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Faucheux, Graham, Godolphin Take Home Meet Titles as Fair Grounds Closes Out 149th Season of Racing

Purses Raised Three Times During Banner Meet

New Orleans (March 29, 2021) – Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots wrapped up the 149th season of racing on Sunday, March 28, and while times were a bit more trying because of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, simulcast business was exceptionally strong due to the tremendous support from both horseman and bettors alike. The meet, which kicked off with the traditional Thanksgiving Day opener on November 26, included 76 racing days and it was highlighted, as always, by the 108th running of the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).

“It was a meet like no other but we are extremely proud of everyone who came together to put out a great product on a day-in, day-out basis,” Fair Grounds senior director of racing Jason Boulet said. “We are extremely grateful to the horseman and our fans and bettors for their continued support throughout the meet.”

The meet reached its zenith on March 20, when the Louisiana Derby highlighted a robust 14-race card that included eight stakes. Known as “the big three” for their accomplishments at the meet, Lecomte (G3) winner Midnight Bourbon, Risen Star (G2) victor Mandaloun, and Proxy, who was the runner-up in both of those races, would meet again in the Louisiana Derby, but it was Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, and William Strauss’ California invader Hot Rod Charlie who would post the gate to wire victory for trainer of record Leandro Mora (Doug O’Neill). The Oxbow colt earned 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve in the process.

The co-featured TwinSires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) once again played out to be a key prep for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1). Carded one race prior to the Louisiana Derby, the Fair Grounds Oaks was billed as the battle between budding rivals in OXO Equine’s Travel Column, trained by Brad Cox, and Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Clairiere, trained by Steve Asmussen. The pair had split their previous two encounters, with Travel Column taking the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill and Clairiere turning the tables in locally run Rachel Alexandra (G2) in February. Travel Column got the jump on Clairiere to win the Fair Grounds Oaks, and the duo once again ran one-two in what was a sure precursor to the Kentucky Oaks.

In a race that brought that much more of a national scope to one of the biggest days of the year in New Orleans, Robert and Lawana Low’s Colonel Liam, arguably the best turf course in the country off his win in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), invaded to take the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) for trainer Todd Pletcher.

The Louisiana Derby Day card also marked the return of a small number of fans to Fair Grounds for the first time in over a year as the effects of COVID-19 forced the track to conduct live racing with no patrons, as only essential employees, licensed horsemen (including owners) and credentialed media were allowed on track. A select group of tickets were sold to the general public and marked a welcome, albeit brief, return of the fans who have long supported local racing and made Fair Grounds one of the best racing venues in the country.

Trainer Ron Faucheux won his coveted first ever trainer’s title with 40 wins, while dethroning four-time defending champion and Eclipse Award winner Brad Cox (37 wins) in the process. Both 11-time local titlist Tom Amoss (35), as well as Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen (33), made runs at Faucheux, with the former holding the lead for much of the meet, while Joe Sharp completed the top-5 with 23 wins. Faucheux scored a stakes win with Monte Man in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint in December and in the end the New Orleans native was too strong from start-to-finish to secure a title that clearly hit close to home.

“It means the world,” Faucheux said. “Being here, being from New Orleans and coming to this track since I was a child. This is what it’s all about. We have so many people that put their faith in us. I have some great owners. I have the best help. This is my track; this is the best track in the country, as far as I’m concerned, and it’s a privilege and an honor to be a part of it.”

Cox, who was in contention for a five-peat until the penultimate day of racing, left with plenty of hardware of his own. He won the Oaks with Travel Column and the Risen Star (G2) Presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln with Mandaloun, along with three other stakes. Asmussen had a strong meet as well, winning six stakes. Clairiere’s win in the Rachel Alexandra was the barn highlight, though Midnight Bourbon flashed his Kentucky Derby form when he won the Lecomte (G3) in January to kick off the local 3-year-old stakes series. Asmussen also posted his remarkable 100thcareer Fair Grounds stakes when Joy’s Rocket captured the Letellier Memorial on December 19.

