Archive for March, 2014

Ramsey’s Vicar’s in Trouble rolls to Louisiana Derby victory

Two down, one more to go.

A week after locking in one Kentucky Derby starter with Grade III Spiral Stakes winner We Miss Artie, Nicholasville-based owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey watched another of their contenders cement a trip to Louisville in May as Vicar’s in Trouble headed every point of call to win the Grade II, $1 million Louisiana Derby by 3 1/2-lengths over Intense Holiday at Fair Grounds Saturday.

With the win, Vicar’s in Trouble now heads up the Kentucky Derby standings with 120 points. And the Ramseys aren’t done with possible classic representation. The reigning Eclipse Award winners for Outstanding Owner and Outstanding Breeder for 2013 are slated to send out graded stakes winner Bobby’s Kitten in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 12.

“It sure would be nice to get all three in…we’d only have 17 others to beat,” Ramsey joked after the Spiral.

A Louisiana bred, Vicar’s in Trouble has fittingly notched each of his three career wins over the Fair Grounds track. The dark bay son of Into Mischief won the  Grade III Lecomte Stakes by 6 3/4 lengths in his seasonal bow on January 18 and was third behind race winner Intense Holiday after a wide trip in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on February 22.

The colt popped an abscess in his left front foot shortly after being shipped to trainer Mike Maker’s Gulfstream Park base. The setback only forced him to miss about 3-4 days of training, according to Ken Ramsey, and there were no signs of ailment as he shot to the lead Saturday under jockey Rosie Napravnik and set fractions of 23.56 and 47.86.

“You know he is a tiny horse but he’s got a great big heart,” said Napravnik, who also won the Fair Grounds Oaks aboard Untapable Saturday.

Intense Holiday, who made a big run to nip Albano by a nose in the Risen Star, couldn’t make up much ground in the lane as Vicar’s in Trouble hit the wire in 1:50.77 over a fast track for the 1 1/8-miles race. Commanding Curve ran a good third after getting bumped at the start and Albano crossed the wire fifth but was elevated to fourth when In Trouble was disqualified for interference.

“I had the #9 clocked (In Trouble), but when Gerard’s horse (Rise Up) came up on the outside and then dropped over, In Trouble wheeled out and he hit my horse so hard, it knocked the air out of him. He just couldn’t recover from that,” said Kerwin Clark, jockey of Albano.





One for the home team: Godolphin’s African Story takes Dubai World Cup

Edited Dubai Racing Club release:

African Story proved the catalyst for the Meydan grandstand to erupt on Saturday evening as Saeed bin Suroor’s Godolphin runner streaked away with the 19th running of the $10-million Dubai World Cup.

The trainer was winning the world’s richest race for a sixth time and provided Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum with a seventh triumph in his signature test.

Bin Suroor had failed to lift the trophy since Electrocutionist scored at Nad Al Sheba in 2006 and African Story was the long-standing handler’s first win in the race at the imposing Meydan Racecourse.

Silvestre de Sousa was never worse than second aboard the 7-year-old Pivotal gelding  who pulled 2 1/2-lengths clear down the stretch to see off the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned Mukhadram who valiantly tried to make all under Paul Hanagan.

The ruling Maktoum family also enjoyed another podium finish with Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby-trained Cat O’Mountain overcoming his outside stall disadvantage to finish third.

“This is our sixth win in the race and it has been a long time in coming,” said bin Suroor. “There has been a lot of pressure from a lot of people, but I thought two years ago this was the right horse for this race. In my heart I thought this horse could win – he is something really special and I told Sheikh Mohammed this two years ago.

“This is a big thrill and I dedicate this win to my mother and I will give her my golden whip.”

African Story was fifth in last year’s running of the Dubai World Cup which was won by champion and  2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Known best for his aptitude over eight furlongs, African Story had taken the 2012 edition of the Godolphin Mile on that year’s World Cup undercard.

De Sousa had failed to frame on his two previous Dubai World Cup rides but struck lucky at the third attempt, and said: “It turned into a perfect race for me as I only had one horse in front of me. I knew I had to get past him quick and it was a big relief when I went clear.

“African Story has good track form having won the Godolphin Mile two years ago. He travelled well and quickened great and I am over the moon. There is pressure, but at the same time I think I have shown that I have given my best and that there may still be more to come.”

