All Breeders’ Cup Equine Drug Tests Come Back Clean

Breeders’ Cup’s extensive out-of-competition and pre- and post-race testing program at this year’s World Championships involved testing 289 horses.
breeders cup drug tests

There were no positive drug tests—on out-of-competition and pre- and post-race—at this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the organization announced Nov. 8.

Breeders’ Cup completed an extensive out-of-competition and pre- and post-race testing program at this year’s World Championships, held Nov. 2-3 at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky, which included the testing of 289 horses.

This year the organization continued its expansion of its most comprehensive testing program. Out-of-competition testing began in June with all Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners and other targeted possible starters in both North America and overseas and continued right up until the Championship races.

Breeders’ Cup engaged an out-of-competition testing coordinator, William Farmer, DVM, who worked with regulatory associations and with testing laboratories around the world, including the British Horse Racing Authority’s Lab LGC, France Galop’s official Lab LCH, and the Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory at the University of California, Davis. All three labs are certified by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA). The executive council of the IFHA also specifically endorsed the updated protocols of the Breeders’ Cup which were put in place in advance of last year’s World Championships.

Horses were sampled in three European jurisdictions and 10 North American jurisdictions leading to 180 of the 191 (94%) of horses entered in the Championships being sampled at a minimum of one time with some runners having multiple samples taken. Through pre-race testing, 85 of 90 individual trainers that had a horse entered in the Breeders’ Cup had at least one horse sampled. Breeders’ Cup, in conducting its own out-of-competition testing, had access to all results prior to race day, which revealed no positive findings in any of the samples taken.

All horses competing in Breeders’ Cup races also underwent pre-race testing for total carbon dioxide levels in blood. Industrial Laboratories, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, then conducted post-race testing of both blood and urine samples for prohibited drugs—including cobalt—collected from the first four finishers in all Breeders’ Cup races and any additional random horses selected by the stewards consistent with Kentucky Horse Racing Commission protocols. The program tested for anabolic steroids, blood doping agents and growth hormones, among others.

All post-race samples collected from 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championship starters were cleared by Industrial Laboratories.

“We would like to extend our gratitude for the cooperating racing jurisdictions here and abroad and to the participating horsemen who cooperate fully in the Breeders’ Cup out of competition testing program” said Dora Delgado, Breeders’ Cup senior vice-president of racing and nominations. “This comprehensive testing program ensures that a level playing field is provided to all participants and continues the expansion of our world class programs of safety, integrity and security for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships event.”

2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic: Accelerate Prevails, Ends Trainer’s Drought

Hronis Racing’s Accelerate rolled from just off the pace to prevail as the 5-2 favorite in Saturday’s $5,358,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade 1) at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky.
2018 Breeders Cup Classic

Hronis Racing’s Accelerate rolled from just off the pace to prevail as the 5-2 favorite in Saturday’s $5,358,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade 1) at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky.

In addition to crowning an Eclipse-worthy campaign for himself, the 5-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky erased trainer John Sadler’s winless Breeders’ Cup record.

Sadler entered Saturday with a 0-for-41 career mark in the Breeders’ Cup, and the stat took on added intensity as the day progressed. After his Filly & Mare Sprint (Grade 1) runner, Selcourt, tired to 12th as a 5-1 chance, the Southern California-based horseman was widely expected to get on the board in the Dirt Mile (Grade 1). Sadler had the red-hot 4-5 favorite, Catalina Cruiser, only to see his hitherto unbeaten colt fade to sixth. The shut-out became agonizing in the Mile (Grade 1) on turf, when his 7-1 Catapult took the lead a few strides from the wire but got nailed by British shipper Expert Eye.

By the time Accelerate was balking at entering the far outside post 14 in the Classic, Sadler had a 0-for-44 albatross around his neck. Accelerate himself was responsible for two of those losses, a hard-charging third in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and a ninth in the same race last year. In 2018, however, he had developed into the nation’s leading older male, and confirmed his status here to upgrade his trainer’s Breeders’ Cup record to 1-for-45.

Well handled by jockey Joel Rosario, Accelerate was settled a few lengths off the torrid pace set by Mendelssohn. That Aidan O’Brien colt was stalked by the Bob Baffert pair of McKinzie and West Coast, while Godolphin’s Dubai World Cup (Grade 1) hero Thunder Snow tracked just behind on the inside.

