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Legislation to Pay for Rebuild of Pimlico, Laurel Clears Another Hurdle

Wed, 2020-03-18 17:34

The Racing and Community Development Act of 2020, which authorizes $375 million to pay for the rebuilding of Pimlico and the refurbishing of Laurel, was passed Wednesday by the Maryland General Assembly, reports the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

The bill will now go to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who is expected to sign it. If signed by Hogan, the Act will go into effect June 1. It has sailed through both Maryland houses. The House passed the conference committee version of the bill by a vote of 113-14 a short while after the Senate voted 44-1 to approve it.

Under the legislation, the Maryland Stadium Authority will issue up to $375 million in bonds to pay for the project.

“I would like to thank Maryland’s policy makers for the passage of the legislation that paves the way for an enhanced Preakness in Baltimore, the revitalization of year round racing at Laurel Park and reinvestment in the many communities of interest near and related to the racing industry,” The Stronach Group chairman and president Belinda Stronach said. “Their tireless efforts, particularly as they work to prioritize the health and well-being of Maryland’s citizens during these difficult times, is highly commendable.”

The Racing and Community Development Act of 2020 came about after a tug of war between state and Baltimore City politicians regarding the fate of the Preakness. The Stronach Group, the owners of Pimlico and Laurel, had made it clear that they wanted the Preakness to leave Pimlico and Baltimore and be run at Laurel. The back-and-forth included a lawsuit filed by the City of Baltimore to keep the race at Pimlico. That lawsuit has been dropped.

The two sides eventually came together and worked on a compromise, which was the beginnings of the legislation. Under the plan, Pimlico will be completely rebuilt with a new grandstand replacing the current one, which, all agree, is no longer fit to hold a Triple Crown event. Much of Pimlico’s property will also be rebuilt to accommodate a community center, playing fields and new housing. Laurel will also undergo a major facelift.

“The passage of the Racing and Community Development Act of 2020 is a defining moment for the thoroughbred horse racing industry in this State,” said Alan M. Rifkin, counsel to the Maryland Jockey Club and the Preakness Stakes and the Firm’s managing partner.

It is significant that lawmakers were able to get the bill passed Wednesday as it was the final day of a legislative session that has been cut short due to the coronavirus.

According to the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the refurbishing of Laurel will be the first priority and that the timeline for the rebuilding of Pimlico has yet to be determined.

On a busy day for Maryland politicians, lawmakers also passed a stripped-down version of a sports betting bill. The bill calls for voters to decide on the fate of sports betting in the November election. The new bill does not specify which companies would be allowed to conduct sports betting. An earlier version of the bill listed most racetracks, all casinos and four non-casino off-track betting facilities as eligible for sports betting licenses.

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Report: Harness Trainer Fusco Dies of Coronavirus

Wed, 2020-03-18 17:15

According to, harness trainer Carmine Fusco has died of the coronavirus. Fusco passed away Wednesday, five days after his sister Rita-Fusco Jackson passed away from the effects of the virus. Four other members of the family are in critical condition.

Fusco’s stable has campaigned primarily at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania since February, but he has started several horses this year at Yonkers Raceway. Fusco is the second individual with ties to Yonkers who has died due to the virus.

On March 10, John Brennan, a representative of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York Director, representing Yonkers horseman, passed away due to the virus. Brennan was a frequent visitor to the Yonkers paddock, and, according to a Yonkers press release, was last in the paddock Feb. 28. Fusco started two horses at Yonkers that night, but it is not known if he was in attendance.

After receiving news of Brennan’s death, racing was halted at Yonkers and no date has been announced as to when it will re-open.

Fusco has won 2,531 races in his career as was four-for-48 in 2020. He was born in 1964.

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Goldencents Filly Romps To Remain Undefeated, Becomes ‘TDN Rising Star’

Wed, 2020-03-18 16:43

Sent out at 70 cents on the dollars to follow up on a 6 1/2-length success over track and distance Feb. 15, Ain’t No Elmers (Goldencents) decimated a field of first-level allowance company by nine lengths Wednesday to become the newest ‘TDN Rising Star’ at the Fair Grounds.

Content to drop back off a fast early quarter mile after taking them wire-to-wire first time out, Ain’t No Elmers was trapped out four wide, but traveled into it nicely with cover as they approached the top of the lane. Switched out with about a quarter-mile to travel by Adam Beschizza, she quickly descended on those fighting it out on the front and shot well clear while hopping onto her incorrect lead at about the sixteenth pole, with the race already in safe keeping.

The winner’s dam is responsible for the 2-year-old colt Mr. Wireless (Dialed In) and a yearling filly by the same sire. She was most recently covered by Street Sense.

7th-Fair Grounds, $46,000, Alw (NW1X), Opt. Clm ($50,000), 3-18, 3yo, f, 6f, 1:10.11, ft.
AIN’T NO ELMERS, f, 3, by Goldencents
1st Dam: Voussoir, by Arch
2nd Dam: Blu Spur, by Northern Spur (Ire)
3rd Dam: Seeking the Blue, by Seeking the Gold
Sales history: $37,000 RNA Ylg ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record:
2-2-0-0, $57,600. O-John E & Iveta Kerber & Jon Lapczenski;
B-John Kerber (KY); T-W Bret Calhoun. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.

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Upstart Colt Brings $600k from Mike Ryan

Wed, 2020-03-18 16:14

Bloodstock agent Mike Ryan went to $600,000 to secure a colt from the first crop of multiple graded stakes winner Upstart (Flatter) during Wednesday’s second session of the OBS March sale. The bay colt is out of Blue Beryl (Bernstein), a half-sister to multiple graded placed Brigand (Flatter). He was consigned by Woodford Thoroughbreds, which purchased him for $220,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September sale.

The colt is the sixth six-figure juvenile for Upstart at the two-day March sale.

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Precautions Taken, But Kentucky Breeding Operations Keep Churning Entering Coronavirus Era

Wed, 2020-03-18 15:29

The ever-growing threat to American life that is coronavirus COVID-19 has rapidly chipped away at horse racing’s business after shutting down the affairs of all major sports. Only a handful of tracks are choosing to stay open without spectators as of this writing, and news of the four-month postponement of the GI Kentucky Derby drove home once and for all that the sport would not be unaffected by this crisis.

But deeper into the heart of Kentucky than the Twin Spires, are stallion and breeding farms. As much as racetracks, they are the backbone of the Thoroughbred industry, and as of now, they will press on with the business of the game during this mostly dark period with limited interruption.

“None of this is easy, because it’s so fluid,” said Mike Cline, Farm Manger for Lane’s End Farm. “There are so many things to take in seemingly every hour with more closings, but we’re trying to take the sensible approach to things.”

That includes similar steps to what most businesses in America are doing right now as they try not to interrupt operations: allowing work to be done remotely, providing sick or vacation days, stepping up sanitary measures. But farms have their own sets of challenges, with both an office environment as well as a massive agricultural component to manage.

“From an office standpoint, we’ve offered some people to work remotely if their particular job allows for that to be the case, and everybody’s doing the simple things, washing their hands, trying to stay out of clusters like in the lunchroom, keeping their work area wiped off and clean,” said Cline. “On the farm, we’ve been forced to gear back on all the tours and visitation things we have. We’ve slowed all that down to where it’s just the people that work here, no guests.”

“No stallion shows,” Sean Tugel, Director of Bloodstock at WinStar Farm, added. “Anything we can do to cut foot traffic down, and limit who can come in and out.”

“In our office we’ve got everybody who’s able to work from home is working from home, in-house staff are able to spread out and keep away from each other and we stepped up our cleaning services and procedures,” said Ned Toffey, General Manager at Spendthift Farm. “The care of the horses is essential, and the nice thing is so much of that takes place outside, which I think is a much safer environment.”

The core of the stallion industry occurs, of course, in the breeding shed, already an area where sanitation is emphasized, according to Tugel.