James Graham not only repeated to win the jockey’s title for the third time, but he obliterated his total of 63 wins last year, posting a seismic 88 on the board to hold off Adam Beschizza (85), with Mitchell Murrill (73) nabbing a podium finish as well. Colby Hernandez (69) bested his brother Brian (56) to round out the top-5.

“It means everything,” Graham said. “We kept digging away and plowing through and doing what we had to do. My stock ran really good this year and everything ran accordingly. It’s been a fantastic meet. You can’t race anywhere better in the wintertime; Fair Grounds is the best. I’m over the moon and ecstatic.”

Beschizza, buoyed by eight stakes wins, led all jockeys in purses earned with $3,115,764, edging Graham, who checked in with $2,996,153. Brian Hernandez Jr. and Florent Geroux also enjoyed strong meets with seven stakes wins apiece.

The owners’ race went down to the wire as well, with Godolphin edging Chester Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable 13-12, with End Zone Athletics checking in third with 11. Maggi Moss (9) was fourth, with Evelyn Benoit’s Brittlyn Stable, Wayne T. Davis (8), Whispering Oaks Farm, and Winalot Racing rounding out the top-5 with eight wins apiece.

Godolphin led in purses won with $767,440, with the heavy lifting coming from Maxfield, who scored stakes wins in the Tenacious in December and Louisiana (G3) in January for trainer Brendan Walsh. In addition, their Proxy was second in the in the Lecomte and Risen Star, and fourth in the Derby, for trainer Mike Stidham.

Twelve horses won at least three races at the meet, with All Fact and Treys Midnight Moon leading the way with four each. Big Time, Dalika (Ger), Elle Z, Logical Myth, Maxfield all won two stakes at the meet.

On Saturday, February 27, Fair Grounds hosted “New Vocations Day at the Races”. Hosted on the simulcast show by retired jockey Rosie Napravnik, a four-time local champion, and Fair Grounds personality Joe Kristufek, the event was created in order to raise the awareness of all aspects of racehorse aftercare. In addition to on-line donations, several jockeys, trainers and owners contributed a percentage of that day’s earnings, and over $8,000 was raised to help support the Louisiana division of New Vocations.

Both Handle and betting support were strong from Opening Day to Closing Day, no doubt helped by the elimination of the Black Gold 5, a jackpot Pk5 bet which was replaced by a traditional early and late Pk5, which were welcomed by handicappers. As a result, from the strong simulcast handle, management was able to raise purses 10% across the board three separate times at the meet, which only strengthened an already sterling local product. And while the often-unpredictable local weather made turf racing a challenge, racing secretary Scott Jones was more than happy with the end result, while eagerly looking ahead to a milestone 150th season next November.

“We would like to thank all the horsemen for their continued support which makes Fair Grounds one of the premier winter destinations and I’m looking forward to our 150th season,” Jones said. “Considering it was one of the wettest winters in New Orleans and all the other challenges, handle was very strong and we were able to raise purses three times at the meet.”

Saints N Muskets Waits Early, Kicks Late in Shantel Lanerie

Landry Star Wins Third Stakes in Last Five Starts

 

Saints N Muskets with Mitchell Murrill aboard wins the Shantel Lanerie Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

 

As they like to say, ‘The waiting is the hardest part.’ Loaded entering the far turn with nowhere to go in the $75,000 Shantel Lanerie Memorial for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares, Mitchell Murrill and Rodney Verret’s Saints N Muskets bided their time, found a seam in midstretch, and kicked clear for a convincing 2-length win over Snowball in the penultimate 2020-21 stakes race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Saints N Muskets ($10.20) alternated between third and fourth while on the rail early in the Lanerie, as longshot Crescentcitypretty set an honest pace of 24.71 and 48.19, in what was a tight-knit field of six. The field bunched that much more entering the far turn as Murrill and Saint N Muskets drafted into contention while behind a wall of horses, with little to do but wait and hope for an opening. Said opening emerged in midstretch between a tiring Crescentcitypretty and Quikfast N Ahurry and Murrill produced Saints N Muskets, who burst through and pulled clear over a wide rallying Snowball. She’s Gone d’Wild finished a nose behind Snowball for the place, while 1.80-1 favorite Net a Bear, stablemate to the winner, finished fourth. Saints N Muskets covered the 1-mile and 70 yards over a fast main track in 1:42.81.

