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Updated: 10 hours 42 min ago

More Than Ready Colt Sets Midlantic Bullet

Tue, 2021-05-11 17:08

TIMONIUM, MD – The under-tack show ahead of next week's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale kicked off under sunny skies and unseasonably cool temperatures in the mid-50s at the Maryland State Fairgrounds Tuesday. A colt by More Than Ready turned in the day's fastest quarter-mile work, while a colt by Malibu Moon and a filly by Empire Maker shared the fastest furlong time.

Kip Elser's Kirkwood Stables sent out hip 166, a son of More Than Ready out of graded winner Separate Forest (Forestry) to work the quarter-mile bullet of :21 2/5 during the fifth of seven sets Tuesday. Elser purchased the colt for $75,000 as part of his Gulfstream Gallop pinhooking partnership at last year's Fasig-Tipton October. After galloping at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream under-tack show, the dark bay colt RNA'd for $115,000.

“He galloped well and I was surprised he didn't get more attention at Gulfstream,” Elser said. “We took him home, gave him three weeks in the paddock and galloped him and breezed him a couple of times. And that's all he did.”

Elser said of the colt, “He's like a lot of More Than Readys, he's not real big. But I have loved More Than Ready since the day I bet on him the day he broke his maiden at Keeneland for Todd [Pletcher]. And he's been good to me ever since. He's a remarkable sire–200+ stakes winners all over the world. He's been good for everybody that's ever been near him.”

Three years ago, Elser had success in the Midlantic sales ring with another colt who had RNA'd at a previous juvenile sale that spring. By Mucho Macho Man, the colt RNA'd for $55,000 at OBS March before working the quarter-mile bullet in :21 1/5 and selling for $625,000 to Michael Lund Petersen. Named Mucho Gusto, the handsome chestnut went on to win the 2020 GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

“They liked him better here,” Elser said of that 2018 result.

Asked if he thought the buyers might also like this colt by More Than Ready more in Timonium, Elser chuckled and said, “I'd imagine.”

The first 195 catalogued juveniles worked over seven sets, beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing until shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday.

“This is always as a good a track as there is anywhere,” Elser said of conditions at the Timonium oval. “These guys are consistent. They do a great job. They care about it. One of the things that really helps–it makes for a slightly longer day–but  cutting it off at 22 in every set so every horse gets a fresh racetrack. I'm a big fan of this racetrack and the crew that takes care of it and I always have been. Not just this year, but every year.”

During the day's first set, a colt by Malibu Moon (hip 164) worked the furlong in what would be the day's co-bullet :10 flat. Out of Seeking Atlantis (Seeking the Gold), the bay is a half-brother to Seeking Her Glory (Giant's Causeway). His second dam is multiple graded stakes winner Atlantic Ocean (Stormy Atlantic).

Bred by Castleton Lyons and Kilboy Estate, the juvenile RNA'd for $135,000 at the 2020 Keeneland January sale. He is consigned to the Midlantic sale by Eddie Woods.

“I was delighted with the work,” Woods said. “He's a big, stretchy horse. So for him to be able to do that around here is pretty good. He wasn't on his right lead, unfortunately, but the video still looks good. He just tries so hard. And he's coming off a mile track. So they have trouble adjusting to a little track like this and the leads some of the time.”

Woods continued, “I haven't had him that long. He came up from Bill Harrigan. Bill owns him in his partnership. They did a great job, as usual, getting him ready.”

Last year's Midlantic sale was pushed back to the end of June due to the pandemic and Woods did not offer a consignment at the 2020 auction. The Irishman admitted he was happy to be back in Timonium this year.

“All of the sales are important, just to keep our industry rotating, rolling along, and this is part of the rotation,” Woods said. “And this is a good sale because there are buyers who come here that don't go anywhere else. It's always been a good place to sell a nice horse, but then anywhere is a good place to sell a nice horse. They always find them. You look around, most of the top-end people, they attend all the sales. It's the other guys that kind of clean up, the locals come in and buy here. There are a lot of racetracks within a short commute of here, so hopefully they need product.”

Working during Tuesday's fourth set, a filly by Empire Maker (hip 109) shared the bullet furlong time of :10 flat. The bay is out of Pontiana (Deputy Minister)–a daughter of Grade I winner Shine Again (Wild Again)–and she is a half-sister to stakes-placed Addibel Lightning (Colonel John).

The juvenile was consigned by Kevin McKathan's McKathan Bros. Sales and was purchased for $125,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton October sale.

The seventh and final session of Tuesday's under-tack show was delayed when hip 130 was injured and had to be pulled up on the backstretch following her work. The filly was taken off the track by horse ambulance.

The under-tack show continues through Thursday with sessions beginning each day at 8 a.m. The Midlantic sale will be held next Monday and Tuesday with bidding commencing both days at 11 a.m.

