In the wake of an undercover video by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, some of the most prominent figures in racing have begun to suggest measures to curb performance-enhancing drug abuse at the racetrack and increase transparency in how racehorses are treated in the U.S. and Canada.
Through The Jockey Club, a group of owners and trainers pledged this week to disclose veterinary records for the 14-day period prior to their horses running in a graded stakes race.
The records will be available to the public at least two hours prior to post time, and will cover the period that includes the day of the race.
The decision by the owners and trainers follows closely on the heels of an April 14 proposal by TJC chairman Ogden Mills Phipps suggesting that the veterinary records for every horse entered in this year’s Triple Crown races be made available as a means to bring greater credibility and integrity to racing at a time when millions are watching.
The initial list of owners and trainers included Adena Springs, John Amerman, Roger Attfield, Antony Beck, Gary Biszantz, Bill Casner, Mark Casse, Claiborne Farm, Christophe Clement, Darley and Godolphin, Adele Dilschneider, Dogwood Stable, Neil Drysdale, Will Farish, Glen Hill Farm, Harris Farms, Stuart S. Janney III, Live Oak Stud, D. Wayne Lukas, Earle Mack, Richard Mandella, Michael Matz, Shug McGaughey, Kenny McPeek, Bill Mott, Phipps Stable, Pin Oak Stud, Dr. Hiram Polk Jr., Dr. J. David Richardson, John Shirreffs, Al Stall Jr., Dallas Stewart, Stella Thayer, Stonestreet Stables, Three Chimneys Farm, Tic Stable, West Point Thoroughbreds, Peter Willmott, Ian Wilkes, WinStar Farm and Woodford Racing.
After the announcement, a few more trainers, like Gary Contessa and Mark Hennig, said via Twitter that they would be willing to support the initiative.
Adena Springs owner Frank Stronach, meanwhile, said this week that he would like to implement measures designed to root out drug abuse at the tracks he owns through The Stronach Group: Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Pimlico, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel Park and Portland Meadows.
In his statement, Stronach said he wants to ban individuals engaged in fraudulent or harmful activities from participating in the sport, as well as emphasizing the support of the Stronach Group of all initiatives that will help to achieve a target of allowing horses to compete in races, while free from the influence of medication in any form.
Although it remains to be seen what legal steps would be needed to allow this level of control, Stronach said he wants to strictly oversee the medications prescribed and administered on any of his tracks and have the power to ban those who don’t comply on a regular basis.
Game On Dude will try to make it two in a row at 10:30 tonight when he runs in the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic.
He beat Clubhouse Ride by a half-length in the Classic last year, and is coming off a win over Will Take Charge in the Santa Anita Handicap that stopped a three-race losing streak.
“At the three-eighths pole when those horses came to him, for a split second I said, ‘If they engulf him, we’re watching Game On Dude’s last race ever,’ ” trainer Bob Baffert told the Charles Town press office. “My wife, who loves him, put her head down and said, ‘I can’t watch.’ I said, ‘He’s not done! He’s kicking on! and she picked her head back up.”
The Charles Town Classic field includes Travers runner-up Moreno, who scratched out of the Oaklawn Handicap last week with a fever.
Kauai Katie, unraced since last July, will make her 4-year-old debut in the Grade II Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct.
She’s the 3-1 second choice behind 5-2 La Verdad, who is inexperienced in graded stakes but has won six of her last seven.
Kauai Katie started her career with a bang at Saratoga Race Course, but had the worst finish of her career there last July, when she was sixth in the Grade I Prioress. In 2012, she broke her maiden first time out at the Spa, and followed it up with a win in the Adirondack.
“She has been feeling great in the mornings, never missed a step out there,” Pletcher’s assistant, Byron Hughes, told the New York Racing Association. “We’ll see what happens. This is a difficult spot, but she’s a very high-quality filly, and we think she’s capable of competing at any level.”
FINAL DERBY points
The last chance for gas — Kentucky Derby qualifying points — takes place today at Keeneland, where Mr Speaker is a slight favorite on the morning line, at 5-2, coming off a second in the Palm Beach on the turf at Gulfstream Park.
The 3-1 second choice is the Todd Pletcher-trained Divine Oath, who is undefeated in two starts heading into his stakes debut.
The Lexington was de-emphasized as a Derby points race this year, dropping from 34 total points, with 20 to the winner, to 17, 10 of which will go to the winner.
The Illinois Derby at Hawthorne offers no points but is still a Triple Crown prep, although it’s unclear for which race. Midnight Hawk, co-owned by Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice, among others, is the 4-5 favorite. It’s more likely that he’s headed to the Preakness, but Baffert wouldn’t say whether he would try to get Midnight Hawk to the Derby off a prep just two weeks out.
The Kentucky Derby-bound New York-breds, Samraat and Uncle Sigh, who will be ridden in the Derby by New York’s leading jockeys, brothers Jose and Irad Ortiz Jr., had their penultimate workouts for the May 3 Run for the Roses on Friday morning at Belmont Park.
Samraat, whose five-race unbeaten streak ended when he was second to Wicked Strong in the Wood Memorial, worked a half-mile in 49.12 seconds on the main track under exercise rider Simon Paine.
Uncle Sigh, who finished second to Samraat in the Withers and Gotham before a fifth in the Wood, breezed in blinkers under exercise rider Nick Santagata on the training track for Contessa.
He outran stablemate Thug Daddy in 1:00.31 for five furlongs.
Trainer Rick Violette called Samraat’s work “perfect.”
Santagata used the same word to describe Uncle Sigh’s work.
“It was in hand, he stretched his legs, changed leads and pulled up good; he’s acting like he just went out for a little jog,” Violette said.
Their Wood nemesis, Wicked Strong, breezed a half-mile on the Belmont training track in 49.62 seconds with exercise rider Kelvin Pahal on Thursday.
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who has never saddled a Derby starter but will have one of the favorites this time, said he got what he wanted from the work.
The Centennial Farms colt, a son of 2007 Derby runner-up Hard Spun, named in honor of the victims and heroes of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, is scheduled to work at Belmont next Thursday or Friday.
Then he’ll get in a van for Kentucky a day or two later.
Emollient, the 3-5 favorite, was upset in the Grade III Doubledogdare at Keeneland on Friday, finishing third behind long shots Sisterly Love and Moment in Dixie.
The three-time Grade I winner contested the early pace and briefly held the lead entering the stretch, but was passed on either side by the long shots, with Sisterly Love winning by a neck to start a $396 exacta.