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Updated: 17 hours 6 min ago

Owners Permitted to Attend Races at Santa Anita

Fri, 2020-09-18 18:01

Starting on opening day Friday, Sept. 25, licensed owners with a horse entered may attend the races at Santa Anita. Due to COVID-19, space is limited to two licensed owners per horse.

Owners wishing to attend should email Mary Forney, Executive Director of TOC (mforney@toconline.com) to be put on a reservation list each day. Reservations can be made up until 24 hours before race day. For more information, contact her at (626) 826-3782.

The quickest and safest way to access Santa Anita Park is to apply for a Virtual Badge before you arrive at the track. Once your badge is approved remotely, enter through Gate 8 and show your badge to the Association Gate attendant. After you park in the Owner/Trainer lot, go straight to the temperature check and wristband tent to receive your complimentary box. For instructions on accessing the Virtual Badge, click here.

Owners must adhere to the following safety protocols while at Santa Anita Park:
-Masks must be worn at all times unless you are eating or drinking in your box.
-Maintain a social distance of six feet from others.
-Stay on pathways and within the box and apron area.

Licensed owners may come see their horses work between 5:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. at Clocker’s Corner.

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Mr. Big News Tunes Up for Preakness

Fri, 2020-09-18 16:24

Third-place GI Kentucky Derby finisher Mr. Big News (Giant’s Causeway) geared up for Pimlico’s Oct. 3 GI Preakness S. with a half-mile breeze in :48 4/5 (22/76) Friday at Churchill Downs. Regular exercise rider Tony Quinones was in irons.

“He was very sharp this morning,” said trainer Bret Calhoun. “I know it was cool. He went a little quicker than we wanted, but did it very easy, well within himself. He was full of energy, kind of what we wanted to see. It was what we wanted or better.”

Mr. Big News earned a free entry in the Preakness with his win in the Apr. 11 Oaklawn S. Calhoun said his charge will work again Saturday, Sept. 26, which will be his final breeze before the Preakness. If it goes smoothly, Mr. Big News will head to Baltimore for the 1 3/16-mile Classic.

“He’s a fit horse; he doesn’t need a lot,” Calhoun said of next week’s work. “I’m not looking for fitness. Just maintain what we’ve got and hold his edge.”

Owner Chester Thomas and Calhoun said the strong finish by Mr. Big News at the end of the Derby helped determine their colt’s Preakness path.

“The free ride in the Preakness was there,” said Calhoun, “but he needed to prove that he belonged with that group of horses.”

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Well-Bred Tapit Colt Romps to Rising Stardom

Fri, 2020-09-18 15:59

Three Chimneys Farm and Harrell Ventures LLC’s Stayin’ Out Late (Tapit) was sent off at a chilly-on-the-board 21-5 in Friday’s seventh race at Churchill Downs, but the well-bred chestnut turned the 6 1/2-furlong affair into a procession, galloping away to score by 7 3/4 lengths.

Away without incident from the inside gate, the son of GSW Graeme Six (Graeme Hall) made the lead with a minimum of fuss and was allowed a soft time of it up front, covering the opening quarter in :23.66 and the half in a route-like :47.80. Shaken up leaving the quarter pole, he turned on the afterburners in the final furlong and won clear. Cousin Larry (Cairo Prince–Pacific Spell) just earned second ahead of Inspector Frost (Frosted–Folk), the 21-10 chalk, who rushed up after missing the break and looked full of run turning for home, only to flatten late.

Stayin’ Out Late is a full-brother to Delightful Joy, GSW, $179,200, whose debuting daughter Zainalarab (War Front) graduated Friday at Belmont Park. He is also a half-brother to to Seymourdini (Bernardini), SW, $242,027, a $900,000 OBS April Breezer; and to Cali Star (Street Cry {Ire}), GSW, $348,080. Graeme Six, winner of the GIII Winning Colors S. at Churchill during her racing days, was purchased by the partnership of Gainesway and Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $950,000 in foal to the late Pioneerof the Nile at Keeneland November in 2016. She foaled a full-brother to Stayin’ Out Late in 2019 and a full-sister this term. She was bred to Curlin during the most recent breeding season, but did not conceive. Stayin’ Out Late is bred on the same cross over Deputy Minister that has been responsible for the aforementioned Frosted and fellow Grade I winner Tapizar.

7th-Churchill Downs, $73,292, Msw, 9-18, 2yo, 6 1/2f, 1:17.93, ft.
STAYIN’ OUT LATE, c, 2, by Tapit
1st Dam: Graeme Six (GSW & GISP, $338,854), by Graeme Hall
2nd Dam: Polish Ruby, by Polish Pro
3rd Dam: Ruby Wax, by Gallant Romeo
Sales history: $200,000 Ylg ’19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $42,824. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton. Click for the free Equineline.com catalog-style pedigree.
O-Three Chimneys Farm & Harrell Ventures LLC; B-Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd & Whisper Hill Farm LLC (KY); T-Steven M Asmussen.

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Keeneland and TCA Team on Sales Initiative to Help Essential Workers

Fri, 2020-09-18 15:40

Keeneland and Thoroughbred Charities of America have launched an initiative to provide September Yearling and November Breeding Stock Sales buyers the opportunity to make a voluntary contribution to TCA to assist our industry’s backstretch and farm workers. The voluntary donation will be included in the buyers invoice and equate to .05% of the hammer price of their purchase.

“This partnership with TCA reflects Keeneland’s mission to support worthy causes, and during this time of great need it’s even more important that we take care of our front-line heroes,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “Keeneland is grateful for the tremendous work done by the TCA, and we are pleased to include this donation opportunity on our buyer forms this fall alongside the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and National Thoroughbred Racing Association.”

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November Auction Anticipated for Zayat Horses Under Receivership

Fri, 2020-09-18 15:36

Attorneys representing MGG Investment Group, LP, which is the plaintiff in a $24.5 million Kentucky civil lawsuit alleging fraud and loan defaults against Ahmed Zayat and his family’s Zayat Stables, LLC, disclosed in a legal document filed Sept. 18 that the court-appointed receiver in that case intends to hold a November auction to sell off horses that are being held as collateral against the unpaid debts.

News about this anticipated November auction was made public in the form of a letter dated Friday and filed in United States Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey (Newark) by MGG’s counsel.

That letter pertains to a separate court proceeding initiated Sept. 14 by three other creditors who are attempting to force an “involuntary bankruptcy” petition against Zayat Stables. If the forced bankruptcy moves forward, it could keep MGG (and other creditors who are not part of either court action) from collecting on debts that MGG claims are backed by its own “first priority perfected security interest in all of Zayat Stables’ personal property, equine collateral, accounts and proceeds.”

Complicating matters further, Zayat himself (as an individual, not as his racing stable) filed for Chapter 7 protection Sept. 8 in a federal bankruptcy court in New Jersey, claiming to be $19 million in debt. And within that filing, the insolvent 2015 Triple Crown-winning breeder and owner disclosed that he is a party to three other active lawsuits involving money woes.

So right now the tangled financial mess involves numerous creditors jockeying for position to secure spots in a disputed pecking order that could determine which might be first to recoup proceeds from the Zayat horses held in the Kentucky receivership.

That’s important, because the federal court with jurisdiction in Zayat’s personal bankruptcy has already notified the 132 non-priority, unsecured-claim creditors in that case that “no property appears to be available to pay creditors.” So reaping proceeds from the sale of Zayat Stables’ horses appears to be the only means for some of the creditors to get paid.

The Sept. 18 letter from MGG’s attorneys was an attempt to slow down the process in the forced bankruptcy attempt. The day before, the three petitioning creditors in that involuntary bankruptcy case (Zayat’s former financial advisor is one of the parties) filed an Application for Order Shortening Time, in which they requested that an expedited hearing be set for Sept. 22.

“We are writing to request that any hearing on the Motion be scheduled for no earlier than Sept. 29 as the Petitioning Creditors have not presented any emergent circumstances that would require a hearing to be held as quickly as Sept. 22,” the MGG counsel wrote.

“The underlying premise of the Motion appears to be the Petitioning Creditors’ dissatisfaction with a Kentucky State Court receivership proceeding commenced by MGG on January 22, 2020 in the Fayette Circuit Court, in which Elizabeth Z. Woodward has been appointed receiver. The Receivership proceeding, which has been pending for almost eight months, has been heavily contested by Zayat Stables, which has not only failed in its efforts to date to get the Receivership dismissed, but has suffered the entry of judgment against it in the amount of $24,534,166.13.

“Substantially all of the ‘issues’ raised by the Petitioning Creditors in support of their Motion have already been advanced in the Receivership by Zayat Stables, to no avail.

The Receiver and her retained professionals have, under contentious circumstances, made substantial progress in monetizing Zayat Stables’ assets in a manner typical for the liquidation of equine collateral and consistent with accepted industry practices.”

The letter continued: “We are informed that the Receiver does not anticipate selling any of the horses or other components of MGG’s Collateral until a scheduled auction in November 2020, to be conducted by a recognized Thoroughbred auction house, such as Keeneland; nor will any of the proceeds of the MGG Collateral being held or to be collected by the Receiver be disbursed other than for the ordinary course care and maintenance of the Zayat Stables’ horses.

“Notwithstanding that MGG has a first priority security interest in all of the assets that the Receiver is charged with liquidating, and notwithstanding the fact that MGG has made substantial protective advances to the Receiver to preserve the MGG Collateral, MGG will not seek the Receiver make any distributions to MGG until there has been a disposition of the Motion or a further order of this Court,” the letter concluded.

