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ISSUE 49 – AUGUST-OCTOBER 2018 $5.95




Giving her trainer, Brad Cox, a year to remember



For a successful weaning

UNDERSTANDING The biome of the lung


The racing revival is underway!



he trainer of the filly who graces the cover of this issue has enjoyed a recent, seemingly rapid rise to the higher echelons of his chosen profession. Although Brad Cox trained his first starter nearly 14 years ago, it’s only in the last four years that his stable has become a stakes-winning barn. And he hasn’t looked back since. This year, his headline athlete has certainly been the standout filly of her crop. Monomoy Girl gave Cox his first career Grade 1 in Keeneland’s Ashland Stakes and followed up with two more Grade 1s, in the Kentucky Oaks in May and the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park in June. As Joe Nevills found out when interviewing Cox, the boy from Louisville has got to where he is today not through a leg up in the industry thanks to a family member, but through sheer graft, backed by a natural eye for horses and aptitude for running his stable.


Personally, I don’t think his Oaks victory this year will end up being his only success on a major stage -- he’s exactly the sort of trainer who will give the likes of Chad Brown and the other “thirtysomething” trainers a run for their money in years to come. But one filly that Monomoy Girl might be facing in the not too distant future is Red Ruby, who is very much a filly on the way up. So far this late spring / early summer, she has won the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan and the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks to make her conditioner Kellyn Gorder our Equithrive Trainer of the Quarter. If Monomoy Girl and Red Ruby do meet at some point this season, I’m sure it will be a race to remember. Speaking of summer racing, one oval that is synonymous for its proximity to the sea is Monmouth Park, but over the last years it’s been guided through somewhat choppy waters. In this issue, we look at what the future holds, not only for Monmouth but also for the state of New Jersey now that sports betting has finally started in the state. But New Jersey is not the only state on the east coast with plenty to look forward to in summers to come. Follow the road north along the coast and you’ll soon arrive in Massachusetts, where, as Bill Heller discovers thanks to the hard work and dedication of Chip Tuttle and his Suffolk Downs team, racing could be about to get a major boost with the revitalization of the small fair track known to many as Great Barrington. Wherever your racing takes you this summer, may you be blessed with good luck. Finally, I would like to thank Frances J. Karon for her dedication to the magazine over the past 12 years. She’s “retiring” from her position as editor but I sincerely hope to have her write for us again in the future!



Editorial Director/Publisher Giles Anderson (1 888 218 4430) Editor Frances J. Karon (@francesjkaron) Design ATG Media Editorial/Photo Management Suzy Stephens (1 888 659 2935) Advert Production Shae Hardy Circulation/Website Anna Alcock (1 888 659 2935) Advertising Sales Giles Anderson, Oscar Yeadon, Anna Alcock 1 888 218 4430 Photo Credits: EquiSport Photos, Eclipse Sportswire, Shutterstock, Wilhelm Westergren, Tom O’Keeffe, Zoe Metz, Gary Tasich, Suffolk Downs, Equi-Photo, Inc, Giles Anderson Cover Photograph EquiSport

Trainer Magazine is published by Anderson & Co Publishing Ltd. Contact details Tel: 1 888 659 2935 Fax: 1 888 218 4206 North America PO Box 13248, Lexington, KY 40583-3248 United Kingdom 14 Berwick Courtyard, Berwick St Leonard, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP3 5UA

Trainer Magazine is the official magazine of the California Thoroughbred Trainers. It is distributed to all ‘Trainer’ members of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and all members of the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association, as well as all members of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association

Education Ed cati tii ! Integrity I t it Service

Bill Heller. Eclipse Award-winning author Bill Heller’s 26th book, “Politics and Horses; The Fascinating Life of Howard Nolan,” was published this summer. His previous books include biographies of Hall of Fame jockeys Ron Turcotte, Randy Romero and Jose Santos. Heller’s son, Benjamin, finished 1,824th in his first Boston Marathon in April in a field of more than 27,000 runners. Ed Golden is the author of Santa Anita’s widely acclaimed “Stable Notes,” hailed by peers as “the best in racing.” A native of Philadelphia, he earned Eclipse Award honourable mention while with the Philadelphia Daily News and has written for The BloodHorse and USA Today. Peter J. Sacopulos is a partner in the law firm of Sacopulos, Johnson & Sacopulos in Terre Haute, Indiana where he represents clients in a wide range of equine matters. He is a member of the American College of Equine Counsel and serves on the Board of the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and Indiana Thoroughbred Breed Development Advisory Committee. Mr. Sacopulos has written extensively on equine law issues and is a frequent speaker at equine conferences. Alan F.Balch was hired as Executive DIrector of California Thoroughbred Trainers in April 2010. His professional career in racing began at Santa Anita in 1971, where he advanced to the position of Sr. Vice President-Marketing and Assistant General Manager, and was in charge of the Olympic Games Equestrian Events in Los Angeles in 1984. He retired in the early ‘90s to become volunteer president of the National Equestrian Federation of the USA, as well as of the National Horse Show of Madison Square Garden. He remains president of USA Equestrian Trust, Inc. Alex Cairns is a horse racing writer and photographer. He previously worked for the KRA as English Editor and International Liaison and is now based in his native Northern Ireland. Sarah Rosanowski completed her PhD in Veterinary Epidemiology at the EpiCentre, Massey University,looking at the control of exotic disease outbreaks in New Zealand. This project was used to inform the government and industry policy regarding response to an exotic disease outbreak. Sarah moved to the United Kingdom to join the Royal Veterinary College, where she worked for three years as a Post-Doctoral Researcher on the HBLB funded project “Nature versus nurture: modelling environmental and genetic contributions to risk of racehorse injury in UK Thoroughbreds”. She is currently working as an Assistant Professor, in the first veterinary programme in Hong Kong, where she works closely with the Hong Kong Jockey Club on projects to reduce racehorse injury.

Linda Dougherty is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She earned an Eclipse honorable mention while with Daily Racing Form, and was a staff writer and handicapper for The Trentonian. Most recently she captured an Equine Media Award from American Horse Publications for work that appeared in Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, and she also writes for other industry publications. A New Jersey native, she is the author of a book about that state’s “golden age” of racing. Tom O’Keeffe is a Partner at Rossdales LLP working with the Horses in Training Team. Tom was brought up on National Hunt stud farm in Waterford, Ireland and he has been based in Newmarket since 2014, having previously worked in Kentucky, Florida, Australia, and Ireland. Emmanuelle van Erck-Westergren graduated from the Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Maison Alfort (France) in 1996. Emmanuelle is author of more than 40 scientific articles and regularly lectures at international scientific meetings. She is member of the board of the Belgian Equine Practitioner Society (BEPS) and on the scientific committee of the French Association of Equine Veterinarians (AVEF). She continues to collaborate to applied research projects in Equine Sports Medicine, to teach clinical training for the veterinary students and practitioners and to contribute regularly writing in both scientific and lay reviews. Kristien Verheyen graduated as a vet from the University of Ghent, Belgium, in 1995. She joined the Epidemiology Unit at Animal Health Trust (AHT) near Newmarket in 1997, working on equine infectious diseases and being responsible for the veterinary care of the AHTs pony herd. Kristien joined the Royal Veterinary College in 2005, where she has continued and expanded her research on racehorse injuries through HBLB-funded studies investigating injuries in National Hunt racehorses in training, joint injuries in flat racehorses in training and race-day injuries in flat racing. Her latest project, funded by the Racing Foundation and HBLB, will be investigating causes and risk factors for wastage in young Thoroughbreds, and how early life experiences influence health and performance in later life. Joe Nevills is bloodstock editor of the Paulick Report and a columnist for Arabian Finish Line. A Michigan native and current Kentucky resident, Joe is a winner of the Ron Rippey Award for Handicapping Media, earned a Media Eclipse Award honorable mention, and is a two-time finalist for Canada’s Media Sovereign Award. Away from the bloodstock realm, Joe specializes in covering smalltrack racing and pens the popular Haiku Handicapper segments seen across multiple publications.

Trainer Magazine (ISSN 17580293) is published 4 times a year, February, May, August and November by Anderson & Co Publishing and distributed in the USA by UKP Worldwide, 3390 Rand Road, South Plainfield, NJ 07080. Periodicals postage paid at Rahway, NJ and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Trainer Magazine, Anderson & Co Publishing C/O 3390 Rand Road, South Plainfield NJ 07080







he pressure to win is so enormous that many horsemen resort to whatever it takes to get a piece of the purse or a decent sale… even if it means putting their horses’ lives in mortal danger by doping them with illegal synthetic erythropoietin (EPO) drugs to boost endurance. Veterinarian Gary Smith said, “It’s a problem all over the industry. There is no way horses should be put on (synthetic) EPO.” So how do racers win? How do you gain a competitive edge without harming your horses or risking your livelihood? The answer may be found in a safe all-natural horse supplement that supports natural EPO function. Why is EPO boosting so critical? Just like in people, a horse’s muscles require oxygen for fuel. Red blood cells are the body’s oxygen-carrying cells. A higher red blood cell count = more oxygen = more muscle energy. Elevated muscle energy helps the horse perform harder, faster and longer during endurance events. All horses naturally produce EPO in their kidneys to stimulate production of new red blood cells from bone marrow. In short, EPO is a natural “blood builder.” With EPO doping, trainers try to boost the EPO effect to get a winning performance every time. They use a synthetic EPO (recombinant human EPO), even though the side effects can harm the horse. That’s one reason why it’s illegal. Fortunately there’s another option. EPOEquine® is a safe, highly effective natural dietary supplement scientifically engineered for performance horses. A Kentucky trainer who refused to give out his name, said, “I don’t want my competition to know about this.” He found EPO-Equine to be so effective that he’s

dead set against disclosing who he is, who his horses are, or even where he trains and races. He first started ordering a single jar of EPO-Equine® once a month. Now he’s ordering several CASES each month. And he won’t tell BRL exactly why. He said respectfully, “Sorry – no way.” Bioengineers at U.S. based Biomedical Research Laboratories (BRL), first discovered a completely natural EPO-booster for human athletes (and it’s working miracles for top athletes and amateurs around the world). Seeing these results, horse trainers contacted BRL and asked about using this natural formula for their animals. That’s when the BRL team dug deeper and discovered a proprietary, horse-friendly strain of a common herb that promotes optimal blood-building results. EPOEquine® is based on the blood-boosting abilities of a certain strain of Echinacea that’s astounding researchers and trainers alike. (It’s not a strain you can find at the local health store.) Veterinarians at the Equine Research Centre in Ontario, Canada ran a doubleblind trial investigating the blood building properties of the active ingredient in EPOEquine in healthy horses. For 42 days, one group of horses was supplemented with the active ingredient in EPO-Equine and another group of horses was given a placebo. The supplement delivered significant blood building results, increasing red blood cell count and hemoglobin levels. Researchers also observed improved blood quality and increased oxygen transport in the supplemented horses. Improved blood levels leads to elevated exercise physiology and performance. The patent-pending formula in EPOEquine ® contains a dozen different herbs, antioxidants and anti-inf lammatory components combined to promote natural red blood cell production… for remarkable speed, strength and stamina right out of the gate. Trainers find it easy to add just 1 scoop (3.2 grams) of EPO-Equine® to the horse’s daily feeding routine in the barn or on the road. Within a few weeks of daily use, you can expect to see increased red blood cell levels with no undesirable side effects. An increase in red blood cell levels can improve muscle performance, supercharge endurance, and enhance recovery after hard exercise. Nothing else is scientifically proven to deliver these benefits in a completely safe and natural formula. Compared to the cost of veterinarians, drugs, icing, tapping the knees, and putting the horse on Bute; or even the consequences of being banned for synthetic doping, EPO-Equine® is very affordable at the low price of just $59.95 per jar. Or save $180 if you are ready to commit to a larger trial of 12-jar case for just $539.55 with FREE shipping. EPO-Equine ® can be ordered at or 800-780-4331.



46 26





46 Val Brinkerhoff


52 The biome of the lung

06 08

Living by the creed of truth, justice, and the American way, by Ed Golden.

10 Brad Cox

The trainer of Monomoy Girl in profile, by Joe Nevills.

18 New beginning in New Jersey

Change is coming in New Jersey thanks to sports betting, by Linda Dougherty.

Dr. Emmanuelle van Erck-Westergren explains and explores the importance of the microbial make-up of the lung, and what this can tell us about a horse’s well-being.

26 Feeding for weaning success

60 Noah Abramson

32 Massachusetts revival

66 Castrating racehorses: a routine

Emma Hardy addresses the best diet to help young foals through to the weaning process.

Bill Heller looks at the possibility of a Great Barrington Fair racing revival in Massachusetts.

38 Injuries in Flat racing: nature

versus nurture

Research on race day injuries, their heritability, and associated risk factors, by Kristien Verheyen and Sarah Rosanowski.

@ train e r_ mag



EQUITHRIVE Trainer of the Quarter

80 Giles Anderson on

the thought-provoking Sid Fernando

Linda Dougherty profiles a young trainer with a bright future.

procedure not without its pitfalls

Tom O’Keeffe looks at a recent study on the complications that can arise from this very routine procedure.

70 A jockey’s life: the true tall tales

of Gatebreakin’ Ray Adair

Ray Adair Sr. led a life so interesting that even his own son thought it was not true, by Peter J. Sacopulos.

/ t rai ner magaz i n e


Alan F. Balch

/ t r ai n e rmag azine

Visit to download the digital edition of this issue.



THE BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE SERIES Win a Challenge Series Race and earn a free entry into the Breeders’ Cup. Since 2007, the Breeders’ Cup has paid over $18 Million in entry fees/early travel awards.



THOMISM... AND RACING homas Aquinas (1225-1274) understood education and persuasion as well as anyone else ever has. He once said that when you want to convert someone to your view, you go over to where he’s standing, take him by the hand (mentally speaking), and guide him to where you want him to go. What you don’t do is stand across the room, or sit next to him, shouting at him. Or, possibly worse, whisper insults in his ear, after loudly accusing him of dishonesty. You don’t call him names. And you don’t order him to come over to where you are. Instead, you start where he is, and work from that position. That’s the way to achieve movement toward consensus. In racing, and the larger world, we’ve lost sight of this elementary psychology. Everywhere we look these days, we see passionate, adversarial advocates who simply scream their own prejudices and beliefs, while excoriating their opponents. All this does is make people who agree feel better, make people who disagree stiffen their resistance, and make anyone in the middle feel uneasy and skeptical that either side is speaking the whole truth. Almost every passionate and partisan argument overstates its own case and understates its opponent’s case! For the last several years in California, we’ve seen an evolution of this increasingly unproductive behavior when medication rules have been proposed and advanced by the Equine Medical Director of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB). Raise your hand if you favor cheating . . . . hmmm, none to see? That’s because nobody favors cheating except a cheater, and we believe there are very, very few of those. A cheater, by definition, does everything possible to avoid detection. In short, they don’t raise their own hands; but they may point to others. Our Equine Medical Director recently stated that he doubts he has gone a week in the decade-plus he has held that position when he hasn’t had “an owner, trainer, or someone else in the industry complain that we weren’t doing enough to control doping.” He made that statement in the context of advocating elaborate new out-of-



competition equine testing rules without which, he said, racing “does not have a robust anti-doping program.” He then pointed at both California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT) and Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) as opponents of out-ofcompetition testing, whose opposition he called “bewildering.” Such “opposition” is even more bewildering to CTT and TOC, since it simply doesn’t exist. To the contrary, both verbally and in writing, both organizations have repeatedly endorsed the desirability of expanded out-of-competition testing, and elaborated rules for its conduct, including in votes at the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) meetings. As the Equine Medical Director himself proclaimed, California already does more such testing than other racing authorities in the United States, and pioneered it in 2007, with the ongoing support of both CTT and TOC. Various versions of the latest RMTC proposal for expanding out-of-competition testing have been considered across the United States. Many states have differing rule-making procedures, and California’s is among the most detailed and careful, subject to its Administrative Procedure Act and Office of Administrative Law regulations. Our Equine Medical Director has been constantly critical of California’s rule-making process. But he avoids any discussion of the reasons it exists as it does, to protect the citizens of the State of California from unnecessary, unenforceable, duplicative, or arbitrary rules, including any which would conflict with other rules or statutes. In short, he

would apparently prefer a system where he alone could simply order obedience to him, no matter the disastrous consequences to individuals or the sport if his rules were imprecise, unfair, or unenforceable. With only a modicum of success thus far – though noteworthy when achieved – CTT has advocated the use of informal working group meetings to achieve consensus on medication proposals prior to or during the formal rule-making process as outlined in California law. Such meetings can be scheduled when veterinary practitioners are available, as well as representatives of the regulator, and without the trappings of court reporters and public notice requirements. And without the unproductive posturing, by anyone, which becomes so tempting and destructive in a public setting. A working group simply works, in short, to achieve an agreed goal. Once a consensus develops, the formal process thereafter moves very quickly. If a complete consensus cannot be reached, at least differences are narrowed to a very few, and are understood by all, during the formal process. That’s our preferred roadmap to expedited rule-making. The present proposal was last formally considered by the CHRB in February 2017, over a year ago. Our reservations as to its details were waved aside, as is customary. The Board pointed out that we should instead use the required formal 45-day comment period prior to their consideration of its final adoption. In March 2018, a year later, that commentary was solicited for a May hearing. CTT and TOC then submitted their serious concerns, in writing, as required by law and as had been suggested by the Board itself a year earlier. CHRB then postponed its hearing until June. That’s when the Equine Medical Director accused us of “lastminute road blocking” for suggesting the proposal needed additional consideration at the Committee level. He told the Commissioners they were “being played.” Who is playing whom? Why couldn’t a working group have been convened during the entire year after the 2017 meetings, to expedite this “essential” rule? Our concerns have been voiced for well over a year, have been detailed in writing, and deserve sincere, thorough consideration. We want rules that are consistent with the law, that are fair, that can be enforced, that provide for proper therapy and the welfare of horses, and will at the same time achieve their stated goal of deterring dishonest behavior.

“Equithrive is a unique product that is extremely effective in managing the chronic inflammation associated with competition and training.” - Greg Fox, DVM


KEL LYN GORDER The EQUITHRIVE Trainer of the Quarter has been won by Kellyn Gorder. Kellyn and his team will receive a selection of EQUITHRIVE’s clinically proven supplements for the barn. Bill Heller

hen trainer Kellyn Gorder fell head-over-heels in love with horseracing as a kid growing up in Worthington, Minnesota, he had an idol. “I wanted to be a rider,” Gorder said. “Steve Cauthen was my hero. I wanted to be just like Steve. I read The Kid (Pete Axthelm’s brilliant biography of Cauthen) 10 times. I wore it out.” Not only would Gorder go on to work for Cauthen’s brother, Doug, at WinStar Farm, but he would meet Steve and train a couple of his horses. And that was before Gorder would train his first superstar, Sandra Sexton and Brandi Nicholson’s brilliant three-year-old filly Red Ruby. Of course, Gorder had no idea that he’d make it as a Thoroughbred trainer, but he knew one thing at a very early age: he loved horses. And he didn’t get it from his fath her, a sch hoollteach her, nor his moth her,




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an office worker. “I didn’t know where I got it, but I had the horse bug,” he said. “In grade school, I signed all my papers Cowboy Kell.” Gorder was 10 when his parents bought him a pony and converted their garage into a stall. Two years later, he went to work with horses. His neighbor, Dale Peters, was the sheriff of the county and a Thoroughbred owner. “I told him when I was old enough, I wanted to start working for him,” Gorder said. “I did, when I was 12.” Quickly, he got a break. When the young man galloping horses for Peters tore his ACL playing football, Peters asked Gorder, “Do you want to get up?” Gorder continued, “I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said. “I said, ‘Heck, yeah, put me on.’” Gorder got his jockey’s license when he was 16. Wh hen he grew too big to

continue riding, after graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Gorder turned his attention to training. He spent one year with Harris Farms in California, then had the great fortune of being hired by Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg, which allowed him to return to the Midwest. Gorder survived a humiliating first day for Van Berg when his saddle slipped on


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In 2003, Doug Cauthen called with an offer to work at WinStar Farm, which meant Gorder had to give up training on his own. “I had two young daughters at the time and it seemed like a good thing to do,” Gorder said. So he did. But in 2007, Gorder decided to go back to training. “I was about to turn 40, and I was telling myself I didn’t want to wind up saying, ‘You should have tried it.’ If I was going to do it, I needed to get going,” he said. He began with four Thoroughbreds. But with the support of WinStar, his stable grew to 60 horses at one point. He’s based at Keeneland now with 25 to 30 horses, led by star Red Ruby, who followed a 4¾ length victory in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan with a jaw-dropping 13-length romp in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks on July 7th. “It was kind of shocking to see her that far in front,” Gorder said. “It was a great day, that’s for sure.” Cowboy Kell has made it.


