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Updated: 19 hours 25 min ago

Medina Spirit Passes All Tests to Run in Preakness

Fri, 2021-05-14 17:36

After undergoing three rounds of out-of-competition blood sample testing as part of an agreement between the Maryland Jockey Club and Bob Baffert, Medina Spirit (Protonico), Concert Tour (Street Sense) and Beautiful Gift (Medaglia d'Oro) have been reported clear and are eligible to race this weekend at Pimlico Race Course in the GI Preakness S. and GII Black-Eyed Susan S.

Two samples were drawn May 6 and May 10, respectively by the Maryland Racing Commission and were screened by Industrial Laboratories in Colorado. A third sample was drawn on May 11 by 1/ST RACING and MJC and screened by the University of California at Davis Maddy Laboratory.

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Second Winner for Gun Runner

Fri, 2021-05-14 14:08

2nd-Gulfstream, $60,000, Msw, 5-14, 2yo, 5f, :58.40, ft, 2 3/4 lengths.
PAPPACAP (c, 2, Gun Runner–Pappascat {GSP, $165,762}, by Scat Daddy) was off as the even-money favorite to become the second winner for his freshman sire (by Candy Ride {Arg}) at first asking. He broke on top in this eight-horse affair and was pushed along through an opening quarter in :22.71. The bay began to shake clear off the turn, had a three-length advantage in the stretch and had the final margin cut to 2 3/4 lengths by Merlin (Brethren). The winner's dam had a colt by Bolt d'Oro in 2020 and was bred back to Omaha Beach. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $38,000. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
O/B-Rustlewood Farm, Inc. (FL); T-Mark E. Casse.

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Horseplayers Sue Baffert, Zedan

Fri, 2021-05-14 10:37

Led by Michael Beychok, the winner of the 2012 NTRA National Horseplayers Championship, four gamblers have filed a Class Action Lawsuit against trainer Bob Baffert and owner Amr Zedan, alleging fraud. Each maintains that they made bets that would have won had GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico) not been “doped.” The plaintiffs allege that Baffert and Zedan are in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act (CCPOCA) and for committing state common law and equitable fraud.

The suit was filed Thursday in United States District Court for the Central District of California.

When reached by the TDN, Beychok declined to comment and referred all questions to his attorney, Bill Federman.

“The horse racing industry as a whole has refused or cannot take steps that are necessary to protect the horses and the horseplayers from cheats” Federman said. “That's really the bottom line. Bob Baffert is known to have drugged horses in the past. Each time he said that it was an accident, that something was wrong, that somebody with steroids walked into the barn and sneezed. Can you believe it, the horse then tested positive ? Enough is enough, and that is the bottom line. If the industry is not going to police itself it's going to have to be further regulated or you will have outside groups forcing change.”

In several tweets earlier this week, Beychok touched on the controversy and welcomed gamblers to join in the class action suit.

“This guy Baffert wants us to believe that a horse in his care for the biggest horse race in the world was given an injectable drug without anyone in the barn's knowledge,” he wrote. “Are you kidding me with this? That's the best he's got?”

It was revealed shortly after the Derby that Medina Spirit had tested positive for a banned corticosteroid, Betamethasone. Subsequently, Baffert revealed that Medina Spirit was treated with an antifungal medication that contained Betamethasone to clear up a case of dermatitis and that he was treated with the ointment as late as Apr. 30, the day before the Derby. He maintained that he made an innocent mistake and gave the horse a medication that could not have had any effect on his performance.

The Kentucky Racing Commission has yet to take any action against Baffert and cannot do so until a second lab has tested a split sample.

In the suit, Beychok claims he made bets totaling $966 that would have resulted in payoffs between $10,000 and $100,000 had Medina Sprit not won the race. The other plaintiffs are Justin Wunderler, Michael Meegan and Keith Mauer. Wunderler claims he bet roughly $2,000 and stood to win at least $40,000. Meegan and Mauer each made small wagers.

In 2020, a bettor, Jeff Tretter, backed by PETA, sued harness trainer Robert Bresnahan, Jr. and owner J.L. Sadowsky for doping, racketeering and fraud after betting on a horse that finished behind a Bresnahan trained horse who won a 2016 race at the Meadowlands and tested positive for EPO. Bresnahan and Sadowsky settled with Tretter out of court, paying the Illinois gambler $20,000.

“The New Jersey case was clearly a shot across the bow for the trainer and the industry that apparently went unnoticed,” Federman said. “It's time for the industry to regulate itself. The industry has not been willing to represent those who bet their money.”

The plaintiffs maintain that they wagered on the Derby with the belief that there would be a level playing field and that none of the starters would be racing on prohibited medications.

“Bettors and members of the public expect that horses will give their best effort in every race and that all horses entered in every race will not be racing under the influence of a drug or foreign substance that has been administered in violation of racing rules and regulations,” the suit reads.

They contend that Baffert and Zedan committed fraud because they misrepresented to bettors that they had entered a horse that complied with all racetrack rules. The suit also points to the numerous drug positives racked up by Baffert throughout his career.

“The Baffert Defendants' acts are not isolated events; rather they are a pattern of events related to each other in that they have similar purposes, participants, methods of commission, and other distinguishing characteristics,” the suit reads. “Relatedness is also established by the fact that all acts were done for the purpose of winning thoroughbred races, including but not limited to the Kentucky Derby.”

Beychok is a partner and creative director at Ourso Beychok Inc., a Democratic direct mail consulting firm based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has worked on political campaigns at the local, state and national levels. His victory in the NHC netted him $1 million plus an Eclipse Award for best handicapper of 2012.


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First Round of Blood Tests Clean On Baffert Pimlico Horses

Thu, 2021-05-13 20:02

Per the condition of the entry agreement into the GI Preakness S. between the Maryland Jockey Club and trainer Bob Baffert reached earlier this week, Baffert-trained horses Medina Spirit (Protonico), Concert Tour (Street Sense) and Beautiful Gift (Medaglia d'Oro) underwent three rounds of out-of-competition blood sample testing. The Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) took two samples, one May 6 and the other May 10. A third sample was taken by 1/ST RACING and the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) May 11.

Samples drawn May 6 and 10 by the MRC were sent to Industrial Laboratories in Colorado, while the samples drawn by 1/ST RACING and MJC on May 11 were sent to the University of California at Davis Maddy Laboratory.

The May 6 samples were screened for both prohibited and therapeutic substances and were reported clear for all horses Thursday by Industrial Laboratories.

Results for the May 10 and 11 samples will be available Friday, and are expected by 3:00 p.m. ET in advance of the GII George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan S., in which Beautiful Gift is entered. The outcome of those results will be announced publicly by 1/ST RACING and MJC upon receipt.

“1/ST RACING is committed to achieving the highest level of horse care and safety standards in Thoroughbred racing. We have been an industry leader in instituting processes and protocols that have led to nationwide medication reform and increased accountability and transparency,” said Craig Fravel, Chief Executive Officer, 1/ST RACING. “While we acknowledge the challenging circumstances that prompted this further need for transparency, it reflects, above all else, that the principles of integrity, accountability, and safety in our sport are non-negotiable.”

