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Updated: 6 days 10 hours ago

Shug Unveils Potential ‘Star’ at Spa

Sat, 2022-07-30 13:55

Capture the Flag (Quality Road–War Flag, by War Front) entering with some positive workout notes and backed at 5-2 for the notoriously patient Shug McGaughey barn, turned in an auspicious debut in Saratoga's Saturday opener that seemed like just the tip of the iceberg. Last away in the field of five, the hulking bay quickly narrowed the gap and mounted a three-deep move into the turn. Going much easier than the two foes to his inside approaching the stretch, he was confidently ridden out by Luis Saez, bounding home by three lengths in 1:06.17 en route to being named a 'TDN Rising Star'. Tatum (Cross Traffic), who had been beaten a nose on debut at Parx, was second best.

Capture the Flag was bred by Mr. Joseph Allen LLC and appears to be have been bought into privately after that by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg Limited and Jonathan Poulin. He is the second foal out of Allen and McGaughey's 2017 GI Flower Bowl S. winner War Flag–the first, Personal Best (Tapit), was most recently third going nine furlongs on the grass at Belmont in maiden special weight company last month. War Flag is a full to Hong Kong G1SW Lines of Battle. A half to the dam produced the same connections' 2020 Flower Bowl heroine Civil Union. Capture the Flag's third dam is GISW Andover Way (His Majesty), who in turn produced MGSW and influential sire Dynaformer (Roberto). Next in the pipeline for War Flag is a yearling Uncle Mo filly and a foal colt by Into Mischief. She was bred back to Gun Runner.

McGaughey's recent 'Rising Star'-worthy debut winners at the Spa include champion Honor Code (A.P. Indy) and MGISW Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}).

1st-Saratoga, $101,850, Msw, 7-30, 2yo, 5 1/2f, 1:06.17, ft, 3 lengths.
CAPTURE THE FLAG, c, 2, Quality Road
                1st Dam: War Flag (GISW-USA, GSW-Fr, $474,660),
                                by War Front
                2nd Dam: Black Speck, by Arch
                3rd Dam: Andover Way, by His Majesty
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $57,750. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG. Free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
O-Allen Stable, Inc., Magnier, Mrs. John, Tabor, Michael B., Smith, Derrick, Westerberg Limited and Poulin, Jonathan; B-Mr. Joseph Allen LLC (KY); T-Claude R. McGaughey III.

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Corniche Returns in Amsterdam

Sat, 2022-07-30 10:30

Champion Corniche (Quality Road) makes his highly anticipated return to the races and first start for trainer Todd Pletcher Sunday in Saratoga's GII Amsterdam S.

The 'TDN Rising Star' spent some time at WinStar after his championships season and, with Bob Baffert serving his suspension, was sent to Pletcher in May with an eye on the late season sophomore highlights. (Click here for Pletcher's thoughts in Mike Kane's Saturday feature).

“We're hoping that with the good fortune we had with his sire Quality Road and him making his debut for us in the Amsterdam, which produced a track record performance, that hopefully some of that good fortune will follow through here,” said Pletcher, who seeks his fifth Amsterdam win.

While he will be the favorite, he won't have it easy. Corniche is joined by Grade I winner Gunite (Gun Runner) and graded stakes-winning fellow Pletcher trainee My Prankster (Into Mischief), who finished one-two in Churchill's Maxfield S. last out July 3. The champ also faces one of his former shedrow mates from the Baffert barn in GISW Pinehurst (Twirling Candy).

Also on tap at Saratoga Sunday is the GII Bowling Green S. for turf marathoners. Grade I winners Arklow (Arch) and Rockemperor (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}).

Juju's Map Headlines Monmouth Oaks

Never worse than second in a juvenile campaign that included a win in the GI Darley Alcibiades S., Juju's Map (Liam's Map) looks to return to winning ways Sunday in the GIII Monmouth Oaks. Making her seasonal debut with a dominant optional claimer score on the GI Kentucky Oaks undercard, the dark bay checked in third as the favorite last out in Belmont's GII Mother Goose S. June 25.

She will be made to work for it though with the presence of Meydan sensation and 'TDN Rising Star' Shahama (Munnings), who receives Lasix for the first time Sunday. The $425,000 OBSAPR acquisition was second in the Mother Goose after rallying for sixth in the Oaks.

A pair of Gun Runner fillies look to add to their sire's stakes success at Monmouth last weekend in SW Shotgun Hottie and GSP Runaway Wife.

Sunday's graded action wraps at Del Mar with the GII Eddie Read S., where GII Charles Whittingham S. top two Beyond Brilliant (Twirling Candy) and Masteroffoxhounds (War Front) top the field.

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Florida Vet Garcia Wants Plea Change to Avoid Doping Trial

Fri, 2022-07-29 18:05

Erica Garcia, a Florida-based veterinarian, broke off her longstanding business relationship with the now-imprisoned trainer Jorge Navarro in early 2019. But she remained in contact with other conspirators of the Thoroughbred doping scheme that Navarro-and numerous other racetrackers-would later admit to.

So when federal investigators began compiling evidence that led to a nationwide series of arrests in a widespread racehorse drugging crackdown in March 2020, Garcia was considered fair game for her alleged role in the pipeline of purportedly performance-enhancing drugs.

Charged with two felony counts involving conspiracies to commit drug alteration and misbranding and defrauding the United States government, in Garcia tried in 2021 to get a federal judge to suppress the evidence obtained from searches of her car and phone. It didn't work.

Now Garcia, 43, wants to join many of the 30 other defendants in the case who have either already changed their pleas or been found guilty by trial. On July 29 she requested a hearing before the judge to do explain why she wants to flip from “not guilty,” and that request was swiftly accommodated with an Aug. 1 court date.

Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil will preside over the hearing. She's the same judge who wrote the order that denied the suppression of evidence.

