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Updated: 21 hours 20 min ago

Molto Bene! Brant Filly Races to ‘Rising Star’-dom

Sat, 2021-05-08 17:54

A 475,000gns Tattersalls October yearling purchase by Mike Ryan on behalf of owner Peter Brant, In Italian (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) was bet into 7-5 favoritism for her Mar. 28 bow at Tampa, but found trouble enough at the quarter pole and again 100 yards later to cost her a debut graduation.

Kicked immediately into the lead here by Irad Ortiz, Jr., In Italian enjoyed a fairly soft time of things on the engine, clocking unpressured fractions of :24.03 and :49.39. Challenged briefly approaching the stretch, In Italian rebroke and coasted home a 3 1/2-length winner as the 5-4 chalk.

In Italian, a half-sister to Villa Carlotta (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}), GSP-Aus; and Fasano (Aus) (Lonhro {Aus}), SP-Aus, was bred by John Camilleri's Fairway Thoroughbreds and her dam Florentina was bred back Southern Hemisphere time to Juddmonte stallion Kingman (GB) in September 2018 before returning to Australia. That produce, a colt foaled Aug. 2, 2019, sold to Tom Magnier for A$1.8m at the Magic Millions Gold Coast yearling sale this past January. Florentina returned to Banstead Manor to visit Kingman in the Northern Hemisphere autumn in 2019 and, returned to Australia, she was subsequently sold for A$650,000 at the 2020 Inglis Chairman's Sale last May. The most recent renewal of that auction took place just this past Friday, with Magnier striking the winning blow at A$2.5 million for G1SW Celebrity Queen (Aus) (Redoute's Choice {Aus}).

Florentina produced a filly last September and was bred back to 2019 The Everest winner Yes Yes Yes (Aus) (Rubick {Aus}). That foal will be inbred 4×3 to Shantha's Choice (Aus), the dam of In Italian's legendary broodmare sire, who also serves as the second dam of former 'TDN Rising Star' Rubick. Camilleri, a successful Australian businessman, has had much success breeding horses, but none more so than the irrepressible Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}).

In Italian is the 25th 'Rising Star' for her sire, a number that includes Peter Brant's Claiborne Farm-based Demarchelier (GB).

8th-Belmont, $90,000, Msw, 5-8, 3yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16mT, 1:42.74, gd, 3 1/2 lengths.
IN ITALIAN (GB), f, 3, by Dubawi (Ire)
1st Dam: Florentina (Aus) (GSW-Aus, $250,958),
                by Redoute's Choice (Aus)
2nd Dam: Celebria (Aus), by Peintre Celebre
3rd Dam: Twyla (Aus), by Danehill
Sales history: 475,000gns Ylg '19 TATOCT. Lifetime Record: 2-1-1-0, $54,500. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
O-Peter M Brant; B-Fairway Thoroughbreds (GB); T-Chad C Brown.

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Constitution’s Promise Keeper Runs to the Money in Peter Pan

Sat, 2021-05-08 17:31

PROMISE KEEPER (c, 3, Constitution–Mira Alta, by Curlin) was hammered down to 3-2 favoritism and ran to the money with a gritty score in the GIII Peter Pan S. at Belmont Saturday. Pressing from second as Wolfie's Dynaghost (Ghostzapper) clocked a :48.62 half-mile, the chestnut drew even on the backstretch run. Taking control entering the turn, the $160,000 KEESEP buy took control entering the turn. Promise Keeper was challenged by Nova Rags (Union Rags) at the top of the lane and kept on finding to hold off that foe, edging clear to win by two lengths in 1:50.71. A second-out graduate in the slop at Gulfstream Feb. 6, Promise Keeper failed to fire, finishing 12th in the GII Tampa Bay Derby Mar. 6. He entered this off a decisive optional claimer score going nine panels at Keeneland Apr. 8. Lifetime Record: 5-3-0-0.

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Saturday’s Preakness Update: Trio of Breezers at Belmont

Sat, 2021-05-08 13:50

Trainer Chad Brown sent out Klaravich Stables' duo of Crowded Trade (More Than Ready) and Risk Taking (Medaglia d'Oro) to breeze in company Saturday, while Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher had Whisper Hill Farm's Unbridled Honor (Honor Code) work in company with older graded stakes winner Fearless (Ghostzapper) at Belmont Park in preparation for next Saturday's GI Preakness S.

Risk Taking, winner of the GIII Withers S. and seventh-place finisher in the GII Wood Memorial S., worked outside of narrow GIII Gotham S. second and Wood Memorial third Crowded Trade, through five-eighths in 1:01.76 on a main track rated fast at 8:45 a.m. with the pair finishing together at the wire. Risk Taking was scratched out of Saturday's GIII Peter Pan S. in favor of the second leg of the Triple Crown.

“I thought they breezed super. It was just what I wanted,” Brown said. “I got them in 1:01 and even out in 1:13 and change. I was real happy with it.”

Brown added of Risk Taking, “His last two works were the best we've seen.”

