and for failing to keep required time and payroll records.

According to the consent judgment signed by Brown and filed May 13 in U.S. District Court (Eastern District of New York), Brown, doing business as “Chad C. Brown Inc.,” admitted to violations that involved 150 stable employees between 2014 and 2017, primarily at Saratoga Race Course and Belmont Park.

By admitting the violations and agreeing to the consent order and its payment structure, Brown was able to avoid formal service of the original summons and civil complaint, which was filed in federal court Apr. 3 by R. Alexander Acosta, the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

A late Wednesday afternoon voicemail message left on Brown’s mobile phone asking for his side of the story did not yield a response prior to deadline for this article.

According to the original complaint, “Defendants failed to pay overtime to groomers and hot walkers for all hours worked in excess of forty in a week and falsified time records to conceal the actual hours worked by their employees. Defendants’ employees frequently worked in excess of forty hours each week, often performing extra tasks that required them to stay beyond their ostensible weekly schedules.

“However, Defendants failed to accurately track employees’ time and paid them for fewer hours than they actually worked. In addition, when calculating the premium pay owed for a particular week, Defendants failed to include the nondiscretionary bonuses they regularly awarded to certain groomers, as required by the Act and its regulations.

“Consequently, in addition to depriving their employees of overtime premiums for many of the hours worked beyond 40 in a week, Defendants did not pay the correct overtime premium. As a result of Defendants’ unlawful payment and record keep practices, 150 current and former groomers and hot walkers are owed unpaid wages under the Act.”

The civil complaint listed a “for example” instance of how Brown’s operation structured work schedules to avoid fair payment: “During the 2017 racing season, Defendants assigned a hot walker to work three races a week on top of the base schedule, which amounted to 61.25 hours of work per week. However, Defendants paid this hot walker for no more than 55 hours of work per week at a regular rate of roughly $11.09.”

To get around this, the complaint alleged, Brown and his assistants wrote up sham paperwork.

“Defendants did not accurately track employee work time and did not have a system for tracking when employees started and stopped working each day,” the complaint stated. “Instead, Defendants created falsified timesheets that consistently underreported the number of hours worked by hot walkers and groomers, contributing to underpayment. Defendants required groomers and hot walkers to sign blank time sheets. Defendants’ supervisors filled in daily and weekly hours after employees signed the time sheets. The hours filled in by supervisors on the timesheets were often incorrect and did not add up.”

According to the consent judgment’s itemized list of Brown’s 150 employees who are owed money, at least 10 of them are owed more than $10,000 in combined back wages and liquidated damages. The highest combined amount owed to an individual worker is $27,911.

“These legal actions demonstrate the U.S. Department of Labor’s commitment to take all steps necessary to ensure employees receive the wages that they have rightfully earned and that employers who violate laws do not gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding competitors,” the agency’s regional solicitor of labor, Jeffrey Rogoff, said in the press release.

The consent judgment requires Brown to designate a compliance officer for pay practices, implement and use an electronic timekeeping system to ensure accurate tracking of employees’ work hours, and to train supervisory employees on the proper federal labor requirements for employers.

It also contains a mandate that Brown shall not threaten or retaliate against employees named in the consent judgment or to “imply that adverse action will be taken against any person because of his or her receipt of funds due under the provisions of this Consent Judgment or the Act. Violation of this Paragraph may subject Defendants to equitable and legal damages, including punitive damages and civil contempt.”


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