Archive for June, 2014

Silver Max prevails off layoff to win Grade II Firecracker

The last couple days have seen trainer Dale Romans dominate the news coming out of Churchill Downs for reasons he would just as soon put behind him.

In Saturday’s Grade II, $224,800 Firecracker Stakes, Romans was able to celebrate the kind of victory he wants to keep making headlines for as he saddled Grade I winner Silver Max to a front-running triumph in what was the colt’s first start since last November.

The 5-year-old son of Badge of Silver provided trainer Romans with a fourth victory in the Firecracker as he held off late runs by Nikki’s Sandcastle and stablemate Guys Reward, who finished a nose apart in second and third, respectively. In heading every point of call in the Firecracker, Silver Max – who defeated eventual two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan in an off-the-turf edition of the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last October – looked to be in top form in his first start since running fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last November 2.

“I was more nervous before this race than before any other just to see how he came back and, boy, he delivered,” said Mark Bacon, who co-owns Silver Max along with Dana Wells. “Dale and his team did absolute right thing with him. It was great to give him some time off.  (Jockey) Robby (Albarado) said he was really impressed with the way he did it and the way he galloped out so we’re looking forward to the future. It was good to get the first one under the belt.”

The win was especially satisfying for Romans, who was involved in a well publicized fist fight with Eddie Musselman, publisher of the satirical backside newsletter known as “Indian Charlie” on the Churchill backside days ago.

 

 
Silver Max put the focus on Romans for the right reasons Saturday as he opened a clear lead breaking from post five and took the field of eight older horses through fractions of :23.65, :46.83, 1:09.98 and 1:21.74 without much pressure. The bay horse drifted out a bit entering the stretch when fellow Grade I winner Regally Ready ranged up to challenge around the final turn but he turned that one back and continued on doggedly to hold off his rivals and clock the mile on firm turf in 1:34.21.

“It was unbelievable. It was his first race back and when that horse (Regally Ready) ran up to him on turn I was thinking that maybe if I didn’t have him tight enough that the horse might get by him,” Romans said. “But he’s just class and with these class athletes you can’t mess ’em up; I just need to stay out of his way and he’ll get the job done for me.”

The Firecracker win lifted Silver Max’s career record to 12-5-1 in 24 races and the $135,195 winner’s share of the Firecracker purse boosted his career earnings to $1,913,598.

“This win means a lot because these are good people,” Romans said. “Mark (Bacon) and I have been good friends since high school and it’s a lot of fun to win for them. I told Mark that we were friends before we bought the horse for $20,000 and now we’re really good friends. This is special and he’s a special horse.”

Multiple graded stakes winner Successful Dan retired

Multiple graded stakes winner Successful Dan, the older half brother to two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan, has been retired due to lingering ligament issues in his left front, trainer Charlie LoPresti said on Friday.

Owned and bred by Morton Fink and out of 2012 Broodmare of the Year Lisa Danielle, Successful Dan flashed brilliance throughout the years but constantly had his career interrupted by his ailments. The 8-year-old Successful Appeal gelding won eight of 15 starts and became the first graded stakes winner trained by LoPresti when he captured the 2009 Grade III Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill Downs.

The bay gelding would go on to win four graded stakes but had not raced since running third in the Grade I Woodward Stakes at Saratoga last August.

“We retired him, he’s turned out on our farm,” LoPresti said. “He’s sound, he was galloping every day but was scanned that XYZ ligament again and he had some more inflammation and we were going to have to back up on him again. We talked about it and he is 8 and with his injury,  you can’t play around with something like that.  But we want to find him another life for him, maybe a  hunter/jumper, something like that.

“We did not want to destroy that ligament, so  I know we did the right thing by him.”

Successful Dan’s sesamoidal ligament strain first surfaced  after his victory in the Northern Dancer Stakes, initially sidelining him until August 2010. He appeared to have a top-level victory in his grasp when he crossed the wire in front in the 2010 Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs only to be disqualified to third for interference in the stretch.

Though Wise Dan emerged to become the six-time Eclipse Award winner he is, Successful Dan returned to set a track record for 1 1/16-miles at Churchill Downs in winning the Grade II Alysheba Stakes in 2012, defeating that year’s eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned.

