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Three Major U.S. Sales Companies Announce Bisphosphonates Ban

Mon, 2019-03-25 12:00

Buyers of horses younger than four years old at three major auction houses in the U.S. will be able to have those horses tested for bisphosphonates, according to a joint statement issued Monday morning by the Keeneland Association, Fasig-Tipton Company Inc. and Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company Inc. (OBS). According to the release, the policy is undertaken to ban off-label use of these drugs. The revised Conditions of Sale for each of these sales companies takes effect July 1, 2019. The first sale held under this new policy will be the Fasig-Tipton July Sale, July 8 and 9 in Lexington, Kentucky.

At each of the three sales companies, buyers of young horses may request testing for bisphosphonates to be performed at the time of purchase. If the sale horse tests positive, a buyer has the right, within 24 hours of notification, to rescind the sale.

This measure by Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton and OBS-the three major U.S. Thoroughbred auction companies-mirrors the action they took in 2009 to ban the use of anabolic steroids in sales horses.

Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason, Fasig-Tipton President Boyd T. Browning Jr. and OBS President Tom Ventura were quoted in the joint statement as saying, “This is an integrity issue. We all agree that this policy is critical to strengthen buyer confidence in the entire Thoroughbred auction process. As research continues, we will amend our Conditions of Sale to reflect the advancements in testing science.”

In summary, the policy will be implemented as follows:

  • The buyer has the right to request, at the time of purchase, that blood be drawn from a horse to test for the presence of bisphosphonates;
  • The respective sales company will coordinate testing with a designated laboratory and report the results of those tests to the consignor and buyer in a timely manner;
  • If the sale horse tests positive for bisphosphonates, the buyer has the right, within 24 hours of notification, to rescind the sale and return the horse to the consignor; and
  • The buyer will bear the $500 cost of the test; however, if test results are positive, the cost will shift to the consignor.


First Samurai Colt Stalks and Pounces to Sunland Derby Score

Sun, 2019-03-24 20:16

Cutting Humor bounced back from a seventh-place finish as the favorite in the GIII Southwest S. to annex this lucrative GI Kentucky Derby prep in track record time. Well supported at the windows again–especially late–the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga grad was parked out in the clear early by Hall of Famer John Velazquez as favored Bob Baffert trainee Mucho Gusto showed the way with local hope Hustle Up (Abstraction) applying pressure and El Camino Real Derby hero Anothertwistafate in the pocket spot. Cutting Humor looked to have Mucho Gusto’s number as he ranged up ominously heading for home after six panels in 1:09.63, and while the chalk briefly fought back, Cutting Humor had too much in the tank and appeared en route to a convincing success. Anothertwistafate finally got going in midstretch, however, and nearly ran down Cutting Humor for all the money late.

“Once I got to the quarter pole, I thought he was going pretty easy, but then as soon as he found himself on the lead he started waiting and idling pretty badly. I was thinking, ‘Come on, buddy, you’ve got to get your mind back on running,'” Velazquez said. “When we got to the eighth pole, I switched to left-handed [encouragement] and he responded right away. When he felt the other horse, he kind of went about his business again.”

Cutting Humor was second in his sprint debut in the Belmont slop Sept. 9, and settled for third in a salty Keeneland route Oct. 7 behind subsequent GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. runner-up Plus Que Parfait (Point of Entry) and eventual GII Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull S. upsetter Harvey Wallbanger (Congrats). He broke through at a mile at Gulfstream Park West Nov. 17, and resurfaced to be second behind GII Xpressbet Fountain of Youth S. runner-up Bourbon War (Tapit) in a Gulfstream optional claimer Jan. 18. Cutting Humor blew the first turn and made a middle move in the GIII Southwest, and was looking to become the third also-ran from that heat to come back to score. Third finisher Long Range Toddy (Take Charge Indy) took a division of the GII Rebel S. last weekend, while pacesetter Gray Attempt (Graydar) cut back to annex Oaklawn’s Gazebo S. Saturday. Runner-up Sueno (Atreides) was third in Saturday’s GII Louisiana Derby.

Pedigree Notes:

Cutting Humor is the 15th graded winner for his sire, and second out of a mare by former fellow Claiborne inmate Pulpit–2014 GIII Iowa Oaks heroine Size is the other. His unraced dam is a half-brother to MGISW sprinter Zensational (Unbridled’s Song) and hails from the same extended female family of Claiborne and Adele Dilschneider’s near $2-million earner Departing (War Front). Pun produced a filly by First Samurai’s top earner and GISW Lea last February and was bred back to that stallion.

Sunday, Sunland Park
SUNLAND PARK DERBY-GIII, $800,000, Sunland, 3-24, 3yo,
1 1/8m, 1:46.94, ft.
1–CUTTING HUMOR, 122, c, 3, by First Samurai
1st Dam: Pun, by Pulpit
2nd Dam: Joke, by Phone Trick
3rd Dam: Tour, by Forty Niner
Ylg ’17 KEEJAN; $400,000 Ylg ’17 FTSAUG). O-Starlight Racing;
B-Dell Hancock & Bernie Sams Jr. (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher;
J-John R. Velazquez. $460,800. Lifetime Record: 6-2-2-1,
$516,967. *1/2 to Irish You Well (Broken Vow), SW & MGSP,
$330,147. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Anothertwistafate, 122, c, 3, Scat Daddy–Imprecation, by
First Defence. ($360,000 2yo ’18 OBSOPN). O-Peter Redekop
B. C., Ltd.; B-Pursuit of Success LLC (KY); T-Blaine D. Wright.
3–Mucho Gusto, 122, c, 3, Mucho Macho Man
Itsagiantcauseway, by Giant’s Causeway. ‘TDN Rising Star’
($14,000 Ylg ’17 KEEJAN; $95,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP; $55,000 RNA
2yo ’18 OBSMAR; $625,000 2yo ’18 EASMAY). O-Michael Lund
Petersen; B-Teneri Farm Inc. & Bernardo Alvarez Calderon
(KY); T-Bob Baffert. $76,800.
Margins: NK, 5 3/4, 1HF. Odds: 2.30, 3.50, 0.90.
Also Ran: Wicked Indeed, Eye Cloud, Pasamonte Man, Hustle Up, Collusionist, Walker Stalker. Scratched: Diamond Blitz. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Santa Anita: Picture Getting Clearer as Entries Taken, but Questions Remain

Sun, 2019-03-24 18:33

As the resumption of live racing at Santa Anita looms nearer, the picture is becoming steadily clearer over the potential rules of engagement, following an announcement earlier this month of a sweeping set of new medication and safety protocols to be implemented at Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. Nevertheless, question marks linger over a number of important details.

Entries were made Sunday morning for next Friday, Mar. 29, marking the return of live racing at Santa Anita after a hiatus of more than a month in the wake of 22 equine fatalities at the facility since the start of the winter-spring meet.

Santa Anita racing secretary Steve Lym also announced on Sunday a new system at entry time, which adds an additional layer of scrutiny on “at-risk” horses. Lym explained that after entries are taken, the horses’ respective past performances will be scrutinized for certain patterns. The racing office will then contact trainers of horses identified as being at higher risk of catastrophic injury and, if necessary, a commission veterinarian will conduct a physical examination of the horse. This system will begin when entries are taken at Santa Anita for next Saturday and Sunday, said Lym.

This system mirrors the one in place for morning workouts. Currently, trainers must notify the racing office 24 hours before breezing. Lym said that on Monday, the notification time on workers will be extended to 48 hours. “Part of the reason for that was to give the staff enough time to examine the horses that need examining,” said Lym. There will be no requirement for private attending veterinarians to sign off on a horse’s soundness prior it breezing, which had been raised as a possible new policy, he said.

Many of the proposed new rules are pending approval by the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) at its hotly anticipated scheduled meeting on Thursday, Mar. 28 at Santa Anita. Santa Anita could release a statement over the next few days for the horsemen, “just so they know what they’re entering for,” said Lym. He warned, however, that while the CHRB is expected to approve the proposed rules, the horsemen should be prepared for the possibility of further changes at the meeting.

