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Updated: 22 hours 12 min ago

Colonial Downs Lowers Pick 5 Takeout to 12%

Wed, 2022-06-08 14:20

Colonial Downs has lowered the takeout rate on its Pick 5 wager from 22% to 12% and the bet will offer a carryover provision for the first time. The wager will have a minimum 50-cent base. The Pick 5, which will be offered on the last five races each day, will pay out 100% of its net pool to those bettors correctly selecting all five winners in the sequence. On days when nobody picks all five winners, 25% of the net pool will be paid to those who correctly selected the most winners while the remaining 75% will be carried over to the following day's program.

The Pick 5 highlights a wagering menu that includes early and late Pick 4's, rolling Daily Doubles and rolling Pick 3 wagers starting with the 1:45 p.m. first race each Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The Colonial Downs meet opens July 11.

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Belmont Jockey Colony Autograph Signing Friday to Benefit PDJF

Wed, 2022-06-08 14:12

Members of the Belmont Park jockey colony will participate in an autograph signing Friday to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund (PDJF).

The special meet and greet and autograph session featuring riders from the Belmont jockey colony with a suggested donation to PDJF will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday on the first floor grandstand.

Benefits from the signing will go directly to the PDJF.

The PDJF is an independent charitable organization that provides financial assistance to jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries. For more information about the PDJF, please visit: https://pdjf.org/.

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TAA, KEMI Named Beneficiaries of KTFMC Golf Scramble

Wed, 2022-06-08 12:42

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) and Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) will again be the beneficiary of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club (KTFMC) Challenge Cup Golf Scramble at the University Club of Kentucky. The 30th annual event will be held June 28. Check-in will begin at 11 a.m. and shotgun start at 12 p.m.

Team entries sold out June 7. There will be a first, second, and third place team winner for both courses and an overall champion team decided by a one-hole playoff between the first-place team from each course. Lunch will be provided, and a barbecue dinner will follow the golf scramble.

“It's going to be another great turnout at the Challenge Cup Golf Scramble,” said KTFMC President and Taylor Made Vice President of Boarding & General Farm Manager, Logan Payne. “We're thrilled to welcome the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and Kentucky Equine Management Internship once again as our beneficiaries. Join us for a beautiful day on the links for two important causes.”

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Letter to the Editor: Eric Ward

Wed, 2022-06-08 11:56

I have been following with interest the interviews with Liza Lazarus in the TDN. Excellent stuff, particularly today's piece concerning doping procedures.

I sincerely hope the aptly-named Ms. Lazarus can bring racing back from the dead and I applaud the new transparency of publication of test results along with the accelerated hearing and adjudication timelines. A great step forward.

However, I can't see the advantage of reducing possible sanctions for controlled therapeutic medication offences to make a distinction between such offences and those concerning banned substances.

This is a bit like reducing the penalties for DUI Alcohol, simply to highlight the difference between driving drunk as opposed to driving whilst stoned or under the influence of other Class A narcotics…Such a law would hardly decrease DUI Alcohol cases and the related traffic accidents!

Furthermore, in racing circles, the proposed reduced therapeutic medication sanctions would certainly increase the use of barrel-bottom-scraping excuses like the ones trotted out by certain individuals over the last few years. And that's without even considering the 'cocktail' masking effect that certain PMs might have on administered PEDs.

Eric Ward

Gaillac, France

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Fasig-Tipton’s July Sale Catalogue Released

Wed, 2022-06-08 10:36

The catalogue for The July Sale at Fasig-Tipton will feature 302 selected yearlings and has been published online. The July Sale will be held Tuesday, July 12 at Newtown Paddocks in Lexington, beginning at 10 a.m.

“We look forward to leading off yearling sales season with another strong July catalogue of precocious, athletic yearlings,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “The sale will begin with the Freshman Sire Showcase–a tremendous success last year following its reintroduction–and then transition into the more proven sire-laden segment of the catalogue. We have very strong representation from leading general sires this year.”

The catalogue cover for the sale features recent graduates of both the July Sale and 2020 Selected Yearlings Showcase, Fasig-Tipton's only selected yearling sale in Kentucky that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fasig graduates and GISWs Kalypso (Brody's Cause), Cyberknife (Gun Runner), Grace Adler (Curlin), and Jack Christopher (Munnings) are prominently displayed on the front cover.

“July is the sale to find athletes and the stats bear that out,” said Browning. “Moreover, one only needs to look at this year's catalogue cover to see the strength of graduates generated from Fasig-Tipton's yearling selection process.”

In addition to The July Sale, Fasig-Tipton will also host the July Selected Horses of All Ages Sale Monday, July 11. The sale was recently rebranded to include breeding stock. Nominations are accepted up until sale time.

As well as online at Fasig-Tipton's site, The July Sale catalogue may also be viewed via the Equineline catalogue app. Print catalogues will be available by June 17.

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New Vocations Aiken Show Raises $150,000

Wed, 2022-06-08 10:13

The New Vocations All-Thoroughbred Charity Horse Show, presented by Iris Smith Stables, LLC, has wrapped up its June 3-6 run by raising over $150,000. Held for the second year in Aiken, S.C., the show–which is in its 19th year–nearly doubled the number of horses competing with more than 165 Thoroughbreds from 15 states. All proceeds from the event, which includes classes in a variety of disciplines, go directly to New Vocations to support efforts to rehab, retrain, and rehome retiring racehorses.

“This show is always a true testament to how versatile the Thoroughbred is and how much the show and sport horse communities value this exceptional breed,” said Anna Ford, New Vocations Thoroughbred Program Director. “It was so rewarding to see so many exhibitors travels hundreds of miles to compete, network, and celebrate the Thoroughbred.

“We feel very blessed to have the continued support from our sponsors, the majority of which are Thoroughbred owners, breeders, and industry organizations. We wouldn't be able to put on a show of this caliber without their loyal support.”

New Vocations is in the midst of a year-long 30th anniversary celebration. Planning is already underway for the 2023 show, with more information available at newvocations.org/events as it becomes available.

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NTRA Opens Washington, D.C. Office

Wed, 2022-06-08 09:36

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has officially opened an office in Washington, D.C. NTRA president and CEO Tom Rooney, a former Congressman, has indicated the office will be fully staffed and open for visitors.

“I've been hired and tasked to go to Washington and be the voice of the Thoroughbred racing industry to our nation's policy makers,” said Rooney. “Having spent a decade in Congress, I know how Washington works. The biggest part of that is by showing up and being in person. By opening this office, we'll be able to spend lots of time on the Hill, advocating for the industry, and making the voice of horse racing heard in Washington.”

