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Baffert: ‘Never seen such animosity over a horse race’

The fallout from Bayern’s controversial  victory in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park continued to come down Sunday, with the stewards explaining their decision why they unanimously decided not to disqualify the Bob Baffert trainee after he broke inward to the left out of post No. 7, slamming into champion and race favorite Shared Belief at the start.

In a press conference Sunday, steward Scott Chaney said that while all three stewards agreed there was significant contact at the start, they ruled it did not cost the horse or horses interfered with a better placing at that specific point in the race.

“We actually got an all clear from our quick official who is our guy on the track,” Chaney explained. “No riders objected so we went back, looked at the start and saw the incident. We put up the inquiry sign and conducted our normal inquiry into such things.

“These are governed by specific CHRB rules.  So you have to determine No. 1, was there interference which we did. And then we had to determine most specifically if it happened at a point in the race, which is the start, where it cost No. 6 Shared Belief and/or No. 4 Moreno the opportunity at a better placing. We voted unanimously it didn’t happen at a point in the race where it was reasonable to speculate that they didn’t finish in a position they would be reasonably expected to finish. That’s the language of the rule.”

Shared Belief, who was unbeaten in seven previous career starts, ended up fourth while fellow Grade I winner Moreno, whom Shard Belief bumped into  after being hit by Bayern, finished last in the field of 14. Moreno, known for his early speed, was expected to press Bayern on the front end.

Chaney said the stewards talked to Mike Smith who was aboard Shared Belief and Martin Garcia who rode Bayern but did not talk to Moreno’s jockey, Javier Castellano.

“I’m sure any interference probably changes the outcome to some extent,” Chaney said. “For us, especially at the start of a 1 1/4 miles race, we are really loath to involved, No. 1 and No. 2 to speculate whether if the horse was a front runner or come from behind horse , how it kind of affected them. The fact Moreno might have pressed Bayern on the lead is not the type of speculation we want to engage in or what you want us to engage is.”

The controversy overshadowed the fact that Bayern, in edging out Toast of New York and dual classic winner California Chrome for the win, gave Baffert his first Breeders’ Cup Classic win of his Hall of Fame career and capped off a stellar 3-year-old campaign that saw the son of Offlee Wild win four graded stakes at four different tracks this season including the Grade I Haskell Invitational.

“I have never seen such animosity over a horse race,” Baffert told the Breeders’ Cup notes team on Sunday. “It seems like people forgot how to watch a race. If the stewards had not posted the inquiry,  there would not have been one.

“The sad part about all this is it distracts from what (Bayern) did yesterday. It’s not like he’s a fluke. He can do it all an he’s a fighter. At the Preakness, Ria Antonia got us right out of the gate but I didn’t cry about it.”

Baffert added that Bayern as well as the rest of his Breeders’ Cup runners came out of their efforts in good order Sunday.

Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer and co-owner of Shared Belief, did not comment on the stewards’ decision but said the reigning juvenile champion “came out okay” and would return to his base at Golden Gate Fields to be freshened.

Toast of New York, who edged California Chrome for second in the Classic, was well on Sunday and likely will be pointed to the $10 million Dubai World Cup in 2015.

Trainer Art Sherman said that Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome was also good but that future plans for the colt had not yet been finalized.

“It was a great race for him, a game race to get beat by a neck,” Sherman said.

Bayern scores controversial victory in Breeders’ Cup Classic

ARCADIA, Ca. – The end result of the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic was Bayern getting his nose down in front of two fellow sophomores who had tracked his every stride around the Santa Anita Park oval, proving his supposed distance limitations were bunk and giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his first win in the 1 1/4-miles race along with the ultimate salve to week that featured a massive blow.

Beyond the black and white results was a reality that was so much messier than that. Bayern got his due, but it came with others screaming in his wake he had cost them theirs.
“I thought…this has been so long waiting, please Lord you can’t it away from me now,” Baffert said.

