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Updated: 5 hours 19 min ago

LA Times Calls For Santa Anita To Shut Its Doors Until Questions Are Answered

Thu, 2019-04-04 15:57

The mainstream, non-industry media, has been heavily critical of Santa Anita and racing in general since horses started breaking down at the Southern California in numbers that were well beyond the norm. So it should have come as no surprise when Thursday’s Los Angeles Times featured an editorial from its editorial board with the headline “Santa Anita should stop racing until it knows why horses are dying.”

The editorial board concluded: “Given that unexplained increase, how is it possible that racing is still going on at Santa Anita? It seems obvious that until Santa Anita officials and all the relevant experts have the information they need to figure out the cause of the deaths, horses should not be racing there.”

In another sentence that the industry might find alarming, the editorial board wrote: “Still, can we really justify hundreds of horse deaths each year to satisfy our need for entertainment? If owners can’t show they are very serious about bringing the number down still farther, the public will lose its tolerance for this collateral damage.”

The Los Angeles Times is the largest and most influential newspaper in California. Santa Anita has announced no plan to close, despite pressure to do so not only from the Times but from Senator Diane Feinstein, Congresswoman Judy Chu and PETA.

The story that 23 horses have broken down at santa Anita since the beginning of the meet has been met with widespread and largely unfavorable news coverage. Virtually every television station in Los Angeles has covered the story extensively and it was picked up nationally by, among others, the Today Show and The New York Times and Washington Post have also been following the story.

Santa Anita will hold its biggest card of the year Saturday, one that features the GI Santa Anita Derby and the GI Santa Anita H. The media will no doubt be watching carefully.


Gargan Hoping to Raise ‘Tax’ Bracket in Wood

Thu, 2019-04-04 11:07

He has broken through the ranks, forcing his way into whatever gaps–however fleeting, however narrow–are incautiously left open by more established rivals. To the point that there’s now no knowing how far he might go.

And that’s just the horse. But much the same holds true of Danny Gargan, who claimed a gelded son of Arch at Keeneland last fall and tomorrow saddles him for the GII Wood Memorial S., presented by NYRA Bets, at Aqueduct: this squat, pugnacious figure, who has lived and worked on the back side all his life, but has been training barely five years. Because for all the blue-collar credentials they appear to share, both Gargan and Tax have an inborn eligibility for a race that could catapult them into the front rank of contenders for the Kentucky Derby itself.

Tax has no less aristocratic a pedigree than you would expect of a horse bred by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider. His dam, by the great broodmare sire Giant’s Causeway, is out of Yell (A.P. Indy), who ran third in the GI Kentucky Oaks, herself a half-sister to Roar (Forty Niner) out of half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero. As Gargan says, it’s just as well Tax had been cut because otherwise he would never have been running for a $50,000 tag. But Gargan’s own background amply qualifies him to have turned Tax into the street-fighting winner of the GIII Withers S. in February.

Gargan was only four when his father was killed in an automobile accident. But he grew up surrounded by people who had known and respected Danny Gargan Sr., rider of the 1973 Kentucky Oaks winner Bag Of Tunes (Herbager {Fr}). People like Nick Zito, Mark Hennig and Merrill Scherer took him under their wing. Besides working for trainers, Gargan had a stint as a jockeys’ agent, and was doing a little trading in young horses when P.J. Campo urged him to start up his own barn. He did so with just two horses, but within a couple of years had announced himself with the $16,000 claim Divine Miss Grey (Divine Park). Over the past two years she has earned close to $1 million, crowning her improvement last fall with a Grade II success and second-place effort in the GI Beldame S.

Gargan’s barn is now up to around 40 horses, but he expects to add another 20 juveniles. There is always something of a revolving door, of course, for a trainer who has made his name in the claiming division. But Tax’s graduation towards the elite could be a game-changer for the Gargan brand. If so, he will never forget weighing up this well-connected debutant, then trained by Ben Colebrook, on a simulcast from Churchill last September.

“We’re always looking for young talent,” Gargan explains. “So I looked at his pedigree, and thought this looks like a horse who wants to go long on the grass. He ran a pretty good race that day, for a big horse. I didn’t think he’d be a sprinter but he finished second [over 6 1/2f]. Then he popped up at Keeneland in a maiden 50, going long, and I jumped on a plane to claim him.”

It might have been a wasted journey, but Gargan came out on top in a seven-way shake. Going home, he resolved to transfer Tax to turf at Belmont or Aqueduct. “But when we breezed him, he went so good we decided to try him on the dirt,” he recalls. “His first work was okay, then I gave him Lasix for the second work and he worked tremendous.”

So much so that Tax–with a nudge from Gargan’s old friend Kiaran McLaughlin–was supplemented to the GII Remsen S. for his barn debut. Tax finished third, and Gargan said that he could have been second if ridden to do so. “We were probably a little too aggressive trying to go after the winner,” he says.

At that stage, of course, the horse had barely been with him for a month and Gargan stresses his debt to Claiborne and also Colebrook for laying such a solid foundation. “He was in great shape when I got him,” he says. “You know, we’re having lots of problems with young horses because they’re not raised right. But this horse, his bones are amazing, he’s sound; credit to Claiborne, they’ve bred and raised an unbelievable animal, a beautiful horse with a great dosage.”

But if Tax was a maturing young horse anyway, he evidently responded to a winter regime that sounds a little more demanding than most. “I do train my horses pretty aggressive,” Gargan concedes. “I train every day, I gallop a lot, I breeze fast when I work. Anyway, he’s handled it, thrived on it. We thought we’d win the Withers. He had kind of a rough trip, he stumbled really bad at the start, then got stuck down inside. But he’s a big, game horse, he’s not scared of other horses, he actually relishes the competition. He got checked on heels for a minute and you’re just hoping a rail opens, and finally he pushed his way through. And once he did, Junior [Alvarado] said he had a lot more horse: he was like, ‘Where’s my buddies?'”


WATCH: Tax finishes strong to win the Withers


That relish for action equips Tax ideally for the chaos of the Derby, not least with that deep pedigree behind him. In fact, whatever happens in the meantime, Gargan already has the GI Belmont S. in the back of his mind.

