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Updated: 3 hours 52 min ago

T.I.P. Non-Competition Award Applications Due June 30

Wed, 2022-05-04 10:46

Applications for The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.)'s annual non-competition awards are available and due June 30.

The T.I.P. Thoroughbred of the Year Award honors a Thoroughbred that has excelled in a non-competitive career, such as equine-assisted therapy or police work. The award includes a $5,000 grant to the non-profit organization associated with the horse, while the T.I.P. Young Rider of the Year Award recognizes juvenile riders who use a Thoroughbred in 4-H, Pony Club, or other activities with a total award of $5,000 that can be applied to the college of their choice or to their participation in an event that furthers their involvement with horses.

Additional information about T.I.P. and applications for the awards are available at

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Final Witnesses on Stand in Giannelli Trial

Wed, 2022-05-04 09:38

by Bill Finley and Robert Gearty

Federal prosecutors called their final witnesses May 3 at the New York horse doping trial of Lisa Giannelli.

The end of the government's case sets the stage for what could be the trial's climax: Giannelli's testimony in her own defense. The trial resumes May 4.

The government's witnesses Tuesday included Adrienne Hall, a harness trainer who also testified against veterinarian Seth Fishman, whom prosecutors believe Giannelli conspired with, and a retired special investigator with the Pennsylvania Racing Commission.

Hall testified that after first reaching out to Giannelli she sent Fishman a text saying that she wanted to know if he could help her come up with “pre-race options” for a horse she had just acquired.

On cross-examination, Hall was quizzed about her deal with prosecutors in which she agreed to testify in exchange for a non-prosecution agreement.

“I was committed to help regardless of signing an agreement or not,” Hall told Giannelli's attorney Louis Fasulo.

She said she was testifying “because I believe this will help the sport, it will help the horses and we really need that today.”

“You care about the integrity of racing?” Fasulo asked.

“Very,” Hall replied.

“You were part of the problem and now you're the remedy?” Fasulo said.

Hall insisted she wanted the sport to change.

“I bought two bottles of VO2 Max from Lisa Ranger,” Hall told the jury of eight men and four women.

Hall testified the sale took place in 2019 and that she knew Giannelli at the time by her married name.

Prosecutors have described VO2 Max as an adulterated and misbranded PED designed to help a horse respire.

They showed the jury a June 2019 invoice for two bottles of VO2 Max and the $158 price. The return address on the invoice was Giannelli's home.

At another point, Fasulo seized on Hall's answer to a question in which she denied using PEDs out of greed.

In fact, she lost money, she testified.

“You did it to lose money?” Fasulo said.

“I did it to keep my horses,” she said.

The investigator who testified was Rita Noblett, who retired in 2021.

She said contraband medications were seized from trainer Silvio Martin during a search of his pick-up truck that took place in February 2020 at Parx Racing.

“He was coming through the gate and I asked him to pull over,” she testified.

She said the substances were Banamine, Butaject, and Dexium. Also seized were syringes and needles.

The medications were contraband because the bottles had no prescription labels.

Prosecutors said the bottles were found in a box with a shipping label addressed to Fishman at Giannelli's address in Delaware.

Noblett testified it took her days to reach Martin to interview him.

“I tried to get a hold of him numerous times,” she told the jury. “He never responded.

She said when she finally spoke to Martin, he said Fishman was his veterinarian at his private farm.

Noblett testified she thought it was odd that Fishman, who was from Florida, was the vet for Martin's farm in Pennsylvania.

“It didn't make sense to me,” she testified.

On cross-examination, the witness testified that Martin's private farm would not have fallen under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Racing Commission.

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Street Sense Filly Tops Todd Dispersal

Tue, 2022-05-03 17:39

An unraced 2-year-old filly by Street Sense (hip 1) topped the first phase of the dispersal of the Estate of the late Glen Todd–conducted on Fasig-Tipton's Digital Platform–when selling for $200,000 to NJP Racing. Named Adiva, the dark bay filly is out of Black Diamond Girl (Hard Spun), a half-sister to graded winner Big Truck (Hook and Ladder) and graded placed Logic Way (Freud). She was purchased by Todd's North American Thoroughbred Horse Company for $230,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.

Adiva has been working up to two furlongs at the Washington-based Pegasus Training Center, which consigned the dispersal horses.

“She was a rock star. She acted like it and trained like it and she sold like one,” said Pegasus Training Center trainer and director of horse operations Mike Puhich. “I am glad she sold for what I thought she was worth. I was kind of afraid, with as little exposure as she might get, that people might not see it, but everybody who saw her in person and saw her online saw that she looks kind of special. She is a very classy filly. One of the nicest that we have broken at the farm.”

NJP Racing also purchased the dispersal's second-highest priced offering, the multiple stakes-winning 5-year-old mare Princess of Cairo (Cairo Prince), for $115,000, as well as the unraced 3-year-old gelding Call Me Fast (Dialed In) for $60,000. All three will be joining Puhich's Kentucky string.

“It's a syndicate group,” Puhich said of NJP Racing. “They are from all over the place–a few of them are from New Zealand–and they are big clients of ours. They are going to our division in Kentucky and will be in my barn at Churchill Downs. It's kind of cool to be able to keep part of Glen's legacy going, too.”

Rounding out the trio of six-figure offerings at the dispersal was Five Star General (Distorted Humor). The 6-year-old, a multiple stakes winner and multiple graded placed, was purchased for $110,000 by Kenny Alhadeff's Elttaes Stable.

During week-long bidding conducted online by Fasig-Tipton, 10 horses of racing age, 14 2-year-olds in training and seven yearlings sold without reserve. The group grossed $1,197,500, for an average of $38,629 and a median of $24,000.

“We were absolutely thrilled with the results,” said Puhich. “Fasig-Tipton did an amazing job getting it out there. This digital sale is the wave of the future. It's unbelievable. We had people from all over the country calling with interest and bidding. It was a shocking surprise.”