The stewards at Santa Anita Park did not in fact take away Bayern’s narrow Classic triumph over Toast of New York and dual classic winner California Chrome. They allowed the final order to stand after an inquiry despite a head-on view that showed that Bayern basically made a left turn into Shared Belief after breaking out of post No. 7, slamming into the previously unbeaten champion who then ricochetted into Moreno en route to off-the-board finishes for both.

Shared Belief, sent off as the favorite, did gather himself to sit sixth down the backside but could only muster a fourth-place finish when called upon by jockey Mike Smith.

A statement from the stewards said that “after speaking with the patrol judges and riders involved, it was our unanimous decision that pursuant to CHRB Rule 1699, that the incident occurred in a part of the race where the horses interfered with were not cost the opportunity to place where they were reasonably expected to finish.”

The connections of Shared Belief – who was seeking his eighth win in as many starts and a championship-clinching victory – said otherwise.

“I think it cost me the race,” said Mike Smith, jockey of Shared Belief. “I was never able to get comfortable after getting hit at the break. I kept getting bounced around all the way around the turn and Moreno kept getting out and bumped through the backside. Even so, he ran a dynamite race.”

Martin Garcia, who was aboard Bayern, said “the ground broke, and then my horse just broke really sharp.  I just, there was nothing I could do. I corrected right away…but he was pretty clear.”

The cloud hanging over Bayern’s Classic win is right in line with the taxing week Baffert already endured. On Tuesday morning, Baffert had to deliver what he termed some of the most disappointing news of his career when he declared multiple Grade I winner American Pharoah, the morning-line favorite for the Juvenile, out to the race with a possible foot bruise.
Call it a case of one door opening when another closes.

Like his former stablemate, multiple Grade I winner Game On Dude who was recently retired, Bayern’s game plan is one with no plan B: He goes to 100 mph to the front and dares his challengers to run him down. It earned the 3-year-old son of Offlee Wild a 7 1/4 length triumph in the Grade I Haskell Invitational in July and it was enough to put California Chrome and six others in their place when he won the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby in September, his final Breeders’ Cup prep.

Game On Dude famously always faltered in the Classic, failing to win the race in three tries. Without fellow speedster Moreno bringing any additional heat as expected, Bayern was rocking along on the front end with Toast of New York stalking about a length and a half behind through fractions of 23.12 and 46.44.

“The thing about Bayern, once he gets his speed, his brilliance is his weapon,” said Baffert, who earned his 11th career Breeders’ Cup victory and had lost with his previous 12 starters in the Classic. “We talked about it before and you  need to let him do his thing. If you try to slow him down, he’s just not effective.

“So I loved what was going down.”

With three eights of a mile to go, Toast of New York loomed at Bayern’s flank with Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero California Chrome, who had been third throughout, swung out three wide and engaged the leading duo.

At the wire, a nose and a neck separated the top three with Bayern covering the 10 furlong distance in 1:59.88. The celebration that eventually got to transpire was muted by the controversy that rose up around it.

“We lost our race at the break when the seven (Bayern) shot out of there and ran into everyone,” said Eric Guillot, trainer of Moreno who ended up last in the 14-horse field.

“My horse ran his eyeballs out,” said Art Sherman, trainer of California Chrome. “He was right there, right down to the money.”

Even more cloudy right now is picture for Horse of the Year and 3-year-old champion. Bayern seemingly would have both locked up by earning what is now his sixth win in 10 career starts.

Like his end result, it’s not that simple anymore.

“To me, certainly he’s gone cross country like beating the best, and certainly on the world stage, he’s overcome everything and won today,” Bayern’s owner Kaleem Shah said. “In my mind certainly he deserves Horse of the Year and 3‑year‑old champion.”

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

2015 campaign the target for Distaff runner-up Don’t Tell Sophia

Don’t Tell Sophia represented proud for the Keeneland-based contingent on Friday, unleashing a huge run from last to run second to likely champion Untapable in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff. With the 2015 Breeders’ Cup slated to take base in her backyard, trainer and co-owner Phil Sims is already thinking about what the 6-year-old daughter of Congaree may be able to pull of a year from now.

