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Medaglia d’Oro Filly Delahaye Impressively Wires Gulfstream Allowance

Thoroughbred Daily News - Wed, 2024-01-31 15:27

5th-Gulfstream, $72,000, Alw (NW1$X), Opt. Clm ($25,000), 1-31, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16mT, 1:40.88, fm, 1 1/4 lengths.
DELAHAYE (f, 4, Medaglia d'Oro–Bella Carina, by War Front) sat a no-cover trip three and four wide on her debut over this course last February, but jockey Javier Castellano lost the crop with judgment day approaching and the filly went down to a narrow defeat behind the future MSP Love Appeals (Speightstown). Away for 8 1/2 months thereafter, the $550,000 Keeneland September yearling raced more prominently in an Aqueduct maiden and shot clear late to graduate by a handy 3 1/4 lengths at 65 cents on the dollar when last seen Nov. 5. Favored here at an arguably overlaid 9-10 and carrying the Three Chimneys colors for the first time, Delahaye tugged her way to the front without expending much energy and led her rivals along through sedate fractions of :24.01 and :48.92. Castellano sat hard against Delahaye around the turn, cut the ribbons once heads were turned for home and she easily held sway to the wire. She covered her final 2 1/2 furlongs in :28.20 and sprinted the final sixteenth in a very slick :5.50. Delahaye is the ninth winner worldwide from 11 runners bred on this cross, a number that includes the stakes winners Ticker Tape Home and Golden Canary. Ben Leon's Besilu Stables acquired the stakes-winning second dam Grand Prayer (Grand Slam) in foal to Medaglia d'Oro for an even $1 million from the Ned Evans dispersal at Keeneland November in 2011, a little more than a year after the mare's daughter Malibu Prayer (Malibu Moon) won the GI Ruffian H. for Evans and Mark Hennig. Grand Prayer's value appreciated further still when her Medaglia d'Oro foal of 2010, Valid, became a three-time graded winner and Grade I-placed on the dirt. Malibu Prayer is also the dam of the MGSP Grand Love, whose sire Gun Runner is out of Quiet Giant (Giant's Causeway), a $3-million purchase by Besilu from the same dispersal. Leon also paid a sales-topping $8.5 million for champion Royal Delta (Empire Maker). Bella Carina is the dam of a 2-year-old Not This Time colt that was bought back on a bid of $350,000 at Keeneland September last fall and a yearling colt by Gun Runner. She was not bred last season. Sales history: $550,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 3-2-1-0, $104,650. Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.
O-William H Lawrence & Three Chimneys Farm; B-Three Chimneys Farm LLC (KY); T-Chad C Brown.


Delahaye and @jjcjockey in front in the 5th race for trainer Chad Brown. #GulfstreamPark #ChampionshipMeet

— Gulfstream Park (@GulfstreamPark) January 31, 2024

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Weir Appointed Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga Director of Strategic Growth

Thoroughbred Daily News - Wed, 2024-01-31 14:40

Kim Weir, former major gifts fundraiser at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, has joined Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga (THS) as Director of Strategic Growth. Weir will work closely with Dr. Erin Sisk, Co-Founder of Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga, and the THS Board of Directors and staff to develop and implement a strategic growth plan for the Saratoga Springs-based impact sector organization.

Weir duties will include development the THS fundraising strategy and expanding the engagement of the organization's herd of retired racehorses through therapy and program utilization

“I am certain that our team will immediately benefit from Kim's diverse business background, successful fundraising skills and her deep relationships across the Thoroughbred industry” said  Dr. Erin Sisk. “Kim's understanding of the racing landscape and personal commitment to sharing the gift of horses with all who need them, will provide our young and growing organization with an invaluable new asset to help us realize our bold vision for the countless lives we can heal and help with the therapeutic benefits of our horses.”

Weir also served as the Deputy Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association in Washington, DC.

The San Diego native graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Spanish and International Relations and received her M.B.A from the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary. She and her husband, Bob, moved to Saratoga Springs from the Washington D.C. area in 2018.

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Letter To The Editor: The Implications of Choosing Not To Run in This Year’s Derby

Thoroughbred Daily News - Wed, 2024-01-31 14:21

The Derby is not just any race. It is the pinnacle of American horse racing from virtually every angle: breeding, owning, training, riding and yes, even betting (who doesn't want bragging rights for picking the winner?).

And the Derby race/event has grown to such importance for the entire industry (the hoopla around the Derby as an event got bigger in the preceding years even while horse racing has been struggling), that its import flows far beyond the private parameters of ownership of Churchill Downs, Inc. Derby day is an industry-wide event even though it is run by a private entity. And herein emerges the problem that begs for a resolution.

The owners of horses trained by Bob Baffert, in refusing to switch barns in order to get their horses eligible to the Derby race, are, in essence, calling out the management of the Derby race by Churchill and boycotting the race.

I write this from the perspective of years of graduate study in political economy during my Ph.D. work. These owners have made (and undoubtedly not deliberately so) a huge first step in challenging the balance of power in the industry between owners/breeders and the racetracks.

Churchill, in arbitrarily extending the ban on their trainer and shortening the time for the required transfer of their horses from their chosen trainer to someone else (the transfer date was conspicuously set days before the Robert Lewis prep race at Santa Anita), had, apparently gone too far. Churchill was intrinsically questioning both the owner's management and judgment in the care of their horses. The owners, in turn, by not transferring their horses to another trainer and thus choosing not to run in the Derby, are questioning the management of the Derby race itself by Churchill Inc.

The implications from this small group of owner's decisions go far beyond themselves, their trainer and Churchill itself. Not only are these owners challenging Churchill's authority to interfere with the management and use of their property rights, by boycotting this year's Derby, they are preventing (again not deliberately) the breeders of the horses in question from participating in the Derby.

This battle of the power of Churchill Inc. over the Derby race with these owners has rippling effects on the breeding industry itself.  You breed a top horse, it gets sold and then doesn't get to participate in the Derby because of a battle between Churchill Inc. and a specific trainer that leads to the owners withholding the horse.

This situation needs to be resolved.

And the power of Churchill Inc. over a race that is now, de facto, an industry race (while proprietary to Churchill Inc.) needs to be curbed so that any similar situation doesn't re-occur. Decisions directly impacting the Derby race need to be subject to countervailing power by the key interest groupings in the industry-with representatives actually in the boardroom concerning key decisions on the Derby race. Such arrangements are not uncommon in business. Even the trainers do not have a voice regarding their own eligibility and seemingly arbitrary decisions regarding their participation.

The Derby is the Derby because everyone wants to run their top horses if they are ready for the race. As soon as capable, top horses are not put on the path to the Derby, the race can lose its significance before too long. The Derby race is too important to the industry to be allowed to be run without Industry-wide input to assure its continued impact.
–Armen Antonian Ph.D

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Dana Stead Named Equine Safety and Integrity Veterinarian

Thoroughbred Daily News - Wed, 2024-01-31 13:51

Dr. Dana Stead, DVM, has been named Equine Safety and Integrity Veterinarian, according to Churchill Downs Wednesday. In this role, Stead will provide veterinarian support and oversight at all CDI-owned racetracks including at Churchill Downs. Stead joins CDI's Equine Medical Director Dr. William Farmer, DVM, supporting equine safety at the Company's Thoroughbred and Standardbred racetracks across the U.S. Stead will begin his new role on Feb. 5.

“I look forward to working together with the horsemen and women across all of CDI's properties and am dedicated to promoting and ensuring the well-being and safety of each of our equine and human athletes,” said Stead.

With over 16 years in equine veterinary medicine, Stead also was the owner and operator of his own veterinary practice, serving multiple California-based racetracks, including Santa Anita Park and Del Mar. During that period, his responsibilities ranged from conducting pre-race examinations, emergency triage and serving as the racing veterinary supervisor for 25,000 races, with over 200,000 starters.

Stead, who holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University, has also been a member of the Breeders' Cup veterinary team for 14 of the last 15 years.

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HISA To Fund Three Scientific Studies On The Use of Furosemide

Thoroughbred Daily News - Wed, 2024-01-31 13:28

Following a recommendation from its Furosemide Advisory Committee (FAC), the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's Board of Directors approved $773,500 in grant funding for three scientific studies on the use of furosemide (also known as “Lasix”) to be conducted over the next two years by the Nationwide Children's Hospital, the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and Washington State University, HISA said in a Wednesday release.

