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CHRB Charges That Miller Was Actively Training During His Hiatus

Wed, 2022-06-01 17:16

The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) has filed a complaint against trainer Peter Miller, alleging that he was involved in the daily training of horses after they had been turned over to and put under the name of his former assistant Ruben Alvarado.

Alvarado has also been charged in a separate complaint involving the same allegations.

In November, Miller announced that he was taking a “temporary hiatus” from training to spend “more time with my family, focus on overall health and wellness, and pursue other interests.” The announcement created speculation that Miller was stepping away because he had come under scrutiny for having five horses die under his care due to catastrophic injuries in 2021. But Miller insisted that his decision to stop training had nothing to do with any factors other than his feeling that he needed time away from the sport.

Miller made his last start in 2021 on Nov. 28. The majority of his stable was then placed under Alvarado's name and Alvarado made his debut as a head trainer Dec. 3.

The CHRB is now charging that Miller never fully stepped away. According to the complaint, between Dec. 23, 2021 and Mar. 24, 2022 Miller “engaged in behavior consistent with the duties of a trainer at the San Luis Rey Training Center with horses in the barn of Ruben Alvarado.” The CHRB has charged that Miller entered horses, conducted endoscopy exams, gave instructions to riders, examined horses, consulted with veterinarians, controlled and accessed bank accounts belonging to Alvarado Racing Stables, assigned jockeys and created training charts.

In the complaint issued against Alvarado, the CHRB wrote that Alvarado acknowledged that he was aware that Miller had continued to handle many of the training duties regarding the running of stable. It was also noted in the complaint that Alvarado did not set up a stable bank account independent of Miller, which was required per the Stewards's direction.

The complaint was issued May 23. Miller has been notified to appear before the stewards at Los Alamitos June 20. Alvarado's hearing in set for July 18 at Los Alamitos. Should the stewards rule that Alvarado and/or Miller did in fact conspire to allow Miller to train behind the scenes, it is not clear what the penalty might be. However, the complaint acknowledges that the stewards are empowered to impose a number of penalties, including a suspension of that person's license.

Miller did not respond to a text seeking comment Wednesday.

Last week, Miller entered a horse under his own name at Churchill Downs and said he was ready to return to training. The horse, Respect the Code (Honor Code), finished sixth in a May 29 allowance at Churchill. Miller said that Respect the Code was the only horse he had in Kentucky and that his main focus upon his comeback would be the upcoming Los Alamitos and Del Mar meets in California. 1/ST Racing has said little about Miller's status at Santa Anita. Alvarado has horses entered at Santa Anita on Friday and Saturday. Alvarado has compiled a record of 23 for 134 (17%) and won this year's GIII Las Cienegas S.

The post CHRB Charges That Miller Was Actively Training During His Hiatus appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Army Mule Filly Swiftest at OBS: ‘She’s Always Flying’

Wed, 2022-06-01 17:07

A filly from the first crop of Grade I winner Army Mule (hip 437) zipped a quarter-mile in :20 2/5–fastest of the week so far–during the third session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's June 2-Year-Olds Sale under-tack show Wednesday in Central Florida. Consigned by Larry Mejias's appropriately named Fast Horses, the gray filly is out of the unraced Super Holiday (Super Saver) and from the family of graded winner Double Honor.

“I am really happy with that work,” Mejias said. “That filly had been working really fast at the farm. She's not too big, she's medium-sized, but she's always flying. I am very happy with the work.”

The Florida-bred filly, purchased for $19,000 at last year's OBS October sale, was entered in the OBS Spring sale where she worked in :9 4/5, but came up short on the gallop-out, according to Mejias. She RNA'd for $95,000 in April.

“I entered her [in April] because she's fast, but you need a good gallop out,” Mejias said. “There is a difference if you work in :10 flat and you gallop out in :34 and change, people don't like that.”

Of the filly's gallop-out Wednesday, Mejias said “She worked good–:20 2/5 and then :31 3/5 and :44 4/5. I think it was the best gallop-out of the day.”

Mejias continued, “I want to train the horses the best I can. Some people like :10 flat, some people like :9 4/5, but in my opinion some horses work in :10 2/5 and do a great gallop-out  and that's different than when you work in :10 and the gallop-out is no good. There is a difference when you come into an OBS sale and you can do what people like best, :10 flat or :9 4/5, but some horses work in :10 2/5 and do a good gallop out. There is a difference from when you train a horse for racing and from when you are training for pinhooking. For pinhooking, they have to go fast, but you also have to train the horse to race. That's my opinion.”

Mejias's Barn 15 at OBS is just across from the Golden Rock Thoroughbreds consignment of his nephew Keiber Rengifo.

“I started my Fast Horses consignment last year,” Mejias said. “I had been selling with my nephew Keiber's Golden Rock. I sold all of my horses with him. But Keiber had so many horses, so I started my own  consignment and I've been doing great so far. Last year, I had 10 or 11 horses for myself and I sold them all.”

Also during Wednesday's session of the under-tack show, a filly by Flatter (hip 560) became the first of the week to shade :10 seconds when she worked in :9 4/5 for Julie Davies. The gray 2-year-old is out of the unraced Wicked Ride (Candy Ride {Arg}), a half-sister to Grade I winner Wickedly Perfect (Congrats).

Davies purchased the filly for $95,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.

The under-tack show continues through Saturday with sessions beginning at 7:30 a.m. daily. The June sale will be held next Tuesday through Thursday. Bidding begins each day at 10 a.m.

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Sisterson to Open Public Stable

Wed, 2022-06-01 12:59

Jack Sisterson, who has trained privately for Calumet Farm since 2018, is going public. Calumet will remain as a client and will keep a number of horses with Sisterson, but significantly fewer than he has typically had.

Sisterson said he is making the move in the hopes that expanding and taking on other owners will lead to more opportunities.

“This is something we have been discussing for a few months,” he said. “I give all the credit to Calumet. If it weren't for them I wouldn't be where I am today. We started discussing things a while ago and it looked like the only way that I could grow in this business was to reach out, branch out and always try to do better. Talking to the people at Calumet, they said at one point that it would be selfish to hold on to me as a private trainer. They also said that if I ever decided to go out on my own they'd still like to have a working relationship with me.”

Sisterson, a native of Durham, England, was a long-time assistant to Doug O'Neill before going to work for Calumet. Calumet uses a number of different trainers, but Sisterson was the only one among them who trained exclusively for the operation. He won his first stakes for Calumet with Oxy Lady (Oxbow) in the 2018 GIII Tempted S. In 2019, his first full year with Calumet, Sisterson won 20 races, including three graded stakes. The team reached new heights in 2020 when Sisterson won his first two Grade I races, taking the GI Personal Ensign S. with Vexatious (Giant's Causeway) and the GI Cigar Mile H. with True Timber (Mineshaft). There were two more Grade I wins in 2021, the GI Man o'War S. won by Channel Cat (English Channel) and the GI Alfred Vanderbilt H. won by Lexitonian (Speightstown).

