Game On Dude, whose Horse of the Year chances were hurt by a ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, has been assigned highweight of 126 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman for next Friday’s Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
That’s three more than was assigned to Travers winner Will Take Charge, who is in the running for the Eclipse Award for 3-year-old males.
Trainer Bob Baffert told Churchill Downs that Game On Dude will ship from California to Kentucky on Wednesday.
“They’ve weighted him like he’s Horse of the Year, so I guess that’s a compliment,” Baffert told Churchill Downs by phone on Friday. “I’m glad Huffman isn’t down on the horse like everyone else is.”
Besides Will Take Charge, Game On Dude is expected to face 2012 Travers winner Golden Ticket, Prayer for Relief, Bourbon Courage, Easter Gift, Finnegans Wake and Jaguar Paw.
In other big stakes coming up during Thanksgiving week, fan favorite Caixa Eletronica breezed a half-mile Friday in preparation for the Fall Highweight at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving, and a spectacular field is lined up for Saturday’s Grade I Cigar Mile.
Probable starters are Groupie Doll, Goldencents, Grade I Vosburgh winner Private Zone, Verrazano, King’s Bishop winner Capo Bastone, Forty Tales, 2012 Travers winner Alpha, Flat Out and Clearly Now. Saratoga Snacks, owned by Bill Parcells, is possible.
The Cigar Mile card also includes the $400,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies and two graded stakes for juveniles — the Remsen and Demoiselle.
Alabama runner-up Fiftyshadesofhay is pointing toward the Comely, and could face Galloping Giraffe, Flash Forward, My Happy Face, Sheer Drama, Teen Pauline, Ski Girl, Toasting and Wedding Toast.
Toasting, trained by Tom Albertrani for West Point Thoroughbreds, picked up her first stakes win when she took the restricted Dream Rush on Oct. 20 at Belmont.
She’ll be stretching out from seven furlongs to 11⁄8 miles in the Comely. She has placed in four stakes at one mile or longer.
“Toasting is coming in off a really good win,” Albertrani told the New York Racing Association. “We cut her back in distance, and it worked out very well. She broke a little slowly, and closed really well off a fast pace. We’re going to stretch her back out again; some of her best races have been going longer distances.
“She’s been pressured on the front end in her races going long, so we’re going to try and use a little bit of strategy as we did last time, and try to take back and make one run and hopefully, she can come back and run as well as she did last time. She got off a little slow last time, going into a strong wind, so it worked out in our favor.”
Starlight Racing’s Intense Holiday is expected to take on Champagne runner-up Honor Code, among others, in the Remsen.
On Friday at Aqueduct, a field consisting of Centring, Executiveprivilege, Fantasy of Flight, My Pal Chrissy, Royal Lahaina and Willet is expected for the Grade II Go for Wand.
Believe You Can, the 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner, was scheduled to run in the Grade II Falls City Handicap at Churchill on Thanksgiving, but she was retired on Friday.
Today’s stakes schedule includes four New York Stallion Series Stakes at Aqueduct, the Grade III River City at Churchill and the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot for 2-year-olds.
The Delta Jackpot field includes Casiguapo, who was second to Strong Mandate in the Hopeful.
Also on the card is the Delta Princess, which has drawn Bahnah, the Schuylerville winner on opening day of the Saratoga Race Course meet.
Federal authorities arrested three trainers and a track clocker at Penn National on Friday morning, according to The Associated Press.
Indictments returned by a grand jury on Wednesday charged trainers David Wells, Sam Webb and Patricia Anne Rogers and clocker Danny Robertson with fraud in connection with racing at Penn National.
In a press release, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said the trainers have been charged with defrauding bettors of races at Penn National “by attempting to administer and administering, in violation of state racing rules and regulations, substances prohibited from being introduced into a horse within 24 hours of when the horse is scheduled to race.”
Robertson was charged with providing false workout times for horses training at Penn National for cash compensation and providing the false workout times to Equibase and racing officials.
Penn National said Robertson has been suspended. The trainers’ licenses have been suspended by the Penn Horse Racing Commission.
Prosecutors said security found Webb preparing to inject the 8-year-old gelding Papaleo in May, after which the horse was scratched from the sixth race. They said Rogers was caught after she injected or was about to inject a horse named Strong Resolve in August, and that horse also was scratched.
Wells is alleged to have routinely injected prohibited substances into horses for several years ending in February 2012.
He is best known as the trainer of the mare Rapid Redux, who won the last 22 races of her career spanning Dec. 2, 2010, to her final career start in January of last year. She won 19 races in 2011 to earn a special recognition Eclipse Award.
The Harrisburg office of the FBI, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Horse Racing Commission, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are conducting an ongoing investigation.
CALIFORNIA IN LINE
California is the 10th state to enact medication reforms developed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and adopted as model rules by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI).
The medication schedule was unanimously approved at Thursday’s regular monthly meeting of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB). The CHRB approval sets in motion a 45-day comment period and legal review before the reforms become law.
“This is a significant step toward the uniform national medication reforms our industry needs to thrive,” said NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop, who also chairs the RMTC.
Nine states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, in New York, have already committed to enacting the national reforms. Nearly a dozen other states are in the process of adopting them.
The reforms are accessible online at www.ntra.com/feeds/testingrules.html.