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Tapiture Colt Brings $350K at F-T Santa Anita Sale

Wed, 2019-06-05 16:48

A 2-year-old colt by Tapiture got things rolling early at Wednesday’s Fasig-Tipton Santa Anita Two-year-olds in Training Sale when realizing a $350,000 final bid from Tom Ludt, acting on behalf of Phoenix Thoroughbred Ltd. Produced by Awesomekaylee (Awesome Again), the chestnut was bred by Ginny McKinlay et al. Hip 12, who worked a quarter in :21.1 during Monday’s Breeze Show, was consigned by agent Tom McCrocklin, who purchased the colt for $100,000 at Keeneland last September.

The post Tapiture Colt Brings $350K at F-T Santa Anita Sale appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Wednesday’s Trackside Belmont Stakes 151 Report

Wed, 2019-06-05 16:42

ELMONT, NY – With a field of 10 now in place for Saturday’s 151st renewal of the GI Belmont S., there was plenty to see on an overcast Wednesday morning at beautiful Belmont Park.

Bourbon War (Tapit) was the first sophomore entered for the final leg of the Triple Crown to catch the eye, sporting a white bridle during his gallop just after 6 a.m. After experimenting with first-time blinkers in the GI Preakness S., trainer Mark Hennig takes the shades off following a punchless eighth at a well-backed 5-1 in Baltimore.

Morning-line favorite Tacitus (Tapit) briefly took in his surroundings by the clubhouse turn–which included a small group of media and photographers assembled–while getting some love from longtime Bill Mott assistant trainer Leana Willaford aboard a stable pony at approximately 7 a.m. The striking gray Juddmonte homebred glided over the track beautifully with his ears up during his gallop under the watchful eye of his GI Kentucky Derby-winning trainer. He certainly couldn’t be looking any better in the flesh since his strong showing while rallying from far back in Louisville on the First Saturday in May.

The action picked up considerably after the renovation break as the sun briefly tried to make an appearance while temperatures remained in the mid 60s.

Does Everfast (Take Charge Indy) have another big run coming at boxcar odds? Second at 29-1 in the Preakness and also runner-up at a massive 128-1 in the GII Holy Bull, the Calumet Farm homebred bounded on the freshly manicured track with his head cocked high beneath exercise rider Tammy Fox.

Master Fencer (Jpn) (Just a Way {Jpn}), elevated to sixth via disqualification in the Derby, was impossible to miss with his bright pink-and-red blinkers and ear muffs as he cruised down the lane on his left lead beneath jockey Julien Leparoux–minus the bell boots this time–completing his five-furlong breeze in 1:01.28. Master Fencer’s morning routine also included a trip to the nearby training track and some gate schooling.

Trainer Mark Casse watched by the gap as his Belmont S. duo of Preakness winner War of Will (War Front) and GIII Peter Pan S. runner-up Sir Winston (Awesome Again) galloped in close proximity.

War of Will, hard held throughout by Kim Carroll after looking plenty eager early, displayed extremely good energy just as he did leading up to the Derby. The blaze-faced bay appears to be sitting on go as the lone runner to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown this spring.

Other high-profile runners in action stretching their legs for this weekend’s three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival included: GI Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational S. winner Bricks and Mortar (Giant’s Causeway) (GI Manhattan S.); the GI Met Mile H. trio of two-time G1 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow (Ire) (Helmet {Aus}), MGISW ‘TDN Rising Star’ McKinzie (Street Sense) and G2 Godolphin Mile winner ‘Rising Star’ Coal Front (Stay Thirsty); and the comebacking strapping chestnut Catalina Cruiser (Union Rags) (GII True North S.), off since suffering his first career defeat in the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

The post Wednesday’s Trackside Belmont Stakes 151 Report appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

New Stronach Salvo: ‘Blatant Self-Dealing’ Skews TSG Financials

Wed, 2019-06-05 16:10

The latest salvo of litigation fired by Frank Stronach in the fight for control of the family empire he created alleges that

$500 million in six-year revenue increases reported in a court filing by The Stronach Group (TSG) chief executive Alon Ossip was “overstated and misleading” because that figure did not factor in the “significant impact” of rebating high-volume bettors who wagered on races through TSG’s online wagering platform.

Additionally, the 86-year-old family patriarch is now leveling allegations that his daughter, the 53-year-old TSG chairman and president Belinda Stronach, improperly allocated as company expenses “millions of dollars” related to her own daughter’s show-jumping activities with sport horses, even though “this blatant self-dealing” had nothing to do with the running of the firm, whose portfolio includes six United States racetracks.

Frank Stronach is further alleging that it was only when he filed a $540 million (CDN) lawsuit against Belinda Stronach and Ossip last year in a Toronto court that the defendants began to take action “in direct response to the escalating family dispute” to “whitewash years of misconduct and mismanagement of TSG.”

These new allegations are part of a 49-page series of “replies to statements of defense” that Frank Stronach’s attorneys filed May 14 in Ontario Superior Court of Justice. TDN obtained the documents this week via a court records request.

Last October, Frank Stronach and his wife, Elfriede, jointly filed suit demanding a court trial to remove Belinda Stronach and Ossip from all corporate officer and trustee positions related to the Stronach empire.

That litigation also sought financial redress related to an alleged “series of covert and unlawful actions…that have been contrary to the best interests of, and to the overwhelming detriment of, other members of the Stronach family.”

Two of Frank Stronach’s grandchildren, Nicole Walker and Frank Walker, were also named as co-defendants.

Separately, Andrew Stronach, who is Belinda’s brother, filed his own lawsuit in November alleging similar TSG malfeasance as a result of his sister’s “serious misconduct.”

In January, Belinda Stronach fired back in court with a statement of defense that denied the initial charges and included counterclaims of financial mismanagement by her dad that she alleged cost the family some $850 million (CDN), “with hundreds of millions of this amount likely being irretrievably lost.” She chalked up the purported losses to her father’s ill-advised “passion projects.”

Around the same time, Ossip filed his own defense statement that denied the lawsuit’s charges and questioned Frank Stronach’s fitness to be involved in running TSG. “Over the past number of years, Frank’s behavior became increasingly erratic, as reflected in part in his increasingly disruptive interventions in TSG’s racing and gaming business,” his filing stated.

Now, this latest court reply filed by Frank Stronach implies that years of alleged malfeasance by his daughter and Ossip have played a role in the current equine fatality crisis at Santa Anita Park. Despite the gravity of that assertion, the filing did not state any evidence to directly link their behavior to the recent spate of racehorse deaths.

“Belinda and Alon’s actions in shutting Frank out of TSG and their mismanagement of TSG’s business and affairs have placed at serious risk the ongoing viability of TSG’s racing and gaming operations,” Frank Stronach’s court reply states. “Indeed, in the period since December 2018, more than 20 Thoroughbred horses have died at TSG’s Santa Anita Park racetrack in California.

“The unprecedented number of horse deaths at Santa Anita has sparked public outrage, has forced repeated closures of the racetrack, and has placed the continued operations of the racetrack in serious jeopardy,” the filing continues. “This state of affairs has had and will continue to have a significant and detrimental impact on the business and reputation of TSG [and Stronach family members].”

Asked to comment on her father’s latest allegations, Belinda Stronach responded with an emailed statement, which read, in part, “The Stronach Group, under my leadership, recently led the horse racing industry in progressive reforms to modernize the sport for the betterment of horse and rider welfare…. It appears my father is seeking to negatively capitalize on the tragedy of horse racing deaths versus backing the leading reforms we have initiated for the betterment of the industry. We continue to provide responsible, transparent management of TSG assets and the family trusts. Allegations to the contrary are untrue.”