“For four years, we have had a lot of success and a lot of fun times,” Sisterson said. “We've had a few Grade I winners together What I'd like to do now is to continue to win Grade I's for Calumet and for other organizations, as well. The long-term goal is to win a Kentucky Derby, to win Breeders' Cup races.”

Sisterson said that the continuing support from Calumet will make the transition to being a public trainer easier to accomplish.

“I'm excited,” he said. “I would have been nervous if I weren't getting the support of Calumet. They are 100 percent behind this. It's a dream come true. They have allowed me to train privately for them for four years. Now they're going to help me out and give me a number of their best horses. Their support has been unbelievable. I'll forever be in their debt for the support they have given me.”

Sisterson plans on unveiling his new stable at the Del Mar meet.

“I worked for Doug for so long in California and had a very good experience there,” Sisterson said. “I'd like to go to Del Mar for the summer and take advantage of the ship and win program. I know California well. California has been good to me and I'd like to get back there. I think California racing is very much still alive and I'm excited to think I will be a part of it. The short-term goal is to get the public stable set up at Del Mar and to have winners at the meet and to be able to continue to grow after this summer.”

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Kentucky Derby Winner Rich Strike Arrives at Belmont

Wed, 2022-06-01 12:51

GI Kentucky Derby upsetter Rich Strike (Keen Ice) arrived in New York by van from Kentucky at 1 a.m. Wednesday to prepare for the GI Belmont S. June 11.

With exercise rider Gabriel Lagunes up, Rich Strike visited Belmont's dirt training track at 9:30 a.m. with the accompaniment of outrider Juan Galvez and his pony Stormy, making two laps the wrong way round.

“He settled down a lot the second time round. A lot of that was trying to get him used to the pony. You could see the farther he went the better he accepted the pony,” trainer Eric Reed said. “I think by the end of the week they'll be good buddies and on race day he needs a buddy. He'll sleep the rest of the day. I know he's tired, he just doesn't show it.”

Going forward Rich Strike will school in the paddock in the morning before training on the main track.

“He's so routine oriented. We're in a new place, so we can set his routine here and in two days, he'll be fine,” Reed said.

Reed said if Rich Strike continues to move forward their long-term target would be the GI Runhappy Travers S. Aug. 27 at Saratoga.

“The owners always wanted to run him in the Travers and I think it's a good spot for him,” Reed said. “If all the horses are freshened and ready that could be a heck of a field in the Travers with Epicenter, Zandon, Early Voting and whoever comes out of this race. It could be a great, great race.”

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Breeders’ Cup and HorsePlayers Launch HorsePlayers Happy Hour

Wed, 2022-06-01 11:43

Breeders' Cup launched the second season of HorsePlayers Happy Hour Tour (“HorsePlayers Tour”) hosted by In the Money Media (ITMM). The Horseplayers Tour will begin Thursday, June 2, at 2 p.m. ET, and will coincide with the HorsePlayers Happy Hour livestream every Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, featuring ITMM's Matt Bernier and Peter Fornatale.

The HorsePlayers Tour kicks off on June 2 with a $20 feeder contest on HorsePlayers.com, where sign-ups are currently live. Breeders' Cup will donate all proceeds from the HorsePlayers Tour online contests to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Thoroughbred Retirement Fund.

Each week, players participating in the designated HorsePlayers Tour feeder contest will have a chance to earn tour points and qualify for the year-end playoffs. Points will be awarded to the top 10 finishers each week, starting with 100 points to the winner and descending in increments of 10 points to each respective place below that, with 10 points awarded to the 10th-place finisher. The top eight scores for each player during the regular season will be used to calculate the final leaderboard scores. The person with the highest overall score will be declared the regular season winner and earn a $10,000 BCBC seat.

Once the regular season concludes, there will be an 80-player playoff that will consist of the top two finishers from each of the weekly HorsePlayers Tour contests, as well as the remaining top finishers on the regular season leaderboard who have not already qualified.

Playoffs will start on Oct. 6 and be narrowed down to 40 players the following week (Oct. 13), 20 players the next week (Oct. 20), and 10 players on Oct. 27 for the Final Table. This schedule is subject to change. Additionally, a $179 BCBC qualifier will run concurrently each week of the playoffs.

The Final Table participants will compete during a special livestream format that will be broadcast as the final show of the season, with the winner earning a $10,000 BCBC seat. Players can have up to two entries at the start of the playoffs, but only one entry can advance to the Final Table.

To participate, players must have a valid Horseplayers.com account.

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Caesars Racebook App Live in Florida and Ohio

Wed, 2022-06-01 11:03

Caesars Sportsbook and NYRA Bets, which together announced in March a new horse racing account wagering app, have officially launched the Caesars Racebook App in both Florida and Ohio. Additional states are slated to be added throughout the year.

Now available for download on iOS, Caesars Racebook utilizes the NYRA Bets platform providing bettors with pari-mutuel wagering on premier racing content from more than 250 tracks around the world. New customers registering for Caesars Racebook will be eligible for a 100% first deposit match up to $500.

“The new Caesars Racebook app, which utilizes the NYRA Bets interface and technology, will expand access to world-class horse racing now and in the future,” said Matt Feig, General Manager of NYRA Bets. “The partnership between NYRA Bets and Caesars is a win for horse racing, its stakeholders, and countless racetracks around the world.”

The launch of Caesars Racebook is another step in the partnership between NYRA Bets and Caesars Sportsbook. In January, the two unveiled a partnership establishing Caesars as an official sports betting marketing partner in New York and the title sponsor of the NYRA Turf Triple Series at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.

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Ladies of the Lawn Series Returns at Woodbine

Tue, 2022-05-31 18:52

The Ladies of the Lawn series, which will now feature a $250,000 bonus, will return to Woodbine in 2022. Launched in 2019, the Ladies of the Lawn Series consists of three premier turf races for fillies and mares: the July 24 GII Dance Smartly S., the Aug. 21 GII Canadian S. and the Oct. 8 GI E.P. Taylor S.

The owner of any horse to sweep all three races will receive a $250,000 bonus. Should no horse sweep the series, a $50,000 bonus will be paid out to the connections of the horse that accumulates the most points during the series.