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Expensive War Front Firster Takes Belmont Lid-Lifter

Fri, 2020-09-18 13:18

1st-Belmont, $63,000, Msw, 9-18, 2yo, f, 6f, 1:12.01, ft.
ZAINALARAB (f, 2, War Front–Delightful Joy {GSW, $179,200}, by Tapit), whose $1-million purchase price out of last year’s Keeneland September sale was the second-highest for her hugely successful stallion, got the Belmont fall meet off on a chalky note, grinding her way past her chief market rival Exact (Competitive Edge) for a narrow victory. Allowed to sit the box-seat trip as Exact made the running in advance of the blinkered Jade Empress (Shanghai Bobby), Zainalarab was pulled off the fence in upper stretch by Javier Castellano, drew alongside the pacesetter with a sixteenth of a mile to travel and inched clear to take it by 1 1/2 lengths as the 11-10 favorite. The winner has a Medaglia d’Oro half-sister who was consigned to, but withdrawn from the opening day of this year’s KEESEP sale this past Sunday, as well as a foal half-sister by American Pharoah. Delightful Joy, the 2015 GIII Monmouth Oaks winner, was a $700,000 purchase out of the 2017 Keeneland January Sale, and was most recently covered by Curlin. Zainalarab was scheduled to make her debut in the latter part of the Saratoga meeting, but was scratched when a torrential rainstorm rendered the track sloppy. Sales history: $1,000,000 Ylg ’19 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $34,650. Click for the Equibase.com chart orVIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-Shadwell Stable; B-International Equities Holding Inc (KY); T-Chad C Brown.

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Reward Posted in Green Mountain Park Investigation

Fri, 2020-09-18 13:07

The Vermont Arson Tip Award Program is offering a $5,000 reward for information that will lead to the arrest of anyone involved in the suspicious fire that consumed the Green Mountain Park grandstand in the overnight hours of Sept. 15-17.

The former track, located in the southern Vermont town of Pownal near the borders of Massachusetts and New York, last ran a Thoroughbred meet in 1976 and had been closed for racing since 1991 after converting to a greyhound configuration. The building was abandoned and no one was hurt in the blaze, which had to be quelled by 10 fire departments using 20 trucks

A report issued late Thursday afternoon by the Vermont State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit noted that the fire within the grandstand was not the first in recent months, and that partiers and/or vandals trespassing on the grounds were believed to have been involved.

The report stated that “the building was the scene of several other small fires over the summer which had been put out by the fire department as well as numerous events of vandalism and littering throughout the property. These were deemed to be young adults hanging out in the area and entering the building to vandalize the structure, skateboard, and even more recently, ATV riders were noted inside the structure driving around.

“The fire progression was extensive and it was decided by the fire chief to only fight the fire from the exterior to prevent injury or possible death by any internal firefighting efforts by fire personnel,” the report continued. “Based upon the examination of the exterior and noting several areas of collapse in the roof and the damage to heavy support columns to the three-story steel and concrete building it was deemed too dangerous to conduct an internal examination.”

The report stated there was no electricity powering the structure. The Berkshire Eagle further reported that the grandstand, which was once fairly secure and monitored by video surveillance, “has sustained water and other damage from roof leaks and a flood that overflowed the nearby Hoosic River and entered the lower sections.”

Stephen Soler, managing member of Green Mountain Race Track, LLC, which owns the property, told the Eagle that “a significant amount” had been spent this year to re-secure the building. He said the fire should be considered arson “since they had to tear down boards to get in there.”

As recently as April, the Eagle reported, Pownal town officials had been concerned about “reports of youth and others entering the grandstand for parties or other reasons and sometimes starting campfires on the cement floors.”

The Eagle quoted a Pownal zoning official who said the town determined in the spring that “it did not have legal authority to force the owners to demolish the grandstand building, which has been informally estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But officials will likely reconsider Pownal’s options in light of the fire damage.”

Green Mountain first hosted Thoroughbreds in 1963 and added Standardbred racing a year later. In 1968, the track was the first on the East Coast to host Sunday racing, drawing busloads of horseplayers from as far away as Philadelphia. Greyhound racing took over in 1976. With the occasional exception of non-pari-mutuel harness racing at several county fairs, there has been no racing of any kind in Vermont since then.

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Mountaineer Adds 12 Dates; Charles Town Drops 10

Fri, 2020-09-18 12:14

Mountaineer Park will be adding 12 dates to its current race meet while Charles Town will drop 10 programs. Both moves were approved Sept. 17 via telephonic meeting of the West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC).

“The action that causes this was the cancellation of the West Virginia Derby card,” WVRC executive director Joe Moore explained to commissioners prior to the 3-0 approval vote for the Mountaineer increase, which will tack on the dozen programs between Dec. 6 and 23.

“Now the $500,000 approved for the West Virginia Derby cannot be used for any other race other than that race as described by statute,” Moore said. “But the remainder of races that were also cancelled on that card is what’s funding these additional 12 days of live racing at Mountaineer Park.”

On the Charles Town 10-date cut, Moore cited “declining gaming revenue both on the lottery side and the racing side that funds the purse funds.” He added that the Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association submitted a letter supporting the reduction.

Erich Zimny, Charles Town’s vice president of racing operations, told the WVRC that depending on the level of the purse account, it is possible that his track would later ask for those dates to be added back in before 2020 comes to a close.

“It’s possible,” Zimny said, citing the relatively tight horse population as one of several other contributing factors. “Everything’s on the table depending on how much money’s in there, as you guys know. If it’s in there, we’ll pay it out.”

Chairman Ken Lowe and commissioner J.B. Akers voted in favor of the dates reduction. Commissioner Tony Figaretti cast the lone dissenting vote in the 2-1 decision.

“I’m against this, because every time we turn around, between Charles Town and Mountaineer, it’s cut into us,” Figaretti said. “They keep losing dates and losing dates. We can’t make any money off cutting dates. So I’m 100% against that.”

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Magee Appointed Chair of Woodbine Entertainment Board of Directors

Fri, 2020-09-18 12:07

Christine Magee has been appointed the chair of Woodbine Entertainment’s Board of Directors, effective immediately.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Christine’s business acumen, experience and leadership be the Chair of our Board of Directors while we continue to grow the sport of horse racing, support and sustain the entire industry in this province, and fulfill our vision of being the top horse racing destination in North America,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “As we continue to advance our plans to diversify our business model to sustain the horse racing industry for decades to come, Christine’s knowledge, experience and leadership will be invaluable to our efforts.”

Magee, who has been on Woodbine Entertainment’s Board of Directors since 2015, is the Chair of Sleep Country, the company she co-founded in 1994 and served as its President until 2014. The resident of Oakville, Ontario is also the Chair of the Talent Fund Advisory Council and serves on the Board of Directors of TELUS, Metro Inc., Trillium Health Partners and Plan International Canada, and is a Member of the Morrissette Entrepreneurship Advisory Board of University Western Ontario. On July 1, 2015, Magee was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of her significant contributions to the Canadian business community.

“It’s an absolute honour and privilege to step into this role for an organization that has such a rich history and bright future,” said Magee. “It’s also humbling as I have come to appreciate how important Woodbine Entertainment is to an entire industry that is the way of life for so many Ontarians and a passion for horse racing fans throughout the world.”

Magee replaces Clay Horner who is retiring from the organization following a successful tenure as Chair of Woodbine Entertainment since 2015 and a Director since 2002. Long-time board member John Fielding also announced he is retiring from the organization as Director and Chair of the Standardbred Racing Committee. Current Woodbine Entertainment Director and former President of Western Fair District Hugh Mitchell has been appointed to Chair of the Standardbred Racing Committee.

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Late Action As Book 2 Concludes

Thu, 2020-09-17 21:40

By Brian DiDonato & Jessica Martini

LEXINGTON, KY–While Thursday’s second and final Book 2 session of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale included some lulls without big-money sellers, it finished strong, with the day’s top two lots coming in the final 20 or so hips.

A colt by the in-demand Into Mischief (hip 1203) was the lone Book 2 offering to reach the seven-figure threshold, selling for an even $1-million to Peter Leidel, who did his bidding on the phone. The son of Grade II winner Teen Pauline (Tapit) was consigned to the sale by Warrendale Sales, agent for Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Bred & Raised. Stonestreet was also responsible for Book 1’s $2-million Tapit topper.

“It was a very exciting finish today–to have three individuals bidding all the way to the million-dollar mark,” said Keeneland’s Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell. “There was a lot of depth to the market, I thought, today. Again, the comment we’ve made before is that it is very selective. The ones that they align on are bringing great money; the ones that just miss the mark are having a hard time to get sold. It is a very selective market.”

A total of $34,507,000 in trade was done on Thursday from 182 head sold. The average was $176,959 and median was $135,000.

Over the course of four days of selling thus far, $165,853,000 has changed hands on 622 transactions, including 33 post sale. The cumulative average is $266,645 and median is $200,000.

The session RNA rate was 40.18% and overall buy-back rate sits at 38.35%. While year-to-year comparisons remain somewhat difficult due to a difference in format compared to last year (three Book 1 sessions in 2019), the RNA rate remains significantly elevated compared to 2019, when 28.18% of horses were bought back by the end of Book 2.

“A couple of people told me they were happy to take their horses home–they had a Plan B when they came here,” Russell said. “They knew the market was going to be a little off, and they had already planned on Plan B. They brought horses to market hoping to be sold, but if they didn’t, they had other plans in their mind.”

Consignor John Mulholland noted, like many, the particular selectivity of the market: “Chickens or feathers; feast or famine. Everybody’s landing on the same horse, and you’re going to get paid a ton [on those]. If you bring 10 horses, three or four are going to have to carry the load for the rest. That’s the unfortunate state of the market right now. I can think of horses years ago that we brought up here that had one issue after another–whether it be on the X-rays, on the vetting, or some sort of conformational fault; but we’d still get them sold for something decent. That is just kind of gone. If you don’t jump through every hoop, and check every box, forget it. Where we’re at, it’s sad, and I hope we can recover in time. But for me, that’s the reality of it.”