British raider Mukhadram tracked across from stall 15 under Paul Hanagan and appeared as though he had stolen a march on the field turning for home, only to be run down by African Story.

Hanagan commented: “I am very proud of him and it was a tremendous effort from William Haggas to have him ready to run after such a long layoff.

“We went forward and I got a breather in to him down the back straight. We kicked at the top of the home run and for a moment I thought I had nicked it but in the end we were beaten by a very good horse on the night.”

Similarly pleased was Mikael Barzalona who rode Cat O’Mountain, and commented: “He ran a blinder from where he was drawn and could have been closer but for that.”

The Hong Kong and Japanese raiders all failed to get involved while race favorite Ruler Of The World weakened back to 13th of the 16 runners with connections reporting he failed to handle the all-weather track.

Multiple Grade I winner Ron the Greek, who now races for Saudi owners, came home 12th.

Jockey Mark Guidry set for second retirement

Veteran Louisiana-born jockey Mark Guidry has announced that he will be retiring from the saddle at the end of Saturday’s Grade II Louisiana Derby Day card at Fair Grounds.

Guidry, who initially retired in 2007 before making a comeback in 2011, said he will become a jockey’s agent handling the book of Carlos Marquez Jr. at Evangeline Downs.

“I’m excited about my new career,” Guidry told the Fair Grounds publicity staff Thursday. “It’s time for me to stay around my home in the Lafayette area and spend more time with my family.”

Guidry has long been one of the most respected members in the jockey’s room and in 2006, was honored with the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, which is determined by a vote of his peers. Included among the 5,222 career wins he takes into Saturday’s card is his triumph aboard Lemons Forever in the 2006 Kentucky Oaks as well as guiding Buzzards Bay to the win in the 2005 Grade I Santa Anita Derby.

Guidry was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and is also a member of the Hawthorne Hall of Fame.

“I do want to thank all the Louisiana horsemen who have supported me throughout my career and put me on their horses,” Guidry said. “I really can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for me.”

Guidry’s mounts have earned $106,355,135 heading into Saturday and has won multiple riding titles at Arlington Park, Hawthorne Race Course, and the now defunct Sportsman’s Park  in Illinois.

‘Enough is enough’: Jockey Club urges medication reforms in wake of PETA scandal

Officials with The Jockey Club reiterated Friday its stance that it may seek out federal legislation to regulate Thoroughbred racing  should major racing jurisdictions not move forward with the national medication reforms proposed by the organization.

In a lengthy statement released in the wake of allegations raised by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)  against Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen last week, Jockey Club chairman Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps said that while “there is no doubt that some of those shown in the March 20 video deserve condemnation for their actions and their attitudes, representatives of states that have not adopted the national uniform medication program should also shoulder blame for the current state of affairs.”

Following up on remarks he made at last year’s  61st annual Jockey Club Round Table Conference in Saratoga, Phipps went on to add that if major racing states have not implemented the national uniform medication program supported by The Jockey Club in time for this year’s Round Table in August, it would reach out to federal lawmakers and “aggressively seek rapid implementation, including steps leading toward the elimination of all race-day medications.”

“At the Round Table Conference last August, I said that The Jockey Club supported these reforms on a state-by-state basis, but the clock was ticking,” Phipps said in the statement. “I emphasized that if the state-by-state approach failed to produce the needed changes, we would look to alternative means to implement these reforms. One alternative avenue is federal legislation.

“The draft legislation proposed by some federal lawmakers involving the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is a highly attractive model. USADA has the experience, the knowledge and the credibility to bring much-needed integrity to our sport. The time to draw that proverbial line in the sand is rapidly approaching and The Jockey Club’s Board of Stewards plans to do that no later than the 62nd annual Round Table Conference on August 10, 2014.”

The supported reforms that make up the national uniform medication program was first proposed in 2011 and encompasses controlled therapeutic medications, prohibited substances, accredited labs and penalty guidelines for multiple medication violations. Phipps said in his statement that  only four of the 38 states with racing – namely Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Virginia –  have fully implemented the national uniform medication program thus far.

In a statement released later Friday, Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associations chairman Alan Foreman took issue with Phipps’s implication that the progress with the national uniform medication program has dragged its feet.

