Two top horses, including an Arkansas Derby winner, were found to have a numbing agent in their systems. The Arkansas Racing Commission suspended the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert for 15 days on Wednesday and vacated the victories of two of his horses after they tested positive for a banned substance.
One of the horses, Charlatan, won a division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2. The colt’s owners will forfeit the $300,000 in prize money for finishing first. The owner of the other horse, a filly named Gamine, must forfeit a $36,000 first-place check won in an allowance race earlier that day. The suspension will run from Aug. 1 to 15.
On June 20, Gamine won the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park in New York by nearly 19 lengths in a stakes-record time of 1 minute 32.55 seconds, a performance that inspired talk of the filly taking on males in the Kentucky Derby, which is scheduled for Sept. 5.
Baffert is America’s pre-eminent active trainer. He has won the Kentucky Derby five times. In 2015, he trained American Pharoah, the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. Baffert won his second Triple Crown in 2018 with the colt Justify.
Lidocaine can be used legitimately for suturing wounds or as a diagnostic tool to determine if horses are sound enough to compete. The drug may also be present in ointments or creams used on cuts or abrasions. It is regulated because of its potential to mask lameness in an unsound horse.
In a hearing, Baffert and his representatives argued that the horses were accidentally exposed to the lidocaine by an assistant trainer, Jimmy Barnes, who had applied a medicinal patch to his own back. Barnes had broken his pelvis, and the brand of patch he used, Salonpas, contains small amounts of Lidocaine. The drug was transferred from his hands through the application of a tongue tie, they said.
A lawyer for Baffert, W. Craig Robertson, said the trainer was disappointed in the ruling and planned to appeal. In a statement, he said, “This is a case of innocent exposure and not intentional administration.”
Four days after Charlatan’s runaway victory in the Arkansas Derby, the colt’s stallion rights were sold for an undisclosed sum to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms. The colt missed the Belmont Stakes with an ankle injury, and Baffert has said he will miss the Kentucky Derby, as well. Charlatan may be able to come back in time for the Preakness on Oct. 3.
Baffert-trained Justify failed a drug test after winning the Santa Anita Derby, nearly a month before the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Justify wound up winning the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont that year for the Triple Crown. The rule on the books when Justify failed the test required that the horse be disqualified, forfeiting both his prize money from the Santa Anita Derby and his entry into the Kentucky Derby.
California racing officials investigated the failed test for four months, allowing Justify to keep competing long enough to win the Triple Crown. In August, after Justify’s breeding rights had been sold for $60 million, the California Horse Racing Board — whose chairman at the time, Chuck Winner, had employed Baffert to train his horses — disposed of the inquiry in a rare closed-door session.
The board ruled that Justify’s positive test for the banned drug scopolamine had been the result of “environmental contamination,” not intentional doping. Baffert has denied any wrongdoing, but the quantity of the drug found in Justify suggested that it was present not because of contamination in his feed or his bedding but rather because of an effort to enhance performance, according to Dr. Rick Sams, who ran the drug lab for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2011 to 2018.
Mick Ruis, the owner of the second-place horse in the Santa Anita Derby, is in litigation with California officials to have his colt Bolt d’Oro declared the winner and awarded the $600,000 first-place check.
Source: New York Times
Jockeys competing in California won’t be allowed to strike a horse more than six times during a race, and then only in an underhanded position, according to a new rule approved by the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB).
Representatives from the Jockeys’ Guild, plus California riders Mike Smith and Aaron Gryder, repeatedly advocated for the board to wait at least one more month before voting on the rule to allow more time for a proposed national whip standards rule to come to fruition.
But in a contentious meeting that stretched nearly seven hours, CHRB chairman Gregory Ferraro, DVM, spearheaded the push to once and for all settle the whip rule based on the rationale that he believes no such national standard is actually forthcoming, and that California should be a leader and not a follower when it comes to reforming how racehorses are treated.
“I don’t believe you’re going to see a national rule,” Ferraro said. “I would like a national rule, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’s definitely not going to happen with any speed at all. It could be years. This board has a mandate from the governor to make reforms in racing that contribute to the welfare of the horse. We’ve been talking about this crop rule for two years. I think it’s time to stop procrastinating and pass a rule. We have a good rule. We worked hard on it.
“The rule is not based on what’s best for the situation. It’s based on perception,” Gusman said. “You’re going to end racing in California. It’s just going to happen if you go down this road of trying to regulate perception rather than reality.”
In addition to the above-mentioned restrictions, the newly amended version of CHRB Rule 1688 will also prohibit the use of the riding crop during morning training and after the finish of races. According to the CHRB meeting information packet, the correct uses of the riding crop will now include “showing or waving the crop without touching the horse…and tapping the horse on the shoulder with the crop in the down position.”
The new rule will also establish “a maximum fine of $1,000 and minimum suspension of three days for riding in a manner contrary to the rule.” There will be no penalty if the stewards determine that the use of the riding crop was “necessary for the safety of the horse or rider.”
