Maxfield Dominates at Churchill Again, Wins Grade I, $750,000 Clark


Multiple graded stakes winner Maxfield, one of the top older horses in North America, capped his racing career in style Friday at Churchill Downs as the 4-year-old colt swept past favorite Midnight Bourbon at the top of the stretch and turned back a late bid from Happy Saver to win the 147th running of the $750,000 Clark presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade I) by a half-length.

The lofty $450,910 first prize, thanks of a record-setting purse, lifted the dark bay or brown colt’s earnings to multi-millionaire status: $2,001,812 from a record of 8-2-1 in 11 starts. He is a perfect 5-for-5 beneath the historic Twin Spires at Churchill Downs.

Owned and bred by Godolphin, Maxfield clocked 1 1/8 miles on a track rated “good” in 1:49.06 under jockey Jose Ortiz, who rode the winner for trainer Brendan Walsh. This was the first Clark win for each of the connections.

“I feel just delighted he got the job done like that today,” Walsh said. “It’s a very prestigious race and it’s very nice he could win it and go into his stud career like that.”

Breaking from the far outside post position in the field of eight 3-year-olds and up, Maxfield relaxed in the clear off the early pace set by slight 6-5 favorite Midnight Bourbon, the Preakness (GI), Travers (GI) and Pennsylvania Derby (GI) runner-up who dictated terms through the first quarter mile in :23.83 and a half-mile in :48.00. Chess Chief, the longest shot at 101-1, chased from the inside in third and Happy Saver, the winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) in 2020 and runner-up this year, was content to track from fourth at odds of 12-1.

Leaving the far turn after six furlongs in 1:11.70, Maxfield drew even from the outside of 3-year-old Midnight Bourbon with minimal urging from Ortiz. The two matched strides at the top of the stretch for about a furlong before Maxfield drew clear of that rival in deep stretch. Happy Saver continued his steady run from the outside to cut into the final margin but was second best to the winner.

“He put me in the race today when he broke from the gate,” Ortiz said. “I could tell Happy Saver would be coming around the far turn and Maxfield felt him come alongside as well. He was able to dig down and really fight hard today. Hats off to Brendan and his team who have done an amazing job with him throughout his career. I’m very happy he gets to go out this way.”

Maxfield, at odds of 6-5, rewarded his backers with mutuels of $4.40, $3 and $2.20. Happy Saver, with Tyler Gaffalione up, returned $7.20 and $3.60. Midnight Bourbon, under Joel Rosario, was another three lengths back in third and paid $2.60 to show.

“He ran a huge race,” Gaffalione said of Happy Saver. “Hats off to Maxfield who was best today and ran great. I tried to get him into the race a little earlier just with the way the track has been playing. He ran a great race in defeat.”

Rosario offered no excuse for Midnight Bourbon’s defeat. “I got a really easy lead up the backside and he was traveling well,” Rosario said. “(Maxfield and Happy Saver) were just best tonight.”

Militarist finished fourth and was followed by King Fury, Night Ops, Dr Post and Chess Chief.

This was the seventh career stakes victory for Maxfield and second Grade I. At 2, he won the $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland by 5 ½ lengths.

He entered the race off a second-place finish, 1 ½ lengths behind Art Collector, in the $500,000 Woodward (GI) at Belmont Park 55 days ago on Oct. 2.

Following his Breeders’ Futurity win at age 2, Maxfield was the third choice on the morning line for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) in 2019 but was scratched from the race with a minor injury.

Maxfield returned in May 2020 and posted a one-length win the $150,000 Matt Winn (GIII) at Churchill Downs. He appeared to be a top contender for the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) when it was delayed until September because of the COVID-19 pandemic but he was, again, forced to the sidelines with another setback.

Maxfield resumed racing action last December and won the $75,000 Tenacious at Fair Grounds, which was an ideal steppingstone to what would be a sensational 4-year-old campaign in 2021. This year, he won four of seven starts – the $200,000 Mineshaft (GIII) at Fair Grounds in February; the $400,000 Alysheba presented by Sentinet Jet (GII) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard in late April; the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GII) in June; and Friday’s Clark – with runner-up efforts in the $1 million Whitney (GI) at Saratoga in August and The Woodward and a third in the $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap (GI) in March.

