Louisiana Horsemen Aim to Strengthen Aftercare Support

Lawmakers considering changes after stories showed Thoroughbreds in kill pens.


The Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association supports state legislation that would make changes to its aftercare program the organization believes will lead to greater participation.

Lawmakers are considering changes after stories and social media posts showed Thoroughbreds who had raced at Delta Downs in kill pens. Industry groups also are rallying to put additional safety nets in place.

The issues in Louisiana proved a timely topic for a panel on aftercare at the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association convention March 15 in New Orleans.

Louisiana HBPA president Benard Chatters said his organization supports the proposed legislation, which would have all horsemen participate in a program of financial support for aftercare that could be based on a per-start basis or a commitment from purse earnings. Chatters said the current Louisiana HBPA program allows horsemen to opt in to support aftercare, but he believes moving to a system where horsemen are in the program unless they opt out will see improved participation.

“If they’re already in the program, a lot of them won’t make the effort to opt out,” Chatters said, noting that there may not be full awareness of the current opt-in program.

Patrick Richmond, president of Louisiana Horse Rescue Association, said similar legislation has been proposed before, but he thinks the recent effort has a better chance of passing because of support from the Louisiana HBPA; Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs owner Boyd Gaming; state Quarter Horse breeders; and the racing commission. They expect support from the state’s other two track owners, Churchill Downs Inc. and Harrah’s.

Richmond said aftercare groups would like to see a commitment of $5 a start. Chatters said Louisiana HBPA might be more receptive to a plan that makes a commitment from purse earnings after a horse has won. Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance operations consultant Stacie Clark, who moderated the panel, said either type of approach can work.

Michele Rodriguez, founder and president of Elite Thoroughbreds and a board member of the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association, said Boyd will commit to matching funds by horsemen, and she’s certain CDI also will get on board.

Chatters noted, with the emergence of social media, a small percentage of horsemen not acting properly can endanger the sport.

“The largest percentage of trainers and owners are responsible,” Chatters said. “It only takes one person, or one horse. … Something happens in some remote corner of the state, and all of a sudden it’s all over the nation because of social media.”

Panel participants and National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback said that something as simple as improved communication between horsemen and aftercare facilities can make the difference for a horse.

“We have to make that connection and keep them together,” Hamelback said. “Aftercare needs to become part of your business plan.”

Jessica Hammond, program administrator of Maryland’s Beyond the Wire—a state aftercare initiative of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Maryland Jockey Club, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, and Maryland jockeys—encouraged horsemen from states without similar aftercare programs to take the initiative.

She said owners are contributing $11 a start, and it’s enjoyed about “99% participation.” She said jockeys will contribute about $60,000 this year. The program works with six TAA-accredited facilities.

“Just jump in. … You kind of just have to get the idea on how you want your program to run and just start it,” Hammond said. “You’re not going to have everything perfect from the get-go. You’re going to have to tweak things along the way, and that’s OK. There’s no reason for not starting.”

Hamelback emphasized that the stakes are high, and not having an aftercare plan in place is no longer acceptable.

“We have to educate people that there is a second chance after racing. We have to stop these horses from getting to the pen,” Hamelback said. “We need racetracks’ help, but we also need horsemen’s help when it comes to education.”

Prominent Owner Tom Benson Dies

Owner of New Orleans Saints, Pelicans was active in Thoroughbred racing.


Tom Benson, a Louisiana sports icon who took his football and his basketball with a healthy side of horse racing, died March 15 at Oschner Medical Center in Jefferson, La., with his wife Gayle Marie Benson at his side. He was 90, and was hospitalized with the flu Feb. 16.

For all his success as owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, including the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV victory and a plaque in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, there was one sports trophy the Louisiana native joked he might not want to claim. As much as he loved Thoroughbreds, as a savvy businessman Benson recognized how horses pull you in.

Greg Bensel, general manager of the Benson family’s GMB Racing—who confirmed Benson’s death through his role as senior vice president of communications and broadcasting for the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans—spoke Wednesday at the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association convention in New Orleans. He recalled how Benson approached the morning of the 2016 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), just two years after GMB Racing was formed.

“We’d rented a home in Louisville. At breakfast he said, ‘You know, Greg, I don’t know that I really want to win the Kentucky Derby today.’ I said, ‘Why is that, Mr. Benson? He said, ‘If we do win, we have to buy more horses, a farm, and really get into this,” Bensel said.

