January 16, 2019
Clear Creek Stud Hosts Farm Bureau Tour
On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, Clear Creek Stud LLC, in cooperation with Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture, Mike Strain and Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association President and Farm Bureau Member, Warren Harang III, hosted a farm tour for attendees of the American Farm Bureau Federation 100th Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show which was being held in New Orleans. Approximately seventy-five attendees took a bus from New Orleans to Clear Creek Stud in Folsom. First, they watched a short video demonstrating thoroughbred breeding procedures. Next they were shown the stallions and given a brief description of each stallion’s accomplishments. The next stop on the tour was the training track to view some recenlty turned two-year-olds as they worked through their routine. The tour concluded at the foaling barn where, unfortunately, there was yet to be a foal born this year.
Clear Creek Stud owner Val C. Murrell said of the tour, “I was asked by Mike Strain, associate Fred Bass and Warren [Harang] to host this group and glad to do so. The visitors are real farmers and I’m sure appreciate the business based on their own perspectives, knowing plenty about farming and seeing how labor intensive it is to run a horse farm.”
Each attendee received a small gift bag as they boarded the bus to return to New Orleans.
When it comes to shopping for young Thoroughbred prospects, trainer Keith Desormeaux and his team have a saying – “don’t buy pedigree, make pedigree”. Like so many of his recent stars, Night Ops’ bloodlines might not jump off the page, but the connections believe he has what it takes to be competitive in Saturday’s Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds.
Owned by Desormeaux, Big Chief Racing, Rocker O Ranch and Madaket Stables, the son of Warrior’s Reward was a bargain acquisition from the Fasig-Tipton October Sale in 2017 and was bought for only $5,000. Over the past few years, Desormeaux has developed a reputation for annexing reasonably priced stock and developing them into competitive runners that can win at a high level. Horses like Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red (a $17,000 purchase) and two-time graded stakes winner My Boy Jack (a $20,000 purchase) come to mind.
“I don’t want to be influenced by a horse’s page,” Desormeaux said. “It’s the horse first, and if it looks like pedigree that we can afford, then I’m all in. I’ve applied myself over the years in trying to figure out the ingredients and the necessary qualifications for a horse to reach a high level while at the same time, not have to spend so much money. I’m not the first one to do all this. Families on the bottom side that might be stagnant but we focus on the athlete, not on the page. We don’t buy pedigree, we make pedigree. I don’t mean to sound overconfident or cocky, but it’s just what we try to do.”
As far as Night Ops is concerned, he is still in search of his first career victory, but running maidens in big races like this is not foreign territory for Desormeaux. In 2017, he sent then maiden Sonneteer to the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park where he finished second at odds of 112-1.
“Sonneteer got us to the Derby and now he’s at a half-million in earnings so it wasn’t like we did something crazy,” Desormeaux said. “We’re all engrossed with Derby fever, it’s what my owners and I play this game for. This is a time of the year to find out what you have. He’s shown some talent. Sometimes you got push them a little bit and that’s what we’re doing here. We’re going to see what he’s got.”
In five career starts, Night Ops has been up against some nice horses including fellow Lecomte competitors Plus Que Parfait and Admire. He was a recent second to the latter over a sloppy main track at Churchill Downs in November.
“Obviously you can see that he has talent on form, but if you handicap his opponents he’s been up against some nice ones,” Desormeaux said. “We ran a very strong closing second to Admire so that makes us legit. On the physical aspect, he should get stronger and better as the distances increase. He seems confident in his abilities and very sound so we’re taking a chance with him.”
Desormeaux gave a brief update on graded stakes winner My Boy Jack, who ran third in last year’s Grade II Louisiana Derby Presented by Twinspires.com and last raced in the Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational in July.
“He had some small bone chips removed from his ankle,” Desormeaux said. “He had plenty of time to recoup. We’re pretty excited about him this year.”