Rosario began to ask Accelerate to creep closer nearing the far turn, and he responded to draw up alongside Mendelssohn, McKinzie, and West Coast in a line of four abreast. Mendelssohn soon saw off the Baffert runners, but Accelerate powered clear at the top of the stretch.

Gunnevera, whose deep-closing style was assisted by the hot early tempo, delivered his customary rally to reduce the winning margin to one length. Thunder Snow held on determinedly for third in a photo with Yoshida, a closer like Gunnevera.

Mendelssohn tired to fifth, followed by Lone Sailor, West Coast, Discreet Lover, Axelrod, Pavel, Mind Your Biscuits, McKinzie, Catholic Boy, and four-time European Group 1 star Roaring Lion, who was eased after never traveling on the dirt.

By finishing 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.93, Accelerate handed Rosario his third winner of the 2018 Breeders’ Cup, the most of any rider over the two-day championships. He’d also turned a double on “Future Stars Friday” aboard Game Winner in the Juvenile (Grade 1) and Jaywalk in the Juvenile Fillies (Grade 1). Rosario has now won nine Breeders’ Cup races over the course of his career, but he hadn’t previously won these three.

Accelerate, who paid $7.40 to win, improved his resume to 22-10-5-5, $5,792,480. He compiled a nearly perfect season, virtually locking up the title of champion older male. His only loss of 2018 came by a neck in the Oaklawn Handicap (Grade 2) to City of Light, the winner of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Accelerate began the year with a score in the San Pasqual (Grade 2), then went on to sweep Southern California’s major prizes in the older male division—the Santa Anita Handicap (Grade 1), Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park (Grade 1), Pacific Classic (Grade 1) by a stakes-record 12 1/2 lengths, and the Awesome Again (Grade 1) in his final prep.

Now the Eclipse Award electorate has a choice to make for Horse of the Year: vote for Triple Crown winner Justify, who retired before facing older horses, or Accelerate?


In the lead up to the 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Santa Anita Park’s XBTV sat down with Hall of Fame rider, Victor Espinoza, to get his thoughts on not only Accelerate, favored in this year’s Classic, but also to hear how he’s doing, just over three months after a fall that sent him into the hospital and possibly on to a new path in life.

How hard is it for you to be away from the track? You’re down here in Del Mar, isolated and removed.

“It’s not that hard because of my situation. Obviously, if I was healthy and just away from the track it would be different. But, right now, I’m not capable of doing it. I only really watch the big races. I just want to see what’s happening and I’m curious who wins.”

If you get the go ahead, say in an ideal world, and they said ‘January 1st Victor, you’re cleared to ride.’ A lot of people would say, ‘He’s Victor Espinoza. Does he need the money? Why does he want to risk his life?’ If you were cleared, would you want to come back and ride?

“If I’m 100%, and the doctors think there isn’t a risk for me to come back and do what I’ve done for many years, I would like to come back and ride. Why not? If there isn’t a risk to my body, yes.”

But there’s always a risk.

“There is.”

You saw the risk first hand. You were lying on your back, not moving your legs. Is that something you would risk going through again?

“In life everything is a risk. Even if you walk out of the house there’s a risk. You risk your life basically, even driving. So, I cannot have fear of what will happen in life.

“We don’t know the future, I wish I knew. This is the only thing I’ve ever done in my life. Although I never grew up on the track, it’s all I know. If my body is able to do it and I feel pretty good and the doctors tell me, ‘You’re good to go,’ or, if they say, ‘Okay, this is good and no matter what happens, your injury is not going to get worse,’ then yes.

“If I come back to ride, I want to make sure that I do the same thing as before.

“I’ve broken bones before and they heal, sometimes harder than before. So if they tell me there’s no risk of injury, why not? You can get hurt, yes. Basically, that’s life. Being a jockey, you’re going to get hurt. You just don’t know when.”

It’s only a matter of time.

“Just a matter of time.”

A matter of time…What happens if say you got a leg up and you weren’t the same Victor on a horse. Because sometimes, guys will be scared and it takes a really strong person to admit that they’re scared. You’ve never been scared in your life. I’ve watched you for years, but you don’t really know until you try.

Sure. I mean there’s always a fear in going in, but I’m not afraid because horses, they’ve never done anything to me. The horses, they’ve provided good memories.