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race with his first starter, Grammarian, who won his maiden debut at odds of 55-1 at Kentucky Downs before going on to win the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2002 at 29-1, providing the trainer with his first graded stakes win.


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the first horse he galloped, but stayed on with Van Berg for five years. “He was my racetrack dad,” Gorder said. Gorder worked at the 505 Training Center (now Victory Haven) for five years in Lexington, Kentucky, then struck out on his own in 2001. He won his first

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Joe Nevills

EquiSport Photos


Between the first of April and the first of July, Brad Cox saw the kind of career progression most trainers spend a lifetime


pril started wi with Cox picking up his wit first Grade 1 win fir fi in aft fter Monomoy fte Girl conquered the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. He fi finished the prestigious fin meet tied wi with Wesley Ward as the leading trainer by wi wit wins. win May saw the trainer and Monomoy Girl grab global headlines wi with a game vi wit victory in the Kentucky Oaks. vic In June, Cox found a new gear, adding another Grade 1 win wi win wi with Monomoy Girl in the Acorn Stakes at Belmont wit Park, and another Grade 1 wi winner when Long On Value win took the Highlander Stakes at Woodbine. Cox fi finished fin the month as the leading trainer of the Churchill Downs spring meet by earnings. At age 38, wit ith a stable of about 100 horses spread across four tracks, Cox has laid the groundwork to entrench himself among North Ame merica’s leading trainers for a long time to come. What wi will keep him there is his commitment wil to training like he’s still got 15 horses in his barn. “We’re grinding every day,” Cox said. “We have a very good team assembled.”

Louisville upbringing

In the aftermath of Monomoy Girl’s Kentucky Oaks win, much was made of Cox’s local ties to Louisviillle, win wi Kentucky. The story has become almost boilerplate when writing about the trainer at lengt gth: Cox grew up just two gth blocks from the Churchill Downs property, in a white house at 903 Evelyn Avenue in Louisvi ville’s Wyandotte vil neighborhood. His father, Jerry Cox, a forklift driver at a local factory, took his son to the track as a child and the younger Cox caught the racing bug so severely, it became a career path. The trainer admitt tted he does not oft tte ften drive by to check fte on the house, just a stone’s throw off ff of Longf gfie gfi ield Avenue, even though he is at the track nearly every day. His parents moved out a half-decade ago. Jerry died in 2016, and Mary resides in another part of town. n. However, the trainer’s reasons are less about sentiment and more about logistics. “It’s kind of by Gate 10 (an entrance to the track’s parking lot) and I go in and out of Gate 5 (the backstretch entrance),” he said.




What makes Cox’s success somewhat unique is that he is not a generational horseman. His father was noted in many stories for his affinity toward betting on Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, but no one in the family had handson experience with horses to pass on to Brad. When he made his way on to the Churchill backstretch for the first time as a teenager, Cox started with a built-in handicap. Cox made up for the lost time in spades by paying attention and being punctual. He hotwalked and worked as a groom for a handful of trainers on the Louisville backside, including Frank Brothers and William “Jinks” Fires. He relished the grunt work, slowly gaining the trust of his bosses and working his way up their ranks. “It’s a tough business,” Cox said. “As far as coming to work every day, I enjoyed it. I had no problem getting up in the mornings. It wasn’t a job for me, and it’s still not a job for me. It’s something I love to do. I’ve always said getting up seven days a week is half the battle.” Years later, Cox is now an equal to the trainers that gave him his start. Fires said he speaks with Cox regularly and considers him a friend. “He’s gone on and become successful,” Fires said. “He pretty much did it himself. He had that work ethic to go on, and that’s what people do. When they want to, they go on, and he did it.” After building his foundation in the hands-on element of horseracing, Cox went on to extended tenures with Jimmy Baker and Dallas Stewart. Working with the Stewart helped instill a sense of organization in him to balance the responsibilities of a larger stable, Cox said, both on the track and off.



Branching out

Cox ventured out on his own for the first time in November 2004, at age 25, finishing third in a Churchill Downs claiming race with One Lucky Storm. The filly came back to win her next start, and Cox’s second as a trainer, at Turfway Park. The trainer saw healthy progress in the first decade under his own shedrow, saddling multiple stakes winner Tappin for Gold in his first full year on his own. Cox had proven himself to have an astute eye around the claim box as well, highlighted by the mare Temple Street. “We claimed her for $15,000 and she was able to go through a couple conditions at Oaklawn Park,” Cox said. “She was second on Derby day in the (Grade 1) Humana Distaff. She was a filly that did a lot for us as a stable, and I think it made some people take notice. She never won a stake, but she was multiple graded stakes placed.” Cox’s reputation was growing, but he still hadn’t surpassed the seven-figure earnings mark by the end of 2013, and he still had a relatively small stable. That changed the following year when he more than doubled his earnings, led by Carve, his first Graded stakes winner. The gelding took the Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap and gave Cox his first Breeders’ Cup starter later that year, running sixth in the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita. The trainer’s steady rise, followed by a breakthrough season, caught the attention of Marshall Gramm and Clay Sanders of Ten Strike Racing, who committed to buying some horses to run under Cox for 2015. Working with the Ten Strike operation was the trainer’s first connection with racing manager Liz Crow, who has

ABOVE: Brad Cox and jockey Shaun Bridgmohan confer before racing at Churchill Downs. Brad’s assistant, Jorje Abrego, and son Blake are in the background.



become one of the most crucial figures in Cox’s ascension into the national ranks. Within three years, Crow would sign the ticket for Monomoy Girl and she’d sell Long On Value to Cox, as agent for Ten Strike Racing, as part of her Elite Sales consignment. Today, she is tied to about 25 horses in the Cox barn for various clients. In 2014, though, the two were making their first introductions at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March sale of 2-year-olds in training. At the time, Cox had about 15 horses in his barn, but Crow was impressed with the depth of knowledge the trainer displayed, not only of his own runners, but Ten Strike’s. “I knew he was going to be a very good trainer from the get-go because he was just 100 percent focused on the racing,” Crow said. “Really, what I’ve enjoyed about working with him is he’s so honest and he always tells it how it is. You always have an idea of exactly how your horses are doing. He doesn’t sugar-coat anything, and it helps us, as managers, effectively manage our horses and sell them at the right times.” The partnership between Cox and Ten Strike Racing began with Allied Air Raid, a gelding who went on to become a Grade 2-placed stakes winner. The trainer’s barn and earnings grew exponentially from 2014 on, to the point where he had runners stabled this spring at Churchill, Indiana Grand, and Belmont Park, with two-year-olds working at Keeneland. At other points of the year, his outfit can be found at Saratoga Race Course, Oaklawn Park, Fair Grounds, and Ellis Park. “I remember when Allied Air Raid was one of the best horses in his barn, and now he wouldn’t even make the top 20,” Crow said. ISSUE 49 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



It was there, when his operation expanded so quickly, that the organizational skills acquired from Stewart came to use. “It was a little scary, I will admit,” Cox said. “Now we have branched into four different operations and it’s very smooth. It just has to do with having reliable help you could trust. I don’t think any of them are scared to tell me anything good or if something’s wrong. That’s what we need to know as trainers. “They’ve all had experience in other top barns, so I feel like I’ve got an experienced staff,” he continued. “All my assistants at all my locations have worked for other top trainers throughout the country, so they bring a lot of organization and horsemanship to the barn.” When a trainer has barns in different parts of the country, the challenge can arise of keeping horses “on-brand” to one’s standard regimen for their runners. Cox said he ensures this by visiting each location as frequently as he can and contacting assistants Jorje Abrego, Ricky Giannini, and Tessa Bisha daily to go over each horse’s performance and plans. “All horses are different, but I think our program is somewhat geared toward having horses close to the lead,” Cox said. “We do train for speed. Not every horse takes to that program, but that’s probably the one thing we try to do is get speed out of them and have them forwardly placed and see how the races unfold. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Monomoy Girl

In 2016, Crow signed the ticket on a $100,000 Tapizar filly at the Keeneland September yearling sale that would eventually end up in the hands of owners Sol Kumin’s



Monomoy Stables, LLC and Michael Dubb. She would later be named Monomoy Girl. At the time, Cox’s resume continued on its upward trend, but he found himself hitting his head against another ceiling. His earnings were growing by seven figures each year, and he was starting to saddle Graded stakes winners with more regularity, but they were all in Grade 2 or 3 company. He had gotten close, but a Grade 1 score was still eluding the trainer. Monomoy Girl did not look like the horse that would break the cycle when she first entered Cox’s barn after beginning her training with Florida-based Paul Sharp.

ABOVE: Cox’s assistant Tessa Bisha is a key member of his team


“She was very green,” Cox said. “She wasn’t forward at all. I remember working her with two other fillies at Keeneland when we first got her, and she was just very immature. She was good-sized, but she was a bit on the awkward side. Nobody sent a report saying, ‘Hey, this is a serious racehorse.’” Monomoy Girl was dawdling out of the gate, so Cox and Crow agreed to find a two-turn race on the turf for her debut, allowing her time to figure herself out after a slow start. They found one at Indiana Grand in September of the filly’s juvenile season. From near the back of the pack, Monomoy Girl fanned out six-wide and looped the field to win by 3¾ lengths. After another solid victory on the Churchill Downs turf, Monomoy Girl was put on the dirt for the Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill, and she won by a front-running 6½ lengths. She hasn’t set a foot on the turf in competition since then. The lone blemish on Monomoy Girl’s record to date came in her next start, the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill, where an erratic stretch drive cost her the win by a neck behind Road to Victory. In hindsight, that race is the only thing standing between Monomoy Girl and an undefeated record through her first eight starts. As the unquestioned leader of her division, and one of the sport’s fastest-rising stars, an unbeaten streak could have put Monomoy Girl into the stratosphere of hype once occupied by the likes of champions Zenyatta and Songbird. The filly’s connections, which now includes The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables LLC, do not seem to be concerned by missing out on that comparison. “Brad and I have had this discussion before, and we agree on this,” Crow said “It has taken the pressure off because she lost that race. I think she learned a lot that day and we learned a lot about her. She was pretty green if you watch the stretch run, and she learned some good lessons that day. If anything, I think we feel like the pressure’s off, so we don’t have to worry about the undefeated streak every time she goes in the gate.” This spring, Monomoy Girl checked two big boxes on Cox’s resume. First, she wired the field in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland to get the trainer over the Grade 1 hump and establish herself as the filly to beat in the Kentucky Oaks. Monomoy Girl then lived up to that billing, winning the Oaks by a half-length over eventual Queen’s Plate winner Wonder Gadot. Cox also saddled sixth-place finisher Sassy Sienna. Rarely do story arcs fulfil themselves in such a satisfying, complete fashion as that of Brad Cox – the kid with no background in horses who started on the Churchill Downs backstretch walking hots, then going on to lead a horse into the winner’s circle for one of the track’s, and the sport’s, biggest races. The rest of the world saw it, too. When he stepped down from the podium at the conclusion of the Oaks press conference, Cox had about 210 unanswered texts on his phone. Cox had just won the biggest race of his life with the best horse he might ever have. Many horsemen, especially ones as relatively young as Cox, would take this as an edict to celebrate without restraint and roll in to the barn late the next day. Instead, the trainer had his mind on the next morning’s set.





Caution Federal (USA) law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. Storage Conditions Store at 68°F – 77°F (20-25°C). Excursions between 59°F – 86°F (15-30°C) are permitted. Indications For treatment and prevention of recurrence of gastric ulcers in horses and foals 4 weeks of age and older. Dosage Regimen For treatment of gastric ulcers, GastroGard Paste should be administered orally once-a-day for 4 weeks at the recommended dosage of 1.8 mg omeprazole/lb body weight (4 mg/kg). For the prevention of recurrence of gastric ulcers, continue treatment for at least an additional 4 weeks by administering GastroGard Paste at the recommended daily maintenance dose of 0.9 mg/lb (2 mg/kg). Directions For Use • GastroGard Paste for horses is recommended for use in horses and foals 4 weeks of age and older. The contents of one syringe will dose a 1250 lb (568 kg) horse at the rate of 1.8 mg omeprazole/lb body weight (4 mg/kg). For treatment of gastric ulcers, each weight marking on the syringe plunger will deliver sufficient omeprazole to treat 250 lb (114 kg) body weight. For prevention of recurrence of gastric ulcers, each weight marking will deliver sufficient omeprazole to dose 500 lb (227 kg) body weight. • To deliver GastroGard Paste at the treatment dose rate of 1.8 mg omeprazole/ lb body weight (4 mg/kg), set the syringe plunger to the appropriate weight marking according to the horse’s weight in pounds. • To deliver GastroGard Paste at the dose rate of 0.9 mg/lb (2 mg/kg) to prevent recurrence of ulcers, set the syringe plunger to the weight marking corresponding to half of the horse’s weight in pounds. • To set the syringe plunger, unlock the knurled ring by rotating it 1/4 turn. Slide the knurled ring along the plunger shaft so that the side nearest the barrel is at the appropriate notch. Rotate the plunger ring 1/4 turn to lock it in place and ensure it is locked. Make sure the horse’s mouth contains no feed. Remove the cover from the tip of the syringe, and insert the syringe into the horse’s mouth at the interdental space. Depress the plunger until stopped by the knurled ring. The dose should be deposited on the back of the tongue or deep into the cheek pouch. Care should be taken to ensure that the horse consumes the complete dose. Treated animals should be observed briefly after administration to ensure that part of the dose is not lost or rejected. If any of the dose is lost, redosing is recommended. • If, after dosing, the syringe is not completely empty, it may be reused on following days until emptied. Replace the cap after each use. Warning Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. Keep this and all drugs out of the reach of children. In case of ingestion, contact a physician. Physicians may contact a poison control center for advice concerning accidental ingestion. Adverse Reactions In efficacy trials, when the drug was administered at 1.8 mg omeprazole/lb (4 mg/kg) body weight daily for 28 days and 0.9 mg omeprazole/lb (2 mg/kg) body weight daily for 30 additional days, no adverse reactions were observed. Precautions The safety of GastroGard Paste has not been determined in pregnant or lactating mares. Efficacy • Dose Confirmation: GastroGard ® (omeprazole) Paste, administered to provide omeprazole at 1.8 mg/lb (4 mg/kg) daily for 28 days, effectively healed or reduced the severity of gastric ulcers in 92% of omeprazole-treated horses. In comparison, 32% of controls exhibited healed or less severe ulcers. Horses enrolled in this study were healthy animals confirmed to have gastric ulcers by gastroscopy. Subsequent daily administration of GastroGard Paste to provide omeprazole at 0.9 mg/lb (2 mg/kg) for 30 days prevented recurrence of gastric ulcers in 84% of treated horses, whereas ulcers recurred or became more severe in horses removed from omeprazole treatment. • Clinical Field Trials: GastroGard Paste administered at 1.8 mg/lb (4 mg/kg) daily for 28 days healed or reduced the severity of gastric ulcers in 99% of omeprazole-treated horses. In comparison, 32.4% of control horses had healed ulcers or ulcers which were reduced in severity. These trials included horses of various breeds and under different management conditions, and included horses in race or show training, pleasure horses, and foals as young as one month. Horses enrolled in the efficacy trials were healthy animals confirmed to have gastric ulcers by gastroscopy. In these field trials, horses readily accepted GastroGard Paste. There were no drug related adverse reactions. In the clinical trials, GastroGard Paste was used concomitantly with other therapies, which included: anthelmintics, antibiotics, non-steroidal and steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, diuretics, tranquilizers and vaccines. • Diagnostic and Management Considerations: The following clinical signs may be associated with gastric ulceration in adult horses:inappetence or decreased appetite, recurrent colic, intermittent loose stools or chronic diarrhea, poor hair coat, poor body condition, or poor performance. Clinical signs in foals may include: bruxism (grinding of teeth), excessive salivation, colic, cranial abdominal tenderness, anorexia, diarrhea, sternal recumbency or weakness. A more accurate diagnosis of gastric ulceration in horses and foals may be made if ulcers are visualized directly by endoscopic examination of the gastric mucosa Gastric ulcers may recur in horses if therapy to prevent recurrence is not administered after the initial treatment is completed. Use GastroGard Paste at 0.9 mg omeprazole/lb body weight (2 mg/kg) for control of gastric ulcers following treatment. The safety of administration of GastroGard Paste for longer than 91 days has not been determined. Maximal acid suppression occurs after three to five days of treatment with omeprazole. Safety • GastroGard Paste was well tolerated in the following controlled efficacy and safety studies. • In field trials involving 139 horses, including foals as young as one month of age, no adverse reactions attributable to omeprazole treatment were noted. • In a placebo controlled adult horse safety study, horses received 20 mg/kg/ day omeprazole (5x the recommended dose) for 90 days. No treatment related adverse effects were observed. • In a placebo controlled tolerance study, adult horses were treated with GastroGard Paste at a dosage of 40 mg/kg/day (10x the recommended dose) for 21 days. No treatment related adverse effects were observed. • A placebo controlled foal safety study evaluated the safety of omeprazole at doses of 4, 12 or 20 mg/kg (1, 3 or 5x) once daily for 91 days. Foals ranged in age from 66 to 110 days at study initiation. Gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT) levels were significantly elevated in horses treated at exaggerated doses of 20 mg/kg (5x the recommended dose). Mean stomach to body weight ratio was higher for foals in the 3x and 5x groups than for controls; however, no abnormalities of the stomach were evident on histological examination. Reproductive Safety In a male reproductive safety study, 10 stallions received GastroGard Paste at 12 mg/kg/day (3x the recommended dose) for 70 days. No treatment related adverse effects on semen quality or breeding behavior were observed. A safety study in breeding mares has not been conducted. For More Information Please call 1-888-637-4251 Marketed by: Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA 30096-4640, U.S.A. Made in Brazil ®GastroGard is a registered trademark of Merial, Inc. ©2016 Merial, Inc. All rights reserved. Rev. 05-2011



“We had a full day,” Cox said. “Honestly, I was ready to go home and go to bed. I think we ran 10 horses that day. A lot of people asked me if I was nervous before the Oaks, and I told them I didn’t have time to be nervous, we were running so many horses. “We had workers Derby morning, because the track was only open for two hours, so we had to get back there the next morning and bang out a bunch of workers,” he continued. “It was business, but it was an amazing accomplishment.” Seeking out peace and quiet during his rare times away from the racetrack seems to be a main pastime for Cox. In the evenings, after the day’s races are through, Cox said he considers going home and having dinner with his family – with the phone on the charger in another room – to be his getaway time. That can get harder to pull off when the eyes of the racing world are focused somewhere other than Churchill Downs. “It’s tough with family, leaving in the winter,” Cox said. “I like all the tracks I race at, but the traveling probably the toughest part of all of it – getting on airplanes, driving south in the winter and driving to

Saratoga in the summer, going to sales. “I do talk on the phone a lot when I’m driving,” he continued. “That’s a good opportunity to catch up with clients, my wife, kids. I talk to my mother a lot, and my brother.” In recent years, Cox’s sons Bryson and Blake have traveled with their father to meets away from Louisville, and they have become key cogs in the family’s training operation. Brad Cox did not have a set of generational footsteps to follow into life as a horseman, but he’s forged his own trail for his sons to absorb the from-the-cradle industry education he had to learn on the fly. Of course, that education, for his sons or any aspiring horseman or horsewoman looking to learn under the trainer, comes with the expectation that the student will work like they have something to prove, the same way Cox did as a young man on the Churchill backside. As it was for him, admission is the only easy part of the process. “‘See you tomorrow at 5 a.m.,’ that’s it,” he said, cracking a smile. “That’s what I tell them. And you don’t get a day off.”