After running fourth in the Grade I Stephen Foster in 2013, Successful Dan went on to run second beaten just three-quarters of a length by Cross Traffic in last year’s Grade I Whitney Stakes despite falling coming onto the track.

“He doesn’t owe us anything. And I tell you I’ll breathe a sign of relief now because every time we ran him and every time we breezed him I always worried about him and his issues,” LoPresti said. “Gosh darn, it’s just a shame we didn’t win that Whitney. He would be have been a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner had these things not plagued him.”

Successful Dan retires with $998,154 in earnings.

 

Owner, breeder James Tafel dies at age 90

Owner and breeder James Tafel, who campaigned such standouts as champions Banshee Breeze and 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, died Wednesday in his home at the Village of Golf, Florida. Tafel was 90.

Born in Pittsburgh on  January 20, 1924, Tafel  spent 30 years with Technical Publishing Company starting in Sales in 1953, and retiring as President and CEO in 1983. Shortly after retiring, Tafel joined some ownership partnerships, including a Dogwood Stable venture that owned Nassipour, winner of the 1985 Rothmans International. Tafel’s first champion runner came when he co-owned 1998 champion 3-year-old filly Banshee Breeze with Jayeff B Stables.

One of the more emotional moments for Tafel came when his colt Street Sense captured the 2007 Kentucky Derby under Calvin Borel, becoming the first and only horse to date to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the first leg of the Triple Crown. Street Sense was conditioned by Carl Nafzger, whom Tafel counted as his primary trainer for nearly 30 years.

“A good man, great for racing and very loyal,” trainer Ian Wilkes, a former assistant under Nafzger, said of Tafel. “How often do you seen an owner stay with a trainer that long. I think he had been with Carl for close to 30 years. (The Derby win) meant a lot. To do that meant a lot to Carl as well. To win it for Mr. Tafel, that was just a defining moment for both of them.”

Other top horses campaigned by Tafel included stakes winners Coolawin, Vicar, Til Forbid, Metfield and Binalong.

Tafel graduated fom the University of Pittsburgh in 1950 following World War II, he actively supported the Pitt Business School and served on its Board of Visitors for many years. During World War II he was a decorated flyer with the Eighth Air Force, flying out of England.

He is survived by his wife and partner, Ida May;  a daughter, Julie Tafel Klaus, of Rancho Santa Fe, California, and a son, James B. Tafel, Jr., of Alpharetta, Georgia, and three granddaughters, Victoria Anne Tafel of Atlanta, Georgia, and Haley Klaus and Cameron Klaus of Rancho Santa Fe, California.

Contributions may be made to your favorite charity in lieu of flowers.

Permanent host site not off the table for Breeders’ Cup

A ton of details and even more questions were tossed about  Tuesday when it was officially confirmed that Keeneland would be hosting the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for the first time in its history in 2015. As such, not all the nitty gritty made it into the print article thus, here are some left over points from yesterday’s presser.

It was not  long ago when the idea of the Breeders’ Cup having a permanent host site was tossed about, a concept that at one point appeared to be edging closer to reality especially with Santa Anita Park set to host the event for a third straight year this October 31 and November 1.

Tuesday’s announcement of a three-year plan that will take the Breeders’ Cup to Keeneland next fall, Santa Anita in 2016 and Del Mar in 2017 put the two-day card back on a rotation, as it was originally designed to be. When asked if said news meant the organization has closed the door on having a permanent site, however, Breeders’ Cup chairman Bill Farish warned that was not necessarily the case.

“No, it’s not dead,” Farish said of the permanent site concept. “One of  the interesting things with this three-year experience is see how these other venues do and then really explore what is the best future. It may be a rotational model where it come back here periodically. There is a lot of demand from our breeders to return to Kentucky from time to time or to the East Coast from time to time.

“If the right things happen in New York,  that can become a viable host site again. Certainly Churchill Downs and maybe even Gulfstream. Right now the weather and facilities in California make pretty compelling issues.”

Belmont Park in New York has hosted the Breeders’ Cup four times in its history, the last being in 2005. To the dismay of many East Coast patrons, the Long Island track hasn’t made a play for the Breeders’ Cup in recent years due in part to management issues with New York Racing Association that prompted the state to seize control of that organization in 2012.

