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Updated: 6 days 11 hours ago

Harness Trainer Pleads Guilty in Doping Case

Tue, 2022-04-19 17:51

Harness trainer Richard Banca pled guilty to one felony count Apr. 19 in the ongoing federal racehorse doping conspiracy case.

According to court documents filed electronically in United States District Court (Southern District of New York), “From at least in or about 2015 through at least in or about January 2020…Richard Banca, the defendant, with the intent to defraud and mislead, in interstate commerce, adulterated and misbranded drugs, and caused the adulteration and misbranding of drugs in interstate commerce…

“Banca misled and deceived state and federal regulators with respect to the distribution, purchase, and receipt of various misbranded and adulterated performance enhancing drugs, and the use of such misbranded and adulterated drugs to improve the performance of racehorses under Banca's and others' custody and care.”

No sentencing date was listed in the court documents. A money judgment was assessed against Banca in the amount of $120,975, representing the value of the drugs in his case.

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Peacock to Live Stream NBC’s Triple Crown

Tue, 2022-04-19 17:00

Peacock will live stream NBC's Triple Crown for the first time this spring, beginning Saturday, May 7 at 2:30 p.m. ET, when NBC and Peacock present the 148th GI Kentucky Derby. NBC Sports will present more than 20 hours of Triple Crown coverage across NBC, USA Network, CNBC and Peacock this spring.

Two weeks after NBC Sports' five-hour Kentucky Derby show, Peacock will simul-stream NBC's live broadcast of the GI Preakness S. on Saturday, May 21 at 4 p.m. ET. Then on Saturday, June 11 at 5 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock will present the GI Belmont S.

Previously, Peacock live streamed NBC Sports' coverage of the 2021 GI Breeders' Cup Classic from Del Mar.

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Weekly Stewards and Commissions Rulings, Apr. 12-18

Tue, 2022-04-19 17:00

Every week, the TDN publishes a roundup of key official rulings from the primary tracks within the four major racing jurisdictions of California, New York, Florida and Kentucky.

Here's a primer on how each of these jurisdictions adjudicates different offenses, what they make public (or not) and where.


Track: Santa Anita
Date: 04/15/2022
Licensee: Ryan Curatolo, jockey
Penalty: Four-day suspension
Violation: Careless riding
Explainer: Jockey Ryan Curatolo, who rode Silent Beauty in the ninth race at Santa Anita Park on April 10, 2022, is suspended for 4 racing days (April 30, May 1, 6 and 7, 2022) for failure to make the proper effort to maintain a straight course in the stretch, causing interference which resulted in the disqualification of his mount from third to fourth place. This constitutes a violation of California Horse Racing Board rule #1699 (Riding Rules – Careless Riding). Pursuant to California Horse Racing Board rule #1766 (Designated Races), the term of suspension shall not prohibit participation in designated races.

Track: Santa Anita
Date: 04/16/2022
Licensee: Diego Herrera, jockey
Penalty: $750 fine
Violation: Excessive use of the whip
Explainer: Apprentice Jockey Diego Herrera is fined $750.00 for violation of California Horse Racing Board rule #1688(b)(8)(d) (Use of Riding Crop–more than six times–second offense in the past sixty days) during the fourth race at Santa Anita Park on April 15, 2022.

Track: Santa Anita
Date: 04/17/2022
Licensee: Edgar Payeras, jockey
Penalty: $500
Violation: Excessive use of the whip
Explainer: Jockey Edgar Payeras is fined $500.00 for violation of California Horse Racing Board rule #1688(b)(8)(d) (Use of Riding Crop–more than six times) during the third race at Santa Anita Park on April 16, 2022.


Track: Keeneland
Date: 04/13/2022
Licensee: Bob Hess, owner-trainer
Penalty: $1,000
Violation: Falsifying owner's signature to claim a horse
Explainer: After waiving his right to a formal hearing before the Board of Stewards, Robert B. Hess Jr is hereby fined $1,000 for violating the rules governing claiming by falsifying the owner's signature while attempting to claim “Malibu Marie” from the 4th race at Keeneland on April 8, 2022. Upon receipt of this ruling, the licensee is required within 30 days to pay any and all fines imposed to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Failure to do so will subject the licensee to a summary suspension of licensee pursuant to 810 KAR 3:020 Section 15 (cc).