“The uniform program was first announced by the Mid Atlantic states on April 1, 2013. Recognizing that implementation requires either state regulatory or, in some cases, legislative action, the Mid Atlantic announced that it would implement the reforms on January 1, 2014 or whenever a participating state’s live racing commenced in 2014,” Foreman said. “Since then, the effort to get this program adopted and impemented nationally began in the summer of 2013.

“When the industry determined that it would eliminate steroids from competition in 2008, the effort began with collective action by the Mid Atlantic states and took approximately 18 months to be achieved nationally. At the time, the industry was hailed for its ability to move swiftly and collectively to significantly change policy,” Foreman continued. “We are a year from when the Mid Atlantic introduced the current reforms and 9 months since the effort was embraced nationally. Some in the media today have questioned my recent public statements that all but 4 of the 38 racing states are in the process of adopting the program in light of Dinny’s comments. I think everyone should know the status and progress of the reform program.”

Foreman said the only four outlier racing states not currently considering the reforms are Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Colorado and added that Kentucky joins California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Arizona among those jurisdictions in the final adoption stage or preparing to commence implementation.

The idea of having federal legislation  has been floated within Thoroughbred racing for some years, but has often been met with resistance from horsemen.

“Racing still has two or three times the approval rating than the U.S. Congress has so be careful what you ask for there,” said trainer Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and one of the foremost proponents for uniform medication, when reached for comment. “It has no real traction. There would be huge push back if they had any traction.”

Full text of The Jockey Club statement can be found here:




Broodmare of the Year Oatsee foals Frankel filly

Edited Darby Dan release:

Oatsee, the 2011 Broodmare of the Year, gave birth to a filly from the first crop of champion Frankel early Thursday at John Phillips’ Darby Dan Farm in Lexington.

Bred by My Meadowview LLC, the chestnut filly was born around 3:30 am sporting a big white blaze on her head, and she represents one of the few American-based foals born to date by the popular undefeated European champion Frankel.

“Oatsee has made her mark as one of the very finest producers in the world, and her mating to a stallion like Frankel, who carries the highest of reputations, had us all eager of the foal’s arrival,” said Robert Hammond, Darby Dan general manager. “You always feel like you’re going to get a special individual out of her any way, and this filly was everything we hoped for and more. I’m happy to report that mom and foal are doing fantastic.”

A 17-year-old daughter of Unbridled, Oatsee is most notably the dam of three-time Grade I winner Shackleford, hero of the 2011 Preakness winner who is currently standing his second season at stud at Darby Dan.

Oatsee has also produced multiple top-class fillies including Grade I winner Lady Joanne, winner of the 2007 Grade I Alabama, Grade II winner Afleeting Lady, and multiple Grade III winner Baghdaria. Oatsee’s current runners include the stakes winner and Grade II-placed horse, Stephanoatsee, who is also a My Meadowview homebred by A.P. Indy.

To date, Oatsee has had eight runners at the track, including the five aforementioned graded stakes horses, and her offspring have won 12 graded stakes and earned over $5.6 million combined.

Frankel stood his first season in 2013 after retiring as one of the most accomplished racehorses of all time. A perfect 14-for-14, Frankel won nine straight Group I races in Europe and was rated by Timeform and the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings, among others, as the best racehorse ever assessed. By leading sire Galileo, Frankel was the European Horse of the Year in 2011 and 2012, as well as champion 2-year-old colt in 2010, champion 3-year-old colt in 2011, and champion older horse in 2012.

Oatsee, who hails from the Lear Fan mare With Every Wish, will be bred back to WinStar Farm stallion Distorted Humor in 2014.

Zayat on parting with Asmussen, calls behavior ‘unacceptable’

On Monday, owner Ahmed Zayat announced on Twitter he was pulling the 12 horses he had with trainer Steve Asmussen and transferring them to other trainers in the wake of an internal investigation by PETA report and video that published in last Thursday’s New York Times.

In a press release issued by Zayat on Tuesday, he details his side of the events that ultimately led him to cut ties with the Eclipse Award-winning trainer. Below is the full text of the release from Zayat:

Zayat Stables has terminated Steve Asmussen and moved all 12 of its horses that were previously in the trainer’s care following an internal investigation on the PETA report and video that published in last Thursday’s New York Times.