Farish again did not rule out a return to New York for Breeders’ Cup down the line but did point out it would need to see progress once NYRA returns to private ownership next year.

“I don’t think they’re looking for a Breeders’ Cup right now,” Farish said of Belmont. “When the management thing gets sorted out in 2015 maybe there will be an opportunity there.”

Farish also pointed to the major traffic and logistical issues that arose at this year’s Belmont Stakes as something Breeders’ Cup would need to see the track get a better handle on.

“If you went to the Belmont this year,  they had a fabulous crowd and incredible day. Getting out of there wasn’t so fabulous,” he said. “There are some things they will be doing and need to continue to do to improve that experience.”

Another point that arose Tuesday is whether Keeneland would restrict access to its stabling area during the Breeders’ Cup. Keeneland is one of the only tracks that has a backside that is open for the public to visit without credentials but, with a quarantine barn having to be in place for the Breeders’ Cup, enhanced security will likely be in order.

The challenge on that end is that the Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale is still slated to take place that Monday after Breeders’ Cup. Thus, there is the potential issue of having the Breeders’ Cup horses in a restricted area but still having the sale horses stabled where the public/potential buyers can freely inspect them.

“Part of some of the thing people don’t think about is Rice Road,” Keeneland president Bill Thomason said, referring to the Keeneland barns situated off of Rice Road and across from the training track. “We have our training facility that is very isolated and secure. But we have not worked through all those details yet. We’re going to have conversatiosn with all our horsemen, some discussions we are going to be having with our permanent horsemen on the grounds. But we have a lot of space here, a lot of grounds. But it will be different. We have other areas that will be more secure than in the past.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breeders’ Cup makes it official: Keeneland host site for 2015

Edited release:

The Breeders’ Cup has announced Tuesday that Keeneland, Santa Anita Park and Del Mar will be the host sites of the next three Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively.

 

The announcement marks the second time in the event’s history and the first time since 1993 that it has revealed on the same day more than one future host site for the World Championships.

 

 

“In solidifying the Breeders’ Cup World Championships as a leading global event in Thoroughbred racing, we are very pleased to align ourselves with three of the world’s premier racetracks in Keeneland, Santa Anita and Del Mar,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “The outstanding reputations and historic achievements of each of these venues, coupled with our enhanced platform of marketing and experiential initiatives, provide us with an excellent opportunity to grow our audience by combining the best that horse racing and entertainment have to offer.”

 

Both Keeneland, which will be the site of next year’s event on October 30 and 31, and Del Mar, which will have the 2017 Breeders’ Cup on November 3 and 4, will be hosting the Breeders’ Cup for the first time in the event’s 30-year history. In between these years, Breeders’ Cup will return to Santa Anita, which will host the 2016 event on November 4 and 5 and represents the ninth time the track hosts the Breeders’ Cup.  All event dates are pending approval by the tracks’ respective states.

 

Located in the heart of Kentucky Blue Grass country, Keeneland conducts world-class race meetings each April and October.

 

“The Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland is a homecoming for many of these great champions who were foaled and raised at Central Kentucky farms, and often sold at Keeneland,” said Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason. “The Keeneland team feels that sense of connection and history with the Breeders’ Cup, and we look forward to offering fans an extraordinary racing and entertainment experience.”

 

Santa Anita Park will be hosting the Breeders’ Cup for a record ninth time in 2016. Located in Arcadia, California, Santa Anita became the first track to host the Breeders’ Cup in three consecutive years, having been the showcase in 2012, 2013 and this year.

 

“We are excited and grateful to host the 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships,” said Tom Ludt, president of Santa Anita Park. “Santa Anita Park offers horsemen, local fans and our many out-of-town guests the opportunity to experience the best that the sport has to offer, from racing to dining and hospitality. We look forward to working with the Breeders’ Cup to put on a very successful event both this year and again in 2016.”

Del Mar, situated just off the Pacific Ocean, annually hosts one of America’s most popular race meetings from mid-July through early September, and is one of the nation’s leaders in daily attendance and wagering.

“We’ve had many wonderful racing events and thousands of special racing people be part of our rich history at Del Mar,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and CEO Joe Harper. “But bringing the Breeders’ Cup horses, horsemen and their worldwide fans to our seaside showplace in 2017 just might be our show of shows.”