The studies will examine the 48-hour period before the start of a Covered Horserace, including the effects of furosemide on equine health and the integrity of competition. Researchers will be required to present final reports on their findings to the FAC on or before Jan. 31, 2026.

“The Furosemide Advisory Committee is grateful to the expert researchers who responded to our request for proposals and look forward to partnering with Nationwide Children's Hospital, the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and Washington State University on this important research,” said FAC Chairman Dr. Scott Palmer, VMD. “The lifelong health and well-being of Thoroughbreds is our top priority. This work will help ensure we have policies in place to safeguard these remarkable animals and the integrity of the sport.”

Under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, HISA is required to fund scientific research on the topic of furosemide to inform the FAC's future recommendations to the HISA Board on whether and how to amend their existing furosemide regulations.

A request for proposals was issued by HISA in August 2023. Out of those submitted, the following were recommended by the FAC and approved:

Examining Associations Between Furosemide Treatment & Racehorse Health and Welfare

Principal Investigator: Amanda Waller, Bsc, PhD, Research Scientist, Center for Clinical and Translational Research, Nationwide Children's Hospital
This study will examine the effects of race day furosemide treatment on the health and welfare of Thoroughbreds as well as their long-term racing performance. An analysis will be conducted to assess the association between pre-race furosemide administration and fatal injury, while also comparing the performance metrics–including lifetime earnings, career length, lifetime starts, starts per year, placings and average speed figures–of horses that raced exclusively on furosemide as 2-year-olds and horses that did not receive furosemide as juveniles.


Effects of Repeated Furosemide Administration on Electrolyte Homeostasis and Bone Density in Healthy Adult Exercising Thoroughbreds

Principal Investigator: SallyAnne L. DeNotta, DVM, PhD, DACVIM., Clinical Assistant Professor, Large Animal Medicine, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
This study will examine the effects of repeated furosemide administration on electrolyte homeostasis, parathyroid response and urinary electrolyte excretion in exercising adult Thoroughbreds. The study will also examine the effects of repeated administration on bone density and strength using minimally invasive methods of measurement, including DEXA scan and OsteoProbe.


Does Pre-Race Administration of Furosemide to Thoroughbred Racehorses Prolong Their Racing Careers?

Principal Investigator: Warwick Bayly, BVSc, PhD, DACVIM, Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Washington State University
This study will examine the impact of severe exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) on horses' careers and the health of the racing industry more broadly. In doing so, the study will assess whether regular furosemide treatment is associated with more career starts and greater longevity and the impact of banning furosemide for 2-year-olds on the duration of their careers and number of lifetime starts. The study will also seek to determine the extent to which severe EIPH impacts the number of subsequent starts, the periods between them and, when applicable, the time between the diagnosis of severe EIPH and retirement.

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Equine Economic Study Finds Diverse Sectors And Employment Positively Impacted Since 2017

Thoroughbred Daily News - Wed, 2024-01-31 12:20

With increases since 2017 in both the total value impacted and equine-related employment, the 2023 findings of the Equine Economic Impact Survey by the American Horse Council (AHC) reflect the positive contributions of the equine industry on the U.S. economy, the organization said via a release Wednesday.

The survey offers a comprehensive overview of the economic impact and trends within the sector and highlights how the industry reaches far beyond the pastures and ranch land across the country.

Highlights include:

  • Diverse Economic Sectors Impacted: $177 billion. That's the total value added in 2023 from the equine industry, up from $122 billion in 2017. The equine industry's ripple effect extends beyond the traditional sectors, influencing a broad spectrum of industries. From agriculture and tourism to veterinary services and technology, the survey showcases the interconnectedness of the equine world with other economic realms.
  • Employment Boost: The survey reveals a substantial impact on employment with 2.2 million jobs linked both directly and indirectly to the equine sector. Not only are breeders, trainers, veterinarians and farriers represented, but so are truck drivers, nutritionists, chemists, police officers and journalists.
  • Slight Downshift in Population: While there is a slight downshift in the total population of horses from 2023 (6.6 million) compared to 2017 (7.2 million), that's only a slight consideration when compared to the growing numbers in jobs and expenditures.

“The Economic Impact Study is the most effective tool in our advocacy quiver,” says Julie Broadway, president of the AHC. “When the industry needs to take aim at an issue, this data is invaluable in helping us paint the picture of the contributions the industry makes and the breath & depth of its composition.”

Click here to purchase a copy of the study.

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NYRA Adds Feb. 29 Card To Big A Winter Meet

Thoroughbred Daily News - Wed, 2024-01-31 11:17

Following the approval of the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC), the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has added a Thursday, Feb. 29 card to the winter meet at Aqueduct Racetrack, the organization said in a release Wednesday.

NYRA, with the support of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA) and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. (NYTB), requested to add the additional card following the cancellation of racing Jan. 20-21 at the Big A due to arctic temperatures.

The schedule is currently being conducted Friday-Sunday. Aqueduct will host a Presidents' Day card on Monday, Feb. 19 with four-day race weeks to resume Feb. 29.

The winter meet, originally scheduled for 47 days, began on Jan. 1 and continues through Saturday, Mar. 30 and features 26 stakes races worth $3.5 million in purses.

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Facing A Two-Year Suspension For Clenbuterol, Trainer Jeffrey Englehart Says They’ve Got The Wrong Guy

Thoroughbred Daily News - Wed, 2024-01-31 10:45

On the surface, the case against trainer Jeffrey Englehart seems pretty cut and dried. He had a horse test positive for Clenbuterol, the bronchodilator that is on the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit's (HIWU) list of banned substances. Trainers found using banned substances can be suspended for up to two years. But Englehart, who races at the NYRA tracks and at Finger Lakes, is adamant that he never gave the drug to the horse in question.

“We don't use Clenbuterol. Period,” Englehart said.

So is there more to this story? Dig a little deeper and you might conclude that there is. To Englehart, it's not about the fact that the horse tested positive. He doesn't dispute that finding. But when was the horse given Clenbuterol and by whom? He hopes the answers to those questions will clear his name and lead to HIWU dropping the case against him.

The horse that tested positive for Clenbuterol was an unnamed 2-year-old by Classic Empire out of Fast Heart. Englehart bought the horse on behalf of owner Marcello Rosa for $14,000 at the OBS auction June 15. The horse broke down while training and had to be euthanized at Finger Lakes Nov. 21.

Englehart's problems were just beginning.

HIWU performed a battery of tests on the deceased horse, including blood, urine and hair. The blood and urine tests were negative. According to Rick Arthur, former equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, a standard dose of Clenbuterol will typically be detectable in the blood for about three to four days after administration. For urine, the detection window would typically be between 10 to 17 days after administration.

But HIWU also performed a hair test, which revealed the presence of Clenbuterol. Englehart claims that hair tests can show the presence of the substance for up to a year after it was given to a horse. According to Arthur, Clenbuterol can be found in hair samples for at least six months after the drug was administered.

Dr. Rick Arthur | Horsephotos

“We've certainly seen Clenbuterol in hair up to six months,” said Arthur. “It could probably stay longer, we just haven't tried to look at it. We did a lot of hair testing for Clenbuterol in Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos. Trainers have contended that horses past six months have tested positive.”

After learning about how long after administration Clenbuterol can be found in a hair sample, Englehart started to do the math. The horse broke down exactly five months and six days after the purchase at OBS. That means, Englehart contends, that it is entirely possible that someone gave the horse the drug before he purchased it and that he could be suspended for something someone else did.

“(HIWU) say it's in the horse's system, so you are guilty,” said Englehart, who is still training while awaiting he results of the split sample test done on the Classic Empire colt. “It doesn't matter to them that it can stay in the system for up to a year and I only had the horse for less than six months. That's completely unfair. They are trying to upend my life.”

The unraced colt was sold for $4,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October Yearling Sale Oct. 26, 2022. The consignor was Vinery Sales and the purchaser was Juan Centeno. The latter, who sells under the name of All Dreams Equine, turned around and put the horse in OBS June. It was one of five horses who successfully went through the ring, including a horse named She She's Shadow (Bucchero), who was also purchased by Englehart.

When asked if She She's Shadow was tested and what the results were, Alexa Ravit, the director of communications & outreach for HIWU, said in an email response to the TDN: “HIWU cannot comment on what horses have been sampled or their subsequent test results beyond what is published on our website in accordance with the ADMC Program's public disclosure requirements.”

