Racing NSW Freezes Phoenix Prizemoney

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Amer Abdulaziz | Sarah Farnsworth

Action has been taken in Australia against Phoenix Thoroughbreds for the first time since the organization's founder Amer Abdulaziz was accused of money laundering in the U.S. in November of 2019, with Racing New South Wales Chief Steward Marc Van Gestel telling ANZ Bloodstock News that it will freeze all prizemoney won by Phoenix horses until the “matter has been resolved in the U.S., or until such time that it's been resolved to our satisfaction.”

Abdulaziz was named in a U.S. federal court trial in November 2019 as allegedly being involved in a money laundering operation and as having stolen €100-million from OneCoin, a sham cryptocurrency he purportedly helped to run. Abdulaziz and Phoenix Thoroughbreds have denied the allegations.

Phoenix announced in August of 2020 that it would no longer race horses on the UK, and the following month was formally banned by the British Horseracing Authority. France Galop reportedly also placed a ban on Phoenix horses last August, though a formal announcement was never made. Around the same time, Australia's Racing NSW, Racing Victoria and Racing Queensland announced investigations were underway, with Racing NSW the first to take action. Phoenix Thoroughbreds is not banned from racing horses in NSW, but for now cannot collect prizemoney.

“Our decision to freeze prizemoney is on the basis that there is an allegation against them, and in those circumstances, until such time that it is resolved, the prudent course of action is to freeze prizemoney until it's resolved,” Van Gestel said. “Everyone is entitled to procedural fairness. We conducted an investigation on the matter, it doesn't happen in five minutes, it's something we've got to be diligent about, and once we had completed that, when we were in a position with the evidence that we had before us, we've made the decision to freeze prizemoney.”

Phoenix has enjoyed racecourse success in Australia with Group 1 winners like Loving Gaby (Aus) (I Am Invincible {Aus}) and Farnan (Aus) (Not A Single Doubt {Aus}), the latter of which it also bred. Phoenix purchased three seven-figure colts by Not A Single Doubt in partnership with Tony Fung at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

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