On the agenda at Thursday’s CHRB meeting are a variety of items, including discussion and action on proposed medication changes at Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. CHRB equine medical director Rick Arthur explained to the TDN some of the specifics to the new medication rules, “if the board moves forward as currently expected.”

There will be “no authorized threshold” for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and corticosteroids, and no “stacking” of these drugs, either; by house rule, the stand-down for intra-articular corticosteroids will be extended to 14 days–double the current recommended withdrawal period based on thresholds. The stand-down times for permitted NSAIDS have also been altered, with the withdrawal time for Phenylbutazone extended to 48-hours, for example. The stand-down for shockwave therapy will remain the same–10 days.

The medication rules are “pretty back and white,” said Jeff Blea, a Santa Anita-based private veterinarian. “The one thing that’s a little bit of a grey area is corticosteroid injections,” he said. “It’s very clear it’s a 14-day stand-down time. It’s not clear, as far as levels of medications… They say at 14 days we should be safe, so I think we’re going to have to go on that premise for the time being.”

Blea said that, besides the expected changes to use of NSAIDS and corticosteroids, “there’s not much difference” to the rules currently in place. But he added that the ambiguity over some of the specifics has been a cause for concern. “There are two things trainers and veterinarians don’t want. One is a positive test. And two is a dead horse,” he said.

On Thursday’s meeting agenda is an item giving the board the option of making any possible changes to authorized therapeutic medications applicable state-wide for 12 months. Josh Rubenstein, president of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, wrote in an email that “while Del Mar is in communication with the TOC, CHRB and others on our upcoming meet, we don’t believe it’s productive, at this time, to comment on specific changes that may be in place this summer.”

Del Mar’s license application for its 2019 summer race meet is scheduled to be heard by the CHRB’s meeting in May, and so, “in the next 30 to 60 days we’ll be in a position to address the implementation of enhanced procedures to maintain the highest standards for both equine and rider welfare, safety and care programs,” Rubenstein wrote. “What we can say now is Del Mar is proud of the progress we’ve made over the last several years and our team is committed to the continuation of the industry’s most progressive safety and welfare protocols.”

A participatory teleconference Saturday at Santa Anita involving trainers, and official and private veterinarians was “very productive” and “informative,” said California Thoroughbred Trainers executive director, Alan Balch, after the meeting concluded. “The trainers are going to have to take into account all that they learned today in making entries,” Balch said, adding that the tone of the meeting was “very serious.”

“We believe this is an interdependent sport and industry, and we strongly believe that when decisions are made, they should be made on a cooperative basis with everyone involved in the same room, at the same time, at the same place,” said Balch. “And we sure would like to see that going forward because that type of cooperative approach to rule changing really is the best way to avoid any misunderstanding or misinformation.”

Among a number of other topics discussed at Saturday’s teleconference, Balch said, was the proposed changes to use of the riding crop. The changes still allow jockeys to carry a whip, but they will not be permitted to use it in anyway except what is necessary for the safety of the horse or the rider. According to Balch, “The trainers will be very pleased to go with whatever the riding crop rule is, however it’s modified.”

There are two separate parts to these proposed changes. The first concerns an “in house” rule change applicable only to Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. The second is a proposed regulatory amendment that would restrict the use of riding crops at all racetracks in California.

“We have no way of knowing whether a majority of commissioners would vote to make this a regulatory matter,” wrote the CHRB’s public information officer, Mike Marten, in an email. “If the Board does decide to move forward with an amendment, that process could easily take as long as seven months and would require a 45-day public notice and comment period followed by a public hearing, leaving plenty of time for a thorough discussion of all aspects of the proposal.”

Jockeys’ Guild national manager Terry Meyocks said that the Guild is currently “still in discussion” with The Stronach Group, and that there could be greater clarity on the situation by the start of the week.

Another agenda item concerns the proposed change to the use of Lasix at Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields, cutting in half the permitted level from 10cc to 5cc. An agreement on this issue was reached on Mar. 16 between the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) and TSG. Not mentioned in the package for Thursday’s meeting is the other part of the proposed change concerning Lasix–that 2-year-olds starting in 2020 will race entirely Lasix free.

Because the horses in question aren’t yet of racing age, and therefore not competing at the current Santa Anita meet, “I don’t know if the CHRB will address it at this meet,” said TOC’s director of racing and Northern California operations, Elizabeth Morey. “I don’t know if it gets heard at the CHRB meeting this year, or if it gets heard at a CHRB meeting when we actually go through the license application process for the Santa Anita winter-spring meet.”

According to trainer Leonard Powell, it’s the question of enforcement of these proposed rule changes about which he has the greatest concerns. “Everybody knows that they don’t have the man-power to enforce all these rules,” he said. “The main thing with rules, people will accept most of them if they are fair and everybody has to follow them, but if they’re not fair, then that’s what they raise questions.”

Powell also said that he has doubts about the specifics concerning proposed changes to use of the riding crop. “Let’s say a jockey whips his horse and wins a race, do you fine the jockey? Do you DQ him? And if you DQ him, where do you DQ him? Behind the second horse? Behind the third horse? Let’s say you have a five-horse field and all five jockeys whip their horses, do they all get disqualified?” he said. “Many of these rules are good, but they’re all a little utopic. They didn’t seem to have thought about how they’re going to work in the real world.”

Earlier on Sunday, Daily Racing Form reported that Gunmetal Gray, winner of the GIII Sham S., suffered a condylar fracture after a workout at Santa Anita on Sunday morning, and was to undergo surgery later in the day. Terry Finley, president and chief executive of West Point Thoroughbreds, which co-owns the colt, said the injury “doesn’t appear to be career-threatening.”

Santa Anita also announced Sunday its for when racing is expected to resume. The $600,000 GI Santa Anita H. will be run on GI Santa Anita Derby Day, Saturday, Apr. 6.


By My Standards, War of Will Doing Well Sunday

Sun, 2019-03-24 18:03

By My Standards (Goldencents) and War of Will (War Front), the upset winner and beaten favorite, respectively, in Saturday’s GII Louisiana Derby, were both doing well Sunday according to their trainers.

By My Standards will ship from Fair Grounds to Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning to prepare for the May 4 GI Kentucky Derby.

“Hopefully we’ll get an easy breeze in 12, 13, 14 days,” said conditioner Bret Calhoun, who has never had a starter in the Kentucky Derby before. “He worked a little quicker up to this race than he had previously, so hopefully we can take it easy first work back then give him another easy one after that. Then we’ll do a little bit more after that in the middle there. He’s ready. We have to maintain what we’ve got. The Derby is a whole different deal. It’s not just the race, it’s everything that goes into going up there. We’ll do a lot of stuff preparing him for that. He’s got a great mind, we’re lucky in that sense that he’ll handle everything.”

Things did not go nearly as smoothly on Saturday for impressive GIII Lecomte S. and GII Risen Star S. War of Will, who took some awkward steps shortly after the start and was “significantly off” after finishing ninth, according to trainer Mark Casse.

Casse issued a more upbeat report Sunday morning, and said a start on the first Saturday in May was still a possibility for the Gary Barber colorbearer.

“It’s amazing how much better he was today,” Casse said. “I just feel fortunate that he’s okay first and foremost. We’re fairly certain that he probably caught his patella a little bit right at the start. So what we’ll do is we’ll do some exercising and probably laser treatment to strengthen the patella muscle. But we feel optimistic that we can still make the Derby.”

War of Will will ship to Keeneland on Tuesday and remain under the supervision of Casse’s assistant trainer David Carroll.

“We’re going to change his exercise a bit for a while, just try to strengthen his patella ligaments,” Casse said. “It’s something that as a trainer for 40 years, I’ve been dealing with patella ligaments since the beginning of my career, but I’ve never seen one catch like that one did. But the good news is he was happy this morning.”