“Breeding sheds are a place where sanitation and cleanliness has always been a high priority,” he said. “If there’s a place where hand sanitizers and wipes and stuff like that are already being used, that’s one.”

Beyond their usual disinfecting procedures, farms are taking precautions that include making sure only horses can come in from outside the property, that written paperwork is replaced with online forms and that the shed work is isolated from the rest of the farm.

“We’re not actually letting anyone come into the breeding shed,” Cline said. “If you bring a mare, you have to hand her to us at the door, and we hand her back to you at the door on the way out. No more paperwork and passing that all around, we ask everyone to email their paperwork the day before. Our guys that work the shed don’t go onto the main farm, people that work the office don’t go to the shed. That way if we were unlucky enough to have someone test positive or someone with symptoms, there wouldn’t be cross contamination. We’re really trying to pay attention to that. I’m lucky because I’ve got a shed full of guys who have been there years and years and years, and they understand how important it is what they’re doing.”

“We have 40-50 vans coming in and out of our shed every day,” Cline continued. “We’re stopping them, unloading the mare, bringing her to the door, and they remain outside in the parking lot or their truck outside the shed.”

Spendthrift has instituted similar policies. “We’re basically eliminating as much human contact as possible, particularly with regard to our breeding shed,” Toffey said. “When folks bring their mares in, paperwork is now being done digitally and we’ve asked people to limit one person accompanying the mare to the shed when they come in so that outsiders are limited coming in and there’s minimal contact between them and our staff.”

Cline noted that Lane’s End and other farms are taking these precautions because the alternative, stopping business in the middle of the breeding season, would be disastrous.

“You hope it wouldn’t ever come to having to quarantine at the shed or stop traffic in and out of the farm,” he said. “That’s something that we hope by doing these common sense things we can avoid. It’s just hard to know the exact right thing to do, but I’m sure everybody’s being very thoughtful about all that stuff. It’s a strange time.”

That much is undeniable. While the coronavirus had been in the news for several weeks, it wasn’t until last Wednesday, when it started to impede the reliable backdrop of sports in our society and culture, that it truly became an apparent threat to American life. First, the NCAA decided to conduct its basketball tournaments without fans, then the NBA suspended its season after one of its players tested positive. Steadily, the news trickled in as the NHL followed suit, major golf tournaments, March Madness and the baseball season were postponed.

“It’s eerie not having any kind of sporting events to watch,” Cline said. “No Masters, no NCAA Tournament, spring baseball, take your pick.”

Tuesday, the postponement of the Derby was obviously on the minds of the racing public, and it brought to a crashing halt any notion that the sport could avoid the major interruptions of this crisis.

“If anyone was unsure about the seriousness of this situation, that ought to illustrate it for them,” Toffey said. “The first Saturday in May is a pretty sacred date in this business and this is the first time in my lifetime it won’t be run then. Is it what we’d all like to see? Obviously not, but I would commend Churchill Downs on saying that they don’t want to give up a great tradition, but they also recognize they’ve got to make some changes because we’ve got a very serious issue going on worldwide.”

“I’m sure there was a lot of thought put into that, I’m sure somebody out there knows why they picked Sept. 5,” Cline said. “It’s going to be interesting to see what they do with the [Derby qualifying] points races, they’ll probably have to add some more.”

“Trainers are telling me the hardest part of it is that they’re always training up to a race,” Tugel said. “So it’s hard not knowing when they’re going to run again. By moving the race, it’s not the Derby as we know it, but it’s still going to be a hell of a horse race at the end of the day. It’s probably going to be a better race because the 3-year-olds are going to be more mature and better horses come then.”

Ultimately, the unfolding story of the coronavirus in America is going to be bigger than any one industry or business, and it will likely impact basically every facet of our society in some way. The toll it takes on all of us will be large, mentally if nothing else, and the uncertainty of when things will return to normal weighs on everyone. Cline is already feeling the effects personally, being unable to visit his mother in her nursing home right now, and he made a plea to the responsibility we all have to those most vulnerable in our communities during these dark hours.

“I think people have to understand that it’s no time to be reckless right now,” he said. “The stuff people are telling you to do, you should do. Someone said the other day, ‘Pretend like you have the virus and act accordingly.’ Pray for all the older people and everyone that’s affected. Everyone else has a responsibility to those people to act prudently.”

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NYRA To Prohibit Race Day Lasix in 2yo

Wed, 2020-03-18 12:01

The New York Racing Association, Inc. will prohibit the use of Furosemide (Lasix) within 48 hours of racing for all 2-year-olds with the start of juvenile racing in April at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The initiative will begin this year, with NYRA prohibiting Lasix in all 2-year-old races at all three NYRA tracks across Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. Beginning in 2021, the same prohibition will extend to all horses participating in stakes races at NYRA tracks.

Following the launch of this program in 2-year-old maiden special weight races in April, the first juvenile stakes race contested under these new conditions are slated to come at Belmont with the Astoria S. June 4, Opening Day of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. The first juvenile stakes event at Saratoga will be the GIII Schuylerville S. opening Day, July 16.

The New York State Gaming Commission’s current rule that prohibits the use of Lasix, which is used to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, 48 hours before the scheduled post time of the race in which the horse is to compete–unless a waiver is obtained for the horse to race with the medication–will remain in effect. No waivers will be granted for 2-year-olds this year and, starting in 2021, will also apply to all horses entered in stakes.

“I think this is the right thing to do in 2-year-old races and next year in black-type races,” said Christophe Clement, who said he does not usually administer Lasix to his 2-year-olds. “My percentage of winners with 2-year-olds has been as good as ever. I think you have an edge of running without Lasix because I think the horses will take their races better, especially when you’re running short [distances] and early in the year, because they will lose less weight and it’s easier on them, physically and mentally.”

Conversely, trainer Todd Pletcher, a winner of more than 30 individual meet titles on the NYRA circuit, generally races his 2-year-olds on Lasix, and uses it as needed when he breezes horses.

“I do believe that we’ve seen horses of all ages bleed, so it’s not an age issue, it’s an industry-wide issue,” Pletcher said. “But at the same time, there is movement towards [doing away] with race-day medication and this is the first step towards what I think we will eventually see as no race-day medication of any kind, anywhere. You can draw some positives that this is easing its way into what is going to be in the future, as opposed to going cold turkey. It’s going to give people some time to sort through it. We will just take it on a horse-by-horse basis and deal with it accordingly.”

For more information on NYRA safety and integrity measures, please visit

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NBC Sports to Air TVG’s ‘Trackside Live’

Wed, 2020-03-18 10:55

NBC Sports will partner with TVG to present racing beginning this weekend as NBCSN simulcasts TVG’s Trackside Live Saturday, Mar. 21 and Sunday, Mar. 22 from 4-8 p.m. ET. Anchored by TVG host and NBC Sports reporter Britney Eurton, TVG’s Trackside Live offers live horse racing from various tracks across the country. The biggest race of the weekend–the GII Louisiana Derby from Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans–will air on NBCSN Saturday at 5 p.m. ET, and will be part of the Trackside Live coverage. NBCSN will also simulcast Trackside Live the following weekend–Mar. 27 through Mar. 29 from 4-8 p.m. ET on all three days, including the GI Florida Derby on NBCSN Mar. 28 at 6 p.m. ET–if horse races continue to be held.

The winner of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby will receive qualifying points toward the GI Kentucky Derby, which will be contested Sept. 5. Previously run over nine furlongs on dirt, the Louisiana Derby will be 1 3/16ths miles Saturday.
Coverage of the Louisiana Derby will be streamed live on and the NBC Sports app.

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Hits and Misses as OBSMAR Opens Under Trying Circumstances

Tue, 2020-03-17 20:19

by Brian DiDonato & Steve Sherack

Under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic and a sharp stock market reaction, the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s March 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale kicked off Tuesday with mixed results for sellers–as expected–but probably with better trade than some may have feared.