With regard to TSG’s financial health, Frank Stronach’s court filing claims that back in January, Ossip’s defense statement gave an inaccurate revenues estimate that made the firm’s financials appear rosier than they actually were.

“The alleged revenue increase by TSG of over $500 million over a six-year period is overstated and misleading and does not account for the significant impact that TSG’s practice of ‘rebating’…has on the company’s overall profitability, including in particular rebates provided through TSG’s high-volume XB Select online wagering platform,” the filing states. “When the impact of rebating is taken into account, the increase in TSG’s revenue is drastically reduced.”

Although Frank Stronach’s filing challenges Ossip’s revenue estimate, it does not cite an alternate amount that he believes to be the correct figure.

A spokesperson for Ossip, Paul Deegan, emailed a statement in response to a request for comment about the revenues that read, “Alon has worked tirelessly to create value for the Stronach family, and he has always conducted himself with the utmost probity. Under Alon’s leadership, the racing and gaming business saw a stellar improvement, both financially and operationally. All revenues and expenses were booked in strict accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. To suggest otherwise is false. The net effect was that key financial indicators that indicate the actual performance of the business, such as EBITDA [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization], which increased by roughly $70 million in six years, improved significantly.”

Belinda Stronach’s January statement of defense had stated that TSG’s breeding, training and racing (BTR) business segment was “unprofitable under Frank’s direction.” But Frank Stronach’s latest court filing denies that claim, explaining that “To the extent that the BTR business was unprofitable…it was as a direct result of losses incurred in connection with Nicole’s show-jumping activities, which were allocated improperly to the BTR business as TSG company expenses.”

The claim continues: “Notwithstanding the fact that Nicole’s show-jumping has no connection to TSG’s business activities, TSG has spent millions of dollars in funding her show-jumping expenses…for Nicole’s personal benefit. The plaintiffs have learned that in belated and partial recognition of this blatant self-dealing, TSG (at Belinda’s direction) proposed to ‘gift’

$2.5 million in show-jumping assets to Belinda and her family in 2019.”

Other parts of Frank Stronach’s latest court filing deal with the complex tangle of he-said/she-said accusations that father and daughter have traded in court documents since the suit was initiated. The family spat centers on issues of power and money.

For example, one bone of contention has been whether Frank Stronach’s role in the running of TSG is now actual or ceremonial, and/or if his daughter and Ossip have forced him out of making business decisions and having control over and access to company resources.

“Contrary to the assertion…Frank was and is entitled to make contact with and speak to TSG employees and external stakeholders, and has no obligation to inform or consult with TSG management before doing so,” his court filing asserts. “Frank is directly responsible for the entire business of TSG….He also remains the company’s Founder and Honourary Chairman.”

Frank Stronach also takes umbrage with an “allowance” that has allegedly been allotted to family members by his daughter.

“In essence, Belinda has determined unilaterally that each Stronach family member will be paid the equivalent of an allowance in an amount to be determined by Belinda, Alon, Frank Jr., and Nicole,” Frank Stronach’s filing states. “Unsurprisingly, the ‘allowance’ to be paid to Belinda and her children far exceeds the amounts to be paid to other members of the Stronach family.”


The post New Stronach Salvo: ‘Blatant Self-Dealing’ Skews TSG Financials appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

City Zip Filly, Daredevil Colt Swiftest at OBS

Wed, 2019-06-05 15:18

A filly by City Zip turned in the fastest furlong breeze and a colt by Daredevil had the fastest quarter-mile work during Wednesday’s first under-tack preview session ahead of next week’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s June Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. Consignor Mark White sent out hip 199 to earn the bullet furlong time of :9 4/5. The filly by City Zip is out of Court Appeal (Candy Ride {Arg}), a half-sister to Grade I winner Mani Bhavan (Storm Boot), graded winner Hear the Ghost (Ghostzapper) and stakes-winning and Grade I-placed Closing Bell (Tapit). She was a $7,000 Keeneland September acquisition.

“We were delighted with the work,” said White, who is consigning the filly on behalf of North Carolina-based client J D Osgood. “I knew she was fast, but I didn’t know she was that fast. I thought she would go in :10 or :10 1/5 and the track was getting a little slow when she went up there, with the heat out here. So I was absolutely delighted with her.”

White said of the filly, “She is not overly big, but she’s like a Quarter Horse. She’s as wide as she is tall. She has a butt on her that is the width of the shedrow and she is built for speed.”

White has had the filly since December and he has been impressed by her development.

“We were thinking of taking her to the April sale, but I didn’t get her until December and she was a little immature,” he said. “I have another filly for the same guy, so we decided rather than pushing them, we’d take our time and get her to June. As fast as she is, she could have gone to April or June, but the extra five weeks has done her the world of good.”

White, who was longtime farm manager for Another Episode Farm, is consigning only two horses to auction this year. He also sent out a filly by Hard Spun (hip 74) to work a quarter in :21 2/5 Wednesday at OBS.

“I was a farm manager for Another Episode Farm for 12 years and then Johanne Everard sold the farm, so I kept a few clients and went out on my own,” White explained. “I’m not a big, big guy, I just have six or seven horses every year. These are the only two I’m selling this year, the rest all go to the racetrack.”

A colt from the first crop of Grade I winner Daredevil (More Than Ready) (hip 100) turned in Wednesday’s fastest quarter-mile work of :20 3/5. Consigned by Wavertree Stables, the dark bay juvenile is out of Bible (U S Ranger) and from the family of Corinthian. He was purchased for $72,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton July sale by Ciaran Dunne’s Redwings pinhooking partnership and had originally been targeted at the OBS April sale. Click for ThoroStride video inspection.

“He is a nice horse, he’s always been a nice horse,” Dunne said. “We had huge expectations going into April with him. He had a little curb right before his final work, so he made the decision for us that we had to wait for here. We pinfired the curb and gave him some time. He’s had two breezes since, both of which have been out of this world, so we weren’t surprised by this work.”

Wavertree has had success offering offspring by first-crop sires this spring, notably selling a $1.2-million son of Liam’s Map at the OBS April sale.

“We have always tended to play in that market,” Dunne explained. “Usually, they are the ones that they’ll let you buy. The proven stallions go to the end-users and we need to take chances on horses that are unproven. We just stick with the physical that works for us.”

The under-tack preview show continues through Sunday with sessions beginning daily at 7:30 a.m. The sale will be held next Wednesday through Friday. Bidding begins each day at 10 a.m.


The post City Zip Filly, Daredevil Colt Swiftest at OBS appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

‘Fencer’ Hopes to Be First Japanese ‘Master’ of the Belmont

Wed, 2019-06-05 14:27

ELMONT, N.Y.–Master Fencer (Jpn) (Just a Way {Jpn}) is not the first Japanese runner to enter the GI Belmont S. In fact, he is the third in the past four years alone, following Lani (Tapit) in 2016 (third) and Epicharis (Jpn) (Gold Allure {Jpn}) in 2017 (scratched race day with a foot issue), but the Katsumi Yoshizawa homebred hopes to become the first from his country to win the Test of a Champion Saturday.

In addition to the $1.5 million Belmont purse, Master Fencer is also eligible for NYRA’s $1 million bonus, offered to any Japan-based horse to win the Belmont S.