As for Crowded Trade, he said, “He's only raced three times. He's run three really credible races and he's going in the right direction. He's had six weeks between races and I could see him running a really big race on Saturday.”

Unbridled Honor, runner-up in the GIII Stonestreet Lexington S., worked outside of Fearless on Belmont's dirt training track at 9:30 a.m. The pair covered a half-mile in :49.75 and out in 1:02.1 with a long gallop out through the turn.

“I thought both horses worked well to the wire,” Pletcher said. “Fearless was particularly strong on the gallop out and I thought Unbridled Honor did well. I was happy with both of them.”

As for Unbridled Honor, Pletcher added, “We weren't really thinking Derby at that time [in the Lexington]. We were hoping for a good performance, which we got. He finished up well and he continues to improve with each start. He had a good pace to run at that day. Hopefully, it will be a contested pace at Pimlico.”

Fearless, winner of the GII WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile S. and runner-up in the GII Oaklawn H., is being pointed to the GIII Pimlico Special S. May 14.

John and Diane Fradkin's homebred and El Camino Real Derby winner Rombauer (Twirling Candy), meanwhile, had his final timed workout in preparation for the Preakness Saturday morning, covering five furlongs in :59.80 seconds under jockey Flavien Prat at Santa Anita. “He worked in company, settled in a length behind the other horse, passed him coming to the eighth pole and went on about his business,” trainer Michael McCarthy said.

Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas has confirmed Ram (American Pharoah) as a starter for the Preakness. He won his second straight annexing an allowance on the GI Kentucky Derby undercard. “We realize he has to step forward to be effective,” Lukas said. “But when these horses are doing well, sometimes they'll step up and do what you want them to do. I always thought this horse had potential.”

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Monomoy Girl To Get A Break

Sat, 2021-05-08 09:25

According to co-owner MyRacehorse, Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) is having some minor physical issues and will be given a freshener before returning to the races later this year.

“After collaborating with our partners, Spendthrift Farm, and trainer Brad Cox, have decided to give Monomoy Girl a brief break from training, with the expectation of the 6-year-old mare returning for a second-half of the year campaign on the racetrack,” read an email sent to those owning a share of Monomoy Girl through Myracehorse.

The email went on to say that Monomoy Girl “didn't bounce out of her gutsy second-place finish in last month's Grade I Apple Blossom H. as quickly as we would have hoped. While there are no serious physical issues with Monomoy Girl, she recently has been experiencing some minor muscle strains and hamstring soreness.”

The decision came after a thorough examination by Dr. Wes Sutter of Kentucky Equine Hospital, who advised that giving the two-time Eclipse Award and GI Breeders' Cup Distaff winner a short break from training would be beneficial for the mare. Dr. Sutter cleared Monomoy Girl to begin a swimming regimen in two weeks' time.

“We fully expect Monomoy Girl to return for a second-half-of-the-year campaign and anticipate more terrific performances to come from our wonderful mare,” said Spendthrift general manager, Ned Toffey. “We're happy that she will be spending her turnout time at WinStar, which has an amazing facility for horses who are getting a break from training. We look forward to getting Monomoy Girl back to Brad's barn after this brief respite, which we believe will do her a world of good.”

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Doping Trial Likely to Get Pushed into 2022

Fri, 2021-05-07 18:24

Prosecutors in the federal case against alleged dopers Jorge Navarro, Jason Servis and 12 other defendants told the judge Friday they had no objection to the granting of yet another extension so defense attorneys can sift through the voluminous amount of evidence against their clients, a move that will likely push back the start of the long-awaited trial until 2022 at the earliest.

The May 7 letter from acting United States Attorney Audrey Strauss to U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil was filed fewer than 24 hours after defense attorneys filed their own, separate letter with the court signaling an intent to ask the judge to recuse herself from the case over alleged prejudices.

At deadline for this story, that official “Motion to Recuse” had not yet been filed, nor had the judge's purported conflicts been disclosed. But those separate letters from the defense and the prosecutors stem from discussions the parties had during a May 6 conference call, and all signs now point to the trial not starting until the two-year anniversary of the Mar. 9, 2020, arrests looms within sight.

Defense attorneys were already granted one extension two months ago to file motions to suppress evidence, which involves a massive batch of discovery documentation including transcripts of potentially incriminating phone recordings, emails and text messages.

The 14 defendants have all been implicated to various degrees in the alleged conspiracy to manufacture, mislabel, distribute and administer performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds across America and in international races.

Strauss's letter outlined a proposed timetable that would give the defense one additional month, until Aug. 27, to review and/or object to the evidence, with 90 days tacked on beyond that date to accommodate time for the prosecution to respond and for the defense to offer a standard final reply.

“The parties further conferred on the matter of expert disclosures and timing for any motions relating to the preclusion of proposed experts,” Strauss wrote. “The Government has to date identified two experts and provided summary reports relating to their anticipated testimony. No defense experts have yet been identified…Representatives of the defense have asked that deadlines for expert disclosures [be] set at the subsequent conference to be held in the Fall of 2021.”