“Garcia argues that the physical search of her car, pursuant to a search warrant, was invalid because the application for the warrant contained 'stale' evidence,” Vyskocil wrote last year. “The Court rejects this argument because the affidavit for the warrant presented evidence that Garcia was long involved in an ongoing conspiracy.”

“The affidavit in support of the warrant for Garcia's car detailed her long-term relationship with Navarro and ongoing involvement with members of his doping scheme. It described at least six instances over the span of four months in which Garcia discussed with Navarro administering prohibited substances to racehorses,” Vyskocil wrote.

“The affidavit acknowledged that Garcia's relationship with Navarro deteriorated in early 2019,” Vyskocil wrote. “It explained that, nevertheless, Garcia remained in touch with other members of Navarro's network, including his assistant trainer.

“In the light of the evidence of Garcia's longstanding and continuing involvement in a doping operation, there was probable cause to search her vehicle, notwithstanding her personal break with Navarro,” Vyskocil wrote.

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Arrogate’s ‘Rising Star’ Artorius Romps in Curlin

Fri, 2022-07-29 16:40

Juddmonte homebred and 'TDN Rising Star' Artorius (c, 3, Arrogate–Paulassilverlining, by Ghostzapper), a very promising maiden winner second out going a one-turn mile at Belmont June 10, potentially punched his ticket to the GI Runhappy Travers S. Aug. 27 with an eye-catching victory in Friday's Curlin S. at Saratoga.

Drawn widest of all in post eight while making his two-turn debut in this 1 1/8-mile affair, the 5-2 chance tucked in to race in a perfect spot in a ground-saving fourth. Locked and loaded beneath Irad Ortiz, Jr. on far turn, he was tipped out at the quarter pole and took off impressively in the stretch to win going away by 4 3/4 lengths. Gilded Age (Medaglia d'Oro) was second; favored GI Preakness S. third-place finisher Creative Minister (Creative Cause) was third.

Artorius was featured in Steve Sherack's 'Second Chances' series after rallying smartly from far back to finish a debut second at Keeneland Apr. 16.

Artorius becomes the fourth black-type winner for his brilliant and late second-crop sire Arrogate.

Juddmonte purchased Artorius's dam Paulassilverlining privately from breeder Vince Scuderi ahead of her 5-year-old season with the gone-to-soon Arrogate in mind as a future mate. She recorded two wins at the highest level that term-the GI Madison S. and GI Humana Distaff S.-while carrying Juddmonte's green-and-pink silks.

Paulassilverlining, a half-sister to two-time GI Carter H. winner Dads Caps (Discreet Cat), is also responsible for the 2-year-old filly Parameter (Into Mischief), currently in training with Chad Brown at Saratoga, and a Tapit filly of this year.

CURLIN S., $135,000, Saratoga, 7-29, (C), 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:50.34, ft.
1–ARTORIUS, 118, c, 3, by Arrogate
                1st Dam: Paulassilverlining (MGISW, $1,516,230), by
                                Ghostzapper
                2nd Dam: Seeking the Silver, by Grindstone
                3rd Dam: Apache Pines, by Pancho Villa
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN. O-Juddmonte; B-Juddmonte Farms Inc
(KY); T-Chad C. Brown; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr. $74,250. Lifetime
Record: 3-2-1-0, $142,250.
2–Gilded Age, 120, c, 3, Medaglia d'Oro–Angela Renee, by
Bernardini. ($600,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Grandview Equine
& Don Alberto Stable; B-Don Alberto Corporation (KY);
T-William I. Mott. $27,000.
3–Creative Minister, 120, c, 3, Creative Cause–Tamboz, by
Tapit. ($180,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Fern Circle Stables, Back
Racing, LLC & Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek); B-Dell Ridge
Farm, LLC (KY); T-Kenneth G. McPeek. $16,200.
Margins: 4 3/4, 1HF, NO. Odds: 2.70, 10.90, 1.85.
Also Ran: A. P.'s Secret, Western River, Golden Glider, Make It Big, Be Better. Scratched: Wolfe County.
Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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Fourstardave Handicapping Challenge Registration Open

Fri, 2022-07-29 15:58

Registration for the Fourstardave Handicapping Challenge scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13 at Saratoga officially opened July 29, announced officials at NYRA. Participants may register through Friday, Aug. 12 at 5 p.m. ET on the official webpage with an option to either play online via NYRA Bets or on-track at Saratoga, where seating and lunch is included as part of the entry fee.

The contest will run in conjunction with the 38th running of the one-mile GI $500,000 Fourstardave H. over the inner turf, a “Win and You're In” qualifier for the GI Breeders' Cup Mile in November at Keeneland. The live-money contest features a $3,000 Entry Fee [$2,000 in Live Money Wagers/$1,000 to Prize Pool], contributing to a prize pool that NYRA is seeding with an additional $5,000. Also on offer for the winner is one seat to an upcoming $3,000 NYRA Challenge event. Players must wager $400 on at least five races during the Aug. 13 card at Saratoga, and can place win, place, show, trifecta, quinella and daily double wagers.

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HISA Appeals Injunction, But Judge Says No to Reversing Earlier Order

Fri, 2022-07-29 15:30

In the aftermath of a federal judge's ruling earlier this week that will keep the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) rules from going into effect in Louisiana and West Virginia while a lawsuit challenging those regulations is pending, the HISA Authority responded Friday with a series of legal actions that attempt to both reverse and clarify that injunction order.

The most significant of the July 29 filings from the HISA Authority defendants was a notice that they are appealing Judge Terry Doughty's July 26 decision to grant a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs, who are led by the states of Louisiana and West Virginia, plus the Jockeys' Guild. This new appeal will be heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

At the same time, HISA asked Doughty for an emergency stay that would stave off the injunction he ordered just 72 hours earlier.

“The Court's order constitutes judicial overreach,” the HISA defendants argued, questioning how Doughty arrived at his decision to enforce an injunction.

“Although the Court purported to conduct a standing analysis, it did not analyze standing or ripeness as to each individual challenged rule,” the HISA filing stated.