“This is very, very rare to just participate in the Triple Crown races for Japanese horse trainers,” conditioner Koichi Tsunoda said through translator Mitsuoki Numamoto outside of Nick Zito’s Barn 12 as Master Fencer was bathed and had his legs thoroughly cold hosed while surrounded by a slew of press. “It was because of many people’s support that we made it here. Winning would repay a debt of gratitude for the many people surrounding me.”

Master Fencer tuned up for Saturday’s affair with an easy five-panel breeze in 1:01.28 (3/3) (video) under jockey Julien Leparoux on the Belmont main track Wednesday morning after the renovation break. Things went much smoother this time after a much-publicized stumble during his previous workout, when he went the same distance in 1:01.48 with his regular exercise rider Yosuke Kono aboard May 29 (video).

“[Master Fencer] didn’t change his lead in the stretch [instead staying on his left one], but [Leparoux] said he didn’t want to lose momentum for the breeze. He was traveling well. He didn’t want him to have a stressful work. He just wanted him to breeze without any issues like the last breeze.”

Breaking his maiden at third asking at Japan’s Hanshin Racecourse Dec. 23, Master Fencer followed suit with a win at Kyoto Jan. 14. He finished fourth in the Listed Hyacinth S. Feb. 17 and completed the exacta in the Fukuryu S. Mar. 31, both of which are on Japan’s Road to the Kentucky Derby. With the Japanese horse ahead of him in points declining the Derby invite, the chestnut accepted his spot in the Run for Roses and closed strongly to be sixth after running last most of the way. (He originally crossed the line seventh, but was promoted to sixth after the DQ of Maximum Security {New Year’s Day}).

Master Fencer trained at Keeneland following his Derby effort and shipped to New York May 24. Tsunoda, who is also a former jockey, said his charge has settled in well at Belmont.

“He had been training and eating well at Keeneland and even here at Belmont,” the trainer said through Numamoto. “I hope he will run much better than he did in the Derby. This will be a smaller field, just 10 horses including him. It is much easier to chase other horses, so if he could save ground, he will probably show us that great late kick in the stretch. Distance doesn’t matter.”

Belmont’s main track is known as “Big Sandy” for a reason. When asked how Master Fencer has been getting over the surface in Elmont, which is much deeper than what he had trained over at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, Tsunoda said, “We wanted Julien [Leparoux] to experience how he moves on this kind of sand track. As you can see, he is not very skillful in changing his leads and I don’t want anything to happen between the races, so because of that we asked Julien to get on. I am not pessimistic about the deeper sand.”

If all goes well Saturday, this may not be the last time racing fans see Master Fencer on American soil.

“I would have to talk to the owner, but we may go to the Breeders’ Cup,” Tsunoda said before walking off to inspect his colt’s legs as the sophomore received lots of love from Kono.


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Tacitus Draws Post 10 as Belmont Favorite

Tue, 2019-06-04 17:46

FLUSHING, NY – The top two choices on the morning-line will break side-by-side in Saturday’s 151th renewal of the GI Belmont S.

After drawing the dreaded one hole in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, GI Preakness S. winner War of Will (War Front) will exit from post nine in the ‘Test of the Champion.’

War of Will, a well-documented eighth across the wire in the GI Kentucky Derby after almost going down on the far turn-he was elevated to seventh following the controversial disqualification of Maximum Security (New Year’s Day)-is the only sophomore to contest all three of this year’s spring Classics.

“I think the word is satisfaction,” Casse said of War of Will’s powerful win in Baltimore. “It wasn’t about revenge. I just wanted him to have a fair chance–that’s all I wanted–and I thought he got it.”

The Gary Barber colorbearer is the 2-1 second-choice on the morning-line for the Belmont.

“He’s an exceptional horse and he can handle a lot of things,” Casse added. “For me, when we start with the Derby, I’m hoping and planning on running in all three and we’re fortunate to be able to do so.”

Casse will also saddle GIII Peter Pan S. runner-up Sir Winston (Awesome Again).

After rallying smartly from far back on the First Saturday in May, Juddmonte Farms homebred and GII Wood Memorial S. hero Tacitus (Tapit) has been installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite for the Belmont.

Fourth past the wire and moved up to third via disqualification, the first foal out of champion Close Hatches (First Defence) drew widest of all in post 10 for the Belmont. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, of course, also trains this year’s Derby winner Country House (Lookin At Lucky), who recently returned to training at Churchill Downs.

“Tacitus had to alter course several times in the race,” said Mott, who upset the 2010 Belmont with Drosselmeyer. “He never had to check, and he never got stopped. He ate a lot of mud. The track was like pea soup that day, which was very disappointing. He was quite a ways back in the field and he had to come through a lot of traffic, but we offer no big excuses. He was moving very well at the end of the race.”

Prince Khalid Abdullah’s operation won the 2003 Belmont with Empire Maker.

With three Belmont winners and five second-place finishers already on his resume, trainer Todd Pletcher has entered ‘TDN Rising Star’ Intrepid Heart (Tapit), a disappointing third in the Peter Pan, and Spinoff (Hard Spun), a well-beaten 18th in the Derby, in this year’s renewal.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate,” Pletcher said. “The horses have run well and we’ve taken a couple of nasty beats, too. It’s a race that we really cherish. It’s home for us.”

For the second straight year, the Belmont S. draw was held at the Foxwoods Club at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, before a game. The Mets faced the San Francisco Giants later Tuesday evening.

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Horse Shortage Causing Havoc at Delaware Park