While they dabbled in racehorse ownership in the 1970s and 1980s, the Bensons returned to the sport after a multi-decade absence with renewed vigor in 2014, inspired by the rags-to-riches story of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome .

“He said, ‘Greg, what would it take for us to get in the business?’ I said, ‘Why don’t you give me a check for $2 million—that will be a start—and we’ll go out and hit the Keeneland September sale and we’ll buy some horses,'” Bensel said.

From their first modern crop of yearlings, they campaigned not one, but two starters in the 2016 Kentucky Derby—graded stakes winner Mo Tom (eighth for trainer Tom Amoss) and multiple graded stakes winner Tom’s Ready  (12th for trainer Dallas Stewart).

“We finished eighth and 12th, which I thought was respectable, but he ended up buying more horses and one of the most beautiful farms I’ve ever been on,” Bensel said, mentioning Benson Farm at Greenwood Lodge in Paris, Ky., home to a broodmare and boarding operation.

“We had tremendous, uncanny success. He realized that was not the norm in this business,” Benzel said. “It started out as a hobby for us, and now it’s nearly a $21 million business.”

Benson was born Thomas Milton Benson Jr., on July 12, 1927, in New Orleans. The son of Thomas Milton Benson Sr. and Carmelite Marie Pintado Benson, he was raised in the 7th Ward neighborhood of New Orleans and graduated from St. Aloysius High School (now Brother Martin High School) in 1944.

Benson enrolled at Loyola University New Orleans to study business and accounting. He interrupted his education to enlist in the U.S. Navy, where he was assigned to the USS South Dakota. Upon the conclusion of World War II, he returned to New Orleans and continued his business administration studies.

In 1948, Benson went to work as a bookkeeper for the Cathey Chevrolet Company in New Orleans, and by 1956, at age 29, was on his way to managing a Chevrolet dealership as a junior partner. Six years later, he took full control of the company and established a multi-dealership organization, with outlets throughout the New Orleans area and South Texas. In 1972, Benson entered the banking business and eventually took his banking network public as Benson Financial World.

In 1985, Benson purchased the New Orleans Saints after learning that the NFL franchise was on the verge of being sold to parties interested in relocating the team. He purchased the Saints on May 31, 1985. In 2012 Benson purchased the New Orleans Hornets NBA franchise and renamed it the New Orleans Pelicans the following season.

Through his sports teams, business interests, and the Gayle and Tom Benson Foundation, Benson was dedicated to assisting myriad charitable, faith-based, and educational causes in the New Orleans and South Texas communities. Under Benson’s direction, his businesses and sports teams annually have put millions of dollars back into the community in financial support, in-kind donations, charitable appearances, and the donations of goods and services.

“It is a sad day for Louisiana. Thank you for everything you have done for our state, our country, and the sport of horse racing,” Amoss said of Benson, in a statement posted on his Twitter account. “It is hard to put into words what you have meant to all of us. I am honored to have been a small part of your story.”

Details regarding public visitation and funeral will be forthcoming.

No Human or Equine Injuries in Small Oaklawn Fire

Dorm room fire has displaced several residents.

No people or horses were injured March 6 after a small fire in a dorm room on the Oaklawn Park backstretch.

Track spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyt said the fire occurred at about 5:45 a.m. local time Tuesday in a dorm above the Swaps barn on the backstretch of the Hot Springs, Ark. track. She said firefighters quickly responded and put out the fire before it spread.

Hoyt said about a half-dozen residents were displaced by the dorm fire. She said Tuesday morning that track officials were assisting them in relocation efforts.

About 40 horses were moved from the barn during the fire. They were able to return to their stalls in the same barn by about 7 a.m.

“It was impressive to see our horsemen working together, helping one another,” Hoyt said. “They’ll compete on the track but when somebody’s in need, they all just jump in.”

Trainers Wanted for 2-Year-Olds in Training Survey

Survey hopes to identify injury or illness rate among 2-year-olds in training.


When starting research on injury rates and types of injuries in young Thoroughbreds in training, University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Center scientist and veterinarian Dr. Allen Page discovered he had no current statistics for North America with which to make any comparisons.

Page is hoping to fill this gap with an ongoing appeal to Thoroughbred breaking and training centers in the U.S. and Canada to provide weekly injury and illness reports on 2-year-olds that have not been breezed yet.