WI N N I NG d o es n’ t h a p p e n


A C C I D E N T.

A nose. That’s all you need to see your number on top. To pay off on all those early morning workouts. The late nights planning strategy. You don’t do this to place or show. So ask yourself, does your horse have the stomach to win?

Time for a gut check.

Merial is now part of Boehringer Ingelheim. ®GASTROGARD is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2018 Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQU-0445-EGUS0218

by Merial

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: CAUTION: Safety of GASTROGARD in pregnant or lactating mares has not been determined.


Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Breeder

19 Over


Eclipse Awards total


stakes winners

Broodmares of the Year

Look for Adena-bred yearlings by

Awesome Again, Curlin, Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man, Point of Entry, Street Sense, etc.

Classic Bloodlines

Classic Performance

Inquiries to Ben Walden (859) 221-8757 | Dermot Carty (859) 559-4928 | (859) 987-1798





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lash back seven decades, to Thoroughbred racing’s “golden age,” when pari-mutuel wagering alone was able to sustain Am American Ame racetracks. Huge crowds jammed grandstands, horses were heroes, and the sport had incredible popularity ty. ty. But as that “golden age” began to tarnish beginning in the 1980s, it became apparent that pari-mutuel wagering could not keep most racetracks afl float. And so, by the midflo 1990s, a new revenue stream had emerged, and that came from expanded gaming from slot machines. Racetracks in West Virginia were the fi first to reap fir the benefi fit of expanded gaming, and slowly but surely fit neighboring states in the mid-Atlantic region, like Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland, legalized slot machines for their racetracks, too. Al All of All them saw once-paltry purses infl flate like balloons -- all fla except those in New Jersey. Saddled wi with the burden of coexisting wi wit with the Atlantic wit City casinos, wit ith its importance to the state’s economy through both gaming and tourism, the horseracing industry in the Garden State has been unable to persuade the electorate to allow the installation of slot machines at racetracks. A casino industry purse subsidy to horseracing, which helped keep Monmouth Park and Meadowlands open, was terminated by Governor Chris Christie in 2011, leavi ving racing to try and survi vin vive viv while horsemen shopped elsewhere for richer races. But Christie, ironically, played a big role in what was to come for horseracing in his quest to legalize sports betting. On May 14th, after hearing an oral argument in Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Supreme Court struck down the 1992 federal law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that banned commercial sports betting in most states. It opened the door for not only the state of New Jersey to benefi fit handsomely, but the racing and breeding fit industries, too -- by tens of millions of dollars each year. For Monmouth Park, the Supreme Court decision won’t bring back the sport’s wonderful “golden age,” but the revenue wi will help keep the elegant oval, just miles from wil the sea, alive for many years to come. “ The future is rosy for us because the sports betting revenue wi will certainly generate the money that we need wil

Linda Dougherty Shutterstock, Equi-Photo, Inc

to have higher purses, extend our season, have more opportun nities for our horsemen, our breeders, and bring New Jerssey back to its glory days,” said Dennis Drazin, a lawy wyer y who is the chief executive off fffiicer i of Darby Developm ment, the company that runs Monmouth Park, i Thoroughbred owner and breeder. and an avvid

A long road to sports betting

Congresss passed PASPA almost unanimously in 1992 to preserve what lawmakers at the time felt was the integrity of the gam mes. PASPA was sponsored by then-senator Bill Bradley, a New Jersey Democrat who once played for the New York kK Kn n nicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Four states were not included under PASPA: Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. Over th he years, New Jersey tried several times to implemen nt sports betting at racetracks and casinos. In 2011, 63% of the state’s voters approved a ballot referendu um that allowed the state constitution to be changed to permit sports betting at the sites of current and form mer horseracing tracks and casinos, w wiith i Christie signing enabling legislation the followi wing i January, which ulttimately lost in court. But shortly thereafter, four proffessional sports leagues -- the National Football League, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, and the NBA, plus the National Collegiate Athletic Association -- sued Christie over the legislation, claiming that betting would “irreparably harm” sports in the Uniteed States, and successfully argued that the state was in vviio iolation of PASPA, igniting a ffiierce i battle. In 2014 4, the process repeated, w wiith i a new twi wist: i Christie repealed an old state statute that banned sports betting att casinos and racetracks, leavi ving i in place only some bro oad limits on the activi vity. i After a federal appeals court ruleed that the move failed to circumvent the law, it earned New Jersey the opportunity to argue before the Supremee Court, which led to the May 14th decision. The leggal batt tttles have cost New Jersey taxpayers more than $9 million n since 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal. merican Gaming Association (AGA), in its The Am amicus brief (a legal document ffiiled i by non-litigants w wiith i a strong interest in the subject matter) to the Supreme Court in support of New Jersey, stated that, “PASPA has thus had the perverse eff ffect f of pushing an enormous market underground by way of federal decree while ISSUE 49 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



stamping out state and local efforts to adapt their own laws pursuant to their own citizens’ wishes.” According to the AGA, sports betting is a $150 billion business in the U.S., with all but $4.5 billion coming from illegal operations. New Jersey’s appeal was backed by 19 states, including Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Other parties that filed amicus briefs in the sports betting case were Christie (representing the state of New Jersey), the N.J. Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (a defendant and appellant alongside the state), sports law experts Ryan Rodenberg and John Holden, the European Sports Security Association, and N.J. representative Frank Pallone.

The Supreme Court decision

By a 6-3 decision, Supreme Court justices found on May 14th that the prohibition of sports betting in most states was unconstitutional, and that PASPA impermissibly directed states to keep their bans on the books. The gambling industry, not surprisingly, cheered the decision. “The ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting,” said AGA president Geoff Freeman in a statement. But the NFL released a statement that reflected the opinion of professional and college leagues: “Congress has long-recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events.” It then called on lawmakers to pass a uniform national standard for sports betting.




The New Jersey Thoroughbred industry celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision, with Drazin predicting that Monmouth Park’s profits from sports betting could range from $25 million to $50 million annually, which would be split evenly with William Hill, a London-based bookmaker that partnered with Monmouth Park several years ago in anticipation of sports betting. “Today we’ve had an historic victory for this country and the state of New Jersey,” said Drazin at a hastily arranged press conference at Monmouth Park. “It’s the culmination of a long fight that the N. J. Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the state have been engaged with, battling the leagues who’ve tried to stop us from moving forward with sports betting. This has been a fight which really is tantamount to the survival of the horseracing industry in the state. The horseracing industry represents 13,000 jobs, we are responsible for the preservation of open space of 176,000 acres, and it is a $4 billion economic industry that generates significant revenue on an ongoing basis for the state.” Besides Monmouth Park, Meadowlands, and harness oval Freehold Raceway, the former Atlantic City Race Course in Mays Landing would be eligible to offer sports betting if it were to reopen, as well as the site of the former Garden State Park in Cherry Hill. The sports betting bill bars one Atlantic City casino, the gget,, from sp ports betting g because its owner,, Golden Nug Tilman Fertitta, owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets..




9 0 1 S F E D E R A L H I G H WAY I H A L L A N DA L E B E AC H 9 5 4 . 4 5 4 . 7 0 0 0 I G U L F S T R E A M PA R K .C O M




Impact on New Jersey racing

Partnership with William Hill

The William Hill Sports Bar, located in a former cafeteria at the front entrance of Monmouth Park, was built in 2013 as part of Darby Development’s deal with the company. The renovation cost more than $1 million. Joe Asher, chief executive of William Hill US, said the company invested early in New Jersey because the state was committed to going the distance to legalize sports betting. He said he believed the state’s market could grow to more than twice that of Nevada’s. “We anticipate that when this Sports Bar becomes fullblown on sports betting, people will gravitate here,” said Asher. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, the Sports Bar offered only pari-mutuel wagering on horseracing but provided numerous televisions that broadcast other sporting events. “Depending upon what’s going on, people are drawn to this room,” said Drazin. “When local teams are playing, obviously there are more people, and we have enough parking to accommodate 60,000 cars, if need be.” On May 29th, William Hill expanded its reach in New Jersey by partnering with Ocean Resort Casino, an oceanfront hotel in Atlantic City. William Hill will operate a 7,500-square foot sports book in the heart of Ocean’s gaming floor. “We have had great success working with Ocean’s senior management in Las Vegas, and we are excited to have the chance to do so in Atlantic City at what will be the best sports book in town,” said Asher.



ABOVE: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy holds up his tickets after making the first Sports Bet in New Jersey at the Monmouth Park Sports Book at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey on Thursday June 14, 2018.

A crowd of 20,736 attended Monmouth Park’s opening day on May 5th, kicking off a season full of hope for the failing Thoroughbred industry. Drazin believes sports betting throughout the state will handle $10 billion and Monmouth will handle $1 billion annually. Breaking that number down, the “win” on those wagers would be about 6%, or $60 million. After the state takes its share, it would leave about $54.6 million and half of that will go to William Hill. Monmouth would ultimately get about $27.3 million, a large chunk of which would go towards repaying money it borrowed from the state. After expenses, the remainder would go towards purses. The last two years, Monmouth distributed average daily purses of about $314,000, on a par with Laurel Park but slightly less than Parx Racing and about $110,000 more than Delaware Park. Drazin said he’d like to have an “elite meet” again, emulating the 2010 season when the Oceanport oval distributed nearly $800,000 daily over 49 days. He also said that, beginning in 2019, Darby Development intends to turn over the Standardbred track at the Meadowlands for dirt racing again and add racing dates. The last few years, Meadowlands has presented short, all-turf meets. This year, Monmouth will run 52 days and Meadowlands six days. Ultimately, Drazin would like to start the Thoroughbred season in May and run through December. “We need to get the New Jersey racing industry going again, because we’re all struggling,” said Jeanne Vuyosovich, a longtime Garden State trainer, breeder, and




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owner. At her Sunset Meadows Farm in Farmingdale, which she’s operated for 37 years, Vuyosovich would regularly foal upwards of 25 mares, but she hasn’t foaled any in the last four years. “People don’t want to breed in the state because of so few racing days,” she said. “It’s scary and disheartening, because people like me have put our lives into it. We’re all hoping and praying that sports betting will mean better purses and more racing days. Monmouth Park used to be considered an elite racetrack where horsemen would fight for stalls. Now, we’re a second-rate track and there’s plenty of empty stalls on the backstretch.” Michael Campbell, the executive director of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey, said he’s hoping sports betting revenue will help revive a moribund breeding industry. According to The Jockey Club, in the 10-year period from 2007 to 2017, the number of stallions standing in the state dropped from 29 to six, and the number of mares bred to those stallions plunged from 392 to 20. The foal crop dropped accordingly, from 401 registered New Jersey-breds in 2017, to 79 in 2016, the most recent number available. “We’re committed to working with Darby Development and the N.J. Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association to find new and creative ways to revitalize the breeding program in the Garden State,” said Campbell. “We’ve received calls from breeders who are going to move their mares to New Jersey, and a few calls from owners of established stallions who believe the New Jersey-bred program is headed in a positive direction. Do I see a revival of the New Jersey-bred program? You bet I do!” Campbell said that any revenue the New Jersey-bred program receives from sports betting will come as a result of discussions with Darby and the horsemen, and pointed out that Drazin has been very supportive of the breeding program over the years, producing such good runners as his Grade 3 stakes-winning homebred, Sunny Ridge, in addition to Isabelle de Tomaso’s millionaire Irish War Cry, winner of this year’s Grade 3 Pimlico Special on Preakness weekend.

The ribbon-cutting

On June 14th, one month after the Supreme Court’s decision, N.J. governor Phil Murphy placed the state’s first legal sports bet at Monmouth Park, in front of about




WE’RE COMMITTED TO WORKING DARBY DEVELOPMENT AND THE N.J. THOROUGHBRED HORSEMEN’S ASSOCIATION TO FIND NEW AND CREATIVE WAYS TO REVITALIZE THE BREEDING PROGRAM IN THE GARDEN STATE. 1,000 patrons on the first floor of the grandstand. “There’s an old adage that you bet with your head, not your heart,” said Murphy. “So for the past seven years, our heads and hearts were in alignment as we fought to overturn an unlawful and unfair federal law. We knew in our heads we were right, and we knew in our hearts we would win.” At 10:33 A.M., Murphy bet $20 on Germany to win the World Cup, and $20 on the N. J. Devils to win the Stanley Cup. Said Drazin, who joined Murphy in the grandstand: “Throughout this process, Governor Murphy has always had Monmouth Park’s back, and as he is a Monmouth County resident, we’re delighted that sports betting in New Jersey gets started right in his backyard. We are thankful to all those who will make this a day long remembered, and even more so, looking forward to sports fans from all over converging on Monmouth Park to partake in sports betting, which was overwhelming approved by Garden State voters nearly seven years ago.” The Division of Gaming Enforcement will have responsibility for licensing and creating of regulations, while the N. J. Racing Commission would be involved in racetrack-related approvals. With that first wager, a new era in the long history of New Jersey racing began.



Undefeated 2YO colt


Won MSW at Laurel on 5.3.18. Shown winning the Tremont Stakes at Belmont on 6.8.18


Shown winning MSW at Delaware on 6.6.18


MARGIE IS LIVID Shown winning MSW at Laurel on 6.24.18





Shown winning MSW at Woodbine on 7.1.18

Shown winning MSW at Belmont on 7.5.18

A jjob well done, a name you y can relyy on.







he first 12 months in the life of a foal are pivotal in building the foundations for overall long-term health and optimal development. It is also during this initial year that the foal will face its first major life event in being weaned from his dam, and he must cope with the nutritional challenges this may bring. There are many approaches to weaning and every breeder strives to make the right choices for the best outcome. The



reproductive status of the mare, the cost and time available, the plans for the foal, and the physical practicalities of the yard will often dictate which type of weaning strategy should be employed. They all come with their own benefits and drawbacks. Choosing the correct feeding and nutrition program is key to your success.

Early growth

The dam’s milk is nutritionally complete, providing all the energy and nutrients required for a foal. However, at around three months of age, milk yield peaks,

then naturally starts to decline, along with suckling frequency. At the same time the foal increases its intake of non-milk feedstuff such as grass, forage, and some concentrates as the his nutritional needs begin to overtake the mare’s own supply. This period coincides with rapid weight gain, with foals reaching around 30% of their adult weight by this point. Genetics, breed, seasonal temperature differences, and nutrient availability will all contribute to the growth rate of the foal. Small fluctuations in growth rates are normal and nothing to


worry about. However, continuing or significant deviations from the National Research Council (NRC) 2007 growth recommendations can predispose the foal to health issues, most notably orthopedic problems. The structures and tissues of the foal’s body do not grow at the same rate: bone matures earliest, followed by muscle and then fat. Indeed at 12 months of age the yearling will have attained 90% of his mature adult height, which emphasizes the importance of correct diet in supporting this rapid early bone growth.

Introducing creep feed

Although the foal supplements his milk intake with small quantities of the dam’s feed and forage, the introduction of a creep feed prior to weaning can help sustain normal growth rates. Highly digestible creep feed is formulated from milk proteins and micronized grain, and it’s fortified with vitamins and minerals. In addition to encouraging growth, it promotes gastrointestinal adaptation to the post-weaning diet and is also described as a significant factor in the reduction of weaning-associated stress.

The appropriate age to introduce a creep feed depends on many factors. For the foal at pasture and doing well, there should be little need for any additional nutrition until two-to-three months of age, when milk supply begins to diminish. Earlier intervention may be necessary should the foal be orphaned or fail to thrive due to inadequate milk supply or other environmental influences. To maintain an estimated weight gain of between 2-3 lb/day in a three-to-sixmonth-old foal, creep feed should be fed at a rate of approximately 1% (to a ISSUE 49 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM




maximum of 1.25%) of bodyweight/day (bw/d) up to and throughout weaning. Some of the nutritional requirements of the foal (NRC 2007) and considerations when selecting an appropriate creep feed are: • Crude fiber should be a minimum of 6% bw/d. • Crude fat should be a minimum of 3% bw/d. • Crude protein requirements are 731 g/ day at three months of age up to 980 g/day at 12 months of age, and feed should contain between 14-16% protein. Protein is crucial for muscle, tendon, and ligament development. • The protein source should have a high quality amino acid profile. Lysine, threonine, and possibly methionine are the most growth-limiting essential amino acids for foals, so supplementation is prudent. Lysine requirements are between 31 g/day at three months up to 40 g/day at 12 months of age. • Sources of quality protein are milk protein/whey, soybean, or alfalfa meal. • Attention should be afforded to an appropriate digestible energy (DE) content for age, from 13 Mcal/day at three months of age to 20.7 Mcal/day at 12 months of age. It has been established that excess DE is the predominant cause of abnormalities in bone growth in the foal. • Correct concentrations of minerals necessary for growth, in particular zinc, copper, calcium, and phosphorus. • Calcium is a major component of bone, and its availability affects bone quality. However, an excess of phosphorus in the diet will induce a calcium deficiency, and so the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio must be achieved, ideally at 2:1. • Meals should be small and frequent and use a feeding system that prevents access to the feed by the dam.

It has been suggested that introducing creep feed prior to weaning contributes to excessive nutritional intake and its




associated complications. However, a study published by Coleman (1999) found that creep feeding imparts a multitude of benefits. It was found that that creepfed foals exhibited less distress during weaning, maintained optimum weight gains and body condition both before and after weaning, and showed fewer orthopedic problems. In short, creep-fed foals were healthier and appeared to cope physically and psychologically better with stress and change. Highly digestible forage, such as good quality grass or a grass-legume hay (which isn’t too mature), should be made available.

When to wean

Non-natural weaning is typical within the sports horse industry, being more financially economical and practical from a business aspect. This accelerated weaning may be as fast as four-eight months, which is a significant departure from non-domesticated horses, where weaning is usually completed by the birth of the next foal in the subsequent year. Preventing access to the dam’s milk and separation of the foal from the dam represents not just the removal of nutritional support, but also the psychological bond between a mare and foal. Unfortunately, this process can create significant stress for the foal, which

if prolonged can lead to poor overall health, delayed growth, and increased susceptibility to injury and disease. In addition, stress can easily disrupt the balance of bacteria in the hindgut.

Gastrointestinal adaptations to a changing diet

Creep feeding and free access to forage contributes to the proper maturation of the microbial community of the hindgut. Initial colonization of the foal’s intestinal tract is catalyzed by the dam’s own microbiota at birth, which is then boosted by subsequent contact with bacteria in the general environment, often including the ingestion of the dam’s own droppings. Along with sampling of small amounts of non-milk food, these behaviors all help to shape the bacterial profile, particularly during the first 60 days of life. At four-six months, changes of the enzyme activity in the small intestines also occur, with a marked reduction in lactase (responsible for digesting milk) and a corresponding increase in maltase and sucrase (responsible for digesting starch and sugars). This correlates well with the transition from a predominately milkbased diet to a plant-based one. The role of the bacterial population of the hindgut is likely most recognized for the fermentation of complex carbohydrates,

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such as forages, to generate 60-70% of the horse’s total energy. However, it also plays a key role in optimizing immunity, preventing overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella and Clostridium difficile, and maintaining the health of the intestinal tract mucosa. The development of a balanced bacterial population is essential, but our understanding of how this complex ecosystem proliferates remains frustratingly limited. It is known, however, that the microbial population begins to stabilize around two months of age and tends to mimic the dam’s own bacterial profile. To enhance this process, some breeders may choose to supplement the foal’s diet with probiotics (“live” bacteria, usually lactobacilli or bifidobacteria) or prebiotics (indigestible sugars that feed beneficial bacteria). Despite being generally regarded as safe for adult horses (though proven benefits remain questionable) caution is advised when using probiotics in foals, following numerous reports of causing or exacerbating diarrhea and other clinical signs of gastrointestinal disruption (Weese & Rousseau, 2005). However, prebiotics, such as Mannan Oligosaccharide (MOS) derived from yeast (S. cerevisiae) cell walls, can be helpful in balancing the gut microbiota. MOS is particularly useful




in being easily available for digestion by beneficial bacteria, facilitating removal of pathogenic bacteria, and stimulating the immune system.

