4 racehorse deaths at New Orleans track spark concern

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NEW ORLEANS — Four thoroughbred racehorses were euthanized after competing at a New Orleans track in a 10 -day span, prompting criticism from an animal advocacy group based in Washington D.C.

Officials at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course didn’t specify the circumstances surrounding the euthanasia but said the track’s equine medical director was investigating each individual case, news outlets reported.

The deaths started on Jan. 9 with “J Rob”, a 3-year-old colt that had just won a $15,000 maiden claiming race. Two days later “Big Shanty” was killed after pulling up lame, a dysfunction in the locomotor system which is a common problem in sport horses. “Jim’s Silverbullet” was killed on the Jan. 16 and “Take Charge Cece” a day later.

Fair Grounds Director of Marketing Trent Dang called the deaths “unfortunate and most unusual.”

Advocacy group Animal Wellness Action said the number of deaths in such a short time frame is why the group supports a bill that would regulate widespread “doping” in the horse racing industry.

The group has been pressing for passage of a reform bill that would set national standards for drugging racehorses and place oversight with an independent body under the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby said the bill has more than 200 co-sponsors in the House, but none from Louisiana.

Dang calls the legislation “controversial” and said it lacks consensus on funding and mechanics. But Dang also said the concept of the law is “seeking fairness of competition through medication reform” which the company supports.

Irby called Louisiana a “stumbling block for reform,” citing “obstructionists” who don’t support the proposed law.

“American horseracing is addicted to drugs, and it’s time for an intervention,” Irby said in a statement. “Our modern-day society will no longer tolerate the deaths of these iconic American equines for entertainment — this isn’t ancient Rome, it’s 2020.”

Arabian Knight off Kentucky Derby trail; will return later

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Arabian Knight is off the Kentucky Derby trail.

Wagering has been suspended on the 3-year-old colt for the Derby’s future wager after owner Amr Zedan announced the decision. Arabian Knight was the second choice on the morning line behind favorite Forte for the May 6 race.

“Trainer Tim Yakteen wasn’t happy with his last work & we feel it’s in Arabian Knight’s best interest not to rush & allow him more time to develop,” Zedan tweeted. “We know he’s a superior talent & our plan is to point him toward a summer and fall campaign.”

Purchased for $2.3 million as a 2-year-old, Arabian Knight won his debut by 7 1/4 lengths at Keeneland last November. He made his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest at Oaklawn in January and won by 5 1/2 lengths.

Arabian Knight had his third workout at Santa Anita.

Tapit Trice wins Tampa Bay Derby, earns Kentucky Derby points

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TAMPA, Fla. — Tapit Trice rallied from last to win the $360,000 Tampa Bay Derby by two lengths and earn qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.

Ridden by Luis Saez, Tapit Trice ran 1 1/16 miles 1:43.37. The 1-2 favorite in the field of 12 paid $3 to win. The 3-year-old colt earned 50 qualifying points, which places him in the 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby on May 6.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher extended his record for most wins in the Grade 3 race to six. He already has the early Kentucky Derby favorite in Forte, who won the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream last weekend.

Classic Car Wash was second and Classic Legacy was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

Tapit Trice was making his stakes debut after winning two of three starts.

“Once he got clear down the lane, he really extended himself,” Pletcher said. ”I loved the way he finished up. He relished the two turns, and the longer he goes, the better he’ll get.”