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Updated: 21 hours 27 min ago

Zedan Backs Up Baffert on Rash Explanation

Tue, 2021-05-11 14:16

Amr Zedan, owner of GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico), released a statement Tuesday, again in support of trainer Bob Baffert following revelations over the weekend that the Derby winner had tested positive for Betamethasone and after Baffert announced Tuesday that Medina Spirit had been treated with the topical cream Otomax, which contains the corticosteroid. The statement, which was issued by attorney Clark Brewster, read:

“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. 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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American Wood Fibers Partners With Secretariat Center for Thoroughbred Rehabilitation

Tue, 2021-05-11 12:51

American Wood Fibers has announced a new partnership with the Secretariat Center, located at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. The company will serve as the sole sponsor and supplier of animal bedding, contributing to the Center's upkeep and overall health of American Thoroughbreds. This sponsorship allows the Center to continue their work, readying the horses for life after rehab.

Through boarding and reschooling, the Center's goal is to create harmonious matches with adopters and educate the community about the American Thoroughbred breed. To date, they have successfully rehoused more than 800 Thoroughbreds.

“We are so excited about our new partnership with AWF,” said Shelley Mann, Executive Director of the Secretariat Center. “As our exclusive sponsor, they are helping us keep our stalls clean and comfortable, contributing to the health and wellbeing of our Thoroughbreds as we place them into loving families.”

The ongoing donation of animal bedding will help maintain the care and comfort of the horses housed at the facility.

“AWF is incredibly proud to support the Secretariat Center,” said Michael Keefe, VP of Sales and Marketing. “We are honored to partner with a visionary nonprofit who shares our enthusiasm for the equine industry.”

Despite temporarily closing their doors due to the pandemic, the Center was able to rehome 33 Thoroughbreds last year. The facility is now open and members of the community are welcome to attend virtual and in-person tours, watch training sessions and donate to their programs. Visit www.secretariatcenter.org for more information.

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Baffert: Anti-Fungal Meds May Explain Medina Spirit’s Positive

Tue, 2021-05-11 10:50

Bob Baffert said in a statement issued Tuesday that Medina Spirit (Protonico) was treated with an anti-fungal ointment prior to his victory in the GI Kentucky Derby, which he believes may explain why the horse tested positive for the medication betamethasone in a post-race test. Baffert said that Medina Spirit had been dealing with a case of dermatitis after finishing second in the GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby and was treated with the medication as late as Apr. 30, the day before the Kentucky Derby.

With the latest statement, Baffert reversed course after declaring emphatically earlier in the week that the horse had never been treated with betamethasone. The trainer now says that he was not aware until Monday that the ointment in question, called Otomax, contained betamethasone. Betamethasone is clearly listed as an ingredient in Otomax on the box containing the drug.

Otomax, made by the pharmaceutical giant Merck, is commonly used to fight infections in the outer ears of dogs. The word “Betamethasone” appears prominently on the front of the packaging. According to the company, “Otomax is indicated for the treatment of canine acute and chronic otitis externa associated with yeast (Malassezia pachydermatis) and/or bacteria susceptible to gentamicin. Otomax contains gentamicin sulfate, betamethasone valerate and clotrimazole in a mineral oil-based system containing a plasticized hydrocarbon gel.”

“Yesterday, I was informed that one of the substances in Otomax is betamethasone,” Baffert said in his statement. “While we do not know definitively that this was the source of the alleged 21 picograms found in Medina Spirit's post-race blood sample, and our investigation is continuing, I have been told by equine pharmacology experts that this could explain the test results. As such, I wanted to be forthright about this fact as soon as I learned of this information.”

When asked how a veterinarian could have given the horse Otomax so close to a race without knowing it could result in a drug positive, Baffert's attorney Craig Robertson replied, “That's a question you're going to have to ask the veterinarian. I don't want to be quoted as throwing the veterinarian under the bus either. Listen: I don't know the answer to that question. I just don't.”

While the revelation about Otomax may help explain why Medina Spirit failed a drug test, it does not necessarily mean that Medina Spirit's Derby win will be upheld. Betamethasone is a Class C drug that, in Kentucky, cannot be given to a horse within 14 days of it racing. No levels of the medication are allowed to be in a horse's system come race day and the penalties for such an infraction may include the disqualification of the horse, along with fines for the trainer starting at $1,000 and a possible suspension of 15 days.

However, racing commissions have become more lenient in recent years when it involves the sport's traditional “absolute insurer” rules regarding drug positives. Earlier this year, the Arkansas Racing Commission, citing extenuating circumstances, reinstated the Baffert trainee Charlatan (Speightstown) as the winner of a division of the 2020 GI Arkansas Derby and stablemate Gamine as the winner of an Oaklawn Park allowance race despite their having tested positive for lidocaine. Robertson successfully argued that the horses were inadvertently contaminated after coming into contact with Baffert's assistant, Jimmy Barnes, who was wearing a Salonpas patch that contained lidocaine.

“No, I would not say that,” Robertson said when asked if the Otomax development would lead to the disqualification of the horse. “I think there are a lot of factors at play and again, one thing that I am very cautious about at this stage is that there is a whole opportunity for discovery in terms of reviewing documents from the testing labs, and all of that, and so with these cases, what I know tomorrow will be more than more than what I know today, and what I know next month will be more than what I know a week from now. And so to definitively sit her and say, look, if this happens, it's a disqualification and if this happens, then it's not, that wouldn't be fair because there are going to be a lot of facts and information yet to be learned out there.