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Measured OBS June Sale Opens With a $290,000 Topper by Bolt d’Oro

Tue, 2022-06-07 18:37

OCALA, FL – The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's June Sale of 2-Year-Olds opened with a workmanlike session Tuesday as four horses sold for over $200,000, led by a filly by Bolt d'Oro who attracted a final bid of $290,000 from bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, acting on behalf of Greg and Caroline Bentley.

In all, 184 sold Tuesday for a gross of $7,107,500. The average of $38,628 slipped 2.4% from last year's opening session, but the median of $25,500 was up 27.5% from the 2021 sales record-tying figure of $20,000.

With 90 horses reported not sold, Tuesday's buy-back rate was 33.1%. At the close of business after last year's first session, the buy-back rate was 26.7%. It fell to 18.3% with the inclusion of post-sale transactions.

“It's been competitive all year,” Lanni said of the juvenile market. “It's been a very, very tough year. I love coming to June–not for the weather–but this is a typical June sale. They are out there, you just have to try to find them. There is a horse here for everybody. A horse at every level. You just have to get through them all.”

Seven horses topped the $200,000 mark at the 2021 opening session, led by a $425,000 daughter of Practical Joke. During the session, 196 horses grossed $7,756,400 for an average of $39,573 and a median of $20,000.

Tuesday's opening session of the June sale missed a break-out horse when hip 112, a daughter of Into Mischief, RNA'd for $625,000.

The June sale continues through Thursday with bidding beginning each day at 10 a.m.

A Bolt for Runnymede

Bloodstock agent Donato Lanni had been shopping all season long for a filly to purchase for Gregory and Caroline Bentley's Runnymede Farm and the Pennyslvania-based operation finally got on the board Tuesday in Ocala, purchasing a filly by freshman sensation Bolt d'Oro (hip 191) for $290,000 from the Niall Brennan consignment.

“We have been trying really hard all year to buy fillies for them,” Lanni said. “Good fillies are hard to find and they bring a lot. We have struck out all year trying to buy a filly for them.”

The bay filly is out of stakes winner Over the Edge (Thunder Gulch) and is a half to graded placed Top of Mind (Curlin). She worked a furlong in :10 flat during last week's under-tack show.

“This was a good filly,” Lanni said. “Bolt d'Oro made it easy for me to sell it to them. And she's got pedigree. But more importantly, she worked extremely well and she galloped out very well. She came back well. Typically when you do all of those things, it's going to cost a lot.”

The Bentleys, who have been involved in racing since the mid-1990s, won the 2014 GI Arlington Million with Hardest Core (Hard Spun) and were represented in the 2019 GI Preakness S. by multiple stakes winner Alwaysmining (Stay Thirsty). Greg Bentley is CEO of his family's software company, Bentley Systems.

Hip 191 was purchased by Ryston Stables for $75,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.

Candy Ride Filly Heads West

A filly by Candy Ride (Arg) (hip 331) will be joining the Southern California barn of trainer Peter Eurton after selling for $240,000 to Exline-Border Racing.

“Some things just speak for themselves–the page, obviously, and how she breezed,” Justin Border, who did his bidding sitting alongside bloodstock agent Marette Farrell, said of the filly's appeal. “But, really, it's about her mind and how she comported herself all throughout the process. It seems like she was brought up right from the farm and from an excellent breeder. We can tell she's been brought up the right way. We're excited to take her out to California where she can do big things for us.”

The filly, who worked a furlong in :10 1/5, is out of Seaside Escape (Bernardini), a full-sister to multiple Grade I winner Cavorting who is the dam of Grade I winner Clairiere (Curlin).

“Her breeze was very flashy, but at the same time, you could tell she was doing it well within herself, which is something we always look for,” Border said. “A lot of horses have flashy breezes on a surface they'll never run on again the rest of their lives. We're much more interested in how they do it, and she did it the right way. She checked all the boxes for us.”

Bred by Paul Pompa, Jr., the bay sold for $12,000 as part of the late owner/breeder's dispersal at the 2021 Keeneland January sale. She sold to Joseph Klausa's Thoro Ventures for $75,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton October sale and was consigned Tuesday by Juan Centeno's All Dreams Equine.

“She has a very good mind,” Centeno said. “She is lovely and has an excellent pedigree. Everything came together and she performed well. And she was well-received at the barn. You are always nervous and excited at the same time at these sales. But I am very happy for the owner.”

Adios Charlie Filly for FSS Series

A speedy filly by Adios Charlie (hip 116) topped early returns at the OBS June sale when selling for $235,000 to the bid of Michael Sucher's Champion Equine. Consigned by Ocala Stud and bred by the O'Farrells, the bay 2-year-old worked a quarter-mile in a bullet :21 flat. She is out of stakes-placed Miss Melinda (Malibu Moon), a daughter of group-placed Black Escort (Southern Halo).

“She had all the metrics: breeze time, gallop out, vetted perfectly, and she is a beautiful physical horse,” Sucher's advisor Tom McCrocklin said. “Kind of all the things you hear all the time.”

The filly will join the South Florida barn of trainer David Braddy and will have a specific target this summer.

“He is kind of obsessed with winning the Florida Stallion Stakes and she is eligible for that series,” McCrocklin said of Sucher's plans for the filly. “He bought a really nice colt in April. He lives in South Florida and he's very bullish on trying to win those races.”

Sucher purchased a colt by Girvin (hip 112), also from Ocala Stud, for $300,000 at the OBS Spring Sale in April. Now named Commandant, the colt is working steadily at Gulfstream Park.

In addition to his Florida racing stable, Sucher is also an active pinhooker and breeding.

“Pinhooking, racing and breeding,” McCrocklin said of Sucher's Thoroughbred interests. “He owns a lot of mares, too, mostly in Kentucky. He keeps his mares with Martha Jane Mulholland in Kentucky and he bought a lot of broodmares over the last couple of years. So he's evenly distributed between breeding, he will sell some, he will pinhook, and he races as well. He's a great guy, loves the game and I am glad we have him in it.”

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Lazarus on HISA Anti-Doping and Medication Control

Tue, 2022-06-07 17:42

Bit by bit, the pieces of the puzzle are slotting into place for the Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) component of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, set to go into effect at the start of next year.

Last month, that program was designated an agency to officially run it–namely Drug Free Sports International, an organization that has helped administer drug testing programs to a slew of major human sports leagues.

Then, last week, the draft ADMC rules were for put out public comment. These draft rules can be found here.