A longtime owner and breeder and pillar of the British Columbia Thoroughbred industry, Todd passed away Mar. 27.

“It was bittersweet,” Puhich said of the dispersal. “Mr. Todd was a very good friend and one of our best clients. We are very happy for the family that the horses did so well, but on the other side, the circumstances just takes it away.”

A total of 250 registered bidders cast 1,305 bids, with each horse receiving an average of 42 bids.

“We had four open houses for people to make an appointment and come in and we were booked full for four days in a row,” Puhich said of pre-sale interest in the dispersal. “There were a lot of people from Canada and local people, but we had interest and calls from all over the country. The way that Fasig-Tipton outlined it for us and recommended how we do the videos, the platform we were on took it to another level.”

Fasig-Tipton Director of Digital Sales Leif Aaron was also pleased with the results of the dispersal.

“We are very appreciative of Glen Todd's family for entrusting Fasig-Tipton Digital with this piece of their father's legacy,” Aaron said. “We were able to move quickly to get a lot of horses sold in a short amount of time with a very strong result. Mike Puhich of Pegasus Training Center did a great job helping to facilitate the sale. It was a win for all parties.”

Fasig-Tipton is now accepting nominations for its May Digital Selected Sale, which will be open for bidding from May 12 through May 17. Entries close May 8.

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Bettor Things: Handicapping the Derby With Joe Bianca & Bill Finley

Tue, 2022-05-03 16:16

Generally the hardest race to handicap every year, the 2022 renewal of the GI Kentucky Derby appears even more complicated than most, with a handful of major contenders but no standout favorite, and a seemingly small gap back to the rest of the field. Monday, shortly after the 20-horse field was drawn for Saturday's Run for the Roses, TDN writers and podcast hosts Joe Bianca and Bill Finley broke down the race from a variety of angles to try to provide clarity and insight for Derby bettors. Bianca, who hosts handicapping conversation podcast Bettor Things with Joe Bianca, and Finley, who co-hosts the TDN Writers' Room with Bianca and Jon Green, discussed how the pill pull affected their opinions, the race's major players that they like, as well as short prices they think are vulnerable, sneaky longshots that can spice up exotic bets, how they expect the pace scenario to play out and recent historical trends that can help narrow down win candidates. Then, shortly before wrapping, they touched on what looks like a GI Kentucky Oaks for the ages and whether or not any longshots can threaten the race's 'big four'. Click here to watch the podcast; click here for the audio-only version or find it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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Repole, BodyArmor, Donate $24 Million to Youth Sports

Tue, 2022-05-03 14:50

BodyArmor and its founder, Mike Repole, will donate $24 million to the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating positive impact for underserved athletes and boys and girls in sports, the company announced Tuesday. It is the single largest donation that the foundation has ever received. The news was first reported by Front Office Sports.

Repole is the co-owner of Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo), the co-fourth choice at 10-1 in the morning line for Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby.

The Mamba and Mambacita Foundation was founded in memory of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were killed in a helicopter crash in 2020. Bryant was one of the early investors in BodyArmor, acquiring 10% of the company for $6 million in 2014, according to Front Office Sports.

In addition to the financial donation, they will also donate eight refurbished basketball courts and renovated youth clinic facilities to the foundation.

BREAKING: BodyArmor and Founder Mike Repole have just announced a $24 million donation to the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation.

It's the single largest donation that the foundation has ever received.

— Front Office Sports (@FOS) May 3, 2022

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Music Fest Forces Maryland Summer Dates Switch

Tue, 2022-05-03 14:42

A two-day electronic dance music festival at Pimlico Race Course has forced a dates reshuffling of the first regularly scheduled summer race meet at the Baltimore track in 17 years.

The Aug. 6 and 7 Moonrise, which is billed as one of the premier “rave” gatherings on the East Coast, drew about 30,000 people to the Pimlico infield each summer between 2014 and 2019 with no conflicts to the horse racing schedule. That's because the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) at that time chose to race during the summer months at Pimlico's sister track, Laurel Park.

According to an approval unanimously voted in by the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) at its monthly meeting Tuesday, the nine race dates spanning Aug. 5-21 that were previously assigned to Pimlico will now revert to Laurel. After the seven-date Maryland State Fair meet at Timonium Aug. 26-Sept. 5, the circuit will move to Pimlico to run nine dates between Sept. 9 and 25. Then Laurel starts up again to race through the fall and winter.

In 2020, the Moonrise event was canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions. In 2021, Pimlico had to host racing from April through August because of the emergency closure at Laurel to install a new main track, but there was no conflict with the concert because it still couldn't be held under pandemic precautions.

In October of 2021, when the MRC approved a schedule of '22 race dates that included a regularly scheduled August meet at Pimlico for the first time since 2005, the status of the concert had not been known.

One of the intentions of moving the mid-summer meet from Laurel to Pimlico this year was to give Laurel's turf course a break during the hottest time of the year in Maryland.

Instead, Laurel will be running from June through August without a rest while going up against neighboring Colonial Downs in Virginia, which hosts a grass-centric summer meet spanning July 11-Sept. 7.

Moonrise will feature 50+ artists over two days, highlighted by Zedd, Rezz, Adventure Club, Excision, Chris Lake, Zeds Dead, FISHER, Moore Kismet, and Dom Dolla. Two-day general admission tickets start at $130.

Racing enthusiasts scanning the list of performers will note that one solo artist goes by the stage name “Trivecta.”

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OBS June Catalogue Online

Tue, 2022-05-03 13:24

The catalogue for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's June Sale of 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age is now available on the company's website,

A total of 1,059 juveniles and 16 older horses have been cataloged for the three-day sale. Supplemental entries will be accepted until May 17.

Due to the increased size of the catalogue, the auction's under tack show has been expanded from five to six sessions and will begin May 30 and continue through June 4. All under tack sessions begin at 7:30 a.m.

The June sale will be held from June 7-9, with sessions beginning each day at 10 a.m.