At the end of selling Tuesday, 134 head had changed hands for a combined $12,550,500 at an average of $93,660 and median of $50,000. Those stats are expected to change as buyers continue to shop the RNA list and subsequent post-sale transactions are factored in, as will the RNA rate, which as of this writing stood at 44.4% with 107 buybacks.

While last year’s OBS March opener was held under dramatically different circumstances, for reference, last year’s session one gross before factoring in later post-sale transactions was $22,134,000. The average was $153,708 and median was $83,500, with an RNA rate of 29.8%.

“We’re certainly not going to draw comparisons to other sales  because we’re operating under unprecedented circumstances,”  OBS director of sales Tod Wojciechowski said. “We were pleased that we were able to even hold the sale and allow some horses to be traded. That being said, there were still some nice horses who sold well. I think both the buyers and sellers showed resiliency while at the same time we’re all concerned and thinking about the circumstances that we’re currently dealing with.”

The day’s top lot was hip 237, an American Pharoah filly consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables and sold to Katsumi Yoshida for $650,000. She was the fastest quarter-mile breezer during last week’s under-tack show after working in a sparkling :20 2/5.

During the entirety of last year’s two-day sale, there were seven horses who sold for more than Tuesday’s session topper, including the $2-million record-setting Tapit colt who sold during the first session.

“Certainly, the external forces that we’re dealing with have an effect–there’s no doubt,” Wojciechowski said of the lack of break-out horses at the top end. “But, I did have a number of buyers tell me today that some of their favored horses were [in Wednesday’s session]. It’s unrealistic to think that the status in the world has no effect.”

Wavertree Stables was leading consignor with 10 sold for $2,060,000. Katsumi Yoshida’s two purchases for a combined $1,070,000 made him leading buyer.

Other buyers from Japan were also active in addition to Yoshida.

“It wasn’t unexpected,” Wojciechowski said. “They traveled a long way to get here and they attended the breeze show. They were concerned–they’ve had to deal with this in their home country as well. But they were here, and they’ve been fortunate and done a good job of getting some nice horses out of the March sale [in the past]. I wasn’t surprised to see them active.”

The second and final OBS March session begins Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

Fast ‘Pharoah’ Filly Brings Big Bucks

Hip 237 separated herself during last week’s OBS March under-tack previews as the lone juvenile to cover a quarter-mile in :20 2/5, and she stood by herself in the sales ring, too, when yielding a session-high bid of $650,000 from Katsumi Yoshida of Japan’s Northern Farm. The Apr. 25 foal was consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Click for ThoroStride walking video.)

Hip 237 is half to MSP My Sweet Stella (Eskendereya) and to the dam of another stakes winner. Her dam Megalicious (Songandaprayer) is a half to MSW and MGSP Abbondanza (Alphabet Soup) and brought just $6,000 from M & M Racing at last month’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale while in foal to Paynter.

“It’s going to be all the usual cliches, but at the end of the day she was fast and she vetted good. And if they can do that, you’re golden,” Dunne said. “She had a bit of pedigree. She was well-bought and well-sold, I would think.”

The bay was a $70,000 KEENOV weanling and $165,000 KEESEP yearling.

“It was for one of our pinhooking partnerships,” Dunne noted. “We bought her at Keeneland last year and she was in Book 3. She was a little on the small side, but she was a beautiful mover. I think a lot of people picked on her for her size. We just took a shot. When they work like that, they get a whole lot bigger. She grew up and she’s beautiful. She is a quality filly and she backed it up on the racetrack.”

Yoshida also bought a $420,000 Medaglia d’Oro colt (hip 65) earlier in the session from Top Line Sales.

Wavertree, Tuesday session’s leading consignor with 10 sold for $2,060,000, also sold:

  • A $320,000 Frankel (GB) filly (hip 226, :21 1/5, ThoroStride) to Team Casse. She was a €280,000 Goffs Orby yearling out of a full-sister to British MGSW and MG1SP Gregorian (Clodovil). “We were probably a shade disappointed,” Dunne said. “We always thought she was a better filly than that. She was really well-bought. For a filly who is bred to go 1 1/4 miles to put in the breeze she did was pretty phenomenal. I thought she made an amazing video. Coming in here and after she breezed, we thought she would have brought a tick more, but we will take what we got and move on.”
  • A $320,000 American Pharoah colt (hip 319, :21 1/5, ThoroStride), purchased by trainer John Kimmel, who was a $330,000 KEEJAN short yearling and $300,000 KEESEP RNA. Out of SW and MGSP Please Sign In (Doc’s Leader), he’s half to European highweight and G1SW Certify (Elusive Quality) and GISW Cry and Catch Me (Street Cry {Ire}).
  • A $275,000 Dialed In colt (hip 141, :20 3/5, ThoroStride) who breezed the fastest quarter last Thursday and sold to North Hills. He was a $30,000 Keeneland November weanling and a $130,000 Fasig-Tipton July yearling and is out of a stakes-winner and a half to a stakes winner. “He’s a beautiful horse,” Dunne said. “We maybe would have thought he could have brought a little more, but he didn’t sell on his reserve–he sold in excess of where we set the reserve.”

“We basically set our reserves based on where we think we can sell them,” Dunne said when asked if he had adjusted reserves at all in response to a potentially soft market. “We are not a racing operation. We sell. If we get one back, it’s because we read the room wrong. I don’t think it would have been any different last year, five years ago, we would have done the same thing. And gotten the same results.”

He added as the session wore down Tuesday, “We sold 10 of 12 and I would imagine that the other two are going to get done here in the next hour. It wasn’t all pretty and a lot of it was just getting our money back and getting out of Dodge. But we’ve been doing this a long time and there haven’t been many easy days. I’m not sure this will even rank up there with some of the hardest. There was plenty of activity around the barns. The vetting was good. We were disappointed in a spot here and there, but there have been plenty of times where we’ve been disappointed before and when there were no excuses.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

MyRacehorse in a New York State of Mind…

Michael Behrens and David Kandasamy’s California-based fledgling made some noise with a pair of New York-bound purchases during OBS March’s first day of trade, led by a $500,000 Into Mischief colt (ThoroStride video), who will be campaigned in partnership with Spendthrift Farm. A trainer will be decided at a later date.

Consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent XX, as Hip 258, the highest-price colt sold on the day is out of the multiple stakes-placed Montbrook mare Montessa G. The $235,000 KEESEP yearling, bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, breezed a quarter in :21 at the under-tack show.

MyRacehorse and B. Wayne Hughes’s operation went to $550,000 for another son of Into Mischief at this sale last year. Now named Lane Way, the handsome bay finished third in his two-turn debut in a maiden special weight at third asking for Hall of Famer Richard Mandella at Santa Anita Sunday. Leading sire Into Mischief currently commands a $175,000 stud fee at Spendthrift Farm.

“The Into Mischief colt looks like a precocious 2-year-old,” MyRacehorse’s Racing Operations and Owner Experience Manager Joe Mishak said. “Into Mischief speaks for himself, he’s had a tremendous start as a stallion. With horses like Authentic and some others on the Derby trail, he’s just a tremendous stallion that we support and our partners at Spendthrift are obviously big fans as well. This colt is extremely well-balanced–we saw him breeze at the farm beforehand, too–he’s very athletic and fluid. We had a lot of good faith in the consignor Nick de Meric–he takes really good care of his horses–and that’s an added bonus having that confidence. We were excited to get him right where we wanted him.”

MyRacehorse also purchased Hip 166, a son of Mission Impazible co-bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds and Twin Creeks Farm from the Sequel Bloodstock, Agent III, consignment (:10 1/5), for $100,000 Tuesday. The New York-bred will be trained by Todd Pletcher with Twin Creeks staying in as a partner. Produced by the More Than Ready mare Kettle’s Sister, he is a half-brother to GIII Sam F. Davis S. winner Vinceremos (Pioneerof the Nile).