Track: Keeneland
Date: 04/13/2022
Licensee: Jack Gilligan, jockey
Penalty: Three-day suspension
Violation: Excessive use of the whip
Explainer: After a hearing before the Board of Stewards, Jack Gilligan, who rode Baytown Lovely in the first race at Keeneland on April 10, 2022 was found to have violated the crop regulation. This being his first offense, Mr. Gilligan was given the option and chose to serve a suspension. Jack Gilligan is hereby suspended 3 racing days, April 14 through April 16, 2022 (inclusive) for his improper use of the crop by exceeding the allowable use in the overhand manner.

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Hess Fined $1K for Signing Owner’s Name On Claim Slip

Tue, 2022-04-19 16:50

The falsification of an owner's signature on an opening-day claim slip at Keeneland has cost trainer Bob Hess, Jr., a $1,000 fine.
Hess waived his right to a formal hearing with the Keeneland stewards.

“Bottom line, I made a mistake,” Hess told TDN via phone Tuesday afternoon. “And it won't happen again. It was kind of a time crunch. We didn't have the claim slip signed by the owner, so I signed on his behalf, which is a breach of the rules.”

The horse Hess tried to claim for $80,000 out of the fourth race Apr. 8 was Malibu Marie (Malibu Moon).

The 3-year-old filly paid $15.20 in winning the 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claimer. She ended up being claimed away from trainer Brad Cox and the owner partnership listed as Thrash and Payne. The successful claimant was trainer Eduardo Caramori on behalf of owner Paula Capestro.

Hess declined to reveal the name of the owner he signed for, citing a desire to take responsibility for the mistake on his own. The owner was not listed in the stewards' ruling.

“I don't want to embarrass the owner. I'm already embarrassed enough. I screwed up, but it wasn't without the owner's knowledge. But that's no excuse. This was preventable, and it never should have happened,” Hess said.

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Alberta Night of Champions Returns In-Person May 6

Tue, 2022-04-19 16:41

After two years of a virtual format, Alberta's Night of Champions will be held in person Friday, May 6 at Century Mile Racetrack and Casino in Nisku, Alberta. The Night of Champions is an annual event that celebrates the achievements of the Alberta Thoroughbred industry in the previous season with award winners announced in a variety of categories such as Leading Breeder, Leading Alberta Bred and Horse of the Year.

This year's gala evening, dinner and awards presentation will be held in the Paddock Room at Century Mile beginning with the reception at 6:00 p.m. followed by dinner, awards and dance/entertainment. For tickets, RSVP to the CTHS Alberta office at 403-229-3609 or by Friday, Apr. 29.

Further information and nominees in all categories may be viewed on the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society here.

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KHRC Aims to Rewrite Transparency Regulations

Tue, 2022-04-19 16:00

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) is on the cusp of approving rewritten rules aimed at increasing transparency. The major changes include lifting prohibitions on the public disclosure of alleged violations, new guidelines that establish a 60-day time frame for holding hearings, and the opening of those hearings to anyone who wants to observe them.

Tweaks to the equine drug-testing process are also in the pipeline. They include a requirement for owners and trainers to select an approved lab for split-sample testing within five days of being provided with the list of accredited facilities, and for the KHRC to send off the sample within seven days instead of “as expeditiously as possible.”

The KHRC's rules committee approved all of these proposed changes by unanimous voice vote during its Tuesday meeting. The full KHRC board will vote on adopting them at its Apr. 26 meeting.

Although no one on the committee during the Apr. 19 meeting mentioned Medina Spirit's betamethasone positive and his owner and trainer's under-appeal disqualification from the 2021 GI Kentucky Derby, the KHRC's widely criticized cryptic handling of that controversial, drawn-out case over the last year was the obvious catalyst for proposing the changes.

“Our frustration has clearly come from, you know, we have certain cases that take long periods of time,” said KHRC member and rules committee chairman Mark Simendinger. “Nobody [in the public] knows what's going on. We're not allowed to say what's going on. And so we want to be able to communicate that out.”

Or, as Jennifer Wolsing, the KHRC's general counsel, put it, “[I]n keeping with recent developments encouraging more transparency–especially in the communication of medication violations, but also routine riding offenses–we thought that it would be very reasonable to allow the commission to publicly disclose information regarding an alleged regulatory violation, if and only if such information would not unduly impact an investigation.”

