After a turbulent period last week when seven horses died at Churchill Downs en route to the Kentucky Derby, horse racing has once again been embroiled in controversy.
On a rainy September afternoon last year, a colt named Forte entered the starting gate of the Hopeful Stakes, a key race on the road to the Derby, at odds of almost 7 to 1. He apparently enjoyed the sloppy racetrack in Saratoga Springs, New York, firing powerful kicks in bursts and winning by a length.
However, shortly after leaving the winner’s ring, Forte failed a post-race drug test, but has not yet been adjudicated before New York regulators, he said, although he is familiar with the matter, he is not authorized to speak. According to two people involved, it.
According to the two, the positive reactions were to substances used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Months after failing to test, Forte won the next four races, including two important pre-derby events, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November and the Florida Derby last month. The foal was named his two-year-old male champion in horse racing, greatly increasing his value as a potential stallion to his co-owners Mike Lepole and Vincent Viola. .
On Saturday, Forte was out of luck to win the Derby until he was scratched hours before the race when a Kentucky veterinarian declared him ineligible to compete due to a bruise on his right front leg. I liked it.
After several delays, New York horse racing officials are set to hear from Forte’s trainer, Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, about failed drug tests from September on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the matter. is.
A spokesperson for the New York State Gambling Commission said, “This matter probably would have been ruled months ago, but there would have been repeated procedural delays sought by the trainer’s attorneys.
Forte’s campaign tried to delay the process again on Tuesday, two people said.
New York racing officials withheld Hopeful’s first-place check of $165,000 from Repole and Viola, according to state racing officials.
Representatives for beverage magnate LePaul and Viola, who also owns the NHL’s Florida Panthers, did not return calls or text messages. Pletcher also did not respond to a request for comment.
Pletcher’s attorney, Karen Murphy, said she called back after a brief conversation.
Racing is already reeling after the deaths of seven people at Churchill Downs, including two Derby undercard horses. They are his Triple Crown season, starting with the Derby, followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, one of the few times the sporting world pays attention to horse racing each year.
The death renewed long-standing concerns about the safety of racehorses. The industry is plagued by doping scandals, competition from other forms of sports betting, and declining fan interest.
Also last week, trainer Saffy Joseph Jr. was suspended indefinitely from all Derby and Churchill Downs-owned tracks after two horses fell and died of unknown causes during a race. received. Sir Miles of Joseph was not allowed to compete in the Derby.
That accusation was consistent with the hardline line set by the truck after Medina Spirit, a Bob Baffert-trained colt, failed a drug test after winning the Derby in 2021. When it was revealed, Medina Spirit was disqualified and Baffert was banned from the Derby and track owned by Churchill Downs for two years.
Horse racing in the United States has long acknowledged that it has a culture of drugs and lax regulations, with far higher rates of horses being euthanized due to breakdowns than in most other places in the world. rice field Horse Racing Honesty and Safety Authorityoverseen by the Federal Trade Commission, was created to come up with strict dosing rules and meaningful penalties for violations. It is also expected to streamline the adjudication process.
Authorities will not control doping and medication until May 22, two days after Preakness.
Pletcher is a seven-time Champion Trainer and has won the Kentucky Derby twice and the Belmont Stakes twice. He had a drug violation in New York in 2004 with the drug mepivacaine, a local anesthetic. He received his 45-day suspension and was fined $3,000. Website maintained by The Jockey Club, throughbredrulings.com,Industry group.
Where Forte will run next also remains a question. The colt sprinted at Churchill Downs on Monday, and Pletcher said Forte looks healthy and is considering taking on Derby winner Mage at Preakness in Baltimore.
But Kentucky regulators said Forte was ineligible to run for the second leg of the Triple Crown. It’s because they scratched him and he’s on his 14-day restricted list.
In a statement, the Kentucky Racing Commission said, “After 14 days, the requirements for delisting include satisfactory training undertaken for state regulated veterinarians and negative blood sample results. It includes things,” he said.