“One of the things we noticed as we applied for funding was a lot of data from other countries on horses in training, but there is nothing contemporary for North America,” Page said. “We know training methods are different and surfaces are different, so it makes it difficult for us to try to extrapolate the work we are doing to North America.”

Working with Dr. Tim Parkin, a professor of veterinary epidemiology at the University of Glasgow who does statistical modeling for The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database, Page has developed a survey that should be easy for trainers to fill out on a mobile phone or tablet.

Trainers are being asked to answer a handful of questions each week about the horses in their care, including the number of training days missed and the reasons for the missed training—bucked shins, stress fractures, exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, respiratory illness, colic, or another non-exercise related injury (such as a laceration), or another malady. They are also asked to record for each horse the number of works or breezes, the distances for each, and the surface of the track or gallop.

“Trainers have a million things to do, we know, and this is now a million and one. So we’ve made the survey as easy to fill out as possible,” Page said. “That early speed training is such an important time for these horses. We know those early breezes set them up for success or potential failure down the road, because this is the time their skeletal systems are developing a response to the stress of training. We want to get a better grasp on that.”

Participate in the 2-year-olds in Training Injury and Illness Survey

With the year’s first 2-year-olds in training sale less than two weeks away, Page acknowledged the survey request is coming out late in the breaking and training cycle. He hopes, however, to collect some data this year while laying the foundation for more widespread participation starting next fall.

“We will also want to look at the sale horses separately, because that is always the question about horses who are being pushed earlier than those being prepped for the races,” Page said.

While several owners have responded to the survey request, Page said he only wants trainers participating because they are working hands-on with the horses every day. Also, Page stressed, the information provided is confidential.

“We rely on trainers providing us honest information, so when we publish results, we never publish names,” Page said. “If they are the only trainer in a particular small town, we only identify the state. If they are the only trainer in a state, then we don’t report that state. We don’t publish anything that can be tied to a specific trainer, owner, or horses.”

While some participants may be concerned, too, about what the results of such a survey might show, Page points to the progress made at North American racetracks because of the Equine Injury Database. The racetrack fatal injury rate has dropped four consecutive years and is down 23% since 2009, according to an analysis released in March 2017.

“This survey will help as we refine the testing we do in our lab but also give the rest of the industry a good idea of what the overall injury rate is and where there is room for improvement, if there is,” Page said. “So come one, come all.”

Equine Artist Stone Dies at Age 87

Through his work, Stone supported many racing charities.

Equine artist Fred Stone, whose works are in the White House and Buckingham Palace, died Feb. 4. He was 87.

On his Facebook page, Stone’s family reported that the artist died due to complications from cancer. They said he was surrounded by family.

Born April 13, 1930, in St. Louis, Stone’s family moved to Los Angeles when he was 3. He studied art at the Otis Art Institute as a child. Later, he attended The Art Center School and Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Stone worked as a commerical artist and painted backgrounds for the film industry. In the late 1970s he turned to painting racehorses.

In a 1990 BloodHorse story, Stone described that transition.

“At first they all looked alike,” Stone said. “But I fell  in love with racing and once I studied horses, they becamse individuals—full of emotion and power.”

Stone’s large murals can be found all over the world, including the world’s largest horse mural at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas.

Stone supported worthy charities in the racing community and beyond, including families of New York firefighters impacted by 9-11, handicapped children on horse back foundations, disabled jockeys, and finding homes for retired racehorses, among others. On his passing, groups like After the Finish Line noted his contributions.

Throughout his career, Stone donated proceeds from the sale of various prints to many equine-related charities.

“I have been fortunate,” Stone said in the 1990 BloodHorse story. “I made my career from horse racing and I want to share that with others.”

Fred Stone and Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker

Oppenheim: An In-Depth Look at APEX Ratings

In My Opinion

Rating sires objectively is a tricky business.

There are three methods which have historically been used: progeny earnings; average-earnings indexes; and percentage of black-type winners from named foals of racing age. The limitations of progeny earnings are easy to understand: sires with the most foals and runners have the best chance of topping these lists, and possibly better sires with limited runners are penalized. Percentage of black-type winners went out the window when sire crop sizes doubled and virtually no sires could reach the 10% BTW/foals threshold which identified the top sires.