Adolpho Birch, Chair of HISA's ADMC Committee, concurrently issued a letter outlining the primary changes to the revised ADMC rules as compared to the draft rules previously issued, when the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) appeared set to become HISA's enforcement agency.

In the letter, Birch points out that possible sanctions for controlled therapeutic medication violations have been reduced, to make a clearer distinction between medication offenses where banned substances are administered, and those when controlled therapeutic substances have been given.

Furthermore, in the event of a positive test result and a request for a B sample analysis, someone from the enforcement agency itself will choose the laboratory, which may be a different laboratory from the one that did the initial analysis.

Tuesday morning, HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus held a media Q&A to discuss the draft ADMC rules further. The following is a summary of her comments.

Responsible Persons

Lazarus provided interesting context to the reasons underpinning the need for trainers and owners to maintain daily treatment records for the horses in their care, a basic outline for which can be found here.

The registration system designates a responsible person for each horse. And that in turn places the burden on the responsible trainer or owner to make sure that they keep detailed records and documentation–essentially, run a “tight ship,” as Lazarus put it.

In the event of a medication violation, therefore, the HISA Authority can request these documents and records, “and those records can become part of the case,” said Lazarus.

In relation to this, Lazarus also expanded on HISA's “whereabouts” program, which essentially ensures that all horses under HISA's remit are accounted for at all times.

In the first phase of the whereabouts program, set to go into effect early next year, responsible persons are required to submit a whereabouts filing if they remove a horse from a racetrack or registered facility.

In other words, said Lazarus, “If you take a horse to a private facility or a private farm, you have to notify us.” And there are possible penalties for non-compliance, including potential fines for failure to submit a whereabouts filing.

However, failure to produce a horse for drug testing results in a presumptive two-year violation (pending a hearing), irrespective of any test result.

“If you take a horse off a public racetrack where we know where the horse is, you don't tell us where the horse is with the whereabouts filing, we look for the horse, we reach out to the Covered Person–we're going to have access to all of this through our database–and they don't produce [the horse] immediately for testing, then, it's a presumptive two-year penalty,” said Lazarus.

Ultimately, said Lazarus, the plan is for a system in place that identifies the whereabouts of any covered horse at any time.

“But one of the things we want to understand and see is whether or not we can really just mine that data from existing resources without putting a paperwork burden on participants,” she said.

Case Management

Before diving into this section, there are some important nomenclature changes to note, as compared to the previous draft rules' use of “primary” and “secondary” substances.

Under these revised draft rules, “prohibited substances” is an umbrella term for anything that shouldn't be in a horse on race day. Banned substances refers to doping substances, while controlled medications are essentially therapeutic substances.

A list of banned and controlled substances, along with possible sanctions in the event of a positive test result, can be found here.

Lazarus provided a snap-shot of the case management process.

In the event a horse tests positive for a banned substance like a steroid, an anabolic agent or a growth hormone, the responsible person is immediately suspended until a hearing takes place.

“The presumption is that this is a two-year sanction,” said Lazarus.

However, that two-year sanction can be reduced if the responsible person can show “no fault or no significant fault,” said Lazarus, adding how any penalty reduction is predicated upon the responsible person proving how the substance got into the horse's system in the first place.

“So, for example, if you're in a situation of a steroid [positive] and you want to argue that somebody gave the horse a steroid without your knowledge, you have to actually prove that [scenario] to the confidence and satisfaction of the hearing panel,” said Lazarus, who also explained how there will be potential four-year bans in the event of “aggravating circumstances” like trafficking, evading sample collection and tampering with samples.

Public Disclosure of Test Results

Under USADA's version of the ADMC program, one rather controversial component concerned how A samples results weren't necessarily going to be automatically disclosed to the public.

But Lazarus pointed to a change of tune, with A sample results now indeed set to be made available online.

“You'll know the covered person, covered horse, and the substance that was detected in the sample,” she said. “You'll be able to follow the case essentially as it goes through the various steps. [For example,] if there's a hearing to lift a suspension that'll be recorded, the decision will be recorded,” she added.

Shortened Adjudication Timelines

The timeline to hear and adjudicate cases will be “incredibly reduced” when compared to the current model at the individual state level, said Lazarus.

After a hearing, for example, the arbitrator will have to issue a decision within 14 days. In the appeals process, defendants have 30 days to file an appeal to the charges, and then, a hearing must happen within 60 days after initial notice.

When asked if the tightened system provides adequate time for defendants to mount a fair defense–especially in complex cases–Lazarus said that cases will be adjudicated on an individual basis, with wriggle room given in “exceptional circumstances” so as not to compromise due process.

That said, the truncated timeline–along with any provisional suspension in the event of a banned substance violation–could also act as an incentivizing lever, said Lazarus.

“If you're dealing with a two-year penalty and it's a banned substance, you're going to be suspended during the case processing scheduling period, and so they're probably going to be very motivated to have it heard quickly as well, so, it also protects the participants,” she said.

Registration Numbers

According to Lazarus, nearly half the horses and covered persons who need to be registered by July 1 have done so. However, racing offices will soon provide a “can't race flag” if a horse that is entered to race is not registered with HISA, she said.

This is intended more as a prompt, said Lazarus, as it won't necessarily affect the horse's eligibility to race, just as long as that horse is, indeed, registered by July 1.

Drug Testing

The actual ADMC testing program is still being developed, said Lazarus, and so, specifics are thin.

That said, in the past various officials have suggested that under HISA, all winners won't necessarily be tested post-race–something of a departure from the current model.

Lazarus indicated, however, that indeed, the post-race drug testing net could still accommodate all winners.

“We're trying to balance a robust testing program that has a deterrent effect with the intelligence-based advantages you get from looking at intelligence metrics,” said Lazarus.

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Breeders’ Cup Members Elected

Tue, 2022-06-07 16:56

A total of 20 individuals were elected to serve as Breeders' Cup Members, it was announced Tuesday. Voting for the 2022 Member election by Breeders' Cup 2021 foal and stallion nominators was concluded at 5:00 p.m. ET June 6.

The following individuals, listed alphabetically, received the most votes from the Breeders' Cup nominators to fill 20 Member seats. Each Member will serve a four-year term: Rory Babich, Antony Beck, Gatewood Bell, Case Clay, Alan Cooper, Everett Dobson, William S. Farish, Jr., H. Greg Goodman, Jonathan Green, Fred W. Hertrich, III, Jak Knelman, M.V. Magnier, Pope McLean, Jr., Gavin Murphy, Garrett O'Rourke, Mike Pons, Daisy Phipps Pulito, Jaime Roth, Tom Ryan and Shunsuke Yoshida.