Russell said hopes and expects new money to show up as the sale moves into its final four books.

“The pinhookers haven’t started really playing yet, so we hope that we’ll see them,” he said. “We usually see that in Book 3, when that part of the market starts to develop.”

Russell ended his Thursday evening press briefing with a remembrance of longtime Keeneland auctioneer Cris Caldwell, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in May.

“This is the first sale we’ve had without Cris Caldwell, and the amount of consignors and buyers who have come by and commented about it and acknowledged it,” he said. “One guy said to me that he was a great ‘bouncer’–he’d go and bounce ideas off of him and get a value… A lot of people have come up and said that they miss him and wish he was here. It’s quite humbling.”

Leidel Strikes Late for Into Mischief Colt

Peter Leidel, bidding over the phone, made the highest bid of the two-day Book 2 section of the September sale when going to an even $1 million to secure a son of Into Mischief at Keeneland Thursday. The bay colt–the fifth yearling by the Spendthrift stallion to sell for seven figures this week at Keeneland–is out of graded stakes winner Teen Pauline (Tapit). He was consigned by Warrendale Sales as agent for Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings.

“He is a lovely horse, ticked all the boxes as they say,” said Warrendale’s Hunter Simms of hip 1203. “He has a great walk. The Into Mischiefs have been on fire at this sale and on the racetrack. The mare was a new track record holder. Stonestreet did a nice job prepping him and he showed himself well at the barn. He is a classy animal.”

Thursday’s session opened with a Stonestreet-bred colt by Into Mischief, consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, selling for $675,000 to Shadwell Estate Company Ltd.

“Stonestreet has been very supportive of us over the years and we greatly appreciate it. We have had good success for them,” Simms said.

Through four sessions of the September sale, 45 yearlings by Into Mischief have sold for $23,280,000 and an average of $517,333. Larry Best’s OXO Equine purchased the most expensive offering by the stallion when bidding $1.9 million to acquire a filly from the Taylor Made consignment (hip 438).

Stonestreet purchased Effectual (Carson City), with Teen Pauline in utero, for $475,000 at the 2009 Keeneland November sale. Racing in the Stonestreet colors, the dark bay won the 2014 GII Top Flight H. and was third in the 2012 GI Spinaway S. She is the dam of 3-year-old Cambria (Speightstown), who beat the boys in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint in 2019.

In partnership with Stonestreet, Leidel campaigned 2017 G1 King’s Stand S. and G1 Darley Prix Morny winner Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy). Banke purchased the filly for $7.5 million at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton November sale to dissolve the partnership. @JessMartiniTDN

Avengers Step in For ‘Quality’ Colt Late

The stallion-making partnership of SF Racing, Starlight, Madaket, et al, more commonly referred to as “The Avengers” these days after their trainer Bob Baffert coined the nickname, woke up a somewhat sleepy sales pavilion late in Thursday’s session to add another 2022 Classic prospect to their formidable roster.

The Quality Road colt was bred and consigned by Everett Dobson’s Candy Meadows as hip 1197. He cost $775,000.

“He’s a Quality Road–a great stallion,” said SF’s Tom Ryan. “We’re just starting to see the cream rising to the top now with him. Just think of what he’s accomplished already; the future’s so bright for him.”

Quality Road, whose crop of yearlings was bred on a $70,000 fee but who commanded $200,000 for the 2020 breeding season, has had seven KEEESEP sellers bring $500,000 or more. The Avengers bought two other colts in Book 1 (hip 97, $620,000; hip 187, $600,000), and their and Baffert’s agent bought the Lane’s End resident’s priciest seller, a $1-million filly (hip 67).

“A good horse comes in there, and there’s plenty of competition,” Ryan added. “We really felt like we were going to have to reach for this horse, but Bob, Donato, everybody loved him.”

The Avengers, who purchased recent GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic (Into Mischief) for $350,000 here two years ago, have racked up a tab of $9,825,000 on 22 head so far this September sale.

“It’s been a busy sale for us,” Ryan said. “Keeneland assembled a great group of horses here, and good horses are hard to buy.”

Dobson purchased hip 1197’s dam Sustainable (Forestry) for $200,000 at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton July sale, and raced her under his Cheyenne Stables banner to a couple of stakes placings and nearly $260,000 in earnings. Her 2017 Pioneerof the Nile colt sold for $400,000 here two terms ago and has been working in California towards a debut.

“We’re delighted,” said Candy Meadows’s Matt Lyons after he and Dobson thanked the buyers. “He’s a lovely horse and a homebred for the farm. We raised him all along and he grew up well. We didn’t have any horses in Book 1, so this is our first group here. We’ve waited all day for him, and there were some very good judges of horse flesh on him… The price was comfortably above the reserve. We liked him, but we set a reasonable reserve and let the market take care of it. There are a lot of good judges that vetted the horse. When we walked up here and saw the people bidding on the horse, it was very comforting.”

Lyons echoed the sentiments of many regarding the market: for the lots of perceived highest quality, there’s plenty of money.

“For the special horses like him, I don’t think there is any trouble at all,” Lyons said. “You have groups looking to buy two-turn Derby-type horses and there are a lot of people looking for that type of horse. When they all land on the same one, they can bring an exceptional price. The group that bought him obviously know how to win the big races, so that’s great for us having the mare at home and having siblings coming. Of course he’ll be trained by Mr. Baffert and he knows how to win the big races too, so it’s great.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

Constitution Filly Sells for a ‘Fortune

A filly by Constitution sat atop the leaderboard for much of the day Thursday after selling online for $725,000 to agents Alex Solis II and Jason Litt on behalf of the Roth family’s LNJ Foxwoods. The half-sister to last year’s GI Woody Stephens S. winner Hog Creek Hustle (Overanalyze) was consigned to the sale by Kitty Taylor’s Warrendale Sales on behalf of Sandra Sexton and Steven and Brandi Nicholson’s Silver Fern Farm as hip 904.

“She was just beautiful,” Taylor said. “She was vetted a tremendous amount. I sold her for some long-standing clients of mine who are very dear friends, Sandra Sexton and Silver Fern Farm. We sold Hog Creek Hustle and [MSW & GSP] Majestic Dunhill (Majesticperfection). She was vetted so much and handled it so well. She went to a great place with LNJ Foxwoods.”

Sexton and her late husband Hargus and Silver Fern acquired SW and MGSP Ready for Fortune (More Than Ready) while she was carrying a Candy Ride (Arg) filly at the 2010 Keeneland November sale. That filly never made the races, but Majestic Dunhill ($47,000 KEESEP ’16) was her first foal and Hog Creek Hustle ($150,000 KEESEP ’17) was her second foal. Her third foal by Gemologist was just a $4,000 FTKOCT yearling but won on debut as a juvenile in maiden special weight company and took a Churchill allowance.

Thursday’s sale was the first time the ownership group had really been able to cash in on Candy Fortune’s foals’ success, but Taylor said they won’t be selling the factory any time soon.

“They won’t sell the mare; they keep all their mares,” she said. “I had the mare Caroni (Rubiano) for them, [2018 GII Black-Eyed Susan S. winner] Red Ruby (Tiznow) was out of her, but they didn’t sell her, they kept her to race. They just like to build a big, solid broodmare band. Most people that buy to race know them well and they’re very comfortable buying from them.”

Candy Fortune lost her Flatter foal this year and was bred back to Frosted.

Hip 904, meanwhile, is the highest-priced yearling to sell so far this season by leading sophomore Tiz the Law’s red-hot sire Constitution–Solis/Litt also bought his second-most-expensive seller, a $375,000 colt at last week’s Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Showcase. This crop of yearlings was produced before Constitution’s first runners took his status to another level.

“[Hip 904] stood out [among the Constitutions] and that’s what I heard from everybody,” Taylor said. “She vetted and the physical matched. She was one of the better-pedigreed Constitutions. But [the sire] is on his way.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

Shadwell Goes Back for More Mischief

Shadwell Estate Company’s Rick Nichols, who was forced to $700,000 to acquire a colt by Into Mischief Wednesday at Keeneland, was able to get another son of the leading sire for $675,000 early during Thursday’s session of the Keeneland September sale.

“I thought we might have to go a little bit more than that,” Nichols admitted after signing the ticket on hip 880.

Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency as agent for his breeder Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, the yearling (hip 880) is out of Bella Jolie (Broken Vow) and is a half-brother to sprint champion Runhappy (Super Saver).

“He’s a very nice colt,” Nichols said. “He’s a half-brother to a good sprinter with good conformation and he looks like he has a really good head on his shoulders. Nice horse.”

Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell operation finished third in the Sept. 7 GI Runhappy Hopeful S. with Mutasaabeq, a son of Into Mischie, and Nichols said it was no surprise the stallion’s yearlings have been in demand at the September sales.

“He’s the leading sire in the country,” Nichols said. “We have a really good 2-year-old by him. We really like him.”

Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet operation purchased Bella Jolie, in foal to Cairo Prince, for $1.6 million at the 2015 Keeneland November sale. Her first Stonestreet-bred yearling to sell at auction was an Uncle Mo colt who sold for $500,000 at last year’s September sale.

“We met with the Stonestreet team and they decided to put this horse in Book 2,” explained Taylor Made’s Mark Taylor. “They thought he might stand out a little more here and I think he did. He was head and shoulders above a lot of the other horses we had in this book and the big buyers found him. That was significantly above our reserve. It was a good solid highlight to the day. We may have a couple of more that get there too.”

