Week in Review

Week in Review: Debate Over 'PED' Devolves Into Theater of the Absurd

When former pharmacist Scott Mangini was sentenced to 18 months in prison last Friday for his admitted role in the federal doping case, it provided another piece to the puzzle in terms of how other offenders might later get sentenced for their roles in the same alleged conspiracy. Specifically, almost everyone in the Thoroughbred industry wants to know what will happen to the highest-profile defendants at the very end of the supply chain: The barred trainer Jorge Navarro, who has already pled guilty to one felony count in the conspiracy...

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Think You're a Navarro Victim? Get In Line

Now that the barred Thoroughbred trainer Jorge Navarro has admitted in open court that he doped racehorses and procured performance-enhancing drugs [PEDs] for others between 2016 and 2020, the industry has a $25,860,514 question to kick around between now and when "The Juice Man" gets sentenced Dec. 17. Beyond Navarro's potential five-year prison term and possible deportation back to his native Panama, the 46-year-old conditioner also must pay restitution to victims in that astronomical amount as per the stipulations of his plea bargain. Although it is unclear exactly how federal...

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Asmussen's Next Target: Juan Suarez

The Week in Review by Bill Finley Steve Asmussen moved past Dale Baird Saturday to become North America's all-time leading trainer in wins with 9,446. But for such a goal-oriented individual, it's no time to rest. To be number one in the world, Asmussen still has to catch Peruvian trainer Juan Suarez. And it won't be easy. Suarez, as of Saturday, had 9,886 wins--or 440 more than Asmussen. On the same day that Asmussen won one race from 13 starters spread across four racetracks, Suarez had three wins on the...

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Consistency Over Long Haul Stands Out for Top Soph

The Week in Review by T.D. Thornton For the past two racing seasons, we've seen two top-rated United States 2-year-olds in each year maintain impeccable form for a period of about 12 months, straight through to a deep point in their sophomore campaigns. That's a fairly remarkable occurrence in this day and age. Tiz the Law (Constitution) broke his maiden at Saratoga on Aug. 8, 2019, then prevailed in the GI Runhappy Travers S. exactly one year later. The compact bay who raced with a relentless swagger lost only once...

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Under Glare of Probing Questions, Curious Answers in Kentucky

The Week in Review by T.D. Thornton In theory, state racing commissions are supposed to provide a layer of checks and balances by making both racetrack operators and horsemen accountable for their actions. In practice though, that often doesn't happen because regulators in many jurisdictions fail to ask probing questions of licensees during open, public meetings. In Kentucky, for example, if you want the most concise on-the-record snapshot of what's going on with the circuit, the best source generally isn't a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) meeting. Instead, the proceedings...

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Week in Review: Out of Nowhere, Rock Your World Emerges as Serious Derby Threat

When Rock Your World (Candy Ride {Arg}) won the Pasadena S. at Santa Anita Mar. 6, it appeared that he could develop into a quality turf horse, who, like many horses trained by John Sadler, would take a while to fully develop. But Sadler had other ideas. This was going to be his GI Kentucky Derby horse. "He had always trained well on the dirt," Sadler said. "Sometimes you run on turf when you don't think they are training well on dirt. He was training well on dirt, but we...

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Week in Review: Off-Lasix 3YOs Have Now Won 25% of This Year's Derby Preps

Besides solidifying his status as a top-tier Triple Crown threat, Saturday's win by Known Agenda (Curlin) in the GI Curlin Florida Derby bolstered the overall case that the phase-out of Lasix in this year's series of GI Kentucky Derby preps seems to be having no adverse effect on performance. Through 20 races in North America since Jan. 1 that have awarded Derby qualifying points, horses giving up Lasix after receiving it in their prior start have won five of those races. Seven others have finished second, an impressive strike rate...

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Here We Go Again: Can Anyone Beat Baffert in the Derby?

The Week in Review, by Bill Finley The year changes and so do the names of the horses. But the story remains the same. It's no longer about beating a particular horse in the GI Kentucky Derby, it's about trying to beat the stable that has an unprecedented hammerlock on the race. Can anyone beat Bob Baffert? After this weekend's results, it's looking more and more like that is going to be hard to do. Baffert already had the early favorite for the Derby in the ultra-talented Life Is Good...

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Whether Riding in The Big 'Cap or the Nightcap, Rosario Is a Master of Timing

The Week in Review, by T.D. Thornton Generally speaking, when your horse is parked near last for most of the trip, fanned six wide on the far turn, fifth with a furlong to go, and still third 100 yards from the wire, your chances of winning are slim. Unless Joel Rosario is riding, of course. That was the exact scenario facing Idol (Curlin) in deep stretch of Saturday's GI Santa Anita H. at Santa Anita Park. Yet "Judicious Joel," who at age 36 is without fanfare blossoming into the absolute...

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Week in Review: More Clairiere vs. Travel Column Rivalries, Please

Turn the clock back a dozen years and recall when a fledgling filly parlayed a November win in the GII Golden Rod S. into a torrid nine-stakes win streak that culminated in Horse of the Year honors. That filly, of course, was Rachel Alexandra. Now it's 2021, and the Fair Grounds annually honors Rachel Alexandra's brief (one win, one second) tenure in New Orleans with a Grade II stakes race in mid-February. Saturday's edition just so happened to feature the one-two fillies from the Nov. 28 Golden Rod S. at...

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NYRA Looks Out for Its Customer; Good for Them

The Week in Review by Bill Finley It's not often in this sport that John Q. Horseplayer gets a break, but that's exactly what happened last week when it was revealed that NYRA was no longer accepting bets from the so-called computer-assisted wagering (CAW) players on its Empire Six wager. The Empire Six wager joined the Cross Country Pick 5 and the late Pick 5 as NYRA wagers that are no longer available to the CAW players. The computer players use algorithms that predict the probability of a particular outcome....

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To Decide 2020's Winningest Horse, Let's Strike a Three-Way Match

The Week in Review, by T.D. Thornton Saturday's Claiming Crown races produced a three-way tie atop the North American leaderboard for winningest horse in terms of victories in 2020. Galerio (Jump Start), Frost Or Frippery (Lewis Michael) and Combination (Alternation) all enter the final three weeks of the year tied with eight wins apiece. How about scheduling a three-way invitational among these relatively matched geldings to settle the score prior to Dec. 31? The category of most victories in a season is annually overshadowed by the purse-earnings rankings, which are...

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