Tue, 2019-06-04 16:23

The horse shortage has hovered over racing for year, a black cloud that, inevitably, had to become a crippling problem for some racetracks. Running cards filled with four or five-horse races is a recipe for disaster; a betting product the public will not buy. While the problem has gotten incrementally worse every year, it has reached a tipping point this year at Delaware Park.
It’s not surprising that it is a track in the Mid-Atlantic region that is having a crisis. At this time of year, Delaware Park, Parx, Monmouth and Laurel are all running. Though offering a cheaper brand of racing, Penn National and Charles Town also factor into the equation and Colonial Downs in Virginia is set to re-open for a 15-day meet in August. The track has been closed since 2013. There is too much racing in the Mid-Atlantic and not nearly enough horses available to fill cards at so many tracks.
Neither is it surprising that Delaware is the track getting hit the hardest by the horse shortage as it has the smallest purses among the four major tracks in the area, Parx, Laurel, Monmouth and Delaware. They are averaging $156,000 a day in purses.
At Delaware, three of the first 13 scheduled cards had to be canceled due to a lack of entries. There are no official records kept on how often tracks have had to cancel due to a lack of entries, but it’s likely Delaware has set some sort of low mark. When it has raced, Delaware has averaged a little over 6.4 starters per race and most cards include just seven races for Thoroughbreds and one for Arabians. Four and five-horse fields are not uncommon.
Both sides, management and horsemen, are doing their best to come up with solutions, but this is all about a supply and demand. There is no magic wand. Worse yet, rather than come together, the two sides seem more interested in pointing fingers at one another.
Track President Bill Fasy said the meet got off on the wrong foot when horsemen insisted Delaware Park open up on the day of the GI Kentucky Derby. In prior years, the track did not open until the first week in June. All three cancellations have come in May.
“I would absolutely say that our horsemen’s group insisting on racing in May created a big problem,” Fasy said. “We told them the horses wouldn’t be available to us that early. But that was a big push for them in order to agree to a contract.”
With sports betting proving additional revenue, the horsemen also successfully lobbied to extend the meet from 81 to 85 total days.
“We also agreed to, even though we didn’t believe the races would fill, to take on four additional days,” Fasy said. “You have to be practical. With the field sizes we have had last two years and with the purse money we have we cannot be competitive with other tracks in the area. The horsemen are not looking at the supply and demand, the economics.”
Fasy claimed that Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association President Scott Peck wants to run 100 cards a year. The TDN asked to speak with Peck, but the horsemen’s group asked that Executive Director Bessie Gruwell answer questions on its behalf.
Delaware was the first state in the area to have slot machines and for years it thrived. In 1999 and 2000, the meet consisted of 149 days. But once surrounding states, particularly Pennsylvania, added alternative gaming to its racetracks, the revenue from Delaware’s casino plummeted. Most of the purse money comes from casino profits. The trick became how to run a meet of reasonable length while maintaining competitive purses. When Fasy was asked what he felt would be an optimal number of racing dates, he sais that was an area he did not want to touch.
“I would hate to answer that and I will tell you the reason why,” he said. “Years ago, I was almost involved with a lynch mob in my paddock that wanted to hang me when I told them we needed to go from 135 to 120 days. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don”t.”
He did say that the solution lies in figuring out what Delaware needs to pay out in daily purses to be competitive and then take the amount of money it has for purses. Do the math and that should give you a meet length that is viable.
It’s been a difficult stretch for the horsemen, as well, and Gruwell didn’t hide the fact that many are angry. She said Delaware should have opened the turf course earlier (the first grass race was run on Memorial Day), that there are more horses on the grounds this year than last year and that the racing office has not been working hard enough to fill cards.
“The first time they canceled the card they stopped taking entries at 3 p.m. and said we can’t make the card,” she said. “The second time they canceled it was at 2 p.m. The third time it was 12:49 p.m. Some of these guys at other tracks are staying there until six or seven at night to put together a card. They called ours off at 12:49 p.m. in afternoon.”
In a perfect world, Delaware could turn back the clock to the 1950s when it ran 32-day meets. The Maryland tracks would close as they had formed a circuit with Delaware and there was no legal racing in Pennsylvania at the time. Some seventy years later, with a 32-day meet and with all the slots money available to the track, the purses would be among the best in the country. But the horsemen argue that is not a realistic solution. Since Delaware does not race year-round, it must rely on outfits to ship in from other tracks like Tampa Bay Downs and the feeling is no one would stable at Delaware if the meet were so short.
With the turf course now fully operational and with 2-year-old racing underway, Delaware has resources that should increase field size. However, after running three days a week since opening day, the track went to a four-day-a-week schedule starting May 30. Ironically, that was a day it had to cancel.
“I’m worried that four days a week just won’t happen,” Gruwell said.
And she’s well aware that further cancellations will be a hardship on her membership.
“Any day that you can’t race is a day you can’t make money,” she said. “Any day you can’t lead your horse over there to race, it’s a day you have no opportunity to make money. It doesn’t matter if the purse is $100, $10,000 or $100,000, the horseman have to have a chance to earn.”
Fasy said he believes the solution is for racing to take a page out of its past and start up again with circuits that include one or more states. He also knows that isn’t going to happen.
In the meantime, one of racing’s most picturesque tracks and one with a storied past, is in trouble. There doesn’t seem to be much that anyone can do, other than accept the status quo, keep on racing with short fields and hope the cancellations don’t become a regularity.
Delaware has carded seven Thoroughbred races for Wednesday with 52 horses entered for an average field size of 7.4. That’s not good, but neither is it terrible. Maybe the worst is over.

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OBS June Under Tack Show Starts Wednesday

Tue, 2019-06-04 15:09

The first of five under tack sessions for the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale starts Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. with Hips 1 – 216. Hips 217 – 432 will be on display Thursday, Hips 433 – 648 Friday, Hip 649 – 864 Saturday and concluding with Hips 865 – 1059 Sunday. Each session will begin at 7:30 a.m. The sale will run Wednesday, June 12 through Friday, June 14 with selling getting underway at 10 a.m. daily.

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Inaugural Fasig-Tipton Santa Anita Sale Wednesday

Tue, 2019-06-04 14:40

ARCADIA, CA – With bidding at the inaugural Fasig-Tipton Santa Anita 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale slated to begin in the track’s paddock at 1 p.m. Wednesday, buyers began making the rounds at the temporary sales barns near Santa Anita’s seven-furlong chute under a typical Southern California “June Gloom” sky Tuesday morning in Arcadia. Consignors expected a busy day of showing following Monday’s heavily attended breeze show.

“We have a ton of traffic here at the barn already, so that’s very encouraging to see this much action the day before the sale,” consignor Adrian Gonzalez said as he oversaw the action at his Checkmate Thoroughbreds barns Tuesday morning. “All our horses came out of the works in good order and the vetting is great. So I think we’re going to have a pretty strong sale with the group of horses we have here.”

Andy Havens was seeing shoppers with purpose at the barn of his Havens Bloodstock consignment.

“I am really happy with the turnout of buyers,” Havens said. “We are really seeing a lot of interest and there are guys who are not just looking around. They want horses. I’ve got mostly California-breds here and I think they really like buying those. Del Mar is right around the corner and everybody likes to go there. So it’s really been busy. After the preview [Monday] and today have been very busy. Fasig has done a great job, Fasig and Santa Anita both have put a lot of work into this and there have been some tough circumstances, too.”

When Fasig-Tipton announced last July that it was partnering with The Stronach Group to conduct auctions at Santa Anita, stepping in to fill a void left by the now-defunct Barretts, the company could not have envisioned the maelstrom that has engulfed the Arcadia track this winter, but Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr. is convinced the move was the right one, not just for the sales company, but for the industry as a whole.

“Santa Anita really is a special place,” Browning said after the under-tack preview Monday. “As a racing fan, when I walk onto this ground, it kind of invigorates you–what a spectacular setting, what a historic setting. You look around and you see the mountains around the racetrack and the palm trees and the setting, there is no question that this can become a very important and valuable opportunity for 2-year-old sales and for sales in general. It’s a great facility, there is a lot of enthusiasm for and interest in racing here. And let’s face it, there is a lot of money in Southern California, that’s just the reality. So in some ways it gives you the opportunity to bring the product to the marketplace where the buyers are, which theoretically ought to enhance the sales environment on a long-term basis.”

The inaugural Fasig-Tipton Santa Anita catalogue includes 169 juveniles, with 50 outs as of Tuesday afternoon. Browning admitted uncertainty around Santa Anita this past winter had an impact on the recruiting process, as many out-of-town consignors took a wait-and-see approach to the first edition of the auction.

“The recruiting process coming into this sale, frankly, could not have been more difficult,” Browning said. “I hope to goodness, from the industry’s perspective, the industry doesn’t face some of the obstacles that were in place during the prime recruiting time for the 2-year-old sale at Santa Anita in early summer. We all know the challenges, we all know the issues that Santa Anita has faced–and handled in the best possible manner.

He continued, “There were consignors who I think would have supported this sale who just weren’t comfortable at the inaugural sale and in an environment and at a facility they weren’t sure about that had a lot of questions in the late winter and early spring of 2019. It’s my hope and belief that there will be some demonstrable bright spots on Wednesday which should give everyone a significant boost of confidence going forward into 2020 and beyond in California. This state, this track, this region is important to the whole North American industry from a racing standpoint, from a breeding standpoint, and from a fan standpoint. This is important. We made a commitment to come here for all the right reasons and we still believe long-term in Southern California, in Santa Anita and in the product here.”