The last status conference in the case was held in November; the next one is coming up May 14.

Servis (who transformed Maximum Security from a $16,000 maiden-claimer into a MGISW star during the time the feds collected evidence on his alleged stable-wide doping practices) and Navarro (whom the government allegedly has on tape boasting about dosing elite-level sprinter X Y Jet “with 50 injections” of PEDs prior to a win in the 2019 G1 Golden Shaheen in Dubai) are the two now-barred trainers headlining the case.

The 12 other defendants are drug manufacturers, distributors, stable employees, and veterinarians allegedly involved to various degrees in the five counts listed in the indictment. They are: Erica Garcia, Christopher Oakes, Michael Tannuzzo, Marcos Zulueta, Rebecca Linke, Kristian Rhein, Michael Kegley, Jr., Alexander Chan, Seth Fishman, Jordan Fishman, Lisa Giannelli, and Rick Dane, Jr.

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Del Mar’s ‘Ship & Win’ Program Expanded

Fri, 2021-05-07 17:36

Santa Anita Park and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club have joined forces to expand upon Del Mar's “Ship & Win” program as out-of-state horses, who make their first California-based starts in May and June at Santa Anita, will still be eligible for Del Mar's purse incentives, beginning with their Summer Meet opener July 16. Effective May 1, out-of-state horses can start up to twice at Santa Anita through closing day of the current 2021 Winter/Spring Meet June 20 and still be eligible for Del Mar's Ship & Win program bonuses.

“This is a great enticement to out-of-state owners and horsemen to bring their horses here in advance of Del Mar,” said Santa Anita Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Chris Merz. “People around the country know Santa Anita and Del Mar provide world class training and racing opportunities.  We've very happy the folks at Del Mar and with the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) recognize the importance of this comprehensive approach to attracting new horses.”

Merz added that any new horses participating in the Del Mar 'Ship & Win' program will also be eligible for the Santa Anita Sunshine Bonus, which will again be offered at the track's upcoming Autumn Meet, which opens Oct. 1.

For additional information, call the Santa Anita Racing Office at (626) 574-6452.

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Woodbine Pop-Up Vaccine Clinic Extended

Fri, 2021-05-07 17:19

Woodbine Entertainment announced the pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Woodbine Racetrack will continue to operate Monday, May 10. Located in a 'hot spot' community, the clinic will continue to serve the Rexdale Community through the weekend, beginning each day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. or until supply runs out. Entry is through Gate 10 and free parking is available.

The vaccination clinic, which is supported by the North Etobicoke Community Cluster Partners, is open to first priority of individuals 18 years and older in 2021 who live or work in 'hot spot' communities in M9R, M9V and M9W. Other eligible groups are any individuals 18 years and older in 2021 who live in Toronto 'hot spot' postal codes. The clinic is also open to frontline essential workers who provide daily care to the horses stabled at Woodbine Racetrack. A health card and proof of address, such as driver's license or piece of mail, are recommended, however, a health card or OHIP are not required to get vaccinated.

All residents and volunteers will be required to wear a face mask and follow all COVID-19 Prevention Protocols while on property.

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Prognosis Good as Research Grows on New Cause of Foal Diarrhea

Fri, 2021-05-07 17:06

Only weeks after making the preliminary identification that an entirely new rotavirus is responsible for the spate of diarrhea cases afflicting just-born foals this spring, researchers at the University of Kentucky's Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center and the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory are in the process of fine-tuning a just-developed assay to differentiate this emerging threat from the better-recognized Rotavirus A first detected three decades ago.

This new strain has been dubbed Rotavirus B, and Dr. David Horohov, Gluck's director and the chairperson of the school's Department of Veterinary Science, told TDN Friday it is “likely, if not entirely, the cause for all the diarrheas we've been seeing.”

Horohov added that the prognosis is generally good for foals who have suffered through this new form of rotavirus during the first two to 14 days of their lives.

“Once you get the foal through the rough spot where it's having these difficulties, you can expect a sort of normal recovery and then normal growth by the foal,” Horohov said in a May 7 phone interview.

When diarrhea cases began mounting at central Kentucky's Thoroughbred farms in March, the Gluck team began to mobilize to better understand the extent and scope of this health threat, utilizing emergency funding to do so while also receiving financial support from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Foundation, the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, and Coolmore America.

Horohov said the initial identification was made by using a DNA sequencing technique called metagenomic analysis, which involves taking pool samples from numerous foals with diarrhea and examining the many genomes that are present to see if something familiar or different can be discerned. In this case, it was quickly determined that there was something genetically novel present.

The Gluck's diagnostic lab researchers then got to work, and within several weeks had developed a polymerase chain reaction test that would enable them to look at individual samples to determine if the new virus was present there.

“They've been sort of troubleshooting the assay and making it work, and right now we do have an assay that will allow us to identify the Rotavirus B,” Horohov said. “And it will differentiate it from the Rotavirus A so we know we're looking at the novel rotavirus.”

