Monomoy Girl wins Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland

0 Comments

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Even-money favorite Monomoy Girl blew by the leaders around the final turn and held off a challenge by 14-1 shot Valiance to win the 1 1/8-mile Distaff for the top fillies and mares 3 years old and up at the Breeders’ Cup world championships.

The star 5-year-old won for the 13th time in 15th races, giving trainer Brad Cox his fourth win at this Breeders’ Cup to tie the record.

“I thought she was better than she’d ever been coming into this, I really, really did, and I think she proved that,” Cox said. “Just a tremendous filly. She’s a champion.”

Monomoy Girl won in 1:47.84, paying $4.00 to win, $3.00 to place and $2.40 to show. Valiance was second and Dunbar Road third.

Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver didn’t finish in the top three after stumbling out of the starting gate. 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,” McPeek said. “Monomoy Girl’s a great filly. She deserves Hall of Fame status.”

This is likely Monomoy Girl’s last race before she becomes a broodmare.

The Distaff was among the notable races leading up to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at the $31 million season-ending championships. Monomoy Girl’s second Cup win in three years followed a big upset in the Mile by Order of Australia.

The 73-1 longshot, in the race following a scratch and with a substitute rider aboard, won the $2 million race by a neck over Circus Maximus.

The Irish-bred colt entered the 15-horse field after One Master was scratched. Jockey Pierre Charles Boudot was riding in place of Christophe Soumillon after he tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

Order of Australia started from the far post and quickly moved into contention before running second entering the stretch. He overtook Halladay and held off charging Circus Maximus for the win, with Lope Y Fernandez third to complete a 1-2-3 sweep of entries for trainer Aiden O’Brien.

It was the second Cup win Saturday for Boudot, who rode 17-1 French bred Audarya to victory in the Filly & Mare Turf. Order of Australia covered the mile on firm turf in 1:33.73 and paid $148.40, $57 and $25.60.

Order of Australia’s win was among a strong of impressive Cup wins by European horses at Keeneland.

Earlier, Boudot rode Audarya to a track-record 1:52.72 over 1 3/16 miles to win the $1 million Filly & Mare Turf by a neck over Rushing Fall.

British-bred filly Glass Slippers earned a half-length victory Wet Your Whistle in the 5+-furlong Turf Sprint. The 4-year-old filly’s of 1:01.53 was just off the track record of 1:00.86 by Leinster in July.

Bob Baffert-trained filly Gamine opened the nine-race slate of stakes races with a dominant, record-setting trip in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

Gamine beat retiring great Serengeti Empress 6\ lengths and clocked a track-record 1:20.20 over seven furlongs to top Taris’ old mark of 1:21.32 on Oct. 18, 2014. Her fourth victory this year comes after a tumultuous year in which she tested positive for lidocaine in May and for betamethasone, a regulated corticosteroid, in September.

Baffert is appealing a suspension in the first case, while results are pending from a split-sample test in the second. But the Hall of Fame trainer gushed over his filly.

“She showed what a wonderful filly she is and there was no doubt today,” Baffert said. “That was a tough field. Serengeti Empress, we know she’s a great filly and there were some really nice fillies in there. And to break a track record.”

Knicks Go also broke a track record, winning the Dirt Mile by 3 1/2 lengths over Jesus’ Team and running 1:33.85.

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

hisa
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.”