Nichols came back a few hips later to acquire a colt by Curlin (hip 911), again consigned by Taylor Made on behalf of Stonestreet for $500,000. During Wednesday’s session of the September sale, Nichols paid $800,000 for a colt by Speightstown (hip 559) consigned for Stonestreet by Elm Tree Farm. @JessMartiniTDN

Another Moon for the Lows

Robert and Lawana Low, who had graded success with Magnum Moon, added another son of Malibu Moon to their racing operation when bloodstock agent Jacob West made a final bid of $610,000 for hip 977 in the back show barn. Bred and consigned by Larry Doyle’s KatieRich Farms, the yearling is out of multiple graded placed Fantasy of Flight (Tiznow).

“He was kind of representative of what they look for,” West said of the yearling. “He looks like a big two-turn horse out of a mare who could run by a stallion they love. He vetted clean and was a beautiful specimen.”

West said demand for the top offerings remained strong as the September sale’s Book 2 concluded Thursday.

“It’s been strong for the right ones,” West said. “But we’re inching towards that spot in the sale where I think you are going to see a dramatic drop off. I think it’s slowed down just a little bit. And I think we are inching towards that–I don’t know when it’s coming. I hope not for a long time for the breeders’ sakes, but I think it’s coming.”

KatieRich acquired Fantasy of Flight privately in the midst of a racing career which saw her hit the board in five graded races. She had a Malibu Moon filly sell for $425,000 at the 2018 September sale and a Ghostzapper colt bring $500,000 at the auction last year. @JessMartiniTDN

Cayala Rewards Kingswood Again

Roderick Wachman’s Kingswood Farm and David Egan enjoyed their second consecutive year with high-dollar sale of a son of Into Mischief out of Cayala (Cherokee Run) at Keeneland September. Last year’s colt brought $550,000, and this year’s (hip 912) one-upped his brother at $600,000, selling to GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic (Into Mischief) co-owners Spendthrift Farm and MyRacehorse.com.

To be fair, though, the 2-year-old likely helped the yearling. Campaigned by Breeze Easy LLC, trained by Wesley Ward and named Roderick, he was a dominant debut winner at Belmont in June before finishing off the board in the GII Best Pal S. at Del Mar. Both colts are full-siblings to GSW One Liner, a $150,000 KEEJAN ’15 seller.

“It was a fantastic price; the [reserve] was way before that,” Wachman said. “He was a nice horse, so happy days. I hope they are very lucky with him. The mare and the stallion [together] have been very good to me. We bred all the foals. We bought the mare as a maiden [at Tattersalls December 2011 for $27,559].”

Cayala, who hails from the family of Grade I winners and sires Albertus Maximus and Daredevil, was bought back for just $52,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November sale while carrying One Liner.

“As you would expect, a lot of people have not traveled so, while we have lots of agents, the principals are not here,” Wachman said of the market. “When principals are not here, agents are a little more risk-averse because the person isn’t giving them a push.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

New High Water Mark for Lord Nelson

Spendthrift Farm freshman Lord Nelson (Pulpit) achieved his highest auction price to date Thursday when a half-brother to 2018 GII Remsen S. hero Maximus Mischief (Into Mischief)–now a Spendthrift resident himself–brought $460,000 from Frank Fletcher Racing and Ten Strike Racing. The strapping Apr. 3 foal was consigned to the sale as hip 1136 by his breeders, Mulholland Springs.

“I really felt like he was something fantastic,” John Mulholland said. “Like with most nice horses, you know they’re nice as soon as they’re foaled. He reminded me a lot of Maximus Mischief, and that’s because the mare throws a lot of herself into her foals. This one reminded me a lot of Max himself, and obviously it was a huge [for the pedigree] with him winning the graded stake and all of that. [Hip 1136] is exactly what you’re hoping for when you raise something. He’s  beautiful, he’s strong; a lot of body to him. He’s everything you hope for as a breeder.”

Lord Nelson, knocked out of the 2016 GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint in which he would have been a heavy favorite due to a leg infection, then had to overcome a battle with laminitis that forced him to miss the entire 2017 breeding season. While he may have lost a bit of momentum before covering his first mares last term, Mulholland is bullish on Lord Nelson’s future.

“I have supported him; I’ve liked him from day one,” he said. “Obviously, it was a tough start with him getting hurt and then his feet and all, but I’ve bred to him and I’m very hopeful. We need another son of Pulpit, and he’s a beautiful horse. I’ve liked everything he’s thrown for us, so I hope he makes it.”

Hip 1136 is out of a Songandaprayer half-sister to GISW Secret Compass (Discreet Cat) who made 28 starts in Puerto Rico. Maximus Mischief was a $165,000 KEENOV weanling and eventual $340,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic juvenile. Dam Reina Maria produced a full-brother to Maximus Mischief earlier this year before being bred back to Into Mischief once again.  —@BDiDonatoTDN

Scherer Dares Again

Bloodstock agent Clay Scherer, bidding on behalf of Staton Flurry, was able to acquire Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) as a graded stakes placed 2-year-old for $280,000 from the Hunter Valley Farm consignment at last year’s Keeneland November sale. The purchase paid off in spades when the filly captured the GI Kentucky Oaks 13 days ago for trainer Brad Cox. Scherer was back in action for Flurry Thursday at Keeneland, securing the Oaks winner’s half-sister by Speightster for $350,000 from the Woodford Thoroughbreds consignment.

“Staton loved her, Brad liked her a lot, too,” Scherer said after signing the ticket on hip 1182. “It’s worked out so far for them. She’ll get broke, go to Brad and see what happens. Hopefully we can make some magic happen again.”

Asked if he saw similarities between the two siblings, Scherer said, “Very much so. They look like carbon copies.”

Scherer said he has seen an exaggeration of the polarized market this September.

“It’s been challenging, it’s been very challenging as a buyer,” he said. “We’ve all landed on the same horses on numerous occasions. It’s much more polarized right now.” @JessMartiniTDN

Munnings Filly Pays for McCauley

If you follow him on Twitter, you know Nate McCauley loves Munnings, so it was no surprise to learn that, when he bought the young mare Show Me (Lemon Drop Kid) for $24,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton February sale, his plan was to send her to the Coolmore stallion. The move paid dividends at Keeneland Thursday when the resulting yearling (hip 1164) sold for $240,000 to Quarter Pole Enterprises.

“That’s just what you hope when you breed one, that they go on and do that,” McCauley said after watching the filly sell. “Eddie Woods bought her, so you can be hopeful that she’ll go on to bigger and better things.”

Show Me is a half-sister to graded stakes winner Aegean (Northern Afleet) and stakes winner Light Bringer (Norther Afleet).

“She is a Lemon Drop Kid mare and I’m a big fan of Lemon Drop Kid,” McCauley said of Show Me’s appeal. “It’s a really precocious pedigree, she’s a half-sister to a 2-year-old graded stakes winner that Wesley Ward had and Mark Casse bought her as a 2-year-old and paid a lot of money for her. She won first out and she’s just a beautiful mare. And of course, I’m the biggest Munnings fan. So I picked her out for Munnings. Munnings has a graded stakes winner out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare already, so I knew the cross would work.”

In order to give the yearling the best chance of success, McCauley took some partners in on the foal, who was consigned Thursday by Pat Costello and Gabriel Duignan’s Paramount Sales.

“A group of the lads came and saw the foal and they didn’t let me get her to the ring as a weanling,” McCauley said. “I loved the filly so much and I have such appreciation and respect for those guys that I wanted to get her in their hands and they let me stay in. So I got her in their hands because I thought they could do what they did with her.”

As for Show Me, McCauley said, “She is back in foal to Karakontie (Jpn), who I think is a sleeper. And of course, I’ll breed her back to Munnings.”@JessMartiniTDN

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Turf Paradise to AZHBPA: Let’s Race, But First Return Money

Thu, 2020-09-17 19:19

Turf Paradise is proposing to host a live meet next year that will run Jan. 2 through May 1, according to a letter from Turf Paradise general manager, Vince Francia, to the Arizona horsemen dated Thursday.

Turf Paradise had previously announced that it had cancelled its 2020-2021 race meet due to health fears associated with operating a live meet during a global pandemic.

For the proposed meet to go ahead, however, Turf Paradise management listed in the letter a number of caveats, namely that $2.1 million of disputed purse account monies be returned to Turf Paradise, and that the Arizona horsemen form a new representative organization or for the current Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (AZHBPA) board members and their executive director to resign.

These purse account funds have been the latest bone of contention in a long-running dispute between Arizona horsemen and management of Turf Paradise. Francia previously told the TDN that these funds contractually belong to Turf Paradise for the horsemen that race there.

The horsemen, however, argue that they ultimately wield control over the purse account, as per a prior arbitrated settlement. Indeed, earlier this week a widely circulated email stated that the AZHBPA has secured a good chunk of this money and placed it into a trust to pay purses if and when racing resumes elsewhere.

But Thursday’s letter states that the “first condition” for the proposed meet to go ahead at Turf Paradise is that the “$2.1 million” that was transferred be returned to the horsemen’s purse account at Turf Paradise.

“That money does not belong to the AZBBPA or to Turf Paradise,” the letter states. “It belongs to the horsemen who are racing live at Turf. Without that money being transferred back into the horsemen’s purse account, Turf would not be able to host the proposed race meet. It has been publically stated by AZHBPA President Bob Hutton that, ‘they [the funds] will be used only for purse money for whatever track that wants to run a live meet!'”

The “second condition” of a meet at Turf Paradise is that the Arizona horsemen form a new group that represents a “majority of horsemen at Turf Paradise,” and represent the horsemen’s interests in live racing and simulcasting at Turf Paradise. According to the letter, the new group would have to elect a board of directors, including a president and officers, and create by-laws.

The letter also states, however, that another “quicker way” to accomplish this goal would be for the current AZHBPA board members and their executive director to resign their positions, “making room” for a new board and executive director.