Now there is a variation in vogue, especially among advertisers, which is BTW/runners. The trouble with this is, the statistic actually favors sires with lower percentages of winners to runners, and thus potentially rewards unsoundness.

The average-earnings index is a simple concept: dividing a sire’s total earnings by his number of runners that year, and comparing that figure to the average earnings that year for all sires. It can be done for any jurisdiction (i.e. North America), and consecutive years can be added together to create a ‘cumulative’ average-earnings index. The trouble with the average-earnings index is this: let’s say one horse by the sire earns $8 million, and 99 other runners by the same sire earn $10,000 each. The sire’s average earnings per runner would be $89,900 (about a 2.25 AEI), whereas, really, only one out of 100 runners by that sire was actually any good.

For this reason a group of us at Racing Update in the late 1980’s devised what we called APEX ratings—Annual Progeny Earnings IndeX. It is a variation, or we would say, an enhancement of the average earnings index, because APEX ratings measure the frequency with which sires get runners which achieve certain earnings thresholds. So, like the average earnings index, we start with the population of all runners in a year in a racing jurisdiction, for example North America.

We then calculate (well, The Jockey Club Information Services does the calculations for us) three earnings thresholds which represent class gradations. The top 2% earners from runners are designated as ‘A Runners,’ the next 2% are ‘B Runners,’ the next 4% are ‘C Runners,’ and the top 8% are then designated ‘ABC Runners.’ You’ll find the specific thresholds in a table accompanying this article: in North America, in 2017, A Runners earned a little over $135,000; B Runners $94,000; and C Runners $64,000. One sobering fact is that only the top 8% of runners in North America in 2017 earned $64,025 or more.

APEX ratings are then created by adding together the calculations each year for a seven-year period in five racing jurisdictions including seven countries, and divided into three regions: North America, including the U.S. and Canada (earnings calculated together); ‘Europe,’ which for these purposes includes the U.K. and Ireland (earnings calculated together), France, and Germany; and Japan. If it didn’t happen in those countries we don’t count it, with the exception of the group 1 races run on Dubai World Cup night.

We restrict the time period to seven years (the ratings always cover the previous seven years), so the current ratings cover 2011-2017. This does tell us when once-great sires are not the forces they once were, and there have been some notably demonstrable historical cases where this has happened. Restricting the data to seven years keeps it more current.

We only rate sires once they have 3-year-olds, meaning the youngest group now rated had their first foals in 2014: Frankel and Union Rags ‘ sire crop, which in 2018 have their first 4-year-olds racing. And we only rate sires who had 10 or more 3-year-olds in the last year rated. So older sires who have died off go off the list, and also it eliminates any super small-crop freaks.

The average-earnings index, for example, uses all runners by all sires, which is mathematically ‘pure.’ APEX ratings are not mathematically pure in that sense; we restrict the sires, but our argument (by ‘we’ and ‘our’ I mean myself and our APEX team) is that we are trying to create statistics which are of practical use to participants in the $1.5 billion auction marketplace. It’s our observation that a sire with a 1.00 average-earnings index is actually below average commercially. By knocking out sires with fewer than 10 foals, we believe a sire with a 1.00 APEX A Runner Index really is an average sire.

There are actually 17 different APEX ratings: A, B, and C Indexes for North America, Europe, Japan, and Total (12), plus Total ABC Index; and ABC Age Ratings (these are really interesting) for 2-year-olds; 3-year-olds; 4-year-olds; and 5-year-olds and up. Current APEX ratings for 735 sires and further explanation of APEX, as well as other articles detailing leading APEX sires, can be found in the APEX section of my website,

There were, as noted, 735 sires assigned 2018 APEX ratings; 102 of these were in Japan, which we don’t mix in with the North American and European sires as their market is overwhelmingly domestic. For the purposes of devising leaders’ lists we use only sires with 200+ “year-starters” (in annualized figures, a horse is counted as one ‘year-starter’—and potentially one A Runner—each year it starts). There were 407 North American and European sires with 200+ year-starters 2011-2017. Here are the top ten in four key categories:

A Runner Index: The world’s top sire, Galileo (IRE), is the number one sire by 2018 A Runner Index, with a 4.60 Index. This is quite remarkable in that he had 2,119 year-starters 2011-2017—over 300 a year; he really is a class-producing machine. Uncle Mo  (4.49) ranks second, which is also very impressive as the trend for most young sires is diagonally down, so this rating means his second and third crops of 2-year-olds have not materially knocked his success rate down.