“Horses are such powerful animals, but they don’t do anything to you on purpose. They’ve never done anything to me so why should I be afraid of them? They’re just happy animals. They just want to eat grass and run fast. Well, some of them (laughing).”

Some of them.

“Yeah, some of them (laughing).”

You’ve talked about how you love horses but you’ve also said you were always a little bit afraid of horses.

“Sure, of course. I’m afraid of horses, yes. I’ve always been afraid. To this day I love horses, but I also have respect for them. It’s not because they’re trying to hurt you, it’s just that they’re powerful animals and sometimes they want to play. If you’re in the way they can hurt you, but never intentionally. Just by them playing you could get hurt, and for that reason I have respect for them.”

Do you have a fear of falling?

“Fear of falling? Of course I have that fear. It’s always been my fear since day one, not to be on anymore, falling off. Any small fall and you can damage your life in seconds and it changes forever. It’s scary to think about.”

Do you want to come back?

“Do I want to come back to ride? Sure, why not? I do if I’m 100%.”

Is it that you want to come back, or that you want to prove that you can come back?  

“I don’t have to prove anything. If I come back it’s because I’m 100% and I want to.”

You’re a smart guy and you say the doctors tell you it’s going to be okay…But, guys like Laffit, guys like Migliore, what do you think they’re going to tell you?

“First of all I never look at anyone else’s life. I’m looking out for my life right now and basically, if the doctors tell me, “Okay, you’re good to go,” I’ll trust them. I will have to trust my doctors and believe in them to tell me if I’m capable to do what I’ve always done.”

What do you think the chances are that you actually come back?

“I don’t know. I can’t even think about what the chances are because I don’t know. I’m going by the doctors. If they say, ‘That’s it. You’re never going to come back.” Then I’m fine with that. If I come back, that’s fine too. I will motivate myself; I’ll get in the gym, lift weights, run, whatever. Whatever I have to do to come back to be 100%.”

If you walked away because the doctors say, ‘You know Victor. You probably shouldn’t ride again,’ are there things left undone? Are there things you still want to accomplish?

I don’t have to accomplish anything. If the doctors told me I couldn’t come back right now, I don’t have to accomplish anything. Obviously, I’d have a job to win more races. That’s about it. What races? Any of them. Everyone is probably thinking another Kentucky Derby or maybe the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but other than those I don’t have anything to accomplish. I’m just thankful that I’m walking.”

How hard is it for you to not be as physically fit as you were?

“It’s not that hard because I’m injured. If I wasn’t then it’d be very hard, but it’s not because I have to really pay attention to my body. I’m not like those people that want to play tough, who think they can do it. No, I do what my body wants to do. If my body shuts down for the day, then I’m done. I go take a nap or I go to sleep until the next day.”

So if you retired tomorrow, what would you do?

“If I retired tomorrow, what would I do? Probably just go lay down by the beach and relax. I don’t know, maybe go to New York, go to the snow for a few weeks. That would be my life, travel. That’s the life. I’ve always loved to travel.”

You wouldn’t be bored?

“Bored? Why would I be bored? You know life is full of energy, full of things that you can do. It all depends what you focus on. I guess, for me, maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up at the track. A lot of other workers, they work on the track and they’re afraid to go and do other things. For me, it’s different because the whole world is just so beautiful. Let me tell you, if travel was free, you would never see me again. I wouldn’t even talk to you (laughing.)”

So you’re just going to disappear and travel the world?

“That’s it.”

This didn’t just affect your job; it affected your entire life. You were lying there, not feeling your legs. You knew this was going to be a possible life change. Have you talked to anybody about that? There’s got to be a lot of fear involved.

“You know what; the first time I ever talked about my feelings was in rehab when I had my first interview since the accident. It wasn’t easy for me because to talk about it…I got a little emotional.

“It was the first time I cried too, because it wasn’t just fear it was not being able to do things that I wanted to. I was getting ready to prepare myself for Del Mar and to the win the Pacific Classic.

“My family was really there for me, and my girlfriend. They gave me a lot of support. Only after two months did I start to think about it. It really happened right before the Pacific Classic because a lot of people asked, ‘Are you going to be ready for the Pacific Classic?’ I started talk about that and I knew the answer was ‘no.’

“It was impossible for me to have a conversation with everyone. Sometimes it was good, sometimes not. It has to be the right time and the right moment to be able to talk about it and not get really upset.