PETA’s report and video included Zayat Stables’ star racehorse Nehro, who was trained by Asmussen during the horse’s entire 3 ½-year racing career and apparent time frame of the PETA undercover investigation. Details in the video include what is believed to be the voices of Asmussen’s former chief assistant trainer Scott Blasi and an undisclosed blacksmith who were discussing the poor condition of Nehro’s feet. Nehro, who was most famously known for his close runner-up performances in the Kentucky Derby, Arkansas Derby, and Louisiana Derby in 2011, reportedly passed away from a quick bout with colic early May 4, 2013 while in training with Asmussen at Churchill Downs.


“I am shocked, hurt, and disappointed beyond belief to think that some of the things on that video happened to any of my horses, especially Nehro,” said Ahmed Zayat, owners of Zayat Stables. “As soon as the story broke Wednesday evening, I texted Steve (Asmussen) to find out what was going on. I never heard back so I sent him more messages Thursdaymorning to call me, and he still had yet to get back to me by midday. I finally told him he needs to call me right now. When I was able to get Steve on the phone that afternoon, the first thing that came out of his mouth was that he hadn’t seen the video yet and could not speak on behalf of Scott Blasi. It was mind-boggling to me the reaction. I got nowhere with him, and that’s completely irresponsible and unacceptable to me. Then Scott Blasi texted me Friday night and said this verbatim: ‘Mr. Zayat, I want to apologize for my obscene comments and embarrassment to you and your family. They were totally taken out of context in a manipulative situation and I was clearly under the influence of alcohol and a woman. Obviously a weakness on my part. You and your family have been very dear to me and so good to me and my family. Please forgive me. Scott’. That’s all I got from them, and I did not respond to that text. It was unbelievably evident that I had been lied to all this time about Nehro’s health, and God knows what else.


“At no point during Nehro’s career did Steve Asmussen communicate or suggest to us that Nehro be retired. I never even had the slightest idea that anything could be wrong with Nehro’s feet. There was never ever anything communicated by Steve, Scott, or anyone in charge of Nehro’s care to me or anybody else from Zayat Stables about any foot problems. Everybody associated with Nehro, including my last two stable managers Sobhy Sonbol and Bradley Weisbord, and WinStar Farm which had Nehro during his recovery time from ankle surgery, have all said the same. I was in love with this horse, and crushed the day we learned of his death. Nehro was my all-time favorite and everyone knew what he meant to me and my family. It’s horrifying to think that the video of his treatment is true and that Nehro suffered in any way. And to hear some of the inferences made towards me on that video are disgusting and intolerable,” he added.


“In an industry that needs transparency now more than ever, I am standing up for horses and owners alike by showing that this behavior is unacceptable. Steve Asmussen is a very successful trainer who we’ve had a great deal of racing success with. But I will not stand for this. I have removed all of our horses as swiftly as I possibly could from Steve Asmussen’s care, and going forward they’ll be in an environment where they will get the best care possible, as well as one that has an honest and open line of communication. Our industry deserves transparency for us all to be properly informed to make decisions that are right by the horse, so that things like this won’t happen. I have moved my horses to other trainers, and I am evaluating with my advisors what other rights I may have or actions I should take in connection with this matter. My confidence has been badly shaken, and we will be more diligent in employing people we can trust. We will never tolerate anything less,” Zayat said.


Over the past few days, Zayat was able to coordinate the logistics for moving all 12 horses from Asmussen’s stables scattered at racetracks around the country, including Fair Grounds, Oaklawn, Sam Houston, and Aqueduct. The 12 horses, which most notably includes four-time graded stakes-winning millionaire Prayer for Relief, have been evenly dispersed between trainers Dale Romans, D. Wayne Lukas and upstart conditioner Michael Wilson. Romans and Lukas have been regular trainers for Zayat Stables, while Wilson, who will have a string of horses in New York, is a rising horseman who Zayat believes embodies the qualities to be a successful, horse-friendly, and owner-friendly trainer of the future.


“Michael Wilson is a talented horseman and great communicator,” Zayat said. “He represents what the future of this game needs – somebody who genuinely cares about the welfare of the horse, his craft, and his owners. Zayat Stables is delighted to be working with such a sharp, dedicated, and responsible young trainer, and we will continue to seek out the horsemen who can take this industry to where it needs to be.”


