Getty Images

Trainer banned from 2017 Breeders’ Cup after positive test

Leave a comment

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Trainer Ron Ellis has been banned from entering any horses in the Breeders’ Cup world championships this fall after being sanctioned by the event for a positive drug test involving his horse that finished second in last year’s BC Sprint.

Breeders’ Cup officials said Tuesday that the ban also applies to the horse Masochistic, who tested positive for a trace amount of an anabolic steroid after last year’s event at Santa Anita. The horse was disqualified from the Sprint and his purse earnings were redistributed.

This year’s two-day world championships will be Nov. 3-4 at Del Mar north of San Diego.

Several years ago the Breeders’ Cup adopted tougher rules on the use of medications that state no trainer may enter horses in the event if the person is found in violation of a jurisdiction’s rules regarding steroids within the past 12 months. California rules prohibit horses from testing positive for any amount of anabolic steroid.

The ban also doesn’t allow any of Ellis’ trainees to compete in this year’s Breeders’ Cup under another trainer’s name.

“Today’s actions affirm our determination to conduct the Breeders’ Cup under the highest standards of integrity in a fair competitive environment for all participants,” Breeders’ Cup President Craig Fravel said in a statement.

Ellis has admitted to giving Masochistic the anabolic steroid stanozolol during breaks for the horse between races last year. The drug can help a horse recover from exercise, improve appetite and build muscle mass.

California rules allow the administration of the drug, but a horse can’t race within 60 days of receiving it.

Ellis was notified three days prior to the BC Sprint that out-of-competition tests were still showing trace amounts of stanozolol in the horse’s blood. He chose to run in the race despite the warning, which was not shared with Breeders’ Cup officials or the wagering public. Masochistic is owned by Jay Em Ess Stable and Los Pollos Hermanos Racing.

Fravel said the event will look into new regulations “to ensure that no horse testing positive for any anabolic steroid while in training or competition will be permitted to race in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Ellis declined to comment in a text message Tuesday to The Associated Press, but has said he won’t contest the findings in the case. The 56-year-old Southern California-based trainer failed to top $1 million or more in earnings last year for the first time since 2003, according to Equibase. His other highest finishes in the Breeders’ Cup were second- and third-place finishes in 2012. His biggest career victory came in the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup.

James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, congratulated the Breeders’ Cup for its stance against anabolic steroids and urged regulators in the 38 U.S. racing jurisdictions to adopt the model rule for out-of-competition testing that mandates horses treated with any steroid spend at least six months on a veterinarian’s list, which would make them ineligible to race.

Baffert hoping Arrogate gives him third Dubai World Cup win

Getty Images
Leave a comment

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Having taken over the mantle as the world’s best racehorse from California Chrome, Arrogate will attempt on Saturday to wear another crown that last fitted his illustrious American compatriot, the Dubai World Cup.

All eyes are on the 4-year-old Arrogate, who lost on debut 11 months ago but hasn’t lost since.

He’s won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup this year to stretch his unbeaten streak to six. In both races, Arrogate defeated Chrome, who won the Dubai World Cup last year at Meydan Racecourse by five lengths despite jockey Victor Espinoza hanging on to a loose saddle for most of it.

Under jockey Mike Smith, Arrogate has forged a winning combination in his last three Group 1 races: Travers Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup.

In Dubai, they have drawn stall nine among 14 contenders, a position which fails to douse the confidence of his trainer Bob Baffert.

“Nine is fine,” said Baffert, who also trained 2015 U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

“He’s settled in pretty well. As long as he shows up, that’s the key. If he runs his race, we know what he can do.”

Smith was all praise for his mount, ranked the No. 1 racehorse in the world.

“I have been blessed with some really, really good horses, but I am not sure I have ever sit on one like this,” Smith said.

“Everything about him, his disposition, his mechanics, the way he gets over the ground … at times you feel as if you are running downhill instead of a level ground. What amazes me most is when the race is over, it looks as if he did not put much effort into it. His recovery time is so quick.”

Arrogate’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup wins came over 2,000 meters on dirt, the same distance and conditions as the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Baffert hopes Arrogate can give him a third Dubai World Cup victory after Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001).

He suffered a heart attack during his last visit to Dubai in 2012, and watched the World Cup five nights later with stents in two of his blocked arteries. He also watched from even farther afield last year as his other horse, Hoppertunity, finished third behind Chrome and Mike de Kock’s Mubtaahij.

He’s giving Hoppertunity another chance.

“Both my horses are happy and healthy,” Baffert said. “He (Hoppertunity) should be collecting a check again. That is what he does, picks up the pieces in these big races. He reminds me of Pac-Man, he just keeps going. A Dubai World Cup 1-2, that would be something.”

Mubtaahij is also back, although he will start under Christophe Soumillon from the widest of stalls.

“Like everyone, we wanted low,” the Belgian jockey said. “I will have to … hope for some luck.”

The Dubai World Cup features a nine-race card offering $30 million across six Group 1 and three Group 2 races on turf and dirt.

Six three-year-olds nominated late to Triple Crown series

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Thunder Snow, winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas, is among six 3-year-olds made eligible to compete in the Triple Crown series during the late nomination period.

The late nominees, which required a payment of $6,000 each, raise the total nominations to 425 for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The late nomination period closed Monday. The early nomination window closed in January and required a payment of $600.

Ireland-bred Thunder Snow, owned by Godolphin Racing, is set to run Saturday in the $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai. The colt has three wins in seven career starts for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

The other late nominees are Hollywood Handsome, trained by Dallas Stewart; More Than Words, trained by Charlie LoPresti; Parlor, trained by Eddie Kenneally; Rapid Dial, trained by Ingrid Mason; and Stretch’s Stone, trained by Bruce Levine.

Thoroughbreds that weren’t nominated to the Triple Crown have one final chance by paying a supplemental fee. The fee for the Derby is $200,000; $150,000 for the Preakness; and $75,000 for the Belmont.