Tuesday's announcement came just two days after Baffert revealed that the Kentucky Racing Commission informed his team that Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms per millileter of blood of the drug. The positive finding will not become official until after a second, or split, sample has been tested by another lab. Baffert said Sunday that he was launching his own investigation into the circumstances of the positive.

“On May 8, 2021, I was informed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that Medina Spirit allegedly tested positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone,” Baffert said in the statement. “On May 9, 2021, I held a press conference in which I stated that I intended to thoroughly investigate how this could have happened and that I would be completely transparent throughout the process. I immediately began that investigation, which has resulted in me learning of a possible source for the betamethasone, and now, as promised, I want to be forthright about what I have learned.

“Following the Santa Anita Derby, Medina Spirit developed dermatitis on his hind end. I had him checked out by my veterinarian who recommended the use of an anti-fungal ointment called Otomax,” the statement continued. “The veterinary recommendation was to apply this ointment daily to give the horse relief, help heal the dermatitis, and prevent it from spreading. My barn followed this recommendation and Medina Spirit was treated with Otomax once a day up until the day before the Kentucky Derby.”

Speaking to the TDN's Dan Ross, Mary Scollay, executive director and chief operating officer of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), called the scenario Baffert described as “plausible.” (See story below)

Baffert again expressed his belief that no matter how the substance may have shown up in Medina Spirit, this was not an attempt to cheat or get an illegal edge. “This has never been a case of attempting to game the system or get an unfair advantage,” he said. He also reiterated his belief that the sport must address a situation where tests are so precise that they can find tiny amounts of therapeutic drugs and drugs that got into a horse's system as a result of environmental contamination. “Horse racing must address its regulatory problem when it comes to substances which can innocuously find their way into a horse's system at the picogram (which is a trillionth of a gram) level.”

Medina Spirit's owner Amr Zedan, released his own statement Tuesday in which he again stood behind his embattled trainer.

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Baffert Runners Arrive at Pimlico

Mon, 2021-05-10 17:31

The suspension of Tex Sutton charters meant that GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico) and his once-beaten stablemate, 'TDN Rising Star' Concert Tour (Street Sense) (video), had to endure a lengthy van ride over from Churchill Downs, but GI Preakness S.-bound duo arrived safely at Pimlico Race Course shortly after 2 p.m. Monday afternoon. The horses were overseen by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, who said they departed Louisville about 4:45 a.m. Monday morning.

“It seemed simple,” he said. “Actually, we're here even earlier than we fly sometimes. If you are on the second flight they have to come here and go back. Other than having to drive 600 miles, it went very smooth.”

Also making the trip from Kentucky were Beautiful Gift (Medaglia d'Oro), drawn widest for Friday's GII Black-Eyed Susan S.; 'Rising Star' Following Sea (Runhappy), slated to run in Saturday's GIII Chick Lang S.; and Hozier (Pioneerof the Nile), runner-up to Concert Tour in the GII Rebel S. who is headed to Saturday's Sir Barton S.

 

WATCH: Derby winner Medina Spirit arrives at Old Hilltop for Saturday's GI Preakness S.

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ARCI’s Martin Issues Statement on Baffert

Mon, 2021-05-10 17:03

The Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) is an umbrella organization of the official governing rule-making bodies for professional horse racing and for decades, has helped establish international standards for racing regulation, medication policy and drug testing labs, among other responsibilities. The organization's president Ed Martin issued a statement on the positive betamethasone test returned on GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico) and the comments made by his trainer Bob Baffert. The statement, in its entirety, reads as follows:

As I watched Bob Baffert denying any knowledge of how an illegal drug got into his Kentucky Derby horse, the scene from Casablanca where Captain Renault denies any knowledge of the existence of gambling in Rick's Cafe comes to mind.

   “I am shocked that there is betamethasone in my horse.”

   Hmmm. Then just as in Shakespeare when the lady doth protest too much, the usual claims are made when such questions arise: I don't know how it got there; I didn't do it; my records prove me innocent; the lab is too sensitive; it doesn't affect performance; it was contamination; the rules are wrong.  

   As the facts now stand, the substance was in the horse at a level it should not have been. The Kentucky [Horse Racing] Commission is investigating and will take appropriate action based on the facts of the case as they develop.

   But I can say this as someone who had to investigate such matters, if there was contamination, other horses will also trip the wire. The “only my horse was contaminated” claim usually doesn't stand up. Complaining about picograms doesn't either, as today's sensitivity of the lab is a good thing. And let's be blunt, some substances have an enormous effect at a minute level.  

   Claims that this won't affect the performance of the horse in the race miss one of the main points of the rule. It's not just about whether something can make a horse run faster, but also if the masking of pain or injury might put the horse at risk.  Collectively, the more stringent rules are helping reduce breakdowns.

   Maybe Mr. Baffert truly has no idea how the drug got in his horse. But it was there based upon everything we know. He is the responsible trainer, not only for his horse, but everyone who works for him and the vets he uses.