HISA continued: “The Court thus invalidated the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)'s racetrack safety, enforcement, and assessment methodology rules in their entirety without ever assessing how any particular rule injured (or imminently risks injuring) Plaintiffs. The Court's resulting advisory opinion is also deeply flawed on the merits.”

Acting swiftly, Doughty responded to the defendants' 38-page filing within two hours on Friday morning. He required barely more than a single page to firmly assert “no” to HISA's request to put the regulations back into effect in Louisiana and West Virginia until the Fifth Circuit ruled on the new appeal.

“[T]his Court, for the reason more fully set out in the [preliminary injunction ruling], believes that the likelihood of Authority Defendants' success on the merits is low,” Doughty wrote in his July 29 denial. “This Court further finds Authority Defendants will not suffer irreparable harm if a stay is not entered. This Court further finds that other parties will be harmed if the stay is granted.”

Doughty then added a terse warning apparently aimed at letting the Authority know he believes there are flaws in its rulemaking process, which is at the heart of the overall lawsuit.

“Further, HISA has not yet adopted rules addressing the horseracing anti-doping and medication program,” Doughty wrote. “HISA has time to address any constitutional authority issues and procedural issues under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) in re-drafting and re-noticing rules related to a Racetrack Safety Program.”

The HISA defendants are alleged in the June 29 suit to have violated the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, plus the APA, which governs the process by which federal agencies develop and issue regulations.

The third court action undertaken by the HISA defendants Friday was a request for a clarification of Doughty's July 26 order, specifically the section that stated, “The geographic scope of the injunction shall be limited to the states of Louisiana and West Virginia, and as to all Plaintiffs in this proceeding,”

That clarification request was a direct response to a claim articulated by the Jockeys' Guild in a Wednesday press release that interpreted the judge's words to mean that the injunction “applies to all of the members of the Jockeys' Guild, regardless of the U.S. jurisdiction in which the jockey is riding.”

The HISA defendants stated that's not the proper interpretation.

“Plaintiffs have asserted that the Order extends to all of Plaintiffs' members nationwide,” the HISA filing argued. “But the members of the [Guild] are plainly not Plaintiffs in this case. And Plaintiffs' reading would wreak havoc on the sport. For example, many jockeys are not Guild members, such that different rules would apply to jockeys riding in the same race.”

The HISA Authority wants the judge to explicitly state that the injunction “applies to the implementation of the challenged rules as to Plaintiffs only and not as to [Guild] members nationwide.”

Technically, as listed on the original June 29 lawsuit, the state and organizational plaintiffs are the states of Louisiana and West Virginia, the racing commissions in both states, the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and the Jockeys' Guild. The only individual plaintiffs are five Louisiana-based “covered persons” under HISA rules, and only one, Gerard Melancon, is an active jockey.

The defendants consist of the HISA Authority, the FTC, and board members and overseers of both entities.

Notably, the FTC and its individually named defendants were not listed alongside the names of the HISA defendants who moved for the appeal, the stay, and the clarification in the July 29 filings.

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Breeders’ Cup Announces Classic Future Wager

Fri, 2022-07-29 14:54

The Breeders' Cup, in conjunction with Keeneland, will offer future wagering on the 2022 $6-million GI Longines Breeders' Cup Classic, it was announced Friday. The future wager will enable fans to bet on 24 wagering interests for the race well in advance of the Nov. 5 race date.

The future wager requires a $2 minimum bet, is a win wager only and will be conducted in two pools. Wagering on the first pool will open Friday, Aug. 5 at 12 p.m. ET and conclude at 6 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 7. The second pool will be offered over Labor Day weekend with the pool opening Friday, Sept. 2 at 12 p.m. ET and ending at 6 p.m. ET Monday, Sept. 5.

Betting on the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic Future Wagers will be offered at race tracks, advanced deposit wagering (“ADW”) sites, casinos, simulcast centers, and off-track betting sites. More information on the future wager is available on the Breeders' Cup Future Wager website.

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Sprinters in the Spotlight on Both Coasts Saturday

Fri, 2022-07-29 14:44

Male sprinters take their shot at Grade I glory on both coasts Saturday with the GI Alfred G. Vanderbilt S. at Saratoga and the GI Bing Crosby S. at Del Mar, which is a “Win and You're In” for the GI Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Champion Jackie's Warrior (Maclean's Music) is four-for-four at Saratoga and three-for-three this year. The GII True North S. romper is the heavy favorite at 1-5 on the morning-line against five quite overmatched foes. The next closest on the morning-line is 6-1 shot Ny Traffic (Cross Traffic), who enters off a win in the Chocolate Town S. at Penn National June 17.

“You can't talk about Jackie's Warrior without thanking Kirk and Judy Robison for putting him back in training,” said Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. “It's so rare in this day and age for a champion colt to have another year at the racetrack and for him to have another chance at Saratoga.”

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, a more evenly matched field of 10 seek a spot in the Breeders' Cup starting gate in the Bing Crosby. Three-time Crosby winner Bob Baffert saddles the lightly-raced Shaaz (Uncle Mo) Saturday. Two-for-four thus far, the $1.1-million EASMAY acquisition enters off a third in the GIII Steve Sexton Mile May 30 while under the temporary care of conditioner Sean McCarthy.

Last term's GI Woody Stephens S. winner Drain the Clock (Maclean's Music) avoids rival Jackie's Warrior by making his first start on the West Coast Saturday.

The top three finishers from Santa Anita's GII Triple Bend S. also resurface here: American Theorem (American Pharoah), Principe Carlo (Coil) and Get Her Number (Dialed In).

While this race has been won by some very talented horses, it has not produced a Breeders' Cup winner since Kona Gold in 2000. The last Alfred Vanderbilt winner to score at the World Championships was Speightstown in 2004.

Short, But Sweet Field Set For Jim Dandy

There may only be five colts set to line up for Saturday's GII Jim Dandy S., the local prep for next month's GI Runhappy Travers S., but it's quite a talented quintet.