Romans has taken over training duties on Prayer for Relief, who is slated to run this Saturday in the Grade II New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds. Two horses, Selway and Skinny, were scratched from races Asmussen had entered them into last weekend at Oaklawn and Fair Grounds, respectively. Skinny has moved into the care of Romans, and Selway has moved into the Lukas barn at Oaklawn.


Zayat had no further comments about the PETA video, or the manner in which it was obtained.

Honor Code off Derby trail with suspensory injury

Edited NYRA release:

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey confirmed that Grade II winner Honor Code is off the Kentucky Derby trail after  a slight tear of his right hind upper suspensory was detected Sunday morning.

Second in his 3-year-old debut on March 12, Honor Code had breezed a half-mile in 49.12 on Saturday in preparation for  a start in the Grade I Wood Memorial on April 5 at Aqueduct.

“It will heal,” said McGaughey. “We discovered it this morning. We’ll give it 60 days and then re-evaluate it.”

The injury to Honor Code leaves McGaughey, who won his first Kentucky Derby last year with Orb,  without a top contender for the first leg of the Triple Crown this year. McGaughey’s other leading prospect, Top Billing, is currently sidelined after undergoing surgery for a cracked cannon bone in his right front earlier this month.

A son of A.P. Indy owned by Lane’s End Racing and breeder Dell Ridge Farm, Honor Code captured the Grade II Remsen Stakes over eventual Holy Bull Stakes winner Cairo Prince by a nose last November. The dark bay ridgling missed training time in February due to bruising of his hind ankles and ran second, beaten 10 lengths by Social Inclusion when he made his seasonal bow in a 1 1/16-miles allowance race at Gulfstream Park on March 12.

Honor Code has two wins from four career starts and was also second in the Grade I Champagne Stakes last October.

Cairo Prince heads worktab, Social Inclusion confirmed for Wood Memorial

Edited Gulfstream Park release:

Cairo Prince, the probable favorite in next Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, breezed an easy half-mile in 50.90 seconds Saturday morning at Palm Meadows.

“He went great. We were looking for a 49ish, but it doesn’t matter. It was just a maintenance work, his last work. He did it great,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We’re all set for next weekend.”

Exercise rider Rob Massey was aboard for the sixth workout at Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County since capturing the Grade II Holy Bull at Gulfstream on Jan. 25.

“He went by himself. We didn’t want a 47,” McLaughlin said. “He was perfect. It could have been a tiny bit faster, but we know he can go faster. We were just looking for a maintenance work.”

Cairo Prince has proven he can run fast during the afternoon. The son of Pioneerof the Nile has won three of four starts, including a 5 ¾-length triumph in the Holy Bull. He made a wide sweeping move under regular jockey Luis Saez around the final turn before drawing off with speed to spare.

Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley purchased a majority interest in Cairo Prince since his last start, while Harvey Clarke, W. Craig Robertson III, Paul Braverman and J. Terrence Murray retained an interest in the Kentucky-bred colt.

Joining Cairo Prince on the Saturday worktab were a quartet of Triple Crown contenders who hit the main track together on a busy Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park.

Wildcat Red, Social Inclusion and Honor Code each put in timed works through a light rain shortly after 7:30 a.m. Gulfstream Park Derby winner General a Rod was also out for a routine gallop, and will breeze for trainer Mike Maker on Sunday.

After galloping once around the track, Grade III Hutcheson and Grade II Fountain of Youth winner Wildcat Red went three furlongs in 35.49 seconds and galloped out through the wire in 48.81 for a half-mile.  Owned by Honors Stable Corp., Wildcat Red will make his next start in the  Florida Derby.

“He did his job. He did what he usually does,” trainer Jose Garoffalo said. “We were happy with the workout and he came back full of himself. It’s one more step. Everything seems good, so the plan is still on. We hope to enter the horse on Wednesday and run next Saturday.”

The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby will be the seventh lifetime start for Wildcat Red, all at Gulfstream Park. He has four wins from six races and was second by a head to General a Rod in the Gulfstream Park Derby.

“The closer we get to the race, the more excited you are,” Garoffalo said, “But we’re ok, we’re handling it with no rush. We’re just waiting for the race, and that’s it. We’re still on the way.”