   Most horses tested come back clear, even with the uber- sensitive capabilities of the lab that Mr. Baffert decries. I prefer to trust the Kentucky investigation to unearth the pertinent facts.

   As far as cancel culture is concerned, I have no idea what the hell he is talking about.

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Midnight Bourbon Breezes For Preakness

Mon, 2021-05-10 16:04

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC's Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) tuned up for Saturday's GI Preakness S. Monday morning at Churchill Downs, working an easy half-mile in :50.20.

A $525,000 Keeneland September yearling, Midnight Bourbon won the GIII Lecomte S. in January and earned additional points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a third in the GII Risen Star S. and a runner-up effort in the GII Louisiana Derby. Unable to go forward after taking a bump at the start of the GI Kentucky Derby May 1, the strapping bay colt raced farther back in the field than connections wanted, but made some late ground to finish sixth, beaten just over eight lengths.

“He's doing great, wonderful physically,” said trainer Steve Asmussen, who saddled Curlin (Smart Strike) to win at Old Hilltop in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d'Oro) two years later. “This morning, I watched Midnight Bourbon work. He's just such a beautiful specimen and he goes over the racetrack so pretty. Driving back to the barn from the grandstand, I was thinking how crazy we are as horsemen. It's only less than two weeks from the disappointment of the Derby, and here I am, thinking I'm going to win a Classic again and I get all giddy. Here we are less than two weeks later and we're all jazzed up, ready to go to Baltimore and we love our chances. Very fortunate to have these chances and horses of this caliber. I'm very optimistic going to Baltimore.”

Midnight Bourbon was a handful when schooling in the Churchill paddock in the days leading up to the Derby, to the point where Asmussen inserted himself into the situation. He plans to be on the shank again this weekend.

“Yeah, I'm going to lead Bourbon over,” he said. “He's just a lot of horse, and I'm probably the biggest guy in the barn.”

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Siro’s Owner Arrested For Forging Permit Docs

Mon, 2021-05-10 15:22

An owner of Siro's, the popular restaurant and bar within walking distance of Saratoga Race Course, was arrested May 6 on charges of forging insurance and liquor-license documents in an effort to get a city permit to open the business in the middle of the pandemic last summer.

The Daily Gazette newspaper in New York's capitol region first broke the story Monday.

Scott R. Solomon, 35, of Cohoes, turned himself in to face an arrest warrant last Thursday, the Gazette reported, adding that Saratoga Springs police afterward released him on his own recognizance.

“Solomon faces two counts of second-degree forgery, one involving an official document and one involving legal documents such as contracts, two counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument, and two counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. All are felonies that could result in state prison time,” the Gazette reported.

Police told the Gazette they “started an investigation in August because there were concerns about paperwork Solomon had filed with the city in an effort to get a permit needed to open Siro's, which traditionally has only been open each year only during the few weeks of the Thoroughbred racing season…. City officials ordered it closed after reports that it was either open or hosting private events despite not having its permit.”

Even after the filing of the allegedly forged documents, the popular Lincoln Avenue watering hole still didn't get its permit and never officially opened to the public in 2020, the Gazette reported.

The paper continued: “This week's arrest is the latest trouble for Solomon, who last September was arrested by state police after an investigation into misappropriation of money from Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan's election campaign, for which he was an aide. He faces multiple counts of grand larceny and possession of a forged instrument in that case…. Solomon also faced felony larceny charges earlier this year for allegedly writing [$54,000] in bad checks.”

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KY Shippers To Maryland Won’t Face Return Restrictions

Mon, 2021-05-10 13:42

Kentucky-based horses that ship to Maryland for this week's GI Preakness S. and supporting races will no longer face health-related return restrictions when they try to re-enter the state, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture announced Monday.

According to a press release issued by the agency, “Effective Monday, May 10, [the] Office of State Veterinarian rescinds restrictions on horses originating from both Pimlico and Laurel. All horses from these facilities that meet the standard health requirements for Kentucky tracks and training centers (including EHV1 vaccination, 72-hour Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, and valid negative EIA test) will be allowed unrestricted entry.”

In the wake of the equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) outbreak in Maryland that began in early March, Kentucky had restricted the movement of horses stabled at either Laurel or Pimlico, requiring prior approval from the state veterinarian as a condition of re-entry.

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Baffert Team Will Fight If Banned From Preakness

Mon, 2021-05-10 12:10

While awaiting word from the Maryland Jockey Club concerning the status of Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit (Protonico) for the GI Preakness S., Baffert's lawyer Craig Robertson said he will seek a temporary restraining order if Medina Spirit is not allowed to run.

His status became unclear Sunday when Baffert informed the media that he had been told by the Kentucky Racing Commission that Medina Spirit had tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone in tests conducted following the race. A few hours later, 1/ST, the owners of Pimlico, put out a press release stating they were still reviewing the situation. They bought themselves a bit of time when deciding to move the draw for the Preakness from Monday to Tuesday.

“Pimlico has not taken such action yet, Robertson said in a text message. “However, if they do, I will file such a TRO. There is something called due process of law and any rush to judgment or punishment at this point would be premature and unlawful. If anyone takes such action before the split comes back, we will act.”

Baffert told the TDN that he will not, no matter his personal status, be attending the Preakness.