One of the handful of out-of-town consignors is the Texas-based Lane Richardson, whose Richardson Bloodstock will offer a filly by Liam’s Map during Wednesday’s sale.

“For the first year, I think a bunch of people didn’t come because they wanted to see how it goes,” Richardson said. “And I think it will go well. The track was safe and the horses came back good. I think it is very important to have a 2-year-old sale in Southern California–a bunch of our owners are out here and a bunch of racing is out here, we have the Breeders’ Cup out here almost every year. So I think it’s very important to have a sale out here. And with Fasig doing it, I think it’s going to be first class because they always do everything first class. They take care of the horsemen, as well as the buyer.”

For locally based consignors like Gonzalez and Havens, having a 2-year-old sale is vital to the health of the state’s breeding industry.

“I think this 2-year-old sale is going to drive our yearling market and without a strong yearling market, we’re going to lose the broodmare pool,” Gonzalez said. “So I think this sale is really going to be the keystone sale–kind of a rising tide lifts all boats. I couldn’t stress more the importance of this sale.”

Havens said the loss of a permanent home for sales in the region was a loss, but he is hopeful that Fasig-Tipton’s presence will be a boost for the industry.

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years,” Havens said. “And the closing of Barretts was devastating. That facility was just wonderful–it was a dedicated sales facility and it was a terrific place to go to sell horses and without that, it’s not easy for anybody. It’s not easy for Fasig or Santa Anita to fit us in–they had to build this whole [temporary barn area]. I just hope that this turns out well because these guys are really trying hard. And we need it. It’s absolutely necessary.

Havens continued, “I am a person who believes that the commercial business is essential to the breeding business and if you don’t have it, you’re really going to kick a hole in it. I represent people who mostly breed horses and the uncertainty of the market has already had an effect on what they’ve been doing. If this sale turns out well and the yearling sale turns out well, I think it will have a really positive influence. So I am really counting on this. If this turns out to be a decent sale, followed by the other one, I think it will give people out here a lot of confidence. That’s what I’m hoping for.”

Gonzalez looks for a strong inaugural sale to attract a deeper bench of Florida consignors next year.

“The read I got from everybody out there was, obviously it is very expensive for them to come across the country and I think they wanted to see it first before they committed to coming,” he said. “I think, with the safe breeze show that we had and hopefully good sales results, I would expect to see those guys come back out here. Because they did very well at our California sales before. So I think it’s just a matter of, a new thing is happening, let’s see them do it once before we commit to doing it again.”

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Longtime Keeneland Starter Spec Alexander Passes Away

Tue, 2019-06-04 11:56

Courtesy of Keeneland

Lifelong horseman and longtime Keeneland Starter Robert Lee “Spec” Alexander, widely respected for his skill with Thoroughbred racehorses and a beloved ambassador of Keeneland, died Monday, June 3. He was 80.

“Spec was a Keeneland institution, an unquestioned master of his craft,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “For decades, his talent as a horseman ensured the safety of countless Thoroughbreds and their riders, from schooling young horses about the starting gate during morning training hours to providing a clean start during the afternoon’s races. Horsemen who train and race at Keeneland always have been confident that Spec and his team would handle each horse with exceptional care.”

From Versailles, Kentucky, Alexander began his career in the 1950s as an exercise rider for Claiborne Farm’s yearling division. He subsequently gravitated to racing, exercising horses for such noted trainers as Col. Phil Chinn, Duval Headley, John “Trader” Clark, Jack Hodgins, Moody Jolly and S. Bryant Ott. While with the latter, he galloped such prominent Fourth Estate Stable runners as War Censor, Copy Chief, Times Roman and Editorialist.

One of Alexander’s most memorable mounts was 1961 champion 2-year-old colt Ridan, who Alexander broke at Claiborne and galloped throughout his juvenile season. Trained by LeRoy Jolly, Ridan won Keeneland’s 1962 Blue Grass and was third in the Kentucky Derby.

In 1967, Alexander began working on the starting gate crew for Charles Camac at Atlantic City Race Course, and worked as an assistant starter at various tracks such as Monmouth Park and Philadelphia Park through the 1970s and 1980s. He became an assistant starter at Keeneland in the 1970s, and head starter in the 1980s.

Alexander knew a talented Thoroughbred when he saw one.

When a bright chestnut 2-year-old colt arrived at the Keeneland starting gate one summer morning in 2017 for fundamental lessons, Alexander knew the youngster would become a superstar. The colt, sold for $500,000 at Keeneland’s 2016 September Yearling Sale, at the time was with Keeneland-based trainer Rodolphe Brisset. A year later with trainer Bob Baffert, he made headlines as undefeated Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy).

“The good ones just stand out from the others,” Alexander said in a 2018 interview, describing the intangible qualities of superior racehorses.

Like many young horses at Keeneland during the summer, Justify honed the starting gate skills required for racing under Alexander. Most Thoroughbreds master the technique of entering, standing and sprinting out of the starting gate in just a few classes while others need remedial education. With his crew, Alexander was patient regardless of each animal’s ability. Thoroughbreds are known to have incredible memories, and Alexander said they will not forget a bad experience in the starting gate.

“Horses only know what we teach them,” Alexander said, noting that teaching horses good manners is easier than undoing their bad manners.

Alexander was mindful of the time and money people invested in racehorses and treated each animal as if it were his own. He also capitalized on his crew’s diverse horsemanship skills when an equine student needed extra attention.

“I’ve learned over the years that one person will get along with a horse and another person won’t,” he said. “I have really good horsemen on my crew and they work together.”

Despite his high-profile position during the races, Alexander was most comfortable early in the day when the starting gate is positioned at the 4 1/2-furlong chute on the far side of the Grandstand. This is where seasoned runners perfect their skills, where impressionable youngsters progress in their classes and where Alexander was both mentor and pupil.

“My favorite part of working for Keeneland is developing young horses,” he said. “And every day I learn something new. I have been doing this a long time, but I don’t know everything.”

Click here for a video tribute to Alexander.

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Bernardini Filly, Tapiture Colt Set Bullet Marks at F-T Santa Anita Show

Mon, 2019-06-03 21:16

ARCADIA, CA – Fasig-Tipton conducted its first breeze show ahead of the inaugural Santa Anita 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale in Arcadia Monday, attracting a large crowd of buyers, sellers and trainers to the grandstand to watch 120 juveniles work over the main track. A filly by Bernardini had the fastest furlong breeze time of :10 1/5, while a colt by Tapiture turned in the fastest quarter-mile breeze of :21 1/5.

“It was a very, very well attended under-tack show–there was a great crowd with a very diverse group of people in attendance from trainers and buyers and a lot of faces we didn’t recognize,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, Jr. “Santa Anita is a spectacular facility and it’s a spectacular setting. It gives horses a real opportunity to demonstrate their ability. We are big proponents of a dirt racetrack from an under-tack show perspective. We are very pleased that the first under-tack show here went off very smoothly and very professionally.”

Southern California trainers were out in force for the breeze show, with Bob Baffert taking in the works alongside bloodstock agent Donato Lanni from a golf cart trackside. Other trainers at the show were Peter Eurton, Gary Sherlock, Gary Dollase, John Sadler, Paddy Gallagher, Richard Baltas, Phil D’Amato, Jeff Bonde, Dan Hendricks, Bob Hess, and Brian Koriner.