GII Fair Grounds Oaks heroine Street Band (Istan) was also reportedly in fine fettle Sunday, while beaten favorite Serengeti Empress (Alternation) was fine after bleeding and being vanned off. Trainer Tom Amoss told the Fair Grounds press department that “no time table and no racing plans” had yet been made for the latter.


A New Beginning for Omega Farms

Sun, 2019-03-24 15:28

HALLANDALE, FL – The last time Juvenal Diaz’s Omega Farms had a consignment at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale was 2012 when the auction was held at Palm Meadows. The Ocala-based operation will be making its debut in Hallandale when the sale makes its fifth appearance at Gulfstream Park Wednesday.

“I thought I had some horses who belonged here,” Diaz said of his decision to sell at the boutique auction. “I think they have pedigree and they have talent. We are going to give them the chance.”

Diaz will offer three horses at the Gulfstream sale, led off by a colt by Hard Spun out of Grade I winner Malibu Mint (Malibu Moon) (hip 74). The juvenile, a $75,000 purchase at the Keeneland September sale, is a full-brother to recent stakes-placed sophomore Malibu Party.

“He is a little immature–he is just turning two,” Diaz said of the Mar. 22 foal. “He looks like his dad, he looks like a stallion. The sister is little, but this is a big colt.”

Omega Farms will offer hip 136, a colt by Into Mischief, on behalf of a client. The bay, a Mar. 30 foal, is the first out of Sky Mirage (Sky Mesa), a half-sister to Group 1 winner Kinsale King (Yankee Victor) and graded stakes winner Victoria’s Wildcat (Bellamy Road).

“This horse trains like a storm,” Diaz said of the $240,000 Keeneland September graduate. “Instead of trying to get him to go faster, I was trying to get him to slow down. He keeps himself fit. I just try to teach him how to run and that’s it. He is full of energy and smart, but he wants to go all the time.”

The Omega trio is rounded out by hip 163, a colt from the first crop of GI Belmont S. winner Tonalist (Tapit) out of stakes winner and graded-placed West Coast Swing (Gone West). The bay was a $35,000 Keeneland September purchase. West Coast Swing is out of an unraced full-sister to champion Dance Smartly (Danzig).

“He is a beautiful horse,” Diaz said of hip 163. “He is a beautiful mover and very smart. People want a classy horse and he has a Classic pedigree to be any kind of horse. His mother is a stakes winner by Gone West–you don’t see those kind of mares anymore. And the second dam is a full-sister to Dance Smartly. He looks like one of those horses.”

Diaz, who said he aims to pinhook only six to eight horses a year, has an impressive list of graduates come out of his operation, led by champion Blind Luck (Pollard’s Vision), who he purchased for $11,000 as a Fasig-Tipton July yearling in 2008 before selling privately after she RNA’d for $10,000 at OBS April the following spring. Grade I winner Glitter Woman (Glitterman), an $8,000 July yearling, also failed to find a new buyer at OBS April in 1996. And Gentlemen’s Bet (Half Ours), bred by Diaz, was withdrawn from two juvenile sales in 2011.

In the farm’s last Fasig Florida consignment in 2012, future graded stakes winner Baby J (J Be K) RNA’d for $65,000 after working a furlong in :10 2/5.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had the fastest works–I just train them like they are going to go to the races.” Diaz said.

Taking Gentlemen’s Bet, third in the 2013 GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint, as an example, Diaz said, “He was just a laid-back horse and I didn’t push him. So I had to scratch him because I wasn’t going to get anything for him. And this is a horse that can go :43 in change in the Breeders’ Cup. But he was a laid-back colt and I hate to push them. I don’t want to do that. I concentrate on bringing them to the sale with sound mind and body and if they look good doing it, they are not afraid to buy them from me. They don’t have to have the fastest work and a lot of people know that about me.”

A day ahead of Monday’s under-tack preview of the Gulfstream auction, Diaz acknowledged the importance of the pre-sale workout.

“It all depends on the work,” he said. “Everything has to be that day. Not earlier or later.”

Still he cautioned buyers to beware of basing all their decisions on the fastest breeze times.

“I always try to tell the sales companies, ‘Why don’t you advertise what the horse worked in and then what he did after he worked that way?’ I know :10 is faster than :11. Anybody can see that. It makes sense. But in racehorses, it doesn’t work that way.”

Diaz pointed out Saturday’s GII Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards (Goldencents).

“If you look at the Louisiana Derby horse, he worked in :10 3/5 at OBS when everybody goes :9 4/5s and a hundred horses work in :10 flat. He went in :10 3/5 and he won the Louisiana Derby yesterday. If that gets publicized, maybe the owners won’t be afraid to buy a horse, so it’s not a horse that goes in :10 1/5 will bring $1 million and one that goes in :10 3/5 brings $30,000.”

The under-tack show for the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale will begin at 9 a.m. Monday. The sale will be held Wednesday in the track’s paddock, with bidding scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

Timely Headlines for Scanlon

Sun, 2019-03-24 15:23

HALLANDALE, FL – As David Scanlon prepares for his first consignment of the juvenile sales season at Wednesday’s Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Selected 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, his program received some timely headlines when By My Standards (Goldencents) upset Saturday’s GII Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. Scanlon sold the colt for $150,000 at last year’s OBS April Sale.

“He was a beautiful horse,” Scanlon recalled. “He was a little young, but he was a big, beautiful-framed horse. He came into the sale nice, but he worked on a tough day last year. That was the day we had the 15 mph headwinds. So he worked :10 3/5, which wasn’t ideal, but still he was a good mover. He was just a horse who had all the right parts, but he hadn’t filled out yet.”

Scanlon wasn’t surprised By My Standards became a graded stakes winner, but he did admit that the success had come sooner than anticipated.

“I had heard he had been working well and I knew his maiden win was good,” Scanlon said. “I had kept up with Josh Stevens, who bought him, and he told me he was doing well. When I saw the entries, I said, ‘Man, he must really be doing good for him to come off the maiden and be entered here.’ It wouldn’t surprise me that he was a horse that, down the road, going two turns, was going to be a decent horse.”

By My Standards’s exploits came at a perfect time for Scanlon, who will offer two juveniles at the Gulfstream sale, followed by 25 at the OBS April sale and an additional 17 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” Scanlon said. “It’s perfect timing when you’re heading into the bulk of the sales to get an update like that. We were thrilled–it gives your consignment a little bit extra.”

Scanlon’s Gulfstream team is made up of a colt by Shakin It Up (hip 83) and a filly by Liam’s Map (hip 138).

Hip 83 is out of Mon Ange (Wolf Power {SAf}), a half-sister to Grade I-placed Key Hunter (Jade Hunter) and to the dam of multiple graded stakes winner Pants on Fire (Jump Start). He was an $80,000 purchase at last year’s Fasig-Tipton July sale.

“The Shakin It Up, maybe we didn’t pay as much as some of the horses in here, but he’s a really pretty, mature horse with a really good body,” Scanlon said. “We figured with him, I was looking for a really nice horse at a decent price and he fit the picture. Sometimes we go for the off-sire a little bit. I’m a big fan of doing that, just going for the athletic individual. When you are working with a budget a little bit, sometimes you have to give something up and sometimes I’ll say, ‘Hey, I’ll take the athlete,’ and maybe give up the well-known sire power.”

That approach worked for Scanlon three years ago when he purchased a bay youngster by Friesan Fire for $35,000 as a yearling in 2015 and resold him the following May in Timonium for $825,000. That successful pinhook turned into subsequent Grade I winner and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Army Mule.

Hip 138 is from the highly hyped first crop of multiple Grade I winner Liam’s Map. Out of graded stakes-placed Sonja’s Angel (Smoke Glacken), she was purchased by Bruno DeBerdt on behalf of Khalid Mishref for $190,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“The Liam’s Map has the pedigree and is by a hot first-year sire,” Scanlon said. “I knew she would work well here.”