“It worked out perfect,” Murrill said. “The horse broke sharp, I was able to save ground in the pocket and wait for my time to go. Things opened up for me at the head of the lane and I was able to squeeze though.”

Saints N Muskets has morphed from an allowance/fringe stakes contender early in her career to a proven Louisiana-bred star over the past several for trainer Allen Landry. The 6-year-old daughter of Musket Man ended 2020 with a win in the Lookout at Delta Downs in November and started 2021 with a win there in January in the Magnolia. After running second to Quikfast N Ahurry at Delta in the Premier Distaff in February Landry brought her to Fair Grounds where she tuned up for the Lanerie running seventh in her turf debut in the March 6 Red Camelia. Needless to say, Saints N Muskets, who is now 6-for-19 lifetime, won’t be heading back to the lawn any time soon.

“She’s a much better horse on the dirt, she didn’t seem to like the turf at all,” Landry said. “I expected Saints N Muskets would be a little closer but Mitchell said he just sat there and waited for his time until it opened up.”

The Shantel Lanerie is named for the late wife of longtime jockey Corey Lanerie, who passed away in June of 2018 due to complications from breast cancer. Information on her foundation can be found here https://shantellaneriefoundation.com.

Green, Pound for Pound in Tune in Star Guitar

Veteran Gamely Holds Off Favored Jus Lively in a Thriller

Aubrie Green pilots Pound To Pound to victory in the 11th running of the Star Guitar Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Jan Brubaker

New Orleans (March 27, 2021) – Bruised foot be damned, Aubrie Green wasn’t going to miss a chance to ride Pound for Pound. Shaking off a Friday afternoon trip to the hospital after her foot was stepped on, Green climbed aboard her beloved Pound for Perfect and delivered a perfectly timed ride to hold off a hard-charging Jus Lively by a length in the $75,000 Star Guitar for Louisiana breds, which closed down the stakes action at the 2020-21 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet.

Green won for the fourth time in a row on Israel Flores Horses’ Pound for Pound, a 6-year-old son of Redding Colliery, though the streak was in serious jeopardy some 24 hours before. Green was tossed from a mount on the Friday card and had her foot stepped on, which prompted her to take off her remaining mounts. X-rays proved negative, the bandages went on, and Green pronounced herself fit to ride. Not that there was ever any doubt in her mind.

“I said if it’s broken, we are just going to wrap that thing up and I’m going to ride this race,” Green said. “This horse is my whole world. I love him. He is my best friend. I’ve never been so in sync with a horse before. He just does everything for me. He gives me all of his heart every single time. It doesn’t matter what the odds are.”

Pound for Pound ($16.40) has done his best running setting or pressing the early pace but Green got him to settle a bit more in the Star Guitar, as they tracked loose leader Maga Man in second through pedestrian fractions of 25.12 and 49.95, which 3-2 favorite Just Lively was just a length back in third. The cadence, if not the order, quickened entering the far turn and Pound for Pound wrestled a short lead from Maga Man approaching midstretch, with Jus Lively in hot pursuit. Pound for Pound drifted off his line slightly while Jus Lively took second but had plenty left in reserve to score for the eighth time in 25 career starts for trainer Andrea Ali.

Pound for Pound won for the fourth straight time with Green aboard, dating back to a Delta Downs allowance in December 2019, along with the Louisiana Champions Day Classic here in December 2019 and an optional-claiming win here in January. The Star Guitar played out exactly as Green had it mapped out in her mind.

“I knew Maga Man was going to try to go,” Green said. “I figured if I get the lead easy, I’ll take it, but if he goes, I’m going to sit right off of him. We were going pretty slow right off the bat so I just held him right on his hip. Down the backstretch I asked him just a little bit just to make sure he knew we were still in the race because he gets a little lackadaisical.”