Back on Feb. 15, when KHRC chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz obliquely referred to the Medina Spirit scandal for the first time at an open, public meeting, he vowed that it was “of the utmost importance to this commission” to change the board's long-standing restrictions on disclosure.

But still, several clauses written into the rule proposals would continue to allow for at least some discretionary KHRC lip-buttoning and extending hearing timelines.

For example, the amendments within the public disclosure section repeatedly state that the commission or its executive director “may” publicly disclose information. That's different from stating that the KHRC is required to make such disclosures.

And pertaining to the 60-day requirement for holding hearings, the proposed rules state that the stewards may indefinitely extend the deadline “in their sole discretion, upon demonstration of exigent circumstances.”

In addition, although stewards' hearings will now be considered “open” if the full KHRC board approves the rule changes, there aren't any new guidelines within the amendments about how the public or journalists will know those hearings are going to occur.

Simendinger acknowledged and addressed that public-notice aspect of the hearings prior to Tuesday's vote, explaining that the KHRC needed to strike a balance between disclosure and practicality.

Simendinger gave the example of stewards sometimes needing to meet with alleged violators on the fly, like if a riding infraction occurred in a major stakes and the jockey had to leave town right after the race and wouldn't be able to attend the next day's film reviews.

“We don't want to get into a position where, in the quest for being open and transparent, that we make it so that our people can't conduct normal, routine business that we need to do on a daily basis,” Simendinger said.

“But the flip side of that is we want all of this stuff to be open. So the [hearing] is 'open.' Anybody, they hear about it, they want to come in, they can come in,” Simendinger said. “But it's not going to meet the definition of an 'open meeting' where we have to provide 24-hours' notice [as defined] in the statute.”

KHRC commissioner Bill Landes III postulated a devil's advocate type of question: What if the alleged violator didn't want the hearing to be open to the public?

Wolsing was quick with an answer.

“If that were to happen, I would suggest that the stewards would need to call legal [counsel] and we would talk about why the person wanted the meeting to be closed,” Wolsing said. “If they had a reasonable reason for requiring the meeting to be closed, fair enough. But the way we have it [proposed] right now states that a stewards' meeting 'shall be open.' So that means they would have to cite some sort of statute that says…the stewards' hearing [can legally] be closed.”

Highlights of the rule amendments related to disclosure follow:

“The commission or its executive director may publicly disclose information regarding an alleged violation if such information will not unduly impact any investigation.

“After notice to the racing participant, the commission or its executive director may publicly disclose the identity of any racing participant who is accused of an alleged regulatory violation and the identity of the horse at issue.

“After commission and racing participant receive testing results pursuant to [KHRC rules], the commission or its executive director may publicly disclose the alleged conduct or the alleged amount and type of the medication, drug, or substance that gave rise to the alleged regulatory violation; or

“At any time, the commission or its executive director may publicly disclose the date of an upcoming stewards' hearing; or

“At any time, the commission or its executive director may publicly disclose other information as deemed appropriate.

“Situations giving rise to the disclosure of information by the commission or its executive director may include the following: a) Information pertaining to an alleged regulatory violation has been previously publicly disclosed by the racing participant; b) In the case of an alleged medication violation, if the commission's laboratory has returned a positive finding and the racing participant has been notified of the results of split sample pursuant to [KHRC rules]; c) In the case of a medication violation, if the commission's laboratory has returned a positive finding and the racing participant has not exercised his or her right to further laboratory testing; or d) For other reasons in the best interests of racing.”

A summary of proposed changes related to hearings follows:

“A stewards' or judge's hearing, as applicable, shall be conducted by a state steward or a state judge unless waived in writing by the party charged with the violation.

“A stewards' or judges' hearing shall be conducted no more than sixty (60) days after either: a) the racing participant is notified of an alleged violation, or b) if the racing participant requests split laboratory results, the date on which the participant receives those results…

“Stewards' and judges' hearings shall be open. Nothing in this section limits the authority of the presiding stewards or judges to order closure of a hearing or to make other protective orders to the extent necessary or proper to satisfy the United States Constitution, the Kentucky Constitution, federal or state statute, or other law, such as laws protecting privileged, confidential, or other protected information.”