The field is led by Epicenter (Not This Time), who went off as the Derby favorite after dominating the Fair Grounds preps. He was a valiant second beneath the Twin Spires after being run down late by longshot Rich Strike (Keen Ice) and rallied to fill the same spot last out in the GI Preakness S. May 21.

“He's training as well, or better, as he did throughout the Triple Crown races, so we'll see,” said Winchell Thoroughbreds manager David Fiske said. “It seems like everyone is getting better this time of year, and I don't know that he could be doing any better. Steve is pleased with him. He's a pretty straight forward horse. I think during the Triple Crown I characterized him as almost machine like. He just does what you want him to do, goes back to his stall and lays down.”

Preakness winner Early Voting (Gun Runner) also returns here, hoping to give his sensational young sire his second Grade I winner in as many Saturdays following Cyberknife's Haskell score. He is joined by stablemate and GI Toyota Blue Grass S. winner Zandon (Upstart), who completed the Derby trifecta.

“I really believe that they both have established themselves for quite some time now to be two of the top-five 3-year-old dirt colts in the country pretty consistently throughout most of the year,” trainer Chad Brown said. “The order might change around those top five and the fifth horse that's in that group might change a little bit, but they're consistently in that group. We're at the midway marker, so there's a lot more racing to take place and these horses are going to have to continue to maintain strong campaigns to stay in that group.”

Country Grammer Returns in the San Diego

Country Grammer (Tonalist) makes his first start since upsetting the G1 Dubai World Cup Mar. 26 Saturday in Del Mar's GII San Diego H. The 1 1/16-mile test is often used as a prep for the GI Pacific Classic, which is the next target for undefeated MGISW Flightline (Tapit).

John Velazquez ships in from Saratoga to ride for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. It is Country Grammer's first start on American soil this year, having kicked off the season with a second in the G1 Saudi Cup Feb. 26.

“It's going to be tight, you know, he's more of a mile and a quarter type of horse,” Baffert said, “but it's nice to have a race into him. We sent him to the farm for a couple of months, Winstar Farm, and they sent him back looking great.”

Baffert pursued a similar path with Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate (Unbridled's Song), who also made his first start after Meydan in the San Diego. He finished fourth that day and went on to be second in the Pac Classic before losing his title defense in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic.

Mandaloun (Into Mischief), named GI Kentucky Derby and GI Haskell S. winner last year via DQ, ships west to run in this spot rather than facing the aforementioned Life Is Good in the GI Whitney S. next weekend. He enters off a well-beaten fourth in the GII Stephen Foster S. July 2.

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HISA Changing Rule on Dirt Shoes

Fri, 2022-07-29 13:20

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority will be implementing changes to HISA Rule 2276, which pertains to full outer rim shoes and toe grabs. The rule will not be enforced for horses racing on dirt that are shod with traction devices on their hind feet in the form of either a full outer rim shoe or a toe grab, both up to 4mm in height. All other provisions of the rule will remain the same and be enforced Aug. 1 as previously announced.

Click here to read the full HISA release, which states, “The concerns are that reduced traction will result in horses either slipping, falling, or otherwise being unable to firmly grip the track surface, with resulting injury to horses and their riders. In response to these concerns, the [Racetrack Safety] Committee invited a representative group of horsepersons including trainers, owners, a veterinarian, and a blacksmith to present their concerns to the Committee.”

The Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association was one of the organizations involved and they released a statement that included the following, “HISA is the law and it is in effect. Notwithstanding that there is ongoing litigation, we believe that it is our responsibility on behalf of our constituencies to engage with HISA as necessary to ensure that our horses are protected, our horsemen are treated fairly and responsibly, and that the integrity of racing is preserved.

The fact that horsemen are not represented on any HISA Committee is a missed opportunity that we believe needs to be corrected. In the meantime, we will continue to vigorously advocate for the best interests of the safety and welfare of the horse and the best interests of our horsemen. We continue to engage with HISA as the best way to serve our membership and the industry at large and this decision underscores their willingness to engage with us and make changes as necessary.

We thank the HISA Safety Committee for its willingness to consider and act on thoughtful input from those who can best provide it.”

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CDI Aims to Nearly Double Colonial’s Race Dates

Thu, 2022-07-28 18:36

By 2026, the gaming corporation that owns Colonial Downs is aiming to nearly double the amount of racing at the turf-centric Virginia track, potentially expanding the current boutique-styled summer race meet from 27 to 50 dates.

That news was revealed Thursday morning by Bill Carstanjen, the chief executive officer of Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), who briefly mentioned the dates increase during a public quarterly earnings conference call with investment bankers.

The reason has everything to do with CDI's gaming revenue and apparently very little do with the overall scope of the region's racing.

Almost as an aside during a larger discussion about CDI's in-progress acquisition of Colonial and its network of gaming businesses, Carstanjen said that CDI is “working on plans to enhance the racing” as the result of a corporate strategy to maximize the number of historical horse racing machines (HRMs) that it can operate at various locations in the state.

“Based on Virginia law, we will be required to run one race date for every 100 HRMs that are operational in the state, up to the 5,000 HRMs we are currently authorized,” Carstanjen said.

“Colonial Downs will hold 27 race dates this year in conjunction with the approximately 2,700 HRM machines now deployed. Over the next two to four years we expect to grow to up to 50 race dates as we reach 5,000 HRMs,” Carstanjen said.

An expansion of the racing schedule by that magnitude would almost certainly create horse availability strains in a region of the country that is geographically thick with competing tracks, but has a strong recent history of cooperation so as not to cannibalize the overall mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred product.

Frank Petramalo Jr., the executive director of the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, told TDN in a phone interview that he hadn't heard Carstanjen's comments, but he knew that the Virginia law allows for that level of race dates expansion.

Even though owners and trainers generally welcome the prospect of increased race dates, Petramalo urged restraint for the sake of the overall circuit.