Maxfield is the first horse to sweep Churchill Downs’ Alysheba, Stephen Foster and Clark in a calendar year. For that matter, he’s also the first horse to win both the Stephen Foster and Clark in the same year.

Next up for Maxfield is stud duty at Darley at Jonabell Farm where he will stand for $40,000. Maxfield is son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense out of the Bernardini mare Velvety and was bred in Kentucky by his owners.

“He’s an unbelievable horse,” Walsh said. “I can’t say enough about him. He’s been through a lot the last two years. Today, he had to fight hard to get the job done and he ran great to hold off Happy Saver. It’s hard to find another horse like him. It was fantastic everything came together. It’s a fantastic way to cap his career.”

The Clark, named for Churchill Downs founder Col. M. Lewis Clark, was run for the first time in 1875 during the first racing meet at Churchill Downs, which was then known as the Louisville Jockey Club. Like the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), the Clark has been renewed annually without interruption since its first running.

Racing at Churchill Downs continues Saturday with a 12-race program that begins at 1 p.m. (all times Eastern). The 95th running of the $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) – a “Prep Season” race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby – and the 78th running of the $400,000 Golden Rod (GII) for fillies are the headliners on the penultimate day of Churchill Downs’ 21-date Fall Meet. Billed as “Stars of Tomorrow II,” each of the 12 races is exclusively for 2-year-olds that may have aspirations of trail-blazing their way to next spring’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

There’s a jackpot carryover of $210,134 on the 20-cent minimum Derby City 6, which covers Races 7-12 starting at 3:57 p.m. If the jackpot is not hit by a single winning combination on Saturday, there will be a mandatory payout on Sunday’s 12-race finale. Also, there is a $4,971 carryover in the $1 Super Hi 5, which is offered on the final race of the day.



Jose Ortiz, jockey of MAXFIELD (winner): “He put me in the race today when he broke from the gate. I could tell Happy Saver would be coming around the far turn and Maxfield felt him come alongside as well. He was able to dig down and really fight hard today. Hats off to Brendan and his team who have done an amazing job with him throughout his career. I’m very happy he gets to go out this way.”

Brendan Walsh, trainer of MAXFIELD (winner): “I feel just delighted he got the job done like that today. It’s a very prestigious race and it’s very nice he could win it and go into his stud career like that. He’s an unbelievable horse. I can’t say enough about him. He’s been through a lot the last two years. Today, he had to fight hard to get the job done and he ran great to hold off Happy Saver. It’s hard to find another horse like him. It was fantastic everything came together. It’s a fantastic way to cap his career.”

Tyler Gaffalione, jockey of HAPPY SAVER (runner-up): “He ran a huge race. Hats off to Maxfield who was best today and ran great. I tried to get him into the race a little earlier just with the way the track has been playing. He ran a great race in defeat.”

Joel Rosario, jockey of MIDNIGHT BOURBON (third): “I got a really easy lead up the backside and he was traveling well. (Maxfield and Happy Saver) were just best tonight.”

Say the Word Rambles Late to Take Del Mar’s H’Wood Turf Cup

Say the Word | Benoit Photo

Say the Word © Benoit Photo

Agave Racing Stable and Sam-Son Farm’s Say the Word swung clear at the top of the stretch and scampered down the lane to capture the $251,000 Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar Friday afternoon.

The 6-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready ran a mile and one half on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course in 2:27.62 under Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux to score by a length and take down a first prize of $150,000 in the Grade II headliner.

Phil D’Amato trains the winner and he also trains the runner-up, The Ellwod Johnston Trust, Timmy Time Racing, et al’s Acclimate, who set all the pace in the marathon, but couldn’t hold off his stablemate at the end. Finishing third a neck back was Mr. and Mrs. William Warren Jr.’s Friar’s Road.

Say the Word, who is a Canadian horse bred by the Sam-Son Farm of Rick Balaz of Ontario, paid $13.00, $5.80 and $4.00 across the board. Acclimate returned $8.80 and $4.40, while Friar’s Road paid $3.20.

Desormeaux, who was winning his 86th stakes at Del Mar, kept his horse covered up for the majority of the journey, shifted him all the way outside at the top of the lane and kept him to a drive to the wire. It was the veteran’s seventh lifetime score and the winner’s share increased his earnings to $882,792. All of his wins have come on the turf.