The post More Than Ready Colt Sets Midlantic Bullet appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Medina Spirit Draws Post 3 in Preakness; 9-5 ML Choice

Tue, 2021-05-11 16:34

Medina Spirit (Protonico), who crossed the wire first in the May 1 GI Kentucky Derby, drew Post 3 at the post-position draw at Pimlico Race Course Tuesday afternoon. Trained by Bob Baffert, the colt was installed the 9-5 morning line favorite in the field of 10. Baffert is also represented by Concert Tour (Street Sense), who will break from gate 10 under Hall of Famer Mike Smith. The Gary and Mary West homebred took the GII San Vicente S. and GII Rebel S. earlier this season. Third choice on the morning line at 5-1, GIII Lecomte S. scorer Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) will exit post 5 under Irad Ortiz Jr., while GIII Withers S. winner Risk Taking (Medglia d'Oro) drew the nine hole. The Chad Brown trainee will be accompanied by Jose Ortiz. Also conditioned by Brown, Crowded Trade (More Than Ready), third in the Apr. 3 GII Wood Memorial last out, was given a 10-1 chance on the morning line while drawing post four. Post position and odds for the other Preakness contenders are: Rombauer (Twirling Candy) (Post 6, 12-1), Unbridled Honor (Honor Code) (Post 8, 15-1), Keepmeinmind (Laoban) (Post 2, 15-1), France Go De Ina (Will Take Charge) (Post 7, 20-1) and Ram (American Pharoah) (Post 1, 30-1).

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ARCI Working On ‘Smooth Transition’ to HISA

Tue, 2021-05-11 15:43

Association of Racing Commissioners International Chair Robert Lopez said today that the U.S. members of ARCI are focused on a smooth and expeditious implementation of the newly enacted Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.

“We view this as an opportunity to achieve improvements we support and believe necessary,” Lopez said.

“Uniform rules, uniform testing, expanded jurisdiction over horses, and the creation of a multi-jurisdictional investigative entity are all tremendous improvements that will result from this law,” added Ed Martin, ARCI's President.

ARCI had, in the past, advocated a different path to address these needs, specifically the creation of an interstate compact as an alternative to involving the federal government. But, ARCI says, “only a few states picked up that mantle, leaving interested lawmakers in Washington no other choice but to pass the new federal law.”

“The ARCI and U.S. State regulators are eager and ready to work in partnership with the new authority, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and the Federal Trade Commission to ensure a smooth transition and effective program,” Martin said.

“RCI Members in Canada have long demonstrated how a federal agency can partner with Provincial Racing Commissions with each complimenting the other. We envision that happening in the US,” Lopez said.

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Medina Spirit Cleared to Run in Preakness

Tue, 2021-05-11 14:36

The Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) announced Tuesday that it had accepted the entry of Medina Spirit (Protonico) for Saturday's GI Preakness S.

Trainer Bob Baffert revealed Sunday that Medina Sprit had tested positive for the prohibited medication betamethasone after winning the GI Kentucky Derby, which put his appearance in the second leg of the Triple Crown in doubt. The MJC, which operates Pimlico for The Stronach Group (TSG), had the option of banning all entries from Baffert. Following the announcement of the drug positive, Churchill Downs said that it would no longer accept any entries from the Baffert stable for an indefinite period of time.

Baffert has also entered Concert Tour (Street Sense) in the Preakness and Beautiful Gift (Medaglia d'Oro) in the GII George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes to be run Friday. Medina Spirit drew post three for the race, which attracted 10 entrants and was made the 9-5 favorite on the Pimlico morning line. The two Baffert runners are expected to be the first and second choices in the wagering.

“I'm satisfied,” said Baffert, who will not be attending Saturday's race because he said he did not want to be a distraction. “It's all part of our commitment to being cooperative and transparent.”

While in Maryland, assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes will oversee the Baffert operation.

Not all the news Tuesday was positive for Baffert. The Daily Racing Form reported that Spendthrift Farm will be transferring some of its horses from Bob Baffert as a result of the controversy surrounding Medina Spirit's positive Derby test.

Among the Spendthrift runners set to leave the Baffert barn will be 'TDN Rising Star' Following Sea (Runhappy), who was under consideration for Saturday's GIII Chick Lang S. The sophomore will now bypass that event and join Todd Pletcher.

The Spendthrift co-owned, Baffert-trained Authentic (Into Mischief) was named 2020 Horse of the Year after winning the GI Kentucky Derby and the GI Breeders' Cup Classic.

“Given the circumstances we thought it was best to hit the pause button,” Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey told DRF. “I think we need to step back and let's see how things play out. We're not ruling anything out in the future.”

Toffey said that four Spendthrift 2-year-olds who were sent to Baffert will also be moved, most likely to Richard Mandella.

“Bob gave us the thrill of a lifetime last year,” Toffey told the DRF's David Grening. “Bob has never had a positive test for us. Given the circumstances, the best thing for the time being is to step back.”

Spendthrift is not the only marquee owner/breeder that apparently has a problem with Baffert and the Medina Spirit situation. Daisy Phipps Pulito, a spokesperson for the famed Phipps Stable, announced on Twitter that the stable “has already talked to [trainer] Shug [McGaughey] and won't run in any race at [Pimlico] this weekend where we don't feel like we are running on a level playing field.”

