While I’ve said all I need to say on the-former-jockey-turned-analyst Donna Brothers (here, here), there may be some newcomers to the site who don’t fully understand the depths of delusion we’re dealing with. So here we go again. Follows is a recent response from Ms. Brothers to a statement from our own Joy Aten. (note: Please ignore her ridiculous “safety rate”; it’s a gross deception. The rest speaks for itself.)
Jockey Denny Velazquez has been suspended by the Minnesota Racing Commission after a vehicle search allegedly turned up a “buzzer” (aka a “machine,” aka a “battery”) – a device used to shock racehorses into running faster. A tentative hearing is slated for next Thursday at Canterbury Park. The 26-year-old Velazquez is a hugely successful jockey – third in the current “standings” at Canterbury, with over 500 first-place finishes in his still-young career (and party to over $9 million in earnings).
For those who may think these (obviously abusive) buzzers are rare, I refer you to statements made during a 2013 PETA investigation of trainer Steve Asmussen:
Scott Blasi, an Asmussen assistant: “I’d tell [jockey Ricardo Santana Jr], ‘You got the maquina [shocker]?’ ‘Boss, I got the maquina.'”
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens: “So, long story short, I win the race…and I reach over to pull this off, and I, I shock the shit out of myself [audible laughing around the table].”
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas: “Well, we used to go behind the gate at Ruidoso. And it was just like it was a full-blown orchestra. Zzz. Zzz. Zzz. Zzz. Everybody had one. Everybody had one.”
Cruelty, thy name is horseracing.
Bob Baffert, again. The superstar trainer with 15 Triple-Crown-races wins is back in the hot seat for drug positives. Last fall, you may recall, The New York Times reported that Justify, Baffert’s 2018 “champion,” failed a drug test in a qualifying race in California before going on to win the Kentucky Derby that year. As the Times said, “That meant Justify should not have run in the Derby, if the sport’s rules were followed.” But California officials dragged their feet for months, allowing Baffert time to win his second TC in four years. Eventually, the CHRB cleared Baffert. Its reasoning (and Baffert’s defense): “environmental contamination” (jimson weed in feed/straw).
(On that determination, the Times’ Joe Drape wrote: “Baffert has denied any wrongdoing, but the quantity of the drug found in Justify suggested that it was present not because of contamination in his feed or his bedding but rather because of an effort to enhance performance, according to Dr. Rick Sams, who ran the drug lab for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2011 to 2018.”)
Now, word comes that two more of Baffert’s horses – once again, elite ones – tested positive for overages of lidocaine at Oaklawn in May. Baffert’s defense, again: “environmental contamination.” His lawyer, Craig Robertson III, explains (BloodHorse):
“Even though lidocaine is a lawful, widely available therapeutic medication, it was never intentionally administered to either Gamine or Charlatan. When test results indicated that trace [questionable word choice] amounts of lidocaine were found in both horses after their respective races on May 2, Bob Baffert and his team were shocked. … After investigation, it is our belief that both Gamine and Charlatan were unknowingly and innocently exposed to lidocaine by one of Bob’s employees.
“The employee previously broke his pelvis and had been suffering from back pain over the two days leading up to May 2. As a result, he wore a Salonpas patch on his back that he personally applied. That brand of patch contains small amounts of lidocaine. It is believed that lidocaine from that patch was innocently transferred from the employee’s hands to the horses through the application of tongue ties….” (“Tongue ties,” by the way, are abusive in and of themselves.)
Pity this hapless Hall of Famer, he just can’t catch a break.
In 2015, jockey Roman Chapa began a five-year suspension for, the Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN) reports, “using an illegal electrical shocking device on a Thoroughbred at Sam Houston Race Park.” But that wasn’t the first time for Mr. Chapa, as the TDN explains:
“Chapa had twice been suspended in Texas (1993) and New Mexico (2007) for attempting to frighten a racehorse into running faster with an illicit object. In addition, the Houston Press reported that in 2001, Chapa was charged with one felony count of cruelty to animals when a Harris County sheriff’s deputy responded to a call about a man reportedly beating a Boxer dog with a leather strap. Chapa pled guilty to a lesser offense and served 10 days in jail, the Press wrote.”
And still more: In requesting a new license in Oklahoma, the Racing Commission, in its denial, noted 50 rulings against Chapa and said: “Roman Eric Chapa’s conduct throughout his career has been unsportsmanlike and detrimental to the best interest of horse racing, [including] three rulings for possessing or carrying devices, electrical or otherwise, that stimulate or increase the speed of a horse in a race.”
In addition, Chapa allegedly jockeyed at unsanctioned “bush” tracks during his suspension. For his part, Chapa says, “I love horses and horse racing. Horses are my life. My actions five years ago betrayed their beauty and grace as athletes. I am capable of doing better. I will do better. I’m doing better now. See you in the starting gate.” And indeed, we will – or actually already have. In February, the Texas Racing Commission reinstated the bad boy; an application is pending in New Mexico. And at Arapahoe Park, Colorado’s lone track, Mr. Chapa was aboard five different horses over the past two days. Welcome back, Roman.