(The current version of the rule states that “Stewards' and judges' hearings shall be closed, and the stewards and judges shall make no public announcement concerning a matter under investigation until the conclusion of the hearing.”)

Regarding split sample testing, the full KHRC board will vote on the following new language:

“The party requesting the split sample shall select a laboratory solicited and approved by the commission to perform the analysis within five days after he or she is notified of the split sample laboratories available to test the split sample. If a trainer does not select a laboratory within five days after notification of the available split laboratories, then he or she shall be deemed to have waived the right to split sample analysis. A split sample so requested shall be shipped within seven days of the date that the trainer provides his or her laboratory selection to the stewards.

“Failure of the owner, trainer, or a designee to appear at the time and place designated by the commission veterinarian in connection with securing, maintaining, or shipping the split sample shall constitute a waiver of any right to be present during the packaging and shipping of the split sample.” (The current version of the rule states that if the person doesn't show up, they will waive the right to be present during “split sample testing procedures.”)

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Kentucky Derby Trainers’ Dinner Set for May 3

Tue, 2022-04-19 15:12

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association's annual Kentucky Derby Trainers' Dinner, always a popular event in the lead-up to the GI Kentucky Derby, has been set for Tuesday, May 3 at The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky. Cocktails will start at 6 p.m. with dinner service beginning at 6:45 p.m.

Attendees will enjoy an evening of cocktails and dinner, as well as reviews of important Kentucky prep races and will include interviews with the trainers of this year's Kentucky Derby contenders. Net proceeds of the event go to support backside charities at Churchill Downs, including The BacksideLearning Center.

The KTA/KTOB appreciate each of the following sponsors for their continued support of the annual event: Hallway Feeds, Anthem, KYProud, Spendthrift Farm, TwinSpires, Stonestreet Stables, H.E. Tex Sutton, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Encore, FarmPaint/Tenda, HRRN, NTRA, Paulick Report, Rood & Riddle, Stark Equine Transportation, TDN, Aphix, LLC, DRF, Claiborne Farm, Coolmore, Crestwood Farm, Hermitage, and Three Chimneys.

For more information, contact Vickie Garcia at (859) 259-1643.

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Uncle Mo Colt Summons $2.3M at OBS

Tue, 2022-04-19 14:49

A colt by Coolmore super sire Uncle Mo (Hip 206) inspired a furious round of bidding during the opening session of the OBS Spring Sale Tuesday, hammering for $2.3 million to bloodstock agent Gary Young, who was acting on behalf of Amr Zedan. Young did his bidding alongside Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who will train the colt at the conclusion of his suspension. Coolmore was the underbidder on the bay colt. Consigned by Jimbo & Torie Gladwell's Top Line Sales, the :9 4/5 breezer, who is out of Borealis Night (Astrology), was purchased by Scott & Evan Dilworth for $250,000 at Keeneland September.

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DJ Pauly D to Headline 2022 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival Entertainment

Tue, 2022-04-19 12:26

DJ Pauly D will headline the entertainment lineup presented by Mohegan Sun for the 2022 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.

DJ Pauly D, who performs over 150 shows a year including a 40-date residency at Marquee Las Vegas and a long-running residency at Harrah's Atlantic City, will DJ in Club 154 presented by Mohegan Sun from 4:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m. on Belmont Stakes Day June 11.

Club 154 presented by Mohegan Sun is a new space set to debut at this year's GI Belmont S. Located at the west end of the grandstand, and modeled after a nightclub, it will boast live entertainment, a red carpet, dance floor, cocktail tables, a premium bar and more. No additional ticket is required for entry to Club 154 presented by Mohegan Sun.

“The 2022 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival is shaping up to be a tremendous three-day event themed around some of the best horse racing action there is,” said Jeff Hamilton, President & General Manager of Mohegan Sun. “Mohegan Sun is honored to be a key supporter of this festival and the incredible entertainment that will be featured. We're looking forward to what will be a thrilling weekend, especially if another run at the Triple Crown is in store.”

Belmont Stakes Day will also feature a live Performance of “New York, New York” at post time of the Belmont S. by Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti.

Saturday's entertainment will also include, “The Black Tie Brass” as well as the “Andre Phillips Steel Drum Band” and the “Mike Fox Trio” performing throughout the track.