In the track’s continuing Pick Six Single Ticket Jackpot Wager, the bet once more couldn’t be conquered by the fans and its carryover moved up to $510,986. With only two days of racing left in the season, there’s a real possibility that the wager could go all the way to Sunday’s closing day and cause a mandatory payout that afternoon, a situation that usually greatly enhances the pool for the players.

First post for both Saturday and Sunday’s races will be 12:30 p.m.

KENT DESORMEAUX (Say the Word, winner) – “I’ve got to give Phil (trainer D’Amato) the credit for this one. He told me it was hard to get this horse to settle, so I told him I’d do the European thing: I’d put him up some horse’s rear (force him to stay in position) and wait until the end. My peers always ask me who’s my star and what that means is I’ll put a star by the horse that I think will carry me 70 yards from the wire. And Umby (rider Umberto Rispoli) had the star today (Rispoli was aboard Friar’s Road, the horse Desormeaux drafted in behind).”

PHIL D’AMATO (Say the Word, winner) – “This horse has had so much trouble before this; it was great to see him win. Kent (Desormeaux) did like he said he would and kept him covered up, then go him clear in the stretch and let him stretch his legs.”

FRACTIONS:  :23.98  :49.00  1:13.65  1:38.68  2:03.98  2:27.62

The stakes win was the second of the meet for rider Desormeaux but his first in the Hollywood Turf Cup. He now has 86 stakes wins at Del Mar, ninth most all time.

The stakes win was the second of the meet for trainer D’Amato but his first in the Hollywood Turf Cup. He now has 34 stakes wins at Del Mar.

The winning owners are Agave Racing Stable (Mark Martinez of San Antonio, TX) and the Sam-Son Farm (Rick Balaz of Ontario, Canada).  Sam-Son is also the breeder of Say the Word.

After 52 Years, A Farewell – But Not Good Bye – To Old Del Mar

Hank Wesch | Benoit Photo

Hank Wesch © Benoit Photo

My first look at Del Mar came in June of 1969 on a clever misdirection ploy by Steve Scholfield.

Best friends through high school and college we had parted company in 1968 when “Scholf” left our home state of Michigan to seek his fortune in California and landed a job as the sports editor – and only full-timer in the department – at the Oceanside Blade-Tribune.

One year later, upon my graduation from Michigan State, he had talked his bosses into hiring me as a second full-timer and picked me up at Lindbergh Field for the drive up the coast for the start of my new life adventure. After we passed through downtown Del Mar he pointed to a patch of sand before the Pacific Ocean and said, “On your left, what they call dog beach.” Then, after the road took an uphill rise, “Now look to your right.”

And there it was. A sight to delight the eyes and warm the heart of any horse racing player/fan. Especially one whose experience had been at county fair or utilitarian harness tracks in Southern Michigan and whose only Thoroughbred reference was an inexplicable attraction to the Kentucky Derby telecast on the first Saturday in May from boyhood onward.

At that moment, I knew I’d be seeing a lot of the place. How much, I couldn’t have imagined.

Would you believe 25 summers as turf writer for the San Diego Union and, after the merger, Union-Tribune? Would you believe 11 years as a member of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club media department working for Dan Smith and Mac McBride writing the daily Stable Notes and weekly features during the racing season?

Being of sound state of mind and body, however, I’ve decided to step away from the position and go into full retirement when the current Bing Crosby Season ends. And my last assignment from Mac is to put down a few memories of the years, the good and even not-so-good times, the horses and people I’ve encountered.

# # #

I made several trips to Del Mar as a fan that summer of ‘69. At the end of it, I got the notification that Uncle Sam needed me. I managed, however, to make it to the track at least once a summer through two years of service and three years working at newspapers in Orange County.

And in September of 1974 I was hired to cover high schools for the San Diego Union. Realizing, at 27, a dream of becoming a sports writer for a major newspaper. Eleven years later, after covering the gamut of sports at all levels, I was asked to take on horse racing as one of my “beats.” Which meant Del Mar in the summer, major stakes at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park the rest of the year on the Southern California circuit plus the Triple Crown races and Breeders’ Cup.