Hip numbers one through 374 will sell Tuesday; hips 375-748 will be offered Wednesday; and Thursday will include hips 749-1060, plus 2-year-old supplements followed by the horses of racing age catalogued as hips 1151-1166, plus HRA supplements.

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New GM For Jockey Club of Canada

Tue, 2022-05-03 12:32

Megan Allan has assumed the role of General Manager of The Jockey Club of Canada, effective May 1, 2022. The post was previously held by Candice Dixon. A Thoroughbred industry veteran, Allan's past experience includes yearling preparation and sales with Farm on a Hill, Michael C. Byrne and Windfields Farm; breaking and training with J&M Training Centre; breeding and foaling with Norse Ridge Farms and Castle Peak Farm, as well as her own farm, Megan Kraus Thoroughbreds. Allan has spent the past several years as a project coordinator with Gerrits Engineering Limited in Barrie, ON.

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HISA Tabs Drug Free Sport International as Enforcement Agency Partner

Tue, 2022-05-03 09:49

Edited Press Release

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's (HISA) Board of Directors has selected Drug Free Sport International (DFS) to build HISA's independent Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) enforcement agency. The decision followed months of discussions with several potential enforcement agencies and marks another major milestone in the implementation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.

HISA sought out DFS given its history of drug testing and enforcement partnerships with leading sports organizations, including the National Football League, NCAA, National Basketball Association, Ladies Professional Golf Association, PGA Tour, NASCAR and Major League Baseball. DFS will establish the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU), led by a five-member Advisory Council, to serve as the new ADMC enforcement agency for Thoroughbred racing.

“I am thrilled that Drug Free Sport International is partnering with us to serve as HISA's independent ADMC enforcement agency by establishing the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit,” said HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus. “DFS is an established leader as demonstrated by its success and ongoing engagement with several U.S. and international sports organizations and leagues. HISA and HIWU intend to work closely with state racing commissions to establish a comprehensive and robust program that includes uniform testing protocols, adjudication processes and enforcement mechanisms to increase accountability and enhance the integrity of the competition for participants, fans and bettors.”

“We look forward to working with DFS and the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit to level the playing field for the overwhelming majority of racing participants who follow the rules while identifying and holding accountable those who attempt to violate them,” said Adolpho Birch, Chair of HISA's ADMC Committee and Senior Vice President of Business Affairs & Chief Legal Officer for the NFL's Tennessee Titans. “HISA also recognizes and thanks Travis Tygart and USADA for their collaboration and leadership in crafting the proposed regulations that will serve as the foundation for our work moving forward. Together with their efforts leading to the passage of HISA, they have left an indelible mark on horseracing and horse welfare.”

“On behalf of the entire DFS team, we are excited to expand our work to safeguard the integrity of sport into thoroughbred racing,” said Chris Guinty, CEO of DFS. “Creating a new enforcement agency is a significant task, but we are starting from a strong position thanks to the efforts of so many to date.”

The HIWU will be chaired by Jonathan Taylor QC, a London-based partner and leader of the Sports Group at the international law firm Bird & Bird. Taylor has a deep and extensive background in anti-doping issues in international sports, including previously serving as the chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Compliance Review Committee, an independent Standing Committee under WADA's Executive Committee. Taylor is also long-standing outside legal counsel to the International Equestrian Federation and the British Horseracing Authority.

“I'm honored to be joining Lisa, Adolpho and the entire HISA team as they work with DFS to develop and implement the first-ever national uniform anti-doping and medication control standards for Thoroughbred racing. These standards will meaningfully enhance the integrity of U.S. horse racing and help to ensure a robust future for the sport for generations to come,” said Taylor.

In addition, HISA announced the appointment of four other members of the HIWU Advisory Council, including:

  • Larry Bowers, former Chief Scientific Officer at USADA; during his time at USADA, Dr. Bowers played a significant role in developing the first ever WADA International Standard for Laboratories and established research funding programs for both USADA and the Partnership for Clean Competition. Prior to joining USADA, Dr. Bowers made groundbreaking contributions to anti-doping science.
  • Larry Bramlage, DVM, MS, DACVS, equine orthopedic surgeon at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital; Dr. Bramlage serves on the board of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and has received numerous awards, including the American College of Veterinary Surgeons Legends Award, The Jockey Club Gold Medal and a British Equine Veterinary Association's Special Award of Merit, for his work.
  • Sonja Keating, General Counsel, United States Equestrian Federation (USEF); Keating has been with USEF for more than 15 years and previously practiced litigation in the Lexington office of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP.
  • Günter Younger, Director of Intelligence and Investigations at WADA; prior to joining WADA, Younger served as the Head of the Cybercrime Division at the Bavarian Landeskriminalamt (BLKA), in Germany. During this period, he also served on WADA's three-member Independent Commission that investigated and exposed widespread doping in Russian athletics.

It is expected that the investigative function will be supported by 5 Stones intelligence, a leading professional services company comprised of former DEA, FBI, IRS, ATF, and NYPD Special Agents and Detectives who have led some of the largest sports investigations in history. Information from 5 Stones played a role in the federal indictments of several dozen people involved in horse racing by the United States District Attorney, Southern District of New York.

“We are deeply grateful to the members of the HIWU Advisory Council and to 5 Stones for lending their expertise and hard-won experience in support of our effort,” said Lazarus.

Working extensively with USADA and a wide range of industry stakeholders, HISA has already developed comprehensive draft ADMC rules. HIWU and HISA will build on that foundation in the coming weeks and will release updated draft rules for industry and public comment later in May. The draft rules will be presented to the HISA Board of Directors for approval and then submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by July 1 to initiate its rule-making process with the goal of implementing the FTC-approved program on January 1, 2023.