“It is my pleasure to congratulate our new and re-elected Members who will be serving the Breeders' Cup over the next four years,” said Barbara Banke, Breeders' Cup Chair. “In concert with current Members, we will be seeking their insights and expertise in our continued efforts to enhance the Breeders' Cup World Championships, our racing programs, and the safety and integrity for all those who participate in Thoroughbred racing.”

The Breeders' Cup Members are elected every other year by Breeders' Cup foal and stallion nominators through a proportional voting system based on the level of nominations paid to the organization. There are a total of 39 elected Breeders' Cup Members. The Members meet each July and elect individuals to the Breeders' Cup Board of Directors, which oversees the activities of the organization.

The online portion of the Breeders' Cup Director election will begin on July 1 and conclude on July 8. The voting results will be announced following the annual meeting of the Breeders' Cup Members on July 14.

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$1.5m Zayat Settlement to Make Small Dent in Overall $19m Debt

Tue, 2022-06-07 16:35

The trustee in Ahmed Zayat's personal bankruptcy case has negotiated a $1.5-million settlement to be paid by the debtor's brother, Sherif Zayat, that a court document stated will “resolve all claims and causes of action” related to the multiple mortgages on Zayat's home.

The motion for approval of that settlement, if so ordered by a judge in a New Jersey federal bankruptcy court July 6, doesn't mean the end to the complicated, now 21-month-long Chapter 7 petition by the allegedly insolvent former Thoroughbred owner and breeder.

But it does mean some of that $1.5 million might trickle down to creditors once the case gets fully settled.

As an attorney for trustee Donald Biase put it in his June 6 court filing, the settlement will “provide a benefit for the Debtor's estate, which was otherwise uncertain.”

The settlement documents were filed exactly seven years and one day after Zayat's superstar homebred American Pharoah swept the 2015 Triple Crown.

The $19-million debt question for Thoroughbred trainers, horse farms, bloodstock businesses, veterinarians, and equine transportation companies who are among the 132 entities listed as non-secured creditors still hasn't changed much.

That's because the money owed to them is in the form of “non-priority unsecured claims,” which puts those people and businesses far down in the pecking order for repayment of Zayat's debts.

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy laws, non-priority unsecured claims are at the bottom of the hierarchy to get paid–if they get paid at all–once a trustee liquidates assets and discharge debts. They get ranked behind “secured” loans in which property is pledged as collateral, like with liens and mortgages.

The June 6 filing stated that there are five known first-, second- and third-mortgage loans secured by Zayat's 7,714-square-foot home and two adjacent lots in Teaneck, New Jersey.

However, the same document stated that three of those mortgages–which were made by friends and family members and not lending institutions or banks–would be considered by the trustee as “avoidable transfers,” which means that they can be canceled and the proceeds returned to the estate for distribution to creditors. Avoidable transfers can also lead to fraud charges.

One of those property-secured loans that Biase wrote was “avoidable” was for $500,000 from the Egypt-based Sherif Zayat.

That loan was recorded as a mortgage with a New Jersey county clerk Sept. 2, 2020–six days before Ahmed Zayat filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection while claiming that he had only $300 in cash and $14.22 in two checking accounts.

On September 14, 2020, an involuntary bankruptcy petition was initiated against Zayat's family racing business, Zayat Stables, LLC. That case is separate from this personal bankruptcy case, although many of the racing-related creditors overlap in both cases.

In a riches-to-rags case brimming with fraud allegations since its onset, Biase's filing stated that he has attempted to trace the tangled web of Zayat family finances via the “issuance of numerous Rule 2004 Subpoenas, reviewing thousands of pages of documents, including bank statements and tax returns, and conducting Rule 2004 depositions and extensive motion practice, including numerous motions to obtain access to the Debtor's real property, and the contents of same, by my appraisers.”

Beyond not having his Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection granted by the court if he isn't being truthful, Zayat faces a possible federal investigation and/or charges if the U.S. Department of Justice believes crimes have been committed.

Biase has repeatedly claimed the Zayat and his family have hindered his investigation with evasive tactics and non-compliance.

Zayat has consistently denied that he has engaged in any illegal activity or that he is hiding money. He has also insisted that neither he nor his family members are trying to obstruct the work of either of the trustees who are assigned to vet his personal finances and business operations.

The June 6 filing revealed one new nugget about Ahmed Zayat that had not been previously contended: “The Debtor has an ownership interest in a farm located in Egypt,” the Biase filing stated.

If true, it is unclear whether that alleged property interest could be also attached as an asset to pay creditors. The filing did not elaborate either way.

The settlement document, which was signed by all parties May 26, stated that “the Debtor, the Zayat Parties, and Sherif, and any entity they have an interest in shall waive any claim against the Debtor's estate [and] the Parties shall have released each other from any and all claims and causes of action and the Trustee shall be deemed to have abandoned the Debtor's estate's interest in the NJ Property pursuant to Section 554 of the Bankruptcy Code.”

Biase's filing stated that this type of settlement was preferable to continuing to fight the matter in court and/or by forcing a sale of the real estate.

“Though the Trustee believes that he would likely prevail on the claims against the Debtor, the Zayat Parties, and Sherif, the Trustee wishes to settle the claims, in order to save the Debtor's estate time and money that would otherwise be spent on litigation of the claims,” the filing stated.

“With respect to the NJ Property, even if the Trustee could obtain an offer of $4.8 million and avoid [the three mortgages with individuals] after deducting the first and second mortgages totaling $3.4 million and the broker's commission of $240,000, there would be non-exempt net equity in the approximate amount of $580,000…” the filing stated.

“This amount also does not include the Debtor's potential homestead exemption, the cost and time to seek approval under [the] Bankruptcy Code to sell the NJ Property, and the time and cost to avoid the [individual mortgages],” the filing stated.

“The Settlement Amount of $1.5 million greatly exceeds the potential non-exempt equity in the NJ Property,” the filing summed up.

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Rich Strike Was on Vet’s List, But Reed Says It’s No Big Deal

Tue, 2022-06-07 16:14

Rich Strike (Keen Ice), the winner of the GI Kentucky Derby and a starter in the upcoming GI Belmont S., was placed on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's veterinarian's list May 22 and did not come off the list until last Sunday. However, trainer Eric Reed reports that the horse's presence on the vet's list is not a cause for concern.

“He was on there because of routine stuff that we had a chiropractor work on,” Reed said “In Kentucky, with anything like that you have to report it to them. You have to report everything and I think it's going to get even stricter with HISA about to come in.”