Horohov said that in preliminary studies of 43 individual samples collected from foals with a presumptive diagnosis of rotavirus-related diarrhea, 42 came back positive for Rotavirus B and the lone outlier was indeterminate.

“So it looks like the test is, in fact, accurate,” Horohov said. “They are doing some subsequent testing against known negatives and some other samples to make sure that it is exactly what we think it is. But based on that preliminary data, looking at a collection of samples from different farms, all of them foals with the same basic pattern, it's pretty clear that this is indeed the Rotavirus B that we are dealing with.”

As for the extent and trajectory of Rotavirus B in Kentucky right now, Horohov said that's difficult to pinpoint.

“We're having a relatively limited view of that right now because we're really only working with selected farms [that are providing the samples],” Horohov said. “We're not getting large numbers of samples coming into the diagnostic labs since the test isn't ready yet for use by the public, [so] we don't really have a way to monitor that.

“[But] word of mouth is that again, it's showing the pattern we saw before, where some farms were having a significant problem with it whereas other farms were either having minimal problems or, more importantly, those that took the steps to increase their biosecurity-including things like having the foals born outside and minimal handling of the foals-seem to have gotten a better handle on this,” Horohov said.

“There seems to be more control going on than there was [at the start of the outbreak],” Horohov said. “A lot of the farms, fortunately, seem to have found ways to reduce the problem.”

Horohov said the Gluck researchers also looked at whether the diarrhea outbreak might have been caused by a bacterial problem, but that “all of the data that we have right now indicates that is not the primary cause of this.”

Horohov said that the concern with Rotavirus B is “typical of any diarrheal disease. There's fluid loss associated with that. There's also a loss of ions. So the foals, particularly given their young age, rapidly become metabolically challenged by this. As a result of that, the therapy that's given to them is primarily supportive, and typically it's quite successful.”

Horohov summed up: “This is similar to what we saw originally when the Rotavirus A variant first appeared. We were seeing that going back into the 1990s. As long as you get the foals through this period and you replace that fluid loss and keep your ions in check, normally they come out of it okay. There is always a risk that you may have secondary issues that occur, [but] certainly these foals will be watched carefully to make sure none of those issues show up.”

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Risk Taking, Unbridled Honor Added to Preakness

Fri, 2021-05-07 15:49

Next weekend's GI Preakness S. continues to take shape as GSW Risk Taking (Medaglia d'Oro) and Unbridled Honor (Honor Code) are expected to be added to the fray during Monday's draw at Pimlico.

Winner of the GIII Withers S. in February, Risk Taking had been initially tabbed to contest the nine-furlong GIII Peter Pan S. at Belmont Saturday, but has been rerouted to join his Klaravich Stables stablemate, Crowded Trade (More Than Ready), in the second jewel in the Triple Crown. Chad Brown trains the colt for Baltimore native Seth Klarman, who was the co-owner of Brown's 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing.

“After a couple of lengthy discussions with Mr. Klarman, we feel that this horse is better around two turns,” explained Brown. “That, along with the defections, it just seemed like a good opportunity to take a chance with the horse. I know he is the morning-line favorite for the Peter Pan and we are giving that up, but the reward is: if we are able to get lucky in this race and have him run the race of his life and potentially win or be right there, it's a huge purse. Along with that, it's a little better for him around two turns with the extra distance. Of course, it's a tougher race, but it just came down to a risk-and-reward situation and getting the opportunity to try him around two turns.”

The Preakness will be Risk Taking's first start since he finished seventh as the 2-1 favorite in the Apr. 3 GII Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. He broke his maiden at the Big A in December prior to his Withers score.

“Our optimism is really based on being able to confidently draw a line through the Wood,” Brown said. “If we do that, and if he was to move forward off his previous two races, another step forward, finishing strong at a mile and three-sixteenths, it could potentially put him in the trifecta or maybe better.”

Jose Ortiz will ride the Risk Taking in the Preakness.

Newly-minted Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher also confirmed Whisper Hill's Unbridled Honor will take aim at the Preakness, the only Classic which the 53-year-old has yet to win.

A narrow winner in his third career start going just over a mile at Tampa in February, the colt was fourth in the GII Tampa Bay Derby before a runner-up finish in the GIII Lexington S. at Keeneland Apr. 10.

“He's a horse that we've always had high hopes for,” Pletcher said Friday. “He's always trained really well and he's still sort of putting it all together in race situations. We thought he made a move forward in the Tampa Derby when he ran a sneaky-good fourth and was finishing arguably the best of anyone in the field. He came back and was second-best in the Lexington. That was another improving effort.”

The grey will be Pletcher's 10th Preakness runner and his first since Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming finished eighth in 2017. His best finish was a third with his first starter, Impeachment, in 2000.

Unbridled Honor will have his final Preakness work Saturday morning and is scheduled to ship from Belmont Park to Pimlico on Tuesday.

Pletcher indicated that the 1 3/16-mile race could provide an ideal scenario for the colt.

“We like the way he's training and if he could get a decent pace up front to run at, we feel that if he can take another step forward and he's in the mix,” Pletcher said.