The Kentucky Racing Commission has had little to say about the matter, which probably won't change until after a second lab has tested a split sample. Robertson has already set the ball in motion regarding the testing of the split sample.

“We will be given a list of labs by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from which we can chose to send the split,” he said via text. “That list has not been provided yet. No definitive time frame, but past experience tells me that from this moment until split results come back will be at least a couple of weeks.”

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Baffert Tells Fox: “We Did Not Cheat”

Mon, 2021-05-10 11:39

Embattled trainer Bob Baffert took his fight to clear his name to a national audience Monday, appearing on the Fox News show “America's Newsroom” where he once again emphatically denied any wrongdoing in the case of Medina Spirit (Protonico). Pressed on the issue by co-host Bill Hemmer, Baffert doubled down on denials he made Sunday, saying, “We did not cheat to win the Kentucky Derby.”

Baffert has found himself in the cross hairs of one of the biggest scandals ever to hit horse racing and the GI Kentucky Derby. The story exploded Sunday morning when Baffert hastily called a press conference at Churchill Downs to inform the media that the he had ben notified by the Kentucky Racing Commission that Medina Spirit tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone. The betamethasone finding, if confirmed by a split sample, will be Baffert's fifth positive test for a regulated but prohibited-on-race-day drug within the past year. In every instance, he has denied any wrongdoing.

As he did Sunday, Baffert made the case to the Fox audience that the problem was not with him or his stable but with a drug testing system that is so precise it can find minuscule trace amounts of therapeutic drugs that are not known to be performance-enhancers.

“What's happening is they're testing at these picogram levels,” Baffert said. “America doesn't know about picograms. It's like a salt grain in an Olympic size pool. He had 21 picograms, which has no effect at all. The thing is, a few years ago this never would have been called. In California, they never would have called this a positive. They shouldn't have called it a positive. We're living in a new world. These horses don't live in a bubble. They are out in the open, people are touching them. After the Derby, everybody was up there touching him. There are so many ways these horses can get contaminated. They're testing at these ridiculously low levels. I've been saying for over a year now, this is going to get innocent people in trouble. This is what has happened now.”

Baffert has maintained all along that Medina Spirit has never been given betamethasone.

“This did not happen,” he said. “This horse has never been treated with that. Actually, it's a legal therapeutic medicine and the amount (found in the post-race drug test) wouldn't have any effect on the horse anyway. That horse was never treated with that and so that's the disturbing part of it. I never thought I'd have to be fighting for my reputation and this poor horse's reputation because of the new regulations. They are testing these horse at contaminated levels. It's been a horrible experience.”

Baffert told the Fox audience that there was no way he would have given this particular drug to a horse just prior to a race.

“Bob Baffert is not stupid,” he said. “That is not a drug that I would use on a horse. We don't use that drug. The horse never had that in him. We have the documentation. We're going to show everything.”

Baffert confirmed that Medina Spirit and stablemate Concert Tour (Street Sense) were on their way to Baltimore to prepare for the GI Preakness S. By early afternoon Monday, it was not clear if the Maryland Jockey Club would allow them to be entered or whether or not they could be entered under another trainer's name.

On Sunday, Churchill Downs issued a statement in which it said that Baffert had been suspended from entering any horses there during the remainder of the meet.

“I haven't heard anything officially,” he said of the Preakness. “They haven't told me anything. Churchill Downs came out with that statement and that was pretty harsh. We live in a different world. This America is different. This was a cancel culture kind of thing, We're prepared to run.”

Baffert said he realized that he is under a microscope and that the Medina Spirit positive could have lasting impact on his reputation.

“I want to protect my legacy,” he said. “I have trained great horses, the best horses that have run. My record has proven that. It's horrible that this has happened. This horse never got that medication. It's an injustice to the horse. He's a great horse. He ran hard and he deserved to win that race. It kills me. These horses are like my children.”

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Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Under-Tack Show Starts Tuesday

Mon, 2021-05-10 09:30

The under-tack show ahead of next week's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale begins Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Catalogued hips one through 195 are slated to work Tuesday, with hips 196 through 390 working Wednesday and hips 391 to 587 working at the show's final session Thursday.

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

Last year's Midlantic sale, which was delayed until late June due to the pandemic, was topped by a $1.1-million son of Uncle Mo. The colt was one of 303 juveniles to sell at the 2020 auction for a gross of $23,572,500. The average was $77,797 and the median was $40,000.

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Street Boss Colt Sharp at Santa Anita

Sun, 2021-05-09 17:23

2nd-Santa Anita, $63,196, Msw, 5-9, 2yo, 4 1/2f, :52.04, ft, 4 lengths.
STREET ART (c, 2, Street Boss–Cool Jazz, by Henny Hughes) was backed down to 8-5 for this first outing and ran to the money to lead home a one-two for his sire. Quickly clear, the chestnut was chased by Bochombo (Street Boss) around the bend but was not for catching as he cruised home a convincing four-length winner. The winner is a grandson of MGISW I Ain't Bluffing (Pine Bluff), making his dam a half to GSW/MGISP two-turn dirt runner Acting Happy (Empire Maker) and to the dam of MGISW Go Google Yourself (Into Mischief). Cool Jazz produced a Mor Spirit colt in 2020 and a Munnings colt this term. Sales history: $37,000 Ylg '20 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $36,600. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
O-Rocker O Ranch, LLC; B-Steve Wilson (KY); T-J. Keith Desormeaux.