As per the letter: “Recently the AZHBPA and Turf Paradise agreed to terminate the current contract between us. A new contract will be needed between Turf Paradise and the new horsemen’s group.

“Suffice it is to say, both Turf and the AZHBPA have tried to resolve their differences. But with the transfer of Turf Paradise horsemen’s purse money into an account by the AZHBPA–without advising Turf management–there is no point in further dialogue or negotiations between the two of us.

“Time is of the essence. There is a lot that Turf Paradise and the horsemen need to do so that we can open racing on Jan. 2. This also includes Racing Commission approval of the proposed live dates. To get this done everyone is going to have to move quickly.”

National HBPA president Leroy Gessmann re-stated the AZHBPA’s position that it ultimately controls the purse account, and that the money is intended for whatever facility conducts a live race meet in Arizona.

“If Turf Paradise wants to run a live meet, all they’ve got to do is apply for live dates, meet the safety standards set forth by the commission, and we will provide them with the purse money,” said Gessmann.

When asked about the second condition in the letter–the formation of a new horsemen’s group–Gessmann responded: “I don’t know what to say about that–the HBPA is the one that holds the purse money.”

The HBPA is also the horsemen’s recognized group, he added, “not only at Turf Paradise but according to the state.”

Gessmann also cast doubts over the sincerity of the proposed race-dates in the letter. “All [Turf Paradise owner, Jerry Simms] is trying to do is keep his OTB system intact,” said Gessmann. “He’s not trying to run a race meet.”

According to Francia, however, the change in heart concerning the operation of a live race meet this ensuing winter has been brought about by concerns for the Arizona horsemen.

“The horsemen have wanted and needed a place to race during the winter,” he said. “The pandemic hasn’t gone away–we’re well aware of that, and we’re going to have to deal with that.”

When asked about his request for the horsemen to form a new group to represent the horsemen’s interests, Francia said that it’s an effort to break the intransigence in ongoing negotiations between the two entities.

“Personally, I’ve known Mr. Simms for 20 years–I’m his good friend as well as his employee,” said Francia. “I am just exhausted and disheartened by this negative energy that has been directed towards him by this board.”

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Claiming Crown Returns to Gulfstream for Ninth Year in a Row

Thu, 2020-09-17 16:35

The 22nd edition of the Claiming Crown, a nine-race event offering $835,000 in purses to the blue-collar horses that are the backbone of the Thoroughbred industry’s day-to-day racing schedule, will return to Gulfstream Park for the ninth consecutive year Saturday, Dec. 5.

Handle on the Claiming Crown has climbed each of the last eight years since being held at Gulfstream.

The Claiming Crown is a partnership between the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).

“The Claiming Crown from its inception has been a unique way to celebrate these blue-collar horses,” said Gulfstream’s Vice President of Racing Mike Lakow. “It’s a fantastic day of racing and a day racing fans look forward to. We’re excited to once again be part of this great event.”

“We want to express our sincerest appreciation to Gulfstream Park and the Florida HBPA for their continued commitment to the Claiming Crown,” said Dan Metzger, president of TOBA. “With all of the challenges we’re facing as a sport and country this year, it’s very gratifying to be able to host the 22nd running of our event.”

Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA, added: “The National HBPA Board of Directors with President Leroy Gessmann and our Regional Vice Presidents are extremely pleased to once again announce the 2020 Claiming Crown, along with our partners TOBA, the Florida HBPA, and Gulfstream Park. We continue to see this event grow in popularity with owners, trainers, and horseplayers, all of whom are without question the backbone of our industry. The Claiming Crown has always recognized the excellence of Thoroughbred racing’s stalwarts. Even amid today’s trying circumstances, it’s a priority for us to provide this day showcasing the blue-collar horses and their owners and trainers who make racing programs across America possible. While we understand this year is a year like no other, we all feel it is important to also see this amazing day of races take place as it has been for over 20 years, and we hope by doing so to bring a sense of stability for horsemen.”

The $150,000 Jewel will headline the Claiming Crown program. The 1 1/8-mile route will be contested by 3-year-olds and up that have raced for a claiming price of $35,000 or less.

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Liveyourbeastlife Breezes for Preakness

Thu, 2020-09-17 15:42

William H. Lawrence’s Liveyourbeastlife (Ghostzapper), the runner-up in the GII Jim Dandy S. at Saratoga Sept. 5, worked five-eighths in :59.89 (3/9) Thursday over the Belmont Park main track in preparation for the GI Preakness S. Oct. 3.

Trainer Jorge Abreu said that the dark bay would be supplemented to the third and final leg of the Triple Crown.

“He breezed really well today,” Abreu said. “He went in :59 4/5, which is something he’s never done before. We’re going to take a shot.”

Liveyourbeastlife, a $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-year-old graduate, previously captured a Saratoga allowance over older horses going 1 1/8 miles Aug. 12, the same distance as the Jim Dandy.

“He didn’t show much early on, but every jockey that rode him never came back with a negative thing about him, they would say, ‘this horse wants to run long,'” Abreu added.

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Pharoah, Justify Halters On Offer to Benefit Ronald McDonald House

Thu, 2020-09-17 14:54

The Ronald McDonald House of the Bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky will be holding a drawing to win framed halters worn by Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify.

The halters, donated by Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, where the pair stand, are professionally framed in museum-quality shadowboxes by Frames on Main in Paris, Ky., and come with a letter of authenticity.

The funds will raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of the Bluegrass, which allows families to stay close to their children while they are receiving the medical care they need. At the House, families who are away from home to be with their children at local hospitals are provided home-cooked meals, laundry facilities, bedrooms with private bathrooms, indoor and outdoor play areas for children, special suites for children with suppressed immune systems, recreational activities, and transportation to and from local hospitals three times per day.

Much of the House’s work is done by dedicated volunteers. Volunteers serve as van drivers, help with yard work and cleaning projects, conduct fundraisers and serve on a variety of committees.

A minimum of 60 tickets must be sold in order to hold the auction, which will be streamed live on the charity’s Facebook page September 30, with the winner to be notified no later than that evening at 6 p.m.

The auction was made possible by Coolmore America and Bobby Shiflet of Frames on Main, with special thanks to Brian Tormey, Bruce Rintoul and The Vollet Family.

Visit https://rmhclexington-halters.square.site/ to enter the raffle.

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Runhappy Meet at Kentucky Downs Generates Record Handle

Thu, 2020-09-17 14:13

The Runhappy meet at Kentucky Downs, which concluded Wednesday, Sept. 16, saw record betting handle across the six days of live racing that totaled $59,828,44 for a total of 62 races (average per race $964,975), including $9,487,705 on the final day. The previous record of $41,239,699 (average $824,794) was set in 2019.

Even with a modest reduction in prize money owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and a two-month absence of revenue from historical racing machines, a record total of $12,337,000 was paid out over the course of the meet, bettering last year’s $11,520,380.

A perennial leader among U.S. tracks in number of starters per race, Kentucky Downs averaged 9.98 for the just-concluded season, a decline from last year’s astonishing 11.26. The 16 black-type races staged at the meet drew an average of 10.25 runners, including 11.17 for the six sprint stakes. Nine first-level allowance races averaged 11.18 horses, while non-claiming maiden races averaged 10.33 runners.

The meet did not come off completely glitch-free. The fifth race on the opening day of the meet Sept. 7 was declared a no-contest when a gate malfunction saw the gates open with two horses left to load and several others unprepared for the start. On Wednesday’s closing card, officials initially posted the incorrect order of finish for race three, but corrected the mistake prior to the race being declared official. And the track made use of Equibase’s Gmax timing and tracking systems, resulting in times that were uniformly faster from past meets. The track attributed this to “different and more standard starting positions based on GPS measurements,” resulting in race times that varied “significantly.”

“We can’t thank the horsemen and the horseplayers enough for their support this meet,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ senior vice president and general manager. “The numbers speak for themselves. We appreciate the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission giving us an additional day this year, and the horsemen took full advantage of it. We had some mishaps and glitches, and each will be scrutinized whether they resulted from human error or were beyond our control. Through it all, our racing was spectacular, which is a credit to our owners, trainers and jockeys and to which bettors across the country enthusiastically responded.

He continued, “As far as times and course records, we are going to study the data before making a final determination. But in all likelihood, 2020 will become the baseline year going forward as far as course records. With any new technology, there is a learning curve and hiccups. But we believe the new system is a big step toward addressing the challenges of timing such a unique course as Kentucky Downs.”

Tyler Gaffalione was the meet’s leading rider with 11 victories, while Mike Maker won a record fifth title with eight winners. His client Three Diamonds Farm was represented by four winners.

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Abandoned Green Mountain Park Destroyed in ‘Suspicious’ Blaze

Thu, 2020-09-17 12:35

The grandstand at Green Mountain Park, a former southern Vermont racetrack that last hosted Thoroughbreds in 1976, was completely consumed by flames in the overnight hours of Sept. 16-17. Authorities are calling the blaze in the vacant structure “suspicious” and deeming it a total loss.

At least 10 fire departments from Vermont, Massachusetts and New York all responded to battle the flames starting at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, and some firefighters remained on the scene Thursday morning containing hot spots. No injuries have been reported.

Fire officials told WCAZ-TV in Vermont that the grandstand was “made of wood contained in concrete, making it like an oven.”

According to the website for the radio station WBEC in western Massachusetts, “Smoke could be seen pouring from the back of the 64,000 square-foot grandstand building located on the side of the track. By about 1:20 a.m., heavy fire began to appear in the front of the building.

“A long line of emergency vehicles and tankers paraded up and down Route 7 as they refilled from a hydrant,” the WBEC report continued. “However the size of the structure and especially access to water appeared to be hampering firefighters’ efforts, according to scanner reports.”