Scanlon said he expects to see a continued demand for high-end horses at the Gulfstream sale, but he is also hoping for a broadening of the middle market.

“I think it’s going to be a good sale,” he said. “It’s kind of like everything else, good horses are going to sell well. And you just hope for a strong middle market to get a good clearance and a good horse sale.”

Body and Soul: Bouncing Along

Sun, 2019-03-24 13:58

Because it’s a synthetic track, one cannot exactly say that the “dust” has settled from the exuberant show that the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company put on at the first 2-year-old sale of the season earlier this month. But if observers and stat mavens thought there was a bit of a “bounce” in the surface, they’ve got another think coming.

Although the breeze times were almost uniformly off the charts, the graphs below show they were not so different than those posted last year for an eighth of a mile. However, there was a major disparity in the quarter mile times below 21.2 seconds, which ironically turned out to be the median time (we call it Par) for the distance in both years.

Indeed, the more we looked at it, the more we realized that the “major disparity” may have been due to the substantial numbers that breezed that were sired by members of the Freshmen crop of 2019–and that raised more than a bit of an curiosity. So, we went on a hunt.

By the time we’d chased all the stats down, we had enough data to suggest that the Freshman crop had more than a little impact on the two of the many factors that we associate with a successful breeze: time and stride length. Even though we take more factors into account in our BreezeFigs algorithm (such as angulation, efficiency, power follow-through), work time and how it matches stride time is a factor.While speed is very important, we have discovered over the years that stride length can give more of a clue to future success. For example, we compile all the 2-year-old race records for all the horses that breezed (not just sold) at each of the major sales every year and the results are always in the same ballpark as they were for the recently concluded compilation for the 2018 sales–i.e. more than 90% of the 34 stakes winners last year that came out of those sales had stride lengths that were longer than average for their sex for distance and day they breezed.

When we saw how this year’s breeze times compared to last year’s, we went deeper into the stats and isolated the “wild card,” which is the freshmen crops, in a way this gives us an idea how the crop might do against the general population when they start meeting older horses. Just as important, we also get a sharper focus on which ones might fare against their peers.

The results of the study showed that 150 foals by 29 stallions in the 2019 crop breezed at OBS March (31% of the breezes) as opposed to 108 foals by 22 sires that breezed last year (23% of the breezes). The overall stride lengths for both sales at a furlong were about the same for the freshmen and the sale as a whole, but the difference in the quarter-mile stride lengths was another story. The 2019 sale as a whole had about 12%-per-foot longer stride lengths at a quarter than last year. The 2019 freshmen, however, had about a 25%-per-foot advantage over the sale as a whole, and a 50%-per-foot superior to the freshmen of 2018–that latter stat is quite significant.

In two of our dispatches last year, we looked at the yearlings by the current freshman crop and came to a conclusion that this could be the most uniformly strong bunch of young stallions to come along in quite some time. While we, like many others, gave a tip of the hat to American Pharoah, Honor Code and Liam’s Map as probably best situated for the long run, there were several others whose offspring caught the eye, and biomechanical favoritism. It was interesting that of the top three, only American Pharoah was represented by enough that breezed (six) to qualify for a closer look.

Our minimum of five that breezed gave us good data on a number of the 29 freshmen which are likely to fill out their cards in April (although it must be said that Liam’s Map, as well as American Pharoah, will be very well represented at this week’s Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale).

Here, then, is an impressionistic round-up, by self-serving category, of what we saw in person, and on spreadsheets, in Ocala.

Run Like an Egyptian: American Pharoah sent out half a dozen and five of them rang more than one bell. They look like they can stalk and pounce and may do it earlier than most expected.

Florida Break-Outs: Never was a horse better named than The Big Beast, whose first crop left tongues wagging about uniform size, fastest furlong (9.3), and stride length consistency. He’s a son of the good-sized Yes It’s True, so Bold Ruler is looking down upon him with a smile. Khozan is an interesting son of Distorted Humor whose offspring moved well and looked well and just may run well.

“B” All You Can Be: Bayern snuck up on a lot of observers at the yearling sales and came through with seven speedy runners here who showed a variety of potential aptitudes that buyers liked.

“C” Here: Five stallions whose names begin with C sent out an almost uniformly diverse bunch–that expression meaning that there were some really nice ones and a few which didn’t quite catch the ring. Carpe Diem and Commissioner showed more overall consistency in speed vs. stride lengths, but Constitution and Competitive Edge had some high moments while Florida-based Chitu looks like he might get the speedy type.

Devil You Say: Probably the surprise of the sale, the five fillies and one colt by Daredevil, a son of More Than Ready, were fast and almost uniform in admirable stride lengths.

Break the Rules: This correspondent has often startled folks with a self-made axiom, “Never breed to a stallion whose name you can’t pronounce.” What, then, do we do about Fast Anna, who is, mind you, a male? Based on the performances of the six of his offspring that breezed at OBS the answer is that the ones in April will be worth looking at.

The Profile Still Holds: Based on our program which projects the potential of a stallion to succeed as a sire when his biomechanics are matched against various books of mares, Palace Malice, Tapiture and Wicked Strong all scored relatively well. Each had a bevy of breezers at OBS and there were some neat ones and some that may miss the mark as racehorses, but overall they projected as stallions who are worth noting for all the upcoming sales.

And that will be a very long season which may shake out projected leaders once the major sales are done in Florida, Kentucky, Maryland and California. Meanwhile, their offspring will be bouncing along. Road to the Triple Crown Throwdown: Sunland Derby

Sat, 2019-03-23 19:33

Ed DeRosa of takes on TDN’s Steve Sherack and Brian DiDonato as they handicap each prep race leading up to the GI Kentucky Derby. The three will make $100 Win/Place bets-highest bankroll after Arkansas Derby/Lexington day wins.

DiDonato: GII Louisiana Derby – It was another profitable prep with Spinoff getting second (+$340), but I hear Sherack’s footsteps after that great longshot selection of By My Standards. Bankroll: $10,665.

GIII Sunland Derby – Truthfully, I didn’t really understand the infatuation with Cutting Humor in the GIII Southwest, and he checked in seventh as the chalk that day. He was trapped out four deep for pretty much the entire race, however, and moved too soon into a pace that collapsed. He was flattered to an extent when Southwest third finisher Long Range Toddy came back to take the GII Rebel, and perhaps more so by Bourbon War, who beat him at Gulfstream two back before his close second in the GII Fountain of Youth. It’s not hard to envision a pace collapse given the complexion of this field, and Cutting Humor is certainly one of those who should benefit. Selection: #5 Cutting Humor (8-1).

Sherack: GII Louisiana Derby – Back in business! Big run from By My Standards to pull off a 22-1 upset after sitting a perfect trip. Bankroll: $4730.

GIII Sunland Derby – Between the anticipated hot early pace and question marks surrounding the likely favorites, this looks like a good spot for Cutting Humor to finally put it all together. A strong second behind the talented Bourbon War with a wide trip in his mid-January comebacker, nothing seemed to go his way when favored in the GIII Southwest last time. While he doesn’t appear to be the easiest horse to ride (encouraging to see Johnny V aboard again), he could sit a dream trip if able to settle early. Selection: #5 Cutting Humor (8-1).

DeRosa: GII Louisiana Derby Bankit finished seventh at 22-1. Bankroll: $680.

GIII Sunland Derby – We are likely to get an overlaid price on Anothertwistafate for two reasons: he’s coming off a synthetic score in the El Camino Real Derby, and Bob Baffert is shipping in Mucho Gusto. The reality, though, is Anothertwistafate has been just as fast as these, is proven at the distance, and offers the right price to win this. He’s also the type of horse I’d look to back in the final Kentucky Derby Future Wager off a win here. Selection: #2 Anothertwistafate (3-1).