Ali, based primarily at Delta, shipped in Pound for Pound earlier in the meet and his stable star continued his affinity for the Fair Grounds oval, as that made it 8-3-3-0 locally. One of those second-place finishes was by a neck in the 2019 Star Guitar, when Green and Pound for Pound led every step but the last few. The pair made amends Saturday, in what was undoubtedly a team effort.

“This is the best horse Mr. Flores has had so far,” Ali said. “The whole team, from the grooms to the riders, have done a good job with this horse. Aubrie wins with him all the time. I don’t give her any instructions. She knows the horse.”

The Star Guitar is named in honor of the richest Louisiana-bred ever, a Brittlyn Stable homebred who earned $1.749 million in a distinguished 30-24-0-2 career that included 22 stakes wins for trainer Al Stall Jr.

April Calendar of Events

 Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association would like to share the following list of dates of interest to Louisiana horsemen and women.

Brought to you by Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and  Whispering Oaks FarmClick images to link to more information

April 2

  • Good Friday

April 4

  • Easter Sunday

April 7

  • LTBA Board of Directors Meeting, 1:00 P.M. Evangeline Downs, John Henry Room.

April 8

  • Louisiana  Downs barn area opens for 2021 Thoroughbred meet.

April 22

  • Louisiana Downs 2021 Thoroughbred meet zero date for papers.

April 28

  • Evangeline Downs 2021 Thoroughbred meet opens.

 

Would you like to sponsor a newsletter? Reach @ 2,500 readers.

Please contact Linda 985-386-0360, linda@louisianabred.com or Roger 504-947-4676, roger@louisianabred.com for cost and availability.

Do you have a date pertaining to Louisiana-breds that you would like included in an upcoming calendar? Please contact Linda 985-386-0360, linda@louisianabred.com or Roger 504-947-4676, roger@louisianabred.com for consideration.

 

Any questions or need more info call

Roger A. Heitzmann III, Secretary/Treasurer

Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association

504-947-4676

PREAKNESS 146 TO INCLUDE LIMITED CAPACITY FAN ATTENDANCE ON SATURDAY, MAY 15

BALTIMORE, MD1/ST and the Maryland Jockey Club announced today that Preakness 146 will run with a socially distant, limited crowd of 10,000 in attendance when it returns as the second jewel of the Triple Crown Series on Saturday, May 15 to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The decision to include fans was made in consultation with and by approval of local and state health and governmental authorities and includes the approval for a limited number of fans for Black-Eyed Susan Day on Friday, May 14.

A limited number of tickets will go on sale to the public on Monday, April 5. Tickets will be available for Preakness Day and Black-Eyed Susan Day at www.preakness.com, by emailing tix@preakness.com or by calling the Preakness 146 Box Office toll-free at 1-877-206-8042, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET.

As a result of the enhanced health protocols and required social distancing guidelines, the seating manifest has been changed to reflect altered ticket options and viewing locations. Existing ticket holders, those who opted to carry over their tickets from Preakness 145 due to COVID-19 restrictions, will have the opportunity to relocate to the nearest equivalent seating area for this year’s event beginning on March 24.

“We are thrilled to be able to welcome fans back to Pimlico Race Course for Preakness 146,” said Belinda Stronach, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, 1/ST. “While fan attendance will be limited due to COVID-19 protocols, the excitement of the Preakness is not limited. The 1/ST team has worked tirelessly and in cooperation with Baltimore City and the State of Maryland to thoughtfully and safely prepare for an exciting and memorable day of world-class Thoroughbred horse racing and entertainment.”

In full consideration for the health and safety of guests, horsemen, those on the backstretch and employees, 1/ST EXPERIENCE will deliver an entirely re-imagined entertainment and curated hospitality experience inclusive of COVID-19 protocols.  From indoor dining in the Grandstand to premium outdoor viewing from the 1/ST Turn Suites and the iconic Turfside Terrace, guests will enjoy everything the Preakness has to offer in safety. Corporate Village Suites will feature luxury open air cabanas, lounge seating and the best race day views from their new spot on the home stretch. Individual tickets range in price from $150 to $500 with pricing available on request for suites.