“He’s bred to get the distance in these longer races,” he reasons. “It’d be awesome if we could just run one-two-three in the Wood and could go to the Derby, because he’ll get the mile and a quarter and a lot of horses won’t. And they’re not salty like him, either. He likes to mix it up. He’s a tough horse, a big, strong horse. And he’s not a deep closer that needs to have it set up for him. He has tactical speed, can make the race unfold for himself. If no one shows speed, he can be speed. But he will rate.

“And he’s moved forward. He’s had a couple of really big works. The other day he went :47.80 just galloping in company with a nice horse, and then galloped out way in front of him in 1:01, 1:14 and change. So we expect him to be super live in the Wood.”

One of the tenets of Gargan’s regime is that a horse will get more even from a :49 work in company than from blitzing :46 solo. He notes how Bob Baffert and Chad Brown like to work horses together, and when he was a young assistant to Zito they did it all the time. That’s a typical glimpse of the mentoring behind Gargan, and a reminder that this is not some fellow who has just risen without trace.

“I was lucky as a kid,” he says. “I worked with some good people. A lot of people knew my dad, they liked him and liked me and wanted to help. Maybe I should have started training sooner, but you look back and I wasn’t ready mentally. The jock’s agent thing, that helped me. It taught me the value of a horse, and the value of winning.”

As such, Gargan’s antennae are constantly flicking across the horse population. Divine Miss Grey, for instance, came to his attention just in assessing the opposition in the parade ring, when starting one of his first decent horses at Aqueduct. She looked as good as ever on her recent return and Gargan is toying with the GIII Top Flight H. next.

“I don’t breeze her nearly as much as a horse like Tax,” he says. “Just at day-to-day training she’s hard on herself, the hardest horse in the barn to gallop. She’s a real handful. My assistant Orlando has done a tremendous job with her. She stays wherever he’s at and if she goes somewhere, I send him with her. Now, Tax is a fun big old happy boy, much easier to train.”

And there’s a big old happy crew around him, too, making the ride all the more enjoyable: Lucas Stritsman of Corms Racing Stable, Hugh Lynch, Dean Reeves and Randy Hill. (Hill and Stritsman are also in Divine Miss Grey.)

“Randy’s a bigger-than-life type character, he brings the party,” Gargan says. “This group, they’re a lot of fun. And that’s what I have to try and provide as well: to make it fun. You can’t disappoint people every week. They want to win, or at least to run good. So you have to run horses where they belong, and can’t be scared of a claim. And you go on rooting for the horse, if you do lose one. I like being a guy people can improve off me too. As well as the guy that gets lucky and improves off somebody else, once in a while.”

Gargan isn’t the only smart investor with a stake in Tax’s performance. At the Keeneland November Sale, Charles Fipke bought his dam for just $50,000, in foal to a son of his sire in Blame. Gargan, grinning, pointedly remarks how he would love to train her offspring. But even if Tax reaches his limit in the Wood, there would be no sense that his trainer has yet done the same.

“People are taking notice,” Gargan admits. “I feel blessed because I’ve gone on the grass, the dirt, short or long. I don’t know why. It’s not like I do anything different, anything special. But we’ve some big opportunities coming: a few new clients coming aboard, more horses, better horses. Tax has helped, for sure, the phone’s been ringing a little more. But I’m still going to claim horses here and there. You’ve got to keep fighting, keep looking, keep working at it.

“Claiming young horses, that’s my thing, I think they have a chance to develop and get better. And to have Divine Miss Grey and then come back now with another one? There’s guys that have been training for years haven’t had that luck. So to end up with two horses like this is pretty fun. Because there’s a lot of luck involved in this game. You have to do the right thing by the horses, have to be patient, but it takes a lot of luck too. And this is like a one-in-100 type horse.”

Justify To Shuttle To Australia

Thu, 2019-04-04 06:41

Unbeaten Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy) will shuttle to Coolmore Australia for the 2019 Southern Hemisphere breeding season, where he will stand for a private fee.

Justify will stand alongside fellow Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

“Justify was a phenomenal racehorse who re-wrote the history books through his achievements on the track. It is an absolute privilege to stand him at Coolmore Australia alongside our other Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, who has already been so well supported by Australasian breeders” said Coolmore Australia Principal, Tom Magnier.

“Scat Daddy was an incredible sire who has made an instant impact as a sire of sires and we look forward to standing his best son in Jerry’s Plains.”

CHRB’s Winner Holds Conversation With Feinstein’s Office, Plans Meeting

Wed, 2019-04-03 19:22

California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) chairman Chuck Winner said that he had a conversation with California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s chief of staff Wednesday, and that he is planning to meet with the senator or a member of her senior staff. This, after the senator called for racing to be suspended at Santa Anita until an investigation into the 23 horses that have died at the track since late December has been completed.

“I believe that racing at Santa Anita should be suspended until the cause or causes of these deaths can be fully investigated,” wrote Feinstein, in Tuesday’s letter to the CHRB. “I also ask for more information about what the California Horse Racing Board is doing to both investigate this matter and address some of the concerns that these incidents have rightly raised.”

As to when the meeting might take place, Winner said, “the ball is in their court.” Winner described the conversation as positive and collegial. “They understand that what I’ve said publicly is a fact, that we don’t have the authority to suspend racing. I reiterated that, and they understood it, and appreciated that. They know that I’ve called a meeting [April] 12, at which time we’ll be discussing all the various options that we have.”

On Tuesday, the CHRB announced a special meeting on Friday, Apr. 12 to discuss a possible relocation of race dates granted to Santa Anita. According to Winner, “there’s no planned action for that meeting. That will be determined at the meeting.”


The Stronach Group COO Tim Ritvo told the TDN that racing was “running” as scheduled this weekend, beginning Thursday. The weekend’s card contains the $1 million GI Santa Anita Derby and the G1 Santa Anita “Big Cap” H., both of which were to be run in March, but were rescheduled due to a hiatus of racing of nearly a month at the facility while investigations into the track surface were conducted.


The resumption of racing last weekend at Santa Anita was marred Sunday by the fatal injury sustained by the Peter Miller-trained Arms Runner.


About the upcoming four days of racing at Santa Anita, Winner said “we all are hopeful of course that everything goes well, and we have a great weekend.”