 

 

Additional materials, including video footage, high-resolution images, fact sheets and track-specific press releases are available at www.epklink.com/breederscup.

Keeneland press conference set for Tuesday

Officials with Keeneland Association have called a press conference for Tuesday at 10 a.m. where it is expected plans for the track to host the 2015 Breeders’ Cup will be announced.

Herald-Leader sources close to the situation confirmed last week that Keeneland will be hosting its first Breeders’ Cup World Championships next fall with Santa Anita Park being the host site for 2016 and Del Mar for 2017. Santa Anita Park revealed last week it would be holding its own press conference at 7:30 a.m. (10:30 EDT) to announce “a three-year plan for the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships that includes The Great Race Place.”

Keeneland announced in late March it was making a bid to host a Breeders’ Cup and then furthered strengthened its position when it announced it was removing its synthetic Polytrack surface and going back to a main dirt track in time for the Fall 2014 meeting.

A Keeneland Breeders’ Cup will mark the first time the event has returned to Kentucky since Churchill Downs hosted the two-day event in 2011. Santa Anita is set to  host this year’s Breeders’ Cup for a third straight time on October 31 and November 1.

Starlight Racing to help fund laminitis research

Edited release:

Having recently lost graded stakes winner Intense Holiday to the effects of  laminitis, Starlight Racing partners  announced Monday it will donate large sums to two organizations for the purpose of funding research into that insidious disease.

Starlight will offer a matching-funds donation of up to $100,000 to be divided between Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation (earmarked strictly for laminitis research) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Foundation Laminitis Research Project.  Both Grayson-Foundation and the AAEP Foundation are challenged with raising matching funds for their research projects.

Intense Holiday, winner of the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds this February, was euthanized on June 12 after laminitis set in in both forelimbs. The son of Harlan’s Holiday had undergone surgery to repair a condylar fracture to his right front that was suffered during workout in preparation for the Belmont Stakes.

“Intense Holiday illustrated one of the most frustrating and tragic aspects of laminitis,” said Jack Wolf, founder of Starlight Racing. “That is when an injury seems to be treatable, even to the point where a horse appears to be out of the woods, but then laminitis develops and the horse is lost. Intense Holiday had a condylar fracture, which we were confident could be dealt with, but laminitis developed and he lost a hard-fought battle to the disease.

“Our impetus to donate and raise money for this research really arose, not just from our loss, but from the overwhelming outpouring of support from the racing community. We heard hundreds of stories from people who, like us, lost horses prematurely.  While most people know about Secretariat, Barbaro, and St. Nicholas Abbey losing their lives to laminitis, there are many lesser known horses as well, including Glen Hill Farms’ Banned and so many other horses I’ve learned about over the last two weeks.  The overarching theme I’ve heard has been enormous frustration with regard to laminitis.”

“We are very sorry for Starlight’s loss, but admire that their response is to help other horses,” said Edward L. Bowen, president of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. “Laminitis has always been a high priority for our Foundation, and although it remains an arch enemy, progress has been made. For example, recently developed knowledge on cryotherapy (the destruction of abnormal tissue through freezing) was utilized in saving Paynter, but every case is different. Even though the team treating Intense Holiday implemented a form of cryotherapy, in his case, with laminitis in both front feet, it could not save him.

“We are confident donors both large and small will come through and allow us to match the Starlight challenge.”

“We are saddened at the loss of Intense Holiday and the many other horses that have succumbed to this devastating disease,” said Dr. Jeff Berk, chairman of the AAEP Foundation. “We salute and thank Starlight Racing for its dedication to helping us try to solve the mysteries of laminitis. Based on multiple surveys with AAEP members over the past decade, laminitis remains the number one disease equine veterinarians seek answers to. It is based on this member input the AAEP Foundation started its Laminitis Research Project and is the only research area the Foundation is directly funding.”

For those wishing to donate to laminitis research you can do so by sending a check to either Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation or AAEP Foundation with a memo designating your donation for laminitis research in connection with matching the Starlight donation.