Jockey Luis Saez will replace Julien Leparoux in the saddle for the Preakness, his first mount on the colt.

“We've had a lot of luck with Luis,” Pletcher said. “He's riding great and we're happy to have him.”

In related Preakness news, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas told Maryland Jockey Club racing officials Friday that Christina Baker and William Mack's Ram (American Pharoah) has not been ruled out and he expects a decision to be made Saturday.

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McCarthy to Move His Tack to California

Fri, 2021-05-07 15:17

Jockey Trevor McCarthy is moving his tack to California later this month. A leading rider in Maryland, McCarthy began riding in New York this winter, enjoying a successful Aqueduct winter meet. As of Sunday, he was fourth in the Belmont spring standings.

McCarthy will be represented by Derek Lawson, former agent to Flavien Prat.

“I needed a rider and was not going to take one away from another agent here,” said Lawson. “I recruited him. I started looking at riders who might fit out here, called him up, he made calls to trainers to learn about me and here we are. Trevor had a great winter at Aqueduct but he wanted to try something completely different, that being California, and he wanted to work with me. He will start riding here Memorial Day weekend.”

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Massive Laurel Horse Move-Out Preakness Week

Fri, 2021-05-07 14:48

Difficulties with the dirt track base repair and cushion resurfacing project at Laurel Park continue to mount, with the loose-ended timetable for the work now expected to extend at least until the start of July.

Executives with The Stronach Group (TSG), which owns both Laurel and Pimlico Race Course, said during a Friday tele-meeting that they now need to pause work on the problematic and expensive project at Laurel until management can relocate of all horses stabled at Laurel to other facilities in Maryland.

This news was delivered two weeks after TSG came under fire at a Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) meeting for an alleged “accumulation of bad decisions over time” that led to Laurel's main track safety concerns not being addressed sooner by track management.

At that Apr. 22 meeting, TSG's senior vice president of racing, Steve Koch, told commissioners that Laurel would tentatively be back up and running by the start of June, with limited training allowed at the facility and horses vanned to Pimlico for timed workouts. That plan changed last week when TSG announced all horses would instead have to vacate the property.

The cumbersome logistics of orchestrating such a large horse and worker migration on short notice couldn't come at a worse time for TSG and Maryland horse outfits, with the GI Preakness S. week on the cusp of getting underway at Pimlico.

During the May 7 meeting, Koch projected a new, albeit hazy, timeline for the completion of repairs.

“At the moment, we've requested of the racing commission that the race meet remain at Pimlico through the end of June, so returning early July to be back at Laurel,” Koch said. “There's a lot of unknowns as we get into this racetrack [project and] we'll know more as this thing unfolds.”

Aidan Butler, TSG's chief operating officer, likened the moving-target time frame as a “cat and mouse” game.

Although Butler's words were meant to be figurative, as Friday's meeting evolved, it became clear that felines and rodents were literally involved in the ever-widening scope of the project.

That's because TSG will use the opportunity of having a vacant barn area to launch its most thorough rat extermination attempt to date.

Back in January, TSG executives confirmed to the racing commission that spending $20,000 monthly to try and eradicate rodents while horses remained stabled on the grounds wasn't working, largely because of the abundance of unsecured or spilled horse feed kept the rats well satiated.

Dionne Benson, TSG's chief veterinary officer, said during Friday's meeting that in addition to everything else, that means backstretch outfits will have to attempt herd their barn cats and bring them along once they get stall reassignments at either Pimlico or the Timonium fairgrounds. This is because of concerns that the cats could be poisoned by eating either the rodenticide or a rat that has consumed it.

Then MRC commissioner David Hayden suggested that all hay and straw should also be removed from the backstretch to eliminate another readily available food source for the rats.

David Richardson, the executive director of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said that hay and straw removal would be done if the exterminators recommended it.

Richardson asked trainers to expediate getting their requests in to the Laurel racing office about their preference–either Pimlico or Timonium–for being relocated, and to note if their stable help will need living accommodations at either venue.

TSG will provide a shuttle service to those tracks for employees who wish to remain in their Laurel living quarters, and trainers can still keep tack and other personal property secured at Laurel, so long as nothing gets stored in stalls.

To date there have been 789 stall requests: 502 for Pimlico and 287 for Timonium, meaning the majority of outfits will not make the cut for the preferred stabling at Pimlico.

Richardson said that the day after the Preakness, construction will begin on three new 40-stall barns at Pimlico, and that temporary stabling there will also be made available.

As for the housing of backstretch workers, those who opt to live on the grounds at Timonium could end up relegated to either the jockeys' quarters or some other areas that have access to bathrooms and showers, because there are currently no dorm facilities there that meet fire code requirements.

“There are still a lot of items that are outstanding,” Richardson said, underscoring the difficult nature of the transition.

TSG executives also addressed the implications of turf racing in Maryland because of the  extended meet at Pimlico.

Koch said the grass course at Pimlico–which is only half as wide as the one at Laurel–will, per usual, get used “very, very heavily” on the Friday and Saturday of Preakness week.