As a condition of acceptance of the entry, Baffert had to agree to let the MJC place Medina Spirit under a microscope that includes rigorous rounds of testing and the constant monitoring of the 3-year-old colt. Baffert also had to commit to full transparency of medical and testing results that will allow for all results to be released to the public.

In a statement released by TSG, also known as 1/ST Racing, CEO Craig Fravel pointed out that a final ruling on the Kentucky Derby positive will not be available until after a split sample has been tested.

“Integrity, accountability and safety in our sport are principles that 1/ST Racing puts above all else. Our company has a track record of instituting process and protocols that have led to nationwide medication reforms and we are unwavering in our commitment to put horse and rider safety at the forefront,” said Fravel. “We are well aware of the public outcry and calls for action that have been the natural outcome of a medication positive in one of the most iconic races in our sport and we share the disappointment and concern.

“We are required to acknowledge in this instance that fundamental fairness compels us to respect the individual rights of participants in our sport to due process and adherence to agreed-upon and well-established rules. To this point, there has to our knowledge been no split-sample testing as is required in every state in this country and no complaint or other official action has been announced by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission with regard to this incident.  While the integrity of our sport is of utmost importance, it is the responsibility of those in authority to follow the rules even as we seek to enforce them. We cannot make things up as we go along and we trust that the competitors, bettors and fans will understand the importance of adhering to that principle.”

TSG said that the Preakness meet operates under veterinary and testing protocols that are established and overseen by the Maryland Racing Commission's Equine Medical Director, Dr. Elizabeth Daniel. These protocols include out-of-competition testing, tests for TCO2 that can be administered within minutes of the race, and the daily examination of starters by veterinarians affiliated with the racing commission.

Baffert did receive a vote of confidence Tuesday from one important owner, Amr Zedan, whose Zedan Racing owns Medina Spirit.

“Bob Baffert reported today that a topical ointment that was recommended and dispensed by an equine veterinarian to treat a skin rash appearing on the hips of Medina Spirit may have been the contaminant source leading to the post-race positive following Medina Spirit's Kentucky Derby victory,” Zedan said. “I have reviewed the picture of the rash and fully understand the need for care and the good faith intentions in using the ointment supplied by the veterinarian. I want to express my full trust and support for Bob Baffert as we cheer on Medina Spirit in the 146th running of the Preakness this weekend.”

 

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Zedan Backs Up Baffert on Rash Explanation

Tue, 2021-05-11 14:16

Amr Zedan, owner of GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico), released a statement Tuesday, again in support of trainer Bob Baffert following revelations over the weekend that the Derby winner had tested positive for Betamethasone and after Baffert announced Tuesday that Medina Spirit had been treated with the topical cream Otomax, which contains the corticosteroid. The statement, which was issued by attorney Clark Brewster, read:

“Bob Baffert reported today that a topical ointment that was recommended and dispensed by an equine veterinarian to treat a skin rash appearing on the hips of Medina Spirit may have been the contaminant source leading to the post-race positive following Medina Spirit's Kentucky Derby victory. I have reviewed the picture of the rash and fully understand the need for care and the
good faith intentions in using the ointment supplied by the veterinarian. I want to express my full trust and support for Bob Baffert as we cheer on Medina Spirit in the 146th running of the Preakness this weekend.”

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American Wood Fibers Partners With Secretariat Center for Thoroughbred Rehabilitation

Tue, 2021-05-11 12:51

American Wood Fibers has announced a new partnership with the Secretariat Center, located at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. The company will serve as the sole sponsor and supplier of animal bedding, contributing to the Center's upkeep and overall health of American Thoroughbreds. This sponsorship allows the Center to continue their work, readying the horses for life after rehab.

Through boarding and reschooling, the Center's goal is to create harmonious matches with adopters and educate the community about the American Thoroughbred breed. To date, they have successfully rehoused more than 800 Thoroughbreds.

“We are so excited about our new partnership with AWF,” said Shelley Mann, Executive Director of the Secretariat Center. “As our exclusive sponsor, they are helping us keep our stalls clean and comfortable, contributing to the health and wellbeing of our Thoroughbreds as we place them into loving families.”

The ongoing donation of animal bedding will help maintain the care and comfort of the horses housed at the facility.

“AWF is incredibly proud to support the Secretariat Center,” said Michael Keefe, VP of Sales and Marketing. “We are honored to partner with a visionary nonprofit who shares our enthusiasm for the equine industry.”

Despite temporarily closing their doors due to the pandemic, the Center was able to rehome 33 Thoroughbreds last year. The facility is now open and members of the community are welcome to attend virtual and in-person tours, watch training sessions and donate to their programs. Visit www.secretariatcenter.org for more information.

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Baffert: Anti-Fungal Meds May Explain Medina Spirit’s Positive

Tue, 2021-05-11 10:50

Bob Baffert said in a statement issued Tuesday that Medina Spirit (Protonico) was treated with an anti-fungal ointment prior to his victory in the GI Kentucky Derby, which he believes may explain why the horse tested positive for the medication betamethasone in a post-race test. Baffert said that Medina Spirit had been dealing with a case of dermatitis after finishing second in the GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby and was treated with the medication as late as Apr. 30, the day before the Kentucky Derby.

