Arrogate heads field for Breeders’ Cup Classic

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Defending champion Arrogate heads a full field of 14 horses for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with the world’s all-time leading money earner facing off against a horse that has beaten him twice in a row in the $6 million race that includes five runners trained by Bob Baffert.

The Classic won’t include Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, Preakness winner Cloud Computing and Belmont winner Tapwrit.

Pacific Classic winner Collected, who handed Arrogate his last two losses, Whitney and Suburban winner Gun Runner, Ireland-bred Mubtaahij and Travers winner West Coast are among the 14 horses expected to run in the 1 1\4 mile Classic. The Nov. 4 race will be shown live in prime time on NBC.

The Classic field is among a total of 187 horses pre-entered Wednesday for the $28 million, 13-race Breeders’ Cup world championships at Del Mar spanning two days. The track north of San Diego is hosting the event for the first time.

A record 46 foreign horses were pre-entered, including a leading 14 by Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien. New York-based Chad Brown is second with 13 horses. Coolmore Stud leads all owners with 14 pre-entries.

Baffert is going for his fourth consecutive victory in the Classic, after winning the last three years with Bayern, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and Arrogate. It would be a record if all five of his horses start in the Classic. Besides Arrogate and Collected, his other runners are Cupid, Mubtaahij and West Coast.

Final entries and the post-position draw will be Monday at Del Mar.

Besides Arrogate, there are eight returning or former champions pre-entered: Highland Reel, Drefong, Oscar Performance, Lady Eli, Champagne Room, Queen’s Trust, Finest City and Mongolian Saturday.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Arrogate will try to become the first horse since Tiznow in 2000-01 to win the Classic in consecutive years.

O’Brien’s two Classic entries are Churchill and War Decree.

Stellar Wind makes a third attempt at trying to win the $2 million Distaff at 1 1/8 miles. She was second in 2015 and fourth last year, and comes into this year’s edition undefeated in three Grade 1 starts.

U.S.-based horses have won five of the last six runnings of the $2 million Mile, and could do it again. World Approval, winner of four of five starts this year, takes on several European Group 1 winners.

The Classic winner will earn $3.3 million. For the second straight year, purses will be distributed down to the eighth-place finisher in all 13 races.

The event will open with four races on Nov. 3, followed by nine races on Nov. 4.

A maximum of 14 are allowed in each race, except the Dirt Mile, which is capped at 12. Seven of the races drew more than the allowable limits.

Jason Servis, trainer of Maximum Security, pleads guilty to drugging his horses

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NEW YORK – Trainer Jason Servis, whose horse Maximum Security was the 3-year-old champion in 2019, pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges involving a widespread scheme to drug horses.

The 65-year-old New Jersey-based trainer faces four years in prison when he is sentenced next May in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He was the last defendant facing charges in the scheme, and now 23 of the 31 individuals charged have pleaded guilty.

Servis pleaded guilty in connection with his role in the distribution of adulterated and misbranded drugs intended for use on horses in his stable.

“Servis’ conduct represents corruption at the highest levels of the racehorse industry,” Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “As a licensed racehorse trainer, Servis was bound to protect the horses under his care and to comply with racing rules designed to ensure the safety and well-being of horses and protect the integrity of the sport.”

Servis’ attorney, Rita Glavin, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Servis was charged in 2020 after a wide-ranging investigation into doping in the horse racing industry. Racing authorities suspended his trainer’s license.

Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference during the running of the race. The colt finished first in the $10 million Saudi Cup shortly before Servis’ arrest in March 2020. Saudi officials later withheld the winner’s share of the purse, citing Servis’ arrest and indictment.

“I don’t take any solace in other peoples misery, actually quite the opposite I feel some empathy for them,” Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion tweeted, “but the reality is that those of us who were beaten by Jason Service’s (sic) horses have little to show for it other than losing money, owners and horses due to his success.”

Another New Jersey-based trainer, Jorge Navarro, is serving a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty a year ago. Eleven of the defendants were trainers and seven were veterinarians.

Servis is the brother of trainer John Servis, who trained Smarty Jones to victories in the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness before the colt lost his Triple Crown bid in the Belmont.

Irad Ortiz sets single-season record with 77th stakes win

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NEW YORK – Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. earned his record 77th single-season North American stakes victory when he guided Dr B to victory in the $200,000 Go for Wand at Aqueduct.

The 30-year-old native of Puerto Rico broke the old mark of 76 set by the late Hall of Fame rider Garrett Gomez in 2007.

“This is great. Amazing feeling,” said Ortiz, Jr., who won the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey from 2018-20. “Gomez did it in 2007 and he was a great rider, one of the best in the game. I’m so happy just to be a part of this. I love this sport.”

Ortiz Jr. won the Belmont Stakes with Mo Donegal in June to go with Breeders’ Cup victories in the Juvenile, Filly & Mare Sprint and Sprint. He also earned nine other Grade 1 wins in New York, including Life Is Good in the Woodward and Whitney and Nest in the Alabama and Coaching Club Oaks. He won riding titles at Belmont’s spring-summer meet and Saratoga’s summer meet.

Ortiz Jr. leads North American riders with 304 overall victories this year. His purse earnings totaled over $35.8 million going into Saturday’s races, which already surpassed his single-season record of $34.1 million in 2019.