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Preakness Draw Moved to Tuesday

Sun, 2021-05-09 17:21

Hours after releasing a statement saying it was reviewing the “relevant facts and information relating to the reported medication positive as a result of the post-race blood sample testing completed by Churchill Downs following the 147th Kentucky Derby involving Medina Spirit trained by Bob Baffert,” The Stronach Group announced it was postponing the draw for Saturday's GI Preakness S. until Tuesday. The draw had originally been scheduled for Monday. It will now take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Pimlico Race Course and can be viewed at Facebook.com/Preakness.

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National Defense Filly Blitzes Belmont Maidens for ‘Rising Star’ Badge

Sun, 2021-05-09 15:51

Twilight Gleaming (Ire) (National Defense {GB}), a strong second debuting on the Keeneland main track last month at Keeneland, got to her likely preferred surface of turf Sunday at Belmont and rocketed clear in the lane for 'TDN Rising Star' honors.

Bought for £75,000 by Ben McElroy at the Goffs Orby Yearling Sale last October, Twilight Gleaming became the first starter for her freshman sire when backed down to 3-5 Apr. 8 at Keeneland, and ran a game second despite being pinched at the start and going wide on the turn. Recording a pair of sharp half-mile works in Lexington since, the bay was punched down to 65 cents on the dollar here and broke alertly from the rail. Taking charge early while trying to get out just a bit heading into the turn, the bay led narrowly while well in hand through a :22.26 quarter. Shaking clear into the lane on her own power, the favorite burst away impressively once given her cue by Irad Ortiz, Jr. and cruised in under a hold for the final sixteenth, hitting the wire 7 1/2 lengths to the good. Poppy Flower (Lea) completed the exacta.

Twilight Gleaming is the second winner for National Defense, an Irish National Stud resident who was a French highweight colt and Group 1 victor as a 2-year-old in 2016. He picked up his first winner Saturday in Italy. Dam Thames Pageant is an unraced full-sister to Group 1-placed Mainstream (GB) out of MSW/MGSP Golden Stream and third dam Phantom Gold was a three-time Group winner in England. Thames Pageant produced a colt by Sioux Nation last term.

4th-Belmont, $90,000, Msw, 5-9, 2yo, f, 5fT, :56.49, fm, 7 1/2 lengths.
TWILIGHT GLEAMING (IRE) f, 2, by National Defense {GB}
1st Dam: Thames Pageant {GB}, by Dansili {GB})
2nd Dam: Golden Stream (Ire), by Sadler's Wells
3rd Dam: Phantom Gold (GB), by Machiavellian
Sales History: £75,000 Ylg '20 GOFOR. Lifetime Record: 2-1-1-0, $56,740. Click for the Equibase.com chart, VIDEO, sponsored by TVG or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. O-Stonestreet Stables LLC; B-Pier House Stud (IRE); T-Wesley A. Ward.

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Zedan Stands by Baffert

Sun, 2021-05-09 14:30

Amr Zedan, the Saudi Arabian businessman who owns Medina Spirit (Protonico), said Sunday that he believes Bob Baffert is innocent of any wrongdoing in this year's GI Kentucky Derby and will stand behind his trainer.

Baffert informed the media Sunday that Medina Spirit tested positive for the medication Betamethasone, a corticosteroid, after crossing the wire in front in this year's Derby.

“I totally support and believe Bob Baffert,” Zedan told the TDN. “He is a professional beyond belief and he has never administered this drug to this horse at all. Medina Spirit has never been treated with this drug and we hope that the split sample will definitely prove that. Bob Baffert has my support, 100%.”

Zedan said he was confident that Baffert will be exonerated and Medina Spirit will remain the official winner of the 2021 Derby.

“This story does not add up,” Zedan said. “I know Bob Baffert as a human being and as a friend and I trust him. I trust him blindly. This will go away and, hopefully, Medina Spirit will get reaffirmed as the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner.”

Should Medina Spirit be disqualified, Zedan will lose the $1,860,000 in purse money that goes to the winner of this year's Derby.

During a news conference he held at Churchill Downs, Baffert said he is not a “conspiracy theorist,” but, at the same time, questioned why he keeps getting positives. The implication was that he had done nothing wrong and that the system is flawed.

“I know one thing for sure, when you are that successful you create a lot of animosity,” Zedan said. “And a lot of issues get stirred up. I am not a believer in conspiracy theories. But this is a tax one pays for being that successful. There is absolutely no upside for anybody to do this. There was no reason to do this. He just finished up with whatever happened in Arkansas, where he was exonerated.”

Zedan said he had no plans to take any legal action of his own.

“I will leave it to Baffert,” he said. “He will take the lead on this. I am very much looking forward to being at the Preakness. I think he will make us proud in the Preakness and show everyone what a great horse he is. This, too, shall pass.”

Zedan has owned horses since 2017 and started off with Doug O'Neill. He had little success until sending his horses to Baffert in 2020. In addition to Medina Spirit, Baffert and Zedan teamed up to win the 2020 GI Del Mar Debutante and GI Chandelier S. with Princess Noor (Not This Time).