With the latest statement, Baffert reversed course after declaring emphatically earlier in the week that the horse had never been treated with betamethasone. The trainer now says that he was not aware until Monday that the ointment in question, called Otomax, contained betamethasone. Betamethasone is clearly listed as an ingredient in Otomax on the box containing the drug.

Otomax, made by the pharmaceutical giant Merck, is commonly used to fight infections in the outer ears of dogs. The word “Betamethasone” appears prominently on the front of the packaging. According to the company, “Otomax is indicated for the treatment of canine acute and chronic otitis externa associated with yeast (Malassezia pachydermatis) and/or bacteria susceptible to gentamicin. Otomax contains gentamicin sulfate, betamethasone valerate and clotrimazole in a mineral oil-based system containing a plasticized hydrocarbon gel.”

“Yesterday, I was informed that one of the substances in Otomax is betamethasone,” Baffert said in his statement. “While we do not know definitively that this was the source of the alleged 21 picograms found in Medina Spirit's post-race blood sample, and our investigation is continuing, I have been told by equine pharmacology experts that this could explain the test results. As such, I wanted to be forthright about this fact as soon as I learned of this information.”

When asked how a veterinarian could have given the horse Otomax so close to a race without knowing it could result in a drug positive, Baffert's attorney Craig Robertson replied, “That's a question you're going to have to ask the veterinarian. I don't want to be quoted as throwing the veterinarian under the bus either. Listen: I don't know the answer to that question. I just don't.”

While the revelation about Otomax may help explain why Medina Spirit failed a drug test, it does not necessarily mean that Medina Spirit's Derby win will be upheld. Betamethasone is a Class C drug that, in Kentucky, cannot be given to a horse within 14 days of it racing. No levels of the medication are allowed to be in a horse's system come race day and the penalties for such an infraction may include the disqualification of the horse, along with fines for the trainer starting at $1,000 and a possible suspension of 15 days.

However, racing commissions have become more lenient in recent years when it involves the sport's traditional “absolute insurer” rules regarding drug positives. Earlier this year, the Arkansas Racing Commission, citing extenuating circumstances, reinstated the Baffert trainee Charlatan (Speightstown) as the winner of a division of the 2020 GI Arkansas Derby and stablemate Gamine as the winner of an Oaklawn Park allowance race despite their having tested positive for lidocaine. Robertson successfully argued that the horses were inadvertently contaminated after coming into contact with Baffert's assistant, Jimmy Barnes, who was wearing a Salonpas patch that contained lidocaine.

“No, I would not say that,” Robertson said when asked if the Otomax development would lead to the disqualification of the horse. “I think there are a lot of factors at play and again, one thing that I am very cautious about at this stage is that there is a whole opportunity for discovery in terms of reviewing documents from the testing labs, and all of that, and so with these cases, what I know tomorrow will be more than more than what I know today, and what I know next month will be more than what I know a week from now. And so to definitively sit her and say, look, if this happens, it's a disqualification and if this happens, then it's not, that wouldn't be fair because there are going to be a lot of facts and information yet to be learned out there.

Tuesday's announcement came just two days after Baffert revealed that the Kentucky Racing Commission informed his team that Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms per millileter of blood of the drug. The positive finding will not become official until after a second, or split, sample has been tested by another lab. Baffert said Sunday that he was launching his own investigation into the circumstances of the positive.

“On May 8, 2021, I was informed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that Medina Spirit allegedly tested positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone,” Baffert said in the statement. “On May 9, 2021, I held a press conference in which I stated that I intended to thoroughly investigate how this could have happened and that I would be completely transparent throughout the process. I immediately began that investigation, which has resulted in me learning of a possible source for the betamethasone, and now, as promised, I want to be forthright about what I have learned.

“Following the Santa Anita Derby, Medina Spirit developed dermatitis on his hind end. I had him checked out by my veterinarian who recommended the use of an anti-fungal ointment called Otomax,” the statement continued. “The veterinary recommendation was to apply this ointment daily to give the horse relief, help heal the dermatitis, and prevent it from spreading. My barn followed this recommendation and Medina Spirit was treated with Otomax once a day up until the day before the Kentucky Derby.”

Speaking to the TDN's Dan Ross, Mary Scollay, executive director and chief operating officer of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), called the scenario Baffert described as “plausible.” (See story below)

Baffert again expressed his belief that no matter how the substance may have shown up in Medina Spirit, this was not an attempt to cheat or get an illegal edge. “This has never been a case of attempting to game the system or get an unfair advantage,” he said. He also reiterated his belief that the sport must address a situation where tests are so precise that they can find tiny amounts of therapeutic drugs and drugs that got into a horse's system as a result of environmental contamination. “Horse racing must address its regulatory problem when it comes to substances which can innocuously find their way into a horse's system at the picogram (which is a trillionth of a gram) level.”

Medina Spirit's owner Amr Zedan, released his own statement Tuesday in which he again stood behind his embattled trainer.