Englehart's theory is that Centeno gave the Clenbuterol to the horse in hopes that it would help the colt have a fast pre-sale workout. The horse put in a two-furlong breeze in :22.

“I don't know the gentleman from All Dreams Equine,” Englehart said. “I just know it had to be him because I know it wasn't me.”

Centeno did not respond to emails, text messages and phone calls from the TDN requesting a comment.

Englehart alleged that Clenbuterol use is “rampant” at the 2-year-old sales.

“This horse was probably training on (Clenbuterol) right up to day he sold,” Englehart said. “It's very well known that Clenbuterol use is rampant at sales. Every trainer knows that. I think if they did a hair test on every horse 70 to 80 percent would be positive for Clenbuterol.”

Under OBS's conditions of sale, no medication may be administered within 24 hours of a horse's under-tack performance. Several specific medications may not be administered on the sales grounds or present in a test sample, including Clenbuterol. OBS tests around 10-15% of the horses who are going to sell, but does not do hair-sample tests, just blood and urine. This colt was not one of those randomly tested in June, the sales company said.

Tom Ventura | Patty Wolfe

When asked to elaborate on the sales company's rules regarding Clenbuterol, OBS President Tom Ventura said every step possible is taken to make sure that no horse in the sale has been given that particular drug.

“With our policy for bronchodilators, including Clenbuterol, we were ahead of the racing curve, because the sales companies have the ability within the conditions of sale to put policies in place maybe a little quicker than jumping through the regulatory hoops that are required at the racetracks,” Ventura said. “OBS, in October of 2019, prohibited bronchodilators. Period. In any animal at any level, in any type of sale.

“Since the very beginning of the tests, I think we had two early on who tested positive and didn't go through the ring, so two positives that we have had for Clenbuterol in four years. I know there weren't any in the last year. We test them as they're coming off the racetrack, and then the buyers have the right to test when they sign the sales ticket. We haven't had any returns for Clenbuterol from those tests.”

In limbo while awaiting the results of the split sample, Englehart has continued his own investigation. He believes the answer to his problems may lie in what is called a segmented drug test, which can provide a time line so far as when a drug was used.

According to the website, by segmenting head hair samples into monthly one-centimeter sections, a month-by-month historic profile of drug use can be obtained. That goes for humans and horses.

If the segmented test shows that the Clenbuterol was administered prior to the day when Englehart bought the horse, it would seem to prove his point that someone else must have given the drug to the horse and lead, he believes, to him being exonerated.

Englehart has sent a hair sample off to the lab at Texas A&M and asked it to do a segmented test.

“I'm just hoping they look at the science and I don't have to do the suspension,” he said.

The problem is that he doesn't know if HIWU will also do a segmented test. Will they? Have they? HIWU won't say.

“HIWU cannot publicly comment on the specific facts of pending cases, including whether segmented analysis was conducted on samples taken from specific horses,” Ravit said in another email.

Finger Lakes | Sarah Andrew

That's not reassuring to Englehart, who points out that the problem extends beyond sales. Horses often change hands, whether being bought at auction, being claimed or being privately purchased, and if they test positive for Clenbuterol through hair tests it would be unfair to automatically penalize the person who had the horse at the time it tested positive.

“The average horseman who bought a horse or has a horse in their possession for only a short period of time, they can't be dropping the hammer on them when something can still show up in these tests after a year,” Englehart said. “You have to know when the horse was given the Clenbuterol.”

We posed this question to HIWU: “Could a horse be given Clenbuterol by someone prior to being transferred to a new trainer and test positive? That would mean the current trainer would be getting penalized for something someone else did. Is this a plausible scenario?”

Ravit's response did not answer that question.

“HIWU cannot comment on the specific questions regarding Englehart's pending case, including the samples collected and type of testing conducted on Fast Heart 2021, the expected timeline to receive the B Sample results, and the plausibility of his defense,” she wrote. “Additionally, HIWU cannot speculate on the adjudication of the hypothetical case you described, for the outcome would depend on the specific facts of the case.”

Englehart is worried that he is running short on time. Once the results of split sample are in and as long as it also shows the presence of Clenbuterol, he will be facing what could be an immediate suspension that can last as long as two years.

“I'm just hoping that the tests comes back and vindicates me,” he said. “I will fight this as hard as you can and take this as far as necessary. I'm ready to take it to the courts. Meanwhile, this has been a nightmare for me.”

Dan Ross contributed to this story.

The post Facing A Two-Year Suspension For Clenbuterol, Trainer Jeffrey Englehart Says They’ve Got The Wrong Guy appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Golden Gate Trainer Ruled Against in Rape Case

Thoroughbred Daily News - Tue, 2024-01-30 20:31

Trainer Ari Herbertson lost a civil rape case and will owe the unnamed plaintiff $9 million, according to an email from Diane Rames, law office administrator at the Oakland firm Gwilliam Ivary Chiosso Cavalli & Brewer, APC.

According to the firm's email, Jane Doe was attending live racing at Golden Gate on Jan. 12, 2019 when she was drugged and raped by Herbertson. The latter was first criminally prosecuted and plead no contest to a lesser charge of assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to one-year incarceration and two years' probation in that case before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Brand ruled in the civil case Jan. 17. The civil action alleged various torts related to the rape. Judge Brand awarded the defendant $3 million in general damages and $6 million in punitive damages.

“I commend Jane Doe for pursuing her civil case,” said attorney Randall Strauss of Gwilliam Ivary Chiosso Cavalli & Brewer, who represented the plaintiff throughout her civil case. “She was viciously and violently attacked, yet she was unafraid to pursue her attacker in court. Her bravery helps send a message that our society will not tolerate sexual battery and will work to seek justice for victims of sexual abuse.”

According to, Herbertson trained from 2016-21 and compiled a record of 134 wins from 447 starts. Click to see a copy of the court order.

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A Diabetes Drug’s Outsized, Contested Role in Horse Racing’s Anti-Doping Crusade

Thoroughbred Daily News - Tue, 2024-01-30 16:44

Trainer Mike Lauer is now a month past serving what he believes was an unjust 75-day suspension because a Thoroughbred under his care at Horseshoe Indianapolis tested positive last summer for metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes in people. With more 20 million patients taking it, metformin ranks as the nation's third-most-prescribed human medicine, according to the consumer healthcare website Healthgrades.

Before Lauer's case made it to an official arbitration hearing, the 72-year-old conditioner with five decades of licensure was able to present enough evidence to the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) for the agency to conclude that the likely source of the metformin was “unintentional contamination” by a groom who had ingested his doctor-ordered blood sugar-regulating tablet at lunch, then touched the mouth of Mowins (Mohaymen) while fitting the gelding with a bit and bridle for an Aug. 5 race.

But even though that negotiated HIWU resolution stated that “Mr. Lauer's degree of fault is in the light range” and that he “fulfilled his personal responsibility to be knowledgeable of the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program and to inform all personnel associated with the care, treatment, training, or racing of his Covered Horses,” the evidence was only enough to reduce–not eliminate–Lauer's potential penalties of a two-year suspension and $25,000 fine, which are HIWU's standard sanctions for banned substances.

The “banned” category is the most serious class of drug offences under Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) rules. Those substances are considered the most harmful and egregious, and are never supposed to show up in tests on any covered Thoroughbred.

Lauer and his wife, Penny, detailed to TDN how they spent $45,838 over a five-month span trying to clear Lauer's name and keep his training business afloat while fighting the ruling, which ended up with a $2,600 fine in addition to the 2 1/2-month suspension.

But, the Lauers said, they can't calculate the direct costs of the logistical headaches they endured while trying to temporarily disperse a 50-horse racing stable among five new trainers for the time that Mike was ineligible to compete.

Nor, the Lauers added, does the financial outlay take into account the lost income from Mike's being unable to ply his trade, purse money from two of Mowins's races that had to be forfeited, or the credibility blow the ruling inflicted upon the outfit's reputation.

They also aren't sure that their groom was even the correct source of the metformin positive, even though the groom came forward and volunteered the timetable of events that Mike Lauer agreed to when signing his “case resolution without a hearing/final decision” document.