The effects of stress

Weaning is undeniably a stressful event for the foal and can dramatically affect the balance of the gastrointestinal tract. Reduced feed intake, increased defecation (indicating increased gut motility), and increased physical activity during this unsettled time can slow down weight gain, or even cause weight loss after weaning. The stress hormone cortisol, which is frequently found elevated during weaning, also plays a key role in disrupting the microbiota of the hindgut. Prolonged cortisol circulation can modify the diversity of the bacterial population which in turn can limit proper immune response, affect gut motility, reduce integrity of the gut lining, and inhibit effective cellular turnover and repair. This also creates an increased vulnerability to pathogenic infection. Thus, using a method that minimizes distress must be a key objective when weaning.

Maintaining digestive tract health

Early planning and preparation for weaning is central for a successful outcome. A fully balanced and correctly rationed creep feed should be introduced in time for

weaning. Quality forage and access to clean water will encourage the foal to adapt well to the post-weaning diet thereby reducing stress. Growth should be monitored regularly, with steps taken to address any deviations in weight or body condition. The challenges to gastrointestinal tract health during weaning are significant and deserve close monitoring. During a period where growth and maturation of the hindgut microbiota is prominent, the change in diet coupled with the stress of weaning necessitates a robust plan for gastrointestinal support. Introducing a digestive tract supplement to support the health and correct functioning prior to and throughout weaning can complement a carefully constructed feeding program. Supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria while suppressing pathogens can help the foal cope with the rigors of weaning and adjust to his new independence. Optimizing gut health also minimizes the risk of digestive disturbances and enables the foal to fully utilize the nutrition contained within his feed and forage. Gastrointestinal tract health underpins all other biological systems in your horse, which in turn contributes to its overall health, trainability, temperament, athletic potential, and ultimately competitive success. Apply these lessons, and your foals will thrive.


in 2018, Over Million will be paid to Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders in Oklahoma



breed . race . win


Bill Heller

Suffolk Downs

MASSACHUSETTS REVIVAL s it coincidence or destiny that Suffolk Downs’ chief operating officer Chip Tuttle became a marathon runner? Because he’s been in for the long haul, trying to keep Thoroughbred racing alive in his native state of Massachusetts for decades. While nagging injuries have put his marathon running on hold, Tuttle has been moving full-throttle forward to on the horseracing end of things by reviving the Great Barrington Fair, which has been dormant for 20 years. Live racing at Suffolk Downs, the last Thoroughbred track still operating in what was once a vibrant racing state, has been on life support since 2014 when it lost a bid as a casino site. Instead, a casino was granted to Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, 15 minutes from Suffolk Downs. It’s scheduled to open in 2019. Full racing seasons at Suffolk have been pared to a handful of weekend festivals with food trucks, live music, family activities,




a weekend jockey challenge, horsemen’s shipping charges covered, and exorbitant purses averaging more than $50,000 per race daily. This year, $10,000 claimers raced for a purse of $41,000 on June 9th and June 10th. Two of this year’s three festivals remain, on July 7-8 and August 4-5, and another may be added in the fall. The weekends were spaced out so that owners with Massachusetts-breds could compete in three different stakes during the year. But that’s it, especially if Amazon decides to locate its second headquarters at the 161acre Suffolk Downs property which Bostonbased HYM Investment Group purchased for $155 million in May, 2017. A decision is expected by Amazon, whose headquarters are in Seattle, Washington, by October. If Amazon chooses another site, Suffolk could squeeze in one more year of festivals. How long can a patient last on life support? There are only two possible conclusions: the patient recovers or the patient dies.

Here is the maddening part: millions of dollars remain for purses if they can find a place to race, thanks to the Race Horse Development Fund implemented in 2011 to give Thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen, breeders, and backstretch workers revenue from the state’s increasingly successful casinos: 80% to purses, 16% to breeders, and 4% to backstretch welfare. That fund was almost wiped out last July, but despite the push of some state legislators, it was included in the state’s 2018 budget. But “the fund doesn’t do the horsemen any good if they don’t have a place to run,” Tuttle said. A renovated track at Great Barrington, which could open as early as next year, could be the last option. The track is still there; the grandstand and the unique tunnel to the infield remain. The background of the beautiful Berkshires changing leaves during fall racing is just as awesome. And the love of racing has never wavered.


“I’m hopeful it’s going to happen,” said George Brown, the chairman of the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders Association who’s been a trainer, breeder, and owner for decades. “It’d be great for the horsemen because they’d have a place to race. Right now, they’ve got no place to train and no place to race.” Asked how horsemen have survived, Brown said, “I’ve been trying to figure that out for years.” Thoroughbred horsemen weren’t always scrambling to stay in business in New England, where tracks like Suffolk Downs in Boston, Rockingham Park in New Hampshire, and Narragansett in Rhode Island once thrived, and Green Mountain in Vermont and a fall fair circuit in Massachusetts at Great Barrington, Northampton, Marshfield, Brockton, Weymouth, and Berkshire Downs serviced less-accomplished Thoroughbreds. Suffolk Downs opened in 1935 and survived a two-year gap in operation from 1990-92. The track’s signature stakes, the Massachusetts Handicap, known simply as the Mass Cap, was captured by such stars as Seabiscuit (1937), Whirlaway (1942), Cigar (1995 and 1996), and Skip Away (1997 and 1998). Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Funny Cide finished second by a head to Offlee Wild in the 2004 Mass Cap. The Cap wasn’t run from 1990-94, nor in 2003, 2005, and 2006. Commentator won the last Mass Cap in 2008. Suffolk Downs’ most famous visitors had only two legs. And there were four visitors -- in 1966, the Beatles performed before an estimated 25,000 fans. “The Beatles played at Shea Stadium; everybody knows that. But they also played at Suffolk Downs,” New York-based trainer Gary Contessa said. “I thought it was the coolest thing. I have a ticket stub that I bought at auction framed.” Contessa shipped in for Suffolk’s first day of racing in 2018 and won a $12,500 claimer with The Two Nancy’s, ridden by New York regular Dylan Davis. “They pay our shipping,” Contessa said. “The purses are good. I’m all for it. I feel honored to race there. It’s like racing at Belmont and Saratoga.” Mike Stidham, who was the leading trainer at Suffolk’s 2017 meet with eight winners, also shipped in from his base in Fair Hill, Maryland, to win a race this year with Dylan Davis, who rode Crownstone to a victory in a $47,000 maiden turf race. “It makes all the sense in the world to go up there,” Stidham said. “There were races that fit our horses. The purses were good.

IT’S BEEN HARDER AND HARDER TO GEAR UP FOR THESE DAYS GIVEN THE UNCERTAIN STATUS OF RACING IN MASSACHUSETTS THE LAST FEW YEARS. Chip Tuttle So why not go?” More than 9,200 fans decided to go to Suffolk Downs’ first day of live racing, June 9th, which dovetailed beautifully on the simulcast of undefeated Justify’s successful Belmont Stakes victory to complete the Triple Crown. “It was a great day of racing,” Tuttle said. It’s hard to imagine that anyone enjoyed the first day of live racing at Suffolk Downs more than Patricia Moseley, the former chairwoman of the track, who has maintained the family’s homebred stable for more than 40 years, the last 20 after the death of her husband Jim, Suffolk’s former chairman. Moseley’s Dream Doctor won a $52,500 optional claimer and her Princess Dream won the $50,000 Isadorable Stakes for the second consecutive year. On the same afternoon at Belmont Park, Moseley’s La Moneda, a full sister to Dream Doctor, won the first race, a $70,000 New York-bred allowance/optional $40,000 grass claimer. Then her homebred fouryear-old filly Proctor’s Ledge finished second by three-quarters of a length to A Raving Beauty in the $700,000 Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park. This accomplished turf filly has five victories, three seconds, and one third from 13 career starts and earnings of more than $700,000. Three victories and a close second in a Grade 1 stakes by four homebreds in a single afternoon is quite an achievement, yet Moseley has felt the pain of the decline of live racing at Suffolk Downs, too. As Moseley told Ben Massam in a Thoroughbred Daily News feature last year,

“I have a farm in New York because things got so discouraging in Massachusetts. You breed a lot of Mass-breds, and suddenly there’s no racing.” On June 10th, the second day of live racing, attendance dipped to 4,800. “It’s been harder and harder to gear up for these days given the uncertain status of racing in Massachusetts the last few years,” Tuttle said. Tuttle, now 55, didn’t seem headed for a career in Thoroughbred racing growing up in Salem, a city of 44,000 16 miles north of Boston. His dad, Paul, was an electrician for the city of Salem; his mom, Mary Lou, went back to work as an accountant after raising Chip -- whose given name is Paul Jr. -- and his two younger brothers, Greg, an actor and an accountant in Los Angeles, and Mark, an attorney in Salem. “I don’t think I saw a horse until I was in high school,” Tuttle said. “I was one of the guys reading the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald sports section. I skipped over horseracing. I wanted to be a baseball writer.” He thanks his wife’s grandmother for taking him to a racetrack for the first time when he was 27. “She was visiting, and she loved the track,” Tuttle said. That visit to Rockingham Park changed his life after he got a job as a sportswriter for the Salem News. “I was assigned a story on Jim Moseley because he was in our coverage area,” Tuttle said. “He wanted to re-open Suffolk Downs. That was it. I started covering his efforts to re-open the track in 1990 and 1991.” Moseley succeeded, and live racing returned to Suffolk Downs on January 1st, 1992, before a crowd of 15,212. “They needed someone to be the PR man in 1992,” Tuttle said. He’s been there ever since, but there were gaps. He worked for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and in 1998 was hired by CTP, a full-service advertising and public relations agency whose clients now include the Breeders’ Cup, TVG, the Boston Red Sox, and Microsoft. Tuttle still works at CTP while serving simultaneously as Suffolk Downs COO. In the early ‘90s, Suffolk thrived thanks to extensive renovation and the good work of Lou Raffetto, who is now a Suffolk Downs consultant and director of racing, and his assistant Ted Nicholson. They helped bring back the Mass Cap after a fiveyear absence from 1990-94. “It was a great way to learn about racing,” Tuttle said. Later, he said, “I went back to Suffolk Downs for the push for casinos.” Casino gambling in Massachusetts was approved in 2011, and Suffolk Downs ISSUE 49 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



partnered with Caesars Entertainment Corporation in an effort to build a $1 billion resort on the site. The partnership dissolved in 2012 due to concerns from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission about Caesars’ relationship with a company allegedly connected to Russian mobsters. Regardless, Suffolk Downs, which was whittling its live racing season, bid for the casino license available to one entity in the Greater Boston Market, but in November of 2013, East Boston voters rejected the casino proposal, 4,281 to 3,253. Suffolk had lost the race it couldn’t afford to lose, and on October 4th, 2014, it held what was thought to be its last day of live racing. “We were going to shut down in 2014, and the horsemen came to us and said, ‘We have nowhere left to run,’” Tuttle said. A plan was born. “We had the Race Fund,” Tuttle said. “We got some changes in the legislation. We changed the requirement for simulcasting from 60 live days of racing to one day. That allowed us to stay open.” Briefly. There were three days of racing in 2015, eight in 2016, and eight in 2017. You can’t feed a family on three, six or, eight days of racing. Horsemen were left with three options, none particularly inviting: move your family to another venue; move your stable to another venue and hope your family could continue with a part-time husband and dad; or get out of the business. “It was a very, very difficult period,” said trainer Matthew Clark, a 61-year-old, fourth-generation horseman from England who is on the board of the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA). “You have to look at it in a wider picture. Suffolk started reducing dates, 110 to 80 to 65. That was very difficult for everybody. You have the same overhead. A lot of people got out of the business. When the track closed, there was a few people who moved on. People went to Parx and Laurel and they’ve done well. They’re all good horsemen.” Clark is one of them. “When Boston closed in 2014, my family moved to Finger Lakes,” he said. “We’ve had three good years here.” He hopes racing in Massachusetts can be saved, but he’s also realistic. “We’ve had so many disappointments the last three, four years,” he said. “Whenever these projects are put forward, there tends to be a lot of cynicism.” Trainer Jay Bernardini, 51, who is the vice-president of the New England HBPA, chose a different option, moving




I STARTED GOING TO SUFFOLK AND ROCKINGHAM IN THE ‘80S, AND I WAS THE LEADING TRAINER AT SUFFOLK IN 2014 WHEN THEY CLOSED THE LIVE MEET. Jay Bernardini, trainer his stable to Mountaineer Park in West Virginia and also racing at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Ohio, while his wife Carol, a lifelong horsewoman who works for the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) at Logan Airport, and their only child, 18-year-old Kyle, who just graduated from high school and is joining the National Guard before going to Bridgewater State, remained behind at their home in Lynn, Massachusetts, not far from Suffolk Downs. If any horseman or horsewoman suffered with Suffolk’s closing in 2014, it was Bernardini. “I started going to Suffolk and Rockingham in the ‘80s, and I was the leading trainer at Suffolk in 2014 when they closed the live meet,” he said. “It was

bittersweet. It took my whole career to win it, and it was closing. In 2014. We were optimistic we could do something. Our first idea was something like the Kentucky Horse Park with farmer’s markets. It never got out of first gear.” His family survived his absence. “Basically, I’m a transient dad,” he said. “It’s difficult, but it hasn’t separated us. A lot of trainers lost their families because of the industry. We’re a very close unit. My wife is the rock. She works full time and takes care of the house and does work for the stable when we race in the festivals at Suffolk.” He is cautiously optimistic Massachusetts racing can be born again at Great Barrington, which would still be a threehour drive from his home: “I think there’s a very good chance. There was a facility there. The infrastructure is there. It’s not ideal, but any racing in Massachusetts keeps the ball rolling. It’s better than the alternative, because the alternative is zero.” Anthony Spadea, the 75-year-old president of the New England HPBA, estimates that 55-60% of the state’s trainers have been racing elsewhere since 2014. But reviving racing at Great Barrington would do more than help horsemen. “When racing was good, people had a lot of farms in Massachusetts,” he said. “At one time, we had an excess of 100 Thoroughbred farms, and farmers were making a great living, maintaining and boarding mares and stallions. We were creating jobs and keeping open space. When racing was stopped here, those farms closed. I want to keep people working. I want them off food stamps. Keep them off welfare. We have to keep the industry going until someone comes along who says this can work with sports betting. Without racing, no one benefits.”

Seabiscuit, Red Pollard up, after winning the 1937 Massachusetts Handicap




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On May 23rd, a deal to return live racing to the Great Barrington Fair Grounds was announced, and it was a reason for hope. Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC, the company which runs Suffolk Downs’ live racing and simulcasting in a lease agreement with the owner, reached an agreement with Fairgrounds Realty LLC and the Fair Grounds Community Redevelopment Project, Inc., the entities that own the Fairgrounds, for a long-term lease of the racetrack property to commence racing as early as next year. With the support of the New England HBPA and the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Suffolk Downs would refurbish the fairgrounds property and operate a commercial race meet while continuing to operate simulcasting at Suffolk Downs. That would mean changes in the current racing legislation that expires at the end of July. This potential industry-saving venture could only happen with the cooperation of Bart Elsbach, a landscape artist and farmer, and his wife, Janet Reich, a writer and teacher. They live in Sheffield, four miles from the fairgrounds. Culminating a 15-year pursuit, they purchased the 57-acre Barrington Fairgrounds for $800,000 in January, 2013. “Honestly, we didn’t want to buy it, we wanted to protect it,” Elsbach, 56, said. “Twenty-five years ago we started working with the community, basically asking the question, ‘Would commercial development work?’ The answer was ‘No.’ We started talking to people. From that we learned two things: people had pride and a sense of connection. The property was abandoned after 1998, damaged by a tornado, heavily vandalized and overrun. We said we’ll do everything we can to build it into a wonderful community resource. We had a vision we shared: people walking their dogs, a farmers’ market. We thought it was a wonderful idea. The fair was the longest running one in the United States. The fair was an iconic memory of the past.”




ABOVE LEFT: Tuttle riding I Testify whom he had watched for many years on the track before purchasing him and giving him a second career

He believes Thoroughbred racing could be a future he and his wife have envisioned for the fairgrounds. He said, “It would protect the site from commercial development. It would have a low impact environmentally, and it’s historic, something that has a lot of meaning for people in the area and outside the area for generations. It’s a very good opportunity for open space. It fits a lot of our criteria. And it’d be good for Western Massachusetts. It’s sort of the gateway to the Berkshires.” Elsbach has gone to Tuttle to learn about horseracing. “He and his family have a personal interest in horses and racing,” Elsbach said. “The running bug is in their blood. He’s impressed me with how determined he’s been in animal welfare.” Tuttle counts an appreciation of horses as one of his perks of working at the track all these years. His wife Leslie, who also is an interior designer, is an active equestrian and prime caretaker of their off-track Thoroughbred. Their daughter Annie just graduated from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and their son William liked the school so much when he visited Annie that he enrolled there, too. Both Annie and William ride, and William plays polo. Another sibling, 24-year-old Libby, is a schoolteacher in Costa Rica. “I got an appreciation for horses as a track worker and a fan, both,” Tuttle said. “I have an appreciation for how hard they try to essentially make us happy. I got a greater appreciation once I got one. For those of us who didn’t come up through the barn area or racing side, it was a new experience, and understanding how challenging it can be to care for them with their individual temperaments. At Suffolk Downs, we work very hard to be at the forefront of horse safety and welfare.” Seven years ago, Tuttle acquired I Testify. “He’s a striking gray horse; a classic hard-

knocking claimer,” Tuttle said. “He got to Suffolk Downs in the second half of his career. I watched him for years.” I Testify was racing in low-level claimers when Tuttle offered his trainer $2,000 for the horse. The trainer agreed. “I thought the horse deserved a second career,” Tuttle said. “In July, 2011, I retired him with the idea of him being a pleasure horse or a trail runner.” He also re-named him Sebastian and rides him for pleasure. Elsbach had never been to a racetrack when the agreement with Suffolk Downs was announced. Tuttle invited him and his family to this year’s opening day festival. “My son Asher and I went to Suffolk,” Elsbach said. “Chip hosted us. My son is 13. He thought it was great. We had a wonderful time. We got down to be with the horsemen, riders, judges, track superintendent, and grooms. These are tremendous animals. There’s a huge investment in them. They are astoundingly taken care of. Chip is very committed to that. That puts my mind at ease. He’s committed to the industry and the culture of the horsemen and what it means to their families and the ancillary work that goes with it.” Elsbach remains hopeful that a revival at Great Barrington will happen. “Things seem to be falling into place,” he said. “It benefits the HPBA and everyone connected to racing. We would allow racing to continue. If this can help the industry, it has tremendous benefit throughout the state.” If it doesn’t happen, racing at Suffolk Downs will go down for good, and the last festival this year will end live Thoroughbred racing in the state. “It’s sad to see New England racing come down to this,” Raffetto said. “These festivals were supposed to get us to another location. Hopefully, that’s the case.” Tuttle said, “We’ve got a real strong relationship with New England horsemen. We’ve been through tough times together. We looked around and said, ‘How do we keep this going?’” They found a way.

