Horse Racing

Del Mar to host Breeders’ Cup races for third time in 2024 Steve Asmussen 1st trainer to notch 10,000 wins in North America Judge denies Bob Baffert request to reverse Churchill Downs ban

DEL MAR, California. The Breeders’ Cup selected Del Mar as the venue for the 41st World Championships the following year. This is the third time the scenic Pacific circuit has hosted season-ending split-stakes races featuring the finest Thoroughbreds.

Del Mar will feature 14 Grade 1 races with over $31 million in purses on November 1-2, 2024.

The circuit last ran in 2021 at 50% capacity due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, but still set a then all-source record of over $183 million. The 2017 Breeders’ Cup set a then-record bet amount of $25,181,317 and generated an economic impact of $96 million.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club President Josh Rubinstein called it a “landmark event” for San Diego and expressed hope that he could build on the success of previous events.

“The prestige of the event, combined with the legendary seaside atmosphere of our venue, makes for an unforgettable weekend,” Rubinstein added in a press release published Thursday.

This year the Breeders’ Cup will be held in Santa Anita on November 3-4.

HOT SPRINGS, Arkansas. Steve Asmussen became the first coach to reach 10,000 wins in North America when the Bet He’s Ready team won the fifth race at Oaklon Park.

He is already the top winning coach in the United States and Canada, posting 9446 on August 7, 2021 in Saratoga to surpass Dale Baird.

Family members joined the 57-year-old winner in the circle of winners in Oklon. Trek from Arkansas stated that he would donate $10,000 to charity on his behalf.

Asmussen has trained champions such as Curlin, Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008; filly Rachel Alexandra, Horse of the Year in 2009; and Gun Runner, Horse of the Year 2017.

Asmussen’s first victory as a purebred trainer came on July 19, 1986 at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico. His mother is a retired coach and his father is a retired jockey. His brother Cash was a French racing champion.

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky. A federal judge denied Bob Baffert’s motion to vacate his two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc., ruling that the Hall of Famer coach failed to show that his discipline was damaging to his business and reputation.

Baffert will miss his second Kentucky Derby in a row and, under the Churchill Downs rule, he has until February 28 to hand over his Derby rivals to other coaches so they can race on May 6. Horses earn Derby qualifying points by finishing in the top five of the designated races; any horse trained by Baffert after the February deadline is ineligible to earn points.

Last year, Baffert handed Taiba and Messier over to former assistant Tim Yaktin at the Derby. Taiba finished 12th and Messier 15th out of 20 horses.

Baffert sued Churchill Downs following his expulsion in June 2021 following a failed post-race drug test by the now-deceased colt Medina Spirit, who crossed the line first in the 147th Derby. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission ultimately disqualified the foal in February 2022 and suspended Baffert for 90 days for a string of unsuccessful trials of his horses.

Baffert claimed that Churchill Downes did not notify him or explain the suspension. His attorney Clark Brewster argued earlier this month that the historic walkway was subject to state due process rules. U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ultimately rejected that argument and said that, as a private company, Churchill Downs could set its own disciplinary policy.

“Not punishing trainers whose horses test positive in races could damage[Churchill Downs, Inc.]’s reputation and the integrity of their racing,” Jennings wrote.

The message left for Brewster was not immediately returned.

Among Baffert’s top 3-year-olds this season are Arabian Knight and Cave Rock. Arabian Knight is owned by Saudi Arabian businessman Amr Zedan. Jennings wrote that an affidavit given to the court stated that Zedan would transfer his horses to another trainer if Baffert remained banned by Churchill Downs.

Although Baffert is banned from the first of the Triple Crown races, he is eligible to race in Maryland at the Preakness and in New York at the Belmont Stakes. His one-year suspension by the New York Racing Association expired in January.

Churchill Downs wanted to close the case, citing nine unsuccessful trials of horses trained by Baffert as justification for disciplinary action against the most visible figure in the race. The list of offenders includes Gamine, a third-place finisher in the 2020 Kentucky Oaks, who was eventually disqualified.

Medina Spirit failed his test for the presence of the regulated corticosteroid drug betamethasone in his system, which Baffert and Brewster claimed was obtained as an ointment, not an injection.

Track president Mike Anderson said Churchill Downs CEO Bill Karstangen’s decision was dictated by Baffert’s “refusal to take responsibility for repeated violations.”


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