Lauer told HIWU investigators that he, too, takes metformin as prescribed by a doctor, although he said he had not touched Mowins anywhere near the gelding's face in the week before the positive test. The Lauers also said they paid $1,100 to have testing done on the Shelbyville, Indiana, water source that supplies the track's stable area, and it revealed traces of metformin.

Mowins | Coady

As a trainer since 1976 with an 11.7% win rate from 9,988 starts that is not suggestive of performance-enhancing drug use, Lauer's stock in 2023 was spread across three divisions stabled in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, and his entrants ranged from a horse who ran third in the GI Man o' War S. at Belmont Park to lower-end claimers who routinely competed at Belterra Park.

Lauer has only three previous medication violations listed against him on The Jockey Club's online rulings database. All were for penalty category C (the lowest level of severity) infractions that occurred in races in 2009 and 2018 (twice). They resulted in fines of $250, $1,000, and $1,500 as per then-in-effect racing commission standards in Kentucky and Indiana, plus a 10-day suspension for the latter positive because it was his second violation within a one-year period.

Lauer said he's doing the best he can to put HIWU's bureaucratic rodeo behind him while focusing forward now that he's permitted to train again. But it seems every time he tries to clear his mind of the ordeal, some little reminder of it pops up to skewer him anew.

Like a couple weeks back when Lauer was attending a horse auction, and an industry acquaintance approached him and said by way of greeting, “Well, I see they caught ya!”

Lauer ignored the wiseguy's remark. Still, the stigma of it stung.

“You get little cracks like that,” Lauer said. “But we lost clients. We lost a ton of money, and I mean a ton. And we went through a ton of aggravation. My life's not back to normal, and I don't know when it will be.”

Penny Lauer, a part-owner of Mowins, the gelding whose urinalysis came back positive for metformin after he ran third at 21-1 odds in an allowance sprint, put it this way:

“Just the fact that Mike's name was plastered all over having a positive test, people take that info and run with it. Everybody thinks you're cheating. We had to change so many things [for horses owned by Penny and other longtime clients] to be able to run, and pay people that we wouldn't normally had to pay if Mike was able [to train]. We did nothing wrong, yet took a big hit for it. Metformin is not cheating. We didn't put it there. It was just there.”

Penny Lauer continued: “There are so many people that touch and care for a horse every day, and even more people on a race day, that a trainer, no matter how much care you take with safe protocol, it is impossible to even know what you come into contact with.

“If you want to believe what HIWU laid out regarding the probability of where this metformin came from, we are talking about possibly a dusting from a pill, on the hands of the groom that transferred it to the bit that the groom put in the horse's mouth, and the horse eventually peed out, and [was] not [detected in tests of] blood,” Penny Lauer said.

“And you think this actually made a difference in the performance of this horse?” Penny Lauer asked rhetorically. “Ridiculous!”

And confusing. The Lauers said that even after hiring an attorney and having their own back-and-forths with HIWU, plus a pre-conference call with an arbitrator, and after speaking to scores of veterinarians, stewards, and racing commission officials in an effort to seek supporting information to bolster their case, they still don't have a clear understanding of why metformin is considered a purported performance-enhancer.

Nor do the Lauers know why the diabetes drug's presence in a horse carries such draconian penalties.

They also said they have no clue as to why the five positive tests for metformin since HIWU took over the sport's drug testing in May 2023 have resulted in widely varying outcomes.

In October, two trainers–Javier Morzan of the mid-Atlantic region and the New Mexico-based Guadalupe Munoz, Jr.–had metformin charges against them withdrawn after an internal HIWU review of its six accredited laboratories discovered different limits of detection in blood for metformin, a problem that HIWU officials said has since rectified by harmonizing those detection values across all labs.

In November, Angel J. Castillo Sanchez, a conditioner based in the mid-Atlantic, resolved a metformin positive in one of his trainees by signing an “admission of rule violation and acceptance of consequences” agreement with HIWU that resulted in an 18-month suspension and $12,500 fine.

In December, Anthony Farrior, the leading trainer at Charles Town, had charges from a metformin positive triggered at Laurel Park dropped. He had requested testing of the split sample, but HIWU determined the specimen's volume was “insufficient for analysis,” so the complaint was withdrawn.

Another metformin positive from June has yet to be resolved by HIWU. Trainer Jonathan Wong remains under provisional suspension in a case involving a test from a maiden-breaking filly at Indiana Grand.

Jonathan Wong | Benoit

Wong, too, faces up to a two-year suspension and a $25,000 fine. He has publicly disclosed that he has a valid metformin prescription to control his own diabetes. Despite being out of work since July 2 while his case makes its way through the system, Wong told TDN back in August he had “zero problems” with the concept of HISA, and that its oversight was “much needed.”

But, added Wong, “when you're completely not awarded any opportunities from day one until your hearing, that's pretty much being charged as guilty until proven innocent. I feel like I've been locked up and had the key thrown away.”

Perspective is Everything

Widening the lens, the metformin positives can be grouped into a broader issue that involves other drugs ingested by people whose residues sometimes show up in equine drug tests. Some of those substances, like methamphetamines and cocaine, are drugs of human abuse with a low likelihood of having been intentionally administered to enhance a horse's performance. But because of their illegal and dangerous nature, they are in the “banned” category.

For example, there are currently five pending methamphetamine violations awaiting adjudication by HIWU. Five others have already been ruled upon, all from horses in the stable of Prairie Meadows trainer Dick Clark, who admitted the violations and accepted the consequences of being ruled off for 90 months and a $62,500 fine, the largest penalties on record since the inception of HIWU.

Lauer told TDN he believes HIWU is going after easier human-drug contamination targets rather than rooting out true horse dopers. His belief is that anxiety over getting caught for something that is essentially out of one's control is causing innocent horse trainers to get out of the business.

“I wish HIWU would catch somebody,” Lauer said. “All they're catching is [the equivalent of] parking tickets. That's all they're passing out, and they're just crucifying trainers for things like metformin and meth.”

TDN emailed Lisa Lazarus, the chief executive officer for the HISA Authority, asking if she'd answer several overarching questions: Is this the way HIWU and HISA are really supposed to work? Are the Authority and HIWU comfortable with the idea that trainers–even some who were initially supportive of HISA–are expressing legitimate fear over getting their lives derailed by accidental contaminations?

Lazarus agreed to a phone interview to discuss the situation. Over the course of about 35 minutes one morning last week, she gave her perspectives on metformin, inadvertent contamination cases, and the evolution of her agency.

Opponents of HISA might not like some of what she said. But give Lazarus credit: This sort of back-and-forth dialogue about real-life concerns over medication control policies had been notoriously difficult for TDN (and other media outlets) to engage in with racing commission personnel prior HIWU's advent, back when those agencies controlled the nation's drug testing under state-by-state rules.

(Disclaimer: Because Lauer opted not to give permission for Lazarus to speak to TDN about any aspects of his case that haven't already been made public via HISA and HIWU documents, Lazarus was unable to go too deeply into specifics about Lauer's negotiated settlement.)

And before Lazarus would tackle any general questions, she wanted to get a few points on the record for perspective and background. She asserted that HISA and HIWU are not tone-deaf to industry complaints, and she said there is evidence to show that the agencies have been proposing new policies when they realize the original ones aren't working the way they were intended to.

Those changes, Lazarus said, have included altering how provisional suspensions for likely inadvertent contaminations get reported, providing ombudsman assistance and pro-bono legal resources for trainers who can't afford to hire a lawyer, and a renewed focus on getting racetracks to clean up receiving barns and other common areas where horses might be subject to environmental contamination.

Lisa Lazarus | The Jockey Club photo

Lazarus also stressed that while catching alleged cheaters and keeping them from getting an illegal edge is a main concern for HISA and HIWU, the agencies are also mandated to focus on horse welfare, which drives some of the reasoning on how substances that are generally considered human drugs of abuse are handled.

“Somebody who's on meth shouldn't be walking a 1,200-pound animal around the backside,” Lazarus said, underscoring the obvious safety hazard that scenario presents.

“Horses shouldn't have to be exposed to drugs that the trainers and grooms are taking,” Lazarus explained. “There should be some degree of care, even if it's not obviously anywhere near the culpability of an intentional administration to get a performance advantage.

“Trainers tell me all the time that they treat their horses better than they treat their children,” Lazarus said. “Well, you wouldn't let your child be exposed to meth. And so it's a professionalization that we're trying to achieve and we think is important.”