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Baffert Runners Arrive at Pimlico

Mon, 2021-05-10 17:31

The suspension of Tex Sutton charters meant that GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico) and his once-beaten stablemate, 'TDN Rising Star' Concert Tour (Street Sense) (video), had to endure a lengthy van ride over from Churchill Downs, but GI Preakness S.-bound duo arrived safely at Pimlico Race Course shortly after 2 p.m. Monday afternoon. The horses were overseen by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, who said they departed Louisville about 4:45 a.m. Monday morning.

“It seemed simple,” he said. “Actually, we're here even earlier than we fly sometimes. If you are on the second flight they have to come here and go back. Other than having to drive 600 miles, it went very smooth.”

Also making the trip from Kentucky were Beautiful Gift (Medaglia d'Oro), drawn widest for Friday's GII Black-Eyed Susan S.; 'Rising Star' Following Sea (Runhappy), slated to run in Saturday's GIII Chick Lang S.; and Hozier (Pioneerof the Nile), runner-up to Concert Tour in the GII Rebel S. who is headed to Saturday's Sir Barton S.

 

WATCH: Derby winner Medina Spirit arrives at Old Hilltop for Saturday's GI Preakness S.

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ARCI’s Martin Issues Statement on Baffert

Mon, 2021-05-10 17:03

The Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) is an umbrella organization of the official governing rule-making bodies for professional horse racing and for decades, has helped establish international standards for racing regulation, medication policy and drug testing labs, among other responsibilities. The organization's president Ed Martin issued a statement on the positive betamethasone test returned on GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico) and the comments made by his trainer Bob Baffert. The statement, in its entirety, reads as follows:

As I watched Bob Baffert denying any knowledge of how an illegal drug got into his Kentucky Derby horse, the scene from Casablanca where Captain Renault denies any knowledge of the existence of gambling in Rick's Cafe comes to mind.

   “I am shocked that there is betamethasone in my horse.”

   Hmmm. Then just as in Shakespeare when the lady doth protest too much, the usual claims are made when such questions arise: I don't know how it got there; I didn't do it; my records prove me innocent; the lab is too sensitive; it doesn't affect performance; it was contamination; the rules are wrong.  

   As the facts now stand, the substance was in the horse at a level it should not have been. The Kentucky [Horse Racing] Commission is investigating and will take appropriate action based on the facts of the case as they develop.

   But I can say this as someone who had to investigate such matters, if there was contamination, other horses will also trip the wire. The “only my horse was contaminated” claim usually doesn't stand up. Complaining about picograms doesn't either, as today's sensitivity of the lab is a good thing. And let's be blunt, some substances have an enormous effect at a minute level.  

   Claims that this won't affect the performance of the horse in the race miss one of the main points of the rule. It's not just about whether something can make a horse run faster, but also if the masking of pain or injury might put the horse at risk.  Collectively, the more stringent rules are helping reduce breakdowns.

   Maybe Mr. Baffert truly has no idea how the drug got in his horse. But it was there based upon everything we know. He is the responsible trainer, not only for his horse, but everyone who works for him and the vets he uses.

   Most horses tested come back clear, even with the uber- sensitive capabilities of the lab that Mr. Baffert decries. I prefer to trust the Kentucky investigation to unearth the pertinent facts.

   As far as cancel culture is concerned, I have no idea what the hell he is talking about.

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Midnight Bourbon Breezes For Preakness

Mon, 2021-05-10 16:04

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC's Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) tuned up for Saturday's GI Preakness S. Monday morning at Churchill Downs, working an easy half-mile in :50.20.

A $525,000 Keeneland September yearling, Midnight Bourbon won the GIII Lecomte S. in January and earned additional points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a third in the GII Risen Star S. and a runner-up effort in the GII Louisiana Derby. Unable to go forward after taking a bump at the start of the GI Kentucky Derby May 1, the strapping bay colt raced farther back in the field than connections wanted, but made some late ground to finish sixth, beaten just over eight lengths.

“He's doing great, wonderful physically,” said trainer Steve Asmussen, who saddled Curlin (Smart Strike) to win at Old Hilltop in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d'Oro) two years later. “This morning, I watched Midnight Bourbon work. He's just such a beautiful specimen and he goes over the racetrack so pretty. Driving back to the barn from the grandstand, I was thinking how crazy we are as horsemen. It's only less than two weeks from the disappointment of the Derby, and here I am, thinking I'm going to win a Classic again and I get all giddy. Here we are less than two weeks later and we're all jazzed up, ready to go to Baltimore and we love our chances. Very fortunate to have these chances and horses of this caliber. I'm very optimistic going to Baltimore.”

Midnight Bourbon was a handful when schooling in the Churchill paddock in the days leading up to the Derby, to the point where Asmussen inserted himself into the situation. He plans to be on the shank again this weekend.

“Yeah, I'm going to lead Bourbon over,” he said. “He's just a lot of horse, and I'm probably the biggest guy in the barn.”

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Siro’s Owner Arrested For Forging Permit Docs

Mon, 2021-05-10 15:22

An owner of Siro's, the popular restaurant and bar within walking distance of Saratoga Race Course, was arrested May 6 on charges of forging insurance and liquor-license documents in an effort to get a city permit to open the business in the middle of the pandemic last summer.