Statement from Breeders' Cup Ltd:

“Breeders' Cup strongly supports HISA entering into an agreement with Drug Free Sport International (DFS) to build their independent Anti-Doping and Medication Control enforcement agency. DFS has a long track record of success in drug testing and enforcement at the highest levels of professional sports, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA Tour, LPGA, NASCAR and NCAA, and they will help HISA protect the health and safety of equine athletes and enhance the integrity of racing. We are greatly encouraged by the formation of the new Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) and by the exemplary Advisory Council chosen to lead it. From its beginnings, HISA has shown professionalism and leadership, and today the Authority continues to take critically important steps forward in fulfilling its mission. We look forward to the law's full implementation in 2023.”

Statement from National Thoroughbred Racing Association:

“Drug Free Sport is a known leader in drug testing and enforcement in sports and we are thrilled to see HISA partner with this expert organization to operationalize their Anti-Doping and Medication Control program and create the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit,” said NTRA President & CEO Tom Rooney. “We all share HISA's goals of protecting equine athletes and raising the bar for integrity in racing, and with the help of DFS, HISA is well on its way to doing just that. I commend Lisa Lazarus and the entire HISA Authority on all their hard work and due diligence in meeting this important milestone under the law.”

Statement from The Jockey Club:

“The Jockey Club applauds today's announcement from the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), which named Drug Free Sport International (DFS) as the organization to develop HISA's Anti-Doping and Medication Control enforcement agency. DFS has an impressive track record in handling drug testing management in a range of sports, and its partnership with HISA is another critical step toward creating a gold standard of integrity and welfare in Thoroughbred racing. The Jockey Club has believed for years that reforms in safety, integrity, and welfare are necessary for the sustainability of our sport. We look forward to following the progress of DFS and supporting the efforts of DFS and HISA with any resources we can provide.”

Joint Statement by Thoroughbred Horsemen's Associations, Inc, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association:

HISA represents a critical turning point for the industry. Its implementation provides the best opportunity for us to change the perception of our sport through our collective efforts to protect the health, safety and welfare of the horse and rider and the integrity of horse racing.

We commend the HISA Board for its deliberative approach towards the establishment of the most practical and effective Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program of any sport. HISA's partnership with Drug Free Sport International, and the creation of the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit, fulfills the industry's need for an effective, independently controlled enforcement agency that will build upon and improve Thoroughbred racing's well-established medication and anti-doping rules, bring long-sought uniformity, oversee and improve our testing system, implement a streamlined, but fair adjudicatory process, and develop a new investigative arm that the industry once had but lost.

While some may be disappointed with HISA's decision, we believe it is entirely consistent with the enabling legislation and the intent of those who were responsible for its development. We look forward to working with the DFSI team and the HISA Board and will offer whatever resources and support we can to fulfill the fundamental goals of equine health and safety and the integrity of racing.

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Government Witnesses Take Stand in Giannelli Trial

Mon, 2022-05-02 20:10

Conor Flynn, a witness at Lisa Giannelli's horse doping trial May 2, testified that he was a former harness trainer who understood the penalties for violating race-day medication rules.

“You're not supposed to administer any drugs on race day,” Flynn, 32, told the jury on the trial's fourth day in U.S. District Court in New York.
Flynn is testifying for the government as a cooperating witness–the second cooperator to flip and testify against Giannelli who is on trial on a charge of conspiring to misbrand and adulterate drugs. The other cooperator was Ross Cohen, also a former harness trainer.

Cohen testified last week that he purchased performance-enhancing drugs from Giannelli. He also testified on cross-examination that he fixed horse races.

Prosecutors charged Flynn and Cohen two years ago as part of the government's sweeping crackdown on horse doping. Other harness trainers have been arrested in the case as well as several Thoroughbred trainers, veterinarians and those prosecutors say were distributors.
Flynn and Cohen pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in a bid for leniency at their sentencings.

Flynn was indicted on charges of conspiring to secretly administer performance-enhancing drugs to horses under his care.

He testified he became a licensed New York harness trainer when he moved to New York in 2009. He said in 2015 Richard Banca hired him as an assistant trainer at the Mount Hope Trainer Center in Middletown. Banca was among those nabbed in the horse doping case. He pleaded guilty last month and is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

Flynn began testifying late in the day and his testimony was cut short when court recessed for the day. He returns to the stand May 3.

The day's first witness was Food and Drug Administration veterinarian Dr. Jean Bowman who testified as a government expert witness on new animal drugs.

During her testimony prosecutor Sarah Mortazavi asked Bowman about a document that was found on Giannelli's computer during an FBI search. It was an inventory list of drugs available for purchase.

The list included a product called HP Bleeder Plus along with a description that it could “achieve the same results without the same side effects of Lasix.”

Prosecutors have said HP Bleeder Plus was a performance-enhancing drug. They said veterinarian Seth Fishman, Giannelli's boss at Equestology, was the product's manufacturer. In February, a jury convicted Fishman of creating PEDs that were used to dope racehorses and that were designed to avoid being detected in post-race tests.

With Bowman on the stand Mortazavi played for the jury a wiretapped conversation from three years ago in which a customer ordered a bottle of HP Bleeder from Giannelli.

“Okay,” Giannelli is heard saying.

“Just mail it,” the customer says to her.

“Okay,” she says.

Bowman testified the bottles of HP Bleeder that the FBI seized in raids in Pennsylvania and New York violated FDA rules.

“It's missing the prescription legend, the name of the veterinarian,” Bowman testified. “It lacks information on the manufacturer and the ingredients.”

On cross-examination, Giannelli's attorney Louis Fasulo tried to get Bowman to say that a veterinarian could compound drugs if he wanted to create his own product.

“He'd have to meet certain conditions,” the witness responded. She said it would be okay only to prevent an animal's death or suffering or when no other drug was available.

“And suffering would be up to the discretion of the veterinarian,” Fasulo said.

Bowman disagreed.

“I think there's a pretty good definition for what is meant by suffering,” she testified.

The give and take continued as Fasulo continued to press the topic, suggesting it would be okay for a veterinarian to compound drugs, if it involved the use of two approved drugs.