Donations for Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation can be sent to online to:

https://www.grayson-jockeyclub.org/default.asp?section=2&area=DONATE&menu=1

Donations for the AAEP’s Laminitis Research Project can be sent online to:

http://foundation.aaep.org/online-donation-i-62.html

McCarron to retire from full-time NARA duties

Edited release:

Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron will retire from his full-time teaching duties at the North American Racing Academy (NARA) at the end of 2014 fall semester. McCarron joined the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) to launch NARA in 2006.

 

McCarron currently serves as Lead Instructor for Jockey Pathway students at NARA, which is now part of Bluegrass Community and Technical College. While McCarron will no longer teach full time, he will remain a part of the program he founded by teaching master classes in advanced riding each summer.  Throughout the year, McCarron’s successful methods of preparing professional exercise riders and jockeys will continue. 

 

McCarron plans to remain a part of the program he founded by teaching master classes in advanced riding each summer. 

 

McCarron’s 28-year riding career ended in a victory, when in June 2002 he rode Came Hometo a win in his last professional race. He was the sport’s all-time money leader with 7,141 total wins, including two Kentucky Derby wins, six wins in Triple Crown races, two Eclipse Awards, nine Breeders’ Cup victories and over $260 million in purse earnings.

 

“Now that I’m almost 60, the time has come for me to pass the baton at NARA and move on to another chapter in my life,” McCarron said in a release. “I greatly appreciate all the support I have received since spring 2004 when I first met with Dr. Michael McCall, President of KCTCS and his staff. Also, the incredible support I have received from BCTC President Augusta Julian and her team has been equally important to me over the years. Their faith in me and in my ideas was the catalyst that brought NARA to life and made it successful.

 

“I’ll miss the students,” he added “So many have taken their studies very seriously and have gone on to apply what they learned at NARA to become successful race riders, grooms, trainers and just solid horsemen and horsewomen overall, which is what racing needs. Yes, I am retiring.  But I do look forward to my new role as an adjunct riding instructor, mentor, and in assisting BCTC during this transition.  It’s been a wonderful ride.”

 

 

During the past two years, BCTC-NARA has successfully expanded its focus from training jockeys to becoming an overall equine industry workforce provider. More than 100 students are currently enrolled in the program, which features a jockey pathway and a horseman’s pathway. Aspiring riders will continue “basic training” each spring (January-May) with riding and horsemanship fundamentals taught by the highly qualified faculty, who collectively have more than 60 years of experience in the riding and training of racehorses. Nationally prominent jockeys, both active and retired, will work with faculty for student assessments and tutoring.

 

Since 2006, BCTC-NARA students have achieved licensure and joined the equine industry workforce for careers in the care, training and riding of racehorses. Twenty graduates are currently active as professional jockeys and their mounts have earned nearly $40 million in purses at tracks across North America.

The equine industry is benefitting from the commitment of Chris McCarron to prepare young jockeys and others with technical skills, life skills, and knowledge of the field,” Dr. Augusta Julian, BCTC President, said of McCarron. “He has truly given back after a brilliant career. Not everyone has such a passion for their field that they mentor, train, and support others coming behind them. Chris is one of those rare few, and we are proud of the successful start and continuing efforts Chris, and the faculty and staff in the program, have made. BCTC remains committed to excellent preparation and success for graduates of the program.”

Napravnik sidelined, Socialbug euthanized after training accident

Edited Churchill Downs release:

Jockey Rosie Napravnik is expected to be out of the saddle for four-to-six weeks while she recovers from a shoulder injury suffered in a training mishap early Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.

Napravnik suffered what her husband, Joe Sharp, described as a “mild separation” of the clavicle at the joint in her left shoulder, according the rider’s business agent Kelly Summers Weitsma. No surgery will be required and Napravnik is expected to make a complete recovery from the injury during her time on the sidelines.

The injury occurred during a workout by the Bob Baffert-trained Socialbug, who suffered a fatal injury to her right front that sent Napravnik tumbling to the main track. Socialbug, a daughter of Curlin and half sister to champion Midnight Lute, had finished second in the Grade III, $111,000 Winning Colors on May 26. Owned by Mike Rutherford, the four-year-old dark bay filly was euthanized following the accident.

Napravnik was transported to University of Louisville Hospital for treatment.

The 26-year-old Napravnik was injured just a few hours after she had piloted Winchell Thoroughbreds’ favored Tapiture to victory in the Grade III, $109,400 Matt Winn for 3-year-olds on Saturday evening’s “Downs After Dark” racing program at Churchill Downs.