Offering shares of in-training Thoroughbreds in “micro” increments for as little as $100, MyRaceHorse has hit the ground running since its inception just a few years ago, campaigning in partnership the likes of GI Cotillion S. heroine Street Band (Istan) and GII Pocahontas S. winner Lazy Daisy (Paynter). The promising sophomore Tizamagician (Tiznow), a close fourth in the GIII Robert B. Lewis S., is co-owned along with Spendthrift Farm. Using a “collaborative approach,” MyRacehorse’s advisors include bloodstock agent and popular TVG analyst Nick Hines.

“We wanted to come into this sale as a company to place an emphasis on our New York program,” Mishak said. “We started a couple of years ago in California where our headquarters are–we remain committed to the California program–then we went national last year and we’re just making a natural progression to the other major racing circuits. As our corporate strategy and goal, we really wanted to thank and reward our New York-based owners for their support so far. We’re very appreciative, and now it’s time to rock and roll for those guys and get some quality horses out there, too. We’re very excited.” –@SteveSherackTDN

Pick View Finds Success With Another Freshman…  

Twelve months ago, Joe Pickerrell and Courtney Roberts of Pick View LLC were celebrating at OBS March after selling $160,000 yearling buy and eventual GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf hero Structor (Palace Malice) for $850,000. The young consignors found more success with a son of a first-crop sire this year thanks to hip 320, a :20 3/5 breezer by Runhappy scooped up by agent Josh Stevens and trainer Bret Calhoun for $475,000 on behalf of owner Tom Durant. (Click for ThoroStride walking video.)

“We knew he would be a top colt–we just didn’t know what that meant in this current environment,” Pickerrell said. “That colt might have brought twice that a year ago, but we’re happy to get what we can and he’s going to a good spot, so we wish them nothing but the best of luck.”

Hip 320 is out of the stakes-placed Pledge Pin (Chatain), who is a half to MSW and MGSP Great Mills (War Front). He was bought back for $145,000 at Keeneland  September and was sold by Pick View on behalf of his breeder, Millennium Farms.

“Nobody missed the horse,” Pickerrell said. “Everybody that’s anybody had him out multiple times. It’s just a matter of what people are willing to spend in this economy. People who are realistic understand that this is just a storm that’s going to pass, and we’re going to be back to normal pretty soon. The fast horses are still going to be fast horses when this storm passes.”

Pick View has a second Runhappy colt in its 2020 crop of juveniles–the other one was entered in the now-cancelled Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale.

“They’re both top colts–we just thought in order to best showcase them both, we’d split them up and go in different directions,” Pickerrell said. “We really like [the other colt] quite a bit. He’s a big, strong, hearty horse–really handles the training. He’ll be a horse who will be around for awhile, and when we get a chance to showcase him, we’re pretty excited about getting him in front of some people.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

Another ‘Top’ Lot for Yoshida at OBS March…

A year after purchasing a trio of juveniles from the Top Line Sales OBS March consignment, including smashing Tokyo debut winner and $525,000 graduate Lecce Baroque (Uncle Mo), Northern Farm’s Katsumi Yoshida went to $420,000 for a son of Medaglia d’Oro (ThoroStride video) from Jimbo and Torie Gladwell’s operation in Ocala Tuesday.

“Mr. Yoshida has had very good luck with our horses, but he also buys the best that we offer,” Torie Gladwell said. “[MGSW] Copano Kicking (Spring At Last) also went to Japan for different owners a couple of years ago [$100,000 2017 Fasig-Tipton March graduate] and that horse has won a couple of million dollars over there. I think that set the precedent that we do sell nice, solid horses and they don’t have to be million-dollar horses coming out of our consignment to go over there and perform.”

Hip 65, a $400,000 RNA as a yearling at Keeneland September, was bred in Kentucky by Fred W. Hertrich, III. He breezed an eighth in :10 1/5 at the OBS March under-tack show. The bay is out the Dansili mare Flagstaff (GB), a daughter of the talented Juddmonte homebred and G1 Prix de la Foret heroine and GI Matriarch S. runner-up Etoile Montante (Miswaki).

“We were so nervous taking that horse to the ring, and after watching all these results right now, I probably would’ve been even more nervous because the market is very scary,” Gladwell said late Tuesday afternoon. “We were lucky enough to have four or five really good vets on him, so we felt like we were secure going up there, but we just weren’t sure if people were going to raise their hands. The Medaglia d’Oro colt was very sound–he was vetted and X-rayed from his feet to his ears and passed all the X-rays. That’s what I think people liked about him, plus he was a really pretty-moving horse on the synthetic track and also on the dirt. He might be able to go both ways, even though his pedigree does scream turf.”

She concluded, “We really liked him as yearling–Taylor Made had him up there at Keeneland–and we were trying to buy him. The breeder and some of his partners agreed to let us train him and sell him here though, so that was very kind of them.”

The aforementioned 3-year-old filly Lecce Baroque beat the boys by 10 lengths on debut in Japan Feb. 8 (video). Yoshida’s other 2019 purchases from Top Line included a $675,000 Candy Ride (Arg) half-sister to champion Drefong (Gio Ponti); and a $200,000 Cairo Prince colt. He picked up a $775,000 American Pharoah colt–now named Nile River–a debut winner at Tokyo last November and unplaced in Hyacinth S.–at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream last year.

Yoshida also bought Tuesday’s $650,000 OBS March session topper, a daughter of American Pharoah. She was consigned by Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Ciaran Dunne), agent. –@SteveSherackTDN

Out of the ‘Blue’

The first juvenile to sell from the first crop of European champion 2-year-old male Air Force Blue (War Front) was well-received in the OBS ring Tuesday, bringing $390,000 from Willis Horton Racing LLC. The Feb. 10 foal was consigned by Brandon and Ali Rice’s RiceHorse Stable as hip 27, and covered a furlong last Thursday in :10 flat. (Click for ThoroStride walking video.)

Bred in Kentucky by Sierra Farm, the chestnut was a $95,000 KEESEP RNA. His MSW dam has produced eight winners, including globetrotting G2 UAE Derby and G2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge S. winner and fellow promising young sire Daddy Long Legs (Scat Daddy), as well as MSW Tres Dream (Chester House). Second dam Sparrow Lake (Apalachee) was also a multiple stakes winner.

RiceHorse partnered with Sharon Hudon’s Sierra Farm to bring  the colt to the 2-year-old sales after he RNA’d at September.

“It was beyond expectations,” said consignor Brandon Rice of Tuesday’s result. “We’re really happy for the people who got the horse. I think they’re going to thank us in the future for buying a horse who my wife and I have thought the world of. We loved him at September, but weren’t able to afford him, so we struck a deal with Sierra Farm and [farm manager] Mike Callanan. We were glad that they entrusted us with him–I don’t think we were the only offer, but they chose us for the job.”

Rice said that he and his wife Ali had a high opinion of the colt as soon as he began his first lessons.

“Right from the breaking process we thought he was special, but you don’t really know anything until you start putting the speed on him,” he said. “Right from the first work, he felt amazing. He gave you goosebumps… From there, with us as a young, humble business and trying to be careful with what we do, we said, ‘How do we not mess this up?’ We’d been blessed with such a good horse here–eats well, trains well, takes care of himself, always overachieves breezing… He’s just brilliant. Whoever trains him–whether it’s Ali and I, or his next trainer, he’ll look just as good. I’m certain of it. We’re just blessed to have had him in our shedrow.”

Airforce Blue, a $490,000 KEESEP yearling trained by Adian  O’Brien, stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud. He commanded a fee of $25,000 in his first year.

“I have two Air Force Blues–the other one is a filly who’s going to the races for a customer,” Rice said when asked if he’d had his hands on any of the sire’s other progeny. “She is really gorgeous moving right now; I haven’t asked as much of her as what I’ve asked of this colt… certain horses, the way they move, the way they wow you, the way they recover from workouts and handle themselves within workouts competing with other horses–that filly’s doing everything right. I’ve got good mojo about this sire.”