Click here for Sunland Derby Ultimate PPs from

Goldencents Colt Blows Up the Tote in LA Derby

Sat, 2019-03-23 18:38

BY MY STANDARDS (c, 3, Goldencents–A Jealous Woman, by Muqtarib) became the first graded winner from his MGISW sire (by Into Mischief)’s first crop with a 22-1 upset in the GII Louisiana Derby. The bay kept a close eye on the leaders from a ground-saving fourth through moderate early splits. Slipping through on the fence to take the advantage in early stretch, he was confronted by Spinoff (Hard Spun) to his outside, but kept on finding to skip clear of that rival in the final strides and secure his spot in the gate for the Run for the Roses. Favored war of Will (War Front) never threatened and finished well back. Runner-up on debut in a sloppy Churchill sprint Nov. 24, By My Standards filled the same spot in a two-turn test at Fair Grounds Dec. 22 and was third next out in NOLA Jan. 19. He broke through last time with a 4 1/4-length graduation going 1 1/16 miles over this strip Feb. 16. Lifetime Record: 5-2-2-1.

O-Allied Racing Stable LLC; B-Don Ladd (KY); T-Bret Calhoun.

Saturday, Fair Grounds
TWINSPIRES.COM LOUISIANA DERBY-GII, $1,000,000, Fair Grounds, 3-23, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:49.53, ft.
1–BY MY STANDARDS, 122, c, 3, by Goldencents
1st Dam: A Jealous Woman (MSW & GSP, $469,956),
by Muqtarib
2nd Dam: Miss Free Bird, by Fly So Free
3rd Dam: Stormfeather, by Storm Bird
2yo ’18 OBSAPR). O-Allied Racing Stable, LLC; B-Don Ladd (KY);
T-W. Bret Calhoun; J-Gabriel Saez. $600,000. Lifetime Record:
5-2-2-1, $653,710. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Spinoff, 122, c, 3, Hard Spun–Zaftig, by Gone West.
O/B-Wertheimer Et Frere (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $200,000.
3–Sueno, 122, c, 3, Atreides–Class Above, by Quiet American.
($1,500 Wlg ’16 KEENOV; $61,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-Silverton
Hill LLC; B-Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc (KY); T-J. Keith
Desormeaux. $100,000.
Margins: 3/4, 5, 3/4. Odds: 22.50, 4.30, 7.80.
Also Ran: Country House, Mr. Money, Roiland, Bankit, Hog Creek Hustle, War of Will, Limonite, Lemniscate. Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.



Istan’s Street Band Upsets the Fair Grounds Oaks

Sat, 2019-03-23 18:01

Street Band sprung a 10-1 upset and stamped her ticket to Churchill Downs on the First Friday in May with a decisive score in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks. Saving ground early, Street Band raced in a joint third just off the heels of heavily favored MGSW Serengeti Empress (Alternation), who registered comfortable early splits pf :24.12 and :47.48. Liora gunned up the outside to seize control rounding the far turn and the chalk threw in the towel, quickly fading on the fence. Taken out two wide on the turn, Street Band was just finding her best stride in the final sixteenth and coasted clear of Liora late to win as she pleased. Liora held second over Sweet Diane and favored Serengeti Empress was pulled up and vanned off. Afterwards, her conditioner Tom Amoss said, “She bled. She’s 100% sound.”

“In the last race, her head was up, I was getting hounded from behind and I didn’t have as much room,” said winning rider Sophie Doyle. “Today we just had a beautiful trip and everything set up right. Her head dropped down today and she traveled into the bit, the last time her head was up and she was fighting me a bit and every step was like relax filly, relax. Today she took it like a professional and traveled great. When I asked her down the back, I just squeezed and said what do we have in the tank at this point. She filled her lungs up again around the turn and, when I called on her, she got that little split to make a run and she opened up and she exploded.”

This was the fourth Fair Grounds Oaks victory for trainer Larry Jones, whose past winners include MGISW I’m a Chatterbox (Munnings) (2015) and GI Kentucky Oaks heroines Believe You Can (Proud Citizen) (2012) and Proud Spell (Proud Citizen) (2008). Jones did capture his third Kentucky Oaks in 2015 as well, but did so with I’m a Chatterbox’s stablemate Lovely Maria (Majesticperfection). In addition to the aforementioned Jones fillies, the Fair Grounds Oaks has produced seven other Kentucky Oaks winners in Untapable (2014), Rachel Alexandra (2009), Summerly (2005), Ashado (2004), Silverbulletday (1999), Blushing K. D. (1997) and Tiffany Lass (1986).

Closing out her sophomore campaign with a third-place finish in a NOLA optional claimer Dec. 21, Street Band opened her sophomore account with a nose victory over this strip Jan. 13 and was fourth to Serengeti Empress last time in the GII Rachel Alexandra S. Feb. 16.

Pedigree Notes:

Street Band is the fifth graded winner and ninth black-type winner for her sire Istan. Jones trained her dam Street Minstrel, a daughter of GISW Minstrel’s Lassie (The Minstrel), to a pair of victories at Oaklawn Park in 2007. All six of her foals of racing age are winners, but Street Band is her first black-type victress. The 15-year-old mare produced a full-sister to the winner in 2017 named Street Missy and had a Summer Front colt in 2018. Street Minstrel was bred back to that young Airdrie stallion last season.

Saturday, Fair Grounds
TWINSPIRES.COM FAIR GROUNDS OAKS-GII, $392,000, Fair Grounds, 3-23, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m, 1:44.54, ft.
1–STREET BAND, 122, f, 3, by Istan
1st Dam: Street Minstrel, by Street Cry (Ire)
2nd Dam: Minstrel’s Lassie, by The Minstrel
3rd Dam: Syriasly, by Damascus
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. O/B-Larry Jones, Cindy Jones & Francis Ray (KY); T-J. Larry Jones; J-Sophie Doyle. $240,000. Lifetime Record: 8-3-0-2, $310,325. Werk Nick Rating: D. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Liora, 122, f, 3, Candy Ride (Arg)–Giant Mover, by Giant’s Causeway. ($175,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-Coffeepot Stables; B-Dell Ridge Farm, LLC (KY); T-Wayne M. Catalano. $80,000.
3–Sweet Diane, 122, f, 3, Will Take Charge–Inside Passage, by Tiznow. ($130,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP; $95,000 RNA 2yo ’18 OBSAPR). O-Stallionaire Enterprises LLC; B-Eurowest Bloodstock Services (KY); T-Michael Stidham. $40,000.
Margins: 3 3/4, 2, 2 1/4. Odds: 10.90, 8.30, 18.20.
Also Ran: Eres Tu, Speedette, Slewgoodtobetrue, Serengeti Empress. Scratched: Crescentcitypretty.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


Mucho Gusto Looms Large in Sunland Derby

Sat, 2019-03-23 13:55

‘TDN Rising Star’ Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) will be the horse to beat Sunday when he lines up for the GIII Sunland Park Derby. Following his impressive debut win at Los Alamitos Sept. 20 with a victory in the GIII Bob Hope S. Nov. 17, the $625,000 EASMAY buy suffered his lone loss when second to stablemate and fellow ‘Rising Star’ Improbable (City Zip) in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity Dec. 8. The chestnut rebounded with a decisive score in the 1 1/16-mile GIII Robert B. Lewis over a sloppy Santa Anita surface Feb. 2 and enters this nine-panel test off a six-furlong breeze in 1:13 3/5 (2/11) at Santa Anita Mar. 18.

Also making the trip in from California is Anothertwistafate (Scat Daddy), whose three wins came over the Golden Gate synthetic. A non-factor ninth when making his career bow in a six-furlong test on the dirt at Santa Anita Nov. 3, the dark bay donned cap and gown by four lengths when extended to 1 1/16 miles at Golden Gate Dec. 9. Wiring the field for a five-length score in an optional claimer over that strip Jan. 4, the $360,000 OBSOPN purchase romped by seven lengths last time in that venue’s nine-furlong El Camino Real Derby Feb. 16. He is already proven at this distance, so the real question with this runner is whether he can run on dirt or is a synthetic specialist.