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Note: The research for this article, reprinted from European Trainer, was performed over a 14-year period in Great Britain and therefore only takes into account racing over turf and allweather surfaces, but we feel that despite not including dirt statistics, the information is thought-provoking and of interest to our North American readers, especially with the increase in turf racing particularly in the U.S.


usculoskeletal injuries are an inherent risk of horseracing, and they are the primary cause of Thoroughbreds failing to train and race, or even retiring altogether. In addition to the evident equine welfare concerns, racehorse injuries also have economic consequences and impact on jockey safety. The industry remains committed to investigating causes of injury and associated risk factors, which can inform strategies aimed at minimizing their occurrence. Advancements in methods of identification, management, and prevention of musculoskeletal disease and injury in Thoroughbreds and improved training and racing

environments to enhance the safety, health, and wellbeing of racehorses have long been strategic priorities of the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB)â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s veterinary research funding program in Great Britain. In 2014, the HBLB funded a research team at the Royal Veterinary College in London to undertake a detailed study of injuries and other veterinary events occurring in flat racehorses on race day. The purpose of the project was to establish causes of fatal and non-fatal injuries occurring in British flat racing and to examine associated risk factors. The research also set out to measure heritability of common injury types and conditions, and to investigate genetic and

environmental correlations between injury and race performance. The study team had access to detailed race and performance data from all Thoroughbreds racing on the flat in Great Britain over a 14-year study period from 2000 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 2013. These were then linked to veterinary reports of injury or conditions attended to by a veterinary surgeon on race day over the same time period, provided by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). Finally, extensive pedigree data were added to enable investigation of heritability of race day injury and genetic correlations between injury types, and between injury and performance.





early age are also likely to interfere with training programs, which may result in a lack of musculoskeletal adaptation during a time when the skeleton is most responsive to exercise. Increasing firmness of going and first race start were risk factors for both distal limb fracture and epistaxis, a finding that is consistent with previous studies. Also consistent with previous research was that longer race distances increased the likelihood of fatality but reduced the risk of epistaxis. This is likely to be due to the speed of the race, with faster races inducing greater pulmonary vascular pressure and higher peak loading forces. Epistaxis was also more likely to occur on fibersand surfaces and on second generation Polytrack, as compared to first generation Polytrack.

Risk factors for fatality

Descriptive findings

The final 14-year dataset included nearly 68,000 horses making over 800,000 starts in around 77,000 flat races. The majority of races -- 67% of them -- were run on the turf, with 33% of races taking place on all-weather tracks. Just under 8,000 veterinary events were recorded over the study period, from which an incidence of nine events per 1000 starts was calculated. The most common incidents requiring veterinary attention on the racecourse were soft tissue injuries other than tendon and ligament injuries, e.g. wounds, lacerations, or muscle strains. Unspecified lameness and respiratory conditions were also common, accounting for around a fifth of veterinary reports each. Less than 10% of veterinary events had a fatal outcome, and the overall incidence of fatality was 0.8 per 1000 starts. Although bone injury was cited in only 14% of the veterinary reports overall, they accounted for the vast majority (77%) of the fatalities.

All-weather racing

Racing on all-weather tracks traditionally carries a higher risk of injury than racing on turf, which was reaffirmed in the current analyses. Therefore, the researchers also specifically investigated risk factors for



fatality, distal limb fracture, and epistaxis (nose bleeds) in all-weather racing. These analyses were restricted to the ca. 258,000 all-weather starts in the dataset and included additionally collected information from the racecourse clerks on surface types and maintenance. The fatality incidence in all-weather racing was 0.9 per 1000 starts. Distal limb fracture occurred in around 1 in 1000 starts and epistaxis in 1.6 per 1000 starts. Risk factors varied for each outcome, although some factors were similar across outcomes including the going, racing intensity, horse age, age at first start, and horse and trainer performance variables. Generally, older horses and those that had started racing at an older age were at higher risk of an adverse outcome although for fatality, older horses that had started racing as two-year-olds were at highest risk. This association may be due to accumulation of microdamage in bone, which increases with increasing age as an effect of exercise accumulation over time and can ultimately lead to failure. The finding that horses that start racing at an older age may be at increased risk of injury is not novel, and it has been suggested that those which do not race at two may be prevented from doing so due to underlying clinical problems. Injuries, or other clinical conditions, at an

In addition to the specific investigations for all-weather racing, the research also considered data from all starts available. This confirmed that the risk of fatality was around 1.5 times higher on all-weather surfaces than turf. Increased firmness of the going, increasing racing distance, increasing average horse performance, first year of racing, and wearing eye cover for the first time all increased the risk of fatality. The latter finding has not been reported previously, and it is currently unclear why wearing eye cover for the first time should increase the risk of fatality. Perhaps this could be due to a change in the horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s depth perception or ability to judge distance, detect changes in the racing surface, or avoid interference by other horses. Alternatively, it could be that trainers decide to use eye cover in an attempt to enhance performance, with poor performance resulting from subclinical pathology. Such horses would be at higher risk of (fatal) injury, in particular when wearing eye cover for the first time. Further research in this area, particularly investigating when and why eye cover is used in flat racing horses and how eye cover


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affects the vision and the performance of horses under race conditions, is warranted. Another novel finding was that horses racing in an auction race were at 1.5 times higher risk of fatality compared with horses not racing in this race type. Auction races are for two- or three-year-olds that were sold at specific public auction sales, and so this finding may reflect aspects of the quality of horses racing in this race type, which is difficult to measure. It is noteworthy that there was significant variation in horse fatality risk amongst trainers, even after accounting for other risk factors in the analysis. While most trainers with a race day fatality only had one fatality over the study period, other trainers had more. Training practices are likely to play a role and may partly explain this finding, and further research incorporating training and exercise regimens into studies of this nature is sorely needed. Unfortunately, it was not possible to collect and incorporate training data into this large-scale retrospective study, and any such studies would likely have to be prospective and smaller scale, given that the keeping of training records is not compulsory and highly variable between training yards.

Risk factors for distal limb fracture Separate analyses were also conducted to investigate risk factors for distal




limb fracture, the overall incidence of which was 0.8 per 1000 starts. As for fatality, increasing firmness of the going, increasing racing distance, and horses in their first year of racing were at a higher risk of distal limb fracture, 50% of which had a fatal outcome. Horses from trainers with high average performance but also a high proportion of runners failing to finish were more likely to sustain a fracture than horses from trainers with lower average performance. As for fatality, training regimens may also play a role in explaining this finding, and it could be that trainers who employ more intense training strategies are more likely to be successful, but also have more injuries to their horses. Other risk factors for distal limb fracture included sex, with uncastrated male horses being at highest risk, and older age. Race type was also associated with distal limb fracture, with horses in claiming and seller races being at higher risk. The reasons for this are unclear but may be related to the type and quality of horses in such races, or their being entered into these races due to previous poor performance, which may be related to underlying subclinical injury. Heritability of injuries and other raceday veterinary events Heritability is defined as the proportion of variation between individuals in

a population that is due to genetic variation. This number can range from 0 (no genetic contribution) to 1 (all differences in a characteristic or trait reflect genetic variation). In this study, the heritability of 10 outcomes was calculated: fracture, tendon and ligament injury, joint injury, fatality, cardiac conditions, epistaxis, metabolic conditions, and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;gait observationsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (unspecified lameness). Heritability estimates were adjusted for all environmental (i.e. non-genetic) risk factors identified from the previous analyses. Results showed that heritability estimates of race day veterinary events ranged from 0.06 for gait observations to 0.19 for tendon/ligament injury. These estimates are considered low to moderate, but they suggest that 19% of variation between individuals in tendon/ ligament injury outcome is due to genetic variation. Genetic contributions to tendon injury have been identified in previous studies, in both horses and man.

Correlations between injuries and between injury and performance

The purpose of this analysis was to establish whether different types of injury were correlated within sires, trainers, or jockeys. In other words, are sires whose offspring is susceptible to e.g. fracture also more likely to have tendon-injury susceptible offspring, or do trainers with more fractures in their

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horses also have more (non-fracture) joint injury events recorded? Similarly, we also wanted to find out whether there were correlations between performance measures and veterinary events. Results showed that there was a high correlation between fatality and fracture at all levels (sire, trainer, and jockey level, although less so in the latter). This is somewhat unsurprising, given that fracture was the main cause of fatality. All other veterinary-event-to-veterinary-event correlations were low. Career length, career earnings, and race value were considered as measures of racehorse performance. No significant correlations were identified between these performance measures and veterinary events.

Implications of the findings

This large-scale study has provided up-todate information on veterinary events and causes of fatality occurring in flat racing Thoroughbreds in Great Britain. Results can serve as a baseline for monitoring trends over time and evaluate the effect of potential interventions. Risk factor analyses confirmed a number of factors that had previously been identified as increasing injury or fatality risk, such as racing on all-weather surfaces, increasing race distance, and firmness of the going. However, novel risk factors were identified for each outcome evaluated, including wearing eye cover for the first time, which increased the risk of fatality; racing in seller or claiming, which increased the risk of distal limb fracture; racing on secondgeneration Polytrack, which increased the risk of epistaxis in all-weather racing; and measures of trainer performance, which were associated with distal limb fracture. There was also significant trainer variation in race day fatality risk, after accounting for



the other fatality risk factors. Although more research would be required to establish the reasons for some of these findings, exploring potential interventions targeted at “higher risk” groups may be warranted. Further work is ongoing to establish whether we can better predict adverse outcomes at the individual level, which could lead to more specific interventions in horses identified to be at particular risk in a specific race. This study has also, for the first time, established the heritability of various outcomes after adjusting for known environmental risk factors. It is also the first time that correlations between different injury types, and between injury and performance, have been quantified. Given that there were no strong correlations between non-fatal injury events,

interventions aimed at reducing one type of injury should not adversely affect occurrence of other injury types. Equally, interventions aimed at reducing injury occurrence should not adversely affect performance, given that the correlation between injury and performance was also low.


The authors are grateful to the HBLB for funding this important work and for their ongoing commitment to support veterinary research aimed at improving our understanding of issues affecting racehorse health and welfare. We are also indebted to our collaborators at the British Horseracing Authority and Weatherbys for provision of injury, performance, and pedigree data. Our co-worker Ruby Chang is acknowledged for her invaluable contributions to the ‘Nature versus Nurture’ project.







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Zoe Metz, Gary Tasich


al Brinkerhoff is one of the faceless trainers who drives the game. Light years from being in a league with the Bafferts, Browns and Pletchers, pound for pound, the 62-year-old Brinkerhoff nonetheless has one of the most industrious mom and pop operations in the land, flying beneath the radar while gaining respect from peers and punters alike. An angular version of John Wayne, cowboy hat and all, but without the girth and swagger, Val Brinkerhoff is a handson horseman from dawn till dusk. He is a former jockey who gallops his own horses, be they at Santa Anita, Del Mar, Turf Paradise in Arizona or his training center in St. George, Utah, where he breaks babies and legs up older horses that have been turned out. In short, Val Brinkerhoff is a man’s man, pilgrim. It all began when he was 14 in a dot on the map called Fillmore, Utah, current population circa 2,500. Named for the 13th President of the United States, Millard Fillmore, it was the capital of Utah from 1851 to 1856. The original Utah Territorial Statehouse building still stands in the central part of the state, 148 miles south of Salt Lake City and 162 miles north of St. George. But enough of history. “My dad trained about 30 horses when we lived in Fillmore,” said Brinkerhoff, a third-generation horseman. “I would ride a pony up and down a dirt road outside our house every day, and that’s how I learned to gallop horses. “There was no veterinarian in Fillmore, so you had to learn how to be a vet on your own, on top of everything else, because it was 300 miles round trip to a vet. So, if something was wrong, you had to figure it out for yourself without having to run to Salt Lake and back every five minutes. “I was 5’ 10’’ and weighed 118 pounds and rode at the smaller venues, mainly in


Utah but also Montana, where I was leading rider, and Wyoming and California (Fairplex Park in Pomona). I’ll never forget the day my dad took me to Pomona. I walked in the jocks’ room and immediately became aware of how tall I was. “While in California, Bill Shoemaker gave me one of his whips, which I cherished. I rode many winners with it. Towards the end of my father’s life, my son, Ryan, asked him if he had any regrets. He said he had one.” His father said, “I should have taken Val to the big tracks in California and given him the chance to make it there. He had the desire and the talent.” Brinkerhoff also rode in Utah at outposts with names that sound contrived, like Beaver, Richfield, Marysvale, Kanab, Parowan, Ferron, Payson, and Panguitch. “But ultimately,” he said, “I couldn’t make the weight. I was already skinny and at 5-10 and 118 pounds, didn’t have an ounce to lose. “I rode in the bushes like that for 35 years, because I couldn’t go on a bigger circuit at that weight. Eventually, I quit horseracing all together for about three years after I got hit by a Greyhound bus and broke my back. “I wound up buying land in the south end of Fillmore and built a Chevron gas station that had an automotive garage and repair shop. I also bought an Arby’s Restaurant and later a hotel. “This was where our kids learned to work and develop customer service skills they put to good use today. My back finally got better, and it was during that time, 13 years ago, my two little brothers died from Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The medical term is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neurological disease that controls voluntary muscle movement. It is informally called Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the great New York Yankee first baseman who died of the illness at age 37 on June 2, 1941. ISSUE 49 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



Gehrig’s indelible and transcendent farewell speech reverberated through the three tiers of old Yankee Stadium before 61,808 fans on Appreciation Day nearly eight decades ago, on July 4, 1939. It included the most memorable parting words in the history of any sport: “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Brinkerhoff ’s family, too, soldiered on. “Brad was 45 and Todd was 42 when they died, and it killed my mom,” he said. “She had a heart attack because she wasn’t able to help her boys, got all stressed out and couldn’t handle it. I lost my mom and two brothers within a year. “My dad was still there and we were really a close family. All of us were involved in racing horses our whole lives and that helped pull us through. “My brothers had horses but their wives didn’t want them, so I bought them and started working with my dad again around 2005 after my back had healed. Then I got pissed off at Chevron Oil because they were screwing me on the price of gas all the time, so I sold my place and went back to racing horses. I took out my trainer’s license in Phoenix in 2006, and we raced in Northern California and Pomona a lot.” Fast forward to summer, 2018. Val and his wife, Kelly, both Mormons who live by the creed of truth, justice, and the American way, celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary on July 14, holding fort in Southern California, where, like horsemen of similar ilk, they maintain a vice-like grip on a vestige of days gone by, vic vi when racing gods smiled on the game.



“I can’t believe she put up with me all these years,” Val said of Kelly, 59, an integral part of their operation. “She saved me from getting my butt kicked lots of times.” “She handles all the books, keeps the paperwork organized, pays the bills, orders supplies and medicines, and helps in the shedrow when needed. I do all the mechanical stuff.” Kelly also pampers the horses with occasional apples and peppermints, but more importantly, with love. “They are my babies, especially when my grandkids aren’t around,” she said. “We have six grandkids and four children.” To endure more than four decades, their marriage has overcome bumps in the road, but overall it is a devoted partnership Val and Kelly welcome, warts and all. “We enjoy it,” she said, “although it’s a lot of hours and hard on him at 62, so anything I can do to help, I do. Like I tell my kids, who are all marrying age, it’s a lot of hills and valleys, ups and downs, and sometimes you think it can’t get better than what it is, but it does. It gets better. “And sometimes you’re in the pits of despair, but it’s the good things that bind you together and keep you together.” The Brinkerhoffs’ children are Ryan, 39; Amy, 36; Fallyn, 33, a dental hygienist; and the “baby,” Colt, 30. “Fallyn’s husband, Kale, is our son-in-law,” Kelly said. “He helps break the babies in St. George, and Fallyn’s probably the one who’s been most interested in horses, although they all have a connection and theyy all love them. “My youngest son, Colt, is six feet two and could never be a jockey, but he’s a professional ATV TV (all-terrain vehicle) rider, and a champion in desert racing. His wi wife, Rachel, is a recent college wif graduate and a speech therapist. “Ryan, the father of tw two, is an inventor two who own wns tw wns two businesses. Am two Amy has Amy two children and runs one of my son’s two tw businesses.”

Both Val and Kelly are in full accord when they say, “We are blessed with a wonderful family.” Turns out, however, even with such a unique name, Val Brinkerhoff isn’t the only Val Brinkerhoff on the planet. There’s another in the very same state where trainer Brinkerhoff was born. “He’s a professor at Brigham Young University (in Provo) who teaches photography,” Brinkerhoff said of his namesake. “I’m on Facebook and he has a website, and I’ve had a lot of people call me thinking I was him, and when I owned my gas station in Fillmore, he actually came in and met me one time, but I don’t believe we’re related.” “I’ve had people call me up wanting to know about photography, and I tell them, ‘I can’t help you.’” Brinkerhoff isn’t in the high-rent district when it comes to day rates for trainers, the amount of money paid per day per horse. “I don’t get as much as those big shots,” he said. “It varies, depending on who you are. I get $85 a day, but I think I’m going to raise the price. “I don’t have hotwalkers. I use walking machines in California and at my training center. I’ve never had any owners complain, as long as the horses go around okay. Even saving those costs, it still runs about



$3,000 a month to maintain a horse, and that’s without unforeseen expenses.” Of the 12 horses in Southern California and the 15 in St. George, some are owned in partnership with Bobby Wayne Grayson, a trainer in his own right. “I also have a few horses I took as compensation from owners who couldn’t pay their bill. “I have eight employees at my two locations. It costs me $10,000 a month in Utah and $20,000 a month in California, so that’s $30,000 a month in overhead, including purchase of saddles and bridles and other equipment, cost of trailers or trucks that get broken, you name it.” Brinkerhoff manages to stay in the black thanks in no small measure to his facility in St. George, where he has 20 horses for other clients, but when winter comes, will have 30 or more. “I get $40 a day for each one, so we get by,” Brinkerhoff said in his ingratiating countrified twang. “We’re making the grade. We’ve got 40 stalls, a six-horse walker, and a six-furlong track. It’s two hours from Las Vegas and six from Santa Anita, Del Mar, and Turf Paradise. It’s really a nice facility. “Unlike other parts of Utah, St. George doesn’t get as much bad weather, so we get there every couple of weeks and check on the babies and their progress. Our crew develops them from rookies into racehorses, and since Kelly and I are registered clockers, when we time horses, the works are official.

“I’ve got a little of my own money, too, and a couple of my own horses that I’ve done all right with.” One was a son of Freespool bought for $1,300 at Barretts for a client who later decided he didn’t want the horse. When Val and his son-in-law, Kale, began to break and train him, they saw something special. He moved like he wasn’t touching the ground. He was named Raetodandty after Val’s first three grandchildren, Reagan, Tod, and Tyler. Val sent him to trainer Bobby Troeger in California where he won the 2011 Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar, defeating 2010 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Kinsale King. Long range plans called for Raetodandty to run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, but during a workout, he chipped a sesamoid. Following a lengthy recovery, Brinkerhoff brought him back to win a race at Pomona, with his own name on the program as trainer. Now retired in Tucson, Raetodandty earned nearly $250,000, not bad for a skinny yearling bought for $1,300. Another success story was Our Pure Creation, a filly Brinkerhoff developed into a stakes winner after healing a tendon injury through a patient rehab program that included swimming at Turf Paradise. Owned and bred in California by Joe Parker and sent off at 6-1, Our Pure Creation won the $100,000 California Distaff at Santa Anita in 2015, giving

Brinkerhoff his first stakes win with his very first starter at the storied track. She is now a broodmare in Kentucky. Horses, as most trainers will tell you, have their unique traits, and Brinkerhoff, hands on as he is, has “had lots of unusual situations. “When I was riding, my dad had a filly that would flip over backwards in the gate all the time. She was vicious, but really, really fast going around the bullrings, where she set two track records in Montana. One time she flipped in the gate and knocked out all my teeth, tore the shirt off my back, and I wound up in the hospital. “They got another jockey, he rode her and set a track record. We bought her out of a sale that used to be held at Hollywood Park. She was tough and fast but horrible in the gate. “I’ve had horses that won’t guide, don’t want to go around the track, blow the turns, stuff like that, but I’ve been able to work it out of them in my training center. We’ve remedied a lot of problem horses. “If horses were all the same, they’d be easy, but they’re not.” There was a time when former jockeys Kenny Black and Cowboy Jack Kaenel worked at Brinkerhoff ’s training center. “They lived with my parents (Dan and Luree), helped us gallop horses, and rode in the bushes,” Brinkerhoff said. Today, there is no rest for the weary, not only to flourish and prosper, but ISSUE 49 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



to break even. Passion and dedication drive the very fiber of their being as the Brinkerhoffs toil towards a goal that may never be realized. But toil they do. Picture “The Grapes of Wrath.” “I get to the track at 4:30 in the morning,” Brinkerhoff said. “At Santa Anita, we start galloping or jogging horses on the training track until the main track opens (at 6:30), then gallop and work there. “Later the horses have their legs checked and are cleaned and bandaged by the grooms . . . but we’re not done until 10 o’clock. I’ve got four grooms and one guy who helps me gallop the horses.” If Brinkerhoff runs a horse in the afternoon, that extends the day. To further defray expenses, when racing at Santa Anita, the Brinkerhoffs live in a $450-a-month trailer park in Covina, some 10 miles from the track, moving the trailer to Del Mar during racing at the seaside oval. “It’s a real challenge to make the nut every month,” Brinkerhoff said. “If you get one person who doesn’t pay his bill, it really screws you over when you’re a small operation and have to count every penny every month.