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Gun Runner Gets First Winner at Churchill

Sun, 2021-05-09 14:11

Well-bred Red Run (Gun Runner) ran to 3-5 backing Sunday in the Churchill Downs slop to become the first winner for his freshman sire (by Candy Ride {Arg}). Sporting the same Winchell silks that near $16-million earner and fellow Steve Asmussen pupil Gun Runner did, the chestnut broke in midpack and was ridden along to track from third as second timer Trebbiano (Connect) showed the way. One of several pursuers revving up behind the pacesetter heading for home, Red Runner mounted his three-wide bid in upper stretch and outkicked a stubborn Trebbiano late to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths in :59.22. A very green Woodline (Gun Runner) rounded out the trifecta.

Red Runner is the first foal out of an unraced full-sister to his connections' champion 3-year-old filly and GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Untapable (Tapit), as well as GISW Paddy O'Prado (El Prado {Ire}). Dam Red House produced another Gun Runner colt last March and was bred back to Copper Bullet for 2021.

Gun Runner, the 2017 Horse of the Year who stands at Three Chimneys–which co-campaigned him–was the leading first-crop sire by yearling average last year at $246,413. He has also led freshmen with more than one sold by 2-year-old sales average this term ($372,000), including a $1.7-million colt at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream and an $850,000 colt at OBS April.

3rd-Churchill Downs, $99,058, Msw, 5-9, 2yo, 5f, :59.22, sy, 1 3/4 lengths.
RED RUN (c, 2, Gun Runner–Red House, by Tapit) Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $57,488. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
O/B-Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen.

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France Go de Ina Arrives at Pimlico

Sun, 2021-05-09 14:11

Japan-based GI Preakness S. contender France Go de Ina (Will Take Charge) arrived at Pimlico Race Course Saturday night. The chestnut colt, trained by Hideyuki Mori, is set to become the first horse from Japan to compete in the Preakness since Lani in 2016 and the first Japanese horse to compete in a Triple Crown race since Master Fencer ran in the 2019 GI Belmont S. He arrived in California Wednesday to quarantine, left California Saturday afternoon and made a stop in Newark, N.J. before arriving in Baltimore and Pimlico at approximately 7:45 p.m.

France Go de Ina began his career in Toyko in November. After finishing fourth in his debut, he won two consecutive races at Hanshin Racecourse to end his 2-year-old season. In his only start this year, France Go de Ina was away awkwardly before finishing sixth in the G2 UAE Derby at Meydan.

Joel Rosario will ride France Go de Ina in Saturday's Preakness.

According to Kate Hunter, Triple Crown representative for the Japan Racing Association, France Go de Ina is not expected to go to the track until Monday.

“He looked like he shipped very well. It was a long and bumpy road to get him from Japan, Dubai, Japan, Los Angeles, Newark to Pimlico, but he's in good shape,” Hunter said. “We'll know exactly how well we're going to do Saturday when he breezes on Wednesday.”

Gary and Mary West's GII Rebel S. winner Concert Tour (Street Sense) turned in a five-furlong work in 1:00.40 Sunday at Churchill Downs.

“He worked really well. He's been training really well,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “I'm happy with the way he went, so he'll definitely be going to the Preakness. Medina Spirit, we just gave him a stiff open gallop, sort of. We're happy with how he went. He came out of the race really, really well. So they'll both be going to the Preakness.”

Concert Tour suffered his first career defeat when third in the Apr. 10 GI Arkansas Derby last time out.

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Not This Time Colt Sharp in Belmont Debut Score

Sun, 2021-05-09 13:37

1st-Belmont, $83,700, Msw, 5-9, 2yo, 5fT, :56.92, fm, 3 lengths.

LUCCI (c, 2, Not This Time–Lucky'stormwarning, by Lookin At Lucky) showed a sharp Keeneland worktab for this unveiling, capped by a half-mile breeze in :47 3/5 (4/23) Apr. 28, and was made a fractional 5-4 favorite. Breaking sweetly from his rail draw, the $290,000 Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearling buy quickly scampered clear and showed the way through a modest :22.92 quarter. Pressured harder by Speak Unity (Union Rags) as the pace picked up past a :45.32 half, Lucci stiff-armed that rival outside the furlong grounds and finished strongly to score by three lengths. Speak Unity held the place over narrow second choice and stablemate to the winner Riot House (Violence). Lucci's dam, who captured her only career start, produced a filly by Brody's Cause last term before being bred to Dialed In. Sales History: $290,000 Ylg '20 FTKSEL. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $49,500. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

O-Andrew Farm, For the People Racing Stable LLC & Windmill Manor Farm; B-Springhouse Farm & Ben McElroy (KY); T-Wesley A. Ward.

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Baffert Reveals Betamethasone Positive for Derby Winner Medina Spirit

Sun, 2021-05-09 10:03

Bob Baffert told the media Sunday morning at Churchill Downs that his stable has been informed by the Kentucky Racing Commission that GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico) tested positive for the medication betamethasone in post-race tests conducted after the Derby. In a 13-minute press conference (video) at his barn on the Churchill Downs backstretch Baffert, denied any wrongdoing.

