- Kitten’s Joy returns today in the G2 Firecracker at Churchill. The mile distance would not appear to be his best distance as Dale Romans concedes:
"The mile is a concern because it's a shorter distance than we ended the year with last year. It looked like the mile and a half was going to be his best (distance). But he has a good turn of foot and, being off that long, I really didn't want to run him any further than that." [Bloodhorse]If you want to take a shot against him, there’s America Alive, who will have to bounce back from a disappointing effort in the Manhattan in which he may have bounced from his big win in the Turf Classic. Senor Swinger comes off his win in the Opening Verse, which Baffert used as a winning prep for the Firecracker last year. Though he came up a length and a half short in second, he ran a faster Beyer, and a similar improvement could put him close here. And of course, how can you count any horse on the grass for Bill Mott; his Old Forester gets tested for class here and could get a piece of the purse.
- Another prominent trainer suspended for a drug positive, this time Churchill Downs-based Frank Brothers.
..a 15-day suspension, to begin July 11, and a $2,500 fine by the Kentucky stewards after his horse Landmark tested positive for the tranquilizer acepromazine after finishing third in an April 8 race at Keeneland. The Class III drug is commonly used to calm high-strung horses but cannot be in a horse's system for racing. [Courier-Journal]
- You gotta take a shot against Roman Ruler today in the Dwyer, don’t you? He’s had one useless race in 8 months and his foot problems are legendary. Of course, there’s the matter of the series of bullet workouts we see below his running lines.... Wow. People seem to like Middle Earth, a Zito-trained entrant who ran third behind Lost in the Fog and Egg Head in the Riva Ridge and figures to set the pace here. But he’ll be tracked closely by the improving Mr. Congeniality, who I highlighted in this post here, putting him on my “watch list,” which means if I happen to stumble upon the horse down the line, I’ll watch it. They do have those free horse alert services for things like this! Mr. Congeniality (Chester House) will be tested for class here, moving into graded stakes company from a N1X win, but has been live on the board and the track for the red-hot Michael Hushion since returning from a brief layoff after a fruitless try in the Gotham. His second dam is a half-sister to Darn That Alarm, who ran second in this race in 1984 to Track Barron.
- Jerry Bossert in the NY Daily News has more on these “non-suspensions” being served by trainers like Richard Dutrow.
When a trainer, whether it be Richard Dutrow Jr. or Todd Pletcher, gets caught with a medication positive and is suspended, the assistant trainer takes over and continues to win and more importantly so does the barn. The penalty should be that no horse from a suspended trainer be allowed to run until the trainer serves his time. Owners then would be aware of the consequences and will be careful whom they employ. Unfortunately, this will never happen as the NYRA and all race tracks around the country are desperate for horses to help fill the races. If the NYRA couldn't use a horse from Dutrow's barn or Pletcher's barn for 45 days, it couldn't put on a live product and might as well close. The thought of all this testing is nice, but in reality until the penalties are changed, it's just a waste of time and money.As I wrote yesterday, besides the fact that they keep on winning, there seems to be no tarnish to their reputations either. That suggests that cheating is just ingrained into the culture, so that the problem no doubt requires the severe kinds of penalites Bossert suggests. Kentucky has recently discussed the idea of horse suspensions.