Lazarus continued: “I don't doubt that you have trainers that share with you the concerns that you've raised. And we try to be really responsive to those and to show empathy and engage, and where we need to make changes, we do.

“But I've also had so many trainers call me and say that for the first time, they feel like they have a chance when they compete, that they don't feel like they have to use substances or compete with somebody else's pharmacy,” Lazarus said.

“I've also heard anecdotally that there are a number of horsemen that had artificially high win percentages that have now been normalized,” Lazarus said.

“The most objective thing in the universe, in my view, is you take a sample from the horse, it goes to the lab, and it comes back positive or negative,” Lazarus said, defending HIWU's methodology.

“There's no subjectivity in that. There's no judgment. We can only be governed by that,” Lazarus said. “Otherwise you get into this–what I think was a problem with the state racing commissions–'Who's a good guy/who's a bad guy? He had a clean record/He didn't have a clean record.'

“We can't operate like that, because you lose all credibility,” Lazarus said. “You're not objective. One of the best things about HIWU is that they're a totally objective organization. They don't have local relationships. They don't know, most of the time, who these trainers are. The sample, the positive test, is always adjudicated the same way.”

The Fault Continuum

Still, Lazarus said, HISA and HIWU have recognized that changes are needed with regard to human-drug positives that are likely caused by contamination, and she said the agencies have responded by proposing fault-based rule changes that are expected to be approved by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). At the same time, Lazarus added, HIWU is holding off on adjudicating exposure cases for human drugs of abuse until the FTC makes a decision on the proposed rule tweaks.

“In that sense, trainers have been able to benefit from what we expect to be these new relaxed rules without having to wait for the FTC to approve them,” Lazarus said. “We're going to continue to try to bring in ideas like that, to lessen the burden [on trainers] and to help us really identify what needs to be addressed and to take care of what doesn't need to be addressed…

“Our new system is all about fault,” Lazarus continued at a different point in the interview. “And when you have a high degree of fault, you'll have a higher penalty. When you have a low degree of fault you'll have a much lower penalty.”

But while those changes will, in theory, mitigate positive tests from illegal street drugs like methamphetamines and cocaine, the new standards won't apply to a commonly prescribed diabetes pill like metformin.

Why not?

“We look at [metformin] as a potential risk, so we don't put it in that category,” Lazarus said. “We do have intelligence that metformin is being used intentionally to enhance performance.”

HISA and HIWU aren't obligated to disclose the exact nature of such intelligence. That would be akin to handing over their enforcement playbook to alleged dopers, the reasoning goes.

When asked specifically what metformin might do to make a horse run faster, Lazarus said she believed it might be able to improve endurance. She later had a HISA staffer email supporting information that stated metformin “does impact glucose metabolism, so it could have an effect on overall performance.”

Those views aren't widely shared by everybody, though, and published research on metformin's alleged role as a performance-enhancer (in either humans or horses) is not definitive.

In human athletics, metformin is not prohibited by either the World Anti-Doping Agency or the  United States Anti-Doping Agency. Anecdotally, some bodybuilders take it because they believe it helps them appear more “cut” in terms of reduced body fat, which has led to misperceptions that it can build muscle. Other broad claims contend that metformin can reduce inflammation or provide anti-aging benefits in people.

In U.S. horse racing, metformin has been listed as a Class 2/Penalty Category B drug under the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) classification system since 2018.

A mid-level designation, Class 2 drugs are defined by ARCI as substances “that have a high potential to affect performance, but less of a potential than drugs in Class 1. These drugs are 1) not generally accepted as therapeutic agents in racing horses, or 2) they are therapeutic agents that have a high potential for abuse.”

But are the positive tests for metformin being triggered more by coincidental contaminations or by intentional administrations?

The winter 2023-24 issue of The Horsemen's Journal contained a “Fact or Fiction” article that touched on veterinary perspectives of the five recent HIWU positives for metformin.

The article stated that “Metformin is so ubiquitous in the environment that it can be found in drinking water whenever it is looked for, including at the racetrack [Horseshoe Indianapolis] where two of the violations were found. Metformin use is so common in humans that many studies have been conducted to determine if it has an effect on athletic performance, and the overall conclusion of those studies is that the only measurable effect is increased perception of exertion. This effect would detract from performance rather than enhance it.”

Lazarus said that HIWU's methodologies for metformin testing are designed to screen out accidental contaminations and to differentiate them from intentional administration.

“I'm not saying that every horse that tests positive for metformin is an intentional abuse,” Lazarus explained. “Obviously, there are very innocent explanations, and there are explanations where that fault continuum should be in the [trainer's] favor. I'm just saying that there are situations where it is being used to enhance performance, and that's where we have to be more careful about it than we might have to with meth or cocaine…

“The level at which the laboratories have agreed to call metformin a positive, in their view, sort of rules out inadvertent exposures,” Lazarus said. “It doesn't necessarily rule out someone putting their hand in the horse's mouth after they take metformin. But it's intended to really limit it to either a gross negligence or an intentional situation…

“Mr. Lauer's [test on Mowins] wasn't one of them, because it was obviously above [the limit for a positive],” Lazarus said.

Lazarus dismissed the contention that metformin in a water supply can cause a violation.

“It's not possible to get a positive test through metformin in the water,” Lazarus said. “The [testing] level that we have excludes the possibility.”

That's why achieving harmonization on testing levels at laboratories is so crucial for HISA and HIWU, Lazarus said.

“We're harmonized on more than 300 [substance levels] right now,” Lazarus said. “But obviously, some substances that are prohibited have never been detected. So they have to be detected first for the labs to agree on a level of detection. So there is some degree of that that is always going to be ongoing, as science tries to catch up with the very small percentage of the industry than might be trying to use substances nefariously for gain. There's always a risk that those folks are sometimes a little bit ahead of the labs…

“However, because the system is based on fault, if you do come, like Mr. Lauer did, with an explanation, and that explanation is credited, then obviously you are going to get a more lenient sanction,” Lazarus said.

“So in [Lauer's] case, his suspension was 2 1/2 months out of a potential of 24 months,” Lazarus said. “And his fine was about 10% of the maximum fine. So that just shows how HIWU viewed his fault on that continuum.”

'Happy' or 'Hell'?

Lauer steadfastly believes he was wronged by HIWU and HISA, while Lazarus firmly asserts the systems at those agencies worked exactly the way they were intended to.

Surely, there must be a middle-ground perspective. TDN sought out Alan Foreman, who is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading racing law and equine attorneys, to see what he had to say on the subject.

In September 2023, Foreman, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, agreed to serve as an impartial go-between, or ombudsman, on behalf of HISA, HIWU, and horsemen. In this role, he provides confidential advice and assistance at no cost to trainers, owners and other HISA-covered persons, while communicating feedback to the agencies about how they can improve their programs. When Foreman took the job, he pledged to donate all compensation paid by both sides to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

Alan Foreman | Horsephotos

This means Foreman is usually the first person trainers contact when HIWU notifies them of an alleged infraction. Lauer sought him out, and he said they spoke for several hours when Lauer first learned of the ruling against him. But in keeping with his obligations as an ombudsman, Foreman told TDN he would not be able to discuss Lauer's case in detail because of confidentiality requirements.

However, one of the first general points Foreman made about Lauer's case that he said should be heartening to horsemen is that Lauer was able to resolve his charge without having to go through with the full-blown hearing process.

“Up until now, it's required a trainer to go through the expense and the difficulty of prevailing in an arbitration,” Foreman said.

“There are changes in the pipeline,” Foreman said. “We've been discussing this and pushing for these changes for some time. There is a change presently that has been submitted by HISA to the FTC with respect to the drugs of illicit human use that would give to HIWU the discretion to resolve those cases, and they can do so by concluding that it is more likely than not that the positive was the result of contamination. 'Inadvertent exposure' is the term I like to use, as opposed to an intentional administration.

“So if HIWU is satisfied that the positive test was not the result of an intentional administration, the penalty is now reduced to a maximum of 60 days, and that can be mitigated down based on facts and circumstances. And assuming the FTC approves these changes, that would allow HISA and HIWU to resolve this with the trainer short of having to go to arbitration,” Foreman said.