The big story heading into OBS March was obviously the social and economic uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but Rice was taking everything in stride some halfway through the first day of selling Tuesday.

“The whole industry and the whole world is just caught up in a funny economy and time, but I think most of the wise people will just keep their heads down and keep making one good decision after another, day by day,” he said. “Obviously, with race meets being cancelled and other sales being cancelled, it’s hitting us 2-year-old sellers at a really tough time. We’re all nervous; we have financial pressures on us, but this is already a risky business–we don’t need additional risk on top of it… I think for now we have to keep our heads down and keep selling. If it’s going to hurt me in my pocketbook, I probably won’t know about it. Would all these horses have brought double if the stock market was good? Probably not. We aren’t going to panic. We’re going to keep taking care of our horses to the best of our ability and it will work itself out. At the same time, I don’t want to downplay the market and situation because I think there are other guys who won’t be as fortunate as me. I had the special horse in that top tier of the sale and probably of anything that’s going to be offered this spring. You’re just never in trouble when you’ve got a horse like that in your hands.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

Full-Sister to Bar of Gold Brings $330K…

As the estate planning of longtime owners/breeders Chester and Mary Broman continues, a Medaglia d’Oro full-sister to their 2017 GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint upsetter Bar of Gold brought $330,000 from Larry Best’s OXO Equine at OBS March Tuesday.

Best has already enjoyed success with another daughter of the Darley leading sire, campaigning $1.25-million KEESEP graduate Cambier Parc (Medaglia d’Oro) to wins in the 2019 GI Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S. and GI Del Mar Oaks.

The dark bay, a :10 flat breezer at the under-tack show, was consigned as Hip 167 by Becky Thomas’s Sequel Bloodstock on behalf of the Bromans. With the couple staying in for a piece, Sequel Bloodstock also sold the GII Louisiana Derby-bound and Broman-bred Chestertown (Tapit) for an OBS March record of $2 million to a group headed by West Point Thoroughbreds at this sale last year.

“She was absolutely beautiful,” Thomas said of the New York-bred full-sister to Bar of Gold. “They are different kind of fillies. This filly is quick. Bar of Gold was real tall, leggy and stretchy. She was a different made kind of horse. They are both very Medaglia looking in terms of color though, both being dark bay or brown. Larry Best got a really, really great value. The market is obviously very compromised with what’s happening right now and Mr. Broman is very realistic on reserves. We were sure that she was going to sell. We’re really happy that Mr. Best got her. Mr. Broman isn’t dispersing his mares at this time. We know that she’ll get a great shot, that part was really good, but it is bittersweet.”

Khancord Kid (Lemon Drop Kid), winner of the 2010 GIII Herecomesthebride S. at Gulfstream, has also produced stakes-placed runners Land Mine (Mineshaft) and Homeland (American Pharoah) ($500,000 KEESEP graduate). The 13-year-old produced a colt by Medaglia d’Oro in 2019 and was bred to Triple Crown winner Justify for the 2020 season. She is due in late May. This is the extended female family of standouts Half Ours (Unbridled’s Song), Yankee Gentleman (Storm Cat), et al. Bar of Gold was her first foal. –@SteveSherackTDN

Keeneland Cancellation Not Stopping Ward…

Perhaps no trainer was more significantly affected by Keeneland’s cancellation of its spring meet due to COVID-19 than Wesley Ward, who dominates the Lexington oval’s April juvenile races and uses them as a springboard to Royal Ascot. Despite still trying to figure out when and where his more precocious trainees would make their debuts, Ward added another speedster to the stable Tuesday in the form of hip 129. Consigned by GOP Racing Stable Corp., the son of The Factor tied for the quickest furlong of the under-tack previews at

:9 4/5 and was the only horse to achieve that feat during Thursday’s first breeze show.

“He’s fast–we know that. Now all we have to find is a place to race him,” said Ward, who appeared to be in a jovial mood given the current set of circumstances. “Obviously, I’ve been lucky with the sire. The good thing about the 2-year-old in training sales is that, you can have the pedigrees and physicals and all that [at earlier sales], but here you at least get to see them go an eighth of a mile, and this guy’s as fast as there is in the sale. That’s 90% of the battle, finding a runner–certainly he’s that. We don’t know how far he can go, but we know he can go an eighth of a mile quick.”

Ward owns and trains Bound for Nowhere (The Factor), winner of the 2018 GII Shakertown S. at Keeneland.

Hip 129 was a $22,000 KEENOV RNA turned $17,000 OBSOCT yearling. He is out of SW and GSP Idle Talk (Olmodavor) and hails from the female family of champion Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) and her GSW half-brother Mr. Monomoy (Palace Malice).

As for plans for the rest of his stable of juveniles, Ward said,    “Every year, the fast ones of mine who I start breaking and training come to hand real quick, so every year I’ve been backing up later and later and later. The first few started to identify themselves a couple weeks ago when we started breezing. Those were the ones we were going to focus on in the first couple of races [at Keeneland], and the rest would kind of just fall into place. Now that they’re not going to have the Keeneland meet, we’ll just back up on everything and give them a bit more time. I’m lucky that in years past I started them a lot earlier, but I’ve continued to back things up–so it kind of worked out in that way at least. It’s quite a shame. I was really hoping that they’d continue racing without fans like they’ve been doing. Being the only game in town to put your two dollars on, doing it sitting on your couch, would’ve been a great opportunity for racing to get more people involved. Hopefully the other tracks don’t follow suit, but we’ll see what happens.” —@BDiDonatoTDN


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Turf Paradise Compromise: Open For Training Until Start of May

Tue, 2020-03-17 16:44

After the operators of Turf Paradise announced suddenly over the weekend that racing was suspended and that trainers stabled there had until March 28 to vacate the premises as a result of the coronavirus, a compromise has been reached keeping the track open to training until May 1, with the doors to shut May 9.

As part of the negotiations between the Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and Turf Paradise management, the HBPA will pay half of the expenses incurred for track maintenance while horses remain training there until the start of May.

According to Bob Hutton, president of the Arizona HBPA, his organization has also agreed to allow all incoming simulcast signals into Arizona to Turf Paradise’s network of Off-Track Betting parlors (OTBs) through the end of the year.

“I think they’re very relieved that they have somewhere to stay for the next 45 days,” said Hutton, about the mood among the Arizona trainers. “I think everybody’s minds were eased last night. They were able to sleep because they were in desperation, panic mode.”

Vince Francia, Turf Paradise general manager, said that, while the track had considered remaining open for live racing-minus the crowds, federal and state recommendations about limiting large gatherings essentially ruled that option out.

“We have 1000 people on site here. They’re not fans–they’re connected with the racing industry,” he said. “That’s why we can’t re-initiative racing at this time.”

When asked whether the latest federal recommendation about limiting gatherings of more than 10 people would impact Turf Paradise’s OTB network, Francia said that “we’re well aware” the OTB’s could be affected.

“It’s not so much what we will do,” he added. “We have to comply with what the governor and state recommend or orders.”

The announcement over the weekend came after the Arizona HBPA sent a letter last week to the Arizona Department of Gaming, asking that they withdraw the Turf Paradise signal from all The Stronach Group (TSG) affiliates-the latest development in a months-long feud between an arm of TSG tasked with distributing the company’s signal and the Arizona Department of Gaming.

Though the compromise has afforded Arizona trainers some stability in the near-term, major question marks remain about where they will go at the beginning of May, especially if the impacts from the coronavirus are still reverberating through the racing industry. One possibility is Arizona Downs, formerly known as Yavapai Downs, which reopened for live racing in 2019.

According to Tom Auther, an Arizona Downs owner and partner, there’s a possibility the track could conduct live racing this summer. However, before the track can open its doors to horsemen this summer, approval would need to be given by Yavapai County, with whom the track is currently in talks.