“The Ladies of the Lawn Series has received tremendous feedback over the last few years,” said Tim Lawson, Director of Thoroughbred Racing for Woodbine. “The addition of a $250,000 bonus should provide not only incentive for owners and trainers to point their fillies and mares at these premier races, but also raise the profile of this series with horseplayers, fans and racing participants.”

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Partners Hoping for More Collected Success with Bullet Worker at OBS

Tue, 2022-05-31 18:28

An Ontario-bred filly from the first crop of Grade I winner Collected (hip 317) turned in the fastest quarter-mile work of Tuesday's second session of the under-tack show for next week's Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's June Sale of 2-Year-Olds when covering the distance in :20 4/5. The juvenile is consigned by Jesse Hoppel's Coastal Equine and represents a pinhooking partnership group which has already enjoyed success with a bullet-working daughter of the GI Pacific Classic winner. Hoppel sent a filly by Collected out to work a bullet quarter-mile at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale and then sold the juvenile–purchased for $47,000 last fall–for $250,000 last week.

Bloodstock agent Larry Zap, along with Amanda Murphy and Hoppel, picked out both fillies for clients that include Matt Dohman and Joe Ciaglia.

“I got to watch him as a top racehorse–that definitely sticks in my mind,” Zap said of Collected's appeal. “He has a lot of his dad in him, a lot of the City Zip in him. They are not necessarily big, robust horses, like say the Bolt d'Oros, but they seem very athletic and they seem very versatile. We liked quite a few of them as yearlings. Like City Zip, they move a lot bigger than they appear.”

Hip 317, out of the unraced Sassy Ali Joy (Indian Charlie), is a half-sister to stakes-placed Tuscan Queen (Street Boss) and from the family of Banshee Breeze. Dohman, making his first foray into the world of pinhooking this year, signed the ticket to acquire the filly for $150,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.

Dohman, co-founder of the mortgage company Optimum First Mortgage, has owned racehorses for about a decade now, starting out in the claiming game before trying his hand buying at the 2-year-old sales and finally settling into partnership ownership with Ciaglia in their California Racing Partners.

The Californian's first exposure to the sport is a familiar one to many.

“When I was a kid, my dad used to take me to the track,” Dohman said. “My mom and dad were divorced, so on our weekends, dad would take us to the track and he taught me to read the Form. That was how I got exposed to racing. When I got older, I had an affinity to it already from my early exposure. One of my friend's girlfriends babysat for an ex-jockey, Goncalino Almeida, so I contacted him and he said he wanted to become a trainer. He said, 'Let's claim a horse.' We claimed two horses in one day. And then we waited a month, we moved them up in class and one of the horses won and the other one ran second. So I said, “Oh, this is so easy.'”

Dohman continued, “I decided I wanted to get better horses. I went to Barretts at the 2-year-old sales and I started buying by myself for a little bit, just going through the trials and tribulations of trying to be an owner, trying to buy a horse.”

Dohman started communicating with Zap online and the bloodstock agent recommended connecting with his longtime client.

“He told me I should talk to Joe Ciaglia,” Dohman recalled. “I spoke to Joe and last year, I started buying and partnering with them.”

Zap and Ciaglia had been pinhooking with Hoppel for years and the Ocala horseman thought Dohman might also like the resale game.

“When I first met Jesse, he told me I should look at pinhooking, but I told him I didn't think it was for me,” Dohman said. “I am trying to get some racehorses and win some stakes races. He told me he thought I might change my mind sooner or later.”

It ended up being far sooner than later as Dohman watched the group's success at the 2-year-old sales last year.

“They bought a bunch of horses at Keeneland [in 2020] and they absolutely just crushed it,” Dohman said. “They really killed it last year, so I decided I should jump into pinhooking with them.”

He added ruefully, “I am learning it was a little bit of an odd year because they were able to buy really cheaply during COVID and then the market picked back up and the horses sold really well.”

Despite the change in the market, Zap said the group has had a successful year so far.

“We've done OK,” he said. “The ones that we've taken to auction–obviously these two Collected fillies are helping a lot–it's been a good season. It was tougher to buy yearlings last year than the pandemic year, but it's been a profitable year.”

The team has high hopes that hip 317 will continue the strong 2022 results and the success will be shared by some new faces.

Dohman brought Robert Drenk, his co-founder in Optimum First Mortgage, into the partnership on the filly, and Drenk in turn brought in first-time owner Ryan Rezaie.

“This is his first exposure in horse racing,” Dohman said of Rezaie. “He's never owned horses, never raced horses or pinhooked horses. I put him in three horses–one earmarked to pinhook and two for racing.  I wanted to get him one horse that would sell and make money and that was this Collected filly. This is the horse that I am trying to get him a little taste of making some money in pinhooking to kind of draw him into the game more.”

The filly was originally entered in the OBS Spring sale, but the decision was made to scratch her from that auction following a :10 1/5 work.

“She's a May foal and it was just an erratic work,” Dohman said of the April experience. “I told Jesse, 'Let's just pull her and put her in June and work her two furlongs.' Jesse started stretching out her works preparing her for it and he said, 'Matt this horse is looking really good stretching her out.' So he was expecting under a :21.”

Zap added, “Jesse has been very patient with her and he worked with her to come along for this. When we take a horse to market, we know it's a performance sale, we know we have to perform. This one did everything right. Jesse thought we might get a :20 3/5 today, but we will take the :20 4/5.”

Also during Tuesday's session of the under-tack show, six juveniles shared the furlong bullet time of :10 flat: a filly by Bolt d'Oro (hip 191, video) consigned by Niall Brennan Stables; a filly by Bucchero (hip 217, video) consigned by Nice and Easy Thoroughbreds; a filly by Square Eddie (hip 246, video) consigned by Wavertree Stables; a filly by Practical Joke (hip 297, video) consigned by Top Line Sales; a colt by Awesome Slew (hip 348, video) consigned by All Dreams Equine; and a filly by Greenpointcrusader (hip 359, video) consigned by Scanlon Training & Sales.

The under-tack show continues through Saturday with sessions beginning daily at 7:30 a.m. The June sale will be held next Tuesday through Thursday with bidding commencing each day at 10 a.m.

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Judge Says No to Fishman Conviction Dismissal

Tue, 2022-05-31 17:07

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request by prison-bound veterinarian Seth Fishman to dismiss Count One of his two racehorse doping conspiracy convictions.

Fishman, whose 26 months as a defendant have been hallmarked by minor courtroom dramas, various attempts to prevent or delay the trial, and accusations that he continued to peddle purported performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) while free on bail, had argued that he was tried twice for the same crime because the first count was contained within the second, much broader conspiracy.

Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil of United States District Court (Southern District of New York) didn't see it that way. Her May 31 ruling against Fishman's motion paves the way for his June 30 sentencing, at which he faces up to 20 years in prison.