Friday's entertainment is headlined by the New York Bee Gees Band, who will perform a Belmont Stakes Eve Post Race Concert at Club 154 presented by Mohegan Sun from 6:30 – 7:45 p.m.

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Monmouth Appeals to Racing Commission to Amend Whipping Rules

Tue, 2022-04-19 12:05

With new regulations regarding whipping set to go into effect throughout the country on July 1 when the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) takes effect, management at Monmouth Park has asked the New Jersey Racing Commission to adopt the more lenient HISA rules when the meet opens May 7.

The story was first reported by the Asbury Park Press.

At the start of the 2021 meet controversial rules were put in place by the New Jersey Racing Commission that banned the practice of whipping horses to encourage them to run. While restrictions on the use of the whip were in place in several states, New Jersey was the only jurisdiction that banned the use of the whip outright.

On July 1, that is set to change when HISA rules will supercede regulations put in place by state racing commissions. The HISA rules allow a jockey to strike a horse six times a race but no more than twice in succession. With the rules set to change some seven weeks into the meet, Monmouth is asking the racing commission to put the HISA rules in place at the start of the meet. Track management has requested that the commission hold a special meeting to discuss the matter.

“I think we have a very good chance of getting this done,” Dennis Drazin, the chairman and CEO of the management company that operates Monmouth, told the Press. “It doesn't make sense to have different rules to start the meet and switch midstream.”

Several jockeys raised objections to the rule last year, arguing that the whip was needed for safety purposes. While most decided to ride at the meet, 13-time Monmouth champion Joe Bravo refused to ride and relocated to California. Antonio Gallardo also cited the rule when announcing he was leaving Monmouth to ride at Woodbine.

From a pari-mutuel wagering standpoint, Monmouth did not have a particularly strong 2021 meet, which raised the possibility that some bettors shied away from the Monmouth product because of the whipping ban.

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Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Catalogue Now Online

Tue, 2022-04-19 11:27

Fasig-Tipton has catalogued 636 entries for its upcoming Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, to be held on Monday and Tuesday, May 23-24, at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland.

“This is the strongest catalogue we have ever had for Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training,” said Midlantic Sales Director Paget Bennett. “It is the largest in size in recent memory, and there is tremendous quality that will suit both leading national stables as well as the various regional circuits in our area.”

Bennett added, “Just about every current leading sire is represented in this catalogue, as well as the sport's most sought-after young sires.”

This year's front catalogue cover features the sale's most recent Grade I winners in Beyond Brilliant (Twirling Candy), Gamine (Into Mischief), Got Stormy (Get Stormy) and Switzerland (Speightstown). The back cover features an additional 11 graded stakes winners or stakes winners that have emerged since last year's sale.

“Sales graduates are winning on all circuits and on all surfaces, including Grade I wins from California, to New York, to Dubai,” continued Bennett. “Buyers have tremendous confidence purchasing off of Timonium's dirt racetrack. One only needs to look at the sale's lengthy list of stakes winning graduates to understand why.”

The under-tack show will be held over three sessions, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, May 17-19. Each under-tack show session will begin at 8:00 a.m. The GI Preakness S. will be held at nearby Pimlico on Saturday, May 21, and the sale will follow on May 23 and 24. Each sale session will begin at 11 a.m.

The catalogue may now be viewed online and will also be available via the equineline sales catalogue app. Print catalogues will be available beginning Apr. 26.

Online bidding and phone bidding services will be available.

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Baffert, Zedan Again Denied Relief in KY Court of Appeals

Mon, 2022-04-18 17:06

Two weeks after a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge denied trainer Bob Baffert and owner Amr Zedan an “emergency” stay in their fight against the penalties levied against them by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) over Medina Spirit (Protonico)'s betamethasone positive in the 2021 GI Kentucky Derby, a separate three-judge panel denied a motion for interlocutory relief that will keep the case from proceeding any deeper in that same court.

The Apr. 15 ruling did, however, note that the judges' order was not a ruling on the merits of the arguments related to Baffert's 90-day suspension and $7,500 fine or Zedan's being stripped of both his Derby-winning status and Medina Spirit's share of the purse.