New Mexico native Hustle Up (Abstraction) is a perfect four-for-four at Sunland Park, including a win in the local prep for this test, the Mine That Bird Derby Feb. 24. Closing out his juvenile campaign with a win in the state-bred Steve Prather S. at Zia Park Dec. 10, the gelding followed suit with a win in the NM-bred Red Hedeman Mile S. here Feb. 2. Going straight to the lead in the Mine That Bird Derby, he bested the Steve Asmussen-trained Wicked Indeed (Tapit) by a length and Walker Stalker (Stroll) was another four lengths back in third.


CBA Issues Statement on Bisphosphonates

Sat, 2019-03-23 11:51

The Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association (CBA) has called the off-label usage of bisphosphonates in horses under four years of age `unacceptable’ in a statement issued Saturday morning.

The statement read: “The Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association (CBA) and its members are first and foremost concerned about equine health. The recent tragedies in California have led to a full examination of how our industry cares for horses from the moment a foal hits the ground all the way up until an injury occurs. Conclusions have been made that the use of bisphosphonates in horses younger than 4 years old has led to unintended and dangerous side effects that weaken our equine athletes. While it is believed that the rate of usage in foals and yearlings has been limited, the CBA believes any “off label” use of bisphosphonates in young horses is unacceptable.”

According to a report by Dan Ross in Friday’s TDN, in 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of two bisphosphonates-Tiludronate (Tildren) and Clodronate (Osphos)-in horses four and older to help control the symptoms associated with navicular syndrome. But many in the industry are concerned about the off-label use of these drugs, especially in young horses, including those being prepared for the sales. That’s because, rather than strengthening bones as intended, misuse of these drugs could make them weaker, more susceptible to fractures.

Injured Former Jock to Compete in Half-Marathon

Fri, 2019-03-22 16:20

Armando Rivera, 58, a paraplegic since a northern California racing accident at 18, will race his wheelchair in the March 30 “Run The Bluegrass” half-marathon in the area surrounding Keeneland. Keeneland will be sponsoring Rivera who has competed in over 40 such races around the country.

Rivera’s racing attire includes a shirt or cap with a Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund logo and often uses the monthly stipend he receives from the PDJF to pay his racing entrance fees.

“I’m on a mission,” he said. “Racing gives me a challenge and I have to keep pushing. I’m racing to raise awareness for my fellow injured jockeys and that’s important to me.”

Rivera was one of the six catastrophically-injured jockeys honored at last summer’s Jockeys and Jeans Event at Canterbury Park and will attend the group’s PDJF fundraiser at Santa Anita June 22.

“At the event last summer we all noted Armando had biceps bigger than most jockeys’ thighs,” said Barry Pearl, the group’s president. “He is a shining example of the overcoming spirit inherent in all the jockeys who suffered catastrophic injuries. We thank Keeneland and their President and CEO Bill Thomason for making this possible and we hope a lot of folks come out to cheer for him. But in Armando’s case, no matter where he finishes, he’s still a winner.”


Trio of FL Derby Contenders Breeze

Fri, 2019-03-22 15:29

Bourbon War (Tapit), Hidden Scroll (Hard Spun) and Maximum Security (New Year’s Day) all breezed Friday morning in preparation for the Mar. 30 GI Florida Derby.

GII Fountain of Youth S. runner-up Bourbon War breezed a half-mile in :49.88 (19/30) at Gulfstream (video).

“He did well,” trainer Mark Hennig said. “He came home in :49.88, I think they caught him in. I was looking for a little quicker than that, but the track was not real sharp this morning. I told my rider I’d rather you err on the side of too slow than too fast. The horse is fit. We just want to get him safely over there next Saturday.”

Over at Payson Park, ‘TDN Rising Star’ Hidden Scroll worked in company under exercise rider Neil Poznansky, covering five panels in a bullet 1:02.40 (1/7) (video).

“It was a very nice work,” said Hall of Famer Bill Mott. “He worked with a stablemate. The time of 1:02, the way the racetrack was today, I think it was a very useful work. He sat off his company and he finished up and went by inside the eighth-pole with a reasonable good gallop-out. He seemed very good in the work. He was very manageable. We sat him in behind a horse and he was real calm. They went off slow enough and he wasn’t anxious. He was content to follow another horse. He approached the quarter-pole and got into the bridle and finished up well.”

The Juddmonte homebred was last seen finishing fourth as the favorite after setting the pace in the Fountain of Youth.

“I think it was a matter of learning for us,” said Mott, who also conditions fellow Juddmonte homebred and GII Tampa Bay Derby winner Tacitus (Tapit). “We thought from the beginning we could do anything with him. The last work we sat him right in behind and ate a lot of dirt. He was fine doing that. Today we sat him in behind, but we sat him off to the side, so he wasn’t getting dirt. He saw daylight but he saw another horse in front of him and he seemed kind about that as well.”

Undefeated Maximum Security breezed a slow half-mile in :52.95 (63/63) at Palm Meadows Friday. The Gary and Mary West homebred is a perfect-three-for-three at Gulfstream, but takes a big jump up in class next weekend.

“I thought he had a good breeze. He came home in :12,” trainer Jason Servis said. “I would still like to not commit, but I would say we are on schedule.”

The Wests’ Final Jeopardy (Street Sense) also breezed four furlongs in a soft :52.80 (59/63) and is being considered for either the Florida Derby or the Apr. 6 GII Wood Memorial S. at Aqueduct.

“We’re looking at the Wood Memorial. It’s not a definite but we’re kind of looking at that,” said Servis. “He galloped out really good. That race is a mile and an eighth so I’m feeling a little better about the work. But it’s not definite yet.” Road to the Triple Crown Throwdown: Louisiana Derby

Fri, 2019-03-22 15:27

Ed DeRosa of takes on TDN’s Steve Sherack and Brian DiDonato as they handicap each prep race leading up to the GI Kentucky Derby. The three will make $100 Win/Place bets-highest bankroll after Arkansas Derby/Lexington day wins.

DiDonato: Rebel x2 Improbable (+$120) endured a somewhat awkward trip and just missed. Jersey Agenda settled for fifth after failing to make the lead. Bankroll: $10,325.

GII Louisiana Derby – I want the horse with the most upside in the race if I’m going to try and beat War of Will, and I’m pretty sure that horse is Spinoff (no disrespect to Country House, who also ran well last time). The well-bred Wertheimer homebred flashed talent in two juvenile tries, and returned from a break to run up the score in a Tampa optional claimer last month. He dueled through fast splits with a horse who was also stretching out, and that foe stopped to be last. Trainer Todd Pletcher has successfully used an easy race at Tampa as a springboard to bigger and better in recent years (i.e. Always Dreaming, Outwork, etc.), and he already owns a record four wins in this event. Plus Spinoff is obviously bred to be any kind as a son and grandson of Grade I winners Zaftig and Zoftig. Selection: #10 Spinoff (8-1).

Sherack: Rebel x2 – Wide trip, layoff and all, it was still pretty surprising to see Improbable get run down late as the heavy chalk. Laughing Fox, meanwhile, never fired in round two of the Rebel. Bankroll: $1550.

GII Louisiana Derby – War of Will is a very deserving favorite and the clear-cut horse to beat, but I’ll go for a longshot with some upside. By My Standards ran well enough in defeat in a trio of live-looking races to kick off his career, then posted a breakthrough maiden win, clocking his final three-eighths in a sharp :31.57 going two turns over this track last time. The bay will need another leap forward, but between the flashy worktab and favorable inside draw, the price will be right to see if he’s good enough. Selection: #5 By My Standards (12-1).

DeRosa: Rebel x2 –  Corruze was a late scratch; Our Braintrust finished last of 10. Bankroll: $680.