“Fishman now moves pursuant to Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure for acquittal on Count One, arguing that Count One is multiplicitous of Count Two,” Vyskocil wrote in her order. “That motion is DENIED because a rational trier of fact could find, based on the evidence at trial, that Fishman participated in two distinct conspiracies.”

Fishman, along with six other veterinarians, 11 trainers, and nine others, was charged in 2020 with being a key figure in an international network of purported PED suppliers who allegedly conspired to dope racehorses in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, and the United Arab Emirates.

Count One alleged a four-year conspiracy (2016-20) with Jorge Navarro, Erica Garcia, Marcos Zulueta, Michael Tannuzzo, Christopher Oakes and unnamed others. Count Two alleged a broad, 18-year conspiracy (2002-20) with Lisa Giannelli, Jordan Fishman, Rick Dane, Jr., and unnamed others based on Fishman's Florida online drug-selling portal.

Although a number of defendants in the wide-ranging racehorse doping conspiracy pleaded guilty prior to Fishman, he was the first to stand trial and to be found guilty by a jury.

“The defendant filed several pretrial motions, but he never argued that the Indictment was multiplicitous,” Vyskocil wrote. “The defendant also never raised the issue of multiplicity in connection with any of the Court's instructions to the jury at the trial. Indeed, the instructions relevant to this motion were jointly proposed by the defendant and the government…

“In charging the jury at the end of the case, the Court stressed that the Indictment contained two separate counts, that each count charged a 'separate' conspiracy, and that the jury was required to consider each count 'separately' and 'return a separate verdict on each count.' The Court explained that while there might be 'facts in common to different counts, each count must be considered separately.'

“The Court further explained that while '[m]uch of the law' applied to both counts, the Court would point out differences and 'provide specific instructions' about 'particular elements or findings,'” Vyskocil wrote. “The Court also instructed the jury that the Indictment charged the defendant with continuing the conspiracy charged in Count Two while he was released on bail.

“The Court stressed that whether the jury found Seth Fishman 'guilty or not guilty' of one charged conspiracy 'should not affect [the jury's] verdict' as to the other conspiracy charged in the Indictment. The defense consented to all of these instructions in advance, never objected to them during the trial, and never otherwise raised the issue of multiplicity with respect to the jury charges,” Vyskocil continued.

“The jury convicted Seth Fishman of both of the charged conspiracies, found that he had intent to defraud or mislead with respect to each conspiracy, and found that he continued the Count Two conspiracy after he was released on bail,” Vyskocil summed up.

Fishman's sentencing was supposed to be May 5, but got pushed back to May 26 when he claimed he did not receive financial forms from the feds that are necessary for his pre-sentencing report. Then he requested another new date after pandemic-related lockdown conditions were imposed upon the cell block where he is being detained in New York.

Previous legal maneuverings included the Florida-based veterinarian being inexplicably absent from court on the day that he was found guilty. A cryptic comment from Fishman's attorney to the judge during closing arguments led to speculation that Fishman had to be hospitalized.

In December 2021, Vyskocil had modified Fishman's bail conditions after federal prosecutors presented evidence that backed up allegations he was still selling PEDs while awaiting trial.

On two other occasions in 2020 and 2022, Fishman had unsuccessfully petitioned the court to adjust scheduling for pandemic-related reasons, at first arguing that his right to a speedy trial was being hindered, and then wanting to delay the trial over concerns related to not wanting to get sick with COVID-19.

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HISA Questions and Answers

Tue, 2022-05-31 16:00

Last week, TDN launched a cheat sheet to help guide industry participants through the launch of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) on July 1.

Since then, we have been fielding unanswered questions that industry participants have about the process to register, and about the new playing field come July 1, forwarding them to HISA for response.

Over the weekend, HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus addressed a common registration problem bedeviling the system, with HISA's text message verification codes often been misclassified by telecommunications providers as spam.

In short: While the technical glitch has been fixed, says Lazarus, “it will take more than a week for the fix to fully propagate through these vast systems. Therefore, we have suspended the account verification requirement and continue to secure the accounts using alternate methods.”

The first batch of reader questions TDN has received is posted below alongside HISA's responses. Some of the questions have been edited for brevity and clarity. If any submitted questions aren't answered here, we will endeavour to include them in the next batch.

HISA's formal website can be found here, and the online registration portal can be found here.

Question: The HISA registration process requests that trainers register all 'employees'; the riders my husband uses are independent contractors who ride for multiple trainers. Should he be registering them as 'employees' on the HISA website?

HISA: Trainers are not required to register their employees. However, trainers should ensure that their employees register with HISA. Independent contractors, such as some exercise riders, are responsible for registering with HISA. As the case with the trainer's employees, your husband is not responsible for registering them but should encourage them to do so.

Q: I have a state issued license as a race track management employee. Do I have to register for a HISA license?  If so, under what category?  What about the many licensed employees in non-management roles? There has been zero information communicated on this issue. This is not non-compliance, but a lack of messaging.

H: Racetrack employees are required to register with HISA if they have a state racing commission license and are directly involved in horseracing. However, racetrack employees or contractors who do not have access to restricted areas of a Racetrack (the stable area or paddock, for example) in the ordinary course of carrying out their duties are provided an exemption from registering. This means that if a racetrack employee's job does not regularly require them to access the stable area in the normal course of their work, they are not required to register.

A few examples may help illustrate the registration exemption rule: Racetrack superintendents are required to register because their ordinary job duties are carried out in the restricted areas of a Racetrack. A racetrack public relations employee that occasionally spends time in the barn area is not required to register because access to the restricted areas of the Racetrack is not a part of the ordinary course of their job duties. It is important to note that HISA registration does not affect barn and track access. State and racetrack rules will continue to control access.

Q: I have been working on getting horses registered on the HISA website and have found that I can't go back in and edit them once they're in. For example, I can't update their vaccination record to reflect that they're up to date. Furthermore, I have yet to find where I can add medical information, lay off time, and more, as required by HISA to be put in. I'd like to know if anyone who has solved this problem has gotten it sorted, as HISA has not gotten back to me about fixing this issue.

H: It's correct that this functionality is not yet available through the HISA Portal, but it will be soon. The HISA Portal's functionality continues to evolve, with new features being rolled out every two weeks.

This Friday, June 3 will see the introduction of the ability to update vaccine information along with Coggins and the Health certificate. There will also be a better horse location modification screen, and you will be able to edit the Owner ID.

On Friday, June 17, another round of features will roll out that will allow users to provide the additional information that HISA requires. Importantly, it should be noted that once you have registered yourself and your Covered Horses, you have satisfied your obligations to HISA for the July 1 start date.