Announcement of the rescheduled CHRB meeting sent the rumor mill into over-drive. New York Times reporter Joe Drape tweeted that Santa Anita is “asking the California Horse Racing Board to allow its remaining dates” to be transferred to Golden Gate Fields, another Stronach Group owned facility in Northern California.

In an email, Ritvo called this a “totally false story,” and added that Santa Anita has not been in talks with any other parties about possibly transferring its remaining winter/spring meet race-dates elsewhere.

Jack Liebau, vice president of the Los Alamitos Racing Association, confirmed that Los Alamitos has not submitted an application to receive dates from Santa Anita.

“We have not submitted any application. We have not talked to Santa Anita. Santa Anita has not talked to us. I have not talked to anybody at the California Horse Racing Board about this,” said Liebau. “All I’m saying is, whatever the horse racing board decides is in the best interest of racing, we would do anything we could to accommodate the industry.”

Baedeker previously explained to the TDN that the board has the authority to transfer race dates from one track to another track if it receives approval from both participating tracks. If the CHRB doesn’t receive approval from both tracks, then the board has the authority to unilaterally move race dates around, but only if it receives a race dates application which is subsequently posted for at least 10 days. If necessary, the board can hold an unscheduled board meeting at the end of those 10 days.

In a further development Wednesday, the DRF reported that racing on the track’s 6 1/2-furlong downhill turf course has been temporarily suspended. This follows the catastrophic injury Arms Runner suffered Sunday in the GIII San Simeon S. on the same course. Four races–one on Thursday, one on Friday, and two on Sunday–will instead be run on the main track, and no date has been given as to when racing might resume on the downhill turf course, the DRF reported.

In her open letter to the CHRB, Feinstein wrote that she is “appalled that almost two dozen horses have died in just four months.” She also mentioned the pending Barr-Tonko bill–The Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019–which, if passed, would implement a national uniform medication program. “I would appreciate your views on this legislation and whether additional provisions should be added to strengthen it,” Feinstein wrote.

“I understand the Board recently approved measures to strictly limit the use of whips on horses and to phase out the use of race day medications,” Feinstein wrote. “While these are positive initial steps, please let me know whether the Board is considering other actions that have been proposed by trainers and animal welfare advocates, including the complete elimination of medications such as Lasix and the use of synthetic track surfaces. In your view, would these or other steps be reasonable measures to prevent horse injuries and death?”

Winner said that the investigation into the 23 fatalities is ongoing.

“There’s a lot going on,” he said. “As you know, we’re working with the district attorney, and there are subpoenas out. There are 21 necropsies that are back and being studied and evaluated. And so, we are proceeding as fast as we possible can to try to determine what if anything can be pin-pointed as a cause or the cause.”

The loss of one horse is “one horse too many,” said Winner. “But we also have to care about and do care about the human factor. All this talk about moving or cancelling, you have to think about the thousands of jobs at stake–people who have to feed their families, who work on the back stretch, or the concessions stands, or the valets, or the tractor drivers. All the support on the farms. People tend to forget that.”


Hoffa’s Union Leads Four Late Triple Crown Nominees

Wed, 2019-04-03 15:24

The connections of four 3-year-old males made their horses eligible for the 2019 Triple Crown by making a $6,000 payment at the close of the supplemental nomination period that closed Monday, Apr. 1.

Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Christopher Dunn, Rose Petal Stable and Foard Wligis’ Hoffa’s Union (Union Rags) is easily the most promising of the quartet. The bay gelding has but one racetrack appearance under his belt, a monstrous, front-running 15 1/2-length victory going a mile and a sixteenth at Laurel Park. Hoffa’s Union has been entered for Saturday’s GII Wood Memorial S. at Aqueduct.

Two of the other three late nominees are also scheduled to take part in the Wood–Grumps Little Tots (Sky Mesa) has not missed the top three in any of his four appearances, including an 8 1/2-length graduation at the Big A Feb. 18, while Joevia (Shanghai Bobby), a close second to Haikal (Daaher) in the Feb. 9 Jimmy Winkfield S., comes into the Wood off a runner-up effort to the impressive Alwaysmining (Stay Thirsty) in the Private Terms S. at Laurel Mar. 16.

Spun to Run (Hard Spun), a recent 7 1/4-length allowance winner at Parx Mar. 23, is the last of the newly added foursome.


Monomoy Girl Recovering From Mild Colic

Wed, 2019-04-03 14:56

Champion and five-time Grade I winner Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) is recovering from a mild case of colic and will miss a planned start in the May 4 GI La Troienne S., co-owner Sol Kumin confirmed to TDN Wednesday. The story was first reported by Blood-Horse. The Brad Cox trainee, last seen capturing the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff to wrap up her Eclipse-winning season, has been shipped to WinStar Farm for a brief respite and is expected to return to training soon in preparation for a potential 4-year-old debut in the GI Ogden Phipps S. June 8.

“Brad moved her from Fair Grounds to Kentucky to go to Churchill, and when she got there she got a little colicky,” Kumin said. “Obviously with a filly like that, we didn’t want to screw around, so we figured we’d just give her a little time. If there are no complications, the plan would be to ship her back to Brad in three weeks.”

Annexing the GII Rachel Alexandra S. and GI Ashland S. to begin her sophomore campaign, the chestnut scored a gutsy triumph in the GI Kentucky Oaks and kept it rolling with victories in the GI Acorn S. and GI Coaching Club American Oaks. She crossed the wire first in the GI Cotillion S., but was disqualified to second before exacting revenge in the Breeders’ Cup. Monomoy Girl was sent to Ocala after that for a full two months off. She returned to the worktab Feb. 17 at Fair Grounds and breezed five times, most recently going five furlongs there in 1:03 flat (18/21) Mar. 23.

“We went to Paul Sharp [Stables] and felt because she had a long campaign and started early, we should just give her 60 days,” Kumin said. “It was the right thing to do, so we gave her the time and she came back to Brad, he galloped her for a while and she had five breezes. We were deciding between the Apple Blossom and the La Troienne and our gut was to run in the second race rather than face Midnight Bisou and Elate second, third off the layoff when we were first off. That was the target as of 10 days ago, but stuff happens.”