Night Ops will be guided by jockey Edgar Morales, who piloted the colt in his most recent effort. He is the second foal out of the Kitalpha broodmare Bear All. Night Ops was bred in Kentucky by Aschinger Bloodstock Holdings and was consigned by War Horse Place when being purchased.
by Ray Paulick
Legal online wagering on horse racing will not be directly affected by a new U.S. government Department of Justice opinion on the Wire Act but could have an indirect impact on the willingness of banks and credit card companies to allow horseplayers to fund their advance deposit wagering accounts.
The opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, first reported by OnlinePokerReport.com, reversed a 2011 position taken during the Obama administration stating the Wire Act – a 1961 law prohibiting transmission of betting or betting information across state lines – only applied to sports betting. The reversal by the Trump administration may create an atmosphere of uncertainty among businesses operating online casinos, interstate lotteries and daily fantasy sports contests, along with banks and credit card companies.
The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978, amended in 2000 to include telephone and other electronic forms of wagering in states where that type of betting is legal, provides an explicit exemption for horse racing to conduct interstate wagering.
Despite that exemption, many banks and credit card companies were slow to permit the use of credit cards to fund advance deposit wagering accounts. Breakthroughs were made in recent years, however, and Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, wants to make sure this new Justice Department opinion does not reverse the trend.
“Still reviewing this long and complicated opinion but it appears to return us to 2011 when casinos and lotteries were fearful of operating online but the horse industry online presence through ADWs was already well established,” Waldrop told the Paulick Report via email. “So online wagering on horse racing that is conducted in compliance with the IHA is still legal. We will be working with allies on the (Capitol) Hill to assure banks and credit card processors that it is still legal to allow their credit cards to be used to fund ADW wagering accounts. We also expect the next version of the Schumer/Hatch sports betting bill to have extensive language sorting out the application of the Wire Act to all sorts of online betting transactions.”
The order by the Justice Department is dated Nov. 2, days before the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The move was applauded by the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, a group widely believed to be funded by Sands casino operator and GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, an opponent of online gaming.
THE 84-DAY SEASON WILL BEGIN ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3
OPELOUSAS, LA – The 2019 Thoroughbred season at Evangeline Downs will cover 84 days of live racing beginning Wednesday, April 3 and continuing through Saturday, August 24. Racing will be conducted on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule with post time for the 2019 season set at 5:50 pm Central Time.
Stall applications are due by Friday, February 15, 2019. Horsemen interested in an application can visit the website www.evdracing.com and click on the Horsemen’s Info tab on the home page or contact the Evangeline Downs racing office directly by calling 337-594-3000.
Evangeline Downs’ stakes schedule will feature 20 stakes races with purses totaling $1,375,000. Louisiana Legends Night is always one of the highlights of the Thoroughbred season and will take place this year on Saturday, May 25. Legends Night is comprised of eight Louisiana-bred stakes races offering purses of $550,000.
There will be six $75,000 stakes races on Legends Night including: the Turf Distaff for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, the Turf for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, the Mademoiselle for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up at 5 ½ furlongs on the main track, the Sprint for 3-year-olds and up at 5 ½ furlongs on the main track, the Soiree for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the main track, the Cheval for 3-year-olds at one mile on the main track. Additionally, there will be two $50,000 Starter Stakes on the program, one for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs on the main track and one for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
The $75,000 Evangeline Downs Classic for 4-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track has been moved from Louisiana Legends Night to Saturday, April 27. It will be run on the same weekend as the $75,000 Evangeline Downs Distaff for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track on Friday, April 26.
The most valuable race of the season will be the $100,000 Evangeline Mile for 3-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track scheduled for Saturday, June 22.
The full 2019 stakes schedule is pending official approval from the Louisiana Racing Commission.
For more information on the Thoroughbred season at Evangeline Downs, visit the track’s website atwww.evdracing.com. Evangeline Downs’ Twitter handle is @EVDRacing and the racetrack is also accessible on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EvangelineDownsRacing.
About Evangeline Downs
Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel is owned by Boyd Gaming Corporation, a leading diversified owner and operator of 22 gaming entertainment properties located in Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Boyd Gaming press releases are available at www.prnewswire.com. Additional news and information can be found at www.boydgaming.com, or www.evangelinedowns.com.