“So really, it needs to just be a normal and happy conversation, to be able to have those conversations. I had the support. It’s important to have support from the people that you really care about, and that care about me. I’m thankful that I have those people that really have my back and give me support.”

You said one of your brothers just left. Did he come out a couple of times or was he staying with you?

One of my brothers lives in Cancun. He came here and the other brother, from New York, he came and so did my girlfriend. So, all three came here at the same time. My brother from Cancun stayed for a month and a half, then went back.

“My brother from New York, he left for a week, but then came back with his wife and stayed for a long time. I was ready to tell them to leave (laughs), but we had a lot of fun. We never talked about my accident, just had fun, laughed and we cooked every day. No, they cooked. I don’t cook, I just eat.

“We talked about all the stories of how we grew up and stuff. It was just fun. I forgot that I was injured and I never had any pain, so that was good.”

You’ve been eating a lot lately?

“I’ve been eating a lot, yes. In the beginning you’re sick, so you have to eat a lot so you can recover quickly. Sometimes I’ll eat healthy, sometimes not. When I was in rehab, when I was ready to leave, they asked me what I would want to eat now that I could have anything, thinking their food was bad. I thought it was good.

“I came home and they asked me if I wanted salad. I said, ‘Forget about it. I don’t even want to look at salad.’ I’ve been eating salad for a very long time now. I don’t want to eat healthy at all this time.”

When you walk into this house, with all its memorabilia and gifts from fans, it’s hard not to believe that you are Victor Espinoza, the jockey. What does that look like if you’re Victor Espinoza, not a jockey?

“Happy. Happy and just enjoying life and having fun.

“You know what? Life is too short. Things go away in a second. Life is fun. I have to be thankful for just walking right now. I’m alive. Jockey, or no jockey; to me it’s no different. Life goes on…and it can also change in a matter of seconds.

“As a jockey, any jockey, not just me, their life can change in just a matter of seconds. Not hours, not days, but seconds, and it’s hard for some. For me, it’s not hard because I appreciate life and how to live your life every day. I just keep myself busy.

“I’m thankful and I’m willing to do things I’ve never done before because basically I’ve dedicated myself to my career for so many years. This is the first time I’ve been off the track for four months since I started riding. So it’s quite different, but it’s kind of fun and I like it.”

At two in the morning when you’re lying there, the longer it takes for you to get back is it getting easier or harder?

“I think it’s getting easier because I know I’d be recovered 100% if I come back. I’m not gonna rush myself to get back sooner because I’d feel like I’m not really ready to go. The longer I wait to come back it will be easier. I’d be stronger.”

Keeneland’s Oct. 5-7 opening weekend of the Fall Meet – Put Keeneland Races on your bucket list is a must do

Clear skies and comfortable temperatures forecast for Keeneland’s Oct. 5-7 opening weekend of the Fall Meet could be a perfect scenario for Terry Hamilton’s Heart to Heart in Saturday’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1).

Trainer Brian Lynch said Thursday morning that the 7-year-old son of English Channel does his best running on firm turf as he did in April with a victory in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) here. Overall Heart to Heart has 15 wins in 37 starts and has earned more than $2 million. He was second in the Shadwell Turf Mile last year.

“I know he is happy to be back at Keeneland because he has great energy around the barn and looks great on the track,” Lynch said. “We graze him every afternoon. He loves to get out on the hill (with a handler) in front of our barn. It is a great spot to let a horse drop his head and eat some green grass.”

Lynch’s Keeneland contingent includes Amerman Racing’s Oscar Performance, who earned a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3 for winning the Woodbine Mile (G1) on Sept. 15. Lynch said Oscar Performance and Heart to Heart will remain at Keeneland to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup Mile before shipping to Churchill Downs around Oct. 30.

Lynch also noted that his former trainee Grand Arch, winner of the 2015 Shadwell Turf Mile for Jim and Susan Hill, has adapted well to retirement and recently demonstrated his new skills at a horse show. Grand Arch closed his 29-race career at age eight with seven victories and a bankroll of nearly $2 million.

“I am thrilled to see he has a second career and is enjoying his new job,” Lynch said. “He is a beautiful horse and a gentleman, so I always hoped he could use that for a second career.”