The first Fasig-Tipton Santa Anita breeze show came as the track is under heavy scrutiny after a high number of equine fatalities during its current meet. Monday’s breezes were turned in over a deep track that yielded times slower than typical under-tack shows and riders were also held to Santa Anita’s house rules on the use of whips.

“There were some rules that were put in place in conjunction with Santa Anita,” Browning said of the whip policy. “The riders had to keep both hands on the reins and could not reach back and strike the horse. They could tap the horse on the shoulder a few times, but you couldn’t reach back and strike the horses at any point in time, before or during the breeze, which is consistent with [Santa Anita’s] house training rules in the morning. It’s a little bit different environment in that regard and I thought we had great cooperation from the consignors and riders who put on a professional breeze show with a little bit of a change of technique.

Browning, Jr. continued, “Everybody was under intense scrutiny for this under tack show–I don’t think there is any question about that or any denying that. I think the folks at Santa Anita and our people at Fasig-Tipton worked very, very closely with consignors and everybody understood the importance of having a good performance today in all regards for the long-term and the short-term benefit of sales and racing. It was an important day and I am glad we successfully got through it and saw some good horses perform on the racetrack.” Bloodstock agent David Meah, who regularly rides out on the Santa Anita track, saw a lot of positives in Monday’s preview.

“I think it was a very safe track, a good, deep surface,” Meah said. “I think a lot of people might be a bit put off by the times overall, but being here, working here, and galloping on the track every day, we know the track has been slow. It’s been slow for a few months. For me, a slow, safe track is much better than a fast, hard track.”

Asked how people should gauge the times, Meah said, “Be forgiving. It is a slower track–a :10 2/5 or :10 3/5 here, you could compare it to a :10 flat. Take that into consideration. I think a lot of the horses are going to come out of these works well, which is a good thing when you go back to vet them afterwards.”

Of the more conservative use of the whip, Meah said, “I think that’s a great thing. We are in a very tricky time right now with horse racing all over the country. It is going to impact everyone. And I think making the riders stick to the hands on the reins, whipping down the shoulder, corrective measures instead of making them go fast, is a good thing. Good horsemen can see a good horse, whether it goes :10 flat or :11 flat. A good horseman should be able to see that.”

Raul Reyes’s Kings Equine sent out a filly by Bernardini (hip 45) to post the furlong bullet time of :10 1/5. Out of Elbe (GB), the bay filly was purchased by Reyes for $11,500 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton October Sale.

“I was very happy with that,” Reyes said of the work. “She handled the track very well and did everything right. She has breezed very fast at the farm, so this was really not a surprise for us.”

Asked about the filly’s appeal last October, Reyes explained, “She looked fast. She is not very big, but she looks fast. That’s the reason I bought her.”

Kings Equine is based in Ocala and Reyes thinks there is a good chance the Santa Anita auction will attract more Central Florida consignors next year.

“If I make a lot of money, they’ll come next year. We’ll know after Wednesday,” he said with a laugh.

Another Ocala-based consignor, Tom McCrocklin, sent out the day’s fastest quarter-mile worker. Hip 12, a colt from the first crop of multiple graded stakes winner Tapiture (Tapit) went the distance in :21 1/5. The youngster was purchased by McCrocklin on behalf of the Solana Beach Sales pinhooking partnership for $100,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“I’m very reluctant to sound arrogant about that horse, but I expected him to work faster than anybody and I expect him to top the sale,” McCrocklin said of the son of stakes placed Baby Bea Scattin (Scat Daddy). “I’ve never had that degree of confidence about a horse.”

The chestnut colt was making his first appearance at a 2-year-old sale Monday.

“We specifically wanted a very nice colt for this arena,” McCrocklin said. “There are some very prominent buyers and trainers here and we wanted to bring a really nice horse here. We were extremely patient and we waited. He was pointed specifically for this sale.”

The Santa Anita sale is McCrocklin’s first time consigning in California.

“First by a long ways is Fasig-Tipton,” McCrocklin said of his decision to ship west for the sale. “I think they do a tremendous job. They are very good to me, they are the consummate professionals in running a sale and I wanted to go out of my way to support it. Also, I do a lot of business in Southern California and I think we need to have a presence in the 2-year-old sales market here. We need Southern California, we need Santa Anita, we need The Stronach Group and we need Fasig-Tipton to be intimately involved in running a 2-year-old sale here. So I came here to support it.”

Of the track surface, McCrocklin said, “Times were slow, but there is a lot of talk about the racetrack. It’s safe. My horses have trained well over it for the last 10 days, they pulled up good out of the breezes and I have no complaints about the track. Just adjust your thinking when it comes to times. We are lucky we had a horse go :21 1/5 here, but he’s a special horse. And that’s a very difficult task over this track because it is a little on the slow side, but it’s very safe and it’s very fair.”

Solana Beach’s Billy Koch was among the owners with pinhook prospects in the sale watching the breezes intently from the grandstand, as was Scott Dilworth and Tom Mansor, whose team gave a big cheer as his American Pharoah colt (hip 88) turned in a flashy :10 3/5 work.

A full 20 horses galloped over the Santa Anita surface instead of turning in the traditional breeze. Eight of those gallopers came from John Brocklebank’s TIP Thoroughbred Investment Possibilities consignment, which sent them out to gallop in sets of two.

“Most of them got here late in the year and some of the guys decided they just didn’t have enough time in the horse,” Brocklebank said of the decision to gallop the horses. “Some of them we topped off late last fall, but then they just turned them out. So literally some of the horses were pulled in in March. So they are a little behind.”

As his clients were committed to supporting the sale, Brocklebank cautioned buyers not dismiss his gallopers, particularly a son of Lookin at Lucky (hip 25), about whom he said, “I can tell in the last 30 days, this horse just stepped into the phone booth and he’s putting the “S” on. He’ll be coming out.”

Brocklebank continued, “I think the recipe is right to find a nice horse here. And those gallopers–I know there are one or two in there that people should keep their eyes on. They are here for a reason. They are trying to support the sale.”

The inaugural Fasig-Tipton Santa Anita 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale will be held in the track’s paddock Wednesday with bidding scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. PT.


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A Life-Threatening Diagnosis–Gutteral Pouch Mycosis

Mon, 2019-06-03 17:57

The first sign is often a simple trickle of blood dripping down from a horse’s nostril. Often dismissed as something as simple as allergies or a broken blood vessel from bumping their head, when the cause is guttural pouch mycosis, the trickle of blood can become a stream and soon a gush in a matter of days, if not hours or minutes.

Guttural pouches are unique to a small number of animals, including horses. Located beneath the ear near the throatlatch on each side of a horse’s head, guttural pouches are sacs of air that are lined with a thin membrane and expand from the Eustachian tube. Just beneath the membrane lining run the internal carotid, external carotid and maxillary arteries, which supply blood to a horse’s brain and head, as well as nerves associated with the head and throat that control basic functions such as swallowing, facial movements and upper airway reflexes.

Guttural pouch mycosis is a fungal infection of one or both of a horse’s guttural pouches commonly caused by the Aspergillus fungus (though can be associated with other fungi) that affects the lining of the guttural pouch by forming plaques that can damage these critical arteries and nerves. These plaques can slowly erode the walls of arteries nerves and causing a life-threatening hemorrhage or significant nerve damage that can impede a horse’s ability breathe or swallow properly.

