12-time Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Bart Cummings dies

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SYDNEY (AP) Bart Cummings, one of Australia’s most successful racehorse trainers who won the Melbourne Cup a record 12 times, has died at the age of 87.

Cummings’ grandson and training partner James said in a statement that Cummings died in his sleep early Sunday at the family homestead at Castlereagh, west of Sydney.

“His final moments were spent with his family and wife of 61 years, Valmae, with whom he celebrated their anniversary on Friday,” the family statement said. “A husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather; a master trainer and a larger-than-life figure.”

Cummings had been in poor health recently and rarely ventured from his farm in recent years. In November, he was hospitalized with a chest infection, and since then his health and energy levels had deteriorated.

He won his first Melbourne Cup with Light Fingers in 1965 and his last with Viewed in 2008. In 1965, 1966, 1974, 1975 and 1991, Cummings trained both the first- and second-place horses in Australia’s richest and most prestigious race.

He trained 266 Group One winners and had 758 stakes victories among nearly 7,000 winners. He also won numerous other top Australian races: seven Caulfield Cups, five Cox Plates and four Golden Slippers.

Cummings, born Nov. 14, 1927 in Adelaide, South Australia, began training in 1953 at his father’s stables. In 1973-74, he became the first trainer in a Commonwealth country to pass $1 million in prize money in a season.

He was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1982 for his services to the racing industry, and was later inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

During the torch relay for the 2000 Sydney Games, Cummings carried the Olympic torch down the straight at Flemington race track in Melbourne.

“Farewell to a legend. … Rest in peace, Cups King,” Flemington said on its Twitter feed early Sunday.

Leading trainer Gai Waterhouse said “to all of us in the racing industry, Bart was a true icon. Everything that (he) envisaged was a success.”

On Sunday, a minute’s silence was held for Cummings at Wyong race track north of Sydney, where jockey Glyn Schofield, who won aboard Midas in the third race, said his victory was “all for Bart.”

Fomer jockey Darren Beadman, who started riding for Cummings in the early 1980s, said Cummings’ death marked a sad day in Australian racing history.

“He was a visionary. He was quite fun to be around – he had some great one-liners,” Beadman told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

“You can’t compare what he’s done with anyone else in Australian history. Winning 12 Melbourne Cups – that’s a feat in itself and I guess it’s a record that will never be broken.”

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

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NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”

Fractional interest in Flightline sells for $4.6 million

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland says a 2.5% fractional interest in Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Flightline has sold for $4.6 million during a special auction before the start of its November Breeding Stock Sale.

Brookdale Farm’s Freddy Seitz signed the ticket for an undisclosed client, the track announced in a release. The sale comes a day after ownership of the 4-year-old son of Tapit retired the unbeaten colt following his record 8\-length victory in Saturday’s $6 million, Grade 1 Classic at Keeneland. Flightline likely locked up Horse of the Year honors with his fourth Grade 1 victory in six starts by a combined victory margin of 71 lengths – dominance that has drawn comparisons to legendary Triple Crown champion Secretariat.

Flightline will begin his breeding career next year at Lane’s End Farms in Versailles, Kentucky, but a stud fee has yet to be determined. West Point Thoroughbreds, part of the bay colt’s ownership, offered the fractional interest. Seitz said the buyer wanted to “make a big splash” and get more involved in the business.

“With a special horse like (Flightline) all you can do is get involved and then just hope for the best,” Seitz said in the release.

“There has never been a horse that has done what he has done for however many years, back to Secretariat. You just have to pay up and get involved, and this is kind of what he’s thinking.”