California Horse Racing Board’s lack of clarity disturbing

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In what has already been an extremely tough year for the horse racing industry, The New York Times once again incited anti-horse racing interests by publishing an article last week stating that Justify failed a drug test after his victory in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby.

What the article failed to do was put the positive test in the proper context.

The positive test was for scopolamine, a substance that can be found in jimson weed, which grows wild in California where hay is harvested and is reported by veterinarians to have little to no effect on performance.

Bob Baffert, trainer of Justify, was notified of the positive test nine days before the Kentucky Derby. As is his right, Baffert requested a split sample be tested. The split sample came back three days after the Kentucky Derby and was also positive. The timeline for both tests were right in line with other California Horse Racing Board testing protocols and procedures.

CHRB Equine Medical Director Dr. Rick Arthur and Executive Director Rick Baedeker advised not to call a positive since at least six horses from five different barns had positive scopolamine tests during that specific five-week period, strongly suggesting feed contamination and not foul play was the culprit. Chuck Winner, who was the CHRB Chairman at the time but who also owned a minority interest in one horse trained by Baffert, agreed with the decision.

Justify went on to win the Triple Crown and the pre- and post-race tests for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes were all negative.

What can be taken from the Times article is the way the information was handled by the CHRB. In this day and age of social media, transparency is a requirement and its application must be consistent. Conflicts of interests must also be made public and the recusal process defined and followed in a public setting, not a private meeting.

By keeping the positive test and decision not to penalize any of the connections private, the CHRB opened another can of worms with speculation about different sets of rules for different levels of status within the industry. That was not the case here, but the fact people are talking about it is yet another black eye on the sport.

Will in PA Derby

The Pennsylvania Derby lost some of its luster Tuesday when Maximum Security was scratched from the race.

“Max’ developed an issue with his colon, thus forcing him to miss the $1 million race at Parx.

 The  anticipated matchup with War of Will in the 1 1/8 mile Grade I race leaves a big void. Maximum Security won the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park back in late July, surviving an inquiry .

This was supposed to be the rematch of the Kentucky Derby which saw Maximum Security win only to be disqualified after he interfered with War of Will and others.

The Pennsylvania Derby did draw Mr. Money, who has won four straight Grade III races, and Kentucky Derby beaten favorite Improbable, trained by Baffert. 

After also being the beaten chalk in the Preakness Stakes won by War of Will, Improbable returned to the races and was a handy winner of the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar.

Also on the big card at Parx is the $1 million Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Jaywalk, Serengeti Empress and Bellafina along with Street Band are in the field.  

One important horseplayer note: Parx has some of the highest takeout rates in the nation when it comes to Pick Threes (26 percent), Pick Fours (26 percent), Trifectas (30 percent), and Superfectas (30 percent). Playing Win/Place/Show wagers (17 percent takeout) and Exactas (20 percent) may give players the best chance at a profit.

Fravel CEO of TSG

Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO since 2011, will depart the organization after the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Nov 1-2. Fravel has been appointed as The Stronach Group’s CEO of Racing Operations.

Fravel previously worked at Del Mar, has a good relationship with horsemen in California, and should prove to be an important credible addition to the management team at The Stronach Group.

Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Los Alamitos Friday, Race 5 – Arouse N Go (No. 7). Juvenile filly from the Jeff Bonde stable has the classic pattern of two sprint preps for today’s stretch out. She adds blinkers and is bred to route. 

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About the Author

Jon Lindo

Jon Lindo is a syndicated handicapper, long-time thoroughbred owner, and publisher of the Lindo Report. Jon is also a regular contributor to Race Day Las Vegas Radio show on KSHP 1400 in Las Vegas and Thoroughbred Los Angeles Radio show, heard in Las Vegas at thoroughbredla.com.

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