What’s been happening in the racing industry around the world

Socially distanced: the first crowd to attend a race meeting in Britain since March watching the action at Doncaster on Wednesday. It will also be the last crowd at a racing fixture in the country for the time being – see story below. Photo: Mark Cranham/focusonracing.com

The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of the international racing news from the past week.


Zhayat files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy 

North America: Embattled Egyptian-American businessman and Thoroughbred owner Ahmed Zayat filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in a United States bankruptcy court in his home state of New Jersey on Monday. 

Zayat is, of course, the CEO of Zayat Stables, the Thoroughbred racing business that bred and owned the 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. 

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows the clearing of unsecured debts as a form of liquidation.    

It is estimated his total number of creditors is between 100 and 199, among them American Pharoah’s trainer Bob Baffert, who is owed $227,884.17, and his liabilities are between $10 million and $50 million.  

Zayat has assets of $1,892,815 and liabilities of $19,371,466. He also reported monthly expenses of $72,903 compared to income of $13,875. 

Blow for Britain’s tracks as Doncaster has to turn away spectators 

Europe: Doncaster Racecourse has been told by local health officials to stop spectators attending its St Leger meeting after Wednesday’s opening day, which was attended by over 2,500 spectators. 

The Arena Racing Company racecourse was at the forefront of a government pilot scheme for sporting events and Wednesday’s crowd was the first at a British racing fixture in six months. It is believed that the abrupt cancellation will see the track, where the Leger will be run on Saturday, lose around £250,000. 

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones welcomed the decision, repeating that she had “said consistently that the risks were too great”, especially given the “latest change in government advice overnight and the increase in infection rates both in Doncaster and nationally”. 

The St Leger, Britain’s oldest Classic, attracted an attendance of 27,000 last year.  

Police deny evidence claim in Darren Weir case 

Oceania: Victoria Police have denied withholding evidence that trainer Darren Weir’s lawyers say could exonerate the Melbourne Cup-winning trainer of animal abuse charges. 

The disgraced Australian handler and former stable employees Jarrod McLean, William Hernan and Tyson Kermond are contesting charges including animal cruelty and conspiring to defraud racing stewards. 

The case relies on covert police footage recorded on October 30, 2018, that allegedly shows electric shocks being administered to horses in Weir’s care using a device known as a jigger. However, Weir’s lawyer, Ian Hill QC, described the conspiracy charges in particular as “misconceived” and “duplicitous”. 

Weir, a former world top ten trainer in the TRC Global Rankings, appeared via video link and said he trained because he loved horses, and he did not train for the gambling.

Magistrate Ron Saines reserved his decision at the conclusion of the hearing. He will determine whether the four people will face court during a subsequent hearing in Ballarat on October 8. 

Romanet praise for McConnell plan 

North America: Louis Romanet, chairman of the IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, has “enthusiastically welcomed” U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s plans to introduce to the Senate the new Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, calling it “vital and significant for all of international racing”. 

The IFHA is a member of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity (CHRI), which Romanet believes dovetails with the IFHA’s key mission “to promote the health and welfare of horses and riders, and to promulgate best practice”.  

 “The key to both of these core policies is strong anti-doping policy and I am confident that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act achieves this objective,” said the Frenchman. 

Delia Bushell may fight back 

Europe: A report in the Sunday Times indicates that the Jockey Club will face a court clash with its recently ousted boss Delia Bushell, who may sue the racecourse giant over an investigation into alleged bullying and misconduct, which cost her her job.  

Lawyers for Delia Bushell, 48, wrote to the Jockey Club warning of the “likelihood of imminent litigation” and claiming she had been brought down by a “cabal of male co-conspirators” — including the man who has taken over as chief executive, Nevin Truesdale. He strenuously denied any involvement.   

Bushell’s “attempt to eliminate misogyny, racism and other reactionary forces” at the 270-year-old group had been “thwarted by false allegations deliberately curated to oust her . . . and cause maximum damage to her reputation”.  

Elsewhere in racing … 

North America: A Quality Road filly out of Irish 1000 Guineas heroine Marvellous, who is by Galileo out of a full-sister to Giant’s Causeway, sold for $1.5m to lead day one trade at Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings sale. More here 

North America: Multiple G1 winner Rushing Fall will be offered at Fasig-Tipton's November Sale on September 8. More here 

North America: The Jockey Club is projecting a 2021 North American registered Thoroughbred foal crop of 19,200. The estimation for the 2020 foal crop remains at 20,500. More here 

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