“All I can tell you is that betamethasone is an allowed therapeutic medication, but we did not give it to this horse,” Baffert said. “In fact, Medina Spirit has never been treated with betamethasone. I cannot believe that I am here before you guys. Yesterday, I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something I did not do.”

Betamethasone is a corticosteroid that is used with horses to treat inflammation in joints. Baffert said Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms.

As the sport awaits official word about the positive from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, Churchill Downs announced Sunday that it has suspended Baffert from entering any horses.

“Failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of the horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all who participate. Churchill Downs will not tolerate it,” read a statement issued by the track. “Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack. We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's investigation before taking further steps.”

While Baffert vowed to fight the latest charges “tooth and nail,” the betamethasone positive could lead to Medina Spirit being disqualified from the Derby. If that happens, runner-up Mandaloun (Into Mischief) would be placed first. Mandaloun is trained by Brad Cox. A racing commission cannot issue a penalty for a drug positive until after a split sample comes back from a second lab, which has yet to happen.

It was not immediately clear Sunday how Pimlico's owner, The Stronach Group, plan to deal with the Derby positive. Banning Baffert from participating in the Preakness is a possibility.

“1/ST RACING and MJC intend to review the relevant facts and information relating to the reported medication positive as a result of the post-race blood sample testing completed by Churchill Downs following the 147th Kentucky Derby involving Medina Spirit trained by Bob Baffert,” read a statement from the Maryland Jockey Club. “We are consulting with the Maryland Racing Commission and any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness S. will be made after review of the facts.”

Hours after releasing that statement, The Stronach Group announced it was moving the Preakness draw from Monday to Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Sunday's news is the latest blow to, not just horse racing, but to its most famous trainer. Starting with Justify (Scat Daddy) in the 2018 GI Santa Anita Derby, a number of Baffert-trained horses have tested positive, putting the Hall of Fame trainer on the defensive while trying to explain away why his horses kept failing drug tests.

Baffert said he first became aware of the positive test when reached Saturday by his assistant trainer, Jimmy Barnes. He called Baffert after being informed by the Kentucky Racing Commission that Medina Spirit tested positive. Baffert said he was “shocked” when informed of the positive.

“I do not feel safe and it is getting worse,” Baffert said. “How do I move forward from this, knowing something like this can happen? It's a complete injustice , but I will fight it tooth and nail. I owe that to the horse and the owner and I owe it to the industry.”

Baffert implied that the problem is not with him, but with a testing system that can lead to trainers getting positives for minute trace amounts of therapeutic drugs.

“I am not a conspiracy theorist,” he said. “I don't think everyone is out to get me, but there is something wrong. Why is it happening to me? There are problems in racing, but it's not Bob Baffert. I want to get that across to you guys. We're going to fight this and I feel this is an injustice.”

“Our industry needs to step up and we need to do a better job,” he added. “There's something wrong right now.”

Baffert said he will conduct his own investigation into the matter in hopes of clearing his name, starting with DNA and hair follicle tests.

“I don't feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged,” he said. “We're going to do our own investigation. We will be transparent with the racing commission, like we have always been. We're going to show them everything. One thing about California is that everything is documented, so far as what the horses get. He was never treated with that. He's a great horse and he doesn't deserve this. He ran a gallant race.”

Disqualifying a horse for a drug positive in the Kentucky Derby is not unprecedented. Dancer's Image was stripped of his victory in 1968 after testing positive for bute.

Justify tested positive for scopalamine after winning the Santa Anita Derby, but the Santa Anita stewards eventually decided that the positive test was the result of environmental contamination and upheld his victory.

Next up were positive tests for lidocaine for Charlatan (Speightstown) and Gamine (Into Mischief) issued by the Arkansas Racing Commission after they ran on the card of the 2020 GI Arkansas Derby. Charlatan was initially disqualified from his victory in the Arkansas Derby, but was restored as the winner. Last month, the Arkansas regulators announced that the original results of the race would stand and that a 15-day suspension for Baffert had been overturned. He was handed fines totaling $10,000. Baffert's attorney Craig Robertson successfully made the case that the positives were a result of Barnes inadvertently contaminating the horses because he was wearing a Salonpas patch.

Gamine again tested positive after finishing third in the 2020 GI Kentucky Oaks. Tests showed that she also had betamethasone in her system. In that case, Baffert admitted that the filly had been treated with the drug, but said she was not given any within the suggested withdrawal time for the medication. Baffert waived his right to a hearing, accepted a $1,500 fine from the Kentucky Racing Commission. Gamine was officially disqualified and denied any purse money.

“Gamine was a different story,” Baffert said. “We followed the rules, went an extra four days. We did treat her with [betamestasone]. This horse was not treated with this. That's the scary part. As a trainer, is this the life I have to live now? Do I have to worry every time I win a race?”

While Baffert might once again be exonerated, his reputation may suffer lasting damage as his many critics once again have been supplied with ammunition to cast aspersions on his credibility. With each passing positive, it becomes more difficult for him to maintain his overall innocence.

To the surprise of no one, on Sunday, PETA called for Baffert to be thrown out of the sport.