“Here I am galloping my own horses to save money, although I like to do it anyway, because I don’t like to stand around and bulls---. That drives me crazy. I’d rather be on the horses to see if there’s something wrong with them or if they’re ready to run. “When I’m galloping a horse, if I sense something’s amiss I can stop right away before anything else goes wrong and not have to wait until someone brings the horse back to the barn.” As to racing’s future, Brinkerhoff feels it’s in better shape nationally than in California. “Races seem to fill better elsewhere,” he said. “California appears to be a tougher circuit to me, although I believe it will survive.

“I think the little guy could use more help with the racing conditions for his horses. It seems every time you enter, Baffert has a $700,000 horse in a race and you have a $10,000 horse trying to outrun him. It’s hard to get stock to beat him.” Baffert’s not in the Hall of Fame for nothing. But despite racing’s intrinsic challenges, it’s the anticipation of light shining at the end of the tunnel that motivates Brinkerhoff to move ever onward. He adheres to a Herculean physical work ethic coupled with the spiritual philosophy of Gandhi. “Racing is a full-time job,” Brinkerhoff said. “It’s something we want to do, and we do it.”

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Of bugs and horses

A couple of weeks ago, I was on an emergency call to a training stable. Half of the horses had started coughing overnight, some had fever, and, as you’d expect when bad karma decides to make a point, the two stars of the premises, due to face their greatest challenge to date the following week, were dull and depressed. A thick and yellow discharge was oozing from their noses. It was not long before the barn became the typical scene of a bad strangles nightmare. The bacteria involved in strangles outbreaks are Streptococcus equi equi, highly aggressive and contagious germs that spread fast and cause disruption in days of training and mayhem in tight racing schedules. So what inevitably comes to mind when you hear the words “germs” or “bacteria”? Certainly no nice and friendly terms. As veterinarians, we have been taught that microorganisms are responsible for an endless list of gruesome diseases and conditions: abscesses, pneumonia, septicemia ... you name it. All of these need to be identified and eradicated. Thank heavens we still have an arsenal of antibiotics to get rid of the damn bugs. But recent research in human “microbiome” is making us think twice, especially as we aim to hit hard and large with antibiotics.

Never alone

Your healthy and thriving self, and likewise your horse, hosts millions and trillions of bacteria. The “microbiota” is that incredibly large collection of microorganisms that have elected you and your horse as their permanent home. The microbiota is constituted not only by an extremely diverse variety of resident bacteria, but also by viruses, fungi, and yeasts that multiply in every part of your external and internal anatomy. The discovery of this prosperous microbial community has triggered fascinating new research. It has unveiled the unsuspected links that exist between health, disease, and the microbiota. In simple words, these microorganisms are vital to your strength and healthiness. The microbes that compose the microbiota outnumber our own cells by 10 to one to the extent that the genetic information (or “genome”) you carry is over 99% microbial! And that is what researchers call the “microbiome” or “biome”: the collection of genetic information carried by your microbiota. Fortunately, the very large majority of bacteria is either beneficial or harmless, with only a very tiny fringe represented by potentially pathogenic strains. These microorganisms have evolved with us over thousands of years and the stability of this symbiotic ecosystem has important implications on our health status.




A gut feeling for biome

Research on the biome started with the study of the digestive ecosystem of mice. Researchers from Washington University showed that when they transplanted feces of obese mice in the gut of lean mice, these became obese, and vice versa. In other words, the composition of the gut biome could be said to influence morbid weight gain. Similar studies recently conducted in humans in the Netherlands came to the same conclusions. We do not yet have all the keys to understanding the underlying processes, but we definitely know that gut microbes influence, amongst many other things, our metabolism, which is to say our capacity to process energy. This opened up tremendous possibilities to improving fitness and treating diseases. The research on the biome has since grown at an exponential rate, covering much larger areas. It was further discovered that problems in the gut biome leading to the proliferation of the wrong microorganisms were responsible for a very wide range of disorders or even chronic conditions that were far from the gut, such as arthritis, depression, and asthma. The biome also seems to be critical in regulating our immune system to raise the alarm when enemies are identified and to modulate its response. The dramatic rise in autoimmune diseases could be a consequence of dietary changes that have disrupted our healthy microbiota.

The lung biome

Each organ, from the gut to the skin, hosts a specific biome; even the respiratory tract has its own “biomic” population. It was initially believed that healthy lungs were sterile, as samples taken from the lower airways




did not yield any bacterial or fungal colony growth and cultures would only come back positive in cases of infection, such as pneumonia. With the development of culture-independent techniques, which have become cheaper and more readily available, research is now showing that the lower respiratory tract entertains a rich microbial community: the lung biome. It is increasingly clear that the biome present in a healthy lung can be very different from that of diseased lungs. It would be logical of course in cases of infection, but it also seems to appear in more chronic ailments such as cystic fibrosis and asthma. The healthy biome can be significantly disrupted by smoking, pollution, or the use/abuse of antibiotics. In humans, the lungs of a fetus are allegedly sterile, meaning free from any microbe. Immediately after birth, the lung microbiota is seeded through contact with the mother’s microbes. The microbes rapidly colonize all mucosal surfaces of the infant. The colonization is first identical across the different body sites and organs, but within days, the microbiota quickly differentiates into site-specific communities. In the lungs, the quality of the environment plays a pivotal role in selecting the biome. Similar processes would occur in other mammalian species, such as horses.

Who’s who

To characterize the lung biome, it is necessary to sample the airways. The biome is usually harvested and studied from BAL samples (broncho-alveolar lavage). Because of the variety and complexity of the microorganisms present in the airways, these are grouped into categories which scientists call phylae. They carry strange names such as

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Firmicutes, Bacteroides, or Proteobacteria, with the most common genera being Streptococcus and Pseudomonas. The lung biome, which is believed to be stable (or at least temporarily) in healthy subjects, is now being considered as an evolving microbial population, which may, in given circumstances, evolve to cause disease. Initially, the research studies on the respiratory microbiome focused on bacteria and the impact they could have on lung health. But it has become apparent that the bacteria represents only part of the entire biome and that other non-bacterial organisms, including viruses and fungi, are as likely to play a role in the regulation of health and disease. Fungi have always been tricky to culture and identify: they are modest and bashful little microbes and will only grow when asked nicely, given the right conditions. Thanks to advances in nextgeneration sequencing, a number of fungi which had not been previously detected by culture methods have been


identified in the lungs. As a result, the fungal lung biome has been under keener scrutiny. There is more and more evidence that it has a significant clinical effect in cases of chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. To thicken the plot further, the fungal and bacterial biomes interact and team up and develop the capacity to fiddle with their host’s immune response, causing inflammation and disrupting lung function, thus essentially actively participating to the progress of disease. There is a highly complex network at stake: despite geographical distance it now seems that the lung biome and the gut biome are in constant communication and interaction: like the political leaders of two superpowers, they sometimes ally and sometimes declare war (to each other or to their host).

Asthma and the lung biome

Asthma is one of the most studied diseases in human medicine. It is a particularly unpleasant condition in which the airways swell, tighten, and produce extra mucus, making the simple act of breathing difficult and sometimes anxious. Horses also suffer from asthma: inflammatory airway disease, heaves, and “COPD” have now been recognized as being various forms of equine asthma. Any form of asthma, even milder forms, can markedly reduce a horse’s performance and, in more acute forms, be debilitating. Here is the respiratory system overreacting for you, often in the face of a dusty and contaminated environment. Even if the symptoms of asthma can be controlled, the underlying condition itself can never be definitively cured. Studies on the human lung biome have reported major differences in the microbiota of asthmatic patients in





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comparison to healthy controls. There appears to be a greater bacterial diversity and burden in asthmatics, with the severity of the disease and degree of airway “hyperreactivity” correlating to the amount and diversity of certain biome warlords. Another study carried out on infants demonstrated that those with lungs contaminated by harmful bacteria after birth were at an increased risk of developing asthma compared with infants who were not born with the harmful bacteria in their lungs. The battle between good and evil takes place at the microscopic level, deep within the remotest dead-end airways. The science of lung biome in the equine species is still in its baby years. A Canadian group of researchers has very recently been looking at the effect of environmental conditions on the biome of the entire equine airways, from nose to lungs, and has compared the biome of healthy horses with that of asthmatic subjects. The study reveals that horses kept at pasture had very different biomes in comparison to horses kept indoors. Besides, the lung biome of the asthmatics differed considerably to that of horses free from asthma when they were housed together indoors. However when all horses were out at pasture, the differences were far less perceptible. The first steps have been taken to describe what happens when the disease occurs in horses. We now have to make sense of the meaning of these findings, how we can keep the biome in good shape and avoid going down the slippery slope of disease.

Keeping the biome happy

One thing that scientists working in this field agree upon is that it is paramount to nurture a healthy biome. Dysbiosis -- the disruption of the biome -- is a cause of disease. For horses and their caretakers, keeping a




healthy lung biome means keeping an overall healthy environment: the higher the burden in dust, particles, noxious gases, or contaminants, the higher the chance of messing up the biome. Other stressful factors to the biome may be dehydration, transportation, and mingling with other horses, who are carrying different and potentially problematic germs. Anything that affects the balance of the airway’s microbial ecosystem will inevitably open the door to infection, inflammation, or immune disorders. Truly potent and deadly enemies of the biome are antibiotics. Giving antibiotics kills bacteria, both good and bad, without distinction. The un-circumspect administration of antibiotics or antiseptic solutions can upset a healthy microbiome for years and predispose the horse to developing chronic infections or even possibly asthma, as it has been demonstrated in humans. Let’s hope that continued research in the field of lung biome will provide us with new insights both into our understanding of the mechanisms causing respiratory diseases as well as in the role the lung biome plays in respiratory health. This research could even pave the way to new treatment approaches! If we look at treatment options for gut “dysbiosis” in patients that harbor antibiotic-resistant harmful bacteria in their intestines, we now have “fecal transplants.” Radical but highly effective, fecal transplants consist of installing a healthy person’s microbiota into a sick person’s gut. I’ll let you imagine how it can be done. As disgusting as it may seem, it has been a lifesaver for patients in highly critical conditions. That’s the power of a healthy biome. Perhaps there will soon be new ways of treating and controlling lung diseases in our horses through modulating their lung biome.

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NOAH ABRAMSON Linda Dougherty


n an era during which the Sport of Kings is often criticized for its aging fan base and lack of appeal to younger people, there is a youthful presence in Maryland racing who has made himself known as a trainer in a very short

period of time. Noah Abramson, a 26-year-old native of Woodbine, Maryland, turned heads when he won with the first two horses he saddled, both at Laurel Park in June of 2017. And who knows, had it not been for an unfortunate starting gate incident, he might have won with his first three. Abramson was not new to horses when he decided to take the trainer’s test, but he was new to the Thoroughbred world. Thanks to hard work and an inquisitive nature, he was able to glean information from seasoned horsemen, gain the confidence of an owner/ breeder, and start down the path to early success in a game that is not often kind to newcomers. With the help and support of his family, Abramson has embarked on a journey that he realizes will be filled with as much disappointment as glory.

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Take a stroll down Abramson’s shedrow on the Pimlico backstretch and you’ll see 15 or so Thoroughbreds in thickly bedded stalls behind custom webbings, emblazoned with the stable’s logo. It is not a slapdash operation but one that appears well-tended and professional, one that you might think is run by a veteran conditioner. Yet at its helm is a young man who has taken what he’s learned from a very successful equestrian career, much in the mold of equestrians-turned-trainers Rodney Jenkins and Michael Matz, and parlayed it into a burgeoning Thoroughbred business. As a young boy, Abramson grew up with many pets, but there was one animal he really wanted -- a horse. “I said to my parents when I was about seven, ‘I want to own a horse,’ and they said, ‘Well, you’ll have to learn to ride if you want one,’” recalled Abramson. “So I said I’d give it a try. I went for a lesson and the instructor had an apple tree in her arena. I’m little, and the horse is big, and the horse starts trotting away under the apple tree, and then the branch cut me straight out of the saddle. I fell off, scared to death, and I quit.” He didn’t start riding again until four years later, this time with much better results. He had a knack for riding, a natural affinity with horses, and pushed himself to see what he could become in the equestrian world. He gave up hanging out with friends to be in a barn every day, sometimes walking there as soon as school dismissed. By the time he was 16, he was competing in shows all across the United States. “I got my first horse and then my parents (Alan and Holly Abramson) bought me another, a big jumper that they imported from Germany, so I had two horses,” said Abramson, whose instructor for many years was Kim Rachuba Williams, also from Woodbine. “I took them to the McClay finals in New York, and to Devon and Kentucky, going over 4-foot-6 fences.”




TOP RIGHT: Gilberto R. Delgado is an instrumental part of Noah’s team, riding work in the morning and riding races in the afternoon



It was through his uncle, Darrel Davidson, that Abramson was introduced to Thoroughbred racing. “I didn’t know a thing about it, but he would take me around with him to Delaware Park, Laurel, Pimlico, and Colonial Downs,” said Abramson. “It was exciting. I was still competing in the show world, but in the morning I’d go to the racetrack and galloped for some trainers. I met people because of my uncle, including Michael Trombetta, Anthony Aguirre, and J.B. Secor. So I was doing show jumping, going to school, and learning at the racetrack. I missed a lot of school, because Thursday through Sunday I was always away show jumping. But my parents were very supportive; they enjoyed the horse environment.” At 18, Abramson reached a fork in the road. He was at a level where he could go professional and start teaching young hunter/jumper riders, so he drove to nearby farms and gave lessons, as well as working with problem horses. But he was also still galloping at the racetrack, which interested him greatly.


“Did I want to stay in the show world and run a barn and give lessons, or did I want to make the transition to racehorses fully?” he said. “There was more money to be made in the racing industry. With show horses, you’re working for a ribbon. At the racetrack, you’re competing for a lot of money. At the same time, there are some jumper classes where there’s good prize money. It’s just less and less likely, the longer you’re competing, that you’re going to hit that level. “But money wasn’t what made me switch,” he said. “I just loved racing a whole lot more.” Abramson’s big break came when he met Carol Ann Kaye, whose Kaygar Farm is located in Woodbine. “My farm isn’t very far from Noah’s home, and he approached me and wanted to lease it to teach riding,” said Kaye, a popular and successful owner and breeder in Maryland. “I told him I didn’t think he could make much money doing that, and suggested instead he started breaking my yearlings. He helped me instead of teaching. And I liked his experience with basic dressage; he was a very good rider and he was very kind to the horses, and I liked that.” Kaye said about a year later, some of the yearlings Abramson had broken were close enough to go to the racetrack. “He said he wanted to give training a try, but I said I wanted to talk to my partners first,” she said. “Eventually they agreed, and I sent him his first horses.” Trainer Anthony Aguirre met Abramson when Abramson was galloping horses at Laurel Park, and the two began talking. “One day, out of the blue, Noah called me up and asked if I could help him, he said needed a stall,” said Aguirre. “I said, ‘For you, I have one.’ Then his one horse turned into two, then three,” said Aguirre. “He had a lot to learn, because there are some differences between the way things are done in the show world versus the racetrack. We put polo bandages and vet wrap on differently, we use tongue ties, etc. I told him I’d help the best I could, and he picked things up very quickly. He asked me a million questions. He had the foundation with horses from showing, and the things he needed to learn I could try and help him with.” Aguirre said that he found Abramson to be a very likable young man. “He speaks very well when he meets people,” said Aguirre. “The next thing you know, he picked up a horse here and there, and now he’s invested in himself.” “Nobody had high expectations for me because I’d never trained Thoroughbreds before,” said Abramson. “Next thing you know, a few months later, the horses

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Carol Kaye sent me are ready to run. Anthony (Aguirre) was teaching me, and just as the horses were ready to make their first starts, I was ready to take my trainer’s test and it just worked out, I got my license.” On June 16, 2017, Abramson entered his first horse, Kaye’s homebred Hunca Rock, in the last race at Laurel Park. With friends and family in attendance, the young trainer watched with dismay as the 3-year-old gelding flipped in the gate and had to be scratched. “I was nervous; he was kind of a goofy horse,” said Abramson. “I had a lot of people there, and when he was scratched I was so disappointed. I was discouraged, and worried my owner would think she made a bad decision having me as the trainer.” As luck would have it, Abramson had a chance to redeem himself two days later when he sent out first-time starter Temple Sky, co-owned by Kaye and Harbortown Stable and bred by Kaye, to a nearly three-length victory in a 5½ furlong maiden claiming event. “Now I’m even more nervous than ever,” recalled Abramson about his feelings before the race. “I thought, ‘Please, just let her (Temple Sky) break.’ And hopefully she’s not 20 lengths behind the field, I’d really look bad. So she breaks great, lays in the perfect spot, and she wins like it was nothing. It was an awesome day.” Another awesome day followed when Abramson sent out Davy’s Fancy, a Kaye homebred that was co-owned by Kaye and partners, to win a maiden claiming test on



turf June 23. Dismissed at 29-1, the gelded son of Line of David was put up via the disqualification of Piercinator, who bore in on several rivals at the start. “I saw what can happen at the worst and what can happen at the best, all in a few days,” said Abramson. “I went from the lowest point, to the highest point, and it was extremely exciting.” “In my opinion,” said Aguirre, “if Hunca Rock hadn’t flipped in the gate, Noah would have won with his first three starters.” For a young trainer, success certainly breeds success. After his first two starters won, Abramson’s phone started ringing.

Abramson concluded 2017 with an impressive record: 17 starters, five winners (29%) and six in-the-money finishes (65%). New horses started joining Abramson’s stable, including those from David and Susan Wantz’s Copperville Farm and Steve Knight’s Harbortown Stable, filling 15 stalls. With the expansion came two grooms, hotwalkers, and the help of jockey Gilberto R. Delgado, who exercises horses in the morning and rides in the afternoon. “Noah values my opinion and we work together well as a team,” said Delgado. “We can talk and figure out things about different horses. Noah has natural horse sense -- he understands horses. We’ve been getting lucky together.” “When I started getting more horses, I had to start buying more feed, bedding, and other expenses, and didn’t quite have the cash flow, so my parents helped with that,”


Fall Festival of Racing said Abramson. “My father and a friend of his now handle the bills for me, and my father also handles the phone calls. He’s very excited about my barn growing, and he’s putting it out there so I can get new business and keep growing.” “We’ve always been fully supportive of Noah,” said Alan Abramson, a semi-retired businessman. “Since he was a child, he has talent for whatever he takes on. He’s quiet and soft-spoken, but is well-spoken. He’s also honest and direct. He has an entrepreneurial spirit, and gotten to this point all on his own.” Alan Abramson said he fields his son’s phone calls and manages his social media so that Noah can concentrate on his horses. “His dad is a big voice behind the scenes, and he’s done a lot to help him,” said Aguirre. Perhaps the high point of Abramson’s young career, aside from his first-ever winner, came on Preakness Day this year, May 16th, in front of a very large crowd. In the second race, a $52,000 allowance race at 1 1/16 miles, Harbortown Stable’s four-year-old filly Conjecture went off as the even-money favorite in a field reduced to four starters because of the muddy track, and she scampered home with a resounding six-length victory, Delgado in the irons. The Maryland-bred earned a nifty payday of $38,532. “It felt amazing, and it doesn’t get too much better than to have a winner on Preakness Day,” said Abramson “I was nervous, I was really nervous. But I knew Conjecture was training great and she loves the slop.” Through the end of June, 2018, Abramson’s career statistics, with a winning rate of 20%, reflect his hard work and his desire to keep learning, to continue honing his craft. “Every day I get on four to five horses myself, rotating them so I can feel how they all are,” he said. “I watch them all train. My feeding and grooming regimens have transferred over from the show world to the race world. “I’ve always set goals for myself,” he continued. “I did it when I was show jumping, and now, within the next 10 years, I’d like to have the kind of horses that could run in the Triple Crown races. You have to think outside the box, just keep plugging away at it, that’s what I tell myself, and eventually I hope to have some really talented horses in the barn. I don’t want to just train horses for money to earn a living; I want to train horses to be the best in the sport. That’s a tough goal to reach, but hopefully it will happen. We’ll see.”


