Trainer Magazine

Trainer Magazine - the horse racing magazine for the training and development of the thoroughbred racehorse. Europe and North America.

SID FERNANDO

Sid Fernando - What have you done for me lately?

SID FERNANDOWeb Master

Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate, the champion three-year-old colt of 2016, has won seven of 11 starts and earned $17,302,600 – a record for a North American-trained racehorse – he entered the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but following two consecutive losses, in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on July 22 and the Grade 1 Pacific Classic on August 19, he did not go off as the favorite in the race.

It wasn’t that long ago, following emphatic wins in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes in January and the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airlines in March, that he was being heralded in the media as one of the all-time greats. But in a classic case of “What have you done for me lately?”, the big grey son of Unbridled’s Song’s stock has plummeted. His workouts leading up to the Classic had been put under the microscope by all types of “experts” on social media, and their consensus view is that Arrogate didn’t train as well as he did last year before he defeated California Chrome in a thriller of a Classic.

Some of these same folks, however, had said the same thing about Arrogate before the Pegasus – there’d been an issue with his right hind foot that required a three-quarter shoe – but Arrogate won that race in brilliant style.

Arrogate’s losses this year have all been at Del Mar, the site of the Breeders’ Cup, and the track’s surface has also been mentioned as a culprit. He’d run at Del Mar last year in an allowance race in early August that he’d won by “only” a length and a quarter, but in his next start, the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga, he’d walloped a field by 13-and-a-half lengths at 11.70-1 in track-record time...

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Sid Fernando - The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017

SID FERNANDOWeb Master
  By Sid Fernando       The current political regime – as opposed to the previous one – favors diminished government, deregulation, states’ rights, American isolationism/anti-globalism, and anti-immigration, yet into this discernible climate change we as an industry are charging head first to effect changes at odds with these precepts. Making the entire process comical is that most industry participants, from wealthy owners and breeders at The Jockey Club to blue-collar owners and trainers in the provinces, are Republicans who supported this regime in the voting booth, even though we never support each other on myriad industry issues. This, surely, must make us headless horsemen, because we’re probably going to get our heads handed to us on a platter from this regime just as we do from each other. Simply, we engage in mutually destructive warfare because we don’t have the type of leadership to cross the aisle, compromise, and steer a clear course for the benefit of all.       Take the case of the migrant workers from south of the border who form a significant part of our breeding and racing industries. Many are dependent on H-2B visas for working legally here. Although the administration did announce recently that an additional 15,000 slots for 2017 have opened up for H-2Bs after pressure was applied from a number of industries, we didn’t do much to stop the lapse of this “returning worker” program last September in the first place, and we’ve done far too little as an industry to advocate for it since. And what little we are doing through the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, of course, flies in the face of a new political and social agenda that isn’t friendly to the Hispanics that overwhelmingly comprise the program. Meanwhile, all of us are facing severe labor shortages at all levels of the game because we didn’t act for the good of all at the expense of our personal political ideology.       The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017 (H.R.2651), introduced in May, is another example of ignoring climate change (and the pun is intended) on many fronts. First off, we’re trying to introduce federal regulatory measures while the government is busy dismantling regulations. Moreover, this bill would take away from states their rights to regulate while the winds of politics are in favor of more power for states at the expense of the federal government.       At the heart of this bill is one of the most divisive issues in horseracing: 24-hour administering of Lasix. Some of us – the wealthy owners and breeders and their trainers who race at the biggest venues and compete in the big stakes races and who are represented by The Jockey Club – would like to abolish race-day Lasix, while the small timers amongst us – represented by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) – advocate for its continued use as a humane therapeutic medication that prevents exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH).        Our Jockey Club group has led the lobbying efforts to get this bill introduced and passed, and part of their strategy is to harmonize medication rules with the rest of the world. It’s right there in the bill, in this section that states: “The use of therapeutic medications in horseracing in the United States must place the health and welfare of the horse at the highest level of priority while achieving consistency with the uses permitted in major international horseracing jurisdictions.”       Another section also mentions internationalism. It states the bill “will improve the marketplace for domestic and international sales of United States horses, will provide a platform for consistency with all major international horseracing standards, address growing domestic concerns over disparities with international rules, and provide for the safety and welfare of horses and jockeys.”       Now, those of us who are the smaller players in the game are not so concerned with international racing and competition, nor with the international sales of bloodstock, so this bill clearly draws a line in the sand between the upper and lower echelons of the business. But whatever we may feel about this this bill, a month after its introduction, in June the president of the United States took the country out of the Paris climate accord, which was signed by 195 nations. His stance is crystal clear and anti-global. American isolationism, instead of consistency with international norms, is the flavor of the day.       Another irony about the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017, with its international concerns, is that it references the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 (IHA), which was passed specifically so that the federal government “should prevent interference by one State with the gambling policies of another, and should act to protect identifiable national interests” and that “there is a need for Federal action to ensure States will continue to cooperate with one another in the acceptance of legal interstate wagers.” In other words the IHA’s federal intervention was to play referee among states, and internationalism had no place in it. The IHA also was a guardian of the HBPA’s rights, as it specifically protected horsemen in interstate wagering arrangements, saying that a host racing association “must have a written agreement with the horsemen's group” to conduct interstate wagering.       Given the deregulating political climate we’re in – recently the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives, led by Republicans, voted to allow horse slaughter plants in the country to open again – the chances of the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017 passing into law anytime soon are about as great as a snowball’s chance in hell. But that’s not going to stop some of us from going full steam ahead in its support, while others, just as vigorously, will oppose it. Meanwhile, folks, the polar cap really is melting, and coastal erosion is taking place while we do nothing about it, and perhaps that’s the apt metaphor for the state of horseracing.