The paper already had two staffers, Dushan Lazovich and Frank Nichols, doing handicaps for the Southern California tracks and Caliente in Tijuana, respectively. So I didn’t have to worry about picking winners, just writing and reporting, starting with the Del Mar season of 1985.

A place that at that time was rife with legends and legends in the making.

# # #

Ron McAnally was the first major “name“ trainer that I interviewed. A cold call to his home, a self introduction and a half hour or so in which he was as gracious, thoughtful and forthright as he would be for many others in the 36 years since. When I first called, the John Henry glory days had recently ended, but McAnally would have many to follow at Del Mar with the likes of Bayakoa, Paseana and one shooting star from South America in 2003.

Most of the Del Mar interviews were conducted on the balcony, overlooking the track, of Barn I where McAnally could be found mornings supervising workouts. So there I was, part of a group of owners and others on that balcony in August of 2003 when Candy Ride went through his final workout for the Pacific Classic.

McAnally called out the splits and word was passed down the line through Sid and Jenny Craig and others, like we were soldiers in the trenches in World War II. McAnally’s pleasure at the end rippled along in a similar manner. Candy Ride won the “Classic” in what is still race record time under Julie Krone, replacing Gary Stevens who was injured a week before the event.

# # #

Charlie Whittingham was held in the highest esteem on the West Coast but with more than a sprinkling of skepticism east of the Mississippi when I first made the Del Mar scene. He was about to douse the doubters, however, by winning the 1986 Kentucky Derby with Sunday Silence, a colt he introduced to Bill Shoemaker the summer before at Del Mar.

Whittingham was a good interview but, from my experience, loathe to stand still for one. He was in his 70s and I in my late 30s, but he was taller and tougher, an ex-Marine who served at Guadalcanal, and hard for me to keep up with when on the move after a workout or stakes race. I heard a lot of the “Charlieisms” – my favorite being “You can’t expect to soar with the eagles if you hoot with the owls” – from a pace or two behind and I usually had to jot his quotes down while trying to catch my breath.

# # #

The jockeys’ room in 1985 was home to, among others, Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Chris McCarron, Eddie Delahoussaye and Patrick Valenzuela. Visits there after stakes races were invariably interesting.

Writers, especially rookies like me, were not exempt from Shoemaker’s practical jokes or being told after a wire-to-wire win that “You could have rode that one.” Pincay was as solid and assured in post race comments as he had been a few minutes earlier using his 117 pounds of muscle to seemingly lift and carry home a winner. McCarron could describe in detail practically every step his horse, and some of the competitors’, had taken. Delahoussaye came up with words that weren’t in the dictionary, but I often thought should have been, to describe a characteristic come-from-behind, nail-‘em at the wire victory. His fellow Cajun, and Hall of Famer, Kent Desormeaux is doing a good job of carrying on that tradition today.

Valenzuela would invariably use the words “got lucky” in describing a win even when it was obvious that skill and ability, his or the horse’s, were the overriding factors.

# # #

The late 1980s were times when D. Wayne Lukas and his main client, Chargers owner Gene Klein, were taking racing by storm through spending at the sales and registering stakes wins by the score. Del Mar was ground zero for the operation with Klein developing the Rancho Del Rayo facility a few furlongs from the track.

There was controversy in 1987 when Lukas saddled the 2-year-old filly Lost Kitty to win both the Del Mar Debutante and Del Mar Futurity, repeating a feat he’d accomplished with Althea four years earlier.

Klein joked (I think) that he preferred Thoroughbred athletes to NFL ones because the horses didn’t come around asking for a pay raise after a standout season. Klein reached the top of the racing world in 1988 when his filly Winning Colors, trained by Lukas, won the Kentucky Derby, but was soon to make an abrupt exit from the business.

The following year I made my only trip to Keeneland on the day after the Breeders’ Cup to cover the dispersal sale of Klein’s horses. I probably shouldn’t have been, but was astounded when the bidding on some started at $1 million. Klein put 114 head up for sale and seven went for upwards of seven figures topped by Open Mind ($4.1 million), Winning Colors ($4.1 million) and Lady’s Secret ($3.8 million). The total dispersal was $29.6 million. Klein estimated he’d about broken even for his racing venture if he didn’t count what his wife, Joyce, had put through the betting windows.