Reed said that chiropractic work has been a part of Rich Strike's routine between races.

“We work on his back constantly,” Reed said. “He's a big muscular horse and it's part of what we do. We worked on him before the Derby as well. This is not a big deal at all. Beyond a doubt, he's fine and will be ready to go Saturday.”

Reed said this was the only time Rich Strike had appeared on the vet's list.

While still on the list, Rich Strike worked five furlongs between races at Churchill Downs May 30 in :59 flat.

To have a Kentucky Derby winner go on the vet's list just 15 days after his victory, does raise some questions. Why would a horse appear on the list after what seems like a routine matter? Do all horses that undergo chiropractic work have to appear on the vet's list? How long must they be on the list and what needs to happen for them to get off the list?

Answers were not forthcoming as it is the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's policy not to disclose any information about horses that make it onto the vet's list.

“The Commission does not discuss medical records and that includes veterinary records,” said Commission spokesperson Kristin Voskuhl.

Prior to the Derby, Derby starters Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo), Charge It (Tapit) and Barber Road (Race Day) had spent time on the Kentucky list.

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Indiana Thoroughbred Alliance Creates Breeders Crisis Fund

Tue, 2022-06-07 12:10

The Indiana Thoroughbred Alliance (ITA) has created a crisis fund for Indiana Thoroughbred breeders.

“When you're faced with a disaster, it's more the aftermath that hits you the hardest,” says ITA board member Christine Cagle, who was faced with such a disaster this past winter. “You feel so alone and drowning. Yet, we're so proud that we don't want to ask for help.”

Last month, Christine and her husband, Vince, hosted a large gathering at Cedar Creek Winery and Brewery in Martinsville, Indiana, as a thank you for all the help and support the couple received when their farm was consumed by a fire. The event highlighted the meaning of family, support and small business, thanks to food donated by Maple Grove Market, a silent auction, pie contest and pie-in-the-face contest. All the proceeds from the afternoon went towards the ITA to help create a crisis fund for the future.

The event raised almost $5,000, a small drop in the bucket for some, but a big boost should someone need it.

“A lot of the small breeders don't have health insurance or sufficient savings, should something happen, which is why we wanted to create something like this,” says Cagle.

More events are in the works to help raise more money for the crisis fund as the ITA board works to develop a plan for applications and distribution.

“Hoosiers are known for their hospitality and making things work, so doing something so we can stand up and say, 'Here's a little bit of something to help ease the pain. How else can we help you?' is just one way we can support each other,” said Tony Wolfe, DVM, president of the ITA.

More information regarding the Indiana Thoroughbred Breeders Crisis Fund will be made available later this summer and can be found on the ITA website. For more information, follow the ITA on social media.

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Rail-Drawn We the People Favored for Belmont Stakes; Derby Winner Rich Strike Third Choice

Tue, 2022-06-07 11:40

ELMONT, NY — With GI Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike (Keen Ice) exiting from post four, a field of eight was drawn Tuesday morning for Saturday's 154th GI Belmont Stakes.

The historic, come-from-behind 80-1 Derby upsetter heads to the final leg of the Triple Crown fresh after breaking the norm and skipping the GI Preakness S. He has been installed as the third choice on the morning line at odds of 7-2.

The $30,000 claim-to-fame will attempt to be the first non-Triple Crown winner to capture both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont since Thunder Gulch (Gulch) in 1995.

“He's doing really good since he's been here, he's training better every day,” trainer Eric Reed, seated alongside owner Richard Dawson, said at Tuesday's well-attended post-position draw from Belmont's Triple Crown Lounge. “I don't think the pace will be nearly as fast. He's still probably going to drop back, that's just his style of running. Turning for home, if he's close enough, he'll have a real good shot at it. It's definitely not a race where you want to come from way, way back. But we've tried a couple of times to get him going early and it didn't work.”

The pace of the 1 1/2-mile Classic is expected to come from the rail-drawn, 2-1 morning-line favorite 'TDN Rising Star' We the People (Constitution), a runaway, front-running winner in a sloppy renewal of the local prep GIII Peter Pan S.

With some wet weather in the weekend forecast, any chance we see trainer Rodolphe Brisset doing a rain dance?

“I'm a bad dancer,” Brisset responded to NYRA's Andy Serling to plenty of laughs. “Obviously, if it ends up raining, we won't be sad by it. But if it stays dry, we'll be fine, too.”

Tonalist (Tapit) is the last to pull off the Peter Pan-Belmont S. double in 2014. Peter Pan runner-up Sir Winston (Awesome Again) followed up to bring home the white carnations in 2019.

Just as he did with Belmont S. winner Creator (Tapit) prior to the 2016 renewal, celebrity chef Bobby Flay joined the ownership line of WinStar Farm, CMNWLTH and Siena Farm on Monday, acquiring an undisclosed interest in We the People.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will have two chances at collecting a fourth Belmont trophy.

Donegal Racing and Repole Stable's Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) (post six), a rallying fifth from far back with an impossible trip in the Derby, was tabbed as the 5-2 second choice. He previously defeated subsequent GI Preakness S. winner Early Voting (Gun Runner) in dramatic fashion in the GII Wood Memorial S. Empire Maker (Unbridled) was the last to record wins in both the Wood Memorial and Belmont in 2003.

His stablemate Nest (Curlin) (post three), campaigned in partnership by Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House, takes on the boys following a runner-up effort in the GI Kentucky Oaks. Pletcher, of course, trained the brilliant filly Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy) to defeat Nest's sire, the mighty Curlin, in a Belmont S. for the ages in 2007.

Trainer Kenny McPeek, responsible for 2002 70-1 longshot winner Sarava (Wild Again), will saddle lightly raced Creative Minister (Creative Cause) (post five). The gray has created a Triple Crown series of his own this spring, scoring in an optional claimer on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 7 and finishing third at 10-1 in the Preakness, respectively.

From the rail out, the complete field for the 154th GI Belmont S.:

1-We the People (Constitution) (2-1)

2-Skippylongstocking (Exaggerator) (20-1)

3-Nest (Curlin) (8-1)

4-Rich Strike (Keen Ice) (7-2)

5-Creative Minister (Creative Cause) (6-1)

6-Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) (5-2)

7-Golden Glider (Ghostzapper) (20-1)

8-Barber Road (Race Day) (10-1)

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2023 Eclipse Awards to Be Held at The Breakers Palm Beach

Tue, 2022-06-07 11:17

The 52nd annual Eclipse Awards, honoring Thoroughbred racing's human and equine champions of 2022, will be held Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at The Breakers Palm Beach, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) announced Tuesday.