A tired by happy Sims said Saturday morning that Don’t Tell Sophia came out of her Distaff effort in good order and was already back in Kentucky. Though she is in top form right now, winning the Grade I Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland October 5 prior to her Breeders’ Cup outing, Sims ruled out the possibility of one more start this year as he has an eye on a seven-year-old campaign for the mare he purchased for $1,000 as a yearling.

“She came out fine,” Sims said. “She ran really game you know. It’s just such a short turn from the stretch to the wire but she was game with every stride. We’re happy with her.

“Probably not,” Sims added when asked if he would consider wheeling back against males in the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs later this month. “We’re looking at next year and I want to give her a little bit of a breather right now at this point. We’ll give her a breather now and evaluate her later but if she’s telling me she wants to run next year – she’s getting better all the time – so she may have a campaign next year as well.”

Don’t Tell Sophia scored her first career Grade I win in the Spinster and has now racked up $1,339,295 in earnings with 11 wins from 23 starts. She has not been worse than third in a race since October 2012 when she finished fourth in an allowance race on the turf at Keeneland.

“We’re probably going to keep her in the same pattern she’s been in,” Sims said of a possible 2015 campaign. “If we do race next year, which I’m pretty sure we’re going to, we’re going to put the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland as a target. In a perfect world, that would be our goal with her.”



Napravnik announces retirement after Distaff triumph aboard Untapable

ARCADIA, Ca. – One girl brought the drama with the sheer force of her will, sticking her bay face with that paint strip of a blaze in front at the head of lane and showing her challengers in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff what a season’s worth of progressive brilliance looks like.

The other girl, the one who helped foster the above’s ability, then stole the show for most stunning performance on the day when she turned to her mother on national television and told the Thoroughbred racing community that outing might have been the last they would see of her own standard-setting skills.

There never has been a post-race scene quite like one that exploded before the crowd of 37,205 after Untapable’s 1 1/4-length triumph over Don’t Tell Sophia in the Distaff. Moments after guiding the 3-year-old filly to her most significant triumph yet, jockey Rosie Napravnik ignited shock waves that could rock the neighboring San Gabriel Mountains when she announced she would be retiring from race riding effective Sunday as she and her husband, trainer Joe Sharp, are expecting their first child.

Napravnik said she was about seven weeks pregnant  and that while her initial plan was to wait until after this weekend to break the news “this filly has just been so special to me…I couldn’t resist because they asked me how much it meant to me.”

At the age of 26, the native of New Jersey has already carved out a niche in racing history. She surpassed Hall of Famer Julie Krone’s total wins and earnings record in a single season for a woman in 2012, is the only female jockey to ride in all three Triple Crown races and is a two-time winner of the Kentucky Oaks, including this year aboard Untapable.

“I’ve been planning the retirement since I found out I was pregnant,” said Napravnik, who just won her second consecutive Keeneland Fall Meet title. “My husband Joe…his career is brand new and thriving so it’s kind of good timing. He’s going to step out of the limelight and I’m going to step out.”

Sharp, a former assistant to Mike Maker, went out on his own this summer and has already saddled nine winners from 19 starters.

Napravnik first decided she wanted to be a jockey at age 7 after riding in her first pony race. At 16, she took out a license with the National Steeplechase Association and in 2005, obtained her jockey’s license, winning 71 races.

In 2012, the year she won her first Kentucky Oaks aboard Believe You Can, Napravnik also joined Krone as the only female riders to win a Breeders’ Cup race when she piloted Shanghai Bobby to victory in the Juvenile.

Jockeys are notorious for their repeated comebacks: Exhibit ‘A’ being Hall of Famer Gary Stevens returning from a 7-year retirement last year and riding this weekend after having knee replacement surgery this season.