In addition to third-round sampling, the medical records for all Baffert trained horses have been reviewed by Dr. Dionne Benson, Chief Veterinary Officer, 1/ST RACING. Baffert has provided medical records covering the period of Apr. 1 through May 10. Medical records for Medina Spirit reportedly reflected the dispensing of Otomax Apr. 9 and 19. Otomax is a legal, topical ointment used off-label to treat dermatitis in racehorses. Medina Spirit's medical records were compared to confidential veterinary records obtained from the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) which were submitted within 24 hours of those dates and have been verified.

Baffert also voluntarily submitted radiographs of Medina Spirit's fetlocks (ankles) and carpi (knees), which his veterinarian took at Pimlico May 12. These radiographs were reviewed by the Maryland Equine Medical Director, 1/ST RACING's Chief Veterinary Officer, and a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons that consults with 1/ST RACING and MJC. All three veterinarians independently determined the radiographs showed no abnormal findings.

To view a copy of the Maryland Jockey Club and Bob Baffert agreement, click here.

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Four Share Furlong Bullet Thursday in Timonium

Thu, 2021-05-13 17:08

TIMONIUM, MD – Four juveniles shared the co-fastest furlong time of the week during the third and final session of the under-tack show for next week's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale at the Maryland State Fairgrounds Thursday.

A colt by Midnight Storm (hip 477) was the first to record the :10 flat bullet time Thursday when working early in the day's first set for consignor James Layden.

“I was really pleased with that,” Layden said of the work. “He's been doing good all year and I just wanted him to show up today when it counted.”

The dark bay colt is out of Freedom Come (Lit de Justice) and is a half-brother to graded stakes winner Harlem Rocker (Macho Uno). Layden purchased the youngster for $8,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton October sale.

“He just looked the part to me,” Layden said of his impressions of the colt last fall. “He was a good solid colt and I just liked the way he looked.”

In addition to his bullet work, hip 477's prospects in the sales ring next week should also be bolstered by the popularity of his first-crop sire. Midnight Storm, winner of the 2016 GI Shoemaker Mile S., stands at Taylor Made Farm for $7,500. The stallion was represented at last month's OBS April sale by a trio of six-figure juveniles, led by a colt who sold for $550,000.

“I am right happy with it,” Layden said with a smile when asked about the stallion's popularity in the sales ring this spring. “I didn't think he would be as hot as he actually is. I didn't think they would be quite this precocious.”

Torie and Jimbo Gladwell's Top Line Sales sent a filly by Palace (hip 515) out to share the :10 flat bullet Thursday morning. Out of Honky Tonk Angel (Bluegrass Cat), the bay is a half-sister to stakes-placed Tapiz Dream (Tapizar).

“It's hard to say we were expecting :10 flat, but we were,” admitted Jimbo Gladwell. “She had worked really good at the farm, exceptional, and she prepped good here last week. We knew she was the fastest one we brought up here and it was just a matter of if she'd do everything right. This track is a little tough to gauge sometimes and it doesn't take much of a hiccup to knock a tick or two off, so we were just hoping she would do everything right and she did.”

The filly was purchased by the Grade I Investments of Gladwell's sister and brother-in-law Nellie and Chetley Breeden for $8,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton February sale.

“They have been doing some pinhooking and partnerships and Nellie helps my dad break and train his horses,” Gladwell said. “[Picking the filly out] was her and my brother-in-law and my dad, so all credit goes to them. They've trained her and got her ready all year. We've literally had her for two weeks up here. We will take most of the credit, but they've done most of the work for sure.”

Top Line Sales, which had its first seven-figure sale when bloodstock agent Gary Young purchased future Grade I winner Princess Noor (Not This Time) for $1.35 million at last year's OBS April sale, decided to skip the 2020 Timonium sale, but the Gladwells are happy to be back in Maryland.

“We had a small group coming up here last year and we were going to come, but we had a few horses chip and need surgery and just a few little things go wrong,” Gladwell said. “It just felt like everything was telling us to stay home, so we did. But it's great to be back. We hated missing it. It was a heck of a sale last year and the breeze show looks like it was well-attended up there in the bleachers this week. Fasig-Tipton does a great job of getting people here and they are going to put on a top-class sale here next week.”

Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables had its second bullet work of the week when a colt by Nyquist (hip 524) worked the furlong in :10 flat Thursday. The chestnut is out of In It For the Gold (Speightstown), a daughter of multiple Grade I placed All Due Respect (Value Plus). Bred by Fifth Avenue Bloodstock, the juvenile was a $67,000 Keeneland January short yearling and was purchased by BRD Racing for $60,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.

Wavertree topped the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale in March when selling a colt by GI Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist for $2.6 million to Coolmore.

Hip 394, the final horse in Thursday's second set, was the last of the three-session under-tack show to complete his furlong in :10 flat. Consigned by Joe Deegan's Shamrock Stables, the bay colt by Maclean's Music is out of multiple stakes winner Coco Belle (Storm Boot). He was purchased privately after RNA'ing for $14,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.

“I bought him in September with Ted Campion,” Deegan, a trainer and former jockey, said. “He did really well over the winter. He toed out a little bit when he was a yearling, but he straightened up when he grew, his shoulders came out. He's a very athletic horse.”

Of the colt's work Thursday, Deegan added, “I expected him to work well, but you never know until they do it. He had prepped really nice and he's always done it very easy. This is the most we've ever asked him to do. Up to this, we've just done small bits and small bits to have him just come here needing and wanting to do it. He was happy doing it and he galloped out strong.”

Deegan came to the Midlantic sale with a pair of juveniles, both of whom worked on the under-tack show's final day. After hip 394's work, the Irishman had to wait again until the session's sixth session for his colt by Cupid (hip 441) to work in :10 3/5.

Asked if the waiting was indeed the hardest part, Deegan said, “It is, but you've got to wait your turn. I'd like to have it over with.”

A colt by Empire Maker (hip 550) turned in the fastest quarter-mile drill of Thursday's session, covering the distance in :21 4/5 for de Meric Sales. The juvenile is out of Lady Pewitt (Orientate) and is a half-brother to champion 2-year-old filly Jaywalk (Cross Traffic) and to multiple stakes winner Danzatrice (Dunkirk). Bred by Gainesway, he was purchased by Danny Pate for $40,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton October sale. His full-sister sold for $2 million at the 2019 Keeneland September sale.

During the three-day under-tack show, 11 juveniles shared the :10 flat bullet furlong time and a pair of youngsters shared the bullet quarter-mile time of :21 2/5.

The Midlantic sale will be held next Monday and Tuesday with bidding commencing each day at 11 a.m.

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Alleged Dopers Want Recusal Based On Judge’s Past As Racehorse Breeder

Thu, 2021-05-13 16:24

One day ahead of a key status conference that could finally establish the trial schedule in the alleged nationwide racehorse doping conspiracy case, lawyers for the 14 defendants filed a “motion to recuse” letter asking United States District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil to remove herself from overseeing the case because she once bred Thoroughbred racehorses in New York, an industry connection the defendants believe will prevent them from getting a fair and impartial trial.