Social Inclusion, working for the first time since his record-setting allowance victory over Honor Code at Gulfstream on March 12, went three furlongs in 36 seconds with jockey Luis Contreras up.

“He looked perfect, wonderful,” trainer Manny Azpurua said. “He was spectacular. He went so easily and he came back like he didn’t even want a drink of water. The rider was so pleased about the way he went. The main thing is he’s a very sound horse and he feels good. He’s just doing everything right.”

Owner Ron Sanchez of Rontos Racing Stable said Social Inclusion will stay at Gulfstream and work three-eighths again on March 26 and 29 before leaving March 30 for his next start in the Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 5.

“It was our original plan and we won’t change the plan. We have to give him some time. We think he can win anywhere,” Sanchez said. “He had a very easy workout, very relaxed. He doesn’t need much. The jockey doesn’t even ask him to run. He came back with no sign of being tired at all and full of energy. We’ll see what happens.”

Sanchez received several offers to purchase the horse after his 10-length victory in 1:40.97 for 8 ½ furlongs, but no decision has been made.

Also working for the first time since that race was Honor Code, who was clocked in 48.12 seconds for a half-mile and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.60.

“I thought he went good,” Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said. “I watched from the backside so I don’t know what he went in, but I thought he went fine. He’s doing very good.”

McGaughey plans to work Honor Code again at Gulfstream on March 29 and then ship to New York for the Wood Memorial.

“We just wanted to see what his energy level is and see how he comes out of it and whether he moves forward or not,” he said. “I think he’s come out of his race good and is going in the right direction. I just want to make sure he keeps going in the right direction.”

General a Rod will work at 7:30 on Sunday morning at Gulfstream and make his next start in the Florida Derby.

Matador, another likely candidate for the Florida Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows.

“He worked well. We put a little sharper breeze into him leading up to the race. We’re hoping to keep him a little closer to the pace,” said trainer Mark Casse, whose son and assistant Norman supervised the breeze.

The son of worked in blinkers for the workout, the third fastest of 19 recorded at the distance, and will race in blinkers for the first time in the Florida Derby.

Matador broke his maiden on turf last season before finishing a close fourth in the Grade III Sam F. Davis over Tampa Bay Downs’ main track. In the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby, he lagged far behind the field before closing to fifth.

“He loves the dirt. He’s really trained well at Palm Meadows,” Casse said. “Julien said he couldn’t get him motivated last time, so we’re going to give blinkers a try.”

Florida Derby prospect Constitution had a half-mile tune-up in 49.30 seconds at Palm Meadows Saturday morning. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt is undefeated in two starts, both during Gulfstream’s Champions Meet. The son of Tapit broke his maiden on Jan. 11 before turning in a dazzling 3 ½-length victory in an allowance race on Feb. 22.

Florida Derby nominee Spot, who captured the Grade II Swale Stakes by 2 ½ lengths at Gulfstream on March 1, turned in the fastest of 74 half-mile breezes at Palm Meadows with a :47.70 clocking.

After producing his ‘bullet’ workout, trainer Nick Zito confirmed Spot would make his next start in the Florida Derby. Zito conferred with owner Joseph Moss following the workout, in which regular exercise rider Maxine Correa was aboard.

“I just got off the phone with Mr. Moss. He said to me, “Nick, I obviously want to run in the big race with him. I want to try. It may be too early, but it also might be too late, but there isn’t anything against trying,” Zito said. “So he’s leaving it up to me.’ I told him, ‘I’m leaning towards the Florida Derby.’ He just said, ‘Just use good judgment.’”

Jose Lezcano, who rode Spot to victory in the Swale, is scheduled to ride Twilight Eclipse in the $5 million Sheema Classic in Dubai next Saturday.

“I don’t have Lezcano, but I’ve never seen a horse go out for a big race without a jockey on it,” Zito said. “Right now I’m leaning toward Corey Lanerie. He rides there all the time. He’s a good rider, a good guy.”

Asmussen’s Hall of Fame nomination tabled

The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame announced Friday it is tabling the 2014 nomination of trainer Steve Asmussen in the wake of allegations lodged against him by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).


“Based on pending investigations by the New York State Gaming Commission and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission into allegations made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and reported by various media outlets, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has decided it is in the best interests of the institution and the sport of thoroughbred racing in general to table the 2014 Hall of Fame nomination of trainer Steve Asmussen,” the statement read.

