Breeders’ Cup replacement riders thrive after virus changes


When Colin Keane got a last-minute mount on Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf because regular jockey Christophe Soumillon tested positive for the coronavirus, he called training great Dermot Weld to ask for a plan.

“He said, ‘We could be on the phone for half an hour trying to make a plan, but it mightn’t go to plan,”‘ Keane recalled in his Irish brogue. “So he kind of left it up to me.”

It worked out well, as Tarnawa was one of three horses to win a Breeders’ Cup race Saturday with a replacement jockey aboard. Ioritz Mendizabal tested positive overseas, Soumillion had to leave Keeneland on Friday after his COVID-19 test came back positive and Keane and French rider Pierre-Charles Boudot made the most of their opportunities in relief.

Boudot scored the biggest upset of the day in the Mile with 73-1 long shot Order of Australia, who was an eleventh-hour replacement himself after another horse was scratched. He also won the Filly & Mare Turf on Audarya.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Boudot said. “I’m very happy to be here, and I am very thankful for this day.”


Brad Cox tied the record for the most wins by a trainer at a single Breeders’ Cup with four, matching Richard Mandella’s haul in 2003.

After winning the Juvenile with Essential Quality and the Juvenile Fillies Turf with Aunt Pearl on Friday, Cox’s Knicks Go broke the track record in going wire-to-wire in the Dirt Mile and champion Monomoy Girl beat Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver and a tough field in the Distaff in likely her final race before retirement.

Cox hadn’t won a Grade 1 race when Monomoy Girl’s ownership group was introduced to him. He guided her back from an 18-month layoff at age 5, and she picked up her 13th victory in 15 lifetime starts.

Co-owner Sol Kumin said Cox told them that getting Monomoy Girl back to her peak level would be his greatest accomplishment.

“We have been lucky enough to be part of his rise, and he’s really been the key,” Kumin said. “Brad Cox has been the master, just knowing when to push, knowing when to step back, managing her career.”


Four European horses – Audarya, Order of Australia, Tarnawa and Great Britain’s Glass Slippers – were winners among the nine championship races Saturday. That has become the norm in the 1 1/2-mile Turf, but Glass Slippers at 10-1 became the first Europe-based horse to win the Turf Sprint.

“She’s a filly that thrives the second half of the year,” trainer Terry Ryan said. “She travels well. … It’s always a tricky one, but as the week went on, we got happier and happier with her.”


Filly Swiss Skydiver, who outlasted Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Authentic in the Preakness on Oct. 3, stumbled out of the gate and finished seventh in the 10-horse field in the Distaff.

Trainer Kenny McPeek chose to run Swiss Skydiver against older fillies and mares in the Distaff rather than going against the colts in the Classic and knew this was still a possibility.

“She’s got a ladder to climb against older fillies and mares,” said McPeek, who had another horse stumble Friday. “It’s been an unlucky weekend.”

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.”