“It would be handled similarly to the way racing commissions handled them before HISA and HIWU went into effect,” Foreman said. “And that was a part of the system that was not broken, and did not need fixing. I think there was satisfaction that the racing commissions were correctly handling those kinds of cases. And the handling was, if a positive test was reported, obviously the horse was disqualified because it had a drug in its system. But the trainer penalty was substantially mitigated.

“In many jurisdictions, the trainer was not penalized,” Foreman said. “The disqualification of the horse was deemed to be a sufficient penalty. Some jurisdictions may have imposed a fine or a short suspension. But nothing like the drastic penalties that are being imposed now, which can be career-ending [for] something that a trainer probably could not have prevented.”

Foreman continued: “This area of contamination seems to be the most vexing area. My own personal observation, at least based upon the calls that I get, is that the number of banned substance violations has substantially decreased. I'm not seeing that many, at least [for] those where trainers are calling me, or I need to refer people out to attorneys. That seems to have calmed down. What has surprised me [is] I thought that there would be a large number of positive tests in the controlled substance area, the therapeutic medications, because we were going to screening limits, because we were going to international standards.

“We were, in many respects, backing out the withdrawal time, or the time within which a drug should be administered to a horse, to 72 hours, as opposed to previously, with the non-steroidals, we had gone from 24 to 48 hours. But that hasn't materialized. There have not been a substantial number–at least compared to prior [findings from] HISA and HIWU–of positives as a result of the new system. Which to me is a very positive indication for the industry,” Foreman said.

“The horsemen have been adjusting to the new system, and it's working,” Foreman said. “That doesn't mean that horsemen aren't scared to death when they see these contamination violations and they're concerned about what is happening to these trainers. At least we're attempting to get that under control. And when I say we, I'm certainly trying to do it on behalf of the industry. I don't work for HISA. I don't work for HIWU. But they have been listening. I think they've been coming to grips with the problems they created here. I think they're hearing the outcry from the industry and they are adapting to it…

“So slowly but surely, changes are taking place,” Foreman summed up. “That's what I've been advocating for.”

Lazarus, in her separate interview, corroborated Foreman's observation that the banned substance violations are decreasing.

“When we first launched the program, about 40% of the positives were for banned substances, what we would categorize as doping,” Lazarus said. “That has completely dropped, [so] I think that has had a genuinely important impact. There are also a number of investigations that are ongoing that I believe are going to have a very positive impact.

“[HIWU is] only seven months in, so I need a little bit more time to bring some of these things to fruition,” Lazarus said. “But I really believe that this is a strong, fair, balanced, effective program. And we're going to have to continually tweak and evaluate and be open to feedback. But I think overall, I am very happy with where we've stood on that balance.”

However, when asked if she concurred with Foreman that the contamination positives were the “most vexing” part of the system, Lazarus had a different take.

“I think what happens a lot is when one horseman gets concerned about something, and they speak about it on the backside, it becomes almost like an epidemic of concern,” Lazarus said. “And so that is probably the most difficult thing for us to deal with generally, is some of the misinformation, and some of the, kind of, 'fear-mongering' that I think is sometimes intended by our detractors.

“I think when we're at the year mark, there's going to be a fair amount of comfort with where we are,” Lazarus said. “I think if you ask any trainer, they will tell you that on the [controlled] medication side our program is fair and balanced and working. I haven't heard a single complaint about the medication program. The adjustment is the severity and the different system on the doping side. And I think that's important for the evolution of the industry and for us to get to a point where we're protecting the clean trainers.

“That's what it's all about, right? Protecting the trainers who are competing fairly, and also who have systems in place to avoid some of the mismanagement of medication or inadvertent exposure,” Lazarus said. “We're going to get better at that, and I think over time trainers are going to feel more comfortable with what they have in place and that the risks to them are very low, and that if they do have an inadvertent exposure, that we'll treat it fairly.”

As a way of wrapping up the conversation, TDN proposed an analogy to Lazarus: Would it be fair and accurate to say that in any large enforcement endeavor like an anti-doping control program, there are going to be growing pains as the system gets rolled out, and even if the agencies make corrections along the way, it's inevitable that there are going to be some trainers–like Mike Lauer–who end up being collateral damage as the result of HISA and HIWU's evolving methods of enforcement?

Lazarus didn't buy that line of reasoning.

“I don't consider him 'collateral damage,'” Lazarus said. “I think he actually received very fair sanctions under the circumstances. Under the previous state racing commissions, fault was never a consideration. It was a pure, strict liability thing [and] the consequences were extreme without any opportunity to defend….

“Mr. Lauer settled his case. That was his choice. He did not have to do that, but he decided to settle his case, and that was the resolution that he was happy to accept,” Lazarus said.

“Happy” is not how Lauer would describe the ending to his five-month ordeal with HISA and HIWU.

“Hell” was the adjective he chose.

“They were going to drag me out,” Lauer said, noting that even though his case never reached an actual hearing, he still got invoiced $13,700 for having initiated the arbitration process.

After submitting all his supporting documentation by the first weekend of December, Lauer said the attorney for HIWU “wanted to try and make a deal, and if we couldn't, he was going to ask for more time to submit his brief so the hearing [date] would have to be reset.”

Lauer said HIWU's initial offer of a $4,000 fine and 120-day suspension was “not acceptable” to him. The next offer was the $2,600 fine and 75 days with time served, which was to end his suspension by Dec 25, 2023.

Essentially, Lauer said, he accepted that settlement just to get his life back.

“My attorney said this is the best deal you're going to get without going to the hearing and a possible appeal and all that,” Lauer said. “Plus the money, and the extra time, and you have no idea if you're going to win or lose.”

Now that he's back in action, what's Lauer's takeaway message for other trainers who might find themselves in the crosshairs of HISA and HIWU over a metformin positive?

“Their whole operation is very intimidating,” Lauer said. “And it's aimed to be intimidating.”

The post A Diabetes Drug’s Outsized, Contested Role in Horse Racing’s Anti-Doping Crusade appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Weekly Stewards and Commissions Rulings, Jan. 23-29

Thoroughbred Daily News - Tue, 2024-01-30 15:03

Every week, the TDN posts a roundup of the relevant Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) related rulings from around the country.

Among this week's rulings, the seven-day prohibition on intra-articular injections prior to a timed workout continues to trip up stakeholders.

Six new individuals are facing possible sanctions for violations of this rule, to go with the 30 individuals whose cases have already been resolved. A typical first-time violation comes with a $3,000 fine.

One of the trainers in question is Ignacio Correas, whose trainee Didia violated the intra-articular injection rule prior to a timed workout dated Jan. 11 of this year. Didia subsequently won the GII Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational S. on Jan. 27.


The following rulings were reported on HISA's “rulings” portal and through the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit's (HIWU) “pending” and “resolved” cases portals.

Resolved ADMC Violations

Date: 11/09/2023

Licensee: George Weaver, trainer

Penalty: Disqualification of Covered Horse's Race results, including forfeiture of all purses and other compensation, prizes, trophies, points, and rankings and repayment or surrender (as applicable); a fine of $500; imposition of 1.5 Penalty Points. Admission.

Explainer: For the presence of Dantrolene—Controlled Medication (Class C)—in a sample taken from Typhoon Fury, who won at Aqueduct on 11/09/23. This was a possible violation of Rule 3312—Presence of Controlled Medication Substance and/or its Metabolites or Markers (Post-Race/Vets' List).

Pending ADMC Violations

Date: 12/26/2023

Licensee: Manuel Badilla, trainer

Penalty: Pending

Alleged violation: Medication violation

Explainer: For the presence of Dexamethasone—Controlled Medication (Class C)—in a sample taken from Shana Madel, who finished second at Golden Gate on 12/26/23. This is a possible violation of Rule 3312—Presence of Controlled Medication Substance and/or its Metabolites or Markers (Post-Race/Vets' List).

Date: 01/11/2024

Licensee: Ignacio Correas, trainer

Penalty: Pending

Alleged violation: Pre-workout intra-articular injection violation

Explainer: A possible violation of Rule 3314—Use or Attempted Use of a Controlled Medication Substance or a Controlled Medication Method—on the horse, Didia. This is also a possible violation of Rule 4222—Intra-Articular Injections Within Seven (7) Days of Timed and Reported Workout.

Date: 12/14/2023

Licensee: Todd Pletcher, trainer

Penalty: Pending

Alleged violation: Medication violation

Explainer: For the presence of Dexamethasone—Controlled Medication (Class C)—in a sample taken from Give Me Kisses, who finished fifth at Aqueduct on 12/14/23. This is a possible violation of Rule 3312—Presence of Controlled Medication Substance and/or its Metabolites or Markers (Post-Race/Vets' List).