War Front  (4.20), Dubawi (IRE) (3.54), and Medaglia d’Oro (3.50) complete the top five, followed by Sea The Stars (3.28), Ghostzapper  (3.26), Dansili (GB) (3.03), Into Mischief  (2.91), and Tapit  (2.86), who rounds out the top 10 North American and European sires by A Runner Index. Frankel had 161 year-starters at the end of 2017, so doesn’t qualify for these ‘top 10’ lists; but he has a 5.59 A Runner Index, and will definitely qualify this year.

Number of A Runners: With more year-starters than any other sire and the highest A Runner Index, Galileo (195) was a certainty to lead this list, and does he ever. Tapit (112) is a distant second, ahead of Medaglia d’Oro (105), Kitten’s Joy  (100), and Dubawi (94). Golden oldie Giant’s Causeway  (93) leads the second five, ahead of War Front (85), Dansili, and Speightstown (83), and the late, great Smart Strike (79). These are the stallions which have sired the highest quantity of the highest quality.

ABC Runner Index: This metric describes the most consistent stallions for siring what we call ‘break-even or better’ runners; in North America in 2017, for instance, as we’ve noted, that figure is $64,025 or higher. War Front (2.53) tops Galileo (2.43) in this category, with Dubawi (2.42) third. Since 8.00% equals a 1.00 ABC Runner Index, this tells us that 20.24% of War Front’s year-starters become ABC Runners. You could say it’s a little scary that even the very best sires only get one out of five runners which pay their way, but that just shows what a tough game this racing horses is.

An interesting aspect of the APEX ratings is they do sometimes reval horses that are doing better than maybe the market gives them credit for, and one such case could be F2013 Twirling Candy , who is number four by ABC Runner Index (2.36), just ahead of his F2013 contemporary, Uncle Mo (2.33). Twirling Candy is a $25,000 sire who is proving to be a very consistent sire of ‘break-even or better’ runners; he’s mixing it with some sires who cost a lot more money to breed to. The second five in this category are: Curlin  (2.29), Ghostzapper  (2.21), Speightstown (2.17), and—tied for ninth—Medaglia d’Oro and the long-time leading California sire Unusual Heat (2.09), just ahead of Tapit (2.08).

Number of ABC Runners: Galileo (412) had an average of 303 runners, 28 A Runners, and 59 ABC Runners a year; he’s not as far ahead as second-placed Tapit (326) as he was by number of A Runners, but he’s still a fair way clear. Giant’s Causeway (281) is third in this category, ahead of Speightstown (275) and Dubawi (257). The second five is headed by Medaglia d’Oro (251), followed by Kitten’s Joy (246), Smart Strike (238), Malibu Moon (237), and Candy Ride (ARG) (235).

For the complete list of 735 sires with 2018 APEX ratings, and more information about APEX, please visit

Lasix Study Backs Four-Hour Administration Time

Pair of Lasix studies of interest outline results.

A study that has some potential to reshape the timing of Salix administration ahead of racing determined that the current four-hour timeframe is more effective than administering 24 hours out in reducing the severity of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.

The study, led by Dr. Heather Knych, was one of two studies on Salix (furosemide, commonly referred to as Lasix) with results outlined at the American Association of Equine Practitioners convention in late November. The other study, led by Dr. Warwick Bayly, found some potential for a low dosage of Salix 24 hours out combined with controlled access to water in reducing EIPH in racing.

The Paulick Report first posted a story on the results of both studies Jan. 30.

According to the AAEP’s 2017 Convention Proceedings document, the study by Dr. Knych of the Ken L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory looked at the efficacy of administering Lasix 24 hours out, instead of the current four hours out called for in racing’s model rules. The study concluded that administering furosemide four hours before a race was more effective in reducing the severity of EIPH than going to 24 hours out.

The Knych study saw 15 Thoroughbreds administered furosemide either four or 24 hours prior to a five-furlong simulated race. Blood samples were collected before and after the simulated race for determination of furosemide, lactate, hemoglobin, and electrolyte concentrations.

One hour after the race, an endoscopic exam and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was performed. Horses were assigned an EIPH score based on previously published criteria. The number of red blood cells in in BAL fluid was also determined.