Napravnik is known to spend her down time away from race riding taking her own pleasure horses over fences. She didn’t totally close the door on one day returning to the jocks room but called the hiatus “indefinite”.

“I’m not thinking of a comeback in ten months, but I can’t promise to stay off a horse forever,” she said.

If indeed Napravnik’s four Breeders’ Cup mounts Saturday are her final career send off, they will have to do something remarkable to top the lasting feeling Untapable instilled in the final furlong.

The Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred had been near perfect coming into the Distaff, winning all five starts against her fellow sophomore female runners this year with  her only loss in six prior 2014 outings being a fifth-place run against males in the Grade I Haskell Invitational.

Still, the daughter of leading sire Tapit had run the worst race of her 11-race career at Santa Anita Park last year when she was eighth in the Juvenile Fillies, and the 1 1/8-miles Distaff presented her a new challenge as she was facing older fillies and mares for the first time. Though the Steve Asmussen-trainee was carried three-wide around the first turn, the race favorite traveled a clear path through fractions of 22.93 and 46.73 and had Iotapa and pacesetter Tiz Midnight hers for the taking when she advanced wide around the final turn.

“I don’t think anything she did this year was easy,” Asmussen said. “It’s just on her ability. She was obviously spot-on today after a very long year. The confidence in her ability is immeasurable.”


Napravnik said she had “so much horse” off the second turn, and got the response she needed to hold off Grade I winner Don’t Tell Sophia, who rallied from last in the 11-horse field edging Iotapa by a nose for second.

Final time for the distance was 1:48.68 over a fast track.

In notching her fourth Grade I win of 2014, Untapable not only has a stranglehold on the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old filly but can merit discussion for Horse of the Year honors if the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner ends up a longshot.

“Basically, the results are what you dream about,” owner Ron Winchell said. “My plans right now are…hopefully she’ll be competitive next year in the same race.”

With Napravnik boasting 1,878 career wins heading into Saturday and more than $71 million in career earnings, all her fans and horsemen can hope is that she decides to get competitive again herself.

“Nothing makes me happier than to be able to retire and, if everything goes well tomorrow, healthy and on a great note,” Napravnik grinned.

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

Champion Zenyatta’s weaning filly euthanized

Champion Zenyatta’s weanling filly by War Front was humanely euthanized Tuesday evening after a paddock accident at Lane’s End Farm,  Team Zenyatta announced in a statement on its website.

Nicknamed “Z Princess”, the War Front filly was the third foal out of the 2010 Horse of the Year.

“We are deeply saddened to report the passing of Zenyatta’s filly,” Team Zenyatta posted in a statement on its website. “She was a member of our family and had just begun to make her mark on the world. This is a heartbreaking loss for those who knew and loved her.”

“It is with a heavy heart that I must report the death of the 2014 War Front-Zenyatta weanling filly.  She was humanely euthanized last night at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital after a paddock accident on the farm,”

Zenyatta has resided at Lane’s End since her retirement at the conclusion of the 2010 season. Trained by John Shirreffs for Jerry and Ann Moss,  Zenyatta transcended the sport of Thoroughbred racing with her streak of 19 straight victories, her only career defeat coming at the hands of Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Zenyatta won the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park and captured the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, retiring with 13 Grade I victories. Her first foal, a 2-year-old dark bay colt by Bernardini named Cozmic One, is currently in training with Shirreffs.

Zenyatta also has a yearling colt by Tapit name Ziconic, foaled in April 2013.

“As caretakers of these Thoroughbreds, we collectively mourn the loss of this beautiful filly,” Mike Cline, general manager of Lane’s End said in a statement. “On behalf of the Farish family and the entire staff at Lane’s End Farm, our condolences go out to  Jerry and Ann, Team Zenyatta and all the great fans who support Zenyatta.”

Team Zenyatta asked that all messages of love and condolence be sent to the Zenyatta office.

Defending winner Magician out of Breeders’ Cup Turf

Coolmore Stud’s Magician will be scratched from his attempted title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Turf after  he was discovered to be lame in his right front, trainer Aidan O’Brien said Wednesday morning at Santa Anita Park.