“I want to thank 1/ST and The Maryland Jockey Club for working to ensure that all the proper safety and public health protocols will be in place for Preakness 146,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Having fans back at Pimlico is another sign we are on the road back to normal, and I look forward to once again presenting the Woodlawn Vase.”

“The Preakness is a Baltimore staple and the center of American horseracing since 1870. I am excited to welcome fans back to Pimlico Race Course in Park Heights,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Sustaining the health and safety of Baltimore residents is my top priority, and I am confident the staff at 1/ST and the Maryland Jockey Club will protect the health of fans by following the safety guidelines set forth by the City of Baltimore and State of Maryland.”

Preakness 146 weekend will open with Black-Eyed Susan Day on Friday, May 14 and will once again feature the $250,000 George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2). This year will mark the 97th running of this historic race. Last year, 1/ST and the Maryland Jockey Club announced the renaming of this race to honor the late George E. Mitchell and his work within the Park Heights community. The 146th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) will take place on Saturday, May 15 as part of an incredible weekend featuring the finest contenders in Thoroughbred horse racing who will compete for a total of $3.25 million in purse winnings.

NBC Sports will broadcast Preakness 146 live on NBC from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. ET on race day, Saturday, May 15, with extended coverage beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, InfieldFest, the beloved annual music festival tradition at the Preakness that brings together fans for legendary performances, unique hospitality and curated activations, will not proceed as usual. Instead, 1/ST EXPERIENCEwill introduce a new, socially distant live component, Preakness LIVE, that will run concurrently with the NBC broadcast and will be livestreamed featuring musical entertainment that will celebrate Baltimore’s richness and diversity. Tickets for Preakness LIVE will be announced in the coming weeks.

Since the outset of the pandemic, 1/ST and the Maryland Jockey Club have implemented stringent, industry-leading COVID-19 health and safety protocols to protect the community, riders, horsemen, those who work on the backstretch and 1/ST employees. COVID-19 protocols for Preakness 146 will include non-invasive thermal temperature scans on guest arrival, expedited entry for fully vaccinated guests, enforced physical distancing and queue line markers, increased sanitation throughout the facility, accessible hand sanitization stations and a mandatory masking policy. Preakness 146 health and safety protocols can be found here:  Click here to view.

Wagering on Preakness 146 can be enjoyed regardless of where fans are viewing the race day card with handicapping tools available on the 1/ST BET app. Part of the 1/ST TECHNOLOGY suite of handicapping and betting products, 1/ST BET is changing the game by delivering a user-friendly experience that suits everyone from the experienced horseplayer to the first-timer.

For more information on Preakness 146, please click here or follow the excitement on social media @PreaknessStakes and #Preakness.

Who Took the Money Overcomes All Obstacles, Remains Undefeated in Crescent City Derby

State-bred Star Gets Loose Pre-Race, Still Holds Off Stablemate

 

Gabriel Saez aboard Who Took The Money outduels Highland Creek and Adam Beschizza to win the 49th running of the Crescent City Derby at Fair Grounds.  Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

 

To say trainer Bret Calhoun had some anxious moments prior to the $100,000 Crescent City Derby would be like saying Saints fans won’t miss Drew Brees.

Allied Racing Stable’s homebred Who Took the Money, the overwhelming .40-1 favorite, decided to give his 11 3-year-old rivals a fighting chance when he flipped over in the post parade, tossed jockey Gabe Saez, and briefly ran off. Once corralled and deemed fit to run by a state veterinarian, he was all business, rallying along the rail and holding off his game stablemate Highland Creek by a nose.

“He’s a big strong horse and he’s still learning is lessons,” Calhoun said. “Both the horse and jockey were very game in their performances.”

Who Took the Money settled in sixth early on behind longshot leaders Wise Verdict and Wrongwayhighway, while Highland Creek settled in third. The field bunched entering the far turn when Adam Beschizza and Highland Creek opted to tip out wide, while Saez and Who Took the Money held the rail, and scooted through the large opening inside when the leaders fanned off the turn. Who Took the Money kicked clear but Highland Creek was resolute, though he ultimate came up short, with the winner traveling the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.73. It was a length back to Unanimously in third.