Bowman testified in that instance you didn't need to compound anything. You could just administer the two drugs separately.

On re-direct examination, Mortazavi asked Bowman about her answers to the drug compounding questions.

“Animal suffering wouldn't be running slow?” she asked.

“No,” Bowman replied.

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CDI Wants Baffert Suit Dismissed in Entirety

Mon, 2022-05-02 19:07

On the same afternoon that Churchill Downs took entries for the GI Kentucky Derby that included two horses formerly trained by barred trainer Bob Baffert, the gaming corporation that controls the Derby asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit Baffert had filed Feb. 28 attempt to get his private-property banishment by Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), overturned.

Back on Apr. 11, the same federal judge in United States District Court (Western District of Kentucky) had permitted Baffert to withdraw his motion for a preliminary injunction to allow him to enter horses in this year's Derby when it became evident that such a motion, even if successful, would have been trumped by a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) equine drug suspension that Baffert is currently serving.

But because the original lawsuit was also intended to fight CDI's two-year banishment of Baffert that runs through the 2023 Derby, the suit remains active despite the withdrawal of the motion for injunction. So on May 2, CDI took the next logical legal step by asking for the suit as a whole to be thrown out.

“This lawsuit is as meritless as all of his others,” CDI stated in its dismissal motion, alluding to court cases Baffert has initiated against the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and the KHRC. “Baffert's claims fail as a matter of law, and this Court should dismiss his complaint in its entirety.”

Baffert's flurry of litigation over the past year stems from now-deceased Medina Spirit testing positive for betamethasone after winning the 2021 Derby, plus Baffert's recent history of equine drug positives in major races.

Last May CDI barred Baffert from its properties. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) has also sought to ban the Hall of Fame trainer, but a federal judge has ruled Baffert can still race in New York while an internal NYRA exclusion hearing process plays out. Baffert also recently failed in Kentucky courts to get a stay of his 90-day suspension and $7,500 fine while those KHRC penalties go through a separate appeals process.

The Feb. 28 complaint alleged that CDI and its corporate officers and executives have, “without legal authority and without any notice or opportunity to be heard, 'suspended' Baffert's right to race horses on CDI properties, precluding him from practicing his chosen profession or using his license on CDI properties. CDI's actions also constitute an unlawful restraint on trade.”

CDI begged to differ in its May 2 dismissal motion.

“Whatever his theory may be, Baffert is wrong in contending that CDI had no right to exclude him,” the court document stated, noting that legal precedents have already established that Churchill Downs is “a private facility” that may “exclude whomever it desire[s] from the track.”

CDI laid out four specific reasons for the suit to be tossed out.

“First, the due process claim fails because CDI is a private corporation, the individual defendants are not government officials, and no one violated Baffert's rights in any event…

“Second, the 'unlawful exclusion' claim fails because Kentucky has never recognized a standalone tort of unlawful exclusion. Nor can there be tort liability where, as here, the tort claim is not independent of the parties' contractual duties. CDI has a well-settled common law and contractual right to exclude from its property and its races repeat offenders like Baffert who endanger the safety of horses and jockeys, and threaten the integrity of the sport and CDI's signature events.

“Third, the antitrust claims fail because Baffert does not allege antitrust injury. His argument is that CDI's suspension injured him; he does not plausibly allege that the suspension harmed competition in a commercial market–the type of injury the antitrust laws were intended to prevent. His claim of a conspiracy to restrain trade fails because he has not alleged an actionable conspiracy…

“Fourth, the tortious interference claims fail because it is well-settled Kentucky law that exercising rights under a contract–as CDI indisputably did here when it suspended Baffert–cannot give rise to such claims. Baffert also failed to allege facts that plausibly show Defendants acted with malice.

“This lawsuit is nothing more than Baffert's latest attempt to dodge accountability for his wrongful actions,” CDI summed up. “The Court should dismiss his complaint with prejudice.”

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Callie Witt’s Parents Thank the Racing Community

Mon, 2022-05-02 16:44

Press Release, by Jen Roytz

The family of Callie Witt, the exercise rider who died following an accident on Keeneland's training track Friday morning, would like to thank the racing community for the outpouring of support they have received since Callie's passing.

“We want to thank each and every person that has reached out, said prayers, took the time to think of our daughter. We are in complete shock and overwhelmed not only with the loss of our baby girl, but by the tremendous outpouring of support we have received,” said parents Tim and Jennifer in a joint statement. “We always knew Callie was special and destined for greatness from the time she was born, but we had no idea she would touch so many people.

“We will never really know why this happened or why she has left us so soon. What we do know is that she was born to ride. It ran so deep and thick in her veins. We preached to her from the time she was 18 months old to the day we lost her about the dangers of this sport and we always got the same reply: 'if I am going to die, I want to be doing what I love.' Our baby girl did just that. She was making those dreams a reality. We are so proud of her – who she was, what she was and where she was going. She will forever be in our hearts.”

Witt, 20, was an exercise rider for trainer Joe Sharp. A native of Rogers, Nebraska, she realized her passion for horses at an early age and quickly grew into an accomplished rider. She competed in barrel racing and other Western and English events since the age of three and rode Thoroughbreds since the age of 14. She was also a member of Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H and won numerous awards during her time with the organizations.

In addition to her equestrian activities, Witt was a talented wrestler for North Bend Central High School, earning a bronze medal at the 2019 AAU Scholastic Duals Girls' Nationals and winning the Girls' State Wrestling Championship in Nebraska for the 113-pound weight class in 2020.

After graduating from high school with high distinction, Witt was a student of the Bluegrass Community and Technical College, where she was enrolled in the North American Racing Academy.

“Callie had such an incredible, caring heart,” said her mother, Jennifer Witt. “She always acted so tough, but had such compassion for people and animals. If she felt someone – a horse or human, or any animal – was being mistreated, she dedicated herself to being their advocate, showing courage and compassion well beyond her years.”