“Fungus is a feeder–it can eat through arteries and nerves, as well as create inflammation around an affected area that can then impact the nerves,” said Nathan Slovis, DVM, Director of the McGee Center at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute and member of the practice. “While many may not be familiar with it, guttural pouch mycosis is not uncommon. It is more prevalent in the Southern U.S., where the warmer temperatures and more humid climate create a more favorable environment for fungus to proliferate, but it can affect horses here in Kentucky and up north as well.”

While often the first reported symptom of a horse with guttural pouch mycosis is bleeding from the nose due to the fungus having eroded through the wall of a blood vessel (the reason I said this is because it can also erode veins and arteries (and a horse may experience multiple minor nose bleeds prior to a fatal hemorrhage), Slovis says there are several other possible symptoms that can suggest an infection of the guttural pouch.

“When you see excessive coughing due to the consistent dorsal displacement of the soft palate, that can be an indication to take a look at the guttural pouches. Other symptoms can include difficulty swallowing, food material coming out of their nose or chronic nasal discharge–not just blood, but mucus–coming out of one nostril,” said Slovis. “The key sign is the mucus or discharge coming out of just one nostril consistently. It is possible for both guttural pouches to become infected, but typically it is just one, whereas horses with pneumonia that present with nasal discharge usually have mucus coming from both nostrils.”

Other less common clinical symptoms of a guttural pouch infection include a drooping eyelid, constricted pupil, a sunken eye, patchy sweating affecting only one side of the neck and irregular head posture.

Guttural pouch mycosis can be diagnosed through an endoscopic exam. Fungal plaques appear overtop of blood vessels and/or nerves as black, tan or white membranes.

If the fungus has not yet compromised the nerves or arteries, Slovis says the condition can be treated medically by lavaging the guttural pouch with antifungal medication and using a topical antifungal on the guttural pouch anywhere from three to seven times a week, depending on the severity.

“The risk with treating the disease medically is that you can’t kill the fungus immediately. You have to treat a horse for four to five weeks or more, and during the treatment process the fungus can continue to do harm and cause a bleed or nerve damage,” he said.

Slovis says the preferred method to treat guttural pouch mycosis is to surgically insert a coil or a balloon into the affected blood vessel to quickly cut off the blood supply. If and when the fungus compromises the integrity of the blood vessel, there is no blood supply. Typically, once the blood supply has been removed, the fungus regresses.

“While I prefer to use a coil if we diagnose a patient prior to a hemorrhage, if we receive a horse with guttural pouch mycosis that is already bleeding out, we stabilize the horse and put them on coagulants to clot the blood, then rush them to surgery to perform the embolization with a balloon,” said Slovis. “If the owner cannot afford this type of surgery, we can also try using drugs like Tranexamic Acid, which is also used in human medicine, to clot the blood. This can be dangerous because we know at this point the blood vessel has already been significantly weakened.”

The prognosis and recovery process for horses with guttural pouch mycosis can vary greatly and is dependent on what structures were compromised by the infection. If the fungus affected only an artery, the recovery time can take weeks– possibly more in more severe cases. In horses whose symptoms included nerve damage, more extensive long-term care may be necessary, including the insertion of a feeding tube or performing a tracheostomy to allow the horse to breathe properly.

“Nerve injury is the worst. It’s a whole different category as far as recovery goes. It can take several months or even a year, if the horse is able to recover at all,” he said.


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Belmont Buzz: Everfast Works; Joevia, Tax Confirmed

Mon, 2019-06-03 16:39

Calumet Farm’s Everfast (Take Charge Indy), a fast-finishing longshot second in the GI Preakness S., completed serious preparations for a start in Saturday’s GI Belmont S. when working five furlongs in 1:01 flat (7/16) Monday morning at Churchill Downs. The Dale Romans trainee clocked splits of :12.80, :24.40 and :48.60 seconds before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.60 and seven panels in 1:28 flat under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar. The colt previously worked a half-mile in :50 1/5 (23/35) just five days prior at Churchill.

“Everfast worked great today,” Romans said. “It’s a mile and a half race, so we crammed two works back to back to make sure he is plenty fit. The way he worked out there this morning, he looked great. He went even early and finished fast and didn’t want to pull up, which might be key going into the Belmont.”

Elsewhere, Michael and Jeff Fazio’s Joevia (Shanghai Bobby) was confirmed as a Belmont starter by trainer Gregory Sacco. Demoted to 11th after interfering with horses on the first turn of the GII Wood Memorial S., the dark bay rebounded to capture the Long Branch S. May 12 at Monmouth. Jose Lezcano will ride.

Tax (Arch), 14th in the GI Kentucky Derby last out, is also slated to start in the Belmont, according to trainer Danny Gargan. The gelding drilled four furlongs in :49 flat (33/68) Saturday at Big Sandy. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will have the call.

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Letter to the Editor: Ben Walden

Mon, 2019-06-03 14:30

How important was Sid Fernando’s TDN article of last Friday on the subject of Lasix? Let’s be honest. In recent times, we have seen a variance of political correctness within our beloved industry, similar to that which has overtaken culture and society at large today. And in both cases, both sides are motivated by a genuine concern for its subject. When it comes to the men and women of the horse industry, that concern is for their horses. What concerns me is that much like what’s happened in America, one side of the debate on Lasix has become more and more reticent to speak up. In light of this, I was grateful to read Sid’s column on the subject. In the past year I have spoken to several knowledgeable horsemen and horsewomen who believe that Lasix is a blessing to our racehorses for many of the reasons that were articulated in Sid’s article. But each one of them expressed a reluctance to share that position for reasons of political correctness.

Like it or not, our thoroughbred racehorses bleed. They have bled. They will continue to bleed. As a horseman, I believe this option of treatment is the kindest and most effective way to go…the alternatives being horses bleeding profusely whether in training or in the afternoon, or “old-school” practices that horsemen and horsewomen would be left with if Lasix were taken out of the equation, or expensive alternatives only a few would be able to employ for reasons of cost. There is no doubt that the men and women pushing for abolishing current Lasix parameters love their horses. But no more than those who understand this treatment to the fullest and advocate for it. And there is another side of this debate, and that is the horsemen and horsewomen themselves that would be significantly hurt by this change. Most of them are “bread-and-butter” folks that love racing, love their horses, and sustain the industry below the top. Their voices aren’t as loud in most cases. But they are horse trainers and horse owners who are often more in touch with the realities of this debate than anyone.

Lastly, I have two thoughts to add. First, let the opinions of the veterinarians and the horsemen on the front line carry significant weight in this discussion. And second, why don’t we spend our hard-earned energy, time, and money developing a better treatment for this malady in our horses, instead of doing away with the only known way to humanely help them before we have solutions? Finally, we have a lot of issues to solve outside of this one that, in my opinion, are far more pressing to our industry in this very fragile time.

Ben Walden
Walden Bloodstock

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TDN Wins Six Awards at the AHP

Sun, 2019-06-02 19:49

The TDN took home several honors in Saturday night’s American Horse Publication’s Equine Media Awards. Dan Ross won first prize in the News Reporting Related Feature Single Article with his “Bellocq Embracing Calmer Waters in New Recovery Phase,” which appeared in the August 19 TDN, telling the story of the San Luis Rey fire survivor Martine Bellocq. Diana Pikulski’s series, On Aftercare, took home third-place in the Equine Related Editorial Series. Patty Wolfe and Emma Berry’s recap of the Palio took home second place in the Publishing Media Equine Related Video category, while Bill Finley’s TDN Podcast with John Gosden was third in the Podcast category. The TDN Weekend design took home third place in the Publication Cover Page category, an award which went to Justin Fowler, designer; and Fowler also brought home an honorable mention for design of Kelsey Riley’s story on the Mongolian Derby, the Wild Wild Steppe.