On Mar. 21, a Franklin Circuit Court judge initially denied the trainer and owner's request to force the KHRC to impose any sort of stay on those sanctions. Baffert and Zedan then decided to kick the Franklin court's denial up to the higher Court of Appeals on Mar. 24. When the appeals court judge ruled against the “emergency” request Apr. 1, Baffert and Zedan asked for further court intervention via requests for interlocutory relief and a chance to make oral arguments on their own behalf.

Separately, the KHRC had also filed to dismiss the entire proceeding, but that motion was also denied within the same three-judge ruling (which effectively stopped the case from going forward anyway with the denial of Baffert and Zedan's request for interlocutory relief).

“[T]he circuit court did not err in determining that the equities of the situation mitigate against injunctive relief,” the three-

judge order stated. “We echo the circuit court's assessment that 'it is imperative to ensure public confidence in the Commonwealth's signature industry'…

“[T]he penalties the Stewards assessed upon Baffert may ultimately be reversed [but] Baffert's interest in staying enforcement of the Stewards' Ruling does not necessarily trump the public interest in the integrity of Thoroughbred horse racing and the safety of the horses,” the Apr. 15 order continued.

Baffert is now two weeks into his 90-day suspension, which is being appealed at the KHRC level. Depending on timing, the suspension could very well run its course before that administrative process gets underway or even results in a decision.

The Hall-of-Fame trainer's legal team had previously argued in court filings that “Baffert's income from racing is almost entirely linked to a horse's performance in a given race. There is simply no way to conclusively determine how his horses would have performed in the races taking place during his suspension. Missing out on the prestigious Triple Crown races (and many others) in 2022 is irreparable harm to a trainer like Baffert as the opportunity to compete in them can never be regained and the lost opportunity is not subject to remuneration.”

The three-judge Apr. 15 ruling dissected Baffert and Zedan's motions as follows:

“Neither Movants' motion for emergency relief, disposed of by this Court's April 1, 2022, Order, nor their motion for interlocutory relief, advances any specific argument as to 1) how or why Movant Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., will suffer irreparable harm from the circuit court's denial of a temporary injunction; or 2) what particular interim relief Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., seeks from this Court…

“In the April 1, 2022 Order, the Court pointed out that the motions, as they pertain to Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., are lacking in these respects…. Despite the Court's drawing attention to these omissions, Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., has not filed a motion for leave to supplement the motion for interlocutory relief, nor has Amr F. Zedan moved to intervene herein. In light of this failure to act, the Court denies the motion for…relief as it pertains to Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., and will consider the motion with respect to Baffert only.”

The order continued: “The circuit court's March 21, 2022, order addressed two separate claims made by Baffert [but] the statutory procedure under [Kentucky state law] is a complete and adequate remedy in itself, thus undermining any claim that Baffert could have properly sought a temporary injunction in the circuit court…

“This Court lacks a sufficiently developed record to assess Baffert's contentions of error,” the Apr. 15 order summed up. “Furthermore, because we have concluded the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Baffert failed to show he would suffer irreparable injury in the absence of injunctive relief, resolving the question whether Baffert has shown a substantial question on the merits is not necessary to our decision today.”

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OBS April Sale Kicks Off Tuesday

Mon, 2022-04-18 10:00

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training kicks off a four-day run Tuesday with sessions beginning at 10:30 a.m. daily.

The sale comes on the back of a very strong OBS March Sale where 378 juveniles summoned $49.941 million, including four seven-figure sellers.

“The March Sale was very good,” said OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “There was a lot of activity at all levels in March and we anticipate that strength to carry over into April.”

There was a high level of activity on the OBS grounds leading up to the March Sale and consignors saw the same during the seven-day Spring Sale under-tack show last week.

“There was a good buzz in the air at the March sale, better than we've had in some time,” Coastal Equine's Jesse Hoppel said. “I feel the same type of environment coming here in April. I anticipate another strong horse sale.”

With 1231 juveniles in the catalogue, the Spring Sale is a major player on the calendar each year for both buyers and sellers.

“The April Sale is the largest 2-year-old sale in the world and probably the most productive,” Wojciechowski said. “If people are only going to be able to attend one 2-year-old sale, this is probably going to be the one they will attend. The consignors are always impressive. Each year they outdo themselves with the quality of horses they bring.”