“What I've said to both Bill Carstanjen and to [CDI president] Bill Mudd, our goal has always been to have a rational program within mid-Atlantic racing,” Petramalo said. “We were thinking that something smaller than [50 dates at Colonial] would fit in the mid-Atlantic. I certainly could change my mind, but I told both Bills that it's important to continue a cooperative relationship between Virginia and Maryland and Delaware [and] certainly Pennsylvania.”

Petramalo continued: “We have a lot of racing [in the region] and a diminishing number of horses. We think the way to success is to try to rationalize racing programs. Now I know that's an anathema to just about every state, but you can't keep running over other race meets. It just doesn't make any sense.”

After being closed for six years, Colonial reopened under new management in 2019, ushering in the HRM-fueled purse era in Virginia and carving out a reputation as an independent “comeback” track.

Petramalo said that earlier in Colonial's history, it had a contract with Maryland tracks that called for Maryland racing to shut down in June and July while Colonial ran unopposed. In turn, Colonial did not seek to expand its schedule beyond that agreed-upon time frame.

“Even after Colonial bought out that contract, we still had a cooperative relationship. We weren't running against each other,” Petramalo explained.

“Sure, we'd like to race 50 days,” Petramalo continued. “But it has to make economic sense to do that. Right now we don't really compete with Maryland because we race Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and they race weekends. We still have a lot of people going back and forth, and we both prosper that way.”

CDI owns four other Thoroughbred tracks nationwide–Churchill Downs, Turfway Park, Fair Grounds and Presque Isle Downs–and is in the process of receiving regulatory approvals so it can close the $2.4-billion Colonial sale. But beyond its presence at Presque Isle, the gaming corporation is a new player to the traditionally cooperative mid-Atlantic racing region.

Recent history begs the question of whether CDI can play nicely with its neighbors and horsemen.

Under CDI's stewardship this century, the gaming corporation has purchased and then closed down three major racetracks: Hollywood Park, Calder Race Course and Arlington International Racecourse. Its shutdown of Arlington last year capped a decade-long series of acrimonious relations with horsemen, and CDI is still being litigated in federal court over a $775,000 purse account dispute.

“We continue to analyze where to deploy additional HRMs in Virginia,” Carstanjen said during the July 28 call. “We are prioritizing locations based on population, disposable income, and likelihood of being able to pass a local referendum allowing for HRMs in the specified locations. We will provide updates on future earnings calls.”

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Breeders’ Cup Launches Redesigned Website

Thu, 2022-07-28 18:05

Breeders' Cup has unveiled a fully redesigned website at www.breederscup.com, including new horse contender avatars, a multicast livestream player, revamped ticketing experience, intuitive site architecture, enhanced content serving capabilities, and a streamlined mobile experience.

“Breeders' Cup continuously strives to give our fans the best-in-class experience they deserve, both in-person and online, and our new and enhanced website allows us to do just that,” said Drew Fleming, President and CEO of Breeders' Cup. “We are grateful for Infront X and Contentstack's expertise in helping us showcase our sport to the world, and we look forward to identifying additional ways to work together to innovate, grow, and reach new and veteran racing fans.”

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Soccer Complex No Longer Being Pursued at Ashwood Site

Thu, 2022-07-28 17:44

The proposed building of a soccer complex in the agricultural-rural zone that was previously Ashwood Training Center just outside of Lexington, KY has reportedly been abandoned by the Lexington Sporting Club. The project had been met with significant opposition from members of the equine and agricultural communities in Fayette County.

“We are pleased that our community's strong desire to protect the Agricultural-Rural zone has been recognized by the withdrawal of the Lexington Sporting Club's backing for the 12 soccer field and 750 parking space proposal at the Newtown Pike site,” said a statement from the Fayette Alliance. “Fayette Alliance remains committed to advocating for equitable, sustainable and responsible growth in Lexington-Fayette County. We continue to support bringing professional and youth soccer opportunities to Lexington so long as it does not come at the expense of our community's signature Bluegrass farmland and the industries it supports.”

 

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Reports of Mares Bred Due Aug. 1

Thu, 2022-07-28 14:33

Edited Press Release

The Jockey Club reminds stallion managers to submit their Reports of Mares Bred (RMBs) for the 2022 breeding season by Aug. 1.

“To ensure that the breeding statistics we release in the fall are as accurate as possible, we request that RMBs be submitted by Aug. 1,” said Matt Iuliano, executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club. “Mare produce records and catalog-style pedigrees from equineline.com are updated in real time with the latest covering information to assist industry stakeholders with their decisions. The number of mares reported bred is also an important economic indicator of the health of the Thoroughbred breeding industry.”

Stallion managers who submit completed RMBs by Aug. 1 are among the first to receive their Stallion Service Certificates, which facilitates the timely registration of 2023 foals.

Reports of Mares Bred may be submitted via Interactive Registration at registry.jockeyclub.com or a form is available by email, fax, or mail by contacting inquiries@jockeyclub.com.

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Jockeys to Sign Souvenir Ellis Park Posters Saturday for PDJF

Thu, 2022-07-28 12:49

Jockeys will sign Ellis Park 100th season commemorative posters to raise money for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) on Saturday.

The jockey autograph session is part of Jockeys Across America, where tracks across the country pay tribute to National Disability Independence Day and raise funds for and awareness about the PDJF.

The Ellis Park jockeys, as their riding schedules permit, will sign the full-color posters throughout the afternoon at a table between the paddock pavilion and the paddock. There is no charge, but donations will be accepted for the PDJF, a 501(c)(3) charity that currently provides financial assistance to approximately 60 former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries.

“This is a cause that is near and dear to our hearts,” said Jon Court, the dean of the Kentucky jockeys and a six-time Ellis Park meet leader. “We love our fans and invite everyone to come out and help us help our colleagues who sacrificed so much.”