Monomoy Girl was briefly considered for a start in the GI Pegasus World Cup after her Breeders’ Cup triumph, but ownership ultimately elected to pass after the intense nature of her 3-year-old campaign. With a much less taxing season expected for her this year, Kumin said a start in the 2020 Pegasus remains a distinct possibility.

“The Breeders’ Cup is 100% our goal for the year, but we talked about the Pegasus last year and we decided to give her time,” he said. “This year, she’ll be starting later, and we wouldn’t give her as much time off since she’ll only run two or three times before the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll have to see and we’ll talk to all the partners.”

Kumin also sounded cautiously optimistic about bringing Monomoy Girl back for a full 5-year-old campaign, while allowing that a lot can happen before then and saying a decision would be made by her entire ownership later on.

“This is a group that really enjoys racing,” he said. “All the partners love racing, so if she’s in good form and wants to run, I would think that this group would consider bringing her back. We’re all racing guys and if the horses are in good condition and want to run, we’ve generally run them in the past.”

Racing Running As Scheduled at Santa Anita, Despite Feinstein call for Suspension

Tue, 2019-04-02 22:10

In a letter to the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) Tuesday, California Senator Dianne Feinstein called for racing to be suspended at Santa Anita until an investigation into the 23 horses that have died at the track since late December has been completed, according to the LA Times.

“I believe that racing at Santa Anita should be suspended until the cause or causes of these deaths can be fully investigated,” wrote Feinstein, the Times reported. “I also ask for more information about what the California Horse Racing Board is doing to both investigate this matter and address some of the concerns that these incidents have rightly raised.” 

The Stronach Group COO Tim Ritvo, however, told the TDN Tuesday afternoon that racing was running as scheduled this weekend. Racing is set to resume Thursday. The weekend’s card contains the $1 million GI Santa Anita Derby and the G1 Santa Anita “Big Cap” H., both of which were to be run in March, but were rescheduled due to a hiatus of racing of nearly a month at the facility while investigations into the track surface were conducted.

 The resumption of racing last weekend at the track was marred Sunday by the fatal injury sustained by the Peter Miller-trained Arms Runner.

 In a further development Tuesday, the CHRB announced a special meeting on Friday, Apr. 12 to discuss a possible relocation of race dates granted to Santa Anita.

 “Chairman Winner said the California Horse Racing Board under California law does not have the authority to suspend racing,” wrote CHRB chief information officer, Mike Marten, in an email. “He said any action with regard to racing dates requires a public hearing and 10-day public notice under California law.”

 Marten also wrote that Winner “has not yet received a letter from Senator Dianne Feinstein,” but that he is aware of it. “He believes it would be inappropriate to comment before having a discussion with Senator Feinstein,” Marten wrote.

 Feinstein wrote that she is “appalled that almost two dozen horses have died in just four months,” and that she asked the CHRB whether it was “considering other changes to improve the safety of horses after it agreed to phase out race-day medications and limit the use of whips on horses,” according to the Times.

 “While these are positive initial steps, please let me know whether the Board is considering other actions that have been proposed by trainers and animal welfare advocates, including the complete elimination of medications such as Lasix and the use of synthetic track surfaces,” Feinstein wrote, according to the Times. “In your view, would these or other steps be reasonable measures to prevent horse injuries and death?”



Hronis Joins Gregson Board of Directors

Tue, 2019-04-02 17:56

Stephanie Hronis, part of the Eclipse Award-winning ownership family that has campaigned champions Accelerate and Stellar Wind, has joined the board of directors of the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation, EJGF President Jenine Sahadi announced Tuesday.

“Stephanie’s lifelong background in education and her passion for the betterment of the backstretch community make her a perfect fit for the mission of the Gregson Foundation,” Sahadi said.

Hronis spent more than 20 years in education as a school counselor, faculty member at the graduate and community college levels, and as a Family Resource Center Director for the Lindsay Unified School District.

The goal of the nonprofit Gregson Foundation is to develop programs to benefit and enhance the quality of life of California’s backstretch workers by providing resources to attend college through the Edwin J. Gregson Scholarship Fund. Since it was established in 2001 by California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT), the Gregson Foundation has awarded over 600 individual grants totaling approximately $1.3 million.

“I have great respect and appreciation for the hard work and talent of those taking exceptional care of the horses,” Hronis said. “I am very honored to be a part of the Gregson Foundation, and I look forward to advocating for and assisting family members of backside workers seeking post-secondary education or training.”

Aqueduct Winter Handle Up

Tue, 2019-04-02 17:05

Handle at the 60-day Aqueduct winter meet, which ran from Dec. 7 to Mar. 31, generated all-sources handle of $335,521,091, a 14.2% increase over 2017-18, NYRA announced Tuesday. On-track handle was $40,881,947, a 20.1% increase over the corresponding dates in 2017-18, which included 53 days of live racing. Average daily handle over the course of the 60 days of live racing was $5,592,018, a 1% increase over 2018. The 12-day Aqueduct spring meet begins Friday.

‘Doc’ Chandler’s Diagnosis of Greatness

Tue, 2019-04-02 14:58

Just as water finds its level, so the day-to-day functioning of Juddmonte across nearly four decades has permitted the inexorable percolation towards the racetrack of class, in horses and horsemen alike. And, during 33 years as president of the U.S. wing, that class has had one common filter-besides, naturally, Prince Khalid Abdulla himself.

As recorded in the first part of this interview, Dr. John Chandler was raised in South Africa and cut his teeth in Newmarket before coming to the Bluegrass. Marriage to Alice Headley of Mill Ridge, together with his long service to the Prince, qualifies Chandler as a first-hand witness to many defining achievers of the modern Turf.

Above all, he connects two outstanding trainers who had practically nothing in common besides the patronage of the Prince, and the cancer that claimed their lives; but whose names, as a result, will forever be bound together.

As it happens, though he guaranteed the immortality of his name by bestowing it upon his greatest champion, the Prince actually had surprisingly little to do with Bobby Frankel.

“Really, the Prince had very limited personal contact with Frankel,” Chandler admits. “Later he relied on [general manager] Garrett O’Rourke, with whom Bobby had a good rapport.”

Yet the singular alliance of Brooklyn Jew and Saudi prince reproves the notion that our small, obsessive world has nothing to teach the “real” one beyond.