“Our understanding is that Your Honor bred racehorses for a number of years,” the May 13 letter stated. “For 15 years, you were also a member of New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. [NYTB]. Based on our review of racing databases, we have identified at least four instances in which one of your horses competed directly against horses trained by defendants Jason Servis or Jorge Navarro….

“Here, given the Court's connection to the horse racing industry–specifically as a breeder of racehorses for many years–coupled with its relationships with owners, breeders and other industry representatives, we believe an objective observer might reasonably question the Court's impartiality.”

TDN has independently verified that Vyskocil, in an undated 90-page questionnaire for judicial nominees posted online by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, previously disclosed that she was a member of the NYTB between 2000 and 2015.

Thursday's legal filing in U.S. District Court (Southern District of New York) gave four specific examples of race results that the defendants believe constitute a conflict of interest.

“In Race 9 at Aqueduct on Jan. 14, 2006, Jason Servis's horse (Bettor to Receive) raced against your horse (Here's Ya Souvenir). Yours finished 5th, and Mr. Servis's finished 8th.

“In Race 5 at Aqueduct on Jan. 14, 2007, Mr. Servis's horse (Watchtheatlantic) raced against your horse (Here's Ya Souvenir). Mr. Servis's finished in 5th, and yours finished in 10th.

“In Race 10 at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 27, [2009], Mr. Navarro's horse (Manolo Manolo) raced against your horse (Here's Ya Souvenir). Yours finished 2nd, and Mr. Navarro's finished in 10th.

“In Race 2 at Monmouth Park on July 3, 2009, Mr. Servis's horse (Placid Waters) raced against your horse (Last Boat Home). Mr. Servis's placed 3rd, and your horse finished in 10th.”

According to Equibase, both Here's Ya Souvenir and Last Boat Home were bred in partnership by Barry Ostrager and Mary Kay Vyskocil. But she was not listed as an owner for either of them in the charts that were referenced.

Instead, the motion is alleging that Vyskocil's role as a breeder means she could be a victim of the alleged crimes based on a breeder's eligibility to receive bonus awards under some circumstances.

“To the extent Your Honor had a financial interest in the outcome of horse races that the Government contends may have been diluted by competing horses allegedly under the

influence of performance enhancing drugs, you would fall into the category of putative victims alleged in the Superseding Indictment,” the document stated.

The defendants also stated that “In the past, and at a time Your Honor was a member, the NYTB advocated for proposals that would impose stricter regulations in respect of Clenbuterol in the horse racing industry, a drug at the core of certain allegations in the indictment.”

The document continued: “On a call with defense counsel last night [May 12], the government agreed that, if the Court is a putative victim, recusal would be appropriate. There are several ways in which the Court's history as a horse breeder may make it a putative victim–if not now, then in the future.

“First, during recent conversations with the government, it reiterated that it continues to actively investigate this case and that it may supersede the indictment to add charges or defendants or to expand the timeframe of the conspiracy.

“Second, given the government's ongoing investigation, in calculating loss for sentencing purposes, the government may argue relevant conduct dating back to the period when horses bred by Your Honor raced against horses trained by Jason Servis or Jorge Navarro. In that case, Your Honor would be called upon to rule on the relevance to loss of races in which the Court may have had a financial interest.

“Third, the government said [Wednesday] night that it may seek to introduce pre-2016 evidence of positive drug tests against defendant Jorge Navarro…as direct proof of the conspiracy….”

“In sum, Your Honor has numerous overlapping relationships with the racehorse industry…. Standing alone, or in combination, these facts would cause a reasonably objective observer to question the Court's impartiality.”

A judge facing a recusal motion can ask another judge to rule on it, and a recusal would mean an alternate judge gets assigned. Motions to recuse that are deemed to be delaying tactics are expressly forbidden, but not unheard of.

The federal case against the alleged network of racehorse dopers is the result of a March 2020 spate of arrests in relation to a purported years-long conspiracy to manufacture, mislabel, rebrand, distribute and administer performance-enhancing drugs to Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds across America and in international races.

The recusal motion, made by Navarro's attorney, was joined by counsel for defendants Servis, Alexander Chan, Rick Dane Jr., Seth Fishman, Jordan Fishman, Erica Garcia, Lisa Giannelli, Michael Kegley, Jr., Rebecca Linke, Christopher Oakes, Kristian Rhein, Michael Tannuzzo and Marcos Zulueta.

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Runhappy Filly Romps at Belmont

Thu, 2021-05-13 15:52

2nd-Belmont, $87,300, Msw, 5-13, 2yo, f, 5f, :58.02, ft, 11 3/4 lengths.

HAPPY SOUL (f, 2, Runhappy–Cowgirl Lucky, by Stephen Got Even) was hammered down to 2-5 favoritism for a barn known for its prowess with early season juveniles and ran to the money with a dominant performance. Away alertly, the bay took command and never looked back, blitzing through splits of :22.16 and :45.46. She crossed the line a good 10 lengths clear of 8-5 shot Lemieux (Nyquist) in a field scratched down to five. In her prior start, the $50,000 KEESEP buy finished second in a sloppy event at Keeneland Apr. 14. The winner is a half to Calgary Caper (El Corredor), GSW, $335,895. Happy Soul is the most recent foal out of Cowgirl Lucky, who visited Good Magic last season. Sales history: $50,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 2-1-1-0, $61,500. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

O-Gayla Rankin; B-Harris Training Center, LLC (KY); T-Wesley A. Ward.

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Lukas Argues Drug Threshold Levels

Thu, 2021-05-13 14:54

Bob Baffert has been placed the squarely in the cross hairs over Medina Spirit (Protonico)'s Betamethasone positive following last week's GI Kentucky Derby and amid the chorus of criticism, admonishment and outright verbal assault, a fellow Hall of Famer took up the mantle of defense for his beleaguered colleague.

“Unfortunately, it is the story of this Preakness,” said D. Wayne Lukas, who has won the second jewel of the Triple Crown six times. “Racing doesn't deserve to get the black eye for something this minor. Now, if there is an all-out performance- enhancing drug, that's obviously different. But that just wasn't the case in this instance.”

Lukas, who created his own stir earlier this week with a statement made in defense of Baffert when he suggested a test at this level should be thrown out, underscored what he felt was the central idea lost in the dissemination of his comment making its way through social media.

“The thresholds are so low now that [trainers] are all fair game,” he explained. “I'm here looking at my horses and think I could be next. It could be any one of them in the Preakness or any of these races the way the thresholds are set.”

In regards to the ensuing media nightmare ignited by this week's revelation, Lukas argues that many outside of the industry might not fully understand the facts in a case like the latest to take the nation by storm.

“The average fan following the news doesn't really get the scale of a picogram,” he said. “They think it's a blatant violation and that the horse had something in his system that enhanced his performance. And we can't explain that to everyone, so racing overall gets a black eye.”