# # #

The 1990s through early 2000s at Del Mar were marked by: the inauguration of a $1 million race; the fall of the old grandstand and rise of the new; innovative marketing which generated booming business on track and off, and huge success for a San Diego County farm that hooked up with a rising star of a trainer.

I wrote extensively about them all, of course. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club founding father John Mabee and his wife Betty were a common thread through all with DMTC  President and CEO Joe Harper the point man on the administrative stuff and Bob Baffert the trainer who stirred things to a fine froth on the track.

At the end of the inaugural Pacific Classic in 1991, an event he championed and ramrodded into being, my path to the winner’s circle crossed with John Mabee at the top of the stairs of the grandstand that was to be torn down at the end of the meeting. I ducked under the gauntlet of outstretched arms reaching out to John and Betty while they touched as many hands as they could while squeezing through the crowd to where their Best Pal was being led.

Best Pal was the first in a line of high achievers for the Mabees’ Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona. In the car en route there one day for a tour, Betty Mabee cautioned that the facility wasn’t “a showcase like the farms in Kentucky.” And it wasn’t.

But it produced in both quantity and quality to the point that the Mabees won Eclipse Awards as the nation’s top breeders in 1997 and ’98 and were leading owners at Del Mar six times in the 1990s.

With the Mabees among his major clients, Baffert won consecutive training titles from 1997 to 2003.

People always ask me about Baffert, Del Mar’s leader for overall wins and stakes victories by a trainer. I’ve known him since he made the transition from quarter horses to thoroughbreds and was wearing a white cowboy hat and billing himself as the poor man’s D. Wayne Lukas.

He was a kick to be around then and has remained, to me, a kick to be around ever since. We’ve had clashes but they were all minor and quickly forgotten. Draw your own conclusions about Baffert. I conclude a 30-year working relationship, the kind I tried to have with every newsmaker I’ve dealt with, preps to pros, considering him to be a good man at heart, a helluva horseman and an overall credit to the industry through decades of being the most recognizable name and face in the business.

I had an intern shadowing me making my backstretch rounds one morning and introduced her to Bob, jokingly, as someone after my job. He laughed, pointed a finger at me and said, “This guy’s got it made.”

I didn’t think he had noticed.

# # #

My newspaper career ended with the 2010 Del Mar summer season. A few months later I got a call from a publisher, who had been steered my way by Mac, with an opportunity to write a book on the history of the track.

I produced 37,500 words in about five weeks with time off for the removal of my gall bladder and made the spring deadline for release coinciding with the 2011 season.

By that time I had assumed the position in the media department I’m leaving after 11 years.

# # #

In 2016 I was, out of the blue, the recipient of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association’s Charles Haight Award for Career Excellence in Turf Writing. An acceptance speech was required at a dinner during Breeders’ Cup Week at Santa Anita.

I had it written down on index cards and was doing fine until I looked up to see some members of the audience, even at the DMTC table, checking cell phones surreptitiously to check on Game 7 of the World Series between the Cubs and Indians.

A game which, when last I checked, was in a rain delay.

Fearing that I’d become less interesting than a baseball rain delay, I skipped a couple of cards and went straight to the ending. Cards, I realized to my horror when I sat down, which included thank yous to my family and friends.

Given a second chance in this forum I’m not gonna, as the song from “Hamilton” says, “Throw away my shot.”

Out of a healthy septuagenarian wariness about what’s put out on the Internet I’ll refrain from naming names like I planned to do at the 2016 dinner. They all know who I’m talking about and have been told many times over how much I love and appreciate them.

My wife of 46 years, who has put up with a lot of bad puns and handled everything so well during the long hours, days and on occasion weeks, when I’ve been away doing my dream job. Two daughters, one son and their spouses. Four grandkids. Two special friends of more than 40 years each, their wives and families.

I ended the 2016 speech expressing gratitude for the honor and “I’ll see you all next year at Del Mar,” a reference to the 2017 fall season when the track was the site of the Breeders’ Cup for the first time.

Retiring after Del Mar’s second Breeders’ Cup hosting seems appropriate. But I intend to extend my streak of at least one day at the track annually from its current 52 for as long as I am able.

So thanks for reading what I always intended to be at least a little informative, worthwhile and occasionally amusing writings in the newspaper or the DMTC website. And see you next year at Del Mar.

