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Monday, July 25, 2005

Monday Night Notes - July 25

- While the rest of us are enjoying the races, NYRA management will be sweating out August 23, when they will learn if they will be prosecuted on tax fraud charges, or if NYRA has reformed its ways sufficiently to drop the charges. David Grening in the Form reports on the tense atmosphere between management and the horseman at a time when everyone should be working together during the most important six weeks of the year.

While [CEO Charles] Hayward has worked diligently to fix the ills of previous administrations, he has created a divisive atmosphere between management and horsemen, some of whom complained about a "we-versus-them" mentality. Some horsemen felt it was facilitated with the creation of a race-day security barn at Belmont that required trainers to send their horses to a holding barn six hours before a race. A similar set-up will be in place at Saratoga. Many believe it escalated on July 14 when Hayward fired popular racing secretary Mike Lakow, who had worked here for more than a decade.

"I think we-versus-them has been here in the last six months," said one trainer who requested anonymity. "I don't think it was the holding barn, but it was punctuated by Lakow's removal.'"

"It's the first time I've ever felt it and I've been here 20 years," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "It's probably not as much we versus them as much as them versus outside forces to get the franchise and the slots." [Daily Racing Form]

- Surf Cat will not come east for the Haskell, but rather will stay in California for the Pacific Classic, where he will face older horses and ten furlongs for the first time. Regardless, Monmouth is expecting a crowd somewhere between the high 40,000s and the mid-50s for the big race.

- Emanuel Sanchez, the jockey who passed away this weekend from apparent dehydration, had been warned by stewards at Colonial Downs about his weight-loss tactics five weeks before he died.
The warning came on June 20, according to Stanley Bowker, the racing commission's executive director and the chief steward of Colonial Downs. Bowker said that Colonial stewards had issued the warning after track officials noticed that the rider was struggling to return to the winner's circle after he won the first race of his career on June 19.

"As the horses were pulling up around the turn, the outrider called up to us and said that he was having some problems," Bowker said Monday. When Sanchez got off the horse, said Bowker, "it was a struggle for him to weigh in, and then before he went back in he had to sit down to catch his breath."

Bowker said that stewards and other riders had advised Sanchez about how to monitor his weight without resorting to drastic weight-loss measures. Bowker also said that stewards threatened to suspend Sanchez's license if they received any other reports about the rider struggling physically. [DRF]
This is sure to revive calls by the Jockey Guild to raise the minimum riding weight.