“So yeah, there are [future] constraints on that course in the sense that, you know, how much [use] can 70 feet sustain compared to the 140 feet that we have at Laurel?” Koch asked rhetorically.

Butler then picked up the topic: “If it's usable we will use it. Once it's through the big weekend…we're going to use it as often as we can.”

Even before Laurel's main track woes arose this winter and spring, TSG executives were on record as contemplating the addition of a synthetic racing surface there.

Butler said on Friday that with the base now exposed, TSG has the opportunity to assess what the scope of that project might look like. But he added that the synthetic option won't be contemplated until a later date–which will eventually mean more logistical headaches.

“Because there is a very high likelihood of us putting in a tunnel at Laurel, there is no way to drill under the track,” Butler said. “That will have to be a section…cut completely down through the substructure. That means later, when we come to replacing and putting in tunnels and replacing surfaces, or having new surfaces, I should say, there is unfortunately going to be some more disruption.”

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Cuomo Announces Major Capacity Increase at N.Y. Tracks

Fri, 2021-05-07 12:47

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a major capacity increase at the state's racetracks and other outdoor large-scale sports and entertainment facilities Wednesday.

The new order, which takes effect May 19, permits venue capacity to as much space as needed to meet the six-feet apart social distancing mandate. Another key part of the mandate is that fully vaccinated fans can be spaced next to one another, rather than six-feet apart, in areas that are separate from non-vaccinated patrons.

“NYRA joins sports and entertainment venues throughout the state in thanking Governor Cuomo for providing us with the opportunity to dramatically expand capacity beginning on May 19,” said NYRA's Pat McKenna. “New York is turning the page on the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are looking forward to a tremendous summer ahead at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. NYRA welcomed fans back to Belmont Park this past Saturday for the first time in 552 days, and we will soon release additional ticket inventory for the 2021 Belmont Stakes to reflect this new guidance and safely welcome even more fans to one of racing's biggest days on June 5.”

The announcement came just one day prior to tickets going on sale for the June 5 GI Belmont S. It was also just four days after Belmont opened to fans for the first time in over a year May 1 under an order that announced 20% capacity in mid-April. The increase in capacity also comes in plenty of time for the ultra-popular Saratoga meet.

“As Governor Cuomo announced, it's now possible for stadiums and racetracks to open sections at 100% capacity by requiring all spectators within those areas to be vaccinated,” McKenna said. “Saratoga Race Course is an ideal venue to implement just that approach for the benefit of our fans, the upstate economy and the thoroughbred racing industry in New York State.”

He continued, “While we determine exactly how this guidance will apply to Saratoga Race Course, which offers a wide variety of differentiated sections and seating options, we are tremendously optimistic about the 2021 summer meet. NYRA is committed to safely welcoming as many fans as possible by utilizing all areas including the backyard and offering ticket options that are fair and equitable.”

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KTA & KTOB Elect New Directors & Officers

Fri, 2021-05-07 12:08

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association (KTA) and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders (KTOB) elected officers and members of the Board of Directors.

The officers of KTA/KTOB serve two-year terms and are voted on by members of the KTA/KTOB Board of Directors. Members of the KTA/KTOB Board of Directors serve three-year terms and are elected by the full membership of the organization.

Elected KTA/KTOB Officers for 2021:

  • President, KTA/KTOB: Joseph Seitz, Director of Sales, Brookdale Farm
  • Vice-President, KTA: Walker Hancock, President, Claiborne Farm.
  • Vice-President, KTOB: Natanya Nieman, D.V.M., Resident Veterinarian, WinStar Farm
  • Secretary, KTA/KTOB: Christopher L. Baker, COO, Three Chimneys
  • Treasurer, KTA/KTOB: Dermot Ryan, Manager, Ashford Stud


Newly elected KTA/KTOB Board of Directors for 2021:

  • Bill Daugherty, Owner, BlackRidge Stables
  • Kim Smith, Founder/Executive Director, Second Stride, Inc.

Christopher L. Baker, James Baker, Patrick Costello, Walker Hancock and Dermot Ryan were re-elected to the Board of Directors.

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Racecourse Manager Certification Program to Launch in June

Fri, 2021-05-07 11:40

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory (RSTL) will launch a joint initiative offering a Racecourse Manager Certification from the University of Kentucky.

The initial three-course program, entitled “Turfgrass as an Equine Sports Surface,” is designed for those already engaged in careers with turf surface maintenance. Free online classes will begin June 7 and will be archived. Individuals who complete the video courses and pass a test that requires a $50 fee will receive a certificate of completion from the University of Kentucky. Participating Thoroughbred racetracks that enroll their personnel will receive credit toward future accreditation by the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance.

The “Turfgrass as an Equine Sports Surface” courses are:

  • June 7 – Selection of Turf for Climate Zones
  • June 14 – Cultivation of Turf for Compaction and Wear
  • June 21 – Measurement of Turf Condition

The curriculum for the turf management course was developed by Michael “Mick” Peterson, Ph.D., Director of the Racetrack Safety Program at the University of Kentucky and Executive Director of the Racing Surfaces and Testing Laboratory (RSTL).