Expert: Transport Is an Equine Welfare Issue

An Italian researcher outlines the stresses high-performance horses face during transport and what horse owners and managers can do to help.

Expert: Transport Is an Equine Welfare Issue
Transportation isn’t just a major source of stress for horses—it’s also a serious health risk. By understanding risk factors and applying the latest scientific knowledge about the consequences of traveling, owners and professionals can help keep horses safer, healthier, happier, and better fit for performance after arrival, said a leading international expert. 

“There are literally thousands of horses traveling around the world every day, for competitions, sales, breeding, and more, and we all really need to consider that transportation is a physical and mental stressor for these animals at every phase along the way,” said Barbara Padalino, DVM, PhD, associate professor of animal science in the Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences at University of Bologna, in Italy.

Padalino, who has spent the past 12 years investigating effects of transportation on equids, spoke on the topic during the 2nd Conference of the Avenches National Equestrian Institute (IENA), held Sept. 11, 2021, in Switzerland.

The Five Phases of Transport

Presenting results from a recent comprehensive review of her own work as well as that of other scientists, Padalino described the five phases of equine transport, each with its own risks and challenges:

  • In the Pretransport phase, horses might get moved to holding facilities or quarantine centers, and they could undergo obligatory or optional veterinary testing, Padalino said. Taking into consideration how humans handle, restrain, and isolate equids from their peers is important, but that becomes even more critical in this context because horses will associate those experiences with the transportation itself. In pretransport, horses might express their stress through signs of anxiety such as whinnying, pawing, or even shaking and trembling, she said.
  • Loading is an especially challenging phase for many horses, and stress and problematic behavior often build on prior experiences. “Loading fear comprises different stimuli, such as fear of entering an enclosed space, the height of the step leading onto the ramp, the instability and incline of the ramp, the darkness inside, and any bad associations with previous transportation and/or punishments during loading,” she said. Behavioral problems related to loading include refusing to load, freezing, rearing, pulling back, and tossing the head, among others.
  • During transit—the third phase—horses can experience total isolation, separation from their stablemates, forced proximity to horses they don’t know, overcrowding, rattling and other loud and unusual noises, vibrations, road bumps or air turbulence, temperature extremes, poor ventilation, thirst, hunger, and unexpected movements that require them to shift their balance constantly. And the longer the journey, the more magnified these issues become, Padalino said. When horses are in transit, they might scramble to keep their balance or even panic, paw the ground, kick the walls of the vehicle, or act aggressively toward the other horses traveling with them.
  • Unloading can require unnatural positions and movements, often leading to horses having to step backward and down without seeing where they’re going. Ramps can have different angles, and some can be slippery. Some transport methods don’t have ramps, meaning the animals must adjust their steps—sometimes blindly—to a sudden and different level. All these problems can be exacerbated in horses with any degree of lameness, which frequently goes undetected in subtle cases. When unloading, horses can refuse to unload, freeze, and jump over the ramp.
  1. The post-transport phase involves a change of environment, housing, and equine neighbors—all of which are likely to be very unfamiliar. The horses’ food might also change, and the water might taste different. If they’ve traveled far, they might even have to adjust to a different time zone. And horses could potentially experience jet lag, although researchers have yet to investigate that topic, she said.

Transportation Always Affects Welfare

Even when people do their best to ensure a good trip for their horses, transport is inevitably going to affect welfare, said Padalino. Still, knowing which criteria are most likely to be affected can help well-meaning transporters adapt the traveling conditions to reduce these issues to a minimum.

Specifically, traveling horses are at risk of welfare compromise in the following areas:

  • Freedom from prolonged thirst and/or hunger;
  • Freedom and ease of movement;
  • Freedom from injury and disease;
  • Freedom to express social and other natural behaviors;
  • Comfortable resting conditions;
  • Thermal comfort (air temperature); and
  • A positive human-horse relationship.

This doesn’t mean people shouldn’t transport their horses, Padalino added. It just means they should minimize such welfare issues both in degree and duration.

Transportation Always Increases Health Risks

Stress makes the immune system less effective in fighting diseases, so horses enduring the stress of transport are more susceptible to infections, said Padalino. Her earlier studies have also shown that travel makes horses more likely to spread disease to others.

