American Pharoah is 6-5 favorite for Breeders’ Cup Classic

Getty Images

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Triple Crown champion American Pharoah was made the early 6-5 favorite Monday in a field of 10 for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, the last race of his career.

The colt will break from the No. 4 post on Saturday at Keeneland. He is 6 for 7 this year, and is coming off a loss in the Travers two months ago.

Beholder drew the far outside post and is the 3-1 second choice for the 1 1/4-mile race against male horses. Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari pulled the numbered pills that decided the positions at the draw.

Beholder and American Pharoah are both based at Santa Anita, where her trainer Richard Mandella was tempted to get a jump on the highly anticipated showdown.

“I wanted to say to Bob, `Let’s just spin them once around and see what happens,”‘ he said.

Tonalist, the 2014 Belmont Stakes winner, and Honor Code are the co-third choices at 6-1. Tonalist, who ended California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid last year, drew the No. 1 post, while Honor Code is in the No. 9 position.

American Pharoah is scheduled to arrive in Kentucky on Tuesday from Santa Anita, along with his trainer Bob Baffert.

“I’m happy with the post,” Baffert said by phone. “The most important thing is the horse is doing really well.”

American Pharoah was timed in 46.20 seconds for a half-mile workout Monday.

“He wanted to do more,” Baffert said. “He looks great. We’re really getting excited.”

After the Classic, the colt is set to begin a stud career in nearby Versailles.

Already in Lexington is American Pharoah’s jockey, Victor Espinoza.

“I’m confident,” he said. “The last time I saw him work out I was very impressed.”

Travers winner Keen Ice drew the No. 2 post and is 12-1 on the morning line odds. Frosted, third in the Travers, will break from the No. 3 post and is 15-1.

Jerry Crawford, president of Donegal Racing which owns Keen Ice, has already predicted his horse will win.

“We’re very positive and bullish,” he said. “We’ll have a little bit of that 12-1, thank you very much.”

Also in the Classic field are Ireland-bred Gleneagles, Effinex, Smooth Roller and Hard Aces.

Wedding Toast is the slight 4-1 favorite for the $2 million Distaff, one of four Breeders’ Cup races on Friday. She will break from the No. 7 post in the full field of 14 going 1 1/8 miles.

Sheer Drama is the 9-2 second choice. Defending champion Untapable and Stopchargingmaria are the co-third choices at 5-1.

Untapable returns with a different jockey. Rosie Napravnik rode her to victory last year at Santa Anita and then retired. She’s been replaced by John Velazquez, who is 1 for 6 with the 4-year-old filly since then.

Nyquist drew post position 13 in a field of 14 and is listed at 9-2 odds for the $2 million Juvenile. A victory would position the undefeated 2-year-old as the early favorite for next year’s Kentucky Derby.

The colt is 4-0 and faces his toughest challenge yet on Saturday with an outside post and the biggest field he’s run against.

Nyquist is ridden by Mario Gutierrez, trained by Doug O’Neill and owned by J. Paul Reddam. The trio teamed with I’ll Have Another to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. That colt’s Triple Crown bid derailed when he was retired the day before the Belmont because of an injury.

The Juvenile, to be run Saturday on the second of two days of racing during the 32st Breeders’ Cup, includes two entries each from O’Neill and Keith Desormeaux, who trains Exaggerator and Swipe. O’Neill’s other horse is 12-1 shot Ralis, also owned by Reddam.

The other undefeated colt in the Juvenile is Canada-based 15-1 shot Riker, also 4-0 for trainer Nicholas Gonzalez. Jockey Jesse Campbell will be riding in his second Breeders’ Cup after finishing ninth in last year’s Juvenile. It will be Riker’s first race on dirt; he’s won all his races at Woodbine, which has a synthetic surface similar to the one Keeneland used to have. He drew the No. 2 post.

Desormeaux and his brother-jockey Kent teamed to win last year’s Juvenile Texas Red, but the colt never made the Triple Crown trail because of injury. Kent Desormeaux will ride 6-1 shot Exaggerator for his brother.

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
1 Comment

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

flightline horse
Silas Walker/Getty Images
1 Comment

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.”