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recent stud dy pub blish hed d in th he Equiine Veterinary Journal assessed the routiine procced dure off gellding and d th he complications associated wit ith this procedure. The research was a retrospectivee stud dy off horses g castrated at the Sha Tin training complex in Hong Kong, betw tween July 2007 and July 2012. twe Hong Kong is a unique training and racing envir ironment, and all horses training and racing there are imported, as there is no breeding in the region. Fillies are rarely imported. The majority of colts are castrated at some stage in their career, and open standing castration (OSC) is the method of choice by the vets of the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HK JC). Until now, nobody has looked at the prevalence of complications followin ing castration of horses at the HK JC. This recently published study aimed to describe the prevalence and severity of complications in the 30 days followi wing castration. win



Reasons for gelding a racehorse in training

Most trainers perceive geldings as easier to train than collts, and d if th he horsse has not sh hown enough h ab bility for a stud career to beckon, there is little to lose by gelding. In Hong Kong, due to the unique envir ironment the horses live in, th here is an ad dded d incentive to gelld th hese horses gement sooner rather than later. Once gelded,, their manag becomes signifi ficantly more straightforward. fic


Castration method options

Three surgical techniques are commonly used for equine castration: 1) open, in which the parietal tunic surrounding the testicle is incised and, usually, retained; 2) closed, where the portion of the parietal tunic surrounding the testis and distal spermatic cord is removed, and 3) half closed, where an incision is made through the exposed parietal tunic at the cranial end of the testis or distal end of the spermatic cord allowing the testis and part of the spermatic vasculature to be prolapsed through the incision prior to removal. In most cases, racehorse castration is done standing via the open technique under local anesthetic, with sedation and pain relief as necessary. The testicles and spermatic cords are first injected with local anesthetic to numb the region. Once the tissues are totally desensitized, a slash incision is made into the scrotum. The testicle is exteriorized, and it is removed with a surgical instrument called an emasculator. The emasculator has a set of interlocking crushing blades with a cutting blade placed at the bottom of the array. Once the testicular cord is clamped in the emasculator the testicle will usually fall off, but the cord is retained within the interlocking crushing blades for approximately one to two minutes. This creates trauma to the tissues, which causes them to swell once the crush is released, reducing blood flow. The second effect of the emasculators is for the blood to be held in position long enough to begin the clotting process, which carries on once the clamp is removed. An alternative method of castration is to anesthetize the horse and carry out the procedure with the horse on its back, as a completely sterile operation in an operating room. This has the advantage of minimal post-castration swelling as there is no infection in the area, which can be a common problem with standing open castrations. In horses who are cryptorchids (ridglings), which is when there is only one descended testicle in the scrotum, standard open standing castration is contraindicated. These horses require either castration under general anesthetic or testicle removal under standing surgery via laparoscopy (inserting a camera and instruments into the abdomen to remove testicle via a surgical incision).

Complications of castration

As with all intrusive surgical procedures, there is the potential for things to go wrong. While the castration procedure is relatively straightforward, post-operative complications including excessive edema of the scrotum and surrounding tissues, infection and fever, hemorrhage, lameness, hydrocele formation, peritonitis, eventration, penile paralysis, scirrhous cord formation, and death have been recognized. With castrations done under general anesthetic, there are all the attendant risks of putting a 1000lb animal on its back and up again. All anesthesia carries a risk of death in the horse. This has been calculated as approximately 1% in equine practice, and can be as low as 0.5% in the major well-equipped equine hospitals. In addition to this, occasional cases show prolonged bleeding after the surgery, which results in significant swelling that sometimes has to be resolved by opening the scrotal sac. For standing castrations, some of the problems encountered include prolonged bleeding, which can occur irrespective of the length of time the cord has been clamped

for. This can become serious enough to require a further surgery to identify the bleeding vessels and tie them off, but thankfully this is rare. Another rare complication is herniation of intestines through the potential space left in the inguinal canal with removal of the testicle. The intestines can either get trapped under the skin producing severe colic, or worse still, dangle out of the abdomen and become contaminated. This presents a very serious risk to the horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s survival and requires immediate surgery to attempt to clean the exposed bowel and return it to the abdomen. Fortunately this is extremely rare in the Thoroughbred. However, the most common complication is infection at the site of the castration. This procedure leaves an open wound and obviously the horse can lie down in bedding full of urine and feces on the same day it has been castrated, therefore potentially contaminating the open surgical site. Unfortunately many racehorsesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ability to be turned out in a paddock is often controlled by the training environment they reside in. Infection post-castration, and the added expense and lost training days associated with it, is a bugbear for trainers and vets, and this study reviews a common problem encountered worldwide.

ABOVE: Tissues are prolapsing through the castration site - this severe castration complication requires immediate veterinary attention

Hong Kong study

The Hong Kong training complex provides full-time stabling and training facilities to approximately 1250 horses spread out among 24 licensed trainers. The Department of Veterinary Clinical Services (DVCS) at the HKJC is the sole provider of veterinary care for this population. All clinical records of horses in training at the HKJC are collated within the Veterinary Medical ISSUE 49 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



Information System (VMIS). For a horse to be eligible for inclusion in the study, two testicles had to have been removed via an open standing castration. Veterinary records of all the horses that had been castrated were examined and any cases that did not meet the criteria were excluded. Data on complications that occurred in the 30 days following castration was extracted from the clinical notes in the VMIS. The data was reviewed and the severity of complication was categorized into one of the five groups below. Between July 2007 and July 2012, 280 racehorses in training were castrated. A total of 30 horses were omitted from the study, as they did not meet the inclusion criteria: 24 horses were castrated using general anesthetic, of which six were cryptorchid surgeries. Horses included in the study were in the care of 24 different trainers, with thirteen different veterinarians performing the castrations.

Post-castration complications

Forty percent (100/250) of the horses experienced no complications. Sixty-six horses (26.4%) were categorized as N and 34 horses (13.6%) as NEX. There was no statistically significant association between a horse having a post-castration complication and horse signalment or the month, season, or year of castration. Of the 150 horses that experienced complications, 85 (56.7%) were categorized as mild, 57 (38.0%) as moderate, and eight (5.3%) as severe. Most of the horses with complications had a record of scrotal swelling (70.0%; 105 horses), followed by funiculitis (inflammation of spermatic cord) (36.7%; 55 horses), and seroma formation (build up of serum within scrotum) (24.7%; 37 horses).

Antimicrobial use

Details of post-surgery medications were unavailable for

six horses; therefore, data was analysed for 244 horses. One horse did not receive first-line antimicrobials at the time of surgery and another did not receive firstline antimicrobials but received reserved antimicrobials (enrofloxacin and ceftiofur). Of the 244 horses, 109 (44.7%) horses received an extended course of first-line antimicrobials (Trimethoprim â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Sulfadiazine or Oxytetracycline) and/or a NSAID (phenylbutazone or flunixin) for pain relief. An extended course of first-line antimicrobials and/ or NSAID was used in 48% (41/85) of horses grouped as C1, 53% (30/57) in the C2 group, and 50% (4/8) in the C3 group. Reserved antimicrobials were used in 42% (36/85), 81% (46/57), and 38% (3/8) of C1, C2, and C3 complications, respectively. Enrofloxicin and ceftiofur were both used in 22 horses, regardless of complication category.

Return to racing

In total, five horses failed to return to galloping after OSC. Horses for which no complication was recorded returned to galloping on average 29 days after castration. The interval was 37 days for horses with complications. Twenty-four horses did not return to racing. Horses returned to racing on average 95.5 days post-castration respectively.

Bacterial culture and sensitivity

Eight horses had samples collected for culture and sensitivity. Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMPS) had been used prophylactically at the time of castration in seven of these and oxytetracycline in the other horse. Seventeen different bacterial isolates were cultured. Sensitivity testing showed that the bacteria cultured was resistant in vitro to commonly used front line antimicrobials oxytetracyclines, TMPS, gentamicin, metronidazole, and penicillin. Bacteria cultured was sensitive to enrofloxacin in 13 out of 17 cases (76%) and






No complications

No complications but received extended course of antimicrobials

Mild complications

Moderate complications

Severe complications (required urgent veterinary attention)




all samples were sensitive to ceftiofur. In vitro, four of the six bacteria cultured were susceptible to the combination of gentamicin and penicillin.

Factors associated with complications

This retrospective study of clinical records from a closed population of horses found that 60% of all horses castrated in Hong Kong using the OSC technique suffered some type of complication within 30 days of the procedure. This is two-to-three times higher than has been reported in other studies utilizing survey-based data collection of veterinary clinical records. There are several possible explanations for the high prevalence of complications here. It is conceivable that clinicians who undertook the procedures in this study had less ability or were less diligent in their practice than those involved in previous studies. This seems unlikely, as all the veterinarians who undertook these castrations were experienced and made every effort to practice to the highest standard. Another possibility is that the surgical techniques practiced or the post-operative care were suboptimal. However, the OSC technique is relatively standard and varies little between locations, as does the post-operative care. There may be factors associated with the environment, such as type of bedding, sand on exercise tracks, or climatic conditions, that predisposed to complications. The weather is hot and humid over the spring and summer in Hong Kong, which may be considered a

ABOVE: Twenty-four hours after castration this horse has mild scrotal swelling, which would be classed as Group C1 in the Hong Kong study

risk factor for complications post-castration. However, analysis of the data revealed no association between month or season and rate of complication. Another possibility is that the recording of ‘complication’ was more comprehensive here than in previous studies. A requirement to diligently maintain accurate clinical records together with daily attendance of stables by each veterinarian may have resulted in a greater proportion of horses with complications being recorded. This would be particularly pertinent with mild complications that may not have received veterinary attention in other populations. While most of the complications were mild or moderate in nature, eight horses (3.2%) experienced complications that were graded as severe. The horses with mild to moderate complications were managed successfully with minimal intervention, including further antimicrobial and/or NSAID medication and wound drainage. The majority of horses with severe complications required hospital-level intervention. No horses castrated in Hong Kong over the five-year study period died due to complications associated with the OSC procedure. In the cases where culture and sensitivity was performed, bacteria was identified that were resistant to a wide spectrum of antimicrobials, including those routinely used for prophylactic therapy during OSC. Ideally, antimicrobial therapy is based on findings from culture and sensitivity of bacteria involved. However, this approach requires delaying therapy at least 72 hours, and clinicians were cognizant that bacteria involved was most likely to be sensitive to enrofloxacin and ceftiofur. This is substantiated by the observation that these ‘reserved’ antimicrobials were effective at resolving infections, with or without culture and sensitivity results prior to treatment. Nevertheless, the use of antimicrobials, particularly those in the reserved category, needs to be protected. While only 28% of horses with signs of infection had samples submitted for culture and sensitivity analysis, this study has identified potential patterns of antimicrobial resistance among bacteria involved in post-operative infection in this specific group of horses. The use of TMPS and oxytetracylines as first-line antimicrobials may be potentially contraindicated based on these limited results. Bacteria isolated showed greater sensitivity to a combination of penicillin and gentamicin than to TMPS and oxytetracyclines. In addition, this combination had a broadly similar in vitro sensitivity to enrofloxacin and ceftiofur.


This study is particularly useful, as the HKJC provides a unique opportunity to follow the outcome of horses after procedures like castration. However, the intensive housing of horses at the HKJC and the way they are managed means that the data should be interpreted with caution in relation to other locations. The prevalence of complications following OSC was high; however, the vast majority of complications were mild or moderate in nature. This study provides an opportunity to improve welfare and antimicrobial usage through an examination of existing OSC protocols in order to better inform future best practice.




A J OC K E Y ’S L I F E:



ike many baby boomers who entered their teens in the mid1960s, Raymond Adair Jr. had an issue with his father. But it wasn’t a disagreement over long hair, rock music, or his choice of friends. The problem, in young Ray Adair’s eyes, was his father’s appalling ability to stretch the truth. Ray Sr. claimed he began life as a foundling, left under a pinion tree by a band of Crow Indians before being adopted by a couple who ran a ranch in New Mexico. That was bad enough, but it was Ray Adair’s endless exaggerations about his horseracing career that really embarrassed his son. In the elder Adair’s accounts, he won his first Thoroughbred race at age six. He lost a match race against the legendary Seabiscuit by a nose. He won the Bluegrass Stakes, finished second in the Preakness, and rode in the Kentucky Derby twice. He stood down gangsters and befriended greats like Eddie Arcaro. It was all too much. “Growing up, I thought Dad was just a bullshitter. Or a horseshitter, anyway,” Ray Jr. says with a soft chuckle. “Imagine how I felt when I figured out all those horseracing stories were true.” Throughout his childhood, Ray Jr. had been aware that his father was a jockey and horse trainer. His family, including his mother Evelyn and his older sister Rayette, had tagged along on the racing circuit for years. But Ray Sr.’s racing days and the Adair family’s nomadic ways came to an end in 1961. Evelyn had been diagnosed with cancer and could no longer travel. The family settled in Phoenix, and Ray Sr. hung up his silks and worked for a fruit distributor. Evelyn died in 1963, and Ray moved the family to Window Rock to work for his brother-in-law, who taught him how to operate construction equipment. In Colorado for an unrelated job interview in 1964, Ray decided to call Thoroughbred breeder Conyer (“Connie”) Stewart. Connie Stewart had first seen Ray ride at the Jamaica Race Course in New York around 1950*. Deeply impressed, Stewart offered Adair a job as his jockey at the newly built Centennial Track near Littleton, Colorado. Adair and Stewart hit it off, but Ray, a top rider on the prestigious east coast circuit, passed on the offer. After he left the east coast in the mid-1950s, Ray did do some riding for Stewart at Centennial. The day Ray called him, Connie Stewart answered the phone at his new Stewart Thoroughbred Farm. He immediately offered Ray the job of manager. Adair and his children came to live at the ranch, and Rayette and Ray Jr. attended school in Rye and helped out with the chores. Ray Jr. worked alongside his dad for four years, seeing firsthand how good his father was with horses. Ray Sr. seemed to have found the ideal life after racing—until he and Connie Stewart abruptly fell out.



“I never really knew why,” Ray Jr. says, but he believes it was likely due to a quirk of his dad’s personality. Raymond Adair Sr. could be as sweet as soda pop or as stubborn as a mule. “The same thing had happened with my uncle in Window Rock. Dad was a little guy, only five feet three,” his oldest son recalls. “He was sensitive about it, and I think it made him quick to jump to the conclusion that someone was trying to push him around.” Ray Sr. left and took a job maintaining roads for the county. Not wanting to change high schools, Ray Jr. stayed on. It was while working for Connie Stewart that Ray Jr. began to realize his father’s fantastic racing tales were true. Ray Jr. would bring one of them up as an example of his dad’s penchant for telling whoppers, only to have Stewart say, “Actually, your dad did do that.” It would take many years and some research to get the full picture, but eventually, Ray Jr. and his relatives would marvel at the true adventures of the jockey known as Gatebreakin’ Ray Adair. Those adventures began in the summer of 1928, when a Texan named Louie Kirk arrived in the town of Blanco, New Mexico, and entered a Thoroughbred stallion named Static in a match race at the San Juan County Fair. Kirk stabled the horse at the track, and found an eager, if unlikely, caretaker in six-year-old Raymond Adair. Small for his age but full of energy, Ray was growing up on a nearby ranch and had a remarkable knack with horses. The boy not only loved them, he seemed to understand and communicate with them in that special way that only a few people can. Little Ray Adair earned a half-dollar a day feeding Static, cleaning his stall and riding the horse to the river for water. Kirk told the boy that the horse was extremely fast and warned him never to make Static gallop. But routine is hard on a six-year-old, and returning from the river one day, Ray dug in his heels. The horse took off like a rocket. Riding bareback with only a bridle, Ray grabbed the mane and held on for dear life. The mad dash included a spectacular leap over a decrepit Model T. Horse and rider arrived at the stables safe and sound, and the hands roared with laughter over Ray’s wild ride. Word quickly got back to Louie Kirk, who decided he admired the boy’s gumption and suggested Ray ride in the match race. Ray’s mother disapproved, but his father didn’t seem to mind. And so Ray Adair found himself riding Static bareback and barefoot on a quarter-mile straight against an adult jockey, decked out in silks atop a fleet-footed grey mare. Ray won not once but three times, when the mare’s owner, reluctant to concede to a six-year-old, demanded two do-overs before admitting defeat. Ray was paid six silver dollars, which he took home to his folks. Ray’s slightly older cousin, Jimmy, also had a knack for horses. In the late 1930s, Jimmy left New Mexico as a teenager, taking a job on the San Ysidro Stock Farm. Ray soon joined his cousin in California, mucking stalls and

Peter J. Sacopulos

*Ray Sr. sometimes said he first met Conyer Stewart in 1943. However, the Centennial Track did not open until 1950, making the late 1940s more likely.

| G AT E B R E A K I N ’ R AY A D A I R |

training green horses. Jack Atkins of Pasadena Stables had had his eye on young Ray for quite a while, and eventually traded a mare for the boy’s contract. Ray spent a year caring for a Thoroughbred named Wigtown before Mr. Atkins decided Ray was ready to ride professionally. In January 1938, Atkins took Adair to Agua Caliente, the storied racetrack across the border in wide-open Tijuana. Officially, Ray was 16 years old and weighed 72 pounds in his full colors. His first mount, Gaul, was required to carry 120 pounds. It took every lead weight Atkins could find and some silver dollars in Ray’s pockets to make up the difference. Ray’s age had been padded as well; he was actually 15. Whether Ray or his employer tacked on the extra year remains unknown. Ray squeaked out a win in his very first race. It was the first win of many. The sports pages were soon buzzing about the red-hot apprentice jockey who had a way with longshots, including Wigtown, who Ray rode to victory in her inaugural run. It was during his remarkable season at Agua Caliente that Adair rode in a match race against Seabiscuit. Ray’s mount was San Luis Rey, a horse so small his tail dragged the ground. Ray and Rey lost by a nose. Incredibly, Ray Adair almost became Seabiscuit’s jockey as well. When Jack Atkins died suddenly, his estate put Ray’s contract up for sale. Seabiscuit’s owner George Howard put in a bid but lost out to George Clark, from Rosedale Stables in Boston. Adair left Agua Caliente, and when the track’s season ended, he missed the top rider honors by a whisker, with 29 wins to George Russo’s 30.