Head position can make a significant difference, she said. Because horses usually have their heads tied up while traveling, their mucus does not effectively clear their airways as it would normally when their heads are down. This makes them more prone to respiratory diseases, especially pneumonia. Standardbred and Thoroughbred racehorses are as much as six times more likely than other horses to develop pneumonia after traveling; journeys longer than eight hours also increase the risk sixfold, she said.

Horses can also experience heat stroke, which is more than twice as likely to occur when access to fresh hay and water is limited or when vehicles are poorly ventilated, she said.

In addition, travel appears to increase the risks of laminitis, muscular problems, and gastric ulcers, said Padalino.

A veterinary exam pretravel can help pinpoint horses already showing signs of illness, she said, adding that, “If you let a sick horse travel, you will end up with a sicker one.”

Thorough cleaning and sterilization of the vehicle after transport to kill infectious microbes is critical, she said.

Horses can also sustain physical injuries during travel—sometimes even fatal ones. To reduce accident risks, horses should be well-trained and habituated to transport. Allowing them to learn from their dams or other horses they feel close to can help, she said.

Transport rigs should be thoroughly inspected pretravel for any signs of damage or faulty attachments. And drivers should be skilled in transporting equids, recognizing how to accelerate, decelerate, turn, and anticipate reactions of other drivers when horses are in tow.

Sedation, meanwhile, is almost always a dangerous idea, said Padalino. Horses should only be sedated during transport in extreme circumstances, such as severe illness or injury, and only under a veterinarian’s advice. Sedated horses are three times more likely to get injured during transportation, she said.

Arrival: Catching Up on Welfare and Health Compromise

Arrival is the moment of payoff for the price horses have paid for their journeys, said Padalino. As such, when horses get to their destination, they need to benefit from lots of rest in a low-stress environment, ideally in turnout. Horses that developed laminitis after transport were more than three times as likely to have been denied any kind of post-travel recovery period, compared to those that did not, she said.

In general, about 24 hours of pasture time with the ability to graze with the head down can help undo some of the health and welfare damage caused by travel, she said.

For the first five days after arrival, handlers should take horses’ rectal temperatures and listen to their lungs and intestines through a stethoscope once or twice a day to check for signs of imminent illness, she said.

Better Conditions, Better Rules and Legislation

As science continues to reveal the risk factors related to health and welfare issues in traveling horses, people can implement that knowledge to make transport as low-risk as possible, said Padalino.

This includes better training of both horses and humans involved in transport, as well as improving vehicles with, ideally, better lighting and wider bays that allow horses to maintain their balance and put their heads down, she said.

“Equine industry members need to be educated on equine transportation risk factors, best practices, and policies,” Padalino said. “Policing of compliance of the equine movements, with handbooks for the management of high-health, high-performance horse, should be implemented.”


Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas. Racing Preview

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Betting a Sophomore in the Clark Stakes

The great Canadian sprinter will be retired to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society’s farm in Hillsburgh, ON following his final race.

When Pink Lloyd won his career debut on Aug. 28, 2016 as a 4-year-old, he ran his six furlongs in fast time, 1:09.01 for an 88 Beyer Speed Figure. He looked like he was going to be a good one for his patient connections of Entourage Stable and Robert Tiller.

It would have been hard to believe, however, what kind of career he would go on to through the next five years. Hall of Fame trainer Tiller had an inkling, though.

These were the words from Tiller following Pink Lloyd’s first stakes win, the 2017 Jacques Cartier Stakes in April, his sixth career race when he was 5 years old:

He made us wait. He’s a very good horse and it was tough to get to this race,” said Tiller. “He’s a detail horse and tough to get around the racetrack. The exercise rider does a wonderful job with him. Touch wood this is his first really sound year. I believe he’s a very good horse. I really do. He’s convinced me today.”

Thirty more starts and two undefeated seasons, plus a host of Sovereign Awards later, PINK LLOYD will be retired from racing following his final start in the Nov. 26 Kennedy Road Stakes (G2) worth $175,000. It is a race he has won twice.

Tiller has been in talks with LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society for nearly a year, solidifying a home for the multiple champion, one of the greatest sprinters this country has ever seen.