“There was a statistically significant difference in EIPH scores between the four-hour and 24-hour furosemide administrations,” the study determined. The study noted that none of the treatments prevented EIPH in the horses but that reducted red blood cell counts in bronchoalveolar fluid post-race indicated that administering furesomide four hours before a race was the most effective.

According to its introduction, the study came together following anecdotal reports that suggested furosemide administration 24 hours prior to strenuous exercise could be equally effective at decreasing EIPH.

The United States is one of the few countries that allows the raceday administration of Lasix. A study showing efficacy in preventing EIPH at 24 hours or beyond had potential to reshape current raceday policy of administration four hours before the race.

In the study led by Bayly, it was determined that a 0.5 mg/kg administration of furosemide 24 hours before strenuous exercise combined with controlled access to water shows potential for reducing the severity of EIPH.

The study used six horses who underwent treadmill exercise to fatigue after seven different protocols that adjusted the dosage amount of the Lasix and timing of the administration. The study concluded that, “Furosemide, 0.5 mg/kg, combined with controlled access to water, significantly reduced the severity of EIPH,” adding that, “No ill effects were detected in the horses.”

In its AAEP presentation outline, the study noted that “Although the findings were promising, the number of horses used was small. The effects of furosemide on water and ion excretion were evident for 24 hours but did not adversely affect the horses, likely because of increased absorption of wager and ions from the colon.”

In September 2015, Grayson Jockey Club Foundation announced it had launched funding of the two projects. The AAEP also played a prominent role in funding the projects, along with a number of racetracks.

Jamie Theriot Plans Tack Shift to Mauritius

Jockey will ride for two-time champion trainer Ramapatee Gujadhur.


In more than 20 years of riding races, jockey Jamie Theriot has had some incredible experiences. Perhaps the best experience is awaiting him following the conclusion of the winter meet at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, when he moves to the Southern Hemisphere to ride full-time at Champ de Mars Racecourse in Port Louis, Mauritius.

Theriot, 38, will ride for Ramapatee Gujadhur, the champion trainer on the island off of South Africa in 2012 and 2015.

“I’m very excited and it’s very humbling to get this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go experience something like this,” Theriot said. “(Ramapatee Gujadhur) is on the same level as Chad Brown here in the United States. His operation is nothing but family. It came from his father to him and his sons are involved, but one is a lawyer and one is a doctor. I’m going to be around some great people.”

Theriot explained how the opportunity was presented to him.

“The trainer and (Lane’s End Farm owner) Bill Farish are really good friends, from what I understand,” Theriot said. “Bill Farish sent (jockey) Robby Albarado an email and said, ‘Try to find us a good American rider,’ and Robby talked to me about it, called Bill, and told him, ‘Jamie would go.’ So they mentioned my name to the guy and he looked up my stats and he said, ‘I want him.'”

The plan for Theriot is to ride in Mauritius for seven months and return to the United States to possibly ride at Fair Grounds.

“It works out perfect;” Theriot said. “I’ll leave at the end of the meet and be back in November for Fair Grounds, if I want to ride (or) if I want to take off. It will be (emotional) leaving everyone here and going there, (but) it’s not right around the corner. I know I’m not going there for years. I’m going for seven and a half months and back. (Gujadhur) said something about riding the jockey challenge while I’m there. It could open up opportunities in other areas and you never know what’s waiting.

“I’ll ride one day a week, all turf racing. This man is taking very, very good care of me, and I’ll be bringing my boys and put them in school down there. I’ll have to ride the other way, which is something that I’m going to get to experience. I think it’s just like riding a bike. … After I work a couple of horses going the wrong way and change a couple of tactics here and there, I think that I’ll be fine.”

Theriot is just four wins shy of reaching the 2,500 mark. He has been based at numerous circuits across the United States and has won riding titles at Evangeline Downs (2001) and Oaklawn Park (2003). His career highlights include victories in the 2010 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) aboard Dubai Majesty and the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G2T) on Chamberlain Bridge, both for trainer Bret Calhoun.

Oaklawn Issues Ban Amid EHV-1 Positives

Horses from Belmont Park and Laurel Park will not be allowed on the grounds.


Following the news of equine herpesvirus-1 positives at both Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., and Laurel Park in Baltimore, Md., Oaklawn Park announced Jan. 21 that horses stabled at either track will be prohibited from entering the Hot Springs, Ark., grounds until further notice.