Individuals interested in receiving additional information and pre-enrolling for the online sessions can click here.

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Monmouth Partners with SeatGeek

Fri, 2021-05-07 10:58

New Jersey's Monmouth Park has inked a multi-year deal with SeatGeek, a mobile-focused ticket platform, to serve as its exclusive ticketing partner. Monmouth's racing meet kicks off May 28 and continues through Sept. 26. Although general admission is free throughout the season–excluding Haskell Day–SeatGeek will handle tickets for box seats, parterre rentals, the Dining Club, the Lady's Secret Café, and the picnic buffet. SeatGeek will also handle Haskell tickets for the $1 million-race that will be held July 17.

“Monmouth Park is excited to have this long-term partnership with SeatGeek,” said Bill Knauf, Monmouth's vice president of business operations. “Their technology and mobile platform are an ideal fit for Monmouth Park moving forward, especially as we look to move into a more mobile-based space.”

SeatGeek's technology allows fans to sell, receive, and transfer tickets through mobile devices. In addition, groups can transfer tickets to their guests on a mobile device, which eliminates the need for physical tickets.

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Wesley Ward Notches 2,000th Training Win

Fri, 2021-05-07 10:16

Trainer Wesley Ward, known particularly for his prowess with 2-year-olds and his success when shipping to Royal Ascot, recorded his 2,000th win as a trainer Thursday when Gold for Kitten (Kitten's Joy) won the sixth race at Churchill Downs. Among Ward's top horses as a trainer have been English highweight and MG1SW Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy); French highweight and G1SW No Nay Never (Scat Daddy); Eclipse champion and Breeders' Cup winner Judy the Beauty (Ghostzapper); and additional Breeders' Cup winners Hootenanny (Quality Road), Four Wheel Drive (American Pharoah), and Golden Pal (Uncle Mo).

Ward was previously honored with the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey (1984) during his riding career before turning to training. The 2,000-win mark is according to statistics provided by Equibase and may not include all foreign victories.

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Tiz the Law To Shuttle to Chile

Fri, 2021-05-07 08:14

Tiz the Law (Constitution–Tizfiz, by Tiznow), a four-time Grade I winner who is finishing up his first year of covering duties at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Versailles, Kentucky, will shuttle to Haras Paso Nevado in Chile for the upcoming Southern Hemisphere breeding season, Turf Diario reported Thursday.

A $110,000 graduate of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-Bred Sale in 2018, Tiz the Law raced in the maroon-and-gray colors of Sackatoga Stable and was trained by Barclay Tagg to a four-length victory in the GI Champagne S. in just his second career start. After suffering his first career defeat when a troubled third in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S., the blaze-faced bay colt won his first four starts of 2020, including the GI Curlin Florida Derby, the GI Belmont S. and the GI Runhappy Travers S. A game runner-up in the GI Kentucky Derby last September, Tiz the Law was unplaced in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic and was retired to the breeding shed with a record of 9-6-1-1 and earnings of $2,735,300.

Tiz the Law's boom sire Constitution has been nearly as big a hit in Chile as he has in the U.S., with 44 individual winners, among them seven black-type winners, including the top-level scorers Breakpoint (Chi)–now in training with Chad Brown at Belmont Park–First Constitution (Chi) and Alaskan Queen (Chi).

Haras Paso Nevado has been home to several Ashford shuttlers over the years, including the late Scat Daddy, Lookin at Lucky, Powerscourt (GB) and Verrazano. More recently, they have welcomed young Coolmore sires Practical Joke and Classic Empire to their roster.

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Navarro, Others, Ask Federal Judge to Recuse Herself

Thu, 2021-05-06 22:00

Lawyers for banned trainer Jorge Navarro and six other defendants in the alleged nationwide racehorse doping conspiracy informed United States District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil late on Thursday that a “Motion to Recuse” filing is imminent that will ask her to step away from handling their cases.

A motion to recuse is a formal request for a judge to remove him/herself based on prejudice or conflict.

Either side in a case can make this motion, but the moving party bears the burden of proving that there are reasonable grounds that the judge would not act fairly and/or objectively, and any alleged prejudices must be outlined in an affidavit.

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 request from Navarro, which was joined by defendants Seth Fishman, Jordan Fishman, Erica Garcia, Christopher Oakes, Michael Tannuzzo and Lisa Giannelli, was filed eight days before the first status hearing in the case since November is scheduled to be held. That May 14 hearing is expected to include the judge's long-awaited timeline for the trial.

In the form of a letter filed May 6 in U.S. District Court (Southern District of New York), Navarro and the other defendants stated, “We write to advise your Honor that, following a joint conference amongst counsel for the Defendants, Defendants are contemplating a Motion to Recuse your Honor. The issue was raised with the government [May 6] on a telephone conference.”

In light of the expected motion to recuse, the defendants are also asking that the judge “hold in abeyance any rulings” that might be forthcoming with regard to the defendants' previously filed motion to dismiss the case entirely.