Q: I was about to start the process of registering with HISA, however, a friend of mine tried to do so and got all the way to the end and there was no drop down menu for an “Ontario” license so he couldn't complete the application. Any thoughts? We are trying to register from Canada with an AGCO (Woodbine) license.

H: HISA has no jurisdiction in Canada or over Canadian license holders. If a Canadian licensee is planning to race in the U.S., they can register with HISA after securing a license from the racing commission in the state in which they plan to race.

Q: Why are breeders being asked to register? The definition of a covered horse as one that has had its first workout, is entered or nominated for its first race, means a large portion of breeders are not covered persons. By the time they reach that point, if the breeder still owns them, they would be registered (and licensed) as an owner anyway. I understand the language is in the original bill, but even though it's defined, nothing listed after would indicate a need for them to register.

   Furthermore, if they do, why are sales companies and consignors not required to register? Young horses preparing for sale receive vet care, surgery and medications up to the point of 2-year-old sales, but am I to understand those records aren't under the same oversight, and the individuals overseeing that sales prep are not either?

More confusingly, in the rules published by the safety commission in the Federal Review, the definition of a breeder has disappeared from the terms used section, so they don't even define what a breeder is. Can anyone clarify this?

H: Breeders are only required to register if they are required to be licensed by their state racing commission. As with any person, licensure by a state racing commission is the threshold requirement for registration with HISA. If a breeder is not required to be licensed by their state racing commission, then there is no requirement to register with HISA.

Q: During a lengthy conversation with the Jockeys' Guild, the HISA members were challenged with some language that had been changed from the original scope of the bill (Section 8400 in the published rules), namely, that HISA investigators could not only enter any property where covered horses were being cared for, but had access to any books, records and physical property of any other business owned by a covered person.

    In other words, if an owner is a doctor or lawyer, by virtue of owning a racehorse, a HISA investigator appears to have the right to search their offices and records without a warrant.

    According to representatives, that language did not fly with the FTC and was being changed, but it remains published and it would be a part of the agreement for anyone signing up with HISA.

    When will we see the corrected language on their right to enter property and will that be before July 1st?

H: It is important to note that the referenced language in the current Enforcement Rules was approved by the FTC. This is not surprising since the language of the rule tracked the statutory language which states that the Authority “shall develop uniform procedures and rules authorizing- (i) access to offices, racetrack facilities, other places of business, books, records, and personal property of covered persons that are used in the care, treatment, training, and racing of covered horses.”

It should also be noted that other states have statutes that are similarly broad (such as Kentucky). The FTC addressed the entire matter in some detail in the order approving the Enforcement rules, noting that the commenters' quarrel was as much with the HISA Act itself as with the HISA 8400(a) rules.

Nevertheless, to allay the concerns expressed, HISA has restricted the scope of 8400(1)(a) in the revised enforcement rules. The revised rules were shared with numerous constituent groups (including the Jockeys Guild) earlier this month and are available here:

HISA plans to submit the revised enforcement rules to the FTC in the near future.

Q: How did the FTC sign off on only one crop being approved for use? How does a single company having the only crop approved by HISA not violate antitrust laws?

H: No company was approved to manufacture the riding crop. Any person or company is free to manufacture a riding crop that is in compliance with the Safety Rules.

If industry participants have any more unanswered questions about the process, let us know at suefinley@thoroughbreddailynews.com and we will try our best to get those answers.

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Weekly Rulings: May 24-30

Tue, 2022-05-31 15:24

Every week, the TDN publishes a roundup of key official rulings from the primary tracks within the four major racing jurisdictions of California, New York, Florida and Kentucky.

Here's a primer on how each of these jurisdictions adjudicates different offenses, what they make public (or not) and where.

CALIFORNIA
Track: Santa Anita
Date: 05/28/2022
Licensee: Abdul Alsagoor, jockey
Penalty: Three-day suspension
Violation: Careless riding
Explainer: Apprentice Jockey Abdul Alsagoor, who rode Poseidon's Kid in the eighth race at Santa Anita Park on May 27, 2022, is suspended for 3 racing days (June 4, 5 and 10, 2022) for failure to make the proper effort to maintain a straight course in the stretch, causing interference which resulted in the disqualification of his mount from second to fourth place. This constitutes a violation of California Horse Racing Board rule #1699 (Riding Rules – Careless Riding). Pursuant to California Horse Racing Board rule #1766 (Designated Races), the term of suspension shall not prohibit participation in designated races.

NEW YORK
Track: Belmont Park
Date: 05/28/2022
Licensee: Edward Barker, trainer
Penalty: $500 fine
Violation: Failure to report a shockwave treatment
Explainer: Trainer Mr Edward Barker is hereby fined the sum of $500 dollars for failing to report a shockwave treatment.

KENTUCKY
Some of the following rulings were not posted on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission website in time for inclusion last week.

Track: Churchill Downs
Date: 05/20/2022
Licensee: Eder Martinez, jockey
Penalty: Three-day suspension
Violation: Excessive use of the whip
Explainer: After waiving his right to a hearing before the Board of Stewards, Eder Martinez, who rode Youvsaiditall in the third race at Churchill Downs on May 15, 2022 was found to have violated the crop regulation. This being his first offense, Mr. Martinez was given the option and chose to serve a suspension.

Track: Churchill Downs
Date: 05/21/2022
Licensee: Isaias Ayala, jockey
Penalty: Three-day suspension
Violation: Excessive use of the whip
Explainer: After waiving his right to a hearing before the Board of Stewards, Isaias Ayala, who rode El Gavilan in the second race at Churchill Downs on May 20, 2022 was found to have violated the crop regulation. This being his first offense, Mr. Ayala was given the option and chose to serve a suspension. Isaias Ayala is hereby suspended 3 racing days, May 27 through May 29, 2022 (inclusive) for his improper use of the crop by exceeding the allowable use in the overhand manner.

Track: Churchill Downs
Date: 05/21/2022
Licensee: Jack Gilligan, jockey
Penalty: $500 fine
Violation: Excessive use of the whip
Explainer: After waiving his right to a hearing before the Board of Stewards, Jack Gilligan, who rode Jeremy's Jet in the second race at Churchill Downs on May 20, 2022 was found to have violated the crop regulation (2nd offense). Jack Gilligan is hereby fined $500 for his improper use of the crop by exceeding the allowable use in the overhand manner.

Track: Churchill Downs
Date: 05/21/2022
Licensee: Paul McEntee, trainer
Penalty: $500 fine
Violation: Improper scratch
Explainer: After waiving his right to a hearing before the Board of Stewards, Paul McEntee is hereby fined $500 for the scratch of Jeremy's Jet from the first race on May 19, 2022, which violated the regulation that governs scratches.