Date: 01/14/2024

Licensee: James Tsirigotis, trainer

Penalty: Pending

Alleged violation: Pre-workout intra-articular injection violation

Explainer: A possible violation of Rule 3314—Use or Attempted Use of a Controlled Medication Substance or a Controlled Medication Method—on the horse, Melancholy Blues. This is also a possible violation of Rule 4222—Intra-Articular Injections Within Seven (7) Days of Timed and Reported Workout.

Date: 01/03/2024

Licensee: Anthony Dutrow, trainer

Penalty: Pending

Alleged violation: Pre-workout intra-articular injection violation

Explainer: A possible violation of Rule 3314—Use or Attempted Use of a Controlled Medication Substance or a Controlled Medication Method—on the horse, Past Tense. This is also a possible violation of Rule 4222—Intra-Articular Injections Within Seven (7) Days of Timed and Reported Workout.

Date: 11/23/2023

Licensee: Peter Miller, trainer

Penalty: Pending

Alleged violation: Medication violation

Explainer: For the presence of Phenylbutazone—Controlled Medication (Class C)—in a sample taken from House of Magic, who finished second at Del Mar on 11/23/23. This was a possible violation of Rule 3312—Presence of Controlled Medication Substance and/or its Metabolites or Markers (Post-Race/Vets' List).

Date: 01/05/2024

Licensee: Rohan Crichton, trainer

Penalty: Pending

Alleged violation: Pre-workout intra-articular injection violation

Explainer: A possible violation of Rule 3314—Use or Attempted Use of a Controlled Medication Substance or a Controlled Medication Method—on the horse, Oconee Life. This is also a possible violation of Rule 4222—Intra-Articular Injections Within Seven (7) Days of Timed and Reported Workout.

Date: 01/05/2024

Licensee: Jose Delgado, trainer

Penalty: Pending

Alleged violation: Pre-workout intra-articular injection violation

Explainer: A possible violation of Rule 3314—Use or Attempted Use of a Controlled Medication Substance or a Controlled Medication Method—on the horse, Justintimeforwine. This is also a possible violation of Rule 4222—Intra-Articular Injections Within Seven (7) Days of Timed and Reported Workout.

Date: 01/14/2024

Licensee: Peter Walder, trainer

Penalty: Pending

Alleged violation: Pre-workout intra-articular injection violation

Explainer: A possible violation of Rule 3314—Use or Attempted Use of a Controlled Medication Substance or a Controlled Medication Method—on the horse, Uncle Curly. This is also a possible violation of Rule 4222—Intra-Articular Injections Within Seven (7) Days of Timed and Reported Workout.


The TDN also 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: 01/27/2024

Licensee: Geovanni Franco, jockey

Penalty: Three-day suspension

Violation: Careless riding

Explainer: Jockey Geovanni Franco, who rode King Apollo in the sixth race at Santa Anita Park on January 26, 2024, is suspended for 3 racing days (February 3, 4 and 9 2024) for failure to make the proper effort to maintain a straight course in the stretch, causing interference; a violation of California Horse Racing Board rule #1699 (Riding Rules-careless riding – first offense in the last sixty (60) days).

Track: Santa Anita

Date: 01/27/2024

Licensee: Mario Gutierrez, jockey

Penalty: Three-day suspension

Violation: Careless riding

Explainer: Jockey Mario Gutierrez, who rode Be Punctual in the fourth race at Santa Anita Park on January 26, 2024, is suspended for 3 racing days (February 3, 4 and 9 2024) for crossing over without sufficient clearance going into the first turn, causing interference; a violation of California Horse Racing Board rule #1699 (Riding Rules – careless riding).

The post Weekly Stewards and Commissions Rulings, Jan. 23-29 appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Stakes Schedule for Belmont at the Big A Spring/Summer Meet Set

Thoroughbred Daily News - Tue, 2024-01-30 12:18

The stakes schedule for the 2024 Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet, which will open Thursday, May 2, will include 32 stakes worth more than $6.6 million in total purses, the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced Tuesday.

As announced in December, the ongoing construction of a new and re-imagined Belmont Park will require significant adjustments to the customary NYRA schedule. Most notably, the 2024 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will be held at Saratoga Race Course from June 6-9. In addition, the spring/summer and fall meets traditionally held at Belmont will take place at Aqueduct Racetrack in 2024.

Differences between the circumference of Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack will require slight distance changes to a number of races to be contested during the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet.

On the turf, five races previously run at seven-furlongs [Elusive Quality, Soaring Softly, Paradise Creek, NYSSS Cupecoy's Joy, NYSSS Spectacular Bid] will be contested at six-furlongs. In addition, both the GI Belmont Derby Invitational and GI Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational will be contested at 1 3/16-miles on turf rather than the customary 1 1/4-miles. On the main track, the GII Brooklyn will be run at 11 furlongs rather than the traditional 12 furlongs.

A stakes-laden program on Saturday, July 6 will feature four graded events led by a pair of Grade Is on the turf in the $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational for sophomores and the $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational for sophomore fillies. These prestigious contests will be supported by the GII, $200,000 John A. Nerud for older horses sprinting seven furlongs and the GIII, $200,000 Dwyer for sophomores going one mile.

For the full Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet stakes schedule, visit

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Mucho Macho Man to Stand at Adena Springs

Thoroughbred Daily News - Tue, 2024-01-30 12:04

Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno–Ponche de Leona, by Ponche), winner of the 2013 GI Breeders' Cup Classic, will stand the 2024 breeding season at Adena Springs in Ontario, Canada. The 16-year-old stallion is the sire of GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S. winner Mucho Gusto, as well as graded winners City Man and Mucho Unusual. He will stand for C$4,500 LF/S&N.

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2024 Kentucky Derby Trophy Unveiled

Thoroughbred Daily News - Tue, 2024-01-30 11:42

The gold trophy that will go to the winner of the upcoming 150th GI Kentucky Derby was unveiled to the public Tuesday at Churchill Downs. The special Kentucky Derby trophy was handcrafted by silversmiths of S.R. Blackinton in Smithfield, R.I. from 14-karat solid yellow gold and green gold over a period of more than six months. As always, the front of the trophy is adorned by a 14-karat gold horseshoe pointed upward, the top features a 14-karat gold horse and rider, and the sides showcase a pair of horseshoe-shaped wreath handles.

The trophy stands 22 inches tall and weighs just under 68 ounces, excluding its jade base and unique gems added to this year's milestone trophy.

As was the case with previous special anniversaries–1949 (75th), 1974 (100th) and 1999 (125th)–this year's trophy has unique jeweled embellishments to commemorate the special 150th anniversary.

A distinctive garland of roses outfitted with 196 rubies, 96 marquise emeralds and 36 round emeralds is draped across the withers of the horse atop the 2024 trophy. Additionally, there are 12 diamonds on the cover cape beneath the horse, 38 rubies on the circular braid atop the gold cup, and eight diamonds within the horseshoe on the front of the trophy.

Three smaller sterling silver replica trophies are awarded to the winning jockey, trainer and breeder of the Kentucky Derby.

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First Foal for Happy Saver

Thoroughbred Daily News - Tue, 2024-01-30 11:10

Happy Saver (Super Saver–Happy Week, by Distorted Humor), winner of the 2020 GI Jockey Club Gold Cup S., was represented by his first foal when Planeta (Giant's Causeway) produced a filly last week. The filly was born at Hagyard Farm, which was also the birthplace of Happy Saver and home of the Kentucky nursery of his breeder, Wertheimer and Frere.

The foal was bred by Hagyard Farm assistant manager Jose Sarinana, who also helped raise her sire.

Happy Saver was our best foal, best yearling and went on to be our best racehorse in my time here at Hagyard Farm,” Sarinana said. “I wouldn't expect any less from his foals and having this well-balanced filly carrying Happy Saver's traits makes me very happy.”

Carrying the Wertheimers' colors, Happy Saver hit the board in 11 of 13 starts, with five wins and earnings of $1,258,100. In addition to his Gold Cup win, he also won the 2020 Federico Tesio S. and was second in the 2021 Gold Cup and GI Clark S., as well as the 2022 GI Metropolitan H. and GI Whitney S.