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 (PEDs) to Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds across America and in international races.

There are seven other defendants whose cases are also being adjudicated by Vyskocil; others under the auspices of different judges.


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Belmont Stakes Under Consideration for Malathaat

Thu, 2021-05-06 16:33

Malathaat (Curlin), the undefeated filly who is coming off a win in the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, could go next in the June 5 GI Belmont S.

“It has crossed our minds,” Shadwell Farms Vice President and General Manager Rick Nichols said of the Belmont. “One issue would be whether or not we could get John Velazquez. If Medina Spirit (Protonico) wins the [GI] Preakness Stakes., obviously John will have to choose him for the Belmont. No one would blame him for choosing that horse.”

Nichols said a final decision will be made in “about a week.”

“We'll talk some more about it and talk with Sheikh Hamdan's family and get their input,” Nichols said

The filly's trainer, Todd Pletcher, is no stranger to the Kentucky Oaks-Belmont route. In 2007, Pletcher went in the Belmont with Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy) after winning the Oaks. She is the last filly to win the Belmont and was the first to do so since 1905. Three fillies have won the Belmont.

Nichols admitted that there are not a lot of options right now for Malathaat against fillies. She will pass the GII Black-Eyed Susan S. at Pimlico. The Belmont Stakes card includes the GI Acorn S. for 3-year-old fillies, but the race is at one-mile around one turn and is not a good fit for the filly. The next Grade I race around two turns for 3-year-old fillies is the July 24 GI Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga.

“The further they go the better,” Nichols said. “There are not a lot of good choices for her. We could go in the [GII] Mother Goose Stakes, but it's only a Grade II race.”

Nichols said Malathaat returned to the track Thursday morning and galloped for Pletcher.

“Told loves her. He absolutely loves her,” Nichols said. “She's such a sweet filly around the barn. She's got so much class and has everything you'd want in a top filly.”

Malathaat kicked off her 3-year-old campaign with a win in the GI Central Bank Ashland and followed that up with a hard fought win over Search Results (Flatter) in the Oaks. A $1,050,000 purchase at Keeneland September, Malathaat is five-for-five lifetime.

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Mandaloun, ‘Caddo’ to Skip Preakness, ‘Bourbon’ Gets Green Light

Thu, 2021-05-06 13:46

GI Kentucky Derby runner-up Mandaloun (Into Mischief) and stakes winner Caddo River (Hard Spun) will both pass on a run in next Saturday's GI Preakness S., trainer Brad Cox reported Thursday, significantly thinning the group of potential upsetters for Derby hero Medina Spirit (Protonico) in the Triple Crown's Middle Jewel.

“We made the decision in the last hour to bypass the Preakness and point for Grade I's throughout the rest of the season,” said trainer Brad Cox said of the Juddmonte homebred. “He has responded really well. We actually took him back to the track [Thursday] and jogged him about a mile and a half. He was moving extremely well, and energy level in good order–everything you want to see from a horse who just performed at a high level in a mile and a quarter race last Saturday.”

Cox continued, “The decision was made in consideration of the effects of two grueling races over a short period of time. He ran well and hard in the Derby and we want to give him some time off. It's in the best interest of the horse not to run him two weeks back. We'll target Grade I's later in the season with him.”

A close-up third in the Fair Grounds' GIII Lecomte S. in January, Mandaloun returned to take the GII Risen S. Feb. 13.

Cox added that Caddo River, who passed on a run in the Kentucky Derby after finishing second in the GI Arkansas Derby, will target the GIII Matt Winn S. May 29 at Churchill.

“He's been doing well,” offered Cox. “We just haven't done enough with him to pursue the Preakness, so we're going to target the Matt Winn at Churchill.”

Caddo River aired in Oaklawn's Smarty Jones S. in January before finishing fifth in the GII Rebel S.

Picking up the Preakness mantle, Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) has been confirmed to run next Saturday according to Steve Asmussen Thursday.

Expected to show early speed, Midnight Bourbon closed from well back to finish sixth in the Derby after a tardy start.

“We didn't think he got the opportunity that he deserved after he missed the break and his back end went out from underneath him,” said David Fiske, the longtime racing and bloodstock manager for the late Verne Winchell and subsequently for Verne's son Ron Winchell. “He got jostled around by the horses on either side of him, then lost some ground. He was pretty wide on the second turn; I think eventually he ran 52 or 56 feet farther than the winner. So that would have put him a little closer. And speed seemed to be lethal on Saturday. There weren't a whole lot of horses that were closing on the front-runners. Then the fact that it took two handlers to get him back to the barn to give him a bath, it didn't seem to take that much out of him. So, we thought we'd give it a try.”

Midnight Bourbon visited Churchills' starting gate for routine schooling Thursday, followed by a controlled gallop.

“The horse is doing great,” said Scott Blasi, the assistant trainer who oversees Asmussen's Churchill Downs operation. “I don't think he did a lot of running early [in the Derby], so he seems to have come out of the race pretty fresh.”

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