“Very disappointing really,” O’Brien said. “This is the race we were looking at all year. Just this morning, when he came out for his trot, he was acutely lame.”

Magician is the second major defection in as many days for the Breeders’ Cup. On Tuesday, Grade I winner and  morning line favorite American Pharoah was declared out of the Juvenile with a possible foot bruise.

A 4-year-old son of Galileo, Magician captured last year’s Turf by half a length over The Fugue, capping off a year that also saw him win the Group I Irish 2000 Guineas. The bay horse has struggled to get back to that form this year, with a win in the Group III Mooresbridge Stakes his lone triumph in six starts this season.

Magician was coming into the Turf off a runner-up finish to Hardest Core in the Grade I Arlington Million.

“Obviously we hadn’t gotten him back this year to last year,” O’Brien said. “But everything through the year had been to come here. We were just dialing him, gently, gently, gently until this was the one we decided to push him for. It’s just a big pity.”

Magician is slated to stand at Coolmore’s Kentucky-based Ashford Stud for 2015. He retires with five wins from 14 starts and $2580,402 in earnings.

American Pharoah out of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Grade I winner American Pharoah, the morning line favorite for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, will scratch from the race  due to an injury to his left front foot, his connections said Tuesday.

Trainer Bob Baffert  said they noticed the colt was off after his five-furlong work this Sunday. While x-rays and ultrasounds came back clean, the son of Pioneerof the Nile was still showing signs of a possible deep bruise in the foot and will be sent for a nuclear scan this week.

“It’s just to the point where he is so valuable and we all know what a great horse he is, how valuable he is,” Baffert said. “I didn’t want to risk it and (owner) Mr. (Ahmed) Zayat didn’t want to risk it.

“I’ve had horses scratch close to a race but this is probably the most disappointing. He was something special, I haven’t had a colt like this is a long time. It’s a pretty tough pill to swallow but he’s going to be okay. The timing is just killer. It was tough.”

Baffert said the foot was getting better and that the issue was not soft issue and “it’s not bone.”

“It’s part of the business that knocks you down to the ground,” Baffert said. “He’s never had a bad day. It’s sickening. When I saw him yesterday I was hoping well maybe…I have had a few foot bruises that get better in a couple days.  But when you have something like that in this caliber of race, you can not even think about it. I didn’t want to take that chance.”

Owned by Zayat Stables, American Pharoah has won two of his three career starts. He broke his maiden in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity, winning by 4 3/4 length on September 3 and most recently took the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita by 3 1/4 lengths on September 27.

“Just the way he’s trained, some horses are born freaky like that,” Baffert said. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet that he’s out. It’s nothing career ending but the timing is really bad.”

Champion Beholder scratched from Fasig-Tipton November sale

Two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder has been scratched from the Fasig-Tipton November Sale on November 3 due to her continued recovery from an illness that knocked her out of next week’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Spendthrift Farm announced Saturday night.


Beholder was declared out of her expected title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last Sunday when she spiked a fever that hit 104 degrees. The 4-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes has shown improvement but is not considered well enough to ship from her base at trainer Richard Mandella’s Santa Anita Park barn to the sales grounds.


“Beholder continues to recover from her illness, and while her fever is down and she’s acting much better, veterinarian Jeff Blea of Von Bluecher, Blea, and Hunkin Inc. in California has advised us not to ship her cross country to Kentucky right now,” said Ned Toffey, general manager of Spendthrift, said in a release. “We had radiographs taken of her lungs (Friday) and she did have some inflammation, so we’re going to do right by Beholder and allow her to continue to get better. She’ll be scratched from the November sale, and Dr. Blea believes she probably needs 30-60 days to recover. Then Beholder should be ready to resume training, pending a full recovery.”


