Mongolian Groom, Willis Horton, Among Jan. 15 Podcast Topics

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Mongolian Groom | Mike Kane

The Breeders’ Cup-commissioned investigation into the death of Mongolian Groom (Hightail) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic was among the main subjects tackled this week in the TDN Writers’ Room podcast, and the crew questioned whether or not the horse should have been scratched.

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The report revealed that examining veterinarians determined during pre-race examinations that Mongolian Groom was “stiff” and “choppy” behind, the reasons why he among 73 Breeders’ Cup entrants put on a “watch list” and was one of 24 horses selected for “extra scrutiny” or additional pre-race examinations.

Kicking off the “Today’s News” segment, sponsored by West Point Thoroughbreds, Jon Green questioned whether or not “watch lists” or “extra scrutiny lists” created too much of a gray area.

“There were multiple opportunities to look at a horse and scratch a horse,” he said. “The thing I question is why have a ‘maybe list.’ It seems like they had three lists. They had yes, definitely not and a watch list. To me, it’s like being half pregnant. Either you are or you aren’t. The horse is either okay to run or it’s not okay to run.”

There was universal agreement among the writers that the Breeders’ Cup had issued a thorough and transparent report.

“I want to give a shout out to Breeders’ Cup when it comes to how transparent they were,” Joe Bianca said. “It is an extensive report from Dr. Larry Bramlage and it seems like they left no stone unturned as to why this happened. The main conclusion was that there are a lot of factors that go into breakdowns on the track, but there is nothing where you can get one plus one and say that’s why this horse broke down. There are always a number of other factors, sometimes mitigating factors. This is the kind of transparency we want to see but don’t see that often in racing.”

As this week’s guest in the “Green Group Guest of the Week” segment, owner Willis Horton provided his outlook on the two starters he has in Saturday’s GIII Lecomte S. at the Fair Grounds. Along with Winchell Thoroughbreds, he is the co-owner of Halo Again (Speightstown) and Silver State (Hard Spun). Horton is hoping to have better luck in this year’s GI Kentucky Derby than he did in the 2019 running when his Long Range Toddy (Take Charge Indy) was among the horses the Churchill Downs stewards ruled was interfered with by Maximum Security (New Year’s Day).

Surprisingly, Horton said he thought Maximum Security should not have been disqualified.

“I never did think that horse should have come down,” he said. “He was the best horse. At the same time, I had a horse right there with him and he got the worst of the whole deal and that took him out of the race.”

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