Terence Meyocks, the president and chief executive officer of the Jockeys’ Guild, noted that work is progressing in other jurisdictions, particularly among a coalition of mid-Atlantic region tracks, to come up with a standardized version of whipping rules that have been crafted with the input of riders in mind. He explained that he would like to see California on board with any proposed rule that might result from those multi-party discussions in the next few weeks.
“The Jockeys’ Guild and riders today need a national rule,” Meyocks said. “I think we’re so much closer to a national rule in the United States, and I think that this is our best chance. It’s the Guild’s request at this time to ask for an extension of no more than four to six weeks to see if we can reach an agreement on the riding crop in the United States.”
But Scott Chaney, the CHRB’s new executive director, told commissioners before the vote that he didn’t buy that line of reasoning. “This idea about a national standard is not a ‘thing.’ It just doesn’t exist,” Chaney said. “I guess maybe we’re talking about some agreement between the Jockeys’ Guild and the safety coalition. But that’s not a national standard. That’s just an idea that a sub-group of the country has. It would require every other state to pass a rule, which just is not going to happen.”
Now that the new whipping rules have been passed, the CHRB must submit the proper paperwork to the state Office of Administrative Law, which will review the technical details, possibly in time for an effective date of Oct. 1.
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT PROPOSES AGGRESSIVE PLAN TO ERADICATE WILD HORSES AND BURROS ON FEDERAL RANGELANDS
The Trump administration is proposing an aggressive plan that would permanently remove as many as 20,000 wild horses and burros off federal rangelands annually, costing as much as $900 million in the first five years, according to a long-delayed report to Congress.
The 33-page report entitled, "An Analysis of Achieving a Sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program", lays out BLM's three-phase plan that would allow the agency to reduce the roughly 90,000 wild horses and burros living on federal rangelands across the West to sustainable levels in 15 to 18 years.
It does not include any consideration of euthanizing animals or selling rounded-up animals without ensuring they are not transferred to foreign slaughterhouses, as did a previous BLM report submitted to Congress in 2018. Instead, the new report proposes not only to capture and permanently remove roughly 20,000 animals a year, but also to round up an additional 9,000 animals a year to be treated with "some form of long-term temporary or permanent fertility control" before returning them to the range.
BLM, in an emailed statement, said the report "outlines a comprehensive, non-lethal population control strategy to address chronic overpopulation of wild horses and burros and their impact to BLM-managed public lands." The bureau, the statement added, wants to work "with Congress, its partners, state and local governments, and the private sector to ensure healthy wild horses and burros continue to thrive on healthy public rangelands for future generations to enjoy." It's not clear what Congress will think of the plan — or the hefty price tag. A spokesman for the House Natural Resources Committee said the panel is still reviewing the document.
BLM under the plan would also continue research "into improving long-term fertility control treatments and humane permanent sterilization (with a particular emphasis on modern chemical sterilization methods)." All this could reduce growing populations of wild horses and burros to the appropriate management level (AML) of about 26,715 animals in the next two decades, according to the report. The cost of the strategy — starting at $116 million the first year and increasing to $238 million by the fifth year — comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled the nation's economy.
The new report proposes not only to capture and permanently remove roughly 20,000 animals a year, but also to round up an additional 9,000 animals a year to be treated with "some form of long-term temporary or permanent fertility control" before returning them to the range.
But the alternative of maintaining the status quo could be far worse, the report concludes. "If nothing were done to reduce the annual growth rate of these herds, by 2040, the BLM estimates the on-range populations of wild horses and burros could increase to over 2.8 million," the report says. Such a density of animals would lead "to catastrophic harm to the land, to other species, and to wild horses and burros themselves."
BLM is roughly nine months late submitting the report to congressional appropriators. They requested last year that BLM prepare the report. BLM acting chief William Perry Pendley told reporters last fall that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was partly responsible for the delay. "I will tell you the Secretary was unhappy with previous documents that we prepared on this subject, and he gave strict orders that we're to prepare a thoughtful and well-reasoned document to deliver to the Hill; anything less we're not going to send up there," Pendley said.
The delay sparked seven Democratic members of Congress to press Bernhardt in a letter to finalize and submit the report. It also prompted appropriators to insert language into the fiscal 2020 funding bill withholding $21 million for BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program until 60 days after the report is submitted
While the latest version considers only nonlethal strategies, its insistence on ramping up wild horse and burro roundups and continuing research into permanent sterilization did not please most wild horse and animal welfare groups. The answer to reducing herd sizes, those groups say, is ramping up fertility controls, along with smaller-scale roundups and removals that ensure the animals are protected and population levels are reduced.
But BLM disagrees. The report concludes that using only "short-term fertility control vaccines at any scale" will not result in a significant reduction in herd sizes. "The analysis suggests the most effective way to achieve [appropriate management levels] is to annually remove a large number of animals permanently from the range," the report says, "especially since a high percentage of mares captured are pregnant at the time of capture."
"The number of animals annually removed is the dominant variable controlling total program costs," it adds. "Therefore, the annual projected removals are critical to containing program costs and achieving AML." Once the herds sizes are reduced to an appropriate management level, the report says, "fertility control would become a relatively more cost-effective strategy, with permanent sterilization options being more cost-effective in the long run than temporary sterilization which must be repeated."
Source: E&E News