Last year's $1.5-million Spring Sale topper Corniche (Quality Road) went on to win the Eclipse Award for top 2-year-old male after a perfect three-for-three season capped by a win in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Spring Sale graduate Country Grammer (Tonalist) took the G1 Dubai World Cup this term after finishing second to fellow OBSAPR seller Emblem Road (Quality Road) in the G1 Saudi Cup a month earlier.

“We ran one-two in the Saudi Cup, won the G1 Dubai World Cup,”Wojciechowski said. “There are horses that win all over the world that come out of the April sale.”

At the 2021 Spring Sale, a total of 724 juveniles changed hands for a gross of $73,874,900. The average was $102,037 and the median was $50,000.

Tuesday's opening session will offer Hips 1-308, followed by Hips 309-616 Wednesday, Hips 617-924 Thursday and Hips 925-1231 Friday.

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Epicenter, Echo Zulu on Track for Asmussen

Sun, 2022-04-17 12:00

Trainer Steve Asmussen sent likely GI Kentucky Derby and GI Kentucky Oaks favorites Epicenter (Not This Time) and Echo Zulu (Gun Runner) out to work at Churchill Downs Sunday morning. Exercise rider Wilson Fabian was aboard for both works.

“Both horses are training extremely well. It's obviously exciting going into the Oaks and the Derby to have two horses of this caliber doing so well,” Asmussen said.

Winchell Thoroughbreds' Epicenter, coming off wins in the GII Risen Star S. and GII Louisiana Derby, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 (7/26) in company with 6-year-old Gun It (Tapit). He clipped through opening fractions of :12.60, :24.20 and :36 and galloped out strongly around the clubhouse turn and onto the backside with a six-furlong gallop-out in 1:13.60 and completed seven furlongs in 1:27. Epicenter finished his move with a one-mile clocking of 1:44.

“With Epicenter the spacing of his races since December has been very effective for him,” Asmussen said. “We're just trying to put the building blocks and space for him to handle the 1 1/4-miles in the Derby here. I couldn't feel any better with how he's doing here and how he loves Churchill Downs.”

L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds' undefeated champion filly Echo Zulu cruised five furlongs in 1:00 flat (4/26) outside of 3-year-old maiden colt King Ottoman (Curlin). She clipped off eighth-mile fractions of :13.20, :24.60 and :36.20 and she and King Ottoman galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.20 and seven furlongs in 1:28.20.

Echo Zulu ended her 2-year-old campaign with a win in the GI NetJets Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last November and returned to gut out a narrow victory in the Mar. 26 GII Fair Grounds Oaks.

“Her coming off the bench after quite a layoff and a determined victory, I was anxious to get her here,” Asmussen said. “She actually had not trained at Churchill. She went from Keeneland straight to Saratoga, then won at Belmont and went to California. She has taken to the racetrack in both of her works very impressively.”

Working in company was normal practice for the two sophomores.

“It's been standard [to work both of these horses in company] and the company they worked with is who they've been with in New Orleans. We're trying to create more of the same success they had there.”

Also working in advance of the May 7 Kentucky Derby, White Abarrio (Race Day) went three furlongs in :34.55 (1/41) at Gulfstream Park Sunday for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.

“The way he worked today gives me a lot of confidence–the way he came back and the way he worked first work back–knowing we have three weeks to go,” said Joseph. “I think we're in a good position. Three weeks is long time, but I like where we're at.”

White Abarrio, who was turning in his first work since winning the Apr. 2 GI Curlin Florida Derby, galloped out five furlongs in 1:00 2/5.

“Visually, it was as impressive as his time. Sometimes he can work quick and not look as impressive, but today, it was an easy work in a quick time,” Joseph said.

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Champion Jackie’s Warrior Returns a Winner in the Count Fleet

Sat, 2022-04-16 19:11

Champion Jackie's Warrior (Maclean's Music) returned as good ever, taking the GIII Count Fleet Sprint H. in gate-to-wire fashion Saturday at Oaklawn. Receiving first-time Lasix for this seasonal bow, the 1-2 chalk took up his preferred position at the head of affairs, zipping out to a clear lead. He was quickly joined by 28-1 shot Empire of Gold (Goldencents), who pressed the Eclipse winner through a sharp first quarter in :21.61. Jackie's Warrior tugged a bit clear of the longshot through a :44.51 half-mile and turned for home in front. The bay was still on cruise control in early stretch, but the field closed in entering the final sixteenth and Joel Rosario shook the reins at Jackie's Warrior. He showed his typical guts and grit, forging clear for a one-length success over a late-flying Letsgetlucky (Munnings).