Originally built in 1896, The Breakers remains one of America's legendary resort destinations. Renowned for its seaside glamour and world-class service, the 538-room, Italian Renaissance-style hotel resides on 140 acres of oceanfront property in the heart of Palm Beach.
VIP pre-sale for tickets the black-tie Eclipse Awards will begin on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, and general ticket sales will begin Monday, Nov. 14, 2022.

To stay up to date on the 52nd annual Eclipse Awards and for more information, visit https://www.ntra.com/eclipse-awards/.

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HISA Questions and Answers: Part Two

Mon, 2022-06-06 19:35

This last week has witnessed a flurry of developments and information drops as the countdown to July 1–the official take-off for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA)–continues apace.

Just last Friday, for example, HISA representatives fielded questions in an online industry forum, while the law's draft Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) rules have been issued for public comment.

HISA's official website can be found here, while the online registration portal can be found here.

Aside from providing a cheat sheet to help guide industry participants through the launch, TDN has been fielding unanswered questions that industry participants have about the process to register, and about the new playing field come July 1, forwarding them to HISA for response.

TDN published the first batch of questions last week. The latest batch is posted below, and includes this registration warning:

“Beginning July 1, 2022, horses will not be allowed to run in a race if the trainer has not registered the horse with HISA.”

Some of the following questions have been edited for brevity and clarity. If any submitted questions aren't answered here, we will endeavor to include them in the next batch.

Question: My question concerns horses at a farm or a lay-up facility. While it doesn't look like everyone employed at one of these places will need to be registered as a covered person, some of these people (like farm managers and veterinarians) will have a lot of responsibility over prescribed medications and veterinary treatments given to the horses in their care. 

I see that there are important lay-up and treatment records that need to be made available to HISA. And so, if some of the people administering treatments and medications at a farm or facility aren't registered as “covered persons” under HISA, who's going to be ultimately responsible for what goes on there? The trainers? The owners?

HISA: You're correct, most of the employees who work at farms and lay-up facilities are not required to register with HISA. Employees that are licensed with a State Racing Commission and work directly with covered horses are required to register with HISA. For example, if a veterinarian is licensed by a state racing commission and is treating a covered horse at a lay-up facility, he/she is required to register with HISA.

The responsible person, usually the trainer, must obtain and maintain all exercise and medication treatment records for horses that are at farms, lay-up facilities and training centers. In the circumstances that the trainer is not the responsible person for the horse, the owner will be responsible for maintaining all exercise and medication treatment records for horses that are at farms and lay-up facilities.

Q: According to the jockey whip rule, in certain violations, the owner loses the purse. My understanding is that it's just the purse that's lost, while the horse keeps its place. If that's correct, where will the purse money go?

H: There are three classes of jockey crop use violations. Class 1 violations do not result in a loss of purse. If a crop violation is a Class 2 or Class 3 violation, the horse will be disqualified from purse earnings.

HISA's Racetrack Safety Committee will provide guidance on how that purse money will be used/allocated in the coming weeks.

Q: What if I am confused by the new regulations and I was supposed to register, but I don't? What are the consequences? And who enforces them?

H: Beginning July 1, 2022, horses will not be allowed to run in a race if the trainer has not registered the horse with HISA.

HISA is focused on getting as many people and horses as possible registered before July 1. This includes educating, assisting and engaging with stakeholders across the industry to ensure everyone is well-informed and well-equipped to get registered as soon as possible.

Q: Once we register ourselves, with our physical address being one of the requirements, we are authorizing the 'Authority' free access to our homes/farms. Please can you explain in detail why?

H: HISA will always exercise its authority in good faith and for the benefit of the sport. The Act passed by Congress provides that the Authority shall develop uniform procedures and rules authorizing “access to offices, racetrack facilities, other places of business, books, records, and personal property of covered persons that are used in the care, treatment, training, and racing of covered horses.”

Our original regulation stated: The Authority “[s]hall have free access to the books, records, offices, racetrack facilities, and other places of business of Covered Persons that are used in the care, treatment, training, and racing of Covered Horses, and to the books, records, offices, facilities, and other places of business of any person who owns a Covered Horse or performs services on a Covered Horse.”

The FTC in approving the Enforcement Rules noted that commentators who objected to this rule were really objecting to the Act since our rule tracked the Act. Despite the rule being approved by the FTC, we have revised the rule and will be sending the revisions to the FTC in the next few days. The relevant rule now states:

(1) Shall have free access to:

(i) with regard to Covered Persons, books, records, offices, racetrack facilities, and other places of business of Covered Persons that relate to the care, treatment, training, and racing of Covered Horses, and

(ii) with regard to any person who owns a Covered Horse or performs services on a Covered Horse, books, records, offices, facilities, and other places of business that relate to the care, treatment, training, and racing of Covered Horses.

Even if the revised rules are not approved by the FTC by July 1, 2022, HISA will abide by these portions of the amended regulations.

And finally, it is important to note that the language that Congress utilized is not novel. For example, current Kentucky law utilizes similar language as HISA's original regulation. It states:

“The racing commission, its representatives and employees, may visit, investigate and have free access to the office, track, facilities, or other places of business of any licensee, or any person owning a horse or performing services regulated by this chapter on a horse registered to participate in a breeders incentive fund under the jurisdiction of the racing commission.”

Q: Rule 8400 Investigatory Powers section a) subsection 1). This rule also allows HISA to seize “medication, drugs, paraphernalia, or substance in violation or suspected violation of the 'Authority,” along with all your books and files.

In every state, it's against the rules for any person not a vet to have injectables, needles, and syringes on the track. But under this rule, if you're in a rural area (which most farms, by definition, are) and have such perfectly legal medications on your property to treat your horses in an emergency when a vet may be hours away from you, you would be in violation of the “Authority's” rules and subject to seizure, fines, and suspension of racing privileges.

If accurate, this makes absolutely no sense, so please can you provide the reasons behind this?

H: HISA's regulations regarding hypodermic needles and syringes apply to Covered Racetracks and Covered Training Facilities. These regulations do not apply to farms.

Q: Under the “Authority's” revised rules (not yet submitted to the FTC) weekends and holidays are no longer “working days” and won't be considered “counted” days. If I'm reading this right, if you receive a five-day suspension starting Tuesday, you cannot return to work on Sunday because it's not a “working day”? And by waiting until Monday, you will have served six days? In horse racing, every day is a working day!

H: This is incorrect. The new provisions for calculation of time addresses only the response dates set forth in the Enforcement Rules.