However, Auther stressed how the “fluidity” of the situation prevented him from offering more concrete answers. “With what’s going on, we just don’t know what to say to anybody. Are all the tracks going to be closed until June, or later than June? Will our OTB network have any content to sell?” he said. “It sounds crazy, but we just don’t know what to say other than to keep everybody informed on a day-to-day basis.”

Trainer Mike Chambers reiterated Hutton’s statement that the extended training period has afforded trainers temporary peace of mind. “There’s just been a lot of stress on everybody on the backside because there just aren’t that many places that are open,” he said. “It’s just been a real mess for everybody concerned.”

Indeed, Canadian trainer Jared Brown told the TDN that the abruptness of the announcement over the weekend has made him think twice about returning to Turf Paradise when live racing resumes at the track, and he has already considered locating to Texas next winter.

“I was pretty worried the other day,” said Brown, who operates a string of about 12 horses. “It takes us a minimum five days just to get the paperwork to be able to head north. When you’ve got multiple loads to make, plus a trip for your house trailer and everything else you’ve got down here, it was pretty shocking, to say the least.”

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Fasig-Tipton Announces New Midlantic Sales Dates

Tue, 2020-03-17 16:14

Fasig-Tipton has released adjusted dates for its upcoming Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, which will be held a week later than previously scheduled in response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. The two-day auction will be held May 26 and 27 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland. The under tack show will be conducted Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, May 21-23. The auction had previously been scheduled for May 18 and 19.

“We have been in discussions with the Maryland State Fairgrounds following the CDC’s recent guidance announcement and determined it would be best to push the sale back one week,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “This allows appropriate clearance from the current CDC recommended eight-week timetable.”

Fasig-Tipton also announced dates for a second Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training auction to be held in June. The June Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale will be conducted Wednesday and Thursday, June 24-25, with the under tack show taking place Monday and Tuesday, June 22-23. The auction will also be conducted at the Maryland State Fairgrounds.

“As the auction calendar continues to shift as a result of COVID-19, the addition of this June auction provides another sales venue for buyers and sellers,” said Browning. “We are making every effort to ensure that there are ample opportunities for our customers to conduct needed business under these difficult circumstances. We will continue to monitor the current situation and make additions or changes to our sales schedule as conditions dictate.”

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American Pharoah Bullet Breezer Lights Up Board at OBS

Tue, 2020-03-17 16:10

Hip 237, the only quarter-mile breezer to stop the clock in :20 2/5 during last week’s under-tack previews, brought a current sale-leading bid of $650,000 during Tuesday’s opening session of the OBS March 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. The bay filly was purchased by Japan’s Katsumi Yoshida, who also scooped up a $420,000 Medaglia d’Oro colt (hip 65) earlier in the session. Hip 237, a $70,000 KEENOV weanling and $165,000 KEESEP yearling, was consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables, Inc.

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Kentucky Derby Rescheduled for Sept. 5; No Dates Set for Preakness, Belmont

Tue, 2020-03-17 15:27

The GI Kentucky Derby has been moved from May 2 to Sept. 5 as a result of the coronavirus, Churchill Downs officials announced Tuesday.

“Throughout the rapid development of the COVID-19 pandemic, our first priority has been how to best protect the safety and health of our guests, team members and community,” Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement. “As the situation evolved, we reached the difficult conclusion that we needed to reschedule. At no point did we ever consider canceling the Kentucky Derby.”

In the aftermath of Churchill’s decision, The Stronach Group, owners of Pimlico, and NYRA released statements saying that the dates of the GI Preakness S. and the GI Belmont S. remained up in the air.

The Kentucky Derby has traditionally been run on the first Saturday in May. It had been run on that date every year since 1945, when it was pushed back to June 9 due to World War II. With the cornovirus crisis escalating by the day, it became apparent that there was virtually no way the Derby could be held May 2, at least with fans allowed to attend. Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, it seemed inevitable that Churchill would move the race.

“As the situation evolved, we steadily made all necessary operational adjustments to provide the safest experience and environment,” Carstanjen said. “The most recent developments have led us to make some very difficult, but we believe, necessary decisions and our hearts are with those who have been or continue to be affected by this pandemic.”

No American trainer figures to be more affected by the postponement of the Derby than Bob Baffert, who has at least three strong candidates for the race and must now figure out how to keep them in top form through the first week in September and where to race them. He has won the Derby five times.

“It is what it is,” Baffert said via text. “I’m more worried about what’s going on in America. Scary times.”

Carstanjen said that the decision to hold the Derby Sept. 5 was based on a limited number of competing sporting events on the day, talks with NBC and the availability of hotel rooms in the area.

By moving the race ahead by four months, Churchill Downs has bought itself time, but that doesn’t mean the race is guaranteed to be held Sept. 5. While everyone is hoping that life is back to normal by then, it’s quite possible that COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc in early September.

“We’re going to respond to real time information,” Churchill President Kevin Flannery said. “Right now, what we believe and what we’ve come to understand is that the September time frame should work. If circumstances change, we will respond. We will be resilient and will move forward responsibly.”

The Kentucky racing dates in early September belong to Ellis Park, but officials of that track have said they will now end their meet Aug. 30. It is unclear what Derby Week will look like at Churchill and which stakes traditionally held that week will remain on the schedule. Churchill did commit to running the GI Kentucky Oaks Sept. 4.

Moving the date of the Derby has upended the carefully crafted plans of trainers who have been campaigning in the major prep races with an eye on having their horses peak May 2. Now, none can be certain if their horses will still be in training come September and the path to a September Kentucky Derby is something no American horse trainer has ever had to navigate. There is no blueprint. But others echoed the sentiments of Baffert, saying that the date of a horse races pales in comparison to the national crisis that is ongoing.

“What is the Derby compared to what is happening in our country and in the world,” asked trainer Patrick Biancone, who has two Derby hopefuls in Ete Indien (Summer Front) and Sole Volante (Karakontie {Jpn}). “Nothing. It’s just a sporting event. What is important to me is that everyone does their best to get rid of this really bad situation with the virus. Then, we can talk about racing. We will all do the best by our horses, but for now racing is a small thing compared to what is happening in the world.”

Horses qualify for the Derby, which is limited to 20 starters, by accruing points in prep races. Churchill said that it will work on a new points schedule that will include races traditionally run after the Derby. Another unresolved question is the status of the spring meet, which was scheduled to run from Apr. 28 through June 27. Keeneland has cancelled its spring racing meet, which, ordinarily, precedes the Churchill spring meet.

With Churchill having found a spot on the calendar the next dominoes to fall will likely be the dates for the Preakness and Belmont. It would be highly unlikely if either were held as scheduled. The Preakness is set to be run May 16 and the Belmont has been scheduled for June 6. Statements released by management at both Pimlico and Belmont did little to clear up the situation.

“Our first priority in these difficult times is the health and welfare of our industry participants and the public at large,” The Stronach Group announced. “We are working with state and local governments, our industry participants, media and other affiliates to determine the most appropriate time to conduct the Preakness S. While we are mindful of the challenges these times present, we also know that events like the Preakness S. can help restore our sense of place and economic well-being to our communities and state. As soon as we have further clarity on these matters we will inform all.”

“NYRA is working closely with all appropriate parties, including media rights holder NBC Sports, to make a determination about the timing of the 2020 Belmont S.,” NYRA President and COO David O’Rourke said. “As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend American life, decisions about large-scale public events must prioritize public health and safety above all else. NYRA will deliver an announcement only when that process has concluded to the satisfaction of state and local health departments. The Belmont S. is a New York institution with wide-reaching economic impact. We look forward to its 152nd edition in 2020.”

In the meantime, Churchill executives admit this will be a Kentucky Derby like no other, but they remain confident that it can live up to the pageantry and thrills of a normal Derby.