He continued, “Testing is so sophisticated and sensitive nowadays that even a negligible level could fail. The drug thresholds have just gotten lower and lower and I really think we've legislated ourselves into a hole here. I really think we've painted ourselves into a corner with what I believe to be, in many cases, unrealistic levels.”

“Trainers have become so conscious of what we're giving to our horses,” he said. “I know that certain eye ointments have substances that would cause a violation. You have to be very careful what's on the label these days. Even then, with everything we feed them and everything we put on them now you are scrutinized pretty intensely.”

A trainer for over five decades, Lukas said he takes a basic approach in his own operation, while trying to navigate the razor-edge balance between maintaining optimal health in his animals while steering clear of a much-dreaded raceday positive.

“Part of the issue is that the withdrawal times we are given are often very limited,” he said. They're not always accurate or don't take into account all the factors. They tell us the withdrawal time is four days and somebody still gets a positive test even though they withdrew at six days. So, what I do is I just double it. If they tell us there is a four-day withdrawal, I automatically double it, so that's eight days on our books. You have to go beyond what they tell you because there are a lot of inaccuracies in that regard. There have been a lot of positives of late where trainers followed the guidelines they were given and still got a positive.”

And as the sport continues to regain its footing after its latest assault, Lukas offered a pragmatic approach to maintaining the health of sport.

“I hope the Horse Racing Integrity Act takes a realistic approach and sets the thresholds at a reasonable level and in a uniform way, so we're not failing for topical dressings and eye ointments, as in the case this week. Bob is under the gun right now, but it could have been any one of us.”


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Clancy, Smith Named Media Preakness Award Winners

Thu, 2021-05-13 12:35

Patrick Smith of Getty Images and Joe Clancy of ST Publishing Inc. will be recognized this weekend for outstanding journalism coverage of the 2020 GI Preakness S.

Smith, a staff photographer at Getty, has been named recipient of the Jerry Frutkoff Photographer Award for his photo of Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver and GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic coming down the stretch of the 145th Preakness.

“I loved the facial expression of [Robby] Albarado as he went nose-to-nose with the filly to defeat the Kentucky Derby winner,” Smith said. “All the excitement we dream of when photographing racing was there.”

Clancy was named recipient of the David F. Woods Memorial Award for his story of the 2020 Preakness entitled 'Force of the Filly,' in the November 2020 edition of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. Clancy also received the Woods in 2015 and 2017.

“I was kicking around the Pimlico barn area the day before the Preakness, taking notes, talking to people,” Clancy said. “The place felt empty, a little strange due to the Covid restrictions on attendance and media access. It was October, not May. And then I saw Kenny McPeek hosing Swiss Skydiver's legs outside the barn and thought of all the horses I hosed when I worked in my father's barn. I wandered over, said hello, fed the filly a mint or two and Kenny and I talked horses for a while. It was amazing. I remember walking away hoping she would win so I could write about it. She had to come through on the track and did she ever. The battle with Authentic was just what the 2020 Preakness needed and it was an honor to tell her story.”

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Calm After the Storm

Thu, 2021-05-13 12:10

Baltimore, MD–The leadup to this year's GI Preakness S. has proven anything but routine with news of the Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit (Protonico) testing positive for Betamethasone following his GI Kentucky Derby win two weeks ago. However, just two days before the second jewel in the Triple Crown, the vibe around the Stakes Barns on Pimlico's back side had a decidedly more business-as-usual feel rather than a Classic-week electric charge.

El Camino Real Derby winner Rombauer (Twirling Candy), third in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S., and Keepmeinmind (Laoban), last season's GII Kentucky Jockey Club victor, were among the initial horses to go to the track prior to the renovation break. The bigger influx of stakes contenders appeared when the track re-opened at about 7:45, led the Wayne Lukas-trained Ram (American Pharoah).

“Coming here, you hope to see a good level of energy,” said Lukas. “I'm watching how focused he is and how much energy he has. When you make a nine-hour van ride [from Louisville, Kentucky], you want to see if he is adjusting and to make sure he's eating and that he's showing that on the racetrack. That's my primary concern. I want to make sure he has a good energy level Saturday and I see it increasing every day. Today was better than yesterday, and yesterday was better than the first day. We're in good shape.”

Asked whether his charge's come-from-behind running style was a good fit for Saturday's race, Lukas, a six-time Preakness winner, said, “They often say this race is speed favoring, but I haven't really found it to be that way except for Oxbow [2013 Preakness winner], who took off and they let him have the lead. But overall, I think it's a fair race. The track plays really fair. If you have a good closer or a mid-pack type of horse, I think it's fair for everybody. I don't think you have to have a certain type of horse to win this race.”

Coming out shortly after the morning line longshot, GIII Lecomte S. winner Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) looked a picture of health (hello dapples!) shortly after departing the Stakes Barn, drawing plenty of praise from the small group of onlookers.

“Hey Steve, your horse is my favorite,” yelled a spectator as the colt's trainer, Steve Asmussen, made his way to the track.

“He's my favorite too!,” shouted back the Hall of Famer. “Add my name to the list!”

Most of the morning's attention swirled around the Baffert-trained pair of Medina Spirit, who was the first of the two Bafferts to hit the track, followed by Concert Tour (Street Sense).

Accompanied by Jimmy Barnes astride the barn's pony, the striking Medina Spirit appeared to get over the track very well while held under an easy gallop. About 30 minutes later, barnmate Concert Tour, winner of the GII Rebel S. and GII San Vincente S., was led out to the track by Barnes for some easy maintenance work. Baffert, who has been under fire the past week, is not expected to attend this weekend's race.

Other Preakness contenders sent to the track after the renovation break, GII Wood Memorial S. third Crowded Trade (More Than Ready), GIII Withers S. scorer Risk Taking (Medaglia d'Oro) and Unbridled Humor (Honor Code), runner-up in the GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. Both Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher are expected to be on-hand in Baltimore Friday.

Always a big draw in the mornings, bath time for Medina Sprint and Midnight Bourbon, who both appeared in top form, drew a gaggle of media looking for a photo opp. Both colts made a striking impression, not only for their glowing health, but also for their cool and relaxed demeanor in the face of the photo-hungry press.

Noticeably absent from Thursday's a.m. trackwork, France Go de Ina (Will Take Charge) was relegated to walking around the shedrow yesterday following his solo sojourn after losing his rider Wednesday morning. The Japanese-based colt will return to the track Friday morning and is also expected to school at the gate.

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Colonial Downs Meet to Begin July 19

Thu, 2021-05-13 11:54

A total of 25 stakes races worth more than $2.7 million will be offered at the upcoming seven-week Thoroughbred racing season at Colonial Downs–from July 19 through Sept. 1–featuring a minimum $500,000 in average daily purses and the GIII $250,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby Aug. 31.

The 2021 meeting will be scheduled every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with daily first post time at 1:45 p.m. ET. All Colonial Downs races will be televised on TVG.

Colonial Downs welcomes back fans to this year's 21-day meeting with free admission.