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Services to be Held Thursday for Sarah Ramsey

Tue, 2022-05-31 14:33

Visitation for Sarah Kathern Ramsey, who passed away Sunday at the family's Ramsey Farm, will be held at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home at 3421 Harrodsburg Road, Lexington, Kentucky Thursday, June 2, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be visitation at Knox Funeral Home at 325 Knox Street, Barbourville, Kentucky from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, June 3 and at the East Barbourville Baptist Church, 279 Old US 25, from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 4, immediately preceding a 2 p.m. burial across the street from the church in the Barbourville Cemetery.

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Fire Destroys Suffolk Downs Press Box

Tue, 2022-05-31 14:22

A six-alarm fire destroyed the press box and announcer's booth atop the historic grandstand at Suffolk Downs in East Boston Monday night. The former Massachusetts track was vacant at the time except for security personnel, and no one was injured in the blaze.

As firefighters monitored hot spots and tried to determine a cause Tuesday morning, there was a sense of “it could have been worse” among neighbors and onlookers at the scene.

Although the roof of the building sustained fire and water damage, the hulking steel-and-concrete structure built in 1935 still stands, with the southern clubhouse portion appearing undamaged.

Suffolk Downs last hosted Thoroughbred racing on June 30, 2019.

The fire broke out exactly five years to the date that HYM Investment Group, LLC, acquired the 161-acre property with the intention of redeveloping the site for a mixed-use project involving biotechnology labs and 4,200 housing units.

The massive project is considered extremely lucrative because the parcel represents one of the largest, un-subdivided pieces of land in greater Boston.

The Suffolk Downs stable area had been razed several years ago, and that section of the property–technically in the neighboring city of Revere and hundreds of yards away from the grandstand–has been in the process of being redeveloped first. Just six days prior to the May 30 fire, HYM had held a ground-breaking ceremony to commemorate the start of that work.

Under a lease arrangement, the previous owners, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC, have been permitted to keep conducting simulcasting in the clubhouse while the anticipated years-long construction takes place, and the public has been allowed to use the mile-long former racecourse as a park for exercise and dog-walking. No timetable has been publicly disclosed for the demolition or repurposing of the combined grandstand and clubhouse.

The building had been open for simulcasting until about 6:15 p.m. on Memorial Day. The fire was first reported around 9:40 p.m. after an alarm went off.

The fire appears to have begun in the north section of the press box where the TV control room for simulcasting was located.

Regulars who frequented the press box when the track was still operational for live racing recall that cramped area as a nest of both old and patchworked electrical wiring snaking among wood-paneled walls.

According to Twitter postings from the official Boston Fire Department (BFD) account, the blaze rapidly grew in intensity, leading Boston Fire Commissioner John Dempsey to take command as departments from neighboring municipalities rushed to help.

Photos of the in-progress fire posted by BFD showed flames wiping out the announcer's booth directly above the TV control room. The satellite dishes used to receive simulcast signals were also located on that section of the roof.

Access to hydrants was cited as a problem, and firefighters had to relay together thousands of feet of hosing after knocking down fences that separated the track property from an adjacent neighborhood of triple-deckers to get to hydrants.

“We had a very difficult time with water. It's very limited here,” said Dempsey.

Dempsey ordered firefighters off the structure around midnight, shortly before flames burned through the roof. A drone with thermal imaging capabilities was deployed to assess hot spots from above, and crews used multiple tower ladders to combat the blaze.

Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer for Sterling Suffolk, told the Boston Globe Tuesday that plans are underway to acquire new simulcasting technology and relocate it to the clubhouse.

“The equipment that we need in order to show the races from tracks around the country, that area has been destroyed,” Tuttle said. “So there will be some interruption in our on-site simulcasting for at least a week, perhaps longer than that.”

At the time of its construction 87 years ago, Suffolk Downs was considered an architectural marvel. Amid the rush to take advantage of newly legalized pari-mutuel wagering in the aftermath of the Great Depression, the track was constructed in just 62 days on a former landfill atop coastal salt marshes.

Prior to opening day on July 10, 1935, the Boston Globe wrote that, “There is no doubt that Suffolk Downs is the last word in racing plants. From every spot in the spacious grandstand one can secure a glimpse of the entire track. The clubhouse is the ultimate in all respects. Everything is mahogany and modern… The press box at Suffolk Downs is on top of the grandstand. It is 100 feet long, one of the largest racetrack press boxes in the country.”

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Capital OTB TV Wins Telly Award

Tue, 2022-05-31 14:06

Capital District Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation's television unit, OTB TV, won a Telly Award for its promotional spot, “OTB TV Now Available on ROKU” The spot was honored in the Local TV-Media Promotion category.

The Telly Awards annually recognize excellence in local, regional and cable television commercials.

“OTB TV, all year long, but particularly with our daily morning programming from the Saratoga backstretch during the racing season, has been appreciated by horseplayers in the upstate New York area for many years,” said OTB TV's Seth Merrow. “We've been able to expand our audience through the streaming platforms like ROKU and obviously we wanted to get the word out. It's nice to know that our efforts to do that have been successful, not only because we hear from people who are now able to watch and enjoy OTB TV from across the country, but also because the commercial was recognized with this prestigious award.”

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Creative Minister Works for Belmont

Tue, 2022-05-31 13:20

Creative Minister (Creative Cause), coming off a third-place effort in the GI Preakness S., tuned up for the June 11 GI Belmont S. with a four-furlong work in :48.33 (2/5) at Belmont Park Tuesday.

NYRA clockers caught Creative Minister marking off a quarter-mile in :24 over the fast track, rolling through without much urging from jockey Heman Harkie. Rounding the turn and heading for the wire, Harkie remained still aboard the grey colt who continued a steady rhythm down the stretch to complete the work in :48.33, galloping out five-eighths in 1:01 flat.

“This horse is all class. It was a nice little maintenance half-mile and wasn't anything complicated,” said trainer Kenny McPeek. “We just wanted to let him stretch his legs a little over the track. I think historically it's a track you've got to get used to. I had luck with Sarava training him up there immediately after the Preakness.”

Sarava won the 2002 Belmont for McPeek as a 70-1 outsider.

Creative Minister followed a maiden win at Keeneland in April with a Churchill allowance score May 7 and made his stakes debut when third behind Early Voting (Gun Runner) in the Preakness.

“It was another big step forward for him,” McPeek said of the Preakness effort. “He showed he fits in with some of the better 3-year-olds in the nation.”

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Canadian Trainer Suspended 20 Years for Drug Violations

Tue, 2022-05-31 12:45

Trainer Robert Gerl has been suspended 20 years and fined $100,000 after two horses under his care tested positive for ostarine, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced Tuesday.