Beholder was expected to be among the sale toppers in an outstanding Fasig-Tipton catalog that features three Kentucky Oaks winners going through the ring. A six time Grade I winner, Beholder won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and 2013 Distaff en route to earning divisional honors. She has 10 wins from 15 starts with $3,368,300 in earnings.



Breeders’ Cup enhances Convicted Trainer Rule for 2015

The Board of Directors of  Breeders’ Cup Limited announced Saturday it has unanimously voted to modify its Convicted Trainer Rule to prohibit the pre-entry or entry of any horse found to have tested positive for any substance listed under Class One or Class Two, Penalty Category A, in the twelve month period preceding the Championships.  As part of the Board revision of the Convicted Trainer Rule, Breeders’ Cup will also implement rule modifications prohibiting the participation in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships by assistant trainers or other employees that affected trainers may transfer horses to following the imposition of sanctions under the rule.


The rule modifications will be implemented for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup and all subsequent Championships.


The current incarnation of the Convicted Trainer Rule states that “No person may participate as a trainer of a horse pre-entered or entered in a Breeders’ Cup World Championships race if that person, during the twelve months preceding the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, has been found by any racing regulatory agency, whether a governmental agency or a non-governmental regulatory body, to have violated a racing regulation prohibiting the possession or use of any substance listed under Class 1, carrying Category “A” or “B” penalties, or Class 2, carrying a Category “A” penalty, in the Association of Racing Commissioners International Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances or a racing regulation prohibiting the possession or use of steroids and the appeal periods for such finding shall have expired or all appeals, if any, will have received final disposition (a “Drug Conviction”).”


The rule has come into the spotlight leading up to this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park on October 31 and November 1 due to the fact that trainer Doug O’Neill is currently serving concurrent suspensions levied by the California Horse Racing Board and New York State Gaming Commission for a prohibited substance found in the horse Wind of Bosphorus at Belmont Park in June 2013.



While the Breeders’ Cup announced that O’Neill would not be able to pre-enter any horses in this year’s event under the Convicted Trainer Rule, some of his trainees –  including defending Dirt Mile winner Goldencents – were transferred to race under the name of his top assistant Leandro Mora, thus allowing their participation in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup races.

“Our Board is strongly committed to the principle that the most important asset of the Breeders’ Cup is integrity, and there is no place in the Championships for those who are unable to comport with the rules prohibiting the administration of prohibited substances,” Breeders’ Cup chairman Bill Farish said in a statement.


While the contemplated changes will not be applicable for the 2014 event, Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO, indicated that the goal of the rule changes is to put owners and trainers on notice that serious medication violations will have consequences at the highest level of the sport.


“We are hopeful that in selecting a trainer, owners will exercise the utmost care to assure themselves that a horse in that trainer’s care will not be treated improperly. A commitment to playing by the rules is vital to the future of the sport.”


WinStar Farm acquires half interest in Grade I winner Daredevil

Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm announced Friday it has acquired half interest in Grade I Champagne Stakes winner and expected Breeders’ Cup Juvenile contender Daredevil in a partnership with Let’s Go Stable.


The deal calls for the son of More Than Ready to stand alongside his sire at WinStar Farm at the close of his promising racing career. Todd Pletcher will remain as trainer.


Daredevil is unbeaten in two career starts to date, breaking his maiden by 6 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park on September 13 before taking the one-mile Champagne by 2 1/2 lengths under jockey Javier Castellano.


“We had been patiently looking for a top son of our leading sire More Than Ready to bring alongside in the WinStar stallion ranks, and we believe Daredevil is the most exciting one to come along yet,” said Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar. “He is a Grade I winner on dirt, and extremely fast. We are grateful to be partners with Let’s Go in this promising young star, and we hope to share in all of the success they have had in such a short amount of time. We can’t wait to race Daredevil, and eventually add him to our stallion roster.”



The chestnut colt hails from the multiple Grade I-producing Forty Niner mare Chasethewildwind, and was purchased for $260,000 by Pletcher as agent for Let’s Go Stable at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale. Daredevil has earned $345,000 to date.

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