The Daily Gazette newspaper in New York's capitol region first broke the story Monday.

Scott R. Solomon, 35, of Cohoes, turned himself in to face an arrest warrant last Thursday, the Gazette reported, adding that Saratoga Springs police afterward released him on his own recognizance.

“Solomon faces two counts of second-degree forgery, one involving an official document and one involving legal documents such as contracts, two counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument, and two counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. All are felonies that could result in state prison time,” the Gazette reported.

Police told the Gazette they “started an investigation in August because there were concerns about paperwork Solomon had filed with the city in an effort to get a permit needed to open Siro's, which traditionally has only been open each year only during the few weeks of the Thoroughbred racing season…. City officials ordered it closed after reports that it was either open or hosting private events despite not having its permit.”

Even after the filing of the allegedly forged documents, the popular Lincoln Avenue watering hole still didn't get its permit and never officially opened to the public in 2020, the Gazette reported.

The paper continued: “This week's arrest is the latest trouble for Solomon, who last September was arrested by state police after an investigation into misappropriation of money from Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan's election campaign, for which he was an aide. He faces multiple counts of grand larceny and possession of a forged instrument in that case…. Solomon also faced felony larceny charges earlier this year for allegedly writing [$54,000] in bad checks.”

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KY Shippers To Maryland Won’t Face Return Restrictions

Mon, 2021-05-10 13:42

Kentucky-based horses that ship to Maryland for this week's GI Preakness S. and supporting races will no longer face health-related return restrictions when they try to re-enter the state, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture announced Monday.

According to a press release issued by the agency, “Effective Monday, May 10, [the] Office of State Veterinarian rescinds restrictions on horses originating from both Pimlico and Laurel. All horses from these facilities that meet the standard health requirements for Kentucky tracks and training centers (including EHV1 vaccination, 72-hour Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, and valid negative EIA test) will be allowed unrestricted entry.”

In the wake of the equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) outbreak in Maryland that began in early March, Kentucky had restricted the movement of horses stabled at either Laurel or Pimlico, requiring prior approval from the state veterinarian as a condition of re-entry.

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Baffert Team Will Fight If Banned From Preakness

Mon, 2021-05-10 12:10

While awaiting word from the Maryland Jockey Club concerning the status of Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit (Protonico) for the GI Preakness S., Baffert's lawyer Craig Robertson said he will seek a temporary restraining order if Medina Spirit is not allowed to run.

His status became unclear Sunday when Baffert informed the media that he had been told by the Kentucky Racing Commission that Medina Spirit had tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone in tests conducted following the race. A few hours later, 1/ST, the owners of Pimlico, put out a press release stating they were still reviewing the situation. They bought themselves a bit of time when deciding to move the draw for the Preakness from Monday to Tuesday.

“Pimlico has not taken such action yet, Robertson said in a text message. “However, if they do, I will file such a TRO. There is something called due process of law and any rush to judgment or punishment at this point would be premature and unlawful. If anyone takes such action before the split comes back, we will act.”

Baffert told the TDN that he will not, no matter his personal status, be attending the Preakness.

The Kentucky Racing Commission has had little to say about the matter, which probably won't change until after a second lab has tested a split sample. Robertson has already set the ball in motion regarding the testing of the split sample.

“We will be given a list of labs by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from which we can chose to send the split,” he said via text. “That list has not been provided yet. No definitive time frame, but past experience tells me that from this moment until split results come back will be at least a couple of weeks.”

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Baffert Tells Fox: “We Did Not Cheat”

Mon, 2021-05-10 11:39

Embattled trainer Bob Baffert took his fight to clear his name to a national audience Monday, appearing on the Fox News show “America's Newsroom” where he once again emphatically denied any wrongdoing in the case of Medina Spirit (Protonico). Pressed on the issue by co-host Bill Hemmer, Baffert doubled down on denials he made Sunday, saying, “We did not cheat to win the Kentucky Derby.”

Baffert has found himself in the cross hairs of one of the biggest scandals ever to hit horse racing and the GI Kentucky Derby. The story exploded Sunday morning when Baffert hastily called a press conference at Churchill Downs to inform the media that the he had ben notified by the Kentucky Racing Commission that Medina Spirit tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone. The betamethasone finding, if confirmed by a split sample, will be Baffert's fifth positive test for a regulated but prohibited-on-race-day drug within the past year. In every instance, he has denied any wrongdoing.

As he did Sunday, Baffert made the case to the Fox audience that the problem was not with him or his stable but with a drug testing system that is so precise it can find minuscule trace amounts of therapeutic drugs that are not known to be performance-enhancers.

“What's happening is they're testing at these picogram levels,” Baffert said. “America doesn't know about picograms. It's like a salt grain in an Olympic size pool. He had 21 picograms, which has no effect at all. The thing is, a few years ago this never would have been called. In California, they never would have called this a positive. They shouldn't have called it a positive. We're living in a new world. These horses don't live in a bubble. They are out in the open, people are touching them. After the Derby, everybody was up there touching him. There are so many ways these horses can get contaminated. They're testing at these ridiculously low levels. I've been saying for over a year now, this is going to get innocent people in trouble. This is what has happened now.”