In its prime, Green Mountain was nestled in one of the most picturesque settings in all of American racing, tucked among the trees at the southern tip of the iconic mountain range for which it was named. For Thoroughbreds, it featured a unique 13/16ths of a mile oval, with an inordinately long stretch of 1,106 feet.

Founded by Lou Smith, who owned Rockingham Park in New Hampshire, Green Mountain first hosted Thoroughbreds in 1963 and added Standardbred racing a year later. In 1968, the track was the first on the East Coast to host Sunday racing, drawing busloads of horseplayers from as far away as Philadelphia.

But the track’s rural location far away from major highways and cities largely worked against it, and Green Mountain had solvency issues almost from the start. The harness meet ran through the brutal Vermont winters, and in 1973, four years after Smith died, the Rooney family of Pittsburgh bought the track.

By 1976, Green Mountain had become the first track in the country to host Thoroughbred, Standardbred, and greyhound racing in a single year. But the lower-cost dog racing eventually forced out the horses. The final Thoroughbred program on September 12, 1976, was marred when jockey Thomas Arroyo was trampled to death.

Greyhound racing ceased by 1992, and the property changed hands several times. Over the last three decades, various developments and businesses have been proposed, including mixed-use housing and a water bottling facility. The former track also staged outdoor entertainment events like concerts and auto shows, and the vacant infield later became a popular spot for drone-flying enthusiasts.

When a TDN reporter last visited in 2005, the property was under heavy video surveillance with numerous trespass warnings prominently posted.

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Keeneland September Sale Marches Into Book 2

Wed, 2020-09-16 20:51

by Jessica Martini & Brian DiDonato

LEXINGTON, KY – The Keeneland September Yearling Sale continued to see strong action at the top, but an elevated buy-back rate at the first of two Book 2 sessions Wednesday in Lexington. A colt by Uncle Mo from the Gainesway consignment brought the day’s highest bid when selling for $950,000 to bloodstock agent David Ingordo.

In all, 185 yearlings sold for $40,861,000. The average was $220,870 and the median was $180,000. Through three sessions, 394 head have grossed $126,076,000 for an average of $319,990 and a median of $250,000.

Last year’s Keeneland sale opened with a power-packed three-session Book 1 which saw 340 yearlings sell for $160,463,000. The Book 1 average was $471,950 and the median was $355,000.

“Last year was sort of a surreal market, it was one of the strongest September sales I think we’ve seen in a long time, regardless of the [record-setting] $8.2-million [sale topper], the whole feel of the market was very strong last year,” said Keeneland’s Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell. “To replicate that in a normal year would have been difficult, so what we are doing at the moment in what is definitely not a normal year, I think we should be very appreciative of both our buyers and sellers who are here to make this market. And we are.”

Last year’s Book 2 session featured a pair of $1-million yearlings, including last week’s GI Del Mar Futurity runner-up Spielberg (Union Rags). But with five horses selling for $800,000, Wednesday’s session topper was the only to approach seven figures and the only one over $900,000.

“Book 1 is where million-dollar horses should be, if we do our job right,” Russell said. “Last year, we were fortunate enough to have Spielberg bring a million and he is Grade I placed now. Today we had one for $950,000. Last year at this session, we had 16 horses bring over $500,000 and this year we had 12 bring that. Given the era of COVID, I think that’s a pretty strong statistic. Buyers seem to be lighting on the same horses, driving those prices up. It’s a horse sale.”

Through three days of selling, the buy-back rate was 39.29% as sellers seemed to continue to struggle to adjust to an uncertain marketplace.

“When you breed at one end of the market and have to sell at another, it’s very difficult to come to terms with that,” Russell said. “I think we are seeing some of that. I think it’s coming to the adjustment now of, ‘What do I have in the horse and what am I getting out?’ We hope that adjusts as we go forward.”

The domestic buying bench continued to dominate the top of the market, but foreign buyers remained active with Wednesday’s bidding featuring 150 bids, and six sales, from internet bidders.

“We were looking at it closely and I think, at a time when there is such uncertainty about how much international participation there would be, we were really happy with the buyer base,” said Keeneland President Elect Shannon Arvin. “It’s a very diverse buyer base and they are participating in different ways. We continued to have a lot of activity on the internet today, particularly from Japan.”

The Keeneland September sale continues through Sept. 25 with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

Uncle Mo Colt to Ingordo

Bloodstock agent David Ingordo, bidding out back, outlasted the SF/Starlight/Madaket partnership bidding in the show ring to acquire a colt by Uncle Mo for a session-topping $950,000 early in Wednesday’s third session of the Keeneland September sale. The yearling was consigned by Gainesway as agent for his breeder, Three Chimneys. He is the first foal out of the unraced Bella Rafaela (Smart Strike), a half-sister to Grade I winner Twirling Candy (Candy Ride {Arg}).

“I saw this horse at Three Chimneys Farm a few weeks before the sale,” Ingordo said. “He is one of the best prospects I saw and I probably looked at 1,500 on the farms before the sale. He was my personal top pick. We have Twirling Candy [at Lane’s End] and he looks like the family. This is the horse we wanted to have.”

Ingordo signed the ticket on the colt (hip 506) in the name of Mayberry Farm and, while he declined to name the client he was buying for, he was bidding alongside owner Lee Searing of C R K Stable.

Several high-priced offerings at Keeneland this week have been purchased by partnerships made up of major buyers, with SF/Starlight and Madaket leading the way.

“We try to buy the best horse. We have our price in mind and we know you have to stretch for the better ones,” Ingordo said. “What’s hard, and what we do have to figure out how to adjust to, is that my clients are usually their own entities. So it’s one person’s finances, in some instances, against many people’s finances. I work for a lot of private individuals and what we have to adjust for is partnership stuff. That’s the hardest thing when you have a partnership going in and buying 20. It’s a great strategy and I have to figure out my own plan for that. But when you’re bidding for one person against an entity that is many-headed and many-walleted, that’s something we have to figure out how to adjust for.”

Chris Baker of Three Chimneys said he was happy with the result in what has been a challenging market for sellers.

“He was a really nice colt and, in what has proven to be a pretty selective market, it’s great to see him jump through all of the hoops and do well,” said Baker. “His price isn’t surprising, but it’s certainly encouraging in this market. And he’s in good hands to do well, so we are excited about that also.”

Baker continued, “For us, the market this week has been kind of moderate at best. This is the first colt that has exceeded expectations on any level. The others, we’ve gotten some traded, had some RNAs. It’s been a challenging, selective market with a lower ceiling.”

Of the decisions on which of the Three Chimneys foal crop is taken to market, Baker explained, “We try and bring 50% of the value of the crop to market. So it’s not a number, it’s more of an internal appraisal. We are trying to meet some budget restraints and to generate some revenue. If you kept what are your best half and sold the lesser half, we’ve got a business to run and operational expenses and all of that. So we’ve got to generate revenue. Something has to sell and sell well. You’ve got to feed the beast.” @JessMartiniTDN

Second Time a Charm for Into Mischief Colt

A colt by Into Mischief (hip 564), led out unsold at $230,000 as a weanling at last year’s Keeneland November sale, proved more popular in his second trip through the Keeneland sales ring, selling for $875,000 to the bid of bloodstock agent Demi O’Byrne Wednesday. The yearling is out of Divine Heart (Divine Park), a half-sister to multiple Grade I winner Include Me Out (Include) and Grade I winner Check the Label (Stormin Fever). He was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency on behalf of breeder Fred Hertrich.

“It’s really hard to get something to sell well, but we thought that was a really special horse,” said Taylor Made’s Duncan Taylor. “He’s a great mover and looks like an Into Mischief is supposed to look.”

Taylor said bidding was selective at the September sales, but when the right people hooked up on a horse, sellers could be rewarded.

“We’ve sold Into Mischiefs in this sale that were similar for $400,000 or $450,000, but if you can get two of the right people hooked up on a horse, it can make the difference by $200,000 or $300,000.”

Asked about the difference in results from November to September, Taylor said succinctly, “I think the Derby winner,” referring to GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic (Into Mischief). “[In September] there are more end users and people visualizing and saying, ‘I could win a Classic with an Into Mischief and this looks like a two-turn horse.’ It’s just a different market. Here there are people that want to take them and race them and win the big races.”

Into Mischief has dominated both the Fasig Showcase last week and the early sessions of the Keeneland sale, but that is no surprise to Taylor.

“He’s probably going to have a greater effect on the breed than even Storm Cat did,” Taylor said of Into Mischief. “His conformation is good whereas Storm Cats, they were beautiful horses, but they were pigeon-toed. [Into Mischief’s] sons like Practical Joke are throwing the same thing. Into Mischief is here to stay. He’s going to keep at it.” @JessMartiniTDN

Repole & Viola Continue Spending Spree

Prominent New York-based owners Mike Repole and Vinnie Viola, who co-campaigned last year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Classic S. winner Vino Rosso (Curlin), have been loading up for the future this week and last in Lexington. With the help of agent Jacob West, they bought two colts at the Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Showcase for a combined $600,000, and have spent $6.38 million on 15 head so far at KEESEP. They waited until Book 2 for their largest expenditure yet, an $875,000 Into Mischief colt consigned by Gainesway, Agent XVII as hip 701.

One of Repole/Viola’s Fasig buys was a $450,000 son of Into Mischief, and Viola’s St Elias Stables signed for another $300,000 daughter of the Spendthrift stalwart across town. They’ve now purchased four sons of Into Mischief at Keeneland (hip 211, $450,000; hip 290, $360,000; and hip 646, $350,000), and one grandson of Into Mischief from the first crop of Practical Joke (hip 725, $575,000).

