The following statement was sent to the Paulick Report by David Vance on behalf of Candy DeBartolo:
Kentucky's Chief State Steward, John Veitch, has elected to make a public announcement saying that our horse, Life At Ten, didn't need to be scratched from the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic because there was “no overt sign of a physical problem” Moreover, he said the stewards decided not to test her after finishing a quarter of a mile behind a horse she had beaten twice in the last four months because the test barn was too crowded.
On both counts, it appears that Mr. Veitch is in total denial or is attempting to justify the stewards' failure to adjudicate the case properly. Life At Ten, without equivocation, should have been scratched from the race. What's more, to ignore testing that type of form reversal in a $2 million race on national television is tantamount to letting a suspected criminal go free because the jail is too crowded.
Mrs. DeBartolo and I do not believe there is any reason to suspect foul play of any kind. Life At Ten had a 103 degree temperature the morning after the race and her white blood cell count was “off the chart,” according to her veterinarian, and her enzymes were out of balance, as well. It is our understanding from Lisa Underwood, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, that results from the pre-race TCO2 blood test of horses in the race, will be available soon. Although this test is accurate and reliable, it does not test for all forms of performance enhancing drugs. According to Ms. Underwood, the main point is that they have blood taken from Life At Ten, so further testing is possible.
However, that doesn't