For example, it makes clear that if an individual is given a certain number of days to file an appeal or file a brief and that day falls on a holiday or weekend then the deadline is the next working day. The calculation of time rule in the Enforcement Rules has nothing to do with the numbers of days someone serves for a suspension.

Additionally, this method of calculating time helps horsemen by giving them extra days to respond and not requiring them to count weekends which are often busy race days.

Q: I read the Q&A, and the answer to who needs to register says someone who works regularly in the stable area. Others who have access but don't work in the stable in the normal course of their job do not have to be registered. Access to the stable is still controlled by state commission licensing. This clears it up except their site says the complete opposite. Their site says any employee who has any access to the stables must register. Can you please try to clarify the clarification which clarified nothing?

H: This language has been updated on the HISA website. To be clear: you must register as a Covered Person if you are licensed by a State Racing Commission, unless you have no contact with Covered Horses and you do not have access to the restricted areas of a racetrack in the ordinary course of carrying out your duties. This means that if your job does not regularly require you to access the stable area in the normal course of your work, you are not required to register. Examples of other persons who do not need to register include, but are not limited to: vendors of goods or services and racetrack employees or contractors who do not have access to restricted areas (i.e. food service providers, ticket takers, mutuel employees, etc.). EVERYONE ELSE MUST REGISTER AS A COVERED PERSON.

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CDI: Baffert ‘Broke Rules, Must Bear Consequences’

Mon, 2022-06-06 19:05

Just days after the one-year anniversary of Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI)'s, ruling-off of trainer Bob Baffert over his repeated equine medication violations, the gaming corporation that controls the GI Kentucky Derby swatted back at the Hall of Fame trainer in federal court in an attempt to get a judge to dismiss a lawsuit initiated by Baffert that aims to reverse the two-year ban.

“For the past eleven months, Bob Baffert has tried to dodge accountability for drugging Medina Spirit,” CDI wrote in a reply brief filed June 6 in United States District Court (Western District of Kentucky, Louisville Division).

“He has brought legal challenges around the country, all of which have ended in failure,” the filing continued. “The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and the New York Racing Association (NYRA)–organizations Baffert admits have 'no skin in the game'–have independently reached the same conclusion as CDI: Baffert broke the rules and must bear the consequences.”

Baffert, whose horses have crossed the finish wire first in the Derby a record seven times, was declared unwelcome to race in the Derby or at any CDI-controlled property through the 2023 spring meet after post-race tests revealed his 2021 Derby winner, Medina Spirit, tested positive for betamethasone.

The CDI ban is separate from the under-appeal, 90-day suspension Baffert is currently serving for the Class C drug infraction ruling that was handed down in February by the KHRC.

“In this Court, Baffert has failed to defend the legal sufficiency of his complaint, and this lawsuit should meet the same fate as all his others,” CDI's filing stated.

The filing continued: “None of this misdirection works…. Baffert's lawsuit is a desperate and baseless attack on CDI's right to protect the integrity, reputation, and safety of the races it hosts. The Court should dismiss his complaint.”

Baffert doesn't see it that way. The federal lawsuit he filed Feb. 28 against CDI, its chief executive, Bill Carstanjen, and corporate board chair, Alex Rankin, alleged that Churchill Downs is actually a “municipal park” that counts as “public property,” and that CDI is purportedly restraining his ability to participate in interstate commerce.

Baffert also took umbrage with CDI's supposed “usurping” of the powers of the state racing commission to police the sport, and he alleged a “conspiracy” by CDI's higher-ups to “deprive [his clients] of their freedom to select their chosen trainer for their Derby horses while leaving the licenses of their own trainers unencumbered.”

CDI, in its June 6 rebuttal, described Baffert's legal approach as “free-wheeling,” adding that “he offers a jumble of factors that might bear on state action, propounding six different formulations in a single perplexing paragraph. The Sixth Circuit does not take this approach. It holds plaintiffs 'must prove' state action under one of three tests established by the Supreme Court.”

They are, according to CDI:

The Function Test–“Baffert fails to allege facts showing that horse racing has been 'traditionally and exclusively performed' by 'the government' in Kentucky.”

The Compulsion Test–“Baffert has not plausibly alleged that Kentucky compelled CDI to suspend him.”

The Nexus Test–“Baffert drains the thesaurus in offering various proposed formulations of state action, but he cannot satisfy the nexus test, which requires showing Kentucky was 'a joint participant in the challenged activity.'”

As for Baffert's assertion that Churchill Downs is a public space because CDI 20 years ago transferred its flagship Louisville facility to the city and then leased back the land as part of a lucrative redevelopment financing deal, CDI wrote that the track “is not a public park, and there is no constitutional right to race in the Derby or [GI Kentucky] Oaks. Baffert…remains free to attend races at the Racetrack, [but] there is no 'liberty interest' in competing in horse races at a privately operated track.”

The CDI filing continued: “Baffert has not even pled a coherent theory as to how the suspension restrained trade…. Even if the suspension could be deemed a restraint of trade under some other theory Baffert does not articulate, it would be evaluated under the rule of reason…which would require Baffert to establish that Defendants have market power.

“Here, however, Baffert does not even allege that CDI or Carstanjen compete in a 'horse breeding' market, let alone have market power in it.”
The filing continued: “As to Rankin, the complaint contains no plausible factual allegations that he exerts power over the purported market, nor could it, given that Rankin is just one among a universe of horse breeders in the United States and is not even alleged to have ever run a horse in the Derby or Oaks.”

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Feds Having Trouble Designating Prison for Jordan Fishman

Mon, 2022-06-06 17:35

Jordan Fishman, the convicted Massachusetts-based drug formulator who made illicit substances that were later injected into racehorses, got sentenced to 15 months back on Feb. 8 after pleading guilty in the wide-ranging international horse doping conspiracy.

But nearly four months later, Fishman still hasn't been incarcerated because the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has twice lagged in telling him to which federal facility he's supposed to surrender.

On Monday, for the second time within the past six weeks, his attorney wrote a letter to the judge handling the case to inform him that it's now three days before the date Fishman is supposed to turn himself in, but he still hasn't heard anything from the BOP.

Patrick Joyce, Fishman's lawyer, had articulated essentially the same concern back on Apr. 25 in United States District Court (Southern District of New York). Fishman's original reporting date had been May 9, but the judge pushed the surrender date back one month because of the lack of assignment.

In general, prisoners who are scheduled for self-reporting get at least several weeks of lead time about where they're supposed to serve their sentences so they can make any necessary arrangements about getting there or inform the prison about medical needs.