Baffert has maintained all along that Medina Spirit has never been given betamethasone.

“This did not happen,” he said. “This horse has never been treated with that. Actually, it's a legal therapeutic medicine and the amount (found in the post-race drug test) wouldn't have any effect on the horse anyway. That horse was never treated with that and so that's the disturbing part of it. I never thought I'd have to be fighting for my reputation and this poor horse's reputation because of the new regulations. They are testing these horse at contaminated levels. It's been a horrible experience.”

Baffert told the Fox audience that there was no way he would have given this particular drug to a horse just prior to a race.

“Bob Baffert is not stupid,” he said. “That is not a drug that I would use on a horse. We don't use that drug. The horse never had that in him. We have the documentation. We're going to show everything.”

Baffert confirmed that Medina Spirit and stablemate Concert Tour (Street Sense) were on their way to Baltimore to prepare for the GI Preakness S. By early afternoon Monday, it was not clear if the Maryland Jockey Club would allow them to be entered or whether or not they could be entered under another trainer's name.

On Sunday, Churchill Downs issued a statement in which it said that Baffert had been suspended from entering any horses there during the remainder of the meet.

“I haven't heard anything officially,” he said of the Preakness. “They haven't told me anything. Churchill Downs came out with that statement and that was pretty harsh. We live in a different world. This America is different. This was a cancel culture kind of thing, We're prepared to run.”

Baffert said he realized that he is under a microscope and that the Medina Spirit positive could have lasting impact on his reputation.

“I want to protect my legacy,” he said. “I have trained great horses, the best horses that have run. My record has proven that. It's horrible that this has happened. This horse never got that medication. It's an injustice to the horse. He's a great horse. He ran hard and he deserved to win that race. It kills me. These horses are like my children.”

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Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Under-Tack Show Starts Tuesday

Mon, 2021-05-10 09:30

The under-tack show ahead of next week's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale begins Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Catalogued hips one through 195 are slated to work Tuesday, with hips 196 through 390 working Wednesday and hips 391 to 587 working at the show's final session Thursday.

The Midlantic sale will be held next Monday and Tuesday with bidding beginning each day at 11 a.m.

Last year's Midlantic sale, which was delayed until late June due to the pandemic, was topped by a $1.1-million son of Uncle Mo. The colt was one of 303 juveniles to sell at the 2020 auction for a gross of $23,572,500. The average was $77,797 and the median was $40,000.

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Street Boss Colt Sharp at Santa Anita

Sun, 2021-05-09 17:23

2nd-Santa Anita, $63,196, Msw, 5-9, 2yo, 4 1/2f, :52.04, ft, 4 lengths.
STREET ART (c, 2, Street Boss–Cool Jazz, by Henny Hughes) was backed down to 8-5 for this first outing and ran to the money to lead home a one-two for his sire. Quickly clear, the chestnut was chased by Bochombo (Street Boss) around the bend but was not for catching as he cruised home a convincing four-length winner. The winner is a grandson of MGISW I Ain't Bluffing (Pine Bluff), making his dam a half to GSW/MGISP two-turn dirt runner Acting Happy (Empire Maker) and to the dam of MGISW Go Google Yourself (Into Mischief). Cool Jazz produced a Mor Spirit colt in 2020 and a Munnings colt this term. Sales history: $37,000 Ylg '20 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $36,600. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
O-Rocker O Ranch, LLC; B-Steve Wilson (KY); T-J. Keith Desormeaux.

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Preakness Draw Moved to Tuesday

Sun, 2021-05-09 17:21

Hours after releasing a statement saying it was reviewing the “relevant facts and information relating to the reported medication positive as a result of the post-race blood sample testing completed by Churchill Downs following the 147th Kentucky Derby involving Medina Spirit trained by Bob Baffert,” The Stronach Group announced it was postponing the draw for Saturday's GI Preakness S. until Tuesday. The draw had originally been scheduled for Monday. It will now take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Pimlico Race Course and can be viewed at Facebook.com/Preakness.

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National Defense Filly Blitzes Belmont Maidens for ‘Rising Star’ Badge

Sun, 2021-05-09 15:51

Twilight Gleaming (Ire) (National Defense {GB}), a strong second debuting on the Keeneland main track last month, got to her likely preferred surface of turf Sunday at Belmont and rocketed clear in the lane for 'TDN Rising Star' honors.

Bought for £75,000 by Ben McElroy at the Goffs Orby Yearling Sale last October, Twilight Gleaming became the first starter for her freshman sire when backed down to 3-5 Apr. 8 at Keeneland, and ran a game second despite being pinched at the start and going wide on the turn. Recording a pair of sharp half-mile works in Lexington since, the bay was punched down to 65 cents on the dollar here and broke alertly from the rail. Taking charge early while trying to get out just a bit heading into the turn, the bay led narrowly while well in hand through a :22.26 quarter. Shaking clear into the lane on her own power, the favorite burst away impressively once given her cue by Irad Ortiz, Jr. and cruised in under a hold for the final sixteenth, hitting the wire 7 1/2 lengths to the good. Poppy Flower (Lea) completed the exacta.