“Since we announced our race dates and purse program for the 2021 season, response from horsemen across the country has been extremely positive,” said Jill Byrne, Vice President of Racing Operations. “Our lucrative daily purse structure, attractive horsemen incentives, two fantastic racing surfaces and a varied stakes program, are key ingredients to launching an exciting and successful race meet. We are also very excited that this year's meet is open again to fans, who can enjoy the thrill of the live racing experience.”

Frank Petramalo, Virginia HBPA Executive Director, added, “Virginia's horse owners and trainers are delighted to see an increase to seven weeks of racing with great purses. We can't wait to break out of the gate for a successful summer meet.”

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THA’s Alan Foreman Joins All-Baffert Controversy Writers’ Room

Wed, 2021-05-12 17:53

Normally, the TDN Writers' Room podcast presented by Keeneland aims to touch on a wide variety of industry issues every week. But there was only one story worth discussing this week, so the writers broke down every angle of the explosive controversy surrounding Bob Baffert and the failed drug test of GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit. They also welcomed Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association Chairman and CEO and prominent industry lawyer Alan Foreman as the Green Group Guest of the Week to talk about what happens now for Baffert from a legal standpoint.

“I think it's important for people to understand that there are two layers here,” Foreman said about the fallout of this week. “This is a state regulatory matter and the regulation is done by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. What Churchill Downs did [banning Baffert from the entry box] was more of a public relations stand to protect the Kentucky Derby brand that they covet. Tracks have the common law right to exclude anyone they want, but when you're dealing with licensees, it isn't as broadly based as you would think it is. There's quite a body of law with respect to the exclusion of licensees and what should be appropriate circumstances. The question here legally would be if Bob Baffert and his team wanted to challenge it, whether Churchill Downs really has the right to do so under the circumstances. This is a routine medication violation. If they're going to ban Bob Baffert, do you ban every horseman who has some medication violation?”

Asked about the frequent public appearances by Baffert to talk about a situation that's still being litigated, particularly his revelation Tuesday that Medina Spirit was treated with a cream that contained betamethasone, Foreman said, “I don't know what their strategy is. I don't know if this is what Bob wanted to do or if he was under advice to do it. The information that came out [Tuesday] changes the whole landscape. The first thing that you do if you're a trainer and you're notified of a positive test, is ask your personnel and veterinarian, do we have betamethasone in the barn? You would know that fairly quickly, you wouldn't know it 48 to 96 hours after the fact. You certainly wouldn't go on television and say, 'I don't use the stuff. We don't have it in the barn. I don't know how it got there. It's everybody else's fault.' That's basic stuff. So the strategy makes no sense to me and I certainly wouldn't counsel my clients that way.”

Elsewhere on the show, which is also sponsored by West Point Thoroughbreds, the Minnesota Racehorse Engagement Project and new sponsor Legacy Bloodstock, the writers called out the decisions and behavior that led to the embarrassment this past week has brought racing, debated what can be done now and reacted to the decision to allow Medina Spirit's entry in the Preakness. Click here to watch the podcast; click here for the audio-only version.

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Union Rags Filly Swiftest in Timonium Wednesday

Wed, 2021-05-12 16:57

TIMONIUM, MD – The second of three under-tack sessions ahead of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds-in-Training Sale got underway minutes after 8 a.m. with chilly temperatures in the mid-40s and a tailwind which remained fairly steady throughout the day's seven sessions at the Maryland State Fairgrounds Wednesday. Five of the day's six fastest times came during the session's first 20 minutes, with a filly by Union Rags equaling Tuesday's quarter-mile bullet time of :21 2/5 and four horses sharing the co-bullet furlong time of :10 flat. It wasn't until the day's fourth set that a fifth juvenile hit that mark.

Consignor Tom McCrocklin sent a filly by Union Rags (hip 295) out to work a quarter-mile in :21 2/5 Wednesday, matching Tuesday's fastest time for the distance.

“She is a super nice filly,” McCrocklin said. “She showed up and I expected her to. She was that way at the farm and she prepped that way here. She's really classy and sound. She galloped out good. She's a lovely filly–probably my favorite horse we had all year.”

The bay filly is out of stakes winner Afleet Lass (Northern Afleet) and is a half-sister to graded placed Honor the Fleet (To Honor and Serve). Bred by Gainesway, she was purchased by McCrocklin for $20,000 at last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

“I'm still not sure how I got her for $20,000, but it was one of those things at Keeneland where you hit a soft spot,” McCrocklin said. “I bought her from Gainesway and I remember walking up there and [Gainesway's] Lakota [Gibson] said, 'No reserve.' That can be good or bad because when you hear no reserve, you never know what to think. But she's been really nice all year.”

The second horse on the track Wednesday, a filly by Race Day (hip 340), equaled Tuesday's bullet furlong time when working in :10 flat for Grassroots Training & Sales. Bred by Dala Farm, the bay filly is the first foal out of Battle Tux (Into Mischief).

Eddie Woods's consignment had its second bullet worker of the week when hip 211, a colt by Quality Road, covered his furlong in :10 flat Wednesday. Bred by Jon Clay's Alpha Delta, the dark bay colt is out of the unraced Stormy Welcome (Storm Cat), a half-sister to graded winner Guest Suite (Quality Road). The colt's third dam is Weekend Surprise (Secretariat), dam of A.P. Indy and Summer Squall.

A colt by American Pharoah (hip 337) shared the :10 flat bullet when working for Raul Reyes's Kings Equine. The chestnut colt is out of Baroness Aamoura (Theatrical {Ire}) and is a half-brother to stakes-placed Madam Aamoura (Zensational). His second dam is multiple graded stakes winner Anguilla (Seattle Slew).

“We were very happy with it,” Reyes said of the work. “He prepped pretty fast and he prepped fast at the farm, so this wasn't really a surprise.”

Bred by Zayat Stables, the juvenile RNA'd for $145,000 as a weanling at the 2019 Keeneland November sale and for $45,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.

“I bought him right after [the September sale],” Reyes said. “I was looking for an American Pharoah for the right price and he looked kind of fast. He looked a little rough as a yearling, but he has changed a lot. He looks like a more serious, stronger horse. He is big-bodied.”

Kings Equine has sent out 12 juveniles to work through the first two sessions of the under-tack show in Timonium.

“The track here is very consistent,” Reyes said. “You can work good any time. I like that about Maryland. You can come at 4 p.m. and still do good.”

Rounding out Wednesday's first set :10 flat workers was hip 260, a colt by Munnings consigned by Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables. Dunne purchased the dark bay colt, who is a Pennsylvania-bred out of Tweet (Medaglia d'Oro), for $55,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.

Munnings is a handy stallion. He's one of those middle-range horses. The Pennsylvania-bred thing didn't hurt and the price was right,” Dunne said of the colt's appeal last fall. “We always bought him with Timonium in mind. And we actually stuck to the plan for a change. We'll see how that works out.”

Dunne agreed the track in Timonium has remained consistent throughout the under-tack show's first two sessions.