“We feel confident that we are going to run the Kentucky Derby, and we are going to run it with a crowd,” Carstanjen said. “The Kentucky Derby is a participatory event. Its energy and its magic really comes from everybody participating and being there to enjoy it. So we’re going to make it happen. This race has happened 145 years in a row. It’s going to happen 146. We’ll roll with the punches, but we feel very, very good that September’s the right date.”

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Report: 19 Navarro, Servis Trainees Have Died at Monmouth

Tue, 2020-03-17 13:14

An investigation by the Asbury Park Press has revealed that 19 horses trained by either Jorge Navarro or Jason Servis have died at Monmouth Park since 2010. Servis and Navarro were among 27 people indicted last week by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York after an investigation into horse doping.

Twelve of the dead horses were trained by Navarro and seven by Servis. According to the Press, the 12 deaths out of the Navarro barn since 2012 are the most at Monmouth by any trainer over that period of time. Servis was second.

The Press reported that Servis and Navarro will plead not guilty when arraigned next week. Navarro faces two counts of “misbranding” the performance-enhancing drugs he allegedly used and Servis faces one. Each count has a maximum of five years in prison.

Navarro and Servis have dominated Monmouth racing over the last several years. During the 2019, 2018 and 2017 meets, Navarro was the leading trainer and Servis was second. Navarro has won seven straight training titles at Monmouth. In 2018, he set a single-season record at Monmouth with 85 wins.

The story focuses in on a gelding named Firm (Strong Mandate), who was claimed by Navarro at Gulfstream on Jan. 27, 2019. The horse alter raced twice at Monmouth and collapsed and died on the track following a June 15 race. According to the Press, the cause of death was never determined.

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Kentucky Derby Moved to Sept. 5 Due to Coronavirus

Tue, 2020-03-17 09:11

The GI Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled from May 2 to Sept. 5 and the GI Kentucky Oaks has been moved from May 1 to Sept. 4 due to the coronavirus, Churchill Downs announced Tuesday morning. The dates are contingent upon final approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission which is expected Mar. 19.

CDI’s CEO, Bill Carstanjen, stated: “Throughout the rapid development of the COVID-19 pandemic, our first priority has been how to best protect the safety and health of our guests, team members and community. As the situation evolved, we reached the difficult conclusion that we needed to reschedule. At no point did we ever consider canceling the Kentucky Derby.”

Previously purchased Derby/Oaks tickets will still be valid for the new dates.

The Maryland Jockey Club released the following statement in regards to the GI Preakness S., which is currently scheduled for May 16.

“Our first priority in these difficult times is the health and welfare of our industry participants and the public at large. We are working with state and local governments, our industry participants, media and other affiliates to determine the most appropriate time to conduct the Preakness Stakes. While we are mindful of the challenges these times present, we also know that events like the Preakness Stakes can help restore our sense of place and economic well-being to our communities and state. As soon as we have further clarity on these matters we will inform all.”

The New York Racing Association issued a statement from CEO David O’Rourke in regards to the GI Belmont S., currently set for June 6.

“NYRA is working closely with all appropriate parties, including media rights holder NBC Sports, to make a determination about the timing of the 2020 Belmont Stakes. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend American life, decisions about large-scale public events must prioritize public health and safety above all else. NYRA will deliver an announcement only when that process has concluded to the satisfaction of state and local health departments. The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution with wide-reaching economic impact. We look forward to its 152nd edition in 2020.”

Jack Knowlton of Sackatoga Stable, owner of Derby contender Tiz the Law (Constitution), responded to the date change on the Stable’s Twitter, saying, “The rescheduling of the Kentucky Derby to 9/5 is a required step in these unprecedented times. The details re: the Preakness/Belmont, new points races & impact on the Travers were not addressed. Sackatoga awaits additional info as we look to future races for Tiz the Law.”

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CHRB Files Complaints Related to Equine Fatalities

Mon, 2020-03-16 16:49

The California Horse Racing Board has filed 10 complaints against eight licensed individuals associated with equine fatalities at Santa Anita Park last winter. None of the complaints alleges the use of illegal medications. The individuals include five veterinarians charged with failing to turn in reports for medication administrations, as well as an owner training without a license and two trainers who delegated training duties.

The complaints came to light during the CHRB’s inquiry into the 23 equine fatalities at Santa Anita last winter. The complete Santa Anita Fatalities Report was released Mar.10.

A release from the CHRB outlined the complaints issued Monday:

  • Dr. Jennifer Finley failed to turn in Veterinarian Confidential reports for medication administrations on five days for one particular horse, and in a separate complaint, on one day for one particular horse, violations of CHRB Rule 1842 (Veterinarian Report). The stewards at Santa Anita have set an Apr. 26 hearing date for these complaints.
  • Dr. Joseph Dowd failed to turn in Veterinarian Confidential reports for medication administrations on two days for one particular horse, a violation of CHRB Rule 1842 (Veterinarian Report). The stewards at Santa Anita have set an Apr. 24 hearing date.
  • Dr. John Araujo failed to turn in Veterinarian Confidential reports for medication administrations on three days for one particular horse, a violation of CHRB Rule 1842 (Veterinarian Report). The stewards at Santa Anita have set an Apr. 24 hearing date.
  • Dr. Sarah Birch failed to turn in Veterinarian Confidential reports for medication administrations on two days for one particular horse, and in a separate complaint, on one day for one particular horse, violations of CHRB Rule 1842 (Veterinarian Report). The stewards at Santa Anita have set an Apr. 27 hearing date for these complaints.
  • Dr. Karen Valko failed to turn in a Veterinarian Confidential report for medication administration on one day for one particular horse, a violation of CHRB Rule 1842 (Veterinarian Report). The stewards at Santa Anita have set an Apr. 27 hearing date.
  • Mario Garcia, a licensed horse owner, was actively training a horse without a trainer’s license, violations of CHRB Rules 1489a4 (Grounds for Denial or Refusal of License [for engaging in] activities for which a license is required) and 1900 (Grounds for Suspension or Revocation). The stewards at Santa Anita have set a May 1 hearing date.
  • Trainer Antonio Garcia delegated his training duties to a non-licensed trainer, a violation of CHRB Rule 1894 (Duties of Trainer). The stewards at Santa Anita have set a May 1 hearing date.
  • Owner/trainer Oscar Heredia delegated his training duties for a horse he owned to another trainer, while Heredia actively trained another horse, a violationof CHRB Rule 1894 (Duties of Trainer). The stewards at Santa Anita have set an Apr. 27 hearing date.

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Churchill to Make Announcement Regarding Derby Tuesday Morning

Mon, 2020-03-16 16:37

Churchill Downs Incorporated will make an announcement regarding the timing of 146th GI Kentucky Oaks and GI Kentucky Derby Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. ET, the company announced Monday. Media, investors and other interested parties may listen to the teleconference by calling (877) 372-0878 and entering the conference ID number 1848836 at least 10 minutes before the appointed time. International callers should dial (253) 237-1169.

The Oaks and Derby are scheduled to be run May 1 and 2, respectively, but the feasibility of running them has come into question in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Churchill Downs regularly hosts over 100,000 people for each event.

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Drazin Issues Lengthy Statement On Indictments Supporting HIA, On-Track Pharmacy, Outlining Plans for His Servis Trainees

Mon, 2020-03-16 15:57

Choosing not to comment last week as the horse racing world responded en masse to the bombshell announcement of indictments against 27 figures in the sport, including high-profile trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, Darby Development CEO and Monmouth Park Operator Dennis Drazin has weighed in with a lengthy statement that was released Monday, shortly after Monmouth announced it will close and push back the start of its racing meet due to coronavirus concerns.

The statement reads in part, “First and foremost, Monmouth Park and Darby Development, as well as I personally, condemn the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) or any drugs which are illegal to be used in our industry. I remained silent last week in the aftermath of the news of the indictment because I wanted to give our regulators, the New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC), and the Attorney General’s Office an opportunity to address the indictment, and, as expected, the NJRC suspended the licenses of seven of the indicted individuals who were licensed in New Jersey. Jorge Navarro did not have a 2020 license otherwise his license would have been suspended also according to the NJRC.