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Maximum Security Breezes; Next Start Still Uncertain

Sun, 2019-06-02 18:52

Gary and Mary West’s Maximum Security (New Year’s Day), last seen crossing the wire first before being disqualified to 17th in the GI Kentucky Derby, breezed at Monmouth Park Sunday morning, his second significant bit of activity since the Derby. In the typical fashion of his trainer Jason Servis’s works, the activity was more of a two-minute luck than a standard breeze and went unpublished on the worktab.

“He looked great,” said Servis. “He went a mile in 1:58 and galloped out a mile and an eighth in 2:10. He wasn’t blowing at all and he seemed to cool out good.”

Servis added that Maximum Security’s next start is up in the air, but will come at the seaside track, either in the Pegasus S. June 16 or the GI Haskell Invitational July 20.

“I haven’t made a decision yet [on the horse’s next start],” he said. “We’ll take it race by race, whether it’s the Pegasus or the Haskell. I probably won’t make a decision until his next breeze. We’ll probably send him out again in seven, eight or nine days.”


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Super Saver’s Super Comet ‘Stars’ Under Twin Spires

Sun, 2019-06-02 18:23

With a name like his, it was only fitting that newcomer Super Comet (Super Saver–Sky Dreamer, by Sky Mesa) be named a ‘TDN Rising Star’ for his auspicious debut under the Twin Spires Sunday afternoon. Let go at 9-1 facing a number of foes with solid established form, the Mark Casse-trained John Oxley homebred was one of the slowest away but rushed his way up through horses to sit fourth out wide down the backstretch behind a :22.80 opening quarter. He mounted a four-wide bid into a :45.92 half, and was one of four in with a chance as noses pointed for home. He hit the front leaving the eighth pole, and from there found another gear to widen his advantage to 4 3/4 lengths at the finish. Young Philip (Gemologist), who was third in the Santa Anita slop on debut Feb. 2 before going one better on GI Kentucky Derby day May 4, was second. The winner is a half to Kimbear (Temple City), GSW-UAE & GSP-U.S., $542,267 and a 2-year-old filly by Hard Spun. Under second dam To Dream About (Monarchos) is Oxley’s GISW Dream Dancing (Tapit) and recent GIII Pat Day Mile S. third and fellow Churchill debut winner and ‘Rising Star’ Dream Maker (Tapit). Super Comet’s third dam is none other than MGISW and champion older mare Beautiful Pleasure (Maudlin).

10th-Churchill Downs, $97,187, Msw, 6-2, 3yo/up, 7f, 1:22.85, ft.
SUPER COMET, c, 3, Super Saver
1st Dam: Sky Dreamer (GSP, $176,065), by Sky Mesa
2nd Dam: To Dream About, by Monarchos
3rd Dam: Beautiful Pleasure, by Maudlin
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $54,848. Click for the chart or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O/B-John C. Oxley (KY); T-Mark E. Casse.


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McCraken Half Sis Named ‘Rising Star’ Like Big Bro

Sun, 2019-06-02 17:24

Whitham Thoroughbreds homebred With Dignity (Declaration of War–Ivory Empress, by Seeking the Gold) followed in big brother McCraken (Ghostzapper)’s hoofsteps Sunday to garner the ‘TDN Rising Star’ nod at Churchill Downs. The sophomore filly belied 17-1 odds and her conditioner’s notorious patience to rally and graduate at 17-1 odds sprinting here May 11. Backed at 3-5 odds on the stretch-out and having worked a bullet breeze in the interim, she turned in another extremely impressive showing under the Twin Spires despite a less-than-ideal trip. Awkward into stride, the dark bay was taken back after being hung wide around the first turn. She was forced to tap on the breaks heading down the backside and was relegated to last. Starting to inch clear but still with plenty of work to do behind a half in :48.96 and six panels in 1:13.42, she was forced to wait for a seam at the head of the lane. Pilot Julien Leparoux worked her out into the clear by midstrech, and from there With Dignity exploded, gobbling up rivals down the center of the track under hands and heels to post the head-turning 3 1/4-length tally. Jo Marie (Elusive Quality) completed the exacta.

In addition to being a half to McCraken, MGSW & GISP, $869,728–who was a five-time Churchill winner himself and who is finishing up his first year at stud at Airdrie–With Dignity is half to Bondurant (War Front), MGSP, $250,379. Her GSP dam, a daughter herself of GSW Madame Pandit (Wild Again) and a half to GISW Mea Domina (Dance Brightly), has an unraced 2-year-old filly named Four Graces (Majesticperfection) and a yearling colt by Into Mischief. She most recently visited Empire Maker.

With the win on With Dignity, Leparoux becomes the seventh jockey to ride 900 winners under the Twin Spires.

“It was great to win number 900 for [trainer] Ian Wilkes,” Leparoux said. “He’s supported me a lot in my career and this filly is very nice. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with her in stakes company down the road.”

8th-Churchill Downs, $96,178, Alw (NW1X)/Opt. Clm ($75,000), 6-2, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m, 1:45.03, ft.
WITH DIGNITY, f, 3, Declaration of War
1st Dam: Ivory Empress, by Seeking the Gold
2nd Dam: Madame Pandit, by Wild Again
3rd Dam: Tuesday Evening, by Nodouble
Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $104,496. Click for the chart or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O/B-Whitham Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Ian R. Wilkes.


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Tacitus Records Bullet in Final Belmont Tune-Up

Sun, 2019-06-02 15:57

Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Tacitus (Tapit), with Jose Ortiz up for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.42 (1/16) Sunday morning at Belmont in preparation for Saturday’s GI Belmont S.

Working in company with Juddmonte maiden Tide of the Sea (English Channel), the third finisher in the GI Kentucky Derby galloped out well in front of his workmate.

“He was moving very good, very level and very even. He went along in ’12s’ every furlong and went out strong enough,” said Mott. “It was very similar to last week. Once he gets in his rhythm he moves very nicely.”

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Medal Count Gets First Winner at Monmouth

Sun, 2019-06-02 14:58

5th-Monmouth, $48,350, Msw, 6-2, 2yo, 4 1/2f, :52.75, ft.
GIN AND PLATONIC (c, 2, Medal Count–Blue Samurai, by Orientate), 2-1 while bidding to become the first winner for his freshman sire (by Dynaformer), dueled and dug in to prevail Sunday at the shore. Breaking from the rail, the :10 flatOBSMAR breezer was quickest from the gate and immediately opened up a clear advantage. Longshot Shield of Faith (King Puma) soon rushed up to challenge, and that pair engaged in a stretch-long battle that saw Gin and Platonic edge away by a half-length. The winner’s dam produced a Goldencents filly last term before being bred back to Fed Biz. Sales history: $2,500 Ylg ’18 FTKFEB; $3,200 RNA Ylg ’18 OBSOCT; $45,000 2yo ’19 OBSMAR. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $27,000. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-Mr. Amore Stable; B-Allen Poindexter, Kevin Welsh & Deann Baer (KY); T-Kelly J. Breen.


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