The first case of EHV-1 was reported by the New York Racing Association after an unraced 3-year-old trained by Linda Rice from Belmont’s Barn 44 tested positive Jan. 9.

NYRA placed the horse in an isolation barn immediately after the first positive test was revealed at the Cornell Ruffian Equine Hospital, where the horse was treated for a fever and what was described by officials as “a mild respiratory issue.”

All horses in Barn 44 were then placed under quarantine and barred from racing at Aqueduct Racetrack or training with other horses.

Subsequently, the Maryland Jockey Club issued a ban of three horses housed in Barn 44 that were scheduled to run in the Jan. 20 Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel.

A follow-up test of the initial affected horse returned positive Jan. 19, which resulted in an extension of the precautionary quarantine at Belmont.

Sal Sinatra, president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, issued a statement Jan. 20 that a horse who shipped to Laurel tested positive for EHV-1.

The horse was removed from the grounds and the barn he was stabled in was placed under quarantine. A follow-up test is scheduled for Jan. 23. Plans call for quarantine restrictions to remain in place until Jan. 30 if the horse should test positive a second time.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture and University of Pennsylvania also reported a horse transported from a Baltimore County farm to the New Bolton Center was euthanized Jan. 18 after testing positive for EHV-1.

“(On Jan. 16) a horse that had been hospitalized for an unrelated medical issue developed signs compatible with equine herpes myeloencephalopathy and tested positive for equine herpesvirus,” a release on the New Bolton Center’s website stated.

The release also stated: “The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has traced and quarantined horses suspected of having been exposed to the virus that had already left New Bolton Center prior to the diagnosis of EHM at that location. In Pennsylvania orders of special quarantine have been posted at premises that received these potentially exposed animals to control the spread of this disease.”

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has urged caretakers to watch their horses for any neurological symptoms and to monitor for fever.


By Eric Mitchell

Tom and Gayle Benson’s grade 3 winner Mo Tom has been retired from racing and will enter stud this year at Jay Adcock’s Red River Farm near Coushatta, La. A stud fee has not been determined.

The 5-year-old son of Uncle Mo—Caroni, by Rubiano, was among the first yearlings the Bensons purchased for their GMB Racing operation in 2014, and one of two that found their way to the 2016 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) starting gate. The other runner was Tom’s Ready, who is also entering stud this year at Spendthrift Farm.

“Mo Tom has had a nice racing career. Even though he suffered through some tough trips and a few injuries, he was still able to make nearly $700,000 in earnings,” said Greg Bensel, who manages GMB Racing for the Bensons. “We tried to do a few things with him late in his racing career—like bringing him back quickly in the Clark Handicap (G1) and then trying him on the grass. We just did not want to give up on him; he is such a great-looking, sound horse and was working great in the mornings. None of those late experiments should take away from the career he had as a racehorse.”

A half brother to grade 1-placed stakes winner Beautician and listed stakes winner Bella Castani, Mo Tom won or placed 10 times out of 19 starts. He won twice and placed twice out of four starts at 2, which included winning the Street Sense Stakes and a third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). He earned his stripes in a graded stakes in his first start at 3 when he won the Lecomte Stakes (G3). The colt went on to place in the Veterans Ford Risen Star Stakes (G2), finish eighth in the Kentucky Derby, and win the Ohio Derby.

“With our farm in Paris, Ky., and our sports teams in New Orleans we keep a very busy schedule, but when time allows we love going to the track to see our horses run. Our racing operation has had great success on the track and we could not be more proud of our team and our trainers Tom Amoss, Dallas Stewart, and Al Stall,” said Gayle Benson, whose husband owns New Orleans’ NFL Saints and NBA Pelican sports teams. “We are building our farm operation (Benson Farm at Greenwood Lodge) in Kentucky where we have a very nice broodmare band. We are loving the horse business.”

The Bensons sent Mo Tom to Red River Farm because they valued Adcock’s reputation as a successful breeder, and because they want to support the Louisiana- bred program.

“We are very excited to get this horse,” Adcock said. “He was a serious horse at 3 and a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender. He is a good-looking, accomplished horse with plenty of family. He’ll get every chance to be successful.”

“Having a nice son of Uncle Mo here should bring some attention to the attractive breeding programs we have here in Louisiana,” Bensel added.

The Bensons are retaining 20% ownership of Mo Tom.

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