Known for her incredible work ethic and dedication to honing her craft, Witt rode at local Thoroughbred training farms, including WinStar Farm and Margaux Farm once morning track training concluded at Keeneland.

“Everything she did was bar none. Every time Joe [Sharp] or anyone else set the bar, she cleared it and strived to do even better,” said Tim. “Like all great athletes and equestrians, her biggest critic was herself. No matter how well she did at something, she always thought she could do it better.”

Before coming to Kentucky, she worked at Fonner Park in Nebraska, where she exercised horses in the mornings and ponied for the races in the afternoons aboard her beloved horse, Miles.

“Miles was a horse one of her teachers asked her to start under saddle. He was big, and for them he was tough, but Callie had such a way with horses and made him into a dream to ride,” said Tim. “She ended up buying him from her teacher, teaching him to pony, and within four months of ponying at the track, she had him paid off, and he's proven her intuition about him right again and again over the years. I'll admit I'm not typically fond of paint horses, but Miles is a Cadillac of a ride, and that's a testament to her training abilities.”

Keeneland remembered Witt throughout the race day, flying their flags at half-staff and holding a moment of silence to honor her memory. Sharp's racing stable won the 7th race on the card and the stable staff brought Miles into the winner's circle for the photo.

TVG's Christina Blacker and Caleb Keller discussed Witt's life and accomplishments with their audience prior to the beginning of racing that day. TVG analyst Joaquin Jamie interviewed Sharp after the race, discussing Witt's love for horses, kindness, work ethic and passion for the sport.

Several other tracks throughout the country also remembered Witt throughout the weekend with winner's circle gatherings and moments of silence.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the kindness and compassion we've received,” said Jennifer. “There are so many we want to thank; we don't know where to start. Some of them we don't even know the names of, but we felt their love. The Alpha Event Medical Team who rushed to her aid when she fell, and those who stayed in communication with us until we could travel to Kentucky. The staff of the University of Kentucky emergency room who did all they could to try to save her. So many who have helped us through our grief and the unbearable logistics that come with laying your child to rest. Joe Sharp and his team, the staff at Keeneland, her friends, colleagues, classmates, stables she rode for…the list is so long and we are so profoundly grateful for each and every gesture of support.”

In addition to parents Tim and Jennifer, Witt's family included two older siblings, Sivana and Mason, as well as her boyfriend, Trey Miller.

Private funeral services for Witt are being scheduled in Nebraska. The Witt family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Callie Witt's name to the Callie Witt Memorial Fund at BCTC Equine, home of the North American Racing Academy; The Jockey Club's Safety Net Foundation; and/or the Blue Grass Farms Charities.

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Zandon Tabbed as 3-1 Kentucky Derby ML Favorite from Post 10

Mon, 2022-05-02 15:29

LOUISVILLE, KY – With all of the morning buzz surrounding Zandon (Upstart) since his dramatic come-from-behind victory in the GI Toyota Blue Grass S., Mike Battaglia installed the handsome dark bay as the 3-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby after drawing right in the middle in post 10.

The Jeff Drown colorbearer, a $170,000 Keeneland September Yearling purchase, has posted a pair of much-discussed breezes for Chad Brown following his breakthrough win at Keeneland, including a visually impressive five-furlong move in 1:00.40 (7/43) at Churchill Downs Apr. 29. Flavien Prat rides.

“Perfect,” Brown said of the draw. “We're ready to go.”

Potential Derby favorite Zandon out for a spin this morning

— Steve Sherack (@SteveSherackTDN) May 2, 2022

Epicenter (Not this Time), drawn on the inside in post three, was made the second choice at 7-2. The $260,000 KEESEP graduate enters off impressive victories for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen in the GII Risen Star S. and GII Louisiana Derby. Asmussen has failed to find the mark with 23 previous starters in the Run for the Roses.

“Like any race, you want to get away nicely from the gate and go from there,” Asmussen said. “How long he stands in there, how long it takes to load, 150,000 people staring at him–it's a lot. [Jockey] Joel [Rosario] is very confident in rhythm of the horse. So, if he is away cleanly Joel will let him be who he is.”

The top two choices have met once before. Zandon was back in third after a slow start and wide trip while making his first start of the season in Epicenter's front-running Risen Star score.

Louisville native Brad Cox, promoted to first with Mandaloun (Into Mischief) following the well-documented medication disqualification of the ill-fated Medina Spirit (Protonico) in last year's Derby and subsequent suspension of Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, will look to put them back to back. He has entered the trio of Cyberknife (Gun Runner) (post 16), Tawny Port (Pioneerof the Nile) (post 18) and 'TDN Rising Star' Zozos (Munnings) (post 19).

“I think with the Derby starting at the head of the stretch, and a quarter of a mile to the first turn, they'll be able to get into position,” Cox said.

Former Baffert runners, unbeaten 'TDN Rising Star' Taiba (Gun Runner) (post 12) and 'TDN Rising Star' Messier (Empire Maker) (post six), punched their tickets to Louisville for trainer Tim Yakteen following a one-two finish in the GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby.

Taiba, a $1.7-million Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-old purchase by Medina Spirit owner Zedan Racing Stables, looks to become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby in just his third start since Leonatus in 1883. Messier, a 15-length winner of the GIII Robert B. Lewis S., is the third choice on the morning-line at 8-1; Taiba is listed at 12-1.

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, seeking his third win in the Kentucky Derby, will be represented by the trio of: GII Wood Memorial S. winner Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) (post one), GI Curlin Florida Derby runner-up and 'TDN Rising Star' Charge It (Tapit) (post eight) and Louisiana Derby third Pioneer of Medina (Pioneerof the Nile) (post 11).

Live coverage of the Kentucky Derby will be provided by NBC from 2:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. (ET). Post time for the Derby is 6:57 p.m.