“Joel [Rosario] let's him do what he wants to do, but he's responded to Joel,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I think that he needed the race and that is apparent. But what a great starting point for a champion.”

Asmussen indicated Jackie's Warrior will make his next start in the GI Churchill Downs S. May 7.

Capturing the GII Pat Day Mile at Churchill May 1 after a failed attempt at two turns in the GIII Southwest S., Jackie's Warrior did all the dirty work in the GI Woody Stephens S. in June, but was overtaken late by Drain the Clock (Maclean's Music), finishing a neck second. A dominant winner of the GII Amsterdam S. next out at Saratoga Aug. 1, the $95,000 KEESEP buy battled next-out GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Life is Good (Into Mischief) stride-for-stride down the Saratoga stretch in the GI H. Allen Jerkens Memorial S. Aug. 28, gamely fending off that foe by a neck in what was arguably the most exciting race of the year. The easiest of winners in the GII Gallant Bob S. at Parx Sept. 25, Jackie's Warrior was favored to take the GI Breeders' Cup Sprint at Del Mar Nov. 6 and led through the first half-mile, but eventually faded to sixth.

Pedigree Notes:

Much has been written of Hill 'n' Dale's stallion Maclean's Music, from his sole brilliant race start that earned a 114 Beyer Speed Figure to his equally quick start at stud with a first-crop Classic winner in GI Preakness S. hero Cloud Computing. But unlike his “one and done” race career, Maclean's Music has continued to churn out the stakes winners, with 25 black-type winners–six graded–to date. In addition to Cloud Computing, Maclean's Music's sons Drain the Clock, Complexity, and Jackie's Warrior are all Grade I winners, with the Count Fleet winner the most productive of the bunch as a three-time GISW and last year's champion male sprinter.

Much has also been written about Jackie's Warrior's dam, Unicorn Girl, from the detailing of her career with Carlo Vaccarezza to what led to her sale at Keeneland November in 2020 for $850,000 to Arthur Hoyeau. The mare has a 2-year-old colt by American Pharoah, who brought $600,000 at the 2020 Keeneland November sale from M.V. Magnier, and a Mar. 18 filly by Into Mischief. Unicorn Girl traces directly to the 1869 blue hen Devotion (GB) (Stockwell {GB}), whose descendants included U.S. Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox and English Triple Crown winner Rock Sand (GB), as well as Classic winners in France and Germany.

Unicorn Girl's sire, the MGSP A. P. Five Hundred, has spent most of his stud career in Chile, but produced a single U.S. crop in 2005, of which Unicorn Girl was a member. Jackie's Warrior is the sole U.S.-bred stakes winner out of his daughters.

Saturday, Oaklawn
COUNT FLEET SPRINT H.-GIII, $500,000, Oaklawn, 4-16, 4yo/up, 6f, 1:09.09, sy.
1–JACKIE'S WARRIOR, 123, c, 4, by Maclean's Music
                1st Dam: Unicorn Girl, by A. P. Five Hundred
                2nd Dam: Horah for Bailey, by Doneraile Court
                3rd Dam: Horah for the Lady, by Rahy
($95,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-Robison, J. Kirk and Robison, Judy;
B-J & J Stables (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen; J-Joel Rosario.
$300,000. Lifetime Record: 13-9-1-1, $1,853,964. Werk Nick
Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Letsgetlucky, 117, g, 4, Munnings–My Cinsation, by Cindago.
1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. O-Brown, Edward Rusty J., Klein,
Alan P. and Lebherz, Philip; B-Premier Thoroughbreds LLC (CA);
T-Brian J. Koriner. $100,000.
3–Chipofftheoldblock, 117, g, 5, Ready's Image–Mizzen My
Momma, by Mizzen Mast. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. O-Penny
Lauer; B-Penny S Lauer & Michael E. Lauer (IN); T-Michael E.
Lauer. $50,000.
Margins: 3/4, 1, 1HF. Odds: 0.50, 18.30, 36.10.
Also Ran: Bob's Edge, Empire of Gold, Mojo Man.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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