Juddmonte had initially taken on John Gosden in California as trainer of a filly in a package purchased from Robert Sangster. When it was decided to export a couple of Juddmonte horses to the West Coast, Gosden was the obvious choice.

“And he did very well,” Chandler remembers. “So we started sending him more horses, and eventually had maybe 30 with him. But then he got an offer he couldn’t refuse, to repatriate himself [to England]. He sent his horses to Eddie Gregson, but the Prince always liked to pick his own trainers.”

A shortlist was drawn up, and the Prince settled on two: Ron McAnally and Frankel. Chandler rang McAnally, told him Juddmonte would like to send him some horses.

“Well, that’d be great,” said McAnally. “Thank you very much.”

Then he called Frankel, a man he barely knew.

“I told him who I was, and he said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Would you like to train some horses for us?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know. Let me think about it. You call me tomorrow and I’ll tell you.’ And so, not having any particular ego, I said, ‘That’s fine.’ I called him next morning and he said, ‘Yeah, I’ll train for you.’ Later, he explained that to me. He was a very good friend of Eddie Gregson, and knew he’d be taking the horses away from him. So he’d called Eddie, who said, ‘Jesus, take them. That’s the best damned job you’ll ever have!'”

Broodmare legend Toussaud (El Gran Senor) began her career with Gosden, after his move home, but was then sent over to Frankel. Dam of four Grade I winners by four different stallions, Toussaud was notoriously difficult.

“I watched her galloping at Keeneland one day and she suddenly stopped like she’d run into a wall,” remembers Chandler. “And the boy sat there like he was nailed on. And I said to myself: ‘He’s been there before, hasn’t he? He knew what was coming.'”

Because she refused to work left-handed, Frankel took to training Toussaud the “wrong” way round; plus she would only work from the gate. Though he did manage a Grade I with her, when Chandler asked if he would like to train her the following year, Frankel replied: ‘Thank you, that’s very kind, but I don’t think I can put up with her anymore!'”

For all their class, many of her foals were also eccentric. “She had one of the all-time best-looking foals, by Gone West, I thought he was going to be the ultimate,” Chandler says. “And he wouldn’t run a yard. Put him in a race, and you couldn’t get him out of a strong canter. Honest Lady (Seattle Slew) was the same way, there was only one rider she would go for. But she was only beaten half a length in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.”

This affinity with even his most trying charges was the Frankel hallmark. “He had empathy for animals you couldn’t believe,” says Chandler, shaking his head. “I mean, what sort of fellow would forgo the Breeders’ Cup because he has a sick dog? He was such a softie, you have no idea. When [Kentucky Oaks winner] Flute (Seattle Slew) was in the barn, he’d stand for ages talking to her outside the stall.”

And actually that’s another bond between Frankel and a man who was, in many respects, his polar opposite. Cecil had that fey, aristocratic way about him, half-playful, half-bashful, but he always shared a very natural wavelength with Thoroughbreds.

“Henry knew each horse’s individual needs,” Chandler says. “He knew what their limits were. You know, he used to work his horses a lot; and a lot faster than some. But sometimes they’d just be coming up there and doing it. I don’t think Frankel was as easy a horse to train as he might have been, for being such a good one. As a rule, anybody can train a good horse. But I think Frankel had some issues Henry handled with sensitivity.”

Chandler is gratified to have had a hand in introducing his old friend to the Juddmonte fold, having suggested him as trainer to a relative of the Prince who then lost interest. The Prince took over the abandoned string, and so began a partnership that would disclose an exceptional fidelity in a character otherwise largely inscrutable to the wider racing public.

For the equine Frankel, famously, sealed Cecil’s redemption from a nadir where he had been written off professionally, as yesterday’s man, and personally, as very unwell.

“The Prince stuck with him through thick and thin,” Chandler reflects. “He was so loyal, when Henry was down to half his yard. I’ve seen a lot of horse people have bad spells. And he was doing everything the same. We never could work it out. But Henry, he was determined. He had a very strong will to win. And when things went down, it affected him. He wasn’t nearly as devil-may-care as he looked. That was a front.

“He was fiercely competitive, behind that laughing façade. He resented any horse we took away to bring here. Andre Fabre was totally different. Andre would say, ‘You know, I think I’m wasting my time here, this horse would be suited by America.’ But Henry, boy, if you took a horse like Chester House, he resented it bitterly.”

Since the premature loss of both these great trainers, the Prince has rebooted his American operation-breaking with its tried-and-trusted modus operandi by returning to the yearling sales, and soon rewarded by the spectacular Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song). The champion’s arrival at Juddmonte’s Kentucky farm, where Mizzen Mast (Cozzene) had lately been plying a solitary trade, complements an equivalent rejuvenation over the ocean, where Kingman (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) is bidding to emulate Frankel’s remarkable start at stud.

“The Prince liked horses in California,” Chandler explains. “So when Baffert was doing so well he said, ‘I’d like some horses with him.’ And said, ‘He’s a dirt trainer: we don’t have his sort of horse.’ So he said, ‘Well then, buy some.’ It wasn’t particularly the [Juddmonte] style, but Garrett [O’Rourke] and Baffert went out and bought quite a lot of expensive horses. Arrogate was in the third batch-and we hadn’t had a horse worth a damn before him. I was standing next to Bob when Arrogate won the Travers. And he said, ‘Now we can pay for all those bad horses!'”

Perhaps no recent result better condensed Chandler’s overall experience than the Breeders’ Cup Mile. “A good trifecta,” Chandler says with a grin. “Expert Eye (Acclamation), winner, for Juddmonte. Catapult (Kitten’s Joy), second, bred by Garrett. And Analyze It (Point Of Entry), third, that we bred [i.e. the Mill Ridge clan].”

Not that Chandler, approaching his 80th year, entertains the slightest illusion that he has unravelled the mysteries of the Thoroughbred. When he first came over, he met Jack Price in Ocala.

“He had raised Carry Back, the [1961] Kentucky Derby winner,” he muses. “Offset sucker like you’ve never seen. He was by a horse called Saggy, out of mare called Joppy. And he was a super damned horse. Price would always say, ‘You know, they told me to breed the best to the best. I bred the best I had, to the best I could afford.’ There’s a lot of chance with the horse.