“The time has long passed for regulators to stop protecting Bob Baffert with minimal fines and finally kick him out of racing,” PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said in a statement. “Thirty verified drug violations over his career, with five in just the last year, point to a pattern of cheating that should never have been tolerated these long years. He will undoubtedly come up with yet another implausible excuse, but this time, the regulators need to get a backbone, protect the horses from systematic abuse, and ban him permanently from racing.”

Later Sunday afternoon, The Jockey Club released a statement in response to the Derby positive.

“Along with everyone in the sport, we were troubled by the report today by trainer Bob Baffert of a notice that Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby. We sincerely hope justice is swift, sure, fair, and uniform,” the statement read. “Bettors and fans need to have unshakable confidence in the integrity of the sport. The passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) undeniably will give our sport a far better level of regulation. It is unfortunate that there are still some people in our sport who oppose HISA. We can only conclude that they don't want better regulation.”

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English Channel’s Channel Cat Steals the Man o’War

Sat, 2021-05-08 18:00

Johnny V. did it again.

A week after wiring the GI Kentucky Derby aboard Medina Spirit (Protonico), John Velazquez sent Calumet Farm homebred Channel Cat (English Channel) to the front in Saturday's GI Man O' War S., and just held on by a nose over favored Gufo (Declaration of War).

Channel Cat, off at 8-1, dueled from the inside through an opening quarter in an eye-catching :22.69 in this 1 3/8-mile affair. He began to shake clear rounding the clubhouse turn and slowed it down some to a testing half mile in :47.53. The 6-year-old turned them in as the one to catch and dug down deep in the stretch to hold last year's GI Belmont Derby Invitational S. winner and Moon Over Miami (Malibu Moon) safe in a photo finish.

“I didn't think we went that fast,” Velazquez said. “I knew we were going fast, but not quite :22 and change. I gave him loose reins and he was a happy horse up front. I was happy with the way that he was doing things. I felt [Gufo] coming when I was asking him to run.”

Previously under the tutelage of Todd Pletcher, Channel Cat hadn't visited the winner's circle since posting a wire-to-wire score in the 2019 GII Bowling Green S. at Saratoga. He made three previous starts for Jack Sisterson, finishing fifth in the GII Ft. Lauderdale S. Dec. 12, fifth in the GIII W.L. McKnight S. Jan. 23 and second in the GII Elkhorn S. at Keeneland last time Apr. 17. He hadn't been placed on the lead since his front-running score in the Bowling Green.

Channel Cat's resume also includes a win in the 2018 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby and third-place finishes in the 2019 GI Sword Dancer S. and GI United Nations S., respectively.

“I left it [the trip decision] in Johnny Velazquez's hands,” Sisterson said. “I told him last weekend [winning the GI Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby] was pretty incredible. I didn't sleep last night. I wasn't nervous about Channel Cat, I was nervous about letting John Velazquez down because I didn't want to ruin last weekend's celebrations.”

Sisterson continued, “Thanks to Channel Cat and the staff back at the barn, who do all the hard work to win a Grade I. I don't take any credit for this. It's all due to the people behind the scenes that people don't see. He was coming into the race in great shape. He ran a great race in the Elkhorn off the layoff and finished up good, closing into fast fractions. It's nice to win a race for the owner. He's so passionate and supportive of the sport.”

Pedigree Notes:

English Channel and Kitten's Joy finished 2020 as the one-two duo atop the North American leading turf sire list and Channel Cat's pedigree melds the two together with a flourish. He is one of four stakes winners–with three graded and one being a SW/GISP Canadian champion–by English Channel out of a Kitten's Joy mare. Both stallions, a year apart in age and both champion grass horses themselves, have plenty of other accomplishments as well, with English Channel the sire of 56 black-type winners to date with 30 graded winners, and Kitten's Joy counting 15 stakes winners out of his daughters. Channel Cat races as a homebred for Calumet Farm, who stands English Channel and bought Carnival Kitten for $30,000 at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky February sale before reselling her for $45,000 at the 2018 Keeneland November sale to Nursery Place. The mare has since produced a 2-year-old colt by Red Rocks (Ire) and most recently visited the court of Speightstown.

Saturday, Belmont Park
MAN O' WAR S.-GI, $700,000, Belmont, 5-8, 4yo/up, 1 3/8mT, 2:13.34, gd.
1–CHANNEL CAT, 118, h, 6, by English Channel
                1st Dam: Carnival Kitten, by Kitten's Joy
                2nd Dam: Roja, by L'Enjoleur
                3rd Dam: Hunt's Roja, by Architect
   1ST GRADE I WIN. O/B-Calumet Farm (KY); T-Jack Sisterson;
J-John R. Velazquez. $375,000. Lifetime Record: 26-6-3-5,
$1,373,522. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Werk Nick Rating: A++.
2–Gufo, 124, c, 4, Declaration of War–Floy, by Petionville.
O-Otter Bend Stables, LLC; B-John Little & Stephen Cainelli
(KY); T-Christophe Clement. $130,000.
3–Moon Over Miami, 118, c, 4, Malibu Moon–Zinzay, by Smart
Strike. O/B-Summer Wind Equine LLC (KY); T-William I. Mott. $70,000.
Margins: NO, NK, 1 1/4. Odds: 8.20, 1.50, 6.40.
Also Ran: Shamrocket, So High (GB), Ziyad (GB), Sovereign (Ire), Field Pass. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

 

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