- Patrick Biancone released a defiant statement regarding his one year suspension.
"I am profoundly disappointed, but not surprised, by the stewards ruling issued against me this morning....Since the search of my barns at Keeneland Race Course and the Keeneland Training Center on June 22, 2007, when certain information was leaked to the media, I have been tried and convicted in the press and am well aware of pressures from certain elements of the industry to make an example out of me before all the facts were know and I had an opportunity to defend myself. I have remained silent rather than attempt to argue my case and defend myself in the media pending a hearing." ]Thoroughbred Times]It's an argument I'd be sympathetic with in many cases, but it's difficult to be so in this case given his past record and the smoking gun nature of the evidence found. And I've thought ever since that search of his barn that his continued presence was simply unfair to the betting public.
Matt Hegarty reports in the Form that Biancone's attorney criticized the length of the penalty without disputing the stewards' findings. [DRF] The defense strategy is simple: blame it on the vet. Dr. Rodney Stewart, that is, who's been suspended for five years. Biancone's attorney claims that the doc was completely responsible for the substance being in the barn, completely without the trainer's knowledge.
[Attorney Alan] Foreman said that Biancone passed a polygraph test asking whether he had ever used cobra venom. His attorneys paid for the test, which was administered by a former FBI agent in New York.So indeed, there will be an appeal, not of the fact that the venom was there, but of the penalty which, they will claim, should be merely a fine. According to Hegarty, the appeal will delay the onset until at least after the Breeders' Cup. That's just great.
It was just not a very good day for Biancone - five starters, five losers at Keeneland, including two big favorites. (And thanks to this reader for providing more details.) Quasicobra lost at 8-5 in the 7th, and talk about a hunch bet gone wrong! And Irish Smoke checked in dead last in the G1 Darley Alcibiades. Country Star, who I mentioned when she ran second in her first start at Belmont just two weeks ago, came from way off the pace to win (and graduate!), a running style that still seems to be beneficial on the Polytrack based on the opening day results. Winning jockey Rafael Bejarano told Bloodhorse: "I knew the speed was no good." So the mighty Empire Maker gets his first graded stakes winner, and with a Bobby Frankel runner no less.
- I posted about Sunday's two Distaff preps - the Lady's Secret and the Spinster - at Breederscup.com.