“No other major sport allows so much access to its participants as horse racing does on a daily basis,” said Ellis Park General Manager Jeff Inman. “Our jockeys routinely sign autographs after races. Saturday provides an organized opportunity for fans to create a real keepsake by getting any number of riders to sign our souvenir century poster.”

Sunday is also HBPA College Day at Ellis Park with $1,000 scholarships and iPad mini/AirPods packages given out to full-time college students. Full-time students, including incoming freshmen, will receive a free Ellis Park/HBPA College Day ball cap just for registering for the drawings.

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Belmont Park Fall Meet to be Held at Aqueduct Racetrack

Thu, 2022-07-28 12:11

The traditional fall meet at Belmont will instead be held at Aqueduct and kick off Sept. 15, the New York Racing Association announced Thursday. It is anticipated that racing will return to Belmont for the 2023 spring meet.

The switch to Aqueduct will allow NYRA to undertake the first phases of what could be a major renovation of Belmont Park. Tunnels have been constructed at Belmont that will give construction vehicles access to the infield. The tunnels will also pave the way for pedestrians to have access to the infield. According to a statement issued by NYRA, “the tunnels will serve as a conduit to the infield for commercial vehicles allowing NYRA to completely reconstruct the Belmont main track and its two turf courses.” In addition, the tunnels will provide NYRA with an opportunity “to consider the installation of a synthetic track in the future.”

NYRA officials have spoken often in recent years about a desire to make significant changes at Belmont, including ones that could make it feasible to some day close Aqueduct. That could include a rebuild of the massive grandstand, which would make Belmont a better fit to host the Breeders' Cup, which has not been run in New York since 2005.

“This investment in the future of Belmont Park will transform our racing operations and pave the way for a broader re-imagining of the facility,” Dave O'Rourke, NYRA President & CEO, said in a statement. “The shift to Aqueduct this fall will minimize the overall impact on the racing schedule, and ensure continuity for the Belmont spring/summer meet and Belmont S. presented by NYRA Bets. We appreciate the patience of our horsemen and fans as we enter this period of transition at Belmont, and look forward to an exciting fall at the Big A.”

According to NYRA spokesperson Pat McKenna, the current circumferences of the Belmont racing surfaces will not be changed.

The construction project will result in the closing of the main track and the turf courses at Belmont for training, starting with the conclusion of training on Aug. 7. Those tracks won't reopen until April of 2023. After a brief shutdown, the Belmont training track will re-open on Aug. 8 and will be the only outlet for regular training activities. Construction on the Belmont courses will begin following the conclusion of the 2023 Belmont Park spring/summer meet.

The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA) President Joe Appelbaum expressed his support for the project in the NYRA statement.

“NYTHA membership recognize the importance of modernizing Belmont Park and look forward to competing at a world-class Thoroughbred racing venue,” said Appelbaum. “We will continue to work closely with NYRA to reduce any burdens on horsemen created by the temporary closure of the main track at Belmont.”

Trainer Christophe Clement had mixed feelings about the impending changes.

“They are going to make Belmont Park even better, so this is exciting when you consider the future,” he said. “I think they are going to create an amazing Belmont Park when they are done.”

But Clement is not looking forward to what will be a major disruption to his training routines.

“This is very depressing because a guy like me trains mostly on the main track at Belmont and I work a lot of horses every weekend on the turf,” he said. “I adore Belmont Park as a racetrack, to race at and to train at. But I will have to adapt. That's just the way it is. We were aware of this. NYRA has been talking to us about this for about six months. We're just going to have to adjust.”

The Belmont-at-Aqueduct meet will run through Oct. 30 and will include 41 stakes races worth $9.9 million. The stakes season at Belmont-at-the-Big A will commence on Sept. 17 with the running of the $1-million GIII Jockey Club Derby and the $700,000 GIII Jockey Club Oaks. The Oct. 1 card will consist of four stakes, including the GI Woodward S. and the GI Champagne S. The Oct. 8 card will include the GI Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the GII Vosburgh, which has been shifted from six furlongs to seven furlongs. Six stakes were cut from the schedule, but none are graded stakes. The GII Kelso H., traditionally a prep for the GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, has been shifted from late September to Oct. 29.

The good news for horsemen is that the Belmont-at-Aqueduct meet will offer significant purse increases with a particular focus on adding value to conditions impacting the broadest group of owners and trainers. Open allowance races will be run for six-figure purses while all claiming categories, New York-bred, and maiden races will enjoy purse enhancements. NYRA will also introduce a new bonus program to further reward horsemen for competing at the fall meet. The bonus will pay $500 to the owner and $500 to the trainer of any horse finishing outside of the top three in his/her first fall start provided the most recent start was during the 2022 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course. Stakes races at Aqueduct do not qualify for the Belmont at the Big A bonus.

The capital improvement project will also include the installation of a synthetic Tapeta track on the quarter-mile Belmont “pony track.”

From 1963 through 1967, racing moved to Aqueduct after the Saratoga meet concluded as Belmont Park was being rebuilt.

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Aftercare, Promotion, and Communication Highlighted at OwnerView Conference

Thu, 2022-07-28 11:52

Edited Press Release

The need to ensure responsible ownership at all stages of a racehorse's life was a recurring theme at this week's Thoroughbred Owner Conference, which was held July 25-26 in the 1863 Club at Saratoga Race Course. The event, which attracted more than 100 attendees, was presented by the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and hosted by The Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

The keynote address of the conference was delivered by Stacie Clark-Rogers, operations consultant for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). Clark-Rogers summarized the evolution of aftercare over the last 50 years and its increased prioritization among those involved in the Thoroughbred industry.

“These programs in my opinion are greatly undervalued, and we could be doing so much more to connect people with retired Thoroughbreds, and in return, promote the horse, the industry, and the sport of horse racing,” she said.

“If we have learned anything over the last 20 years of aftercare initiatives, we all need to work together in all aspects of this industry, not just so the aftercare groups can succeed, but so the industry can be more accountable and thus succeed as a responsible, ethical sport.”