“Into Mischief, having Authentic win the [GI Kentucky] Derby has taken that stallion to another level,” said West, after doing his bidding in the back ring alongside trainer Todd Pletcher, and fending off the likes of agent Donato Lanni to snag the colt. “I think at some point in time [Into Mischief] probably had a reputation of getting horses that were more the sprinter or miler-type animals, but now he’s shown he can get a Classic-distance horse and it’s put him in the upper echelons in Kentucky.”

Into Mischief’s 34 sellers through Wednesday have grossed a leading $18.83 million at an average of $558,824. He has had four reach seven figures and 14 meet or exceed $500,000.

“I think at the end of the day, the market has always dictated that good horses are going to sell no matter who they’re by or what they’re out of,” West said. “But obviously, Authentic winning the Derby has put Into Mischief into another stratosphere. He’s always been an incredible stallion, but now he’s moved a couple rungs up the ladder because he’s shown he can do things people didn’t think he could do.”

Repole and Viola are one of a few groups who have teamed up to take home many of the top lots at KEESEP–particularly colts.

“Mike Repole, Vinnie Viola and their families are extremely supportive of the horse business,” West said. “But what the summary here doesn’t show is how many horses we’ve bid on. We’ve been active at several levels. In Book 1, we focused primarily on colts and now they’ve dipped their toes in a little on fillies. But we’ve been outbid on more horses than we have bought if that tells you anything. There are a couple of groups that we consistently butt heads with, but that is how the market is today. We’re just excited to get this horse.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

Nicols Rides Into Mischief Train to Big Score

Loren Nichols, who operates Trackside Farm in Williston, FL, was all smiles Wednesday as he and Gainesway general manager Brian Graves celebrated the $875,000 sale of hip 701.

Nichols paid just $47,000 for the colt’s unraced dam Mimi’s Tiz (Tiznow) while she was carrying her first foal, a colt by Will Take Charge, at the 2017 Keeneland November Sale. The resulting foal only brought $32,000 last September, but Nichols more than got out on that purchase with Mimi’s Tiz’s second foal.

“Oh, I just loved the mare,” Nichols, who has a background in breeding and training Arabians, of Mimi’s Tiz’s appeal. “I took one look at her–she was carrying what I thought was going to be a very nice baby by Will Take Charge. That didn’t turn out so good, but she’s a lovely mare. She’s got a beautiful Bolt d’Oro baby at home. This horse was just perfect all the way through.”

Mimi’s Tiz, a $300,000 FTSAUG yearling, is a full-sister to SW Summer House out of SW Mimi’s Bling (Bernstein). She hails from the family of speedy Custom for Carlos, a leading sire in Louisiana.

Nichols, who keeps a broodmare band of approximately 10, hinted that he may have another reason to celebrate at Keeneland in a couple of months.

“I’ve got a real special [Into Mischief] filly at home who’s going to be in the November sale,” he revealed. “We’re excited about that one–she’s better than this one.”

The Mar. 22 foal is out of stakes-placed Conway Two Step (Spanish Steps), who is a half-sister to the dam of MGISW Miss Temple City (Temple City). Nichols paid just $11,000 for that one at the 2013 OBS Winter Mixed Sale, and has already sold a $475,000 Into Mischief yearling out of her. —@BDiDonatoTDN

Owens, Fincher on Lookout for ‘The One’

There were a pair of fresh faces slugging it out with the usual suspects Wednesday, and the relative newbies won out as Lori Owens of B-4 Farms LLC and top New Mexico-based trainer Todd Fincher refused to back down and went all the way to $870,000 to take home hip 757. The Quality Road colt was consigned to the sale by Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck’s Summerfield on behalf of Stonestreet Bred & Raised. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was overheard saying to Owens and Fincher afterward something to the effect of, “You bought my horse!”

Owens and Fincher did their bidding in the show barn alongside agent Pete Bradley and his daughter Devon, and Fincher said the Bradley Thoroughbreds team provided he and Owens with a list of about a dozen horses before they eventually pared that list down to three. Hip 757 was the third and final to go through the ring.

“This is the top of the line, and that’s where we all strive to get to some day,” said Fincher, a prolific conditioner on his circuit of both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds who has racked up close to $30 million in career earnings. “Hopefully, this horse will take us there. He was just perfect-bodied; perfectly balanced. The breeding was there. We just couldn’t fault him in any way.”

Of Owens, who is from Abilene, TX, Fincher said, “She just got in the business a few years ago and had some success. She loves the game, and she wanted ‘The One’, so we’re looking for ‘The One.’ Hopefully, this colt is it.”

He continued, “Her friends got in on a couple Quarter Horses–which I didn’t have–and I told her that in Thoroughbred game around here, you can buy them pretty cheap; have fun and win some money. The first one I bought her won a [$157,000] futurity, and she paid [$32,000] for the horse. She just loves it; she loves the excitement. She understands the game–it’s a gamble–and she understands it. She loves it, and she loves the sale… She doesn’t just call in and say, ‘Go find me a horse.’ She loves to be here, and you’re here for hours every day, but she’s figured it out.”

Owens’s current runners include Canoodling (Pioneerof the Nile), a $180,000 buy here last season who Fincher prepared at Sunland Park and Ruidoso Downs before shipping her to Jeff Mullins at Del Mar. She won on debut in a turf sprint at the seaside oval July 31, but was fifth with a troubled trip in the Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf S. Sept. 6.

Hip 757, whose dam was acquired for $460,000 at KEENOV ’17 in foal to Harlan’s Holiday, is half to GSW Poker Player (Harlan’s Holiday) and two more stakes-placed runners. This is the female family of recent GI Forego S. hero Win Win Win (Hat Trick {Jpn}).

@BDiDonatoTDN

Shadwell Active in Book 2

Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate Company Ltd., typically the first or second-leading buyer at Keeneland September, was a bit quieter in Book 1 than usual, but struck early in the Book 2 opener Wednesday to land hip 474–a colt by sire of the moment Into Mischief–for $700,000.

The full-brother to MGSP Class Act was bred by George Krikorian and consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency.

“He’s a really nice colt,” said Shadwell general manager and vice president Rick Nichols. “I’m surprised; he should have been in the first book. We’re very pleased with that…I got beat out one the other night, and actually I like this one better.”

Hip 474 is bred on the same Into Mischief–Distorted Humor cross as GISW and first-yearling sire Practical Joke. His third dam is Sheikh Mohammed’s Group 2 winner Colour Chart (Mr. Prospector), who produced the likes of champion 2-year-old filly Tempera (A.P. Indy).

Shadwell’s 2-year-old colt Mutasaabeq (Into Mischief) was named a TDN Rising Star for his Saratoga unveiling Aug. 1 and was third in the GI Runhappy Hopeful S. there last week.

Nichols admitted that Sheikh Hamdan’s absence at this year’s yearling sales had made an impact on Shadwell’s expenditure.

“Well, he sometimes doesn’t stop when I have to stop,” Nichols chuckled. “It’s definitely had some effect. We got beat out on four Monday night, and I think if he had been here we would’ve owned one. I have to follow instructions–he doesn’t.”

Shadwell later added an $800,000 Speightstown full-brother to SW/MGISP Dawn the Destroyer (hip 559) and two more for $270,000 total. —@BDiDonatoTDN

Stonestreet Products Continue to Prove Popular

Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Bred & Raised sold the $2-million Tapit topper during Book 1 of KEESEP Monday, and its crop of high-quality yearlings continued to be well received into Book 2 Wednesday.

Among Stonestreet’s five sellers for $2.81 million in gross receipts Wednesday was the aforementioned $870,000 Quality Road and hip 559, the Speightstown colt picked up by Shadwell for $800,000. The dark bay was consigned by Jody and Michelle Huckabay’s Elm Tree Farm.

“He is a very, very nice horse–thanks to Stonestreet, Ms. Banke, for letting us sell him,” Jody Huckabay said. “We saw him back in April, and Michelle and I got back in the car and our mouths dropped open. We loved him. He’s a very, very good horse, and obviously the buyers thought so too. We had a lot of interest. Shadwell has bought a lot of horses from us and thank goodness they believe in the product we bring up here.”

As for hip 559 being offered in Book 2, rather than Book 1 where he would have fit well on pedigree and physical, Huckabay said,

“We didn’t put any horses in Book 1. We’re kind of middle-of-the-road sellers, if you will, but this horse certainly could’ve gone in Book 1. Absolutely.”

Of the markte, he added, “We’ve carried three through, we’ve sold sold three. The ones they’re on, you know when you leave the barn if you’re going to be ok or not, in general. If there’s nobody on them, it’s pretty tough.”

Hip 559 is out of TDN Rising StarDashing Debby (Medaglia d’Oro), who romped in Calder’s J J’dream S. at first asking in 2009 before being acquired privately by Stonestreet.

While she failed to hit the board in four subsequent tries, Dashing Debby has made up for it in the breeding shed. Her first foal Bronze Star (Tapit) was a $500,000 KEESEP yearling in 2013 and eventually became a stakes winner. Dawn the Destroyer racked up better than $556,000 on the track for Stonestreet, capped by a third-place run in last year’s GI Breeders’ Cup F/M Sprint. She was bred to Into Mischief this past season.

Hip 559 was bred on a potent and popular cross responsible for the likes of Grade I winners Competitionofideas and Rock Fall and GSW ‘Rising Star’ Strike Power. A $475,000 Speightster (Speightstown) filly (hip 629) who sold Wednesday is bred the same way.

Stonestreet’s 2019 September sellers grossed $17,040,700 from 49 head. Its 2020 tally is up to $5,745,000 for eight.