“It is most important that Mr. Fishman be permitted to contact the facility to which he is designated prior to his incarceration,” Joyce wrote. “We are hoping to supply the facility with a list of foods to which Mr. Fishman is allergic. Mr. Fishman has a significant reaction to most fruits, and anything containing gluten. His exposure to these things causes a variety of serious health issues. (Severe GI issues, headaches, and anaphylactic reaction).

“For these reasons, Defendant respectfully requests that the Court adjourn Jordan's surrender date until August 9, 2022, before 2 PM, or until 14 days after he has been notified of his designation, whichever date occurs later,” Joyce wrote.

Back in October, Fishman, 64, had pleaded guilty to one count of adulterating and misbranding purportedly performance-enhancing drugs.
Jordan Fishman is unrelated to-but had a professional working relationship with-Seth Fishman, the convicted veterinarian who is awaiting his own sentencing from the same series of arrests and faces 20 years in prison for his role in the horse-doping conspiracy.

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CKRH to Auction Off Stars’ Halters As Part of June 18 Gala Fundraiser

Mon, 2022-06-06 17:10

Central Kentucky Riding for Hope (CKRH), a non-profit therapeutic riding program, is celebrating the return of its Night of the Stars gala in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion June 18, 2022, which will include dinner, silent & live auctions and a simulated Thoroughbred auction that gives guests the opportunity to sponsor a CKRH rider and program horse team for the coming year. Tickets to the event and more information can be found here.

Nearly 250 items are now available for online bidding, including:

  • 19 halters worn by various Thoroughbred superstars such as Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify, champion Arrogate and 2022 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath. Each halter comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.
  • A signed 1992 NCAA Elite Eight basketball from the iconic Kentucky-Duke game memorialized by Christian Laettner's buzzer-beating shot.
  • Box stall equine transport by Salle Horse Vans from Lexington, KY to Ocala, FL.
  • Corporate box for 2022 or 2023 race meets at Churchill Downs.
  • An equine oil painting by the late renowned animalier Count Bernard de Claviere.
  • Unique experiences such a personal helicopter tour or a variety of premium Kentucky bourbons.

For additional details or questions, contact Jeannie Brewer at (859) 231-7066 x 32.

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Churchill to Cut Back On Usage of New Turf Course

Mon, 2022-06-06 16:56

Churchill Downs will be curtailing usage of its newly installed $10-million turf course for the remainder of the meet by capping grass races to a maximum of two per day and moving 19 races listed in condition books two and three to the main dirt track.

The news arrived Sunday in the form of a note on the overnight for the June 10 races. On Monday, Churchill's senior director of communications, Darren Rogers, explained the reasoning to TDN via email.

“We've decided it's best to limit turf racing to two races per day for the remainder of the Spring Meet (starting June 11) to allow the new turf course to continue to mature and become more robust,” Rogers wrote. “We've had good, open dialogue with the riders. The grass has been cut short to promote the continued root growth. We've had the flexibility to adjust the temporary rail positions to four different lanes. We have complete confidence it'll be more robust for additional turf racing later this year with just a little more time.”

Trainers contacted by TDN weren't exactly overjoyed to learn that grass racing would be limited. But they weren't panicking, either, and seemed to accept the short-term hassle as a tradeoff for healthier turf opportunities in the future.

“I applaud them for doing that,” said trainer Ian Wilkes, who has won two Churchill turf races from 16 starters at the current meet. “If anything, the turf hasn't quite settled in as good with this hot weather coming. I think it's great. It's fine. It's going to be a tremendous turf course, but it's just very new right now.”

Asked if he thought the reduction in grass racing was more of a course-preservation effort or a safety concern for horses and jockeys, Wilkes said, “I think it's a combination of both. Some horses are struggling over it. But you've got to take care of the course. It's smart what they're doing.”

Trainer Wesley Ward, who is stabled at Keeneland Race Course, has a 2-for-12 record with Churchill grass horses this season. He said he was “kind of bummed out” to learn of the decision.

“The majority of my barn are grass horses. And with the purses that they've giving away, you certainly want to take advantage of those big pots that they've got. And when those opportunities are limited, it's never a good thing,” Ward said.

Asked what specific problem he believes Churchill is trying to address by limiting grass racing, Ward replied, “That I can't help you with. Each and every horse that I've brought over to work and run, they all come out of the races the same way they went in. I, personally, have not had any issues. My horses have been 100% sound with that grass course. Others may not feel the same.”

Ward continued: “I'm not trying to build up [Churchill], because I utilize their grass course in the mornings, which they're very kind to let me do that. But all my horses have been perfect and I would have no problems going over this week to breeze or run on it.”

Trainer George “Rusty” Arnold II, whose 5-for-19 turf record at the current Churchill meet includes a Grade III stakes score, also indicated his horses have had “no issues” with the safety of the course.

“I've been very fortunate, won a couple of nice races on it this year,” Arnold said. “No injuries, no problems whatsoever. [The reduction] really won't bother us a lot.”

Terry Meyocks, the president and chief executive officer of the Jockeys' Guild, confirmed to TDN that Churchill had consulted with the riding colony before making the decision to cut back on turf racing, adding that he believed the jockeys had not brought up any specific safety concerns.

“It's just that it's a new turf course and needs time. [The jockeys] thought that was the best thing to do for everybody,” Meyocks said.
Churchill management had been careful not to overuse the new course from the outset of the meet that began Apr. 30. Even GI Kentucky Derby Day itself, with a 14-race card, featured only four grass races.

During the most recent racing week, Churchill carded two turf races Thursday, then three per day Friday through Sunday, all over “firm” conditions.

Wilkes said there will soon be plenty of grass options available at other tracks.

“Getting into the summer, Indiana's got grass. You've got Colonial coming up next month. Ellis is coming. There are plenty of options, plus Saratoga's coming. It's not the end of the world. You might have to wait on one horse for a few weeks, but that's not a bad thing,” Wilkes said.

Ward was similarly philosophical.

“Well, we've only got a couple of weeks until the meet's over anyway, right? If they're scrapping some of those races, I'll be utilizing the grass course at Belmont–that's where I kind of funnel in and out of,” Ward said.

Arnold said, “We run at Indiana and we have other different places we could go to. Probably going to miss a race or two. I haven't totally gone through the book to see, but when you reduce probably in the neighborhood of some [19] turf races, I'd say it's going to affect everybody equally.

“We ran last fall with no turf course,” Arnold noted, alluding to the complete closure of grass racing at last year's Churchill fall meet because of the installation of the new course.

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