International News Wrap

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After Impasse, Santa Anita To Reopen March 29

A disagreement earlier this week between the Thoroughbred Owners Of California (TOC) and The Stronach Group (TSG) over the banning of Lasix at TSG’s’s California tracks in California threatened to keep Santa Anita closed for racing but an agreement has been reached and the track will open again on March 29 pending approval from the California Horse Racing Board.

The track was re-closed for training earlier this week after a 22nd horse died in a workout since the track’s racemeet opened on December 26. TSG then announced multiple safety changes that included the banning of Lasix, a controversial decision that saw pushback from TOC. However, the two parties were able to come to an agreement and on Saturday TSG’s revised safety regulations were released.

The track at Santa Anita will reopen March 29

“This is a complete revision of the current medication policy for Thoroughbred racing,” TSG’s Belinda Stronach said in a statement. “We have worked through the implementation of this groundbreaking model with our stakeholders and the California Horse Racing Board. TSG is committed to the principles of safe horse racing for both equine and human athletes and to making California racing the best in the world. It is my hope the other tracks in California will follow suit. TSG will begin consultation with our stakeholders in other states to put these standards into effect in those jurisdictions, in the best interest of horse racing.”

“This is a complete revision of the current medication policy for Thoroughbred racing." - TSG's Belinda Stronach

Among the changes announced on Saturday are the maximum dose of Lasix on raceday being halved from 10 cc to five with all 2-year-olds at the track in 2020 racing without the medication. There will also be strict limitations on pain and anti-inflammatory medications, trainers must apply for permission to work horses at least 48 hours before the work, and TSG will be increasing the time required for horses to be at the track prior to a race.

Baffert Duo Upset In Split Edition of Rebel

After the cancelation of the San Felipe at Santa Anita last weekend, California horsemen flocked to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas after it was announced the track would run two divisions of the Group 2 Rebel Stakes race if they received enough entries. Horsemen eagerly took advantage of the opportunity to earn valuable points on the Kentucky Derby trail with a combined total of 17 3-year-olds taking part in the two races.

Bob Baffert had won the race six times in seven years from 2010 from 2016, including with Preakness winner and former Australian shuttle stallion Lookin At Lucky (USA) (Smart Strike {CAN}) in 2010 and Triple Crown winner and current shuttle stallion American Pharoah (USA) (Pioneerof The Nile {USA}) in 2015, and was poised to do the same here.

Trainer Bob Baffert

Rerouting from his original plan, both champion Game Runner (USA) (Candy Ride {ARG}) and undefeated Improbable (USA) (City Zip {USA}) were sent to the track for their first starts of the year.

In the first division, Improbable was close to keeping his record intact but was defeated by locally-based Long Range Toddy (USA) (Take Charge Indy {USA}). The big chestnut had to settle for second by a neck, with fellow California shipper Galilean (USA) (Uncle Mo {USA}) in third.

Two races later, it was Game Winner’s turn to give Baffert a victory. However, Omaha Beach (USA) (War Front {USA}) had other ideas when just holding off the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner in a photo. The victory was also another major one for broodmare Take Charge Lady (USA) (Dehere {USA}).

Take Charge Lady is the dam of Long Range Toddy’s sire Take Charge Indy (A.P. Indy {USA}) and the granddam of Omaha Beach, whose half-sister is champion Take Charge Brandi (USA) (Unbridled’s Causeway {USA}) and full brother is Group 1 placed Courage Under Fire.