From the rail out, the complete field of 20 for the Kentucky Derby:

1-Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) (10-1)

2-Happy Jack (Oxbow) (30-1)

3-Epicenter (Not This Time) (7-2)

4-Summer Is Tomorrow (Summer Front) (30-1)

5-Smile Happy (Runhappy) (20-1)

6-Messier (Empire Maker) (8-1)

7-Crown Pride (Jpn) (Reach the Crown {Jpn}) (20-1)

8-Charge It (Tapit) (20-1)

9-Tiz the Bomb (Hit It a Bomb) (30-1)

10-Zandon (Upstart) (3-1)

11-Pioneer of Medina (Pioneerof the Nile) (30-1)

12-Taiba (Gun Runner) (12-1)

13-Simplification (Not This Time) (20-1)

14-Barber Road (Race Day) (30-1)

15-White Abarrio (Race Day) (10-1)

16-Cyberknife (Gun Runner) (20-1)

17-Classic Causeway (Giant's Causeway) (30-1)

18-Tawny Port (Pioneerof the Nile) (30-1)

19-Zozos (Munnings) (20-1)

20-Ethereal Road (Quality Road) (30-1)

Also-Eligibles: Rich Strike (Keen Ice) (30-1) and Rattle N Roll (Connect) (30-1).

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Women in Racing, TAA to Be Featured at Churchill’s Champions Day

Mon, 2022-05-02 15:10

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) will be present on Churchill Downs's Champion's Day Tuesday at the Ladies in Racing Symposium, followed by a race presentation on the undercard. Champions for a Change will feature Ladies in Racing with a symposium of influential women in the Thoroughbred industry. A powerhouse panel of women will be featured, and all tickets have access to the symposium.

Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance supporters Shannon Arvin, Keeneland Association president & chief executive officer, and Dora Delgado, Breeders' Cup World Championships executive vice president & chief racing officer, are among the panelists for the symposium.

Fans can purchase tickets in the brand-new Homestretch Club at Churchill Downs in support of Thoroughbred aftercare or online here. Tickets are $110 and all-inclusive of food, beverage, and alcoholic beverages. $10 of each of these tickets will be donated to Thoroughbred aftercare organizations, including the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

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Nest Favored at 5-2 in Kentucky Oaks for the Ages

Mon, 2022-05-02 15:08

LOUISVILLE, KY – Just how deep is the 14-horse field assembled for Friday's GI Kentucky Oaks?

Unbeaten champion 2-year-old filly and 'TDN Rising Star' Echo Zulu (Gun Runner), a game front-running winner by a nose while making her sophomore debut in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks, was installed as the third choice on Mike Battaglia's Kentucky Oaks morning-line at 4-1. Last term's GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine, a $300,000 Keeneland September Yearling graduate, was assigned post seven at Monday afternoon's draw held at Churchill Downs.

“She trains like a horse that expects to win and that's a wonderful thing,” Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said of the L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds colorbearer. “She got tired in her first race off the bench, but the fast fillies are inside of her and we are pleased to draw on the outside of them.”

Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House's Nest (Curlin), a head-turning heroine of the GI Central Bank Ashland S. at Keeneland, was given the nod as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Oaks. The $350,000 Keeneland September Yearling purchase will break from post four. Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, also represented by longshots Goddess of Fire (Mineshaft) (post five) and Shahama (Munnings) (post 13), looks to capture his second straight Oaks after saddling Malathaat (Curlin) to a popular score last year.

“I'm happy with the draws for Nest and Goddess of Fire,” four-time Oaks winner Pletcher said. “We were hoping to be somewhere in the middle. With Shahama, it's OK. She isn't real sharp away from the gate, so she may have a better chance out there than if she was stuck down inside.”

The ultra-impressive unbeaten GII Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Kathleen O. (Upstart), assigned post 10, is the second choice at 7-2. Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey won the Oaks in 1993 with Dispute.

Secret Oath (Arrogate), a runaway winner of the GIII Honeybee S. and third as the favorite while facing males in the GI Arkansas Derby, drew the rail for the legendary D. Wayne Lukas, who is seeking his fifth Oaks victory. She is 6-1 on the morning-line.

From the rail out, the complete Kentucky Oaks field with morning-line odds:

1-Secret Oath (Arrogate) (6-1)

2-Nostalgic (Medaglia d'Oro) (15-1)

3-Hidden Connection (Connect) (20-1)

4-Nest (Curlin) (*5-2)

5-Goddess of Fire (Mineshaft) (15-1)

6-Yuugiri (Shackleford) (30-1)

7-Echo Zulu (Gun Runner) (4-1)

8-Venti Valentine (Firing Line) (20-1)

9-Desert Dawn (Cupid) (20-1)

10-Kathleen O. (Upstart) (7-2)

11-Cocktail Moments (Uncle Mo) (30-1)

12-Candy Raid (Candy Ride {Arg}) (30-1)

13-Shahama (Munnings) (15-1)

14-Turnerloose (Nyquist) (20-1)

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Horseshoe Indianapolis to Join Fox Sports Broadcast

Mon, 2022-05-02 14:25

Horseshoe Indianapolis is partnering with Fox Sports Network beginning Tuesday, May 3, the track announced Monday. Several races will be running alongside Churchill Downs this GI Kentucky Derby week during the daily broadcast from Fox Sports.

“We are excited to be included in such a powerhouse lineup of Thoroughbred racing offered during Derby Week,” said Eric Halstrom, Vice President and General Manager of Racing at Horseshoe Indianapolis. “We begin our racing program at approximately 2:30 p.m. both Tuesday and Wednesday and will feature our first six races on Fox Sports 2, which offers a daily program broadcasted nationally. To be linked with such prestigious racing dynasties as Churchill Downs is a real boost to our Indiana Thoroughbred racing program.”

The partnership with Fox Sports Network will continue during the 2022 racing season with more broadcasts of live Horseshoe Indianapolis racing coming up in June and July. More details on dates and times will be released at a later date.