Other topics of focus at the conference included buying at the sales, selecting a trainer, equine safety, partnerships, and international racing. The second day of the event featured a panel composed of a family of jockeys: Dylan Davis was joined by his sister Katie and her husband, Trevor McCarthy, with an appearance by Dylan and Katie's father, former jockey Robbie Davis.

Tony Allevato, chief revenue officer for NYRA and president of NYRA Bets, opened the conference by describing efforts NYRA has made to improve the racing and ownership experience. For example, during NYRA's racing coverage on Fox Sports, the production team makes it a priority to interview owners before and after each race.

“It's important for us as an operator to make the experience as good as possible,” he said. “If an owner thinks that there's a chance that they can get on national TV, we think that adds to the experience.”

The conference began with a reception at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and attendees enjoyed the races at Saratoga on Wednesday.

“After being postponed for two years due to COVID-19, we were delighted to finally bring the Thoroughbred Owner Conference to Saratoga for the first time,” said Gary Falter, project manager for OwnerView. “Competing at Saratoga is a dream for any Thoroughbred owner and a fitting location for this conference, where we provide existing, new, and prospective owners the opportunity to learn about all aspects of owning racehorses while facilitating networking with the industry's most prominent names.”

Tom Durkin served as the master of ceremonies. Participants on the panels included owners Tina Bond, H. James Bond Racing Stable and Song Hill Thoroughbreds; Michelle Borisenok, Old Tavern Farm; Peter Brant; Terry Finley, West Point Thoroughbreds; Tom Gallo, Dream Maker Racing; Len Green, D.J. Stable; Jack Knowlton, Sackatoga Stable; and others.

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Swain and Dumaani Euthanized at Old Friends

Thu, 2022-07-28 11:26

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, Ky., lost two retirees Wednesday–multiple graded stakes winner Dumaani (Danzig–Desirable {Ire}, by Lord Gayle), who was 31, and European champion and GI Breeders' Cup Classic third-place finisher Swain (Ire) (Nashwan–Love Smitten, by Key to the Mint), who was 30. Both were humanely euthanized due to the infirmities of old age.

The stallions stood most recently at the Lexington-based Shadwell Farm, where they were originally pensioned. They relocated to Old Friends in the spring of this year as part of a downsizing of operations following the death of Shadwell owner, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in 2021.

“It's always sad when we lose any of our wonderful retirees, but yesterday was devastating,” said Old Friends President Michael Blowen. “The only solace is that farm manager Antonio Marin and Rood and Riddle's Dr. Ashton Broman recognized that both Dumaani and Swain were both in severe discomfort and the best thing for them–not for us–was to take the pain away. But the pain their deaths left behind has left a lasting scar on us. Even when you do your best it can't defeat mortality.”

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Oaklawn Add Nine Stakes, Increases Stakes Purses

Thu, 2022-07-28 10:56

Oaklawn Park has added nine stakes races to its 2022-23 season, bringing the total number of black-type events offered at the Hot Springs track to 45. In addition, purses to the stakes program have been bumped by $1.45 million for total stakes purses of $13.75 million, the highest in Oaklawn's history. The overall purse distribution for the season is projected to exceed $50 million. This will be the second consecutive year the Oaklawn racing season will begin in December.

The new Oaklawn stakes include:

  • Dec. 10 Ring the Bell S. ($150,000)
  • Dec. 31 Renaissance S. ($150,000)
  • Dec. 31 Year's End S. ($150,000)
  • Mar. 31 Matron S. ($250,000)
  • Apr. 1 Hot Springs S. ($200,000)
  • Apr. 22 Valley of the Vapors S. ($150,000)
  • Apr. 29 Dig a Diamond S. ($150,000)
  • May 5 Lake Ouachita S. ($150,000)
  • May 6 Lake Hamilton S. ($150,000)

“We were pleased with how December racing was received last year, by both racing fans and horsemen,” said Oaklawn President Louis Cella. “Now, we're going to use our stakes schedule to build on that momentum.”

The 68-day season at Oaklawn will open Dec. 9, continue through May, and will feature the $1.25-million GI Arkansas Derby, as well as three $1-million races, including the Apr. 15 GI Apple Blossom H. Click here for the complete stakes schedule.

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No Violations Found in Review of Assiniboia Downs Race, Assiniboia’s CEO Disagrees

Thu, 2022-07-28 10:14

A determination has been reached in the unusual stretch run of Assiniboia Downs Racetrack's fifth race July 20, with no rules found to be violated and no change to the order of finish. The Manitoba Jockey Club (MJC), non-profit operator of Assiniboia Downs, had formally requested that its provincial regulator, the Liquor, Gaming & Cannabis Authority (LGCA), conduct a review after jockey Sheldon Chickeness, aboard King Witt (Five Demon Bag), turned for home approximately five lengths in front before appearing to pull his mount up and allowing much of the field to pass. He then re-rallied to finish second.

In a letter from LGCA's Director of Operations Natasha Hohol, MPA, she said, “The LGCA initiated our standard investigative processes. In this case, this included such steps as interviewing witnesses, analyzing video replay, and reviewing wagering data. The LGCA has determined that no Rules of Thoroughbred Racing were violated. Therefore, adjustments to the order of finish are not required.”

Darren Dunn, CEO of Assiniboia Downs, indicated officials at the Manitoba track “strongly disagree with the conclusion.” The official statement from Dunn follows in full:

“I want to start by indicating from the outset that we understand and fully respect the right and responsibility that our regulator has to make the determination that they did related to this race. At the same time, I want to identify and recognize our right as the operator to respond to their findings and, to be clear, we strongly disagree with the conclusion they arrived at from this review.

“Our interpretation of the race is that the horse, King Witt, to our understanding, may have previously exhibited tendencies in how he navigates the turn for home and the early stretch drive of the racetrack that caused the jockey to believe that with a potential repeat of those tendencies, the safety of the other horses and jockeys in the race were in jeopardy and that this was reflected in his actions, exhibiting his concern.