“We worked a horse in the fifth set that we like quite a bit, a Klimt colt (hip 311) and he worked good, he went in :10 1/5,” Dunne said. “So I think it's been fine all the way through. It was the same for us yesterday. They all worked about like we would have expected them to work.”

Wavertree opened the juvenile sales season with a pair of blockbuster seven-figure pinhooks at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale and Dunne said he was “cautiously optimistic” heading into next week's two-day Midlantic auction.

Turning heads during Tuesday's first breeze show session from the Wavertree consignment was a daughter of Quality Road (hip 46) who worked her furlong in :10 1/5. Out of a half-sister to champion Abel Tasman (Quality Road), the bay filly was a $230,000 purchase at last year's Fasig-Tipton October sale.

“The Quality Road filly that worked yesterday is a really nice filly with a huge pedigree,” Dunne said. “She was also always earmarked for here, being such a late foal [May 22] and coming from the October sale. Our breaking process is like watching paint dry, so it is hard for us to get those horses to the earlier sales.”

Rounding out Wednesday's :10 flat workers was hip 264, a colt from the first crop of multiple graded stakes winner Tom's Ready (More Than Ready). Out of Uno Royale (Macho Uno), the dark bay was consigned by De Meric Sales and was purchased by  Silvestre Avila for $15,000 at last year's OBS October Sale. Avila, an exercise rider for the De Meric operation, has made a habit of turning bargain-priced yearling purchases into pinhooking coups in recent years.

“He keeps buying these $15,000 horses and turning them into $150,000 and then some 2-year-olds,” said Nick de Meric before adding with a chuckle, “We are starting to re-think our whole program. We are just going to give him all our money and let him go do it. He's done great this year, which is really heartwarming. A couple of guys in the barn are partners with him on the horse. So it is really great to see. Hopefully they will all make a little paycheck out of it.”

Tom's Ready won the 2016 GII Woody Stephens S. and GIII Ack Ack S., as well as the 2017 GIII Bold Ruler H.

“I haven't seen a lot of them,” de Meric said of offspring of Tom's Ready. “This guy is kind of built for this track. He's got that More Than Ready look about him and a good strong body type. He's not super big, but very fast and early looking. That type tend to do really well on this track and he was no exception.”

The de Meric family will be looking to turn a quick profit on another juvenile in its Midlantic consignment, having purchased a filly by Bernardini (hip 217) for $40,000 privately after she had RNA'd at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale in March. The first foal out of stakes winner Super Allison (Super Saver) had been part of Kirkwood Stables' Gulfstream Gallops group, which had purchased her for $25,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September sale. She worked a furlong Wednesday in :10 2/5.

“The plan was to flip her here and see if we could turn a dollar,” de Meric said. “To be honest, Tristan [de Meric] was contacted about that filly and went over to see her. She's a typical Bernardini, a lighter-framed kind of filly. She really stepped up here. She had a lot to learn in a relatively short space because she was in that galloping program and hadn't done much breezing. She's really moved forward and she prepped ok here, but she stepped forward on her breeze when it mattered. We are very happy with her breeze.”

De Meric continued, “You never quite dare think you got a bargain until they go through the ring. That's when you find out if you've got a bargain. We thought she was good value. Bernardini is such a good broodmare sire and over the years, he's been good to us. So we weren't afraid to give it a shot. The Gulfstream sale is a boutique sale. If everything aligns and falls into place, it can be spectacularly good, but there isn't much margin for error as we all have learned. She just didn't quite impress enough at the time, but hopefully she'll get it right up here”

Also coming out of Kirkwood's Gulfstream Gallop program is hip 166, a colt by More Than Ready who RNA'd for $115,000 in Hallandale and worked the quarter-mile bullet in :21 2/5 for Kip Elser's consignment Tuesday.

Another Gulfstream Gallop graduate is hip 221, a son of Street Sense who was purchased by the Wycoff family's Three Diamonds Farm for $25,000 in South Florida in March. The colt worked a furlong in :10 4/5 from the Crane Thoroughbred Services consignment Wednesday.

The Midlantic under-tack show concludes with a final session Thursday beginning at 8 a.m. The auction will be held next Monday and Tuesday with bidding commencing each day at 11 a.m.

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Harvard Has Them Seeing ‘Red’ In Maiden Romp

Wed, 2021-05-12 16:36

3rd-Indiana Grand, $31,000, Msw, 5-12, 3yo/up, 1m 70y, 1:43.45, ft, 4 1/2 lengths.
HARVARD (c, 3, Pioneerof the Nile–Sambuca Classica, by Cat Thief) finished second behind a good-looking debut from American Prince (Liam's Map) at Gulfstream Feb. 28 and was stretching out to two turns off a distant runner-up effort behind Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy)'s 'TDN Rising Star' half-brother Stage Raider (Pioneerof the Nile) in a sloppy seven-furlong maiden at Keeneland Apr. 10. Stage Raider, incidentally, is the morning-line 2-5 favorite for a one-mile Belmont allowance Friday afternoon. Pounded into 1-2 favoritism with blinkers going on for the first time, Harvard was urged along early between rivals to lead heading into the first turn and was allowed to dictate a very easy pace while traveling comfortably. Asked for his best in upper stretch, the bay put the race to bed within a few strides, accounting for 23-10 second pick W W Crazy (Jess's Dream) by 4 1/2 very comfortable lengths. Harvard is a full-brother to Classic Empire, Ch. 2yo Colt, MGISW, $2,520,220; and a half-brother to Exclamation Point (Concord Point), SP, $290,540; Anytime Magic (Fusaichi Pegasus), MSW, $202,945; and Uptown Twirl (Twirling Candy), MSW, $170,714, and is a maternal grandson of SW & MGISP In Her Glory (Miswaki). Sambuca Classic aborted to the late Pioneerof the Nile in 2019, but foaled colts by Justify in each of the last two years. Lifetime Record: 3-1-2-0, $42,800. Click for the chart.
O-WinStar Farm LLC & CHC INC; B-China Horse Club International Limited (KY); T-Rodolphe Brisset.

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Eventful Morning for Preakness Contender France Go de Ina

Wed, 2021-05-12 15:55

There were some anxious moments for Yuji Inaida's GI Preakness S. runner France Go de Ina (Will Take Charge) at Pimlico Race Course Wednesday morning. The colt from Japan had just completed his four-furlong breeze when exercise rider Masaki Takano suddenly fell off the chestnut just after he passed the finish line.

Takano slowly got to his feet as France Go de Ina continued on before being apprehended by Pimlico outriders. Both Takano and the horse are fine, according to Kate Hunter, the Preakness field representative for the Japan Racing Association.

“[Takano] slipped a bit from the stirrup on the left side and lost his balance,” Hunter said. “The horse is fine.”

Trainer Hideyuki Mori was trackside and bolted towards the winner's circle, where Takano stood and waited for France Go de Ina to be retrieved and brought back. Takano then got back on board and was led by Yuri into the Pimlico paddock, where he took several laps in a schooling session.