Through the years Pink Lloyd has won 25 stakes races, 10 of them graded, placed in three others and his record line reads 28 wins in 36 races and over $2.1 million in Canadian dollars. All of his races were sprints on Tapeta. He was a $30,000 yearling purchase by Entourage’s headline owner Frank DiGiulio Jr, who shares ownership of the lanky chestnut son of Old Forester – Gladiator Queen by Great Gladiator with Ed Longo, John Lucato, John Peri, and Victor Mele.  John Carey, owner of T C Westmeath Stud in Shelburne, bred Pink Lloyd.

All the superlatives have been used again and again during this great gelding’s career; there is really not much more to say. His longevity can be accredited to Tiller, the ‘detail man’, who has had to deal with plenty of nagging infirmities and quirks with the gelding. There was a short time when the gelding decide to jump up at the start of his races, and once he was declared a non-starter.

The gelding has been cared for by grooms Kris Pion, for the first few years of his career, and most recently, Michelle Gibson. Exercise rider Rafael Sanchez has played a big role, as well as assistant trainer Tom Lottridge. Eurico Rosa da Silva rode ‘Pinkie’ to many wins and his current rider is Rafael Hernandez.

Pink Lloyd, at the age of nine, has won two straight stakes races, showing his grit and speed, and possibly could have won the Grade 3 Vigil in July but he checked hard and had to settle for second behind the younger sprinter Souper Stonehenge.

And Souper Stonehenge, trained by Mark Casse, is the horse Pink Lloyd will have to get past to win his final race of his career Saturday. Souper Stonehenge, a 5-year-old by Speightstown, has beaten Pink Lloyd in all three of their meetings, has won two graded sprint stakes this year and could grab the Sovereign Award for Champion Sprinter away from the king in 2021.

The Casse gelding has been away since August when a foot abscess sidelined him, but he has been blazing around in the mornings in his workouts.

There are eight rivals for Pink Lloyd in total in the Kennedy Road, fittingly a race named after a great Canadian racehorse, and no doubt there will be a race named after Pinkie soon.

Pinkie will get to settle in at LongRun’s lavish farm in Hillsburgh, ON, one of the former Woodlands Farms, where visitors can go and visit him.

The Kennedy Road is race 8 on Saturday with a post time of 4:40 p.m.

Mario Watch

Mario Gutierrez
November 27 – Del Mar

I’ll Stand Taller Wgt-120 Race 1 Allowance Optional Claiming $40,000
Awake At Midnyte Wgt-120 Race 7 Jimmy Durante S. (Gr 3)
Team Merchants Wgt-122 Race 9 Hollywood Derby (Gr 1)
November 28 – Del Mar

Today’s Flavor Wgt-122 Race 2 Maiden Special Weight
Frose Wgt-123 Race 9 Allowance Optional Claiming $40,000

November 26 – Del Mar
Exactly Wendy finished 4th beaten 4 3/4 lengths Race 3 Chart
Rookie Mistake finished 7th beaten 2 1/2 lengths Race 5 Chart
Jazz Hands finished 7th beaten 6 3/4 lengths Race 8 Chart

Turf Paradise Daily Results and Activity


Friday, November 26
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Allowance $17,500 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Maiden Claiming – $10,000 $12,350 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Starter Optional Claiming – $6,250 $13,130 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Allowance Optional Claiming – $20,000 $24,700 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Claiming – $3,000 $10,660 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 City of Phoenix S. $60,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Luke Kruytbosch S. $60,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Starter Optional Claiming – $6,250 $13,130 Overnight Overnight

Early Entries

Thursday, December 2 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Trials $10,000
Race 2 Trials $10,000
Race 3 Trials $10,000
Race 4 Starter Optional Claiming – $5,000 $12,090
Race 5 Claiming – $8,500 $14,300
Race 6 Claiming – $3,500 $11,050
Race 7 Claiming – $15,000 $18,200
Race 8 Claiming – $3,000 $10,660
Race 9 Claiming – $8,500 $14,040

Final Entries

Wednesday, December 1
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Turf Paradise Maiden S. $34,450
Race 2 Claiming – $6,250 $13,130
Race 3 Claiming – $8,500 $14,820
Race 4 Maiden Claiming – $3,500 $10,400
Race 5 Maiden Optional Claiming – $30,000 $22,100
Race 6 Claiming – $8,500 $14,040
Race 7 Claiming – $6,250 $13,130
Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming – $10,000 $25,350