“We’re very lucky. Things sort of seem to turn out right. We seem to have bumbled through. It’s all a long time ago now. I knew Teddy [Lord Grimthorpe, the Prince’s racing manager in Newmarket] when he was starting as a junior, at the BBA. But there’s two things I do better than most in the world. I can procrastinate, and I can delegate. Garrett is a very capable man, absolutely great, and has been here a long time himself now.”

Everyone who knows and admires Chandler–and those will essentially be coterminous groups–will attest that even the immense quantity of his experience dwindles next to the quality of its application. His wife has not been in the best of health of late but Chandler remains spry and animated, as engaged as he is engaging. A minute of Doc’s company will teach you more than a week with a lesser man.

“I have made no contribution to mankind,” he insists. “I have spent my entire life trying to find a horse to run from point A to point B faster than another horse. What a pointless thing in the grand scheme of the world.”

But it’s precisely because he disparages himself so earnestly that we cherish him all the more. For the rest of us, the hope that we might waste our lives so usefully will remain a forlorn one.

Diversify Crowned NY-Bred Horse of the Year

Tue, 2019-04-02 14:02

Wrapping up a year that saw unprecedented success for the New York-bred racing and breeding programs, multiple Grade I winner Diversify (Bellamy Road) was crowned 2018’s NY-Bred Horse of the Year at the New York Thoroughbred Breeders’ awards banquet held Monday night at the Saratoga National Golf Club in Saratoga Springs.

Sponsored by the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund, the event was emceed by ex-jockey and television analyst Richard Migliore and handed out awards in 15 categories. Lauren and Ralph Evans’s Diversify, winner of the GI Whitney S. last summer, also took home Champion Older Dirt Male honors, with Lady Sheila Stable’s Holiday Disguise (Harlan’s Holiday) the other dual winner after securing Champion Female Sprinter and Champion Older Dirt Female titles. Chester and Mary Broman, who won 69 races and five stakes with their homebreds in 2018, were crowned top New York Breeders for the third consecutive year and sixth time overall.

For a complete list of Monday night’s winners, click here.

Graded-Placed Sophomore Fillies Added to Keeneland HORA Sale

Tue, 2019-04-02 10:38

A pair of 3-year-old fillies, each graded stakes placed in their careers to date, have been supplemented to the Horses of Racing Age section of next Tuesday’s Keeneland April Sale.

A total of 91 horses of racing age have been cataloged for the single-session, including its newest additions Sweet Diane (Will Take Charge) and Splashy Kisses (Blame). Consigned by ELiTE, agent, Sweet Diane won her maiden at second asking by nearly 14 lengths and was placed in the Dec. 8 Hut Hut S. at Gulfstream and in the Suncoast S. at Tampa Feb. 9. The bay, a $130,000 Keeneland September graduate, was most recently a good third in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks Mar. 23. Sweet Diane is out of a half-sister to GSW & GISP Take the Ribbon (Chester House) and MSW & GSP Glinda the Good (Hard Spun), the dam of champion Good Magic (Curlin).

Splashy Kisses graduated at Del Mar second time out last August and followed with a runner-up effort behind Serengeti Empress (Alternation) in the GII Pocahontas S. the following month. The dark bay has placed in two of her three starts this season, including a third in the GIII Sweet Life S. at Santa Anita. Splashy Kisses is being consigned by Claiborne Farm, agent. Splashy Kisses’s third dam was French MGSW and US MGISP Colour Chart (Mr. Prospector), dam of Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old filly Tempera (A.P. Indy). Click here for the digital catalog, including DRF past performances and ThoroGraph and Ragozin sheets.

In addition to the HORA sale, Keeneland has cataloged 73 juveniles for its first 2-year-olds in training sale since 2014. The under-tack preview is scheduled for Monday, Apr. 8 beginning at 11 a.m. The sale begins Tuesday at 2 p.m. Click here for the 2-year-olds in training catalog.

Super Derby Highlights Louisiana Downs Stakes Schedule

Mon, 2019-04-01 17:22

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will hold its marquee event, the GIII Super Derby, a week later in 2019. The race, worth $300,000, had previously been run Labor Day weekend, but will be run Sept. 7 this year.

“We want racing fans to see our Super Derby live and enjoy the many special events planned for our signature event at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs,” said Eric Halstrom, Louisiana Downs director of operations “We found that many patrons had out-of-town plans or holiday gatherings with family members on Labor Day weekend, so we shifted our date to the next weekend.”

The Super Derby is one of seven stakes races on the card, with the $60,000 Unbridled S. renamed the Frank L. Brothers S. this year.

A Louisiana horseman, Brothers won over 2,300 races and trained notable champions including Pulpit, Hansel, First Samurai and Arch. He won nine training titles at Louisiana Downs.

“Frankie is a very skilled horseman and was highly respected by our fans and horseplayers across the country,” said David Heitzmann, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs director of racing. “We are pleased to honor him and look forward to presenting an excellent Super Derby card.”

The 2019 Louisiana Downs stakes schedule also features the Aug. 3 Louisiana Cup Day. The card features six stakes for state-breds, as well as the $60,000 Super Derby Prelude.

The 84-day Louisiana Downs meet begins May 4.

Early Participation Crucial for Race-Themed Lottery Game

Mon, 2019-04-01 16:01

The 10th race at Tampa Bay Downs Sunday was a decent enough sprint stakes for Florida-bred fillies, but hardly the sort of race that seemed destined to make history. Yet the 6-9-4 result it produced could come up as the answer to a future trivia question, because the official order of finish from that race determined the nation’s first-ever daily lottery number draw based on a live sporting event.

The $2 quick-pick game, dubbed Win Place Show (recently rebranded from the parent company’s name, EquiLottery), just started a 90-day trial run at 45 retail locations in Lexington, Louisville, and northern Kentucky. A decade in the making, the concept is the brainchild of Brad Cummings, the founder and chief executive of a firm whose eventual goals include fusing the excitement of live horse racing with the convenience of buying a lottery ticket.

The stakes are high for Win Place Show–and by extension, for the sport as a whole–to hit initial Kentucky Lottery sales goals during the trial period, because Cummings told TDN that an eventual statewide rollout and a likely expansion to other states hangs in the balance.