The drug acts much like anabolic steroids in that it is used to create anabolic activity and enhance muscle growth by directly stimulating androgen receptors. A non-therapeutic substance, it has not been approved for human use or consumption in the U.S., or in any other country.

The AGCO alleges that two horses trained by Gerl, Arafat (War On Gaza) and Komunist (Conquest Curlinate), tested positive for the drug. Komunist tested positive for ostarine after finishing fourth in a $10,000 maiden claimer on Oct. 15 at Woodbine. Arafat's post-race positive involves an Oct. 7 maiden optional claimer in which he finished second. Neither horse has raced since the alleged infractions.

In the press release announcing the suspensions, the AGCO said that the substance was also found in one of the Gerl-trained horses in out-of-competition tests, but did not specify which of the two horses were involved in those tests.

“The health and welfare of racehorses, and the integrity of racing are of primary concern to the AGCO,” said Tom Mungham, the chief executive officer and registrar for the AGCO. “We will continue to take all appropriate actions to protect horses and maintain the fairness of racing. The administration of prohibited substances, especially non-therapeutic drugs, have no business in the sport, and positive test results can lead to severe consequences for licence holders.”

The two horses have been disqualified and the purse money they earned must be returned and redistributed.
According to equineline.com, Gerl has been training since 2007 and has a career record of 65-for-1132. He was 0-for-25 in both 2021 and 2020. He does not have a start this year. He has never had a starter in a stakes race.

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Fasig-Tipton Renames Sale in July, Opens Nominations

Tue, 2022-05-31 09:49

Fasig-Tipton's July Selected Horses of All Ages Sale is open for nominations. Scheduled for Monday, July 11, the sale will be held in Lexington the day immediately prior to Fasig-Tipton's July Selected Yearling Sale.

The sale has been both expanded and renamed. Originally the July Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale, it will now include not just horses of racing age, but also broodmares, broodmares with a foal at their side, and broodmare prospects.

“Last year, we conducted a dispersal in July which allowed us to open up the sale to additional breeding stock,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “Offering summer breeding stock was positively received by buyers, and that success prompted us to make this a permanent July fixture to complement our strong horses of racing age market.”

Last year's racehorse topper was SW & GSP Front Run the Fed (Fed Biz), who hammered for $440,000 to buyer George Sharp. The breeding stock session was topped by SW Jeweled Princess (Cairo Prince), who sold for $225,000 to Stoneriggs Farm while carrying her first foal by Gun Runner.

Entries for the initial online catalogue release will close June 17, but Fasig-Tipton will continue to add approved entries after that date up until sale time. For more information, visit julyhoaa.fasigtipton.com.

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Report: Owner/Breeder Sarah Ramsey Passes Away

Mon, 2022-05-30 21:34

Sarah Ramsey, who partnered with her husband Ken to become one of the leading owners in the sport, passed away Sunday at the family's Ramsey Farm, the Blood-Horse has reported. She was 83.

Sarah Ramsey was a native of Artemus, Kentucky, and often went by the nickname Kitten. Originally, the Ramsey horses raced separately, under Sarah or Ken's name. Her first horse was Kitten's First and the best horse ever campaigned by the Ramseys was Kitten's Joy, the 2004 Eclipse Award male turf winner. That year, the Ramseys also won the Eclipse Award for the sport's top owner.

The couple dabbled in ownership starting in the sixties before greatly expanding their operation in 1994 when purchasing the former Almahurst Farm, renamed Ramsey Farm. They got into horse ownership and breeding after investing in the nascent cell phone business. They sold their cell phone franchise for $39 million.

The Ramsey operation, which has been downscaled since its prime, remained atop the sport for nearly two decades. They also won the Eclipse Award for top owner in 2011, 2013 and 2014. They hold the record at Churchill Downs for most leading owner titles in the history of the track, with 28 titles, and the record at Keeneland, with 18.

In 2007, Sarah Ramsey suffered a stroke and was wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life.

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Australia’s Ocean Road Up in Time in Gamely

Mon, 2022-05-30 21:22

Irish-bred Ocean Road, making her third start in North America, picked up her first stakes win at the highest level with a last-to-first score in Monday's GI Gamely S. at Santa Anita.

Graduating second out on the Lingfield all-weather in December of 2020, the bay was third in a pair of British stakes before shipping in for Hugo Palmer to run sixth after a slow start in the GI Maker's Mark Filly & Mare Turf before finishing full of run to get up in the last stride of a Keeneland allowance first out for this barn Apr. 15 Pegged as the third choice behind odds-on Going Global in this six-horse group, Ocean Road broke awkwardly under Umberto Rispoli and settled in last behind a loose longshot leader through fractions of :23.49 and :47.81. Picking it up while swinging five wide at the top of the lane started to reel in the leaders at the sixteenth pole and closed determinedly to just tag Going to Vegas in the shadow of the wire.

“I think there's some more improvement in her and I can't see why she wouldn't keep going forward,” said winning trainer Brendan Walsh, who is based in Kentucky and flew in earlier Sunday from Lexington. “Umberto had her in a nice spot and he was able to creep in a little closer going to the [far] turn. There were a couple nice fillies in this race and we knew we weren't going to get by them too easy. She showed a nice kick and it's always good to see that from a horse coming over here to run in this country. The guys that came out with her here to Santa Anita have been telling me all week how good she's been doing, that she's just blossomed out here. Today, she had a bit of a swagger about her. I knew she was going to run a good race, whether it was going to be good enough or not remained to be seen.”

“It's very special,” added Rispoli, who despite relocating in early April to Kentucky, opted to return to Santa Anita recently. “Sheikh Fahad [owner, Qatar Racing] always was a big supporter of mine when I was in France and even overseas a couple of times, he came to run in Hong Kong with a couple of horses and I was always pleased to wear his colors … Coming back and having a Grade I win here makes me very happy.”

Pedigree Notes:
With the win, Ocean Road becomes the fifth Grade I/Group 1 winner, 26th stakes winner and 16th graded stakes winner for Coolmore's Australia. She is the third black-type winner out of her dam, following MGISW Wigmore Hall and German stakes winner Lady Liberty (Ire) (Shirocco {Ger}). Out of a Canadian GSW, Love And Laughter has a yearling colt by Saxon Warrior (Jpn).