“Proven Strategies” is a new regular series in the TDN, presented by Keeneland. It is written by Len Green of The Green Group and DJ Stables, who won the 2018 GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Jaywalk (Cross Traffic).
by Len Green, John Wollenberg & Agnieszka Kagan
It is not uncommon for pinhookers or trainers to employ seasonal workers at sales or around the racetrack. Some of these employees may be considered as independent contractors.
The perception that employers are attempting to circumvent paying payroll taxes by classifying workers as independent contractors has caused the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to step up its efforts in analyzing this controversial topic more closely.
This article provides an overview of the factors examined by the IRS and offers insight into how to better secure independent contractor status.
The Advantages of Employing an Independent Contractor
Traditionally, many employers have classified workers as self-employed or as independent contractors. There are various benefits to this classification:
1) By positioning themselves as “self-employed” or independent contractors, no payroll or income taxes need to be withheld from paychecks.
2) Independent contractors do not have to be covered under pension plans and employers save on insurance and workmen’s compensation costs.
The IRS Perspective
To help determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, the IRS has developed a 20-factor control test based on common law principles. The 20-factor test is an analytical tool only, there is no “magic number” of relevant points. The factors are merely points for consideration in evaluating the extent to which the employer can “direct and control” the worker.
Below are some of the more relevant factors to consider when evaluating whether an individual is an employee or self-employed/independent contractor.
Instructions: A worker who is required to comply with another’s set of instructions is ordinarily considered an employee.
Training: Formal or informal training at an employer’s expense is indicative of an employer relationship.
Integration: Integrating the worker’s services into the business operations generally shows that the worker is subject to control.
Services rendered personally: If the services have to be personally rendered, the employer probably controls the means as well as the results.
Hiring, supervising and paying assistants: Unless workers hire, supervise and pay their own assistants, if any, they are likely an employee.
Continuing relationship: The longer the liaison, the more likely an employee.
Full-time required: A full-time position is indicative of an employer-employee relationship, whereas independent workers choose their own hours.
Oral or written reports: Regular accountability of progress is usually a sign of control.
Payment of expenses: Reimbursement tends to support an employer-employee relationship.
Self-Employed or Independent Contractor Factors
Hours of work: Independent contractors control their own time.
Order of sequence set: Only a nonemployee is free to determine his/her own approach, pattern, priority and schedule.
Multiple assignments: Workers who perform more than one job at a time for multiple different businesses are likely an independent contractor. Exercise riders at tracks tend to fall into this category especially if they rotate among barns or farms. Payment by hour, week or month:Independent contractors are typically paid by the job, not in regular pattern.
Tools and materials: Independent contractors provide their own tools and materials.
Economic loss: A worker who is subject to the risk of economic loss due to a liability for expenses is an independent contractor.
Right to discharge: An independent contractor generally cannot be fired if the contractual specifications are met.
Right to terminate: Employees have the right to terminate their job without incurring liability.
Safeguards to Withstand IRS Scrutiny
Since an IRS audit can result in an assessment of penalties and interest, in addition to the employer/employee payroll taxes that will be due, it becomes incumbent to take measures to preserve the intended working relationship.
Suggestions from The Green Group
1) Apply for an advanced ruling, Form SS-8, entitled “Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding.” The advantage to this filing is to get clarity as to whether a worker is an employee. The form focuses on behavioral control, financial control and relationship of the worker.
2) Enter into a written consulting agreement with language coordinated to the 20-factor control test. The contract should specify the nature of the work to be performed, discuss the terms and conditions and state the responsibilities of the independent contractor.
3) Utilize practices that are consistent with recognized practices in the horse industry, specifically with farm owners, pinhookers and trainers.