Saez was been aboard Who Took the Money in both of his prior two starts and chalked up the pre-race incident to bad luck. But once the gates opened, it was business as usual.

“It was just one of those things that happens every so often,” Saez said. “I was able to save ground on the inside and got through and he kicked on from there.”

Who Took the Money has come a long way in a short period of time for Calhoun, as he was an unraced maiden on the morning of February 5 and is now 3-for-3 and a stakes winner. Wild and hard to handle early on, Calhoun opted to geld the son of Street Boss prior to his career debut and Who Took the Money won by 4 ½ lengths. He entered off another easy win in a March 6 two-turn state-bred allowance, and is now 3-for-3.

Calhoun and Allied’s owner Chester Thomas teamed to win the Louisiana Derby (G2) in 2019 with By My Standards, and while Who Took the Money isn’t in that class, the latter still had plenty of reason to celebrate.

“We’re having a lot of fun with these Louisiana breds,” Thomas said. “You’ve got to give it to Gabe, what a heart, he rode a wonderful race. What can you say, Bret and everyone has done a great job.”

Classy John Better Than Ever in Costa Rising

Former State-Bred Champion Pulls Off Shocker

 

Classy John with jockey Colby Hernandez aboard captures the 11th running of the $100,000 Costa Rising Stakes at Fair Grounds.  Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir

Grade 1 winner No Parole may have garnered all the pre-race headlines but Valene Farms’ Classy John got the money as he pulled off a shocker by a head over X Clown in the $100,000 Costa Rising. Run at 5 ½ furlongs over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, the costa Rising was the second of three state-bred stakes on the Louisiana Derby (G2) undercard, and while the other two went to a pair of heavy favorites, Classy John blew up the board at $61.

Colby Hernandez and Classy John pressed X Clown for the majority of the first 5 furlongs, as the duo ran in tandem and were never more than a head apart, while carving out fractions of 22.59 and 45.54. Meanwhile, No Parole, the .40-1 favorite making his turf debut, broke slowly from the inside and wasn’t allowed to show his customary blazing early speed, as he was bottled up on the backside. Classy John took charge in midstretch and opened a 1 ½-length lead, only to see X Clown re-break and rally again, only to fall a whisker short. Monte Man, who won the Costa Risa the past two years, rallied late to finish a half-length over No Parole in third. Classy John stopped the timer in 1:03.17 over a turf course listed as “good.”

Hernandez was aboard for Classy John’s last two starts and knew his charge had plenty of tactical speed, but after seeing No Parole behind him, he decided to take advantage.

“Obviously I knew No Parole was the horse to beat and I knew where he was,” Hernandez said. “(When he broke slow) I took his spot and from there he just fought hard all the way for the win.”

Classy John has been a reclamation for trainer Dallas Stewart, as he was a 2-year-old Louisiana-bred champion in 2018 but went off form since and entered off 12 straight losses dating back to a win in the Louisiana Futurity here on the main track in December 2018. Stewart never lost faith with the 5-year-old son of Songandaprayer but did try a career and surface change in January, when Classy John was seventh over the Stall-Wilson. He re-emerged in his last, when second, beaten a head, behind two-time defending Costa Rising champion Monte Man and clearly moved forward Saturday, while upping his lifetime record to 4-for-17.

“We were struggling a little bit so we tried him on the grass and he ran OK the first time and the second time he ran great,” Stewart said. “Today was just an awesome performance. He beat a grade 1 winner today and a horse (Monte Man) who has won 17 races, so I think that establishes himself as a nice horse on the turf.”

No Parole had every chance when produced off the far turn after his slow break, yet flattened out a bit late to finish third. The 4-year-old son of Violence was one of the best 3-year-old dirt sprinters in the country last year for trainer Tom Amoss and won the Woody Stephens (G1) at Belmont Park in June. Luis Saez was aboard for the Woody Stephens and definitely wasn’t in the position he envisioned shortly after the start.

“He was in the right position turning from home but he didn’t break that well,” Saez said. “From there they went slow and everyone came back and we couldn’t be there (in front) in the spot we wanted to be.”