The victory was her 31st of the Spring Meet, the second-highest total for a female rider during any racing meet at Churchill Downs.  Napravnik now holds the two highest victory totals by a female rider in a single Churchill Downs race meet. She rode 45 winners in the Spring of 2013 to break a record held by retired jockey and current NBC Sports racing analyst Donna Barton Brothers, who had ridden 30 winners during the 1996 Spring Meet.

Corey Lanerie leads the current Spring Meet jockey standings with 42 wins heading into Sunday’s racing at the Louisville track.  Napravnik was in the runner-up spot, nine wins ahead of third-place Julien Leparoux.

During Kentucky Derby Week Napravnik rode Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Untapable to victory in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks. The Oaks triumph was the second in three years for Napravnik, who is the only woman to win the race in its 140-year history.

She also eclipsed another record held by Barton Brothers on May 25 when she rode five winners on a single Churchill Downs racing program. Barton Brothers rode four winners on June 28, 1996 to establish the previous record for female riders.

Coburn, Martin return to Churchill Downs for Derby trophy presentation

Steve Coburn was admittedly on edge returning to the site of his homebred colt’s signature triumph.

But even in the wake of his controversial statements made after California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid ended with a fourth-place run in last weekend’s Belmont Stakes, Coburn and partner Perry Martin received their share of warm greetings – mixed in with a few jeers –  from the Churchill Downs crowd Saturday evening as they returned to Louisville to accept their engraved Kentucky Derby trophies.

Embraced as part of the humble, blue-collar fairytale that was California Chrome’s backstory, Coburn drew ire last week when he ranted after the Belmont that horses like race winner Tonalist – who did not run in the Kentucky Derby or Preakness –  had taken “the coward’s way out” by not competing in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

After doubling down on those statements in follow up interviews with Good Morning America and ESPN  Sunday morning, Coburn appeared contrite and apologized for his words during another interview with Good Morning America on Monday.

Bracing for what was a mixed reaction, Coburn nonetheless received many shouts of thanks and was sought out by several autograph seekers as he and Martin made their way into the Churchill Downs winner’s circle to receive their officials spoils from the first Saturday in May.

“Yeah, I was nervous. Because of what’s happened,” Coburn said after the ceremony. “But then when I get here and I see all these fans and our followers. I got some boos. I deserved them. But then, we’ve got a tremendous fan base.

“They love this horse. You can hate me all you want to. But don’t hate my horse, because he’s the real star. Not me. He’s the star. It’s all about the horse, not me.”

Though Coburn apologized for his remarks, he didn’t totally back off from his stance that the format of the Triple Crown needed to be adjusted.

“Since the Belmont, you know, I gave my phone number out on national television,” Coburn said. “I’ve had over 1,000 text messages and 1,000 phone calls. Ninety-seven percent of these people agree with me.

“Some of these phone calls were from big owners and big trainers, along with the little guys, from all over the world. And they agree with me. Something needs to be done to keep this an even playing field for all the horses. To me it’s all about the horse. You want to keep your horses healthy and sound. It’s a grueling race. If I ever had another horse to win the Kentucky Derby, I’d have to talk to (Martin) and say, ‘You know what, I don’t want to go to the other two because it’s too tough on a horse’.”

Coburn had also previously been critical of the treatment he said he and Martin received from the Churchill Downs staff Kentucky Derby. When questioned about that on Saturday, both said those issues had been discussed and put behind them.

“These folks met us with open arms today. We’ve talked,” Coburn said. “They said they’re going to do everything they can to make it better, and I take their word on it. So, we’re good. We’re all good.”

Most importantly, Coburn said the California Chrome was on the mend back in his home state after having a chunk of his right front hoof taken on when it appeared he was stepped on by Matterhorn coming out of the gate of the Belmont. Despite that ailment, the dual classic winner was only beaten about two lengths while finishing in a dead heat with Wicked Strong for fourth.

 

“We did our best. We gave it our best shot,” Coburn said. “He just came up a little too short. But it’s a horse race. And a good horse won the race. A very good horse. So no regrets with our horse. He ran his eyeballs out on a bad foot right from the gate. So it’s good.”

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