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NYRA Hosting Series of Job Fairs for Belmont Stakes Racing Festival

Mon, 2022-05-02 13:36

The New York Racing Association will hold a series of jobs fairs to fill temporary employment positions in support of the 2022 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which will take place at Belmont Park from Thursday, June 9 to Saturday, June 11. To fill the approximately 700 temporary positions required to support the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival operation, NYRA will hold three job fairs at Belmont Park from May 12 to May 14 to hire betting clerks, white caps, cashiers, hospitality team members, ticket scanners, program sellers, ushers and supervisors. Betting clerks and cashiers must be at least 18 years of age, present a current resume and have a minimum of three years of cash-handling experience. The job fairs will all be held on the fourth floor of the Belmont clubhouse, from 4-7 p.m. May 12, from 12-6 p.m. May 13 and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 14.

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Stallion Curlin to Mischief Retired

Mon, 2022-05-02 13:30

Curlin to Mischief (Curlin–Leslie's Lady, by Tricky Creek), who hails from one of the most prominent families in Thoroughbred racing, has been retired from stud duties at Rancho San Miguel, Climax Stallions announced Monday. A half-brother to champion Beholder (Henny Hughes) and super-sire Into Mischief (Harlan's Holiday, Curlin to Mischief is the sire of two regional champions during his stud duties has been recently plagued by infertility. Curlin to Mischief will now have the opportunity to live out his days in a new role as an amateur friendly riding horse for Ellie Stilson at her Daisy Acres facility in Kentucky. Curlin to Mischief is scheduled to arrive in Kentucky from California once arrangements can be made.

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Corniche Moved to Pletcher Barn

Mon, 2022-05-02 13:23

Last year's champion 2-year-old colt Corniche (Quality Road) has been moved to trainer Todd Pletcher's barn from suspended conditioner Bob Baffert's outfit, his owners Peter Fluor and K.C. Weiner of Speedway Stable said in a joint statement Monday. Baffert is currently serving a 90-day suspension handed down by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that began Apr. 4 and runs through July 2.

“Since Corniche's previous trainer, Bob Baffert, cannot begin training until the first week in July and, after a discussion with Bob, we felt that for Corniche to be ready to compete in June, it is necessary that we make a trainer change at this time,” Fluor said. “To that end, Todd Pletcher will commence training Corniche in early May. K.C. and I are most appreciative of Bob's brilliant handling of Corniche's 2-year-old campaign and ultimately providing Speedway Stables with its first Breeders Cup winner and Eclipse Award champion.”

Named a 'TDN Rising Star' off a dazzling debut romp last summer at Del Mar, Corniche legitimized that distinction with subsequent victories in the GI American Pharoah S. and GI Breeders' Cup Classic to lock up his Eclipse Award. He has yet to start as a 3-year-old and has been laid up at WinStar, where he recorded a pair of workouts in the past few weeks, going three furlongs in :36.80 (2/5) Apr. 15 and a half-mile in :48.94 (2/3) Apr. 23. The $1.5-million OBS April buy will be sent straight to Pletcher at the conclusion of his time at WinStar.

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Beautiful Empire Streaks Home in Star Shoot

Sat, 2022-04-30 17:55

Beautiful Empire (Classic Empire)'s furious kick carried the day for conditioner Mark Casse, rallying from last to lead home a 1-2-3 finish for the Mark Casse barn in a brisk rendition of the Star Shoot S. at Woodbine.

The filly was far back in her first two starts over conventional dirt at Churchill Downs before breaking her maiden Dec. 10 over the synthetic at Turfway Park to conclude her juvenile season. The chestnut began her year with a close runner-up effort Jan. 8 at the venue on first-time Lasix and finished third in a stacked rendition of the Valdale S. Feb. 12 and most recently overcame a bump at the start of a local allowance Apr. 16 to draw clear by four lengths.

Allowed to settle after the break here, the 7-2 third choice tracked from last early and quickly made up ground from that rail spot coming into the lane. Under right-hand urging from Emma-Jayne Wilson, Beautiful Empire kicked into high gear in the final furlong to clear rivals and win by 1 1/2 lengths over Aubrieta (Speightster). Diabolic (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) rounded out the Casse trifecta. The time for the six-furlongs was only just off the track record set by the venerable Pink Lloyd (Old Forester).

“I was actually angling to go to the outside, and the rail kind of opened up,” said Wilson post race. “Good horses, when you ask them, they run. And that's exactly what happened. She's been running lights out the whole winter. She was primed for a big effort. It was a big effort last time and she stepped up again today.”

The victress is her dam's first black-type earner and second winner from three to race. She has a 2-year-old half-brother by American Pharoah. Humor Me Colonel is expecting a foal by Munnings this season. She is also the fourth stakes winner for her young sire (by Pioneerof the Nile). Click for the chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

STAR SHOOT S., C$131,500, Woodbine, 4-30, 3yo, f, 6f (AWT), 1:08.70, ft.
1–BEAUTIFUL EMPIRE, 120, f, 3, by Classic Empire
                1st Dam: Humor Me Colonel, by Colonel John
                2nd Dam: Halo Humor, by Distorted Humor
                3rd Dam: Gilded Halo, by Gilded Time
($320,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). 1ST BLACK TYPE WIN. O-John C. Oxley; B-Springhouse Farm (KY); T-Mark E. Casse; J-Emma-Jayne Wilson. C$75,000. Lifetime Record: 7-3-1-1, $157,494.
2–Aubrieta, 122, f, 3, Speightster–Amethea, by Henny Hughes. O/B-Manfred & Penny Conrad (ON); T-Mark E. Casse. C$30,000.
3–Diabolic (Ire), 124, f, 3, Dark Angel (Ire)–Seafront (GB), by Foxwedge (Aus). (£90,000 Ylg '20 GOFOR). O-D. J. Stable LLC and Nexus Racing Club; B-Yeomanstown Stud (IRE); T-Mark E. Casse. C$13,750.
Margins: 1HF, HD, 1. Odds: 3.60, 3.45, 2.35.
Also Ran: Howdyoumakeurmoney, Miss Alacrity, Parlance.

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