“I hope [marketing the horses as Stonestreet Bred & Raised] gives buyers more confidence,” Banke said after thanking Nichols. “We raise racehorses; we don’t ‘hot-house’ them. We do all the right things and try to raise a racehorse that is sturdy and has great breeding.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

Breeze Easy, Baccari Score With Gun Runner

Mike Hall and Sam Ross’s Breeze Easy is partnering with Chris Baccari on a commercial broodmare band of some 60-90 head and the partnership scored late in Wednesday’s session of the Keeneland sale when selling a son of Gun Runner for $775,000 to bloodstock agent David Ingordo, signing as Mayberry Farm. The bay colt (hip 812) is out of Sweet Shirley Mae (Broken Vow), who was second in the 2012 GI Spinaway S. Breeze Easy purchased the mare, in foal to Giant’s Causeway, for $225,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton November sale.

“This is our goal, to raise good quality horses. That is what our goal has been the last two years,” Baccari said. “We are looking to acquire really good mares and mate them the best we can and try to come up with good results.”

Of the yearling, who is a half-brother to stakes winner Mae Never No (Ire) (No Nay Never), Baccari added, “I knew he was very popular. In this particular market, sometimes they are really on and fireworks happen. If they aren’t enough on them, there is a little bit of fizzle, but not enough bang. That’s how I look at the market right now, there is a lot of value here for people. If you are in the top 10% of your day, I don’t care if you are in Book 5, you are going to probably have a good result.”

While Breeze Easy has enjoyed success on the racetrack, Baccari said the partnership is focused on selling its foals.

“There is a time and a case where it’s not going over good and it’s worth keeping them at a normal or realistic price, if you like the horse,” Baccari explained. “There was a More Than Ready filly we kept at Fasig-Tipton. We thought it would be hard to replace her and we bought her back for not much money. I think that’s fine. But when people want to buy your horses, you have to let them buy. Our goal was to set this up as a commercial operation.” @JessMartiniTDN

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Monmouth Seeks New Partner to Keep Exchange Wagering Alive in New Jersey

Wed, 2020-09-16 19:03

In the wake of last week’s news that Betfair intends to pull the plug on its exchange wagering platform in New Jersey on Oct. 1, Dennis Drazin, the chairman and chief executive of Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth Park, told the New Jersey Racing Commission Sept. 16 that his track is actively seeking another partner to continue the bettor-versus-bettor style of wager-matching that is popular in other parts of the world but hasn’t quite caught on in America.

“Although they want out of business, we do not,” Drazin said. “They are winding down their operation, but we intend to look for a new service provider to continue, at some point, the exchange wagering in New Jersey. We do understand that if we’re going to apply for a license, we’d have to do so by Oct. 15.

“I think the failure of exchange wagering from their perspective was that major jurisdictions would not give us access to their signal,” Drazin said. “They couldn’t get New York. They couldn’t get California. They couldn’t get Kentucky. They couldn’t get Florida. So you had wagering on–and I wouldn’t want to offend anybody–a lot of tracks that were not the ‘A list.'”

Drazin continued: “They also told us…at the current time that there were only 136 active users on the exchange, and they felt that their revenues could be better dedicated to improving 4NJBets [account wagering]. This kind of caught me by surprise in terms of timing when they said they wanted to wind down.

“I’ve had some preliminary conversations with others that have expressed interest. It’s very popular in Europe. It’s popular in Australia. I think that there is a [situation] that a lot of people would like to bet on the major tracks. And perhaps, if we get to a point where TVG–and I know they’re working on it–talks about fixed-odds wagering, there is an avenue to have fixed-odds wagering and exchange wagering that gets more widely adopted throughout the country.

“So I think that the commission did a great job in approving exchange wagering and is willing to be a leader in making us the first in this country,” Drazin summed up. “And I think that we shouldn’t give up on it. If we can find another partner that’s willing to invest the time, energy and money to continue this, we will do so.”

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New Jersey Enacts Nation’s Most Stringent Whipping Ban

Wed, 2020-09-16 18:22

Starting at next year’s Monmouth Park meet, whipping a Thoroughbred will not be allowed by any New Jersey jockey or exercise rider except for the express purpose of ensuring the immediate safety of the horse or rider.

Spanning three new rules covering prohibition, allowable usage for safety, and whip construction, the trio of regulations were voted in 4-0 by the New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC) at its Sept. 16 meeting, making the state the first in the nation to ban whipping beyond protection in an emergency situation.

If a jockey or exercise rider uses the riding crop in a manner contrary to the new rules, he or she will be subject to a fine, suspension, or forfeiture of the jockey’s share of the purse “if, in the opinion of the stewards, the unauthorized use of the whip caused the horse to achieve a better placing,” the new rules state.

Judith Nason, the NJRC’s executive director, said the new regulations could be approved by the state office of administrative law in time to go into effect at the tail end of this autumn’s Meadowlands-at-Monmouth meet.

But after fielding a question about timing from Dennis Drazin, the chairman and chief executive of Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth, Nason said the commission is open to waiting until 2021 to begin enforcement in Thoroughbred races (the rule also covers Standardbred racing).

“That would give us a chance to meet with the jockeys and educate the jockeys regarding the new rule,” Nason said.

If a rider does use the whip on a horse, the rules state that the strike shall not be “in a manner that causes any visible sign, mark, welt, or break in the skin of the horse, or that is otherwise excessive.”

The rules continue: “If the riding crop is used, under the supervision of the stewards, there shall be a visual inspection of each horse following each race for evidence of excessive or brutal use of the riding crop.”

The whips must be “soft-padded [and] have a shaft and a soft tube” that does not exceed eight ounces in weight or 30 inches in length, with a minimum shaft diameter of three-eighths of one inch.

“The shaft, beyond the grip, must be smooth, with no protrusions or raised surface, and covered by shock absorbing material that gives a compression factor of at least one millimeter throughout its circumference,” the regulations state.

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Two Plead Guilty in Doping Charges

Wed, 2020-09-16 17:39

Scott Robinson and Sarah Izhaki each pled guilty today to conspiring to unlawfully distribute adulterated and misbranded drugs for the purpose of doping racehorses. Robinson pled guilty before U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken, and will be sentenced by Judge Oetken on Jan. 15, 2021. Izhaki pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, and will be sentenced by Judge Vyskocil on Dec. 2, 2020.

“Scott Robinson and Sarah Izhaki represent the supply side of a market of greed that continues to endanger racehorses through the sale of performance-enhancing drugs,” said Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Each of these defendants provided the raw materials for fraud and animal abuse through the sale of unregulated and dangerous substances: Robinson’s products were manufactured in shoddy facilities with no professional oversight of their composition; Izhaki’s products were smuggled into the country and sold from cars in supermarket parking lots. These convictions show that our office and our partners at the FBI are committed to the prosecution and investigation of corruption, fraud, and endangerment in the horse racing industry.”

According to the Indictments, from at least in or about 2011 through at least in or about March, 2020, Robinson conspired with others to manufacture, sell, and ship millions of dollars’ worth of adulterated and misbranded equine drugs, including performance-enhancing drugs intended to be administered to racehorses for the purpose of improving those horses’ race performance in order to win races and obtain prize money. Robinson sold these drugs through several direct-to-consumer websites designed to appeal to racehorse trainers and owners, including, among others, “horseprerace.com.”

Robinson contributed to the conspiracy by, among other things, sourcing chemicals used to create custom PEDs that were advertised and sold; falsely labeling, packaging, and shipping those PEDs to customers across the country, including in the Southern District of New York; and collecting, reporting, and responding to employee and customer complaints regarding the misbranded and adulterated products advertised and sold online. Among the drugs advertised and sold during the course of the conspiracy were “blood builders,” which are used by racehorse trainers and others to increase red blood cell counts and/or the oxygenation of muscle tissue of a racehorse in order to stimulate the horse’s endurance, which enhances that horse’s performance in, and recovery from, a race, as well as customized analgesics which are used by racehorse trainers and others to deaden a horse’s nerves and block pain in order to improve a horse’s race performance. The drugs distributed through the defendants’ websites were manufactured in non-FDA registered facilities and carried significant risks to the animals affected through the administration of those illicit PEDs.

For example, in 2016, Robinson received a complaint regarding the effect of his unregulated drugs on a customer’s horse: “starting bout 8 hours after I give the injection and for about 36 hours afterwards both my horses act like they are heavily sedated, can barely walk.  Could I have a bad bottle of medicine, I’m afraid to give it anymore since this has happened three times.” Commenting on this complaint, Robinson wrote simply, “here is another one.”

In a separate conspiracy, from at least in or about February, 2018, through at least in or about November, 2019, Izhaki conspired with others to transport, sell, and deliver, tens of thousands of dollars of erythropoietin, a “blood builder” drug intended to increase a horse’s racing performance, which had been smuggled into the country from Mexico. This drug was covertly transported into the U.S. and sold by Izhaki, who believed it would be used by racehorse trainers to illicitly improve their horses’ race performance. Izhaki also offered for sale amphetamines, and a substance that Izhaki referred to as “the Devil,” which Izhaki claimed would mask the presence of potent drugs in a human or animal’s body.

The defendants are among 27 individuals charged in a series of Indictments arising from an investigation of a widespread scheme by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED distributors, and others to manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses competing at all levels of professional horseracing. By evading PED prohibitions and deceiving regulators and horse racing officials, participants in these schemes sought to improve race performance and obtain prize money from racetracks, all to the detriment and risk of the health and well-being of the racehorses.

Robinson, 46, of Tampa, Fl., and Izhaki, 45, of Manalapan, N.J, each pled guilty to one count of conspiring to unlawfully introduce and receive with the intent to redistribute for pay or otherwise adulterated and misbranded drugs in interstate commerce, and to misbrand drugs in interstate commerce. This offense carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI New York Office’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force and its support of the Bureau’s Integrity in Sports and Gaming Initiative. Strauss also thanked the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the New York State Police, and the New York City Police Department for their support of this investigation, and the Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration for their assistance and expertise.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Mortazavi, Benet J. Kearney, and Andrew C. Adams are in charge of the prosecution.

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