“If we’re right, we get into the 3,000 stores in Kentucky,” Cummings said. “And on top of that there are six [other state] lotteries that are looking at this and saying if it’s successful in Kentucky, they want to bring it into their state. So the potential is there for hundreds of thousands of terminals across the country. What happens for horse racing when people can play this game at over 200,000 points of purchase? There are millions of people who would love our sport on a casual basis. Those are real dollars and real eyeballs watching a featured daily race every single day. That’s the real incentive here.”

The premise is simple: A lottery player buys a $2 ticket for the game and receives a randomly generated set of numbers corresponding to three horses for the day’s selected race. A QR code on the ticket enables the player to scan it on a smart phone and view the race live or on replay. Players win if the race results match three in a row, three in any order, or any two exactly.

Cash prize amounts are estimated for field sizes between eight and 14 horses. An exact match of all three (essentially hitting the trifecta cold), will likely pay between $250 and $1,800. All top-three finishers in any order will return around $10 to $80. A match of any two in exact sequence is good for a free ticket to play again. If one of your numbers turns out to be a scratched horse, you also get to play again for free.

Tickets are sold in 24-hour increments, and each day’s race is designed to go off around 5 p.m. Eastern. Essentially, Cummings and his team will be scouring entries 48 hours ahead of time looking for the fullest fields with the most favorable weather forecasts scheduled to go off during that time frame.

“We have 21 racetracks signed up right now. That number is growing,” Cummings explained.

In addition to providing marketing exposure for the sport, Cummings underscored that “there is also a revenue component. We pay a percentage of each ticket to the racetracks for what we’re calling a broadcast rights fee. So they’re getting paid for the usage of their video feed. We’re not asking racetracks to do anything differently than they’re already doing.”

Fifty percent of sales revenues get returned to players as prizes. For every $2 ticket, the revenue spits, according the Win Place Show website, are: 80 cents to first-tier prizes; 20 cents to second-tier prizes; 80 cents to lottery revenue; 20 cents to game management.

Future enhancements to the website and mobile app could include the ability to buy the lottery tickets online instead of in-person, Cummings said. There are also plans in the works for an incentive system that could reward customers who bring losing tickets to a participating racetrack by allowing them to be redeemed for some sort of perk or freebie.

Cummings said he was not at liberty to reveal the specific sales goals that Win Place Show must reach, but he described them as “very achievable. It’s based on per-capita sales, and it’s a very fair metric that we’re being given.”

Still, Cummings said, he is making a direct plea for anyone who lives in the launch area or will be traveling to either Keeneland Race Course or Churchill Downs this spring to show support by purchasing some daily tickets. This list allows you to search for participating Kentucky Lottery retailers by zip code.

“The vision starts this week, and anybody who cares about the sport and wants to see it grow, I’d ask them to go out and buy tickets, and encourage others to do the same so that the launch can be as much of a success as possible,” Cummings said.

“In five years the potential is there for Win Place Show to be in 15 to 20 states,” Cummings summed up. “Horse racing has a chance to lead the way in an entirely new form of gaming that is a lottery game of pure chance based on a live sporting event. So I think that’s something that the industry should be proud is happening, and I hope the industry will fully embrace this as we continue to grow.”


The Jockey Club Issues Statement Calling for Change

Mon, 2019-04-01 15:48

Following a 23rd equine fatality at Santa Anita Sunday, The Jockey Club issued a statement reiterating the need for dramatic changes to the sport.

The complete statement follows.

“The string of deaths at Santa Anita isn’t the first spike in fatalities at a U.S. racetrack–these tragic events have happened before at other tracks and they will continue to occur without significant reform to the horse racing industry. The issue isn’t about a single track; horse fatalities are a nationwide problem that needs to be addressed on an industrywide basis.

There has been tremendous focus on the track surface, but the core of the problem lies in a fundamentally flawed system that falls far short of international horse racing standards–standards that better protect horses and result in far fewer injuries and deaths.

Chief among the principles that make up the standards of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) are those guiding the development of an effective anti-doping program and the regulation of the use of performance- enhancing drugs and drugs that can mask injuries, both of which can result in injuries and deaths. Under IFHA policies, commonly used therapeutic medications capable of masking pain and other symptoms of discomfort must be withdrawn days or even weeks prior to the race as compared to hours before the race in the U.S. IFHA policies also encourage rest to recover from injuries as opposed to policies here that facilitate treatment so training can continue, imperiling both horse and rider.

It’s time we joined the rest of the world in putting in place the best measures to protect the health and safety of our equine athletes and that can be done only with comprehensive reform. Reform that includes creation of an independent central rule-making authority, full transparency into all medical treatments and procedures, comprehensive drug reform, and strict anti-doping testing both in an out of competition.

On March 28, 2019, The Jockey Club published a major white paper–Vision 2025, To Prosper, Horse Racing Needs Comprehensive Reform–outlining the need for reforms and specific recommendations, including passage of H.R. 1754, the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019.


Quality Road Colt Wires Foes in Sharp Debut at Parx

Mon, 2019-04-01 15:02

5th-Parx Racing, $46,000, Msw, 4-1, 3yo, 7f, 1:24.77, ft.
BETHLEHEM ROAD (c, 3, Quality Road–Alydarla {GSP, $150,650}, by Henny Hughes) showed some quick local works for his debut Monday at Parx and ran to them with a sharp wire-to-wire score. Drilling a half-mile from the gate in :46 3/5 (1/47) back in January, the bay had a trio of encouraging three-panel breezes recently, capped by a spin in :35 flat here (1/6) Mar. 28, and took some nibbles to be 67-10 as the lone firster in this group. Away in good order from his rail draw, the homebred was put on the engine and dictated terms through splits of :22.92 and :46.57. Traveling well on the turn as others were put to all-out drives, Bethlehem Road never looked a loser in the lane and hit the wire 4 1/4 lengths to the good of War Tocsin (Violence), who was another 8 1/2 lengths clear for the place. The winner’s dam placed in three stakes and was picked up by Don Ameche for $75,000 at Keeneland November in 2013. Her juvenile City Zip filly sold for the same price tag to Blue Devil Stable at KEESEP and she produced a filly by Malibu Moon last term before visiting Outwork. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $27,000. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-Don Ameche, III, Griffin Investments & Randall B. Reed; B-Gryphon Investments, LLC, Don Ameche III & Randy Reed (KY); T-Dee Curry.