Back in January, X Y Jet, a million-dollar racehorse, was killed training in Florida. His trainer: Jorge Navarro. Yes, the same Jorge Navarro who was indicted by the U.S. Justice Department last week on multiple doping charges. So I thought a tidy juxtaposition was in order. Here is what Navarro said when announcing X Y’s death:
“With deep regret, I am sorry to notify you that X Y Jet died this morning as a result of a heart attack. X Y Jet was more than a horse on my trained list, it [not ‘he’] was the one that took us through a wonderful and exciting roller coaster of emotions. He always fought against adversity and despite the injuries that affected him during his career, he always brought out that kind of champion he was.
“Beyond the racetracks, XY Jet becomes [sic] part of my family, was like the older brother of my children and of course, that affection extended to all those who in one way or another related to this swift, mood [sic], but noble racehorse.
“Since his arrival at my stable, I immediately felt that connection with him, which remained until today and will surely remain with me until the day of my departure. I owe X Y Jet so much, that I’m sure there are no words that can specify my thanks to his nobility and class. I do not say goodbye to a horse, I say goodbye to a friend that I will carry forever in my heart. Keep running fast to your next destination X Y Jet.”
Now, from the indictment:
“[JORGE] NAVARRO and others administered several adulterated and misbranded PEDs to XY Jet prior to both the February 13 race in Florida and the March 30 race in Dubai. On or about February 9, 2019, NAVARRO and MARCOS ZULUETA had a telephone conversation in which they discussed NAVARRO’S need for a particular customized analgesic PED, referred to as a ‘blocker.’ NAVARRO specified that the PED was for administration to XY Jet, and ZULUETA agreed to supply that PED via an overnight shipment.
“NAVARRO further attempted to source additional PEDs for XY Jet…including additional doses of a ‘blocker’ PED. On February 10, NAVARRO wrote to OAKES: ‘Do u have any of that new block that dr makes [?],’ and in subsequent calls between NAVARRO and OAKES, OAKES agreed to procure and deliver the ‘blocker’ PED to NAVARRO in advance of XY Jet’s February 13 race.
“On or about February 11, NAVARRO complained to ZULUETA about XY Jet’s performance in a pre-competition run…. NAVARRO and OAKES discussed a plan to secretly introduce a bottle of the ‘blocker’ into the stable where XY Jet was being held prior to the February 13 race. OAKES confirmed that he would smuggle that PED into the racetrack and meet NAVARRO once inside.
“On or about February 13, the day of the Florida race, NAVARRO instructed OAKES to visit XY Jet to administer the PED, and to lie to racing officials if necessary to access the racehorse: ‘Drive through. If anything, if they stop you. You are an owner and you come to Navarro’s barn.’
“On or about March 22, while in the UAE with XY Jet, NAVARRO personally administered various adulterated and misbranded PEDs to XY Jet, including a substance NAVARRO referred to as ‘monkey.’ During an April 3 call between NAVARRO and MARCOS ZULUETA, the two discussed, among other things, NAVARRO’s administration of PEDs to XY Jet in the weeks leading up to, and on the day of, the race in Dubai, and NAVARRO explained: ‘I gave it to him through 50 injections. I gave it to him through the mouth.’
“Following XY Jet’s victory in Dubai, SETH FISHMAN [a veterinarian who was also indicted] congratulated NAVARRO on the win via text message, and NAVARRO replied, in part and among other things, ‘Thank u boss u are a big part of it.'”
Navarro: “He always fought against adversity and despite the injuries that affected him during his career, he always brought out that kind of champion he was.”
FBI: “NAVARRO and OAKES discussed a plan to secretly introduce a bottle of the ‘blocker’ into the stable where XY Jet was being held prior to the February 13 race.”
Navarro: “Beyond the racetracks, XY Jet becomes [sic] part of my family, was like the older brother of my children.”
FBI: “NAVARRO instructed OAKES to visit XY Jet to administer the PED, and to lie to racing officials if necessary to access the racehorse.”
Navarro: “[I] immediately felt that connection with him, which remained until today and will surely remain with me until the day of my departure.”
FBI: “NAVARRO personally administered various adulterated and misbranded PEDs to XY Jet, including a substance NAVARRO referred to as ‘monkey.'”
Navarro: “I do not say goodbye to a horse, I say goodbye to a friend that I will carry forever in my heart. Keep running fast to your next destination X Y Jet.”
FBI: “‘I gave it to him through 50 injections. I gave it to him through the mouth.'”
It runs deeper than just the words he spewed and the acts he committed; Jorge Navarro himself – at his very core – is an obscenity.