A note to voters added that any votes already cast in support of  Asmussen will not be counted in the 2014 election process.

Asmussen was named a finalist for Hall of Fame induction for the first time this year. In his absence trainer Gary Jones,  jockeys Chris Antley, Garrett Gomez, Craig Perret, and Alex Solis and Thoroughbreds Ashado, Curlin, Kona Gold, and Xtra Heat make up the list of finalists remaining.

Asmussen, who conditioned Curlin to back-to-back Horse of the Year titles in 2007 and 2008, was the subject of a New York Times story published this week that details the finding of an undercover investigator for PETA that worked in his barn for four months. Among the complaints filed by PETA in the wake of the investigator’s findings were allegations of severe mistreatment of both horses and staff in his care.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and New York Gaming Commission both announced Thursday that the organizations were launching respective investigations into the allegations.

Industry groups respond to PETA allegations against Asmussen

In light of recent allegations lodged by PETA against leading trainer Steve Asmussen alleging mistreated of both horses in his care as well of members of his staff, a number of Thoroughbred industry organizations issued statements in response to the controversy on Thursday. Below is the full text of the respective statements:

 Breeders’ Cup Limited released the following statement from President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Fravel: “While the individuals involved are entitled to due process after a fair and impartial investigation, much of the alleged behavior depicted in today’s news accounts is unacceptable, deeply troubling and, we believe, not a reflection of the way we strive as an industry to properly care for our horsesThe vast majority of participants in Thoroughbred racing work hard to care for the animals entrusted to them in an ethical and responsible manner and to comply with veterinary best practices and regulatory standards.

“We believe that it is imperative that Thoroughbred racing in the United States aggressively pursue adoption of the uniform medication rules that contain important reforms relating to the administration of therapeutic medications and that the multiple violation penalties associated with these model rules should be implemented as quickly as possible.  Moreover, the administration of medication to horses should be done in the context of an established veterinarian/patient relationship subject to guidelines requiring individual diagnosis and treatment plans.  Finally, we strongly believe that workers in our industry should be treated fairly and with respect and that employers in our industry should comply with applicable laws governing the workplace.

At its annual World Championships, Breeders’ Cup has worked to set best-in-class standards for safety, security, race-readiness and testing.  Breeders’ Cup will continue to support medication and other reform efforts to ensure that a culture of respect and care for the animals is the norm and that those who do not comport with regulatory and ethical standards do not find comfort or shelter in our business. They put at risk the good work and reputations of many other industry participants.”


Statement from The Jockey Club: “The Jockey Club is aware of a recent media report involving disturbing allegations of animal cruelty and related matters.

The Jockey Club fully supports and assists law enforcement agencies, the courts and racing regulatory authorities in the investigation of matters involving animal cruelty. Furthermore, pursuant to the Principal Rules and Requirements of The American Stud Book, The Jockey Club may deny any or all of the privileges of The American Stud Book to any person or entity when, among other things, there is a final determination by an official body that such person has committed an act of cruelty to a horse or violated applicable statutes or regulations regarding the care and treatment of a horse.

The Jockey Club has long held that for the health and safety of the athletes and the integrity of the sport, Thoroughbreds should only race when free from the influence of medications in their system. The Jockey Club remains committed to the comprehensive national reform of medication rules, laboratory standards and penalties currently underway in 19 racing jurisdictions that enhance transparency and severely prosecute those who operate outside the rules. The Jockey Club will continue to aggressively pursue these reforms until they are uniformly adopted for all North American racing.”


Statement from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium: “The allegations and incidents described in today’s report by The New York Times are very disturbing. While we have not been given the opportunity to review most of the documents referred to in the story, we will not defend or condone any proven cases of abuse or neglect. The attitudes and actions alleged in the story are not representative of the overwhelming majority of participants in our sport who care deeply for the horses they own or train and conduct their business affairs in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

“We urge the industry to aggressively pursue the nationwide adoption of uniform therapeutic medication rules, penalties and testing reforms. These reforms are already being adopted by the majority of major racing jurisdictions and we urge all other states to move quickly to adopt them as well. Once implemented nationwide, these reforms will help to ensure a higher degree of health and safety for horses and riders and integrity for the sport.”


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