Pedigree Insights: It’s a New Day for Maximum Security

Mon, 2019-04-01 13:39

When the votes were cast for the 2013 Eclipse Awards, we had the unusual situation where the winner of the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile did not land the 2-year-old male award, even though he was to top the Experimental Free Handicap. The Juvenile winner, New Year’s Day, garnered 99 points, compared to Shared Belief’s 115. The voting was arguably swayed by the fact that Shared Belief looked hugely promising, having won his three starts, including the GIII Hollywood Prevue and GI CashCall Futurity, by a combined margin of 20 1/2 lengths. New Year’s Day, on the other hand, had already been retired because of a non-displaced chip to his left hind sesamoid.

Although the commentary for the Juvenile said that the runner-up Havana “did everything but win it,” there had still been plenty to like about New Year’s Day’s effort, which was his second victory from three starts. The way he finished had suggested he’d have few problems with the extra 330 yards of the GI Kentucky Derby. All he had to do was overcome the hoodoo surrounding Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners in the Churchill Downs’ Classic!

When I reviewed New Year’s Day’s performance for the TDN, I began as follows:

That was a pretty scary statistic that the NBC team trotted out after the 30th edition of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile–than not a single horse from the 2012 Juvenile had made it to the Kentucky Derby only six months later.

   Then there’s the fact that only one of the first 29 winners of the Juvenile has gone on to take the Kentucky Derby. This statistic highlights the huge chasm which separates the two races which, more often than not, fall to the future winners of their respective age-group’s Eclipse Award. Perhaps it was a shrewd decision by the connections of Honor Code to reroute their very promising son of A.P. Indy to the GII Remsen S., rather than subject him to the demands of a trip to Santa Anita.

   However, before anyone writes off the Kentucky Derby prospects of New Year’s Day, the 30th winner of the Juvenile, it is essential to point out that he shares the same sire–Street Cry–as Street Sense, the only colt to break the Juvenile hoodoo in the Derby. It’s easy to forget that Street Sense was an unexpected winner of the 2006 Juvenile at Churchill Downs, starting at 16-1. Although New Year’s Day’s trainer Bob Baffert made it clear that he had higher hopes of his other Juvenile contender, Tap It Rich, he wasn’t blind to New Year’s Day’s potential.

   “He can get the distance,” Baffert said as they entered the starting gate. “Also he’s got a little bit of speed and he’s tough and durable and he’s one that we should hear from down the road.”

Of course New Year’s Day and Street Sense have more in common than just their sire. Whereas Street Sense is out of a daughter of Dixieland Band (also broodmare sire of another Kentucky Derby winner in Monarchos), New Year’s Day has a dam by Dixieland Band’s son Dixie Union.

I should add that Nyquist has since emulated Street Sense’s double, but there is still a gulf between the two races. Only three of the 13 runners in New Year’s Day’s Juvenile contested the Kentucky Derby, finishing sixth, eighth and 10th behind California Chrome, but New Year’s Day has now entered the picture for the 2019 Derby. He’s the sire of the former claimer Maximum Security, who maintained his unbeaten record in plundering the GI Florida Derby.

In starting his stallion career soon after topping the Experimental, New Year’s Day followed in the footsteps of Hail To Reason and Raise A Native, but he wasn’t to enjoy these great stallions’ immediate success–Hail To Reason’s small first crop featured the champion mare Straight Deal, while Raise A Native’s 11 first-crop foals included Exclusive Native, who was to give us two winners of the Kentucky Derby.

Needless to say, today’s crops are generally much larger than they used to be. New Year’s Day covered 77 mares at a fee of $12,500 in his first season at Hill ‘n’ Dale, for 52 live foals. Reducing his fee to $7,500 in his second season boosted his book to 98 mares, for 60 foals, and year three saw him cover 92 mares at $5,000, for 56 foals. Then things became difficult. Even with his fee reduced to $3,500 in 2017, he covered only 32 mares for 21 foals, and his 2018 book comprised only 25 mares. It therefore came as no great surprise when an announcement was made in January that New Year’s Day had been sold to Brazilian owner/breeder Luis Felipe Brandao dos Santos.

Prior to Maximum Security’s breakthrough, New Year’s Day’s best representatives included Yesterday’s News, runner-up in the GI Starlet S., and the black-type winners Dat Day, Day Raider, Cafe Du Monde and Parade of Roses.

It is important to mention that Maximum Security’s achievements have come well before his actual third birthday, which occurs May 14. His dam Lil Indy has been sold several times, including for as little as $2,200 as a yearling in 2008. Although her price was $80,000 when she sold in foal to Pioneerof The Nile in January 2014, it fell to $11,000 when she was offered in foal to New Year’s Day last November.

Lil Indy’s giveaway price as a yearling came before her half-brother Flat Out had become a multiple Grade I winner, taking the Jockey Club Gold Cup as a 5 and 6-year-old in 2011 and 2012 and the Cigar Mile as a 7-year-old. Lil Indy is a three-parts-sister to this son of Flatter, as she too was sired by a son of A.P. Indy. Her sire Anasheed–like Flatter–failed to win a black-type race but he was third in the GIII Arlington- Washington Futurity as a juvenile. He was also very well connected, coming from the female line which had provided A.P. Indy with the Grade I winners Mineshaft, Runup The Colors, Tomisue’s Delight and Little Belle and his pedigree was strong enough to earn him a place at stud in Florida.

Anasheed made little impact with his 112 foals, but his presence in Maximum Security’s pedigree doesn’t rule out a bold Kentucky Derby bid by the Florida Derby winner. In recent years we have seen Kentucky Derby winners out of mares by Yankee Gentleman, who won nothing better than a restricted stakes race, and Not For Love, who failed to win a stakes race of any sort.

I was quite impressed by Maximum Security’s performance at Gulfstream, even if his rivals’ riders helped him dominate. With his May birthday, he’s entitled to improve further and it’s going to be interesting to see how he progresses, especially when he isn’t given an easy lead.