Please check as to your state’s specific regulations. Since some states apply their own standards, often stricter than the IRS rules in terms of reclassifying independent contractors into employees. Some use a three-prong “ABC” test with the employer having the burden to prove that the relationship is that of an independent contractor, rather than as an employee. In other states, an independent contractor is someone you hire to work on a task unrelated to the field of business you are associated in and whose work you have no control over. While still other states use a “level of control” test.
Department of Labor Audits (DOL)
As if a trainer’s life isn’t difficult enough, the DOL has started extensive audits at racetracks to make sure workers are being properly paid for their hours. Since many trainers do not traditionally use “time clocks” to keep track of hours worked, this becomes an expensive issue.
Our team has had success in this area.
You must analyze whether a potential employer-employee relationship exists with people who work for you.
Penalties can be imposed for failure to withhold income and employment taxes, and qualified retirement plans could be jeopardized if employees who should be covered are not due to misclassification as independent contractors.
You should have an accountant who is familiar with the Thoroughbred Industry review your practices. You might need to change your procedures to satisfy the complicated IRS rules. If the IRS challenges you and wins, you may be subject to interest and penalties.
If you have any specific questions, please call us for a free one-hour consultation.
The Green Group
Phone: (732) 634-5100
by Chelsea Hackbarth | 01.11.2019
An accident during Monday’s morning training hours at the Fair Grounds resulted in the death of a pair of Thoroughbred racehorses and severe injuries to one exercise rider, Roderick “Roddy” MacKenzie.
According to various individuals with knowledge of the situation, an unnamed young horse from the barn of Joe Sharp unseated his rider and took off the wrong way around the racetrack. MacKenzie was breezing another horse for trainer Neil Howard and was unable to avoid the loose horse. The ensuing head-on collision resulted in the death of both horses – it was unclear whether the horses were killed instantly or had to be euthanized.
(Howard declined to identify his horse in order to protect the privacy of its owners.)
MacKenzie suffered a broken arm and broken leg, and has undergone a pair of surgeries this week. Howard said the exercise rider came through the surgeries well and is in good spirits.
“This incident was a blink of the eye incident; there wasn’t any safety feature that any track has in place that would have had any impact on this accident,” said Howard. “It was unfortunate that a rider came off a horse, and you hate to say this but it’s just one of those things that happens that we all have in the back of our minds.”
The safety alert system at the Fair Grounds involves flashing lights around the track and an announcer letting riders know where the horse is and which way it is moving.“I’ll say this, when you’re on a horse out there, not only do you know there’s a loose horse but you also know where that horse is, how fast he’s moving and what direction he’s moving in,” Howard explained. “So the feature that they have here, actually exercise riders are put at ease. When I leave here, I miss it.”
by Paulick Report Staff | 01.10.2019 | 3:06pm
QUESTION: What are hoof growth rings and what does it mean when you see them on a horse at sale?
DR. SCOTT FLEMING: Growth rings are externally visible ridges in the hoof that indicate differences in the rate of growth or quality of a horse’s hoof wall. The appearance and number of rings can vary from several consecutive rings to a single or widely intermittent pattern. Growth rings can be indicative of a problem within the hoof capsule or may just be an external map of changes in activity, nutrition, or a systemic disturbance that altered hoof growth at one time.
The average hoof on a healthy adult horse will grow from the coronary band to the ground in approximately one year. Alterations in hoof growth or quality such as laminitis can greatly affect growth rates. For example, the hoof wall at the toe may grow slower than the heels in both laminitis and clubfooted hooves while exhibiting a similar dished appearance. Both conditions may take much longer for the toe to grow to the ground.
Visually, the growth rings will appear small and tightly spaced at the toe and become wider and more pronounced toward the heels where the growth rate is more rapid. We describe these growth rings as being divergent. They are wider in one part of the hoof than another region. They can be divergent in several planes, such as those described previously, or wider at the toe than heels or even wider on the outside of the hoof than the inside or vice versa. These patterns tell us something about the hoof and what forces, either internal or external, are causing growth differences in the hoof. Wider (faster growth) at the toe than heels can mean the heels are compressed or compromised in some manner. We often see this pattern with negative palmar/plantar angled coffin bones.
