By T. D. Thornton
The Delaware Park stewards have suspended and fined an owner, trainer and assistant trainer for “improper or inhumane treatment” of a horse diagnosed last spring with a 50% tendon tear.
Four related Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission (DTRC) rulings in the case involve a gelding named Food and Wine (War Front) who was disqualified from a June win because of a drug overage.
After returning sore from that victory because of a bowed tendon that a veterinarian said required eight to 12 months off, Food and Wine was put back into training in September and purportedly drugged in an attempt to mask lameness and get the gelding off the restricted list.
But instead of being cleared to race based on that supervised workout, Food and Wine again pulled up lame.
According to the rulings, a veterinarian then reported the series of incidents to the stewards.
As a result, after appearing at an Oct. 15 stewards' hearing and waiving his right to counsel, owner Jose Luis Rosales, 37, has been fined $2,500 and suspended 30 days.
Trainer Linda Manchio, 76, who did not appear at her hearing, has been fined $2,500 and suspended 30 days. The Oct. 15 DMTC ruling against her stated that she has not been to Delaware Park all year despite stabling and starting horses there.
Assistant trainer Belinda Manchio, 58, whom the Delaware Park stewards deemed to have been the licensee in charge of the day-to-day care for Food and Wine, attended her hearing, waived her right to counsel and was fined $1,000 and suspended 15 days.
TDN could not immediately reach Rosales or either of the Manchios for comment. It was unclear if appeals were in the process.
Here's how the allegations unfolded according to the four DTRC rulings (three dated Oct. 15 and one from Aug. 5):
Five-year-old Food and Wine, with a 2-for-15 record, wired a June 2 turf allowance at Delaware Park. At one point in the race, the 14-1 shot opened up a 10-length lead under jockey Tomas Mejia (who has since been suspended 10 years by New Jersey regulators for using an electrical shocking device in a race at Monmouth Park).
But after Food and Wine coasted home by four lengths at the wire, he “returned sore and was placed on the State Veterinarians List,” three of the Oct. 15 DTRC rulings stated.
Then, according to the rulings, on June 14, “the Practicing Veterinarian performed an Ultrasound on Food and Wine [that] reveled a 50% tear in his tendon (Bowed Tendon). The Veterinarian recommended 8 to 12 months off to recover.”
Subsequently, on Aug. 5, the stewards ruled that Food and Wine had tested positive for an overage of methocarbamol, a Class 4 and Penalty Category C skeletal muscle relaxant, after his June 2 win. Linda Manchio waived her right to have a split sample tested. Food and Wine was DQ'd from the win and Linda Manchio was fined $1,000.
Meanwhile, instead of getting the time away from the track that the practicing veterinarian had recommended, Food and Wine was instead placed back into training. He breezed three furlongs in :38 at Delaware Park on Sept. 25.
One of the DTRC rulings states that the gelding's owner, Jose Luis Rosales, “contacted the State Veterinarian to schedule a breeze in order for Food and Wine to be removed from the Vets List and be eligible to race.”
That workout was scheduled for Oct. 3. According to the ruling, “Food and Wine worked a half-mile in :50.60 and pulled up lame. Food and Wine remained on the Vets List.”
After the stewards began investigating, it was revealed in the ruling that, “Food and Wine was treated in August with Prednisolone Pills and Naquasone Powder. Owner Jose Luis Rosales ordered the treatment of Naquasone on Sept. 27 and an injection of Dexamethasone on Sept. 27 and 28 [in the] days prior to Food and Wine's workout.”
The ruling continued: “Stewards determined that the ordered treatment[s] by Mr. Rosales for Food and Wine were to take away any lameness so that Food and Wine could work and be removed from the Vets List to race.”
One of the Oct. 15 rulings noted that “Trainer Linda Manchio shall bear primary responsibility for the proper care, health, training, condition, safety and protection of horses in her charge.”
The ruling also stated that, “During testimony in this matter, Trainer Linda Manchio has not been to Delaware Park in 2021, her stable has been in the care of her Assistant Trainer Belinda Manchio. Linda Manchio did not follow the recommendation of her Practicing Veterinarian for Food and Wine.”
Belinda Manchio's ruling stated that the stewards determined she “shall assume the same duties and responsibilities as imposed on a registered Trainer” for the “proper care, health, training, condition, safety and protection of horses in her charge.” The ruling noted that she, too, “did not follow the recommendation of her Practicing Veterinarian.”
All three Oct. 15 rulings stated that the conduct of the suspended licensees “does adversely affect the public's confidence in the reputation of Thoroughbred racing in Delaware and is not in the best interest of horse racing.”
As an owner, Rosales has five wins from 29 lifetime starters dating to 2019.
Linda Manchio's record on Equibase dates to 1976, the oldest year available for training stats in that database. She has 192 wins from 2,254 starters during that time, but had no starters between 2003 and 2020. There are no other rulings listed against her in The Jockey Club's rulings database.Att