Mastery wins San Felipe, but sustains post-race injury

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Mastery won the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes by 6 3/4 lengths on Saturday, but the colt sustained a fracture in his leg after the finish, ending his Kentucky Derby hopes.

Trainer Bob Baffert says Mastery has a condylar fracture, the most common seen in thoroughbreds. The colt will undergo surgery Monday with screws inserted in his left front ankle.

Baffert says he won’t know until after the surgery whether the injury is career-ending.

But it knocked Mastery off the Derby trail, the latest setback among this year’s 3-year-old contenders. Already out of contention are Not This Time, Klimt and Syndergaard.

It was a huge blow to Baffert, who trained American Pharoah to the sport’s first Triple Crown sweep in 2015.

“He’s just a beautiful moving horse,” he said before knowing the full extent of Mastery’s injury. “He was just doing it easy. It’s very rare to get one like that. You go from seeing the next coming, and then something like that happens. I’ve never dealt with anything like that.”

Ridden by Mike Smith, Mastery led all the way and ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.28 at Santa Anita. The 4-5 favorite paid $3.60, $2.40 and $2.10.

Mastery was pulled up near the turn by Smith, who removed the colt’s saddle. He was vanned off.

“I felt it about 10 jumps after the wire. All of a sudden he just picked his back leg up,” Smith said. “Then a minute or so and he put it down and he was fine.”

Mastery was making his 3-year-old debut after winning all three of his starts last year. He earned the 50 points awarded to the winner, putting the colt second on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard that decides the 20-horse field for the May 6 race.

After watching from his box, an initially exhilarated Baffert made his way through the stands.

“I hear one of the fans say, `I hope your horse is all right,”‘ he said. “I thought, `What?”‘

After arriving in a strangely empty winner’s circle, Baffert watched the race replay, looking for any hint of trouble.

Standing next to his wife and Mastery’s owner, Everett Dobson of Oklahoma City, Baffert tried to process his emotions after the roller coaster experience.

“We’ve been so high on this horse,” he said. “To see what he did today was just incredible. It was going to put him best 3-year-old in the nation.”

He was interrupted by a call from assistant Jimmy Barnes, who reported Mastery walked off the van seemingly in good order.

But after being bathed, Baffert said the colt showed some filling in his left front ankle.

San Vicente winner Iliad returned $3.40 and $2.60, while Term of Art was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $5.40 to show. Both colts are trained by Doug O’Neill. Iliad was trained by Baffert in his first two starts before a split between him and owner Kaleem Shah.

Sham Stakes winner Gormley finished fourth, followed by Ann Arbor Eddie, Bluegrass Envy and Vending Machine.

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.”