After watching video of the incident, Mori was relieved that France Go de Ina did not stumble or take a bad step.

“It had nothing to do with the horse,” Mori said through Hunter, who serves as his interpreter. “He breezed well. Luckily, or unluckily, the rider fell off after the goal, just after the finish line, after he finished his workout.”

France Go de Ina, who finished sixth after a slow start in the G2 UAE Derby in Dubai after winning two of three starts in Japan, was timed in :49.40.

“We are just very happy that the horse is OK,” Mori said.


WATCH: France Go de Ina working Wednesday at Pimlico

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Oklahoma Training Track Renovation Complete

Wed, 2021-05-12 13:14

The renovation of the Oklahoma Training Track at Saratoga Race Course has been completed, according to a press release from the New York Racing Association, Inc.

Horses and riders, who were welcomed to jog and gallop over the surface beginning Wednesday morning, were met with a completely reconstructed Oklahoma track featuring a limestone base, renovated surface layer and modernized drainage systems. The training track has been widened by 10-to-14 feet in most areas to address the increasing population of horses training over the Oklahoma annually from April to October.

Additionally, to enhance safety for exercise riders and jockeys, the inner rail at the Oklahoma has been replaced with a rider protection system designed by Horsemen's Track and Equipment.

The work at the Oklahoma mirrors the work performed on the Saratoga main track in 2020, which was universally supported by horsemen and riders. As at the Oklahoma, the main track renovation involved general improvements to the base and surface of the track, as well as a complete overhaul of the drainage system and installation of a new rider safety rail.

“The renovation of the Oklahoma Training Track is an investment in the future of Saratoga Race Course that reflects NYRA's ongoing commitment to safety,” said Glen Kozak, NYRA Senior Vice President for Operations and Capital Projects. “Just like the work done to the main track last year, the Oklahoma will now recover quickly from summer storms resulting in a consistent and high-quality training surface for horses and riders.”

It was also announced that, beginning Monday, May 17, a limited number of owners licensed by the New York State Gaming Commission will be permitted in the barn area and to observe morning training at Saratoga.

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More Than Ready Colt Sets Midlantic Bullet

Tue, 2021-05-11 17:08

TIMONIUM, MD – The under-tack show ahead of next week's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale kicked off under sunny skies and unseasonably cool temperatures in the mid-50s at the Maryland State Fairgrounds Tuesday. A colt by More Than Ready turned in the day's fastest quarter-mile work, while a colt by Malibu Moon and a filly by Empire Maker shared the fastest furlong time.

Kip Elser's Kirkwood Stables sent out hip 166, a son of More Than Ready out of graded winner Separate Forest (Forestry) to work the quarter-mile bullet of :21 2/5 during the fifth of seven sets Tuesday. Elser purchased the colt for $75,000 as part of his Gulfstream Gallop pinhooking partnership at last year's Fasig-Tipton October. After galloping at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream under-tack show, the dark bay colt RNA'd for $115,000.

“He galloped well and I was surprised he didn't get more attention at Gulfstream,” Elser said. “We took him home, gave him three weeks in the paddock and galloped him and breezed him a couple of times. And that's all he did.”

Elser said of the colt, “He's like a lot of More Than Readys, he's not real big. But I have loved More Than Ready since the day I bet on him the day he broke his maiden at Keeneland for Todd [Pletcher]. And he's been good to me ever since. He's a remarkable sire–200+ stakes winners all over the world. He's been good for everybody that's ever been near him.”

Three years ago, Elser had success in the Midlantic sales ring with another colt who had RNA'd at a previous juvenile sale that spring. By Mucho Macho Man, the colt RNA'd for $55,000 at OBS March before working the quarter-mile bullet in :21 1/5 and selling for $625,000 to Michael Lund Petersen. Named Mucho Gusto, the handsome chestnut went on to win the 2020 GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

“They liked him better here,” Elser said of that 2018 result.

Asked if he thought the buyers might also like this colt by More Than Ready more in Timonium, Elser chuckled and said, “I'd imagine.”

The first 195 catalogued juveniles worked over seven sets, beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing until shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday.

“This is always as a good a track as there is anywhere,” Elser said of conditions at the Timonium oval. “These guys are consistent. They do a great job. They care about it. One of the things that really helps–it makes for a slightly longer day–but  cutting it off at 22 in every set so every horse gets a fresh racetrack. I'm a big fan of this racetrack and the crew that takes care of it and I always have been. Not just this year, but every year.”

During the day's first set, a colt by Malibu Moon (hip 164) worked the furlong in what would be the day's co-bullet :10 flat. Out of Seeking Atlantis (Seeking the Gold), the bay is a half-brother to Seeking Her Glory (Giant's Causeway). His second dam is multiple graded stakes winner Atlantic Ocean (Stormy Atlantic).

Bred by Castleton Lyons and Kilboy Estate, the juvenile RNA'd for $135,000 at the 2020 Keeneland January sale. He is consigned to the Midlantic sale by Eddie Woods.

“I was delighted with the work,” Woods said. “He's a big, stretchy horse. So for him to be able to do that around here is pretty good. He wasn't on his right lead, unfortunately, but the video still looks good. He just tries so hard. And he's coming off a mile track. So they have trouble adjusting to a little track like this and the leads some of the time.”

Woods continued, “I haven't had him that long. He came up from Bill Harrigan. Bill owns him in his partnership. They did a great job, as usual, getting him ready.”

Last year's Midlantic sale was pushed back to the end of June due to the pandemic and Woods did not offer a consignment at the 2020 auction. The Irishman admitted he was happy to be back in Timonium this year.

“All of the sales are important, just to keep our industry rotating, rolling along, and this is part of the rotation,” Woods said. “And this is a good sale because there are buyers who come here that don't go anywhere else. It's always been a good place to sell a nice horse, but then anywhere is a good place to sell a nice horse. They always find them. You look around, most of the top-end people, they attend all the sales. It's the other guys that kind of clean up, the locals come in and buy here. There are a lot of racetracks within a short commute of here, so hopefully they need product.”

Working during Tuesday's fourth set, a filly by Empire Maker (hip 109) shared the bullet furlong time of :10 flat. The bay is out of Pontiana (Deputy Minister)–a daughter of Grade I winner Shine Again (Wild Again)–and she is a half-sister to stakes-placed Addibel Lightning (Colonel John).

The juvenile was consigned by Kevin McKathan's McKathan Bros. Sales and was purchased for $125,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton October sale.

The seventh and final session of Tuesday's under-tack show was delayed when hip 130 was injured and had to be pulled up on the backstretch following her work. The filly was taken off the track by horse ambulance.

The under-tack show continues through Thursday with sessions beginning each day at 8 a.m. The Midlantic sale will be held next Monday and Tuesday with bidding commencing both days at 11 a.m.

