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Thursday, June 28, 2007

So Long Stevie, We Hardly Knew Ye

- We went what, two or three days without a retirement, so I guess we were due. But the retirement of Stevie Wonderboy is certainly no surprise. In fact, owner Merv Griffin and trainer Doug O'Neill tried to bring him back long after others would have packed it in and sent him off to stud on the merits of his BC Juvenile and two-year championship honors. He'll stand at Airdrie, and the marketing machine is already in full swing. "I really believe the juvenile field he beat, with Henny Hughes and First Samurai, was as strong as any in recent memory, and he was really getting away from them at the end." [Bloodhorse]

First Samurai...remember him? I have to say I was surprised to look and see that he's standing for $40,000.

Brilliant 2YO by Giant's Causeway
WON Hopeful-G1 & Champagne-G1
The ONLY 2yo MG1SW in His Crop
Henny Hughes also gets $40,000. Man, imagine if either of them had shown any attributes other than raw speed? As opposed to those two sons of sons of Storm Cat, Stevie is by Stephen Got Even, a son of AP Indy. He has very odd breeding in that his paternal and maternal grandsires are half-brothers, both being out of the prodigious producer Weekend Surprise. He's free of Mr. Prospector, and has just one instance of Northern Dancer, so expect breeders to have some fun with him.

- On the other hand, there's been no break from news of trainers under suspicion - or worse - of drug violations. Biancone remains under investigation, Gary Contessa gets a week for a Bute violation, five trainers in Kentucky, including Bobby Frankel, are fined for amounts of Lasix Salix far exceeding the allowed limit. So high, in fact, that it's called the testing methods into question.

And in New York, a father-son training team pleaded guilty to injecting a harness horse at Saratoga with cobra venom on one occasion, and Epogen on another. Oh man.
"This restores the integrity of harness racing to the betting public, who need to know the races they are betting on are fair and true contests," [District Attorney James A.] Murphy said. [Albany Times-Union]
Well, I wouldn't go that far!! In fact, it certainly makes one wonder how many people involved with either breed have gotten away, or are still getting away with the same. Indeed, the wiretaps in the case resulted in additional wiretaps at other racetracks and investigations that are still pending. The two pleaded guilty to felony interference with a domestic animal, and though they are not expected to serve jail time, the felony allows the state to permanently revoke their licenses.

Getting back to Biancone for a moment; again, we have no details of what's going on, and we don't even know if this is about medication, though that's certainly a fair guess. But he is listed as the trainer of Itsawonderfullife, the 2-1 morning line favorite in the 4th at Churchill today. Wouldn't it be in the betting public's best interest if the horse was ordered scratched? Bettors now may be wondering what's going on, and thinking, 'hey, if he's under investigation, he probably isn't using any drugs on the horse this time, so we should bet against him.' [UPDATE: He won by five at 3-5. I guess not many people were concerned.] I think that those are the kinds of issues best eliminated from the handicapping equation, and that the stewards should not accept entries from the barn until the matter is cleared up.


Michael said...

I don't know that it's fair to the owner or trainer to scratch a horse before the trainer has had a formal hearing or at the very leastbeen actually charged with a rule violation. At this point, we still have no idea what he's being investigated for (although we can all easily guess)>

Jim L said...

Didn't Contessa have 8 positives earlier this decade?!

There is very little integrity in the sport. I'm waiting for the Gordon Gecko Stables.

How many smaller tracks keep things quiet in order to keep the racing going?

It's absurd that at some of these tracks the suspensions result in very little time.

Comapring Contessa to Asmussen: Contessa's replacement is Laudati. She will probably NOT win one single race while he's on the bench, but when he comes back, he will likely pick up some more state bred checks. Asmussen, when he was out, Blasi picked right up where he left off. It's a slap in the face to anyone wanting to get into the game for sheer pleasure, hoping to cover overhead.

How many 2007 KY Derby starting trainers had served time this decade or the past year? A Dallas newspaper article mentioned over HALF of them.

The only way to punish is to have ALL horses sit on the pine why the suspension is served. No training, no racing.

alan said...

Michael - I don't disagree that it may not be fair. But my experience is that there's always been a lower threshold when it comes to the integrity of sporting contests, especially those which are legally wagered upon. Isn't Churchill one of the tracks that took a hard line with some of the jockeys suspended by the HPBA, or HBPA, whatever the fuck it is? Isn't that inconsistent? Te me, there's a cloud upon any race in which he has an entry, even though it's possible he's done absolutely nothing wrong.

Kevin said...

The $250 fine for the Lasix overages is a joke. How does that deter anyone from breaking the rules?

Indiana took a step in the right direction by declaring that a trainer suspended for more than 15 days can not transfer their horses to a family member or assistant trainer. I hope other states will follow suit.

But, until the punishments become more than a proverbial slap on the wrist, the top dogs in this industry will continue to use any means necessary to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals.

From a handicapping perspective, I don't think about it other than to assume that the majority of high profile trainers are skirting the system in some fashion. It really doesn't affect my handicapping decisions.

alan said...

Jim - Guess what, Laudati had a winner today! At 12-1! I Promise - no, that's the name of the horse. A first time starter, so I can't tell from the pp's if it's one of Contessa's. Anyone know?

JLDecker said...

I love how they tout First Samurai as winning the FoY when .. um .. he didn't.

Yep. True order of finish: Corinthian, First Samurai, Flashy Bull, My Golden Song, Rehoboth. Took that picture myself, just off the GP finish line.

Corinthian had the field well beaten. Yes, he bore out in the stretch; but had he run straight half as much as he ran sideways, there's no way they would have caught him. And he still does that when challenged from the outside - he's just gotten more sneaky about it (watch his last out vs. Lawyer Ron, you'll see). ^-^

Anonymous said...


Superfecta said...

40K for First Samurai? No thanks. Peace Rules is only 15K -- there's a lot of value out there for someone willing to shop around.

I was never on the Steviewonderboy bandwagon and I can't say I'm surprised either.