Keeneland Daily Results and Activity

Early Entries

Saturday, October 6 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Maiden Special Weight $67,000
Race 2 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $73,000
Race 3 Claiming – $40,000 $31,000
Race 4 Claiming – $30,000 $23,000
Race 5 Maiden Special Weight $67,000
Race 6 Woodford S. Presented by Keeneland Select $200,000
Race 7 Thoroughbred Club of America S. $250,000
Race 8 First Lady S. $400,000
Race 9 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity $500,000
Race 10 Shadwell Turf Mile S. $1,000,000
Race 11 Maiden Special Weight $67,000

Final Entries

Friday, October 5
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Maiden Special Weight $67,000
Race 2 Maiden Claiming – $30,000 $21,000
Race 3 Allowance $69,000
Race 4 Claiming – $30,000 $23,000
Race 5 Maiden Special Weight $67,000
Race 6 Starter Allowance – $10,000 $24,000
Race 7 Allowance $71,000
Race 8 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix S. $250,000
Race 9 Darley Alcibiades S. $400,000
Race 10 Maiden Special Weight $67,000

Undefeated Triple Crown Winner Justify Retired From Racing

Trainer Bob Baffert said Justify had some filling in his fetlock and is not responding quick enough to prepare for a fall campaign. The colt will parade at Del Mar on July 28, before traveling to WinStar Farm, in Kentucky.

Justify, undefeated winner of the 2018 Triple Crown, has been retired from racing, it was announced today.

“Justify had some filling in his ankle, and he is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign,” said trainer Bob Baffert. “We all wanted to see Justify run again, but ultimately it is my responsibility to make sure he is perfect. Without 60-90 days, I can’t be definite.”

Campaigned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, and Starlight Racing, Justify dazzled at first asking on Feb. 18, winning his career debut at Santa Anita and proceeded to accomplish many historical feats en route to racing stardom. He broke the “Curse of Apollo” when he won the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths on May 5, becoming the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without starting as a 2-year-old.

“He is an incredible horse and we are very disappointed he can’t run again,” said WinStar Farm’s Kenny Troutt. “All things happen for a reason, and we are blessed to have raced him to be the 13th Triple Crown winner in history.”

Justify went on to capture the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico under the foggiest conditions the race has ever seen. He was pressured every step of the way and fended off all challengers for the wire-to-wire victory.

“When he won the Preakness, I allowed myself to start dreaming about the Triple Crown,” said Troutt. “When we look back on this, we have been a part of an undefeated Triple Crown Champion, and hopefully a Horse of the Year.”

Justify went to New York in pursuit of history in the Belmont Stakes. Sent to the lead by his Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, Justify never looked back, winning the Belmont by 1 ¾ lengths, becoming the first undefeated Triple Crown winner since Seattle Slew.

“Like everyone else, I am disappointed he won’t run again, but I am thankful he came into my life,” Smith said. “There was never a time when I rode him that I felt like I was going to get beat. There was no horse who could run with him without sacrificing themselves, and there was no horse who could come get him. He truly is a gift from God.”

Justify provided racing international exposure through the Triple Crown, winning the Belmont Stakes in China Horse Club’s red and yellow colors after taking the Derby and Preakness in WinStar’s silks.

“To win the Triple Crown is an amazing accomplishment,” said China Horse Club’s Teo Ah Khing. “The history of the Triple Crown and the difficulty of winning the three legs is not something I take lightly. It has been a great ride for all of us, and I have complete confidence Bob is doing the right thing by Justify.”

Justify will return to WinStar Farm, near Lexington, Kentucky, early next month. He won all six of his career starts, amassing earnings of $3,798,000. In addition to his Classic wins, Justify also won the Santa Anita Derby. Bred in Kentucky by John Gunther, the son of Scat Daddy—Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper was purchased by China Horse Club and Maverick Racing for $500,000 out of the Glennwood Farm consignment at the 2016 Keeneland September sale.

“The timing is bad for another start in 2018, and therefore, we have to retire him,” said WinStar Farm’s Elliott Walden. “Like American Pharoah, we can’t take the risk of running Justify as a four-year-old. We all wanted him to finish his career in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but it was not meant to be. As has been reported, there is a possible sale to Coolmore in place, but that won’t be finalized until a later date. We are excited to share him with our fans starting the middle of August after he gets acclimated.”

Justify will also parade at Del Mar on Saturday, July 28, before traveling to WinStar.

“The parade at Del Mar will be a great opportunity for the fans in the San Diego area to come out and see him,” said Baffert.