Twilight Gleaming is the second winner for National Defense, an Irish National Stud resident who was a French highweight colt and Group 1 victor as a 2-year-old in 2016. He picked up his first winner Saturday in Italy. Dam Thames Pageant is an unraced full-sister to Group 1-placed Mainstream (GB) out of MSW/MGSP Golden Stream and third dam Phantom Gold was a three-time Group winner in England. Thames Pageant produced a colt by Sioux Nation last term.

4th-Belmont, $90,000, Msw, 5-9, 2yo, f, 5fT, :56.49, fm, 7 1/2 lengths.
TWILIGHT GLEAMING (IRE) f, 2, by National Defense {GB}
1st Dam: Thames Pageant {GB}, by Dansili {GB})
2nd Dam: Golden Stream (Ire), by Sadler's Wells
3rd Dam: Phantom Gold (GB), by Machiavellian
Sales History: £75,000 Ylg '20 GOFOR. Lifetime Record: 2-1-1-0, $56,740. Click for the Equibase.com chart, VIDEO, sponsored by TVG or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. O-Stonestreet Stables LLC; B-Pier House Stud (IRE); T-Wesley A. Ward.

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Zedan Stands by Baffert

Sun, 2021-05-09 14:30

Amr Zedan, the Saudi Arabian businessman who owns Medina Spirit (Protonico), said Sunday that he believes Bob Baffert is innocent of any wrongdoing in this year's GI Kentucky Derby and will stand behind his trainer.

Baffert informed the media Sunday that Medina Spirit tested positive for the medication Betamethasone, a corticosteroid, after crossing the wire in front in this year's Derby.

“I totally support and believe Bob Baffert,” Zedan told the TDN. “He is a professional beyond belief and he has never administered this drug to this horse at all. Medina Spirit has never been treated with this drug and we hope that the split sample will definitely prove that. Bob Baffert has my support, 100%.”

Zedan said he was confident that Baffert will be exonerated and Medina Spirit will remain the official winner of the 2021 Derby.

“This story does not add up,” Zedan said. “I know Bob Baffert as a human being and as a friend and I trust him. I trust him blindly. This will go away and, hopefully, Medina Spirit will get reaffirmed as the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner.”

Should Medina Spirit be disqualified, Zedan will lose the $1,860,000 in purse money that goes to the winner of this year's Derby.

During a news conference he held at Churchill Downs, Baffert said he is not a “conspiracy theorist,” but, at the same time, questioned why he keeps getting positives. The implication was that he had done nothing wrong and that the system is flawed.

“I know one thing for sure, when you are that successful you create a lot of animosity,” Zedan said. “And a lot of issues get stirred up. I am not a believer in conspiracy theories. But this is a tax one pays for being that successful. There is absolutely no upside for anybody to do this. There was no reason to do this. He just finished up with whatever happened in Arkansas, where he was exonerated.”

Zedan said he had no plans to take any legal action of his own.

“I will leave it to Baffert,” he said. “He will take the lead on this. I am very much looking forward to being at the Preakness. I think he will make us proud in the Preakness and show everyone what a great horse he is. This, too, shall pass.”

Zedan has owned horses since 2017 and started off with Doug O'Neill. He had little success until sending his horses to Baffert in 2020. In addition to Medina Spirit, Baffert and Zedan teamed up to win the 2020 GI Del Mar Debutante and GI Chandelier S. with Princess Noor (Not This Time).

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Gun Runner Gets First Winner at Churchill

Sun, 2021-05-09 14:11

Well-bred Red Run (Gun Runner) ran to 3-5 backing Sunday in the Churchill Downs slop to become the first winner for his freshman sire (by Candy Ride {Arg}). Sporting the same Winchell silks that near $16-million earner and fellow Steve Asmussen pupil Gun Runner did, the chestnut broke in midpack and was ridden along to track from third as second timer Trebbiano (Connect) showed the way. One of several pursuers revving up behind the pacesetter heading for home, Red Run mounted his three-wide bid in upper stretch and outkicked a stubborn Trebbiano late to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths in :59.22. A very green Woodline (Gun Runner) rounded out the trifecta.

Red Run is the first foal out of an unraced full-sister to his connections' champion 3-year-old filly and GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Untapable (Tapit), as well as GISW Paddy O'Prado (El Prado {Ire}). Dam Red House produced another Gun Runner colt last March and was bred back to Copper Bullet for 2021.

Gun Runner, the 2017 Horse of the Year who stands at Three Chimneys–which co-campaigned him–was the leading first-crop sire by yearling average last year at $246,413. He has also led freshmen with more than one sold by 2-year-old sales average this term ($372,000), including a $1.7-million colt at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream and an $850,000 colt at OBS April.

3rd-Churchill Downs, $99,058, Msw, 5-9, 2yo, 5f, :59.22, sy, 1 3/4 lengths.
RED RUN (c, 2, Gun Runner–Red House, by Tapit) Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $57,488. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.
O/B-Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen.

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