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The current political regime – as opposed to the previous one – favors diminished government, deregulation, states’ rights, American isolationism/anti-globalism, and anti-immigration, yet into this discernible climate change we as an industry are charging head first to effect changes at odds with these precepts.

Making the entire process comical is that most industry participants, from wealthy owners and breeders at The Jockey Club to blue-collar owners and trainers in the provinces, are Republicans who supported this regime in the voting booth, even though we never support each other on myriad industry issues.

This, surely, must make us headless horsemen, because we’re probably going to get our heads handed to us on a platter from this regime just as we do from each other. Simply, we engage in mutually destructive warfare because we don’t have the type of leadership to cross the aisle, compromise, and steer a clear course for the benefit of all.

 

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Sid Fernando - Curlin leads resurgence in bloodstock industry

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Sid Fernando Column

SID FERNANDOWebmaster

This year's Triple Crown preps were notable for producing a number of high-class contenders, and, coincidently, it was the first year of mostly all-dirt trials since major tracks in California, Kentucky, and Dubai abandoned synthetic surfaces for the real thing. 

Sid Fernando - Out with the old and in with the new

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Sid Fernando - Racing's Rich Tapestry

SID FERNANDOWebmaster

Plot: An ambitious two-pronged plan is hatched by some guys in Hong Kong, to take a local horse from Sha Tin Racecourse to the United States with the aim of winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on dirt in early November. First, though, they'll prep in a Grade 1 race on dirt at Santa Anita in California in early October as a practice run for the main event.

The Sid Fernando Column - The Lasix anomaly

SID FERNANDOWebmaster

Sid Fernando talks about how Wesley Ward's successful raids on the elite European race meetings goes in some way to dispel the myth that Lasix is a performance enhancer. Time after time Ward sends out winners in Europe at meetings such as Royal Ascot but with Lasix being a banned substance it shows that maybe there is too much faith put into the drug in America.

 

Sid Fernando - Why are intact males such a rare breed?

SID FERNANDOWebmaster

His like is endangered nowadays. I was jolted by thoughts of this while watching the HRTV broadcast of the Eclipse Award Ceremony from Gulfstream Park on January 18. Wise Dan was the equine star of the evening, a "people's horse" in the same way as Curlin. He, too, is a two-time Horse of the Year and top older horse, plus top turf horse. But Wise Dan is a gelding, and he's by the unheralded Wiseman's Ferry. And he's a turf miler - the weakest division of North American racing.