The hoof may also exhibit a rounded “bullnosed” appearance and the angle of the coronary band is higher than a normal hoof. Rings that are divergent from one side of the hoof compared to the other may result from differential loading due to conformation or can result from more significant insults such as medial sinking or failure of the internal suspension of the hoof. Divergent rings can often result from overloading or imbalance of one portion or structure in the hoof and can be improved through trimming and shoeing that reduces stress in the affected region.
Reading growth rings offers valuable information but is only part of the picture to overall hoof health. The rings that are visible, are a history of where that hoof has been recently, but internally, a hoof can be catastrophically failing without external signs having shown in the wall itself. Physical evaluation, a detailed history, and radiography remain the cornerstones for diagnosing hoof problems.
Scott Fleming, originally from Northeast Texas, grew up riding Western performance Quarter Horses and working with cattle. Upon graduating from high school, Fleming attended farrier school and maintained a quarter horse centric farrier business in Northeast and central Texas until moving to Lexington. He also served in the Marine Corps Infantry for four years.
Fleming graduated from veterinary school at Texas A&M University in 2013. He then completed an internship at Rood & Riddle in 2013-2014, continued at the hospital as a fellow, and is currently an associate veterinarian at Rood & Riddle.
Outside of Rood & Riddle, Fleming enjoys spending time on the farm with his wife, Tina and their two children, Callie and Case . A special interest for Dr. Fleming is participating in Equitarian Initiative trips to Central America to help working equids in the region.
Do you have a question for a veterinarian that you’d like to see in Ask Your Vet? Email natalie at paulickreport.com
The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) on Saturday, May 4 will be the richest in history as the purse for America’s greatest race and first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown has been elevated to a guaranteed $3 million.
The substantial $1 million increase to the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby for 3-year-olds highlights a record-setting, 34-race stakes schedule cumulatively worth $12.03 million for Churchill Downs’ 2019 Spring Meet. Fifteen of the races received significant purse hikes, including the Old Forester Turf Classic (GI), Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) and Humana Distaff (GI), and two new races were added to the historic Louisville racetrack’s action-packed season, which will be run over 38 dates from April 27-June 29.
With a record $3 million in prize money now guaranteed for the Kentucky Derby, the winner will receive the event’s highly sought-after gold trophy and a $1.86 million payday. Also, $600,000 will be awarded to the runner-up, $300,000 to third, $150,000 to fourth and $90,000 to fifth. Previously, the Kentucky Derby purse had been worth $2 million since 2005, and was $1 million from 1996-2004.
The 1 1/8-mile Longines Kentucky Oaks – the Derby’s sister race staged one day prior on Friday, May 3 – received a $250,000 boost to $1.25 million and remains the nation’s most lucrative race for 3-year-old fillies. It had been worth $1 million since 2011, and was worth $500,000 from 1996-2010.
The race that annually precedes the Kentucky Derby, the 1 1/8-mile Old Forester Turf Classic, has been doubled from $500,000 to $1 million, making it one of the most lucrative Grade I grass races for older horses in North America and attractive to potential international competitors.
Another Derby Day fixture, the seven-furlong Humana Distaff for older fillies and mares, had its purse enhanced by $200,000 from $300,000 to $500,000.
All told, there will be a record 18 stakes races cumulatively worth $9.58 million staged over Kentucky Derby Week, including seven stakes totaling $6.2 million on Derby Day and six totaling $2.9 million on Oaks Day. There also will be a pair of stakes on the May 2 Thurbyprogram and stakes races on Tuesday and Wednesday of Derby Week.
The significant increases in stakes prize money are attributed to early returns from state-of-the-art historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming, Churchill Downs Incorporated’s $65 million facility that opened in mid-September at nearby 4520 Poplar Level Road.
“Our recent investment into historical racing machines is paying immediate dividends to Kentucky horsemen,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “It’s extremely gratifying to meaningfully raise the purse of the iconic Kentucky Derby and other important racing fixtures on our stakes schedule as we continue to advance the overall racing program at Churchill Downs. Our steady growth in available prize money is truly exciting for the Kentucky horse racing and breeding industry.”