Australasia Kicks Off Louisiana Derby Day in Style

Undefeated Filly Shines in Trio of 100k State-Bred Undercard Stakes

 

Australasia, with Florent Geroux aboard, wins the 16th running of the Crescent City Oaks at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr.

New Orleans (March 20, 2021) – On a 14-race card that included eight stakes and culminated with Hot Rod Charlie’s win in the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), Hubert Guy and Magnifico’s Australasia didn’t waste any time lighting the torch in the 11:20 a.m. CT opener.  Undefeated in from three starts coming in, she remained that way with a workmanlike 2 ¾-length win over Winning Romance in the $100,000 Crescent City Oaks for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Florent Geroux had Australasia ($2.20) in second and spying the early speed of Winning Romance, as the latter cut out fast fractions of 23.62 and 46.83 with the 1-9 favorite pressing her from the entire way. The pair came off the far turn together and began to draw away from the field, with Australasia asserting herself late and pulling clear for a popular win. Big Time, a two-time stakes state-bred stakes winner earlier in the meet, rallied for a non-threatening third.

Geroux, aboard Australasia for the first time, had as many anxious moments prior to the race as he did during it, as his filly reared up a bit, tossed her head, and crashed in to his mouth and cheek, causing a few scrapes.

“The bugler was playing the music (call to post) before the race and she got scared and backed into me but everything was good after that and I tried to keep her as quiet as I could in the post parade,” Geroux said. “She did the job again and proved she is a talented filly. We’ll see what she can do next time.”

Australasia, a daughter of Sky Kingdom, burst on to the scene here Opening Day, November 26, when she won on debut by 8 ¼ lengths at what looks like a now robust 7-2 for trainer Brad Cox. She backed that run up with similar dominant efforts at Delta Downs in the Louisiana Jewel in January and Premier Star February 10, winning by 6 lengths and 7 ¼ lengths, respectively. Australasia is obviously a queen in the state-bred ranks, which has Cox looking towards open waters.

“We may have taken some low-hanging fruit today but now she’s 4-for-4 and she deserves an opportunity against open company; we’ll do that next time but I’m not sure where,” Cox said. “I’m just proud of what she did today. They rode along pretty good up front and she finished up really well and did what she was supposed to do. Any time a horse is 4-for-4 they have to have ability and she stepped up and ran a good race today.”

NTRA Statement on the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act

  • March 17, 2021

    “HISA, a well-crafted and comprehensive piece of legislation, creates the national framework that addresses our industry’s critical need for consistent, forceful anti-doping control and equine safety standards. The NTRA Board of Directors, which consists of representatives from tens of thousands of breeders, owners and trainers from more than 40 states, as well as thousands of horseplayers and virtually every major racetrack in the United States, voted to support HISA. We plan to work tirelessly on behalf of our members and a broad array of interested parties and stakeholders to support HISA’s successful launch in July 2022.”

    Alex Waldrop,

    President and Chief Executive Officer,

    National Thoroughbred Racing Association

     

    The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of American horse racing interests consisting of leading Thoroughbred racetracks, owners, breeders, trainers, horseplayers, advance deposit wagering companies, and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity of horse racing and improving economic conditions for industry participants.

     

    RESPONSE

     

    In 2020, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passed, and the President signed into law, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA). Through this landmark legislation, HISA recognizes and empowers the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (Authority) to protect the safety and welfare of Thoroughbred horseracing’s most important participants—its horses—by delivering commonsense medication reforms and track safety standards.

     

    HISA has broad support from the Thoroughbred industry, including: organizations such as the Breeders’ Cup, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, The Jockey Club, The Jockeys’ Guild, American Association of Equine Practitioners and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders’ Association; the nation’s leading racetracks, including Churchill Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, The Maryland Jockey Club, Monmouth Park, The New York Racing Association and Santa Anita; leading horsemen’s organizations such as the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the Thoroughbred Owners of California; prominent Thoroughbred owners Barbara Banke, Antony Beck, Arthur and Staci Hancock, Fred Hertrich, Barry Irwin, Stuart S. Janney III, Rosendo Parra and Vinnie Viola; leading Thoroughbred trainers Christophe Clement, Neil Drysdale, Janet Elliot, Claude “Shug” McGaughey, Bill Mott, Todd Pletcher and Nick Zito; grassroots organization Water Hay Oats Alliance, with more than 2,000 individual members; international organizations the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities and The Jockey Club of Canada; and prominent animal welfare organizations American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Wellness Action and the Humane Society of the United States.