“And, while we will always support and encourage efforts of jockeys to be safe in the saddle for themselves, their fellow riders and the horses in the race, a distinction, in our opinion, should be made when these actions occur and then affect the possible and likely ultimate outcome of the race through an overreaction by a jockey. We believe, in our opinion, that jockey Sheldon Chickeness did overcompensate in his handling of his mount, likely related to a safety concern, but given the clear lead the horse had at the time, he did affect, in our opinion, the final outcome of the race and the order of finish.

“We believe that, while consideration and understanding could be given to his safety intent, overriding this was the need to protect the wagering public in ensuring the integrity of the race remained intact and that the overcompensation by jockey Sheldon Chickeness should have been met with a determination of significant discipline against him.”

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Proposed $5M Zayat Settlement Gives Only $30K to ‘Unsecured’ Claimants

Wed, 2022-07-27 17:57

The court-appointed trustee in the nearly two-year-old Zayat Stables involuntary bankruptcy case is proposing a settlement in which Ahmed Zayat and his family members would pay $5 million to be allocated between MGG Investment Group and the trustee.

Of that amount, only $30,000 is earmarked to eventually go to “unsecured creditors,” some of whom are Thoroughbred industry participants owed money by Zayat Stables and are much further down the legal pecking order for otherwise getting repaid.

MGG will also get a disbursement from the funds in the bankruptcy trustee's account amounting to $1,025,145.

In return, MGG–the lender that alleged Zayat and his family members obtained a $24 million loan by fraud in 2016 then never repaid it–will issue a “waiver” giving up any further pursuit of the total $27.1 million total amount it had been seeking as a secured creditor.

MGG has also agreed to return $452,500 of the settlement money it gets from the “Zayat Parties” to the trustee, which will provide for the above-mentioned $30,000 “carve-out” that gets set aside to pay unsecured creditors.

The trustee will then be permitted to use $185,981 of that MGG payment to cover “administrative obligations” that the estate has incurred.

“[E]ntry into the Settlement Agreement serves the paramount interest of the creditors of the Debtor's estate,” trustee Jeffrey Testa wrote in a July 26 series of documents filed in United States Bankruptcy Court (District of New Jersey). “Resolution of the claims by and between the Chapter 7 Trustee MGG and the Zayat Parties through the Settlement Agreement represents a successful outcome for the Debtor's creditors.”

Not every creditor is going to agree with the trustee on that “successful outcome” statement.

Drew Mollica, the attorney for New York-based trainer Rudy Rodriguez, told TDN in a phone interview that his client has an unsecured claim of $397,000, and the $30,000 set aside for all unsecured claimants amounts only to a “drop in the bucket” for what Rodriguez is owed.

“Although I don't know all of the details and I'm going to reach out to the trustee, it seems the only carve-out for anybody but MGG is $30,000, Mollica said. “And all of the other unsecured claimants are in the same boat.”

It's important to note that this involuntary bankruptcy petition involving Zayat Stables is different from the Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy claim that the allegedly impoverished breeder and owner of Triple Crown champ American Pharoah initiated Sept. 8, 2020, when he claimed to own just $300 in cash and $14.22 in two checking accounts.

Six days later, on Sept. 14, 2020, an involuntary bankruptcy petition led by Zayat's former financial advisor was initiated against Zayat's family racing business.

Involuntary bankruptcy proceedings are relatively uncommon in United States courts. They are designed to protect creditors, not debtors, and are often filed against companies (as opposed to individuals) as an attempt to get paid when it is believed that a firm is rapidly burning through assets and/or financial malfeasance is alleged.

The trustee could have elected to keep battling MGG to try and whittle down the sought-after $27.1 million. But Testa explained in court documents that the proceedings had reached a point where resistance equated to a losing proposition for the estate.

“Litigation against MGG would involve sufficiently complex legal and factual issues, particularly regarding the substance of complex loan documents and the establishment of lender liability, which would require protracted hard-fought and arduous litigation and significant expert costs,” Testa wrote.

“In addition, as a result of MGG's properly-perfected status and outstanding amounts owed to it, the Chapter 7 Trustee has no encumbered funds to fight such a taxing battle,” Testa wrote.

“As to the Zayat Parties, litigation against them would be equally challenging, demanding, complex, and come at significant additional cost and delay,” Testa wrote. “In addition, based on the litigious history of this proceeding, any judgment obtained would almost certainly be subject to an appeal.

“The Settlement Agreement avoids these obstacles in favor of a prompt and efficient resolution without the need to expend further estate resources,” Testa wrote.

Other family members of Ahmed Zayat (identified in court documents as his wife, Joanne; four children, Justin, Ashley, Benjamin and Emma, plus a brother, Sherif) are on the hook for contributing to the $5-million settlement payment because, Testa wrote, “The Zayat Parties strenuously asserted that to their detriment they provided funds to Zayat Stables in an effort to keep the entity operating [by contributing] approximately $2.5 million more to Zayat Stables than the transfers they had received from Zayat Stables.”

The proposed settlement agreement even includes a section related to who gets the trophies and other racing mementos that the trustee has been storing since their seizure from the under-receivership Zayat Stables offices.

“Zayat and several of the Zayat Parties objected to the removal of the Memorabilia based upon the position that the Memorabilia were not estate property,” Testa wrote.

The trustee added that he now considers that property “abandoned,” which likely means that Zayat can reclaim it.

“So it looks like he keeps the trophies, and the horsemen who earned the trophies get nothing,” Mollica said.

The next step in the process is for the court to approve the settlement. If other parties file an objection by Aug. 16, then an Aug. 23 hearing will take place to hear the objection(s). If no one objects, the court will enter a notice of “no objection” and the settlement will be completed as proposed.

Asked if he would be objecting on behalf of Rodriguez, Mollica said, “I'll know more after I reach out to the trustee. I'll reserve my right.”

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