Purses at Churchill Downs in 2019 will be supercharged with more than an additional $10 million as a result of handle generated by Derby City Gaming’s initial year of operation.
More than $30 million in total prize money – $12 million in stakes races and another $18 million in overnight races – is expected to be offered during this year’s Spring Meet. The first condition book of scheduled races is being finalized by Director of Racing Ben Huffmanand is expected to be published in early February.
Last year, Churchill Downs offered a 32-race Spring Meet stakes schedule worth $8.84 million and total purses paid during the 372-race meet was $22.2 million.
The Stephen Foster (GII), the 1 1/8-mile test that has annually attracted some of the nation’s top older horses, will be worth $600,000 in 2019 and is one of four stakes that was boosted by $100,000. The others are the Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII), American Turf presented by Ram Trucks (GII) and Pat Day Mile presented by LG&E and KU (GIII), which are now worth $400,000 apiece and run on the Derby Day undercard.
Seven races received $50,000 hikes. Oaks Day’s Eight Belles (GII), Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GII), Edgewood presented by ForchtBank (GIII) as well as mid-June’s Fleur de Lis (GII) and Wise Dan (GII) are now worth $250,000 each. The Matt Winn (GIII) and Regret (GIII) each have $150,000 purses.
The Foster, Fleur de Lis, Wise Dan, Matt Winn and Regret will be run during a “Downs After Dark” nighttime program on Saturday, June 15 that features five graded stakes races under the lights cumulatively worth $1.4 million.
Two $90,000-added overnight stakes races were added to the 2019 schedule: the Champions Day Marathon for older horses at 1 ½ miles on April 30, and the Mamzelle for 3-year-old fillies at five furlongs on turf on May 11.
The American Graded Stakes Committee upgraded a trio of Churchill Downs stakes races for 2019 and downgraded two others. The $500,000 Churchill Downs over seven furlongs on Derby Day has been raised to Grade I status, and Oaks Day’s Twin Spires Turf Sprint was elevated to a Grade II race. Also, opening night’s $100,000 William Walker for 3-year-olds at five furlongs on turf is now a Listed stakes race. The Stephen Foster was downgraded from Grade I to Grade II, and the $100,000 Aristides lost its Grade III status to become a Listed stakes race.
In other changes to the stakes schedule, the Stephen Foster, Fleur de Lis, $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep (GIII) and $100,000 Louisville (GIII) will no longer be run under handicap conditions. Also, the distances of the Twin Spires Turf Sprint and $100,000 Unbridled Sidney (formerly an overnight stakes race and now the headliner on Thurby) have been extended from five furlongs on turf to 5 ½ furlongs on grass.
Louisiana Partners Hit a Home Run
Perry Judice and David Meche purchased Semillon (Eskendereya), carrying her first foal by Outwork, for just $35,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November Sale and were rewarded Monday when the resulting [Louisiana-bred] colt (hip 132) sold to Chris White for $120,000.
Consigned by Select Sales, the bay colt hails from the family of GISW Cotton Blossom, GSW Vicarage and MSW Miss Atlantic City.
“We were not expecting him to bring quite that much,” said Meche, owner of Muscadine Farm. “He has really put on a lot of flesh in the last 60 days. It is night and day. He has really grown. He was ready. He looked the part and we thought getting him in the sales ring as soon as we could was best.”
Meche continued, “We like the colt because if his attitude. He is a tough colt and he has a good walk. That is what we liked the most about him.”
This is not Meche and Judice’s first rodeo when it comes to pinhooking a yearling they purchased in utero.
“We have always bought and sold and had success selling some young babies in the past,” Meche said. “We foal out, prep them and bring them here. Our goal is to buy quality mares in foal to young stallions to bring the foals back to market.”
He added, “The mare is rebred and in the regional market in Louisiana.” —@CDeBernardisTDN