“The NJRC has diligently tested for drugs for many years and utilized respected reputable labs to do so. I am a former Chairman of the NJRC and can assure you that our regulators take their jobs seriously and endeavor to catch all cheaters.

“Regarding the indictments, if proven, they threaten the very integrity of our sport and must be seriously addressed. We can have no tolerance for those who cheat or try to take an illegal edge. I am calling upon our New Jersey legislature to enact a more comprehensive form of sweeping reforms than currently has been stalled in Washington, otherwise known as the Horseracing Integrity Act (HIA). I have already started the process of asking the State of New Jersey to pass legislation, which in addition to the worthwhile reforms contained in the HIA, will include more widespread reforms including, but not limited to: racetrack safety and integrity; racetrack surface safety inspections; increased examination of horses who intend to race or train at our racetracks; jockey health and safety; changes in the whip rule; post-racing aftercare for horses; uniformity in medication rules and penalties; sharing of all veterinary reports amongst interested parties; and, many other needed reforms.

“The only permitted medication use on race day will be Lasix … To be clear, there can be no use of race-day medications except Lasix and even Lasix must be administered by a third-party veterinarian, as is the current regulatory policy.”

Drazin also pledged support for an emerging idea of having a regulated on-track pharmacy and a policy where no one can use drugs that didn’t come from said pharmacy.

“Furthermore, I am also requesting that the legislature authorize the NJRC to develop a pharmacy located at the racetrack and that no drugs or medication can be in the possession of anyone, even veterinarians on the racetrack, unless it is obtained from the track-regulated pharmacy. I am also requesting the legislature to authorize the NJRC to contact the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) or any other drug-testing agency or laboratory of their recommendation to retain their services for the immediate control of our drug testing. The NJRC and New Jersey Attorney General’s Office will continue to regulate horse racing in New Jersey. These reforms will help restore public confidence in our sport.”

Drazin addressed the fact that Navarro and Servis raced heavily at Monmouth and often dominated at the Oceanport oval, saying, “I should also reinforce that unfortunately two of Monmouth Park’s own trainers were indicted and although they also raced in New York, Florida, and elsewhere, we must accept the fact that we have to do a better job, even though these offenses are handled by our regulators. In that regard, additional discussions will be pursued with our regulators about the feasibility of enhancing camera security in our barns and purchasing additional equipment for horse diagnostics to detect preexisting injuries and other safety risks. Monmouth Park will be adding additional committees designed to screen horses which are entered and applying for stalls, as well as additional positions for a medical and safety director.”

Finally, Drazin touched on the controversy of him owning horses trained by Servis, closing by saying, “I should also add that this indictment is particularly sad in that Jason Servis was my trainer. During my 45 years as an attorney, Chairman of the NJRC and racetrack operator, I have always advocated that cheating cannot be tolerated and I would never tolerate illegal conduct. My horses are being moved to Pat McBurney.

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Aqueduct to Remain Open With No Spectators

Mon, 2020-03-16 15:42

Bucking the trend of a day which saw racetrack closings across the country and across the world, the New York Racing Association announced that they would resume racing this Friday, albeit with no spectators.

Since March 12, 2020, NYRA has conducted live racing without fan attendance. This announcement comes following consultation with the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) and adheres to New York’s ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people, as no live audience is permitted.

That practice will remain in place when racing returns on Friday, and NYRA’s Preparedness and Response Plan Committee, comprised of key NYRA staff members as well as representatives from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA), the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST), and the New York Race Track Chaplaincy of America (NYRTCA), will closely monitor and assess developments regarding the coronavirus.

“The health and safety of employees, fans, horsemen and the backstretch community is paramount,” said NYRA CEO & President Dave O’Rourke. “Now that we have experienced racing under these conditions for three days, we remain confident in our ability to safely conduct racing operations behind closed doors and with only the staff that are required under the rules of racing in New York. Of course, we will constantly evaluate this situation over the coming days in advance of Friday and make further adjustments as necessary.”

Until further notice, only racetrack staff essential to officiate and report on live racing per NYSGC rules, including, but not limited to, stewards, trainers, assistant trainers and grooms, will be permitted on-site. Owners will not be permitted access to Aqueduct.

NYRA will continue to follow best practices established by the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The Belmont Park backstretch and its facilities will remain open to horsemen and operational for training. Owners will not be permitted access to the backstretch until further notice.

Live racing in March during the Aqueduct winter meet, which concludes on Sunday, March 29, is conducted three days per week, Friday through Sunday. First post on Friday’s eight-race card at Aqueduct is 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

As a courtesy to fans, all NYRA racing can be streamed for free in high-definition at This service is provided by RTN.

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Monmouth Closing, Pushing Opening Day Back Three Weeks

Mon, 2020-03-16 15:34

Monmouth Park Racetrack will close for simulcasting and sports wagering beginning at 8 p.m. Monday, Mar. 16, as the State of New Jersey and the rest of the country continue to take proactive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Wagering will continue as normal on as well as online sports betting apps.

In addition, based on the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control to limit public gatherings to fewer than 50 people, Monmouth Park will postpone its opening day originally scheduled for May 2, 2020 until May 23, 2020 (Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend), subject to state and regulatory approval.

“Here in New Jersey we are fortunate to have great leadership who are addressing the safety of our friends and neighbors as well as the entire state,” said Dennis Drazin, Chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of the racetrack. “Governor Murphy has put plans in place to protect the citizens of New Jersey and we will remain in full compliance with those plans and reopen for sports betting and simulcasting when he deems same safe.”

“The new opening date will return us to our previous traditional opening date,” Drazin continued. “The reality is, with a May 23 opening, we’ll only miss five racing days. We’d rather give plenty of notice now rather than continue on a wait-and-see approach. We firmly believe this slight delay will prove beneficial, across the board, in the long run.”

Furthermore, Monmouth will delay the opening of its stabling area until May 1, with training set to commence the following day. The stable area was scheduled to open Apr. 11 with training to start Apr. 15.

“I’m sure our fans and horsemen fully understand our decision making in this very tough time,” Drazin said. “We appreciate their patience and look forward to reopening in the very near future and to an outstanding season of racing come Memorial Day weekend.”

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Keeneland Cancels Spring Meet Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Mon, 2020-03-16 15:14

Having already canceled its 2-year-olds in training sale and subsequently announcing that racing would be conducted with no fans in attendance, officials at Keeneland have canceled the Spring race meeting set for Apr. 2 through Apr. 24 due to safety and health concerns surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak.

The decision was accelerated by guidance from the Center for Disease Control Mar. 15, which cautioned against holding large events including “conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings and other types of assemblies.” The recommendation was that events attended by 50 or more people should be canceled or postponed for at least eight weeks.

“Keeneland’s Spring Meet is a rite and tradition that touches every aspect of Central Kentucky and beyond, and the decision to cancel racing is agonizing for our staff, our many loyal fans and our horsemen,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “During the past several weeks, we have exhausted all avenues for safely conducting our Spring Meet. Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have diligently worked with local, state and national partners in health and government to ensure our actions are the most responsible we can take. We all find ourselves in uncharted territory, but nothing is more important to Keeneland than protecting the health and safety of our athletes, stable employees, horsemen, patrons, track employees and the community at large.

He added, “During this time, we all need to take care of each other. In light of the cancellation of our Spring Meet, Keeneland will focus its attention and energy on identifying ways in which we can offer support and aid to the Central Kentucky community and horse industry. We look forward to a time when all of our communities can come together once again to celebrate racing at Keeneland.”

Ticket holders for the Spring Meet will automatically be issued refunds.

Keeneland has simultaneously announced that it will continue to provide stabling for horses already on the grounds. However, effective immediately, no further horses will be permitted to ship in. Keeneland asks horsemen to remain in their current environs.

Morning training will continue to take place between 6 and 10 a.m.

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