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Medina Spirit Draws Post 3 in Preakness; 9-5 ML Choice

Tue, 2021-05-11 16:34

Medina Spirit (Protonico), who crossed the wire first in the May 1 GI Kentucky Derby, drew Post 3 at the post-position draw at Pimlico Race Course Tuesday afternoon. Trained by Bob Baffert, the colt was installed the 9-5 morning line favorite in the field of 10. Baffert is also represented by Concert Tour (Street Sense), who will break from gate 10 under Hall of Famer Mike Smith. The Gary and Mary West homebred took the GII San Vicente S. and GII Rebel S. earlier this season. Third choice on the morning line at 5-1, GIII Lecomte S. scorer Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) will exit post 5 under Irad Ortiz Jr., while GIII Withers S. winner Risk Taking (Medglia d'Oro) drew the nine hole. The Chad Brown trainee will be accompanied by Jose Ortiz. Also conditioned by Brown, Crowded Trade (More Than Ready), third in the Apr. 3 GII Wood Memorial last out, was given a 10-1 chance on the morning line while drawing post four. Post position and odds for the other Preakness contenders are: Rombauer (Twirling Candy) (Post 6, 12-1), Unbridled Honor (Honor Code) (Post 8, 15-1), Keepmeinmind (Laoban) (Post 2, 15-1), France Go De Ina (Will Take Charge) (Post 7, 20-1) and Ram (American Pharoah) (Post 1, 30-1).

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ARCI Working On ‘Smooth Transition’ to HISA

Tue, 2021-05-11 15:43

Association of Racing Commissioners International Chair Robert Lopez said today that the U.S. members of ARCI are focused on a smooth and expeditious implementation of the newly enacted Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.

“We view this as an opportunity to achieve improvements we support and believe necessary,” Lopez said.

“Uniform rules, uniform testing, expanded jurisdiction over horses, and the creation of a multi-jurisdictional investigative entity are all tremendous improvements that will result from this law,” added Ed Martin, ARCI's President.

ARCI had, in the past, advocated a different path to address these needs, specifically the creation of an interstate compact as an alternative to involving the federal government. But, ARCI says, “only a few states picked up that mantle, leaving interested lawmakers in Washington no other choice but to pass the new federal law.”

“The ARCI and U.S. State regulators are eager and ready to work in partnership with the new authority, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and the Federal Trade Commission to ensure a smooth transition and effective program,” Martin said.

“RCI Members in Canada have long demonstrated how a federal agency can partner with Provincial Racing Commissions with each complimenting the other. We envision that happening in the US,” Lopez said.

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Medina Spirit Cleared to Run in Preakness

Tue, 2021-05-11 14:36

The Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) announced Tuesday that it had accepted the entry of Medina Spirit (Protonico) for Saturday's GI Preakness S.

Trainer Bob Baffert revealed Sunday that Medina Sprit had tested positive for the prohibited medication betamethasone after winning the GI Kentucky Derby, which put his appearance in the second leg of the Triple Crown in doubt. The MJC, which operates Pimlico for The Stronach Group (TSG), had the option of banning all entries from Baffert. Following the announcement of the drug positive, Churchill Downs said that it would no longer accept any entries from the Baffert stable for an indefinite period of time.

Baffert has also entered Concert Tour (Street Sense) in the Preakness and Beautiful Gift (Medaglia d'Oro) in the GII George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes to be run Friday. Medina Spirit drew post three for the race, which attracted 10 entrants and was made the 9-5 favorite on the Pimlico morning line. The two Baffert runners are expected to be the first and second choices in the wagering.

“I'm satisfied,” said Baffert, who will not be attending Saturday's race because he said he did not want to be a distraction. “It's all part of our commitment to being cooperative and transparent.”

While in Maryland, assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes will oversee the Baffert operation.

Not all the news Tuesday was positive for Baffert. The Daily Racing Form reported that Spendthrift Farm will be transferring some of its horses from Bob Baffert as a result of the controversy surrounding Medina Spirit's positive Derby test.  The Spendthrift co-owned, Baffert-trained Authentic (Into Mischief) was named 2020 Horse of the Year after winning the GI Kentucky Derby and the GI Breeders' Cup Classic.

“Given the circumstances we thought it was best to hit the pause button,” Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey told DRF. “I think we need to step back and let's see how things play out. We're not ruling anything out in the future.”

Toffey said that four Spendthrift 2-year-olds who were sent to Baffert will also be moved, most likely to Richard Mandella.

“Bob gave us the thrill of a lifetime last year,” Toffey told the DRF's David Grening. “Bob has never had a positive test for us. Given the circumstances, the best thing for the time being is to step back.”

Spendthrift is not the only marquee owner/breeder that apparently has a problem with Baffert and the Medina Spirit situation. Daisy Phipps Pulito, a spokesperson for the famed Phipps Stable, announced on Twitter that the stable “has already talked to [trainer] Shug [McGaughey] and won't run in any race at [Pimlico] this weekend where we don't feel like we are running on a level playing field.”

As a condition of acceptance of the entry, Baffert had to agree to let the MJC place Medina Spirit under a microscope that includes rigorous rounds of testing and the constant monitoring of the 3-year-old colt. Baffert also had to commit to full transparency of medical and testing results that will allow for all results to be released to the public.

In a statement released by TSG, also known as 1/ST Racing, CEO Craig Fravel pointed out that a final ruling on the Kentucky Derby positive will not be available until after a split sample has been tested.

“Integrity, accountability and safety in our sport are principles that 1/ST Racing puts above all else. Our company has a track record of instituting process and protocols that have led to nationwide medication reforms and we are unwavering in our commitment to put horse and rider safety at the forefront,” said Fravel. “We are well aware of the public outcry and calls for action that have been the natural outcome of a medication positive in one of the most iconic races in our sport and we share the disappointment and concern.

“We are required to acknowledge in this instance that fundamental fairness compels us to respect the individual rights of participants in our sport to due process and adherence to agreed-upon and well-established rules. To this point, there has to our knowledge been no split-sample testing as is required in every state in this country and no complaint or other official action has been announced by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission with regard to this incident.  While the integrity of our sport is of utmost importance, it is the responsibility of those in authority to follow the rules even as we seek to enforce them. We cannot make things up as we go along and we trust that the competitors, bettors and fans will understand the importance of adhering to that principle.”

TSG said that the Preakness meet operates under veterinary and testing protocols that are established and overseen by the Maryland Racing Commission's Equine Medical Director, Dr. Elizabeth Daniel. These protocols include out-of-competition testing, tests for TCO2 that can be administered within minutes of the race, and the daily examination of starters by veterinarians affiliated with the racing commission.

Baffert did receive a vote of confidence Tuesday from one important owner, Amr Zedan, whose Zedan Racing owns Medina Spirit.

“Bob Baffert reported today that a topical ointment that was recommended and dispensed by an equine veterinarian to treat a skin rash appearing on the hips of Medina Spirit may have been the contaminant source leading to the post-race positive following Medina Spirit's Kentucky Derby victory,” Zedan said. “I have reviewed the picture of the rash and fully understand the need for care and the good faith intentions in using the ointment supplied by the veterinarian. I want to express my full trust and support for Bob Baffert as we cheer on Medina Spirit in the 146th running of the Preakness this weekend.”


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