     

    The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), along with several of its state affiliates, seeks to upend this historic and bipartisan effort to protect Thoroughbred horses and ensure the integrity of horseracing. The HBPA has recently filed a baseless lawsuit in federal court in Texas, seeking to declare HISA unconstitutional on its face. Setting aside its fatal threshold deficiencies—including the lack of any concrete or imminent harm—the HBPA’s lawsuit is meritless. HISA is constitutionally and legally sound. On behalf of a broad spectrum of organizations underlying the sport of Thoroughbred horseracing, we offer the following responses to the various claims by HBPA.

     

    1. HBPA Claim: HISA violates the constitutional “non-delegation doctrine.”

    Reality: HISA does not violate the non-delegation doctrine because the United States Supreme Court has long recognized that Congress may rely on private entities so long as the government retains ultimate decision-making authority as to rules and enforcement. HISA recognizes and empowers the Authority to propose and enforce uniform national anti-doping and equine safety standards, but only upon review, approval and adoption by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Though this is a first for the Thoroughbred horseracing industry, HISA’s structure is not new. HISA follows the FINRA/SEC model of regulation in the securities industry, and, like that model, is constitutional because any action the Authority undertakes is subject to the FTC’s approval and oversight.

     

    2. HBPA Claim: The HISA runs afoul of the Appointments Clause.

    Reality: The Authority is a private entity, independently established under state law, and recognized by HISA. As such, it is simply not subject to constitutional restraints on appointments (or removal) of its Board members. Indeed, any such claim is at war with HBPA’s non-delegation theory premised on the fact that the Authority is a private entity. On the one hand, the HBPA claims that the Authority cannot take action because it is private entity, but then argues, on the other hand, that the Authority cannot appoint its own Board members because it is effectively a public entity. These two HBPA arguments are in conflict, but have one important thing in common: they are both wrong.

     

    3.  HBPA Claim: HISA violates due process protections.

    Reality: The HBPA’s due process theory also falls flat. Though the HBPA complains of equine industry participants regulating their competitors, a strong bipartisan majority of the House and the Senate made clear in HISA that a majority of the Authority’s Board members must be from outside the equine industry. To be sure, a minority of the Authority’s Board members will have industry experience and engagement. But it is difficult to understand how that statutory recognition of the value of informed voices constitutes a deprivation of due process. What’s more, with respect to the minority industry Board members, HISA expressly provides for equal representation among each of the six equine constituencies (trainers, owners and breeders, tracks, veterinarians, state racing commissions, and jockeys). Furthermore, the committee tasked with nominating eligible candidates for Board and standing-committee positions is made up of entirely non-industry members. HISA further imposes broad conflicts-of-interest requirements to ensure that all of its Board members (industry and non-industry alike) as well as non-industry standing committee members (not to mention their employees and family members) are required to remain free of all equine economic conflicts of interest.

     

    Beyond these robust safeguards, established precedent confirms what common sense indicates: even when a private entity is engaged in the regulatory process, agency authority and surveillance protect against promotion of self-interest. Under HISA, for example, the FTC has the authority to decline the Authority’s proposed rules and overrule any sanctions—ensuring that neither the Authority nor the individuals making up its Board can use their position for their own advantage in violation of constitutional restraints.

     

    *****

    Contrary to HBPA’s hyperbole, HISA is neither unprecedented nor unconstitutional. HISA emulates the long-established FINRA/SEC model, with even greater protections for all stakeholders. It is disappointing that the HBPA—an entity whose mission is supposedly the welfare of horses and horsemen—would seek to undo much needed reforms to protect the industry’s participants.

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