The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of the international racing news from the past week.
Suddenly the Kentucky Derby picture has turned sour for Baffert
North America: Two massive blows hit world #4 trainer Bob Baffert this week. Tuesday’s shock reports that Charlatan, one of the favorites for September’s great race, had tested positive for a banned substance after winning the first of two divisions of the G1 Arkansas Derby on May 2 paled alongside Thursday’s revelation that Baffert’s winner of the other division, Nadal, will miss the Derby altogether after having been retired because of a leg fracture.
The unbeaten son of Blame, who was leading the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings, was diagnosed with the injury after working at Santa Anita earlier in the day. He will now take up stallion duties, with Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky “obviously in the pole position”, according to co-owner George Bolton.
The news means it is more likely that Charlatan will run in the rescheduled Belmont Stakes on July 20 - Baffert had been disinclined to run both him and Nadal in the race.
On Tuesday, the Louisville Courier-Journal said it had been informed two Baffert runners had failed tests on the Arkansas Derby card: Charlatan and allowance-race winner Gamine, who is one of the favorites for the Kentucky Oaks.
Baffert, who hit out at an apparent lack of confidentiality over the issue, is awaiting results of a second test. A further positive test could result in disqualification, and could put Charlatan’s participation in the Kentucky Derby in doubt.
Baffert still has another of the leading fancies for Churchill Downs, Authentic, who was ranked ahead of both Nadal and Charlatan in James Willoughby’s latest Kentucky Derby Prep School top ten.
Plan to run Caulfield Cup in late November
Oceania: Melbourne’s spring carnival may be overhauled because of a clash with the rescheduled Australian Rules Football finals, which has been pushed back from the end of September because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It could mean the G1 Caulfield Cup, one of the biggest races of the season and a key lead-up to the Melbourne Cup, could be moved from mid-October to November 28.
Title leader Purton lauds G1 hero Exultant
Far East: World #4 Zac Purton moved three clear of Brazilian Joao Moreira in the nail-biting run in for the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship with a treble at Sha Tin yesterday. Moreira was forced to sit out the meeting because of suspension as the Australian moved to 126 winners for the season.
It’s been a memorable few days for Purton, who won both Group races at Sha Tin on Sunday, including the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup on Exultant, who is now in pole position to be named Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year.
Purton described the 6-year-old son of Teofilo, who was winning his fifth G1 and second of the season, as “the best stayer I’ve ridden in Hong Kong”.
Star colts go head to head again
Far East: Round two in what could develop into one of the most exciting rivalries in world racing this year takes place at Tokyo racecourse on Sunday, when Contrail and Salios, Japan’s top juveniles last season and a dominant 1-2 in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) last month, go head to head in the $3.7 million Japanese Derby (Tokyo Yushun).
Victory will keep Contrail, a son of Deep Impact, on track to become the eighth horse to win the Japanese Triple Crown, but both horses look potentially exceptional, and Salios, who will again be ridden by Australian Damian Lane (world #17), has only half a length to make up on their Satsuki Sho placings and will be a tough nut to crack.
His trainer, Noriyuki Hori, says the Heart’s Cry colt was a little unlucky to come out of that race second best. “It was a difficult race last time, and he didn’t change leads in the home straight, as well as not getting the best ground, making things tough for him.”
Japan already has another horse on course for a triple crown this season - the Epiphaneia filly Daring Tact was an impressive winner of last Sunday’s Japanese Oaks (Yushun Himba), following up her earlier victory in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas).
Fabre’s strong Classic hand
Europe: The great French trainer Andre Fabre appears to hold the aces for the first two Classics of the year in Europe on Monday, when the two French Guineas are run at Deauville, having been moved from ParisLongchamp because of lockdown restrictions.
The current world #11 saddles Godolphin’s Victor Ludorum, a son of Shamardal, in the colts’ race, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, and Lady Bamford’s Showcasing filly Tropbeau in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.
The two races will take place over the track’s straight 1600m and are part of a seven-race simulcast programme from the Normandy coast. Victor Ludorum and Tropbeau had star juvenile careers with the vibes currently quite strong that they could give the 74-year-old 30-time French champion trainer his eighth Poulains victory and his fourth in the Pouliches.
Godolphin staff in round-the-world charity effort
International: Godolphin employees worldwide are raising money for local Covid-19 charities. Together, they want to reach their target of 28,300 miles (45,545km) - that’s the number of miles connecting Godolphin locations across the world.
From Friday, May 22, to Friday, June 26, employees are running, walking, swimming, riding or cycling as many miles as they can to raise money for the fight against Covid-19, and to help keep everyone active and healthy.
Hugh Anderson, Managing Director of Godolphin UK and Dubai said, “The Godolphin operation worldwide has adapted with great agility to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. We have done everything we can to keep going throughout a very difficult period for everyone.
Singapore racing postponed further
Far East: The Singapore Turf Club has announced racing will not resume until July at the earliest. While racing has or is readying to resume in many jurisdictions around the world, Singapore will continue to suspend meetings in alignment with the government’s phased approach to resumption of activities.
The Club will evaluate throughout June whether it is able to stage meetings at Kranji starting in early July.
Singapore has implemented one of the strictest lockdowns worldwide after a second Covid-19 wave swept through the small nation.
Elsewhere in racing ...
Europe: Ascots Shergar Cup in August, the annual jockey challenge featuring three-person teams from Britain and Ireland, Europe, the Rest of the World and one of females only, has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. More here
North America: The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Race Dates Committee has approved Keeneland’s request to conduct a spectator-free, five-day Summer Meet, to be held on Wednesday, July 8, through Sunday, July 12. More here
North America: All New York-bred yearlings entered at Fasig-Tipton’s Midlantic Fall Yearlings Sale at Maryland State Fairgrounds on October 5-6 will be catalogued together as a group in 2020, the company has announced. Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning said this would provide buyers with a large group of New York-breds that can easily be zeroed in on. More here
Oceania: New Zealand’s Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) confirmed on Tuesday changes it was taking in response to the impact of Covid-19, including a reduction of 230 roles, including 150 permanent staff, across all areas of the TAB. More here