Monday, Santa Anita
GAMELY S.-GI, $400,500, Santa Anita, 5-30, 3yo/up, f/m, 1 1/8mT, 1:46.66, fm.
1–OCEAN ROAD (IRE), 122, f, 4, by Australia (GB)
                1st Dam: Love And Laughter (Ire), by Theatrical (Ire)
                2nd Dam: Hoh Dear (Ire), by Sri Pekan
                3rd Dam: Miss Kristin (Ire), by Alzao
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN, 1ST GRADE I
WIN. (140,000gns Wlg '18 TATFOA; 150,000gns Ylg '19
TATOCT). O-Qatar Racing Limited; B-K. & Mrs Cullen (IRE);
T-Brendan P. Walsh; J-Umberto Rispoli. $240,000. Lifetime
Record: GSP-Eng, 8-3-1-2, $351,772. *1/2 to Wigmore Hall
(IRE) (High Chaparral (IRE)), Hwt. Colt-Eng- at 9 1/2 – 11f,
MGISW-Can, GSW & G1SP-UAE, GISP-USA, MGSP-Eng,
$2,099,316. Werk Nick Rating: C. 
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Going to Vegas, 124, m, 5, by Goldencents
                1st Dam: Hard to Resist (SW, $284,538), by Johannesburg
                2nd Dam: Anja, by Gulch
                3rd Dam: Knoosh, by Storm Bird
O-Abbondanza Racing, LLC, Medallion Racing & MyRacehorse;
B-J. Kirk Robison & Judy Robison (KY); T-Philip D'Amato.
$80,000.
3–Going Global (Ire), 124, f, 4, by Mehmas (Ire)
                1st Dam: Wrood, by Invasor (Arg)
                2nd Dam: Ras Shaikh, by Sheikh Albadou (GB)
                3rd Dam: Aneesati (GB), by Kris (GB)
(€15,500 Ylg '19 GOFSPT). O-CYBT, Michael Dubb, Saul
Gevertz, Michael Nentwig & Ray Pagano; B-N. Hartery (IRE);
T-Philip D'Amato. $48,000.
Margins: HF, 1, 1. Odds: 5.10, 2.10, 0.80.
Also Ran: Canoodling, Eddie's New Dream, Thrumps Dream (Ire). Scratched: England's Rose, Neige Blanche (Fr). Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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Vaccarezzas’ $1.5M-Plus Veterinary Negligence Win Vacated

Mon, 2022-05-30 20:05

A judge in the LA County Superior Court of California has reversed a February jury verdict that awarded Carlo and Priscilla Vaccarezza more than $1.5 million in veterinary malpractice and negligence damages against the Equine Medical Center and veterinarian Vince Baker, according to a ruling dated Thursday.

The case surrounds the treatment that Baker gave to the Vaccarezza owned and trained Little Alexis, before she finished ninth in the 2014 GI Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.

“I think it's a great result. Dr. Baker is a fabulous veterinarian,” said attorney Lisa J. Brown, who represents Baker. “This case should never have been filed and it should never have gotten this far. It's a shame that this was the approach that the Vaccarezzas took.”

According to James Morgan, who represents the Vaccarezzas, the plaintiffs will appeal the ruling.

“We have trust in the jury's objective consideration of all the evidence that initially resulted in a verdict in favor of the Vaccarezzas. We intend to request the assistance of the court of appeal to confirm the merits of the jury's carefully considered findings,” Morgan wrote, in a text.

Two days before the Breeders' Cup race, Baker administered a treatment of permitted pre-race medications–including the anti-inflammatory Ketofen, electrolytes and a vitamin jug–intravenously into Little Alexis's left jugular, as per coverage of the jury verdict.

One day later, a lump had appeared on Little Alexis's neck at the site where the catheter had been inserted. She had also spiked a temperature.

Baker treated the horse for her elevated temperature and drew blood for testing. By the morning of the race, Little Alexis's temperature had dropped and Baker gave her the all-clear to race.

After the race, however, Little Alexis's condition deteriorated again, preventing her from flying from California to the Fasig-Tipton November Sale in Kentucky as planned. She had been appraised for $1.5 million as a stakes-winning racing prospect.

Kept in training, Little Alexis never again competed in graded stakes, and was ultimately sold for $440,000.

The Vaccarezzas' original complaint was filed in 2015 and alleged medical and general negligence. Vaccarezza also claimed that months after he filed the original complaint, he learned that Little Alexis's blood test results taken the morning before the race showed abnormalities.
Vaccarezza claimed that Baker failed to tell him of the abnormal blood test results, and that his “standard of care” for Little Alexis fell short of that for the veterinary medical profession.

In February, a 12-person jury sided with the plaintiffs, awarding them $1.06 million plus interest in damages, for a total of more than $1.5 million.

The defendants in the case subsequently filed two post-trial motions, one for a new trial and a motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict.

In his Thursday ruling, judge Richard Burdge reversed the jury verdict, writing that the “Plaintiffs did not present substantial evidence that an average veterinarian of ordinary skill would have treated the facts of this case differently and did not establish a relevant, recognized standard of care in California at the relevant time. Therefore, the finding of veterinary negligence is not supported by substantial evidence and the JNOV motion is granted.”

Judge Burdge also denied the motion for a new trial. According to Morgan, the judge also denied a motion for diminished damages.
Central to judge Burdge's ruling was that he found a key expert witness for the Vaccarezzas had testified to personal veterinary standards rather than to the standard of care among veterinarians in California in general.

In the February trial, veterinarian Michael Chovanes said, for example, that an important reading in the blood test—pertaining to the SAA value, which measures a protein synthesized by the liver that increases dramatically with inflammation—was significantly elevated.

This was one of the reasons why Little Alexis should have been scratched from the Breeders' Cup, Chovanes testified at the February trial, calling the decision to run her a “significant risk.”

In his Thursday ruling, however, judge Burdge writes that Chovanes “was never asked, and he did not testify, that essentially every 'veterinarian of ordinary skill and knowledge from the relevant community' would give that same answer or balance the risks and interests involved in exactly the same way.”

Judge Burdge adds in the written ruling: “If another qualified practitioner in the exercise of professional judgment might have answered that question differently, Dr. Chovanes' answer does not establish a standard to which any other practitioner must always adhere.”

Judge Burdge's ruling was based on relatively limited information, while an appellate court would have access to the full trial transcript, said Morgan, in a telephone call.

“I can't fault the trial court for not having a complete copy of the transcript. He called it the way he saw it. The jurors called it the way they saw it. And I trust the court of appeal process,” said Morgan, who added that the Vaccarezzas have not yet filed an appeal, and that such a trial “won't be soon.”

According to Brown, the original jury verdict was “inconsistent” with the law, as the expert testimony, based on “personal preference,” was insufficient to establish liability.

“They ignored the evidence that the horse returned to racing and there was no evidence that any downfall in [Little Alexis's] ability to run had anything to do with what doctor Baker did,” said Brown.

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