Ray brought his winning ways to Suffolk Downs and River Downs. He was soon in a dead heat with Johnny Longden for the title of leading rider in America. In the fall of 1938, Ray returned to California. He quickly chalked up three wins at Tanforan, pulling ahead of Longden for the year. Then a hard-headed horse Ray was riding took to the inside rail and refused to surrender space or speed, giving Adair another victory. A steward accused Ray of rough riding for failing to allow another horse to pass on the rail, scratched the win, and banned Adair for three weeks. Ray’s numbers suffered accordingly, and Longden took leading rider honors in 1938. Still, teenaged Ray Adair had chalked up 82 wins, 57 places, and 50 shows in a spectacular debut year. When Ray came back to California in 1939, the revolutionary mobile electronic starting gate was in use. Ray spent five days getting a high-strung contender named Baccalaureate used to the gate. In their first race, Baccalaureate shot out of the gate and held the lead till the finish line. Afterwards, Adair noticed paint streaks on the sides of his boots. He realized that Baccalaureate had actually left the gate before the doors were fully open, taking the click of the locking bolt’s release as his starting signal rather than the ring of the bell, which immediately followed. Ray began listening for the click himself, nudging his mounts when he heard it so they would explode out of the gate. In a few years, the evolving design of the starting gate eliminated Ray’s secret advantage. But by the time that happened, he had earned the nickname “Gatebreakin’ Ray Adair.” Sadly, 1939 brought tragedy as well. During a race at the Detroit Fairgrounds, Ray was running third on Tony’s Girl when another horse swerved, clipping Tony’s Girl’s heels and causing her to tumble. Tony’s Girl arose unhurt and scrambled off the track. Ray lay face down as the rest of the field thundered by, only to be trampled by a straggler before he could escape. He suffered five broken vertebrae and



three injured ribs. A few months later, Ray ignored doctor’s orders and had a farrier friend cut off his body cast with a hoof knife. Five days later he was racing at Keeneland. That toughness served Ray well when the dark side of racing came calling. As author John Christgau details in The Gambler and the Bug Boy, a Los Angeles bookmaker named Barnard “Big” Mooney cooked up a race-fixing scheme as the 1930s came to a close. Mooney offered jockeys bribes to throw races. If that didn’t work, Mooney’s hired goons would threaten riders with beatings and death. When the threats failed, the beatings began. Ray told Mooney’s goons he wasn’t interested. The thugs demanded another meeting, figuring the pint-sized teenager would be a pushover. Ray opened the second meeting by placing a pistol on the table. The goons decided to find an easier mark. Ray’s success led to a longtime rivalry with Johnny Longden, as the two of them continued to battle for leading rider honors. Ray figured he had a real shot in 1943, the year he faced Longden in the Kentucky Derby. Ray was set to ride the undefeated Double S from Ethel Mars’ Milky Way Farms. Tragically, Double S was found dead from an apparent heart attack a week before the race. Ray wound up on No Wrinkles, whose best performances came at three-quarters of a mile. The Run for the Roses is a half-mile longer than that. When Derby Day arrived, Ray gave his all, but despite holding his horse back early on, No Wrinkles ran out of steam, finishing sixth. Longden and Count Fleet won the Derby and went on to capture the Triple Crown. In 1948, Ray was working a Thoroughbred named Hoosier on the track at Hialeah Park when a runaway horse charged them in a blind panic. The collision killed both animals. Ray suffered a broken back, a ruptured diaphragm, and twisted pelvis. He spent a month in the hospital, but when a doctor told him he would spend the

ABOVE: Ray Adair after winning the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Mameluke ABOVE RIGHT: Adair on Funderburg BELOW: Adair on Miz Liz

| G AT E B R E A K I N ’ R AY A D A I R |


rest of his life in a wheelchair, Adair rolled himself out in a huff. He spent four miserable months at home, using canes to learn how to walk again. He left racing and became the owner of the Patio Club in Miami and a fishing camp in the Keys, but his mind was never far from the track. Helping a friend train a couple of colts got Ray back in the saddle again. January 1st, 1951, marked his official return to racing. Adair won at Hialeah on Ensign, one of the colts he had trained. Adair headed to Lexington to ride Mameluke in the Blue Grass Stakes for W.C. Whitney. Mameluke was sired by Mahmoud, who had set a record in the English Derby that stood for nearly 60 years. The field flew out of the gate, but Ray nearly fell off his mount as soon as the race began. His right stirrup had detached from the saddle. Ray righted himself, kicked out of the left stirrup, and rode Mameluke “Indian style,” just as he had ridden Static all those years before. And ride he did, roaring up from worst to first. Afterwards, the

assistant starter pulled Ray aside. He had recovered Ray’s missing stirrup from the starting gate. The webbing that held it to the saddle had been sliced with a sharp blade. “Somebody doesn’t like you,” the starter said ominously. The saboteur was never identified. Winning the Blue Grass qualified Mameluke for the 1951 Kentucky Derby. Hopes ran high on Derby Day, but Mameluke pulled up lame on the first turn. A disappointed Ray put the horse into an easy gallop and finished last in a field of 20. Mameluke’s stablemate, Counterpoint, also ran in the Derby, finishing in the middle of the pack. Trainer Syl Veitch decided Ray should ride Counterpoint in the Preakness. The race became a duel between Counterpoint and Bold, ridden by Ray’s friend Eddie Arcaro. Ray was certain Counterpoint would pull ahead, but Arcaro summoned his horse’s reserves and left Adair behind. Counterpoint finished second, seven lengths behind Bold. For the Belmont Stakes, Veitch put David Gorman on Counterpoint and returned Ray to Mameluke, whose legs appeared to be fully healed. Mameluke pulled up lame again and finished last again. Counterpoint won the race and went on to be named champion three-year-old male and Horse of the Year. Ray won a total of 15 races in his comeback year and would continue racing for another decade. His mother Irene Adair and his grandfather finally saw him race in 1959, when he won at Centennial on Miz Liz. “There’s a photo of them all in the winner’s circle,” Ray Jr. says. “And yes, it’s Dad’s biological mother and grandfather. One of the few of Dad’s stories that wasn’t true was the one about being a foundling left by the Crow tribe.” Hardly surprising, since early press accounts describe the young jockey as a “fair skinned and fair-haired lad.” Ray Jr. eventually pinned down his father’s birthday as well. There was no birth certificate, since Ray had been born at home on a ranch near Gallup. Using a baptismal certificate from the Mormon archive, Ray Jr. placed the date of his dad’s birth as July 19, 1922. Good to know, since Ray Sr. had fudged his age as needed early in his career, claiming four different birth years along the way. Ray Adair would remarry, father two more children, and divorce before retiring from his job maintaining roads in Colorado’s Greenhorn Valley. Gatebreakin’ Ray Adair arrived at the Pearly Gates on November 24, 2012, having spent a happy final year living in San Diego at his son Ray’s house. ISSUE 49 TRAINERMAGAZINE.COM



2017 PHBA CHAMPIONS he Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association (PHBA) hosted the 39th Annual Iroquois Awards Banquet on June 8 at the Hotel Hershey for a great night of dinner, cocktails, and conversation. Retired Hall of Fame jockey and three-time Eclipse Award winner Ramon Dominguez gave the keynote speech. New this year was the Lifetime Achievement Award, given to Hall of Fame trainer and long-time Pennsylvania breeder Jonathan Sheppard. New awards were added for any PA-bred that has achieved a million dollars or more in lifetime earnings. Brushwood Stable’s Unique Bella was crowned Horse of the Year after her incredible achievements in 2017, and she has recently cracked the million dollar mark herself. Additional photographs and video from the evening are available at


HORSE OF THE YEAR Three-Year-Old Female and Female Sprinter UNIQUE BELLA GR/RO, F, Foaled March 2, 2014 / Tapit – Unrivaled Belle, by Unbridled’s Song Bred by Brushwood Stable The 2017 Eclipse Award champion female sprinter competed solely in graded stakes and won five of her six starts while earning $550,000, making her the richest PA-bred three-year-old of 2017. Her victories, all at Santa Anita, came in the Grade 1 La Brea, Grade 2 Santa Ynez and Las Virgenes, and Grade 3 Santa Ysabel and L.A. Woman.



Two-Year-Old Male PRINCE LUCKY B, G, Foaled April 13, 2015 / Corinthian – Lucky Notion, by Great Notion Bred by Daniel W. McConnell Sr. Winner of the Pennsylvania Nursery at Parx by nearly three lengths, which was one of the gelding’s three wins from four starts at three different tracks. By former Pennsylvania stallion Corinthian, he finished third in the First State Dash Stakes at Delaware Park in his other start. BELOW LEFT: Unique Bella BELOW RIGHT: Prince Lucky

Keynote speaker, retired Hall of Fame jockey and three-time Eclipse Award winner Ramon Dominguez

Two-Year-Old Female DAISY B, F, Foaled May 3, 2015 / Blame – Lovely Stay, by Flower Alley Bred by Jonathan E. Sheppard The richest PA-bred juvenile of 2017, she won her first two starts, including Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Tempted Stakes, by a combined 12¾ lengths, and was fourth in her only other outing, the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes.

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Three-Year-Old Male FAST AND ACCURATE GR/RO, C, Foaled March 27, 2014 / Hansen – It’s Heidi’s Dance, by Green Dancer Bred by John R. Penn Competing solely in stakes competition, he won three – the Grade 3 Jack Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, Showing Up Stakes at Gulfstream Park West, and Sage of Monticello Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He also started in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and ended the year with the most earnings of any PA-bred three-year-old colt or gelding in 2017.

Older Male MOR SPIRIT DK B, R, Foaled April 1, 2013 / Eskendereya – Im A Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union Bred by The Elkstone Group, LLC The richest PA-bred runner of 2017 with $992,000 in earnings from five starts, he won three times and was second once, all in stakes company, at five different tracks. After finishing second in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita, he won Oaklawn Park’s Essex Handicap by 2½ lengths, Lone Star Park’s Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile by 5¾ lengths, and destroyed the field in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, winning by 6¼ lengths while finishing the mile in 1:33.71, earning a 117 Beyer Speed Figure.

Older Female FINEST CITY CH, M, Foaled March 28, 2012 / City Zip – Be Envied, by Lemon Drop Kid Bred by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing, LLC The Breeders’ Cup- and Eclipse Awardwinning female sprinter of 2016 returned



to the track in 2017 to finish in the top three in her first five starts, all graded stakes. She came back an easy winner in the Grade 2 Santa Monica at Santa Anita, getting seven furlongs in 1:21.49; and followed with seconds in two Grade 1s, the Santa Margarita and Humana Distaff, the latter of which she missed by a neck at Churchill Downs; and thirds in the Grade 1 Beholder Mile and Grade 2 Great Lady M Stakes. She surpassed the $1 million mark during the year and retired with career earnings of $1,266,394.

Male Sprinter TOM’S READY DK B/BR, C, foaled February 1, 2013 / More Than Ready – Goodbye Stranger, by Broad Brush Bred by Blackstone Farm LLC On the board in five of seven starts at four while competing exclusively in stakes company, he flew to victory in the sevenfurlong, Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap at Belmont Park, which pushed his career earnings past $1 million, and earlier in the year captured the Leematt Stakes at Presque Isle. His three graded stakesplacings included the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga at seven furlongs behind Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Drefong. BELOW: Finest City

ABOVE LEFT: Fast and Accurate ABOVE RIGHT: Mor Spirit

Turf Male SPRING QUALITY B, G, Foaled March 17, 2012 / Quality Road – Spring Star, by Deputy Minister Bred by George Strawbridge Jr. First or second in five of seven starts, he won his stakes debut in Penn National’s Robellino Stakes in August and was a graded winner by the end of the year when taking Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap on the turf.

Turf Female FIRSTHAND REPORT DK B, F, Foaled April 4, 2013 / Blame – Kinsey, by Delaware Township Bred by Lindsay C.F. Scott & Jane MacElree A four-time winner and second once in six starts, the four-year-old filly faced and defeated older boys in the Alphabet Soup Stakes over the Parx turf. She won short when drawing away to win the Power by Far Stakes by three lengths at five furlongs, and won long in the Lyphard Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, all on the turf.

PA Preferred Male THE MAN TB, DK B, G, Foaled April 20, 2012 / Ecclesiastic – Shorty’s Epiphany, by Northern Afleet Bred by Glenn E. Brok LLC Undefeated winner of six straight races last season, after coming off of a twoyear layoff. He capped off his hardknocking 2017 campaign with a hard fought ½-length victory in the $100,000 Banjo Picker Sprint Stakes. Bred by

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Glenn E. Brok LLC, the five-year-old, PA-sired Ecclesiastic gelding earned his connections a total of $241,980 in purses and owner bonuses, while also earning his breeder an additional $96,792.

PA Preferred Female POWER OF SNUNNER B, M, Foaled May 13, 2010 / Power By Far – Snunner, by Yarrow Brae Bred by James M. Courtney At age seven, the daughter of PA-bred and longtime Pennsylvania sire Power by Far became a consistent graded stakes performer and added two stakes wins to her resume. Kicking off the year at Oaklawn Park, she was second in the Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes, went to Keeneland to finish second in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes, and got her first stakes win of the year in Delaware Park’s Obeah Stakes. In the fall she added a victory in Parx’s Plum Pretty Stakes. In 10 starts, she never finished worse than fourth.

Steeplechaser ALL THE WAY JOSE B, G, Foaled May 5, 2010 / Senor Swinger – Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby Bred by Jonathan E. Sheppard An Eclipse Award finalist, he won the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory Handicap at Belmont Park and was third in two other Grade 1 steeplechase stakes – the New York Turf Writers Cup and Grand National Hurdle. He finished in the top three in six of his seven starts.

Broodmare of the Year UNRIVALED BELLE Dam of Unique Bella A Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner purchased by Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stable as a broodmare prospect for $2.8 million in November 2011, she produced as her second foal Eclipse Award-winning champion female sprinter Unique Bella.

ABOVE LEFT: Dixie and Rick Abbott accepting the Horse of the Year Award for Unique Bella on behalf of Brushwood Stable ABOVE: Paddy Neilson and Brian Sanfratello with Jonathan Sheppard, Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient LEFT: Executive Secretary Brian Sanfratello with Mrs. Patricia Chapman, breeder of Top-PA Bred Earner Smarty Jones, accepting the Million Dollar Round Table Award

Leading Breeding Fund Recipient (Horse) PAGE MCKENNEY CH, G, Foaled March 12, 2010 / Eavesdropper – Winning Grace, By Yarrow Brae Bred by Dr. James Bryant and Linda Davis

Leading Stallion

Page McKenney finished 2017 with four stakes wins and $354,400 in earnings, including an incredible win in the PA Derby Champion Stakes at Parx after stumbling out of the gate. Counting PA-bred races and breeder, stallion, and owner awards, his total fund amount was $260,000.

For the third year in a row, Jump Start led all Pennsylvania stallions in Stallion Awards, with a 2017 total of $207,984. The now-19-year-old son of A.P. Indy just completed his seventh season at Northview PA in 2018. Last year, he sired nine stakes winners and 12 stakes-placed runners, and the earners of more than $6.2 million.

Leading Total Breeding Fund Recipient GLENN E. BROK, LLC $449,842 in Breeder and Stallion Awards Glenn Brok’s earnings were topped by The Man, with $96,792 in breeder awards. Stallion awards earned in 2017 for Brok were Talent Search with $80,251 and Got the Last Laugh with $28,061.

Leading Overall Breeder of Pennsylvania Breds BLACKSTONE FARM LLC $1,587,775 Douglas Black, Christian Hansen, and Mark Weisman’s Blackstone Farm in Pine Grove led all breeders by total purse money earned by PA-breds in



2017, topped by PA-bred multiple graded stakes winner Tom’s Ready, who won the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Stakes. The win at Belmont pushed the twotime state-bred sprint champion over $1 million in lifetime earnings.


Lifetime Achievement Award JONATHAN SHEPPARD The first-annual Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in breeding in the state of Pennsylvania was awarded to Jonathan Sheppard. Sheppard has been breeding in Pennsylvania since 1970, beginning with a mare named Martie’s Mad. A very successful trainer, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1990. Sheppard has bred numerous multiple graded stakes winners over jumps and on the flat, including, as co-breeder with William L. Pape, notable PA-breds Flatterer and Divine Fortune, both of whom he trained. Other notable trainees include PA-breds Storm Cat and With Anticipation. We thank Sheppard for his continued support of the Pennsylvania breeding program!

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can’t quite believe that it’s just over six years since Sid Fernando first wrote his quarterly column for North American Trainer. The Triple Crown 2018 issue (48) was his last with us, and his regular thoughts can now be found in a bi-monthly column in the excellent Thoroughbred Daily News. But, before we unveil our new columnist in our “Breeders’ Cup” / Fall issue later this year, I thought it would be interesting to read through the Sid’s old columns here and pick out two to revisit. With 25 to choose from, narrowing the list down has certainly proven to be a tough choice! Sid’s first column was published in our Triple Crown 2012 issue (24) under the headline of “Scratching beneath the surface of the injury debate.” This was at the time when the New York Times and writer Joe Drape were at their most vociferous about racing, drug issues, and a correlation between breakdowns on track. In the column, The Jockey Club’s president and CEO James L. Gagliano was quoted (New York Times) as saying that “The Jockey Club continues to believe that horses should run only when they are free from the influence of medication and that there should be no place in this sport for those who repeatedly violate medication rules.” I’m sure that the powers that be will continue to beat the same drum, and they are right to do so. But six years on, it would be fair to say that we’ve become far more aware of those who violate rules on multiple occasions, and perhaps the industry as a whole isn’t as tolerant as it was six years ago towards the minority of trainers who do flout the rules. But in all this time, have we made up enough ground to educate the wider public on what is acceptable for the purpose of medicating animals as opposed to drugs with the intent of enhancing performance? Sid’s article also included analysis from studies conducted by the now defunct




Thoroughbred Times, which clearly showed how the risk to injury / “incident” rate was greatly reduced when horses ran on a synthetic surface compared to a conventional dirt surface. Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen an updated variation of the same analysis, and indeed the trend is still there. It’s just a shame that synthetic surfaces seem to have fallen somewhat out of fashion. Fast forward to the August – October 2015 issue (37), where Sid came up with what, for me, was one of his most thought provoking columns. It first appeared just after we had our first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. In his column, Sid compared the state of the wagering industry in Affirmed’s Triple Crown-winning year of 1978 against 2015, American Pharoah’s year. The key points of the column are succinctly covered in the following four paragraphs: If 1978 was a watershed year until American Pharoah in 2015, consider this about the 1970s: It was also a time when racetrack handle funded purses and the pari-mutuel tax was the major gambling revenue generator for state governments. In stark contrast, this isn't the case today. Truth be told, under the nostalgic goldplating of the 1970s, there were chinks in its armor that are gaping holes now. It was, for instance, the era when Lasix was legally introduced, and what a lightning rod for controversy that's become now. More significantly, though, it was the era of the Interstate Horse Racing Act (IHA) of 1978, a piece of federal legislation enacted to address on-track pari-mutuel declines -- big signs of future trouble – as technology spawned the growing phenomenon of simulcast wagering and the growth of Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) platforms across state lines. Between 1978 and 2015, a Trojan horse – the racino – entered the game

I’M SURE THAT THE POWERS THAT BE WILL CONTINUE TO BEAT THE SAME DRUM, AND THEY ARE RIGHT TO DO SO. as state governments looked for other opportunities to boost coffers. And like a "pusher" in a 1970s playground, the racino hooked racing, already weakened through years of neglect and relegated to the fringe from the mainstream as a "niche" game, by giving it a taste of huge purses from gaming monies. Horsemen got sky high, but at what price? The deal was done in party with state governments in exchange for expanded gaming that competes with racing's core product, gambling. And that gaming money is now funding purses at racinos, and racing is as dependent on it as a junkie on dope. Ultimately, the only way to organically grow the game is through an increase in pari-mutuel wagering, and one way to do that is to make betting on horses as attractive as other forms of gaming. At present, the takeout is too high to compete, and this is an issue that racing's leaders must address with the same zeal they address Lasix and other matters. There's still some $10 billion bet on racing per year, but this game doesn't have the legs to last another 37 years in its current state. With the coming of age for sports betting in 2018, the sentiment of this piece perhaps rings more true today than it did three years ago.


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Trainer Magazine, North American Edition - August - October 2018, issue 49  

Brad Cox - cover trainer profile Nutrition - when's the best time to wean? Peter J Sacopulos - covers legal issues of interest to trainers U...

Trainer Magazine, North American Edition - August - October 2018, issue 49  

Brad Cox - cover trainer profile Nutrition - when's the best time to wean? Peter J Sacopulos - covers legal issues of interest to trainers U...