The Wertheimers partnered with Airdrie Stud for Happy Saver's stallion career following his retirement from racing.

Happy Saver will stand the 2024 breeding season at Airdrie for a fee of $10,000.

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Zedan Joins List of Owners Sticking with Baffert Despite Derby Ban

Thoroughbred Daily News - Tue, 2024-01-30 09:47

   Amr Zedan, who owns several top 3-year-old colts, has informed TDN that his horses are staying with trainer Bob Baffert, which means they will be ineligible to run in the GI Kentucky Derby, barring any change in policy from Churchill Downs. Churchill set Monday as a deadline for owners to take their horses away from Baffert. Any horse remaining in his barn after the deadline will not be permitted to race at Churchill Downs.

“No move,” Zedan said in a text message. “Mr. Baffert (is) our man.”

Tuesday morning, John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times reported that no 3-year-old Derby prospects had left the barn after the Jan. 29 deadline imposed by Churchill Downs.

“Nobody is going to transfer their horses,” Baffert told the Times. “I just remain focused on training my horses and competing in the big races. It's out of my hands. I just want what's best for the game.”

Zedan has several top 3-year-old colts. The best may be Muth (Good Magic), the winner of the GI American Pharoah S. and the GII San Vicente S. He also has 'TDN Rising Star' Maymun (Frosted), a very impressive winner of his Jan. 20 debut, and Coach Prime (Quality Road), who was third in the GII Los Alamitos Futurity.

On Monday, the TDN reached out to a number of Baffert owners and could not find one who had decided to take their horses away from Baffert in order for them to run in the Derby. Zedan joins a list that includes Mike Pegram, Jack Liebau and Dr. Edward Allred, Baoma Corp and the partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables.

Baffert was banned for two years after his 2021 Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico) tested positive for betamethasone, an ingredient in a cream prescribed for a skin rash. Baffert served his two-year ban, only to find that Churchill had tacked on an additional year in 2024.

In 2022 and 2023, several owners turned their horses over to former Baffert assistant Tim Yakteen, which made them eligible to contest the Derby.

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Brady to Partner With Repole In NOBULL

Thoroughbred Daily News - Tue, 2024-01-30 08:58

Tom Brady's TB12 and Brady Brand–a line of fitness supplements and athletic apparel–will merge with Mike Repole's NOBULL footwear and apparel brand, creating one company operating under the NOBULL brand, according to new posted on the NOBULL website Tuesday morning.

The company will offer footwear, apparel, and nutrition products, and Brady will become NOBULL's second-largest shareholder, according to CNBC.

“TB12 and NOBULL Footwear & Apparel have merged to create one company dedicated to help you improve mentally, emotionally, and physically,” according to the statement on the website. “Tom Brady is no stranger to the NOBULL mentality; on and off the field he has always been focused on making himself better every day.  The two brands have come together to provide the right tools to help everyone reach their full potential. Exceptional training footwear and apparel, uncompromising nutrition, and a healthy obsession with getting better every day-that's what TB12 and NOBULL's all about.”

Repole and Brady, widely regarded as the best NFL quarterback of all time, reportedly met at the Kentucky Derby several years ago, where Repole is expected to be represented in 2024 by his Champion Two-Year-Old Fierceness (City of Light).

Repole, one of the sport's largest owners and a veteran in the beverage business, bought a majority stake in NOBULL in July, 2023.

“We both have enough humility to understand that this is tough and will be a big challenge,” Brady said in a video interview with Sportico Tuesday morning. “But we have some tremendous teams that are already in place that are excited for the challenge. Neither of us have backed down from a challenge a day in our life, and we don't plan on it anytime soon.”

“This is going to be incredibly fun but also an emotional opportunity for us to give back,” Repole said in the same interview. “We have some great teams. I didn't do what I did alone, and neither did Tom. Now we're making it a NoBull family. We're going to influence as many people as we can.”

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Didia Outclasses Rivals In Pegasus World Cup F/M Turf

Thoroughbred Daily News - Sat, 2024-01-27 16:12

The exceptionally consistent Didia (Arg) (Orpen) won for the 10th time in 15 career starts and for the sixth time in eight appearances since coming to North America, kicking on gamely in the final eighth of a mile to take out Saturday's $500,000 GIII TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park.

Sent off the lukewarm 33-10 favorite, some $1,500 more than GIII Cardinal S. romper Star Fortress (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), Didia jumped alertly and put herself right into the race, as she settled just off the flank of longshot leader Accomplished Girl (Street Boss) through the opening exchanges. The pace was not overly taxing up front–Didia eyeballed Accomplished Girl past a half-mile in a modest :48.62–and Didia was held together by Jose Ortiz on the turn, waiting for her cue to sprint for the wire.

Asked for her best when level with the front-runner on the swing for home, the 6-year-old stuck her head in front at the furlong marker and was home first. Surprisingly (Mastery), a 25-1 outsider, was able to drop down onto the fence rounding the  first turn when Star Fortress was taken hold of and rode the rail throughout. She turned in a menacing late rally to be a good second. California raider Ruby Nell (Bolt d'Oro) was well and truly taken out of her game when unable to make the running, as is her custom, but she was settled well enough by Frankie Dettori from a forward position and finished a highly creditable third, just ahead of the well-bet Fluffy Socks (Slumber {GB}).

Twice a Group 1 winner in Argentina, Didia won the first four starts of her stateside sojourn, capped by a powerful victory in the GIII Modesty S. at Churchill last May. A pace-compromised second in the GI New York S. June 9, the bay was freshened with an eye on the tail end of the season and she returned to boss her rivals in the GII Rodeo Drive S. Oct. 7. She was most recently 10th to champion Inspiral (GB) (Frankel {GB}) as the 9-1 fourth choice in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf Nov. 4.

“I told [jockey] Jose [Ortiz] to be close and don't leave her that much to do,” said winning trainer Ignacio Correas of Saturday's effort. “He was a bit closer but when I saw that the pace was not that fast, I was very happy with where she was. I thought if she got beat it was going to be if she beat herself. She had everything in her favor.

“I think that probably she's better than I ever imagined,” Correas added. “She can do whatever. When you think that she was running a mile and a quarter and them come and put in such a performance almost wire to wire, close to the lead, these horses they just train themselves. We just need to stay out of the way.”

The victory earns Didia a spot in the field and a $25,000 travel stipend for the G1 Qatar Nassau S. at Glorious Goodwood later this summer.

Saturday, Gulfstream
TAA PEGASUS WORLD CUP FILLY AND MARE TURF INVITATIONAL S.-GII, $485,600, Gulfstream, 1-27, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16mT, 1:40.90, fm.
1–DIDIA (ARG), 120, m, 6, by Orpen
1st Dam: Delambre (Brz) (G1SP-Brz), by Rainbow Corner (GB)
2nd Dam: Diya, by Ariosto (Arg)
3rd Dam: Sevilla (Arg), by Ringaro
O-Merriebelle Stable; B-La Manija (ARG); T-Ignacio Correas,
IV; J-Jose L. Ortiz. $282,000. Lifetime Record: Ch. 3yo Filly &
MG1SW-Arg, GISP-US, 15-10-2-0, $1,074,109. *Full to
Davide (Arg), Ch. All-Weather Horse & SW-Sin, $549,642; and
Dedini (Arg), MG1SP-Arg; half to Desvelo (Arg) (Sunray Spirit),
MSP, $181,511. Werk Nick Rating: C+. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Surprisingly, 120, m, 5, Mastery–Vagabond, by Arch.
($1,000,000 4yo '23 KEENOV). O-Repole Stable; B-Phipps
Stable (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $94,000.
3–Ruby Nell, 120, f, 4, Bolt d'Oro–Rich Love, by Not For Love.
($80,000 Wlg '20 KEENOV; $85,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP;
$1,200,000 2yo '22 FTFMAR). O-Spendthrift Farm LLC;
B-Solana Beach Sales (KY); T-Richard E. Mandella. $47,000.
Margins: NK, 1HF, HD. Odds: 3.30, 26.60, 4.10.
Also Ran: Fluffy Socks, Mission of Joy, Chili Flag (Fr), Sister Lou Ann, Accomplished Girl, Queen Goddess, Cairo Consort, Star Fortress (Ire). Scratched: Be My Sunshine, Full Count Felicia.
Click for the chart or the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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