GII Louisiana Derby – War of Will is a great study in how much you trust your eyes over data. The War Front colt has looked great winning all three of his starts on dirt, including the Lecomte and Risen Star S. heading into the Louisiana Derby, but he has not registered fast numbers in doing so with a consistent string of mid 90s Speed Ratings. That’s been faster than the rest to date, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be fastest in the Lousiana Derby, especially at odds on. We’ll take a shot with Bankit, who has a similar profile to stablemate Long Range Toddy in that he gets a jockey change for this test. Bankit flashed good talent at two that he seemed to be circling back to last out. If he busts through, he’s a player in this heat at 20-1 morning line. Selection: #9 Bankit (20-1).

Click here for Louisiana Derby Ultimate PPs from

Belmont Increases Spring/Summer Meet Purses

Fri, 2019-03-22 15:11

Maiden special weight races at Belmont Park for the spring/summer meet will see purses increase from $75,000 to $80,000, while similar $5,000 purse increases will be implemented for first-and-second-level allowance races.

First-level allowance purses will now be $82,000 and second-level will be upped to $85,000. Third-level allowance races will be worth $87,000, marking a $2,000 increase from 2018.

The 48-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet, featuring 59 total stakes races worth $18.4 million, will start Friday, April 26 and run through Sunday, July 7.

NYRA will also continue the under-20 claiming challenge, implemented to boost trainers with stables of 20 or fewer horses, where points are accumulated based on placing in claiming races.


’18 Fatality Rate Similar Year-Over-Year According to Injury Database

Fri, 2019-03-22 13:55

Data analysis from the Equine Injury Database for the year 2018 resulted in an aggregate fatality rate of 1.68 per 1,000 starts, The Jockey Club announced Friday. Prof. Tim Parkin, veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow and consultant to the EID, concluded that the year-over-year difference from 1.6 fatalities per 1,000 starts was not statistically significant.

From 2009 to 2018, the fatal injury rates were as follows: 2.00, 1.88, 1.88, 1.92, 1.90, 1.89, 1.62, 1.54, 1.61, 1.68. Detailed graphs with statistics grouped by surface, distance and age can be viewed here.

“Analysis of the EID has demonstrated that there are a multitude of factors that contribute to the risk of fatal injuries in Thoroughbred racehorses,” said Prof. Parkin. “Moving forward, we should focus on the medications present in horses during racing and training, transparency of veterinary records for all starters and the collection of injury data from morning training hours.”

Two-year-olds had a significantly lower fatal injury rate of 1.28 per 1,000 compared 1.72 per 1,000 for older horses.

Since the EID began in 2009, there has been a 16% drop in all fatal injuries, including an 11% drop in dirt races, 38% decrease in turf races and 17% drop on synthetic tracks.

Since March of 2012, tracks have had the option to voluntarily publish their fatal injury rates–of the 25 self-reporting tracks for 2018, the aggregate rate was 1.51.

On average, the lowest average rate (1.45) was seen among the following tracks that disclose their fatality rates and are accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Safety and Integrity Alliance: Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Indiana Grand Race Course, Keeneland, Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Race Course, Suffolk Downs, Turfway Park and Woodbine Racetrack.

Since its inception, 109 racetracks have provided data to the EID–tracks hosting approximately 98% of all flat racing cards in 2019 are expected to contribute.

World of Trouble to Carter Next

Thu, 2019-03-21 17:53

After pondering a trip to Dubai with their star dual-surface sprinter, the connections of World of Trouble (Kantharos) will stay home and contest the GI Carter H. Apr. 6 at Aqueduct, co-owner Michael Dubb confirmed to TDN Thursday. The story was first reported by Daily Racing Form.

“He’s just a relatively young horse and we didn’t want to ask him to do too much too soon,” Dubb said of passing on sending his 4-year-old colt overseas for either the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen or G1 Al Quoz Sprint Mar. 30 at Meydan. “We didn’t want to risk the possibility of sapping him for the season and thought it was important to take it one step at a time.”

Announcing himself with a 13 1/2-length romp in the Pasco S. last winter at Tampa Bay Downs, the bay finished third when favored while stretching out in the GII Tampa Bay Derby. Running a strong fourth after contesting a scorching pace in the GII Woody Stephens S., World of Trouble annexed the Quick Call S. and Allied Forces S. when switched to grass and just missed by a neck against eventual champion Stormy Liberal (Stormy Atlantic) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. He closed out his sophomore campaign with a dominant conquest of the FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire S. back in Oldsmar and captured the washed-off Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint S. last out Jan. 26.

Dubb added that after potentially picking up his first first graded stakes victory in the Carter, the Jason Servis trainee could be pointed to a big-money event on GI Belmont S. day, although on which surface is up in the air.

“We would look at the [GII] Jaipur or possibly the [GI] Met Mile,” he said. “We’ll just handicap the opportunities and discuss it amongst me and Jason, the partners, and we’ll figure it out. We’re going to let the Carter tell us whether we want to stretch him out and stay on dirt or go back to sprinting on turf.”

A return trip to the Breeders’ Cup remains the year-end goal for World of Trouble, but surface as well as distance will weigh in the decision. While last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint was contested over 5 1/2 furlongs on a traditional course, this year’s renewal will return to the downhill course of Santa Anita at 6 1/2 furlongs. World of Trouble has never gone longer than six furlongs on grass.

“That’ll factor in, but it’s a long way off, so we’re happy to just take it one race at a time,” Dubb said.

As Discussion Turns to Bisphosphonates, Viola Commits $500K to Research

Thu, 2019-03-21 16:03

The fallout from events still unfolding at Santa Anita have re-sparked the fires simmering under a number of horse welfare issues. Few, however, have galvanized such a swift phalanx of action as that of bisphosphonates–drugs used in humans to tackle degenerative bones diseases like osteoporosis. Their use in racehorses, however, has proven controversial.

On Thursday, prominent Kentucky Derby-winning owner, Vincent “Vinnie” Viola, committed $500,000 towards vital research behind these drugs and a better system of detection, according to Terry Finley, founder and president of West Point Thoroughbreds. “He is absolutely laser-focused on these issues,” said Finley of Viola’s pledge, adding that Viola is challenging other owners to “stamp this out, and stamp it out right away. He talks the talk, and he also walks the walk.”

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of two bisphosphonates–Tiludronate (Tildren) and Clodronate (Osphos)–in horses four and older to help control the clinical symptoms associated with navicular syndrome. But many in the industry are concerned about the off-label use of these drugs, especially in young horses, including those being prepared for the sales. That’s because, rather than strengthening bones as intended, misuse of these drugs could make them weaker, more susceptible to fractures.

According to Finley, a group of individuals and organizations are also in the process of drafting a letter to be sent to the managing partners of veterinary clinics servicing racehorses around the country, appealing to veterinarians to discontinue use of these drugs on horses less than four years of age.

“Call it what you will, an appeal, a request, a demand, they’ve got to step up. I know the vast majority of vets want this drug to be used the right way on horses who are 4-year-olds and older. They have taken an oath to do right by the horse. It’s very clear that the administration of these drugs to yearlings and two-year-olds isn’t doing right by the horse,” said Finley, who added that it took Viola “30 seconds to decide that he was going to be a major supporter of this effort.”

Two key points…

California Horse Racing Board Executive Director Rick Arthur said there are “two key points” to bisphosphonates. The first? They can act as an analgesic for bone pain. The second? Bisphosphonates are toxic to certain cells vital to bone re-growth. “This means the normal bone repair process is inhibited,” said Arthur.

Bisphosphonates are currently unregulated in the U.S., though the TDN reported Wednesday that the Mid-Atlantic region will propose a partial ban of these drugs. In comparison, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) implemented in 2017 a 30-day stand-down period from racing following the administration of any bisphosphonate. What’s more, if a horse under the age of three years and six months is administered therapeutic bisphosphonates, they “will not be qualified to run under the BHA Rules of Racing at any point in its life,” the rules state.

These drugs, however, are difficult to regulate. And part of the conundrum is that too little is currently known about how long they remain in the horse’s system. “We have the ability to detect it in blood and urine up to about 100 days post administration now,” said Mary Scollay, equine medical director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. “But we don’t know how that correlates to duration of effect,” she added.

Another unknown? The length of time that bisphosphonates stay in the bone–potentially years–and how they behave for that duration. Then there’s the question of how to look for it.

“It’s not clear that we’ve got a terribly reliable method for detecting it in the bone,” said Scollay, who added that acquiring bone samples from live horses is clearly not an option. Most of the research thus far has been from “fracture fragments” through injured horses, said Scollay. “And we have not detected bisphosphonates. But again, are we looking in the right place? There’s a lot we don’t know yet.”

Indeed, there’s still so much unknown about the way bisphosphonates affect the physiology of the racehorse, with the bulk of the drug research done on humans and on animals other than horses. Nevertheless, we do know enough to support the fears of a growing number of leading industry figures.

What are they, and how do they work?…

In order to understand how bisphosphonates work, it’s important to know that bones are (or should be) in a continuous state of regrowth and renewal. This dynamic, adaptive process maintains the bone’s delicate balance of rigidity and flexibility. And at the crux of this process are cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts.

Osteoclasts dissolve, break down and absorb–as part of a process called resorption–damaged or weakened bone tissue at the site of a fracture. Osteoblasts follow behind, adding new bone to fill and mineralize the holes left by the osteoclasts. This is the fundamental, on-going mechanism at play, from large fractures down to the microfractures sustained by horses and humans on a daily basis.

“Every time you walk up the stairs, you’re going to get a microfracture somewhere in your body,” said Arthur. “It might be a tiny little thing, but you’re going to go through that, and your body’s going to repair it.”

When it comes to degenerative bone diseases, bisphosphonates inhibit the work that osteoclasts do, thereby preventing the breakdown of bone tissue–a useful tool for tackling osteoporosis.

But problems may arise if bisphosphonates are used to treat, say, sesamoiditis in a yearling being prepared for the sales. While an X-ray may give the outward impression that the bone is healthy, in actual fact, the bone tissue could be made up of dead material that’s never cleaned away in the usual manner–what experts liken to a ticking time bomb, when that potentially compromised bone is put under the duress of training and racing.

Bisphosphonates also appear to stunt healing. Veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage has been outspoken about the threats that these drugs pose to racehorse populations. In this article in the Paulick Report, Bramlage explains that fractures typically show improvement after only a couple of months. But in horses treated with bisphosphonates, original fractures are sometimes visible as much as 14 months after injury, he said.

On top of that, studies have shown that that, in cases where bisphosphonates have effectively treated lameness, it’s difficult to know just how much of the improvement was due to the drug’s pain-killing effect. Experts say analgesia post-treatment can last up to a couple of weeks.

Use in older horses…

Nevertheless, bisphosphonates can be of benefit, especially to older horses suffering navicular disease, back pain and osteoarthritis. California-based practicing veterinarian Ryan Carpenter said he uses the drug on horses only in light training, primarily on sore shins, and never close to a race, he said.

“If you use a small dose in a specific area extremely infrequently, I believe it’s a safe tool that we have in our tool box,” he said. But, “if you want to just start giving all horses bisphosphonates in systemic or full-body doses, I think you’re going to get into some serious trouble,” Carpenter added. “We’ve seen people who have done that, and they’ve regretted the decisions they’ve made.”

Carpenter said that Tildren and Osphos, non-nitrogenous bisphosphonates, aren’t as powerful as their nitrogenous cousins, and he questions whether they’re as potent as is largely suspected.

“You have to have the osteoclastic signal for the osteoblast to follow, to lay down new bone,” said Carpenter. “That’s true. But where I think we’ve failed with these bisphosphonates is that we assume that it’s an on and off switch-either they’re all on, or they’re all off.”

Nevertheless, “because it’s got such a negative press, I have a very direct conversation with the owner or the trainer as to why I’m doing it and why I think it’s a good case,” Carpenter said, who added that his approach to the drug has become increasingly more conservative over the years.

Industry voices…

As to how ubiquitously these drugs are used throughout the industry, the answer appears to be largely anecdotal.

“I wouldn’t have a clue if it was [used on] 2% of the foal crop or 22% of the foal crop or 32% of the foal crop. I have a feeling it’s low, but I seriously don’t know,” said Gray Lyster, president of the Consignors & Commercial Breeders Association (CBA), who added that, of the people he has spoken with, use of bisphosphonates has been on specific individuals rather than a blanket program.

“My responsibility immediately is to try to figure out, or at least try to educate our membership as to ‘hey, nobody’s sure what the potential side effects are of these drugs, and if you’re using them, you need to educate yourself. As do all of us,'” Lyster added. “It’s a little bit of a fact-finding mission for me, to be honest, and the CBA board.”

Niall Brennan is a prominent sales consignor based in Florida. He said that he and his veterinarian, Jonathan McLellan, with Florida Equine Veterinary Associates, were alerted to the possible dangers of bisphosphonate use in young horses a few years ago, and as such, have avoided using them on the horses he prepares for the sales.

“Now that it’s out there, and we can all agree that it should be banned [for off-label usage], why did it get to this stage?” Brennan said. “Do you blame the pharmaceutical companies for not being more pro-active in pointing out what it should be used for? Do you point to the vets who were allowing their clients to use it? I think there’s blame to be shared. The bottom line is, when there’s a lot of money at stake, some people tend to check their ethics at the door, and that’s what it really comes down to.”

As to the research component of the issue, Dionne Benson, executive director and chief operating officer at the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), admitted that “we haven’t had any meaningful research breakthroughs [in recent years], and it’s actually gotten to the point where it’s quite frustrating.”

As such, “the RMTC is working with the Grayson-Jockey Club Foundation and the [American Association of Equine Practitioners], and we’re assembling a group to essentially put together the questions we need answered,” Benson added.

The unanswered questions, said Benson, include the following: What are the pharmacodynamics of bisphosphonates? Exactly how long does the analgesia last? If we give it to 2-year-olds and we exercise them, do we see any difference in uptake? “And in the event we can take a sample from the bone, will we be able to find it?” Benson said.

“We need to see how this affects horses when they get it when they’re young, when they’re exercised. We need something that’s really relevant,” Benson said. “It’s certainly going to take more than one project, and they’re not going to be short-term projects, but it’s gotten to the point where we simply have to do it.”


Record-Setting Rebel Day

Thu, 2019-03-21 15:26

According to figures released by officials at Oaklawn Park Saturday night following the running of a $2.845-million program anchored by $750,000 divisions of the GII Rebel S., total combined handle on the local product was $16,221,639, breaking the previous record of $16,159,77 established on Arkansas Derby day 2018.

According to the track, attendance for the Rebel card has increased every year since a crowd estimated at around 30,000 watched future Triple Crown hero American Pharoah romp home by 6 1/4 lengths in 2015. Attendance climbed to 35,000 in 2016, was up to 36,000 in 2017 and roughly 37,500 in 2018. Total handle was $8,443,176 in 2015, $9,124,972 in 2016, $10,752,313 in 2017 and $10,771,984 last year to set records for March and a non-Arkansas Derby Day.

Mark Lamberth of Batesville, AR, is an owner and vice chair of the Arkansas Racing Commission, told the Oaklawn notes team that the Saturday scenes were reminiscent of when Zenyatta (Street Cry {Ire}) invaded from California for the GI Apple Blossom Invitational in 2010. Zenyatta raced away to defeat Brownie Points (Forest Wildcat) by over four lengths in her first start over a conventional dirt track.

“It was one of those magical days,” Lamberth said Sunday morning. “When Zenyatta pranced, I mean the crowd just swooned and, of course, she won easy. I thought yesterday was like that, from top to bottom. [On Saturday], we had $100,000 maiden special weights, great horses and the crowd was really into it. It was a festive atmosphere. I just think it was the best day I’ve had at Oaklawn in a long time.”

The Rebel was the final local prep for the GI Arkansas Derby Apr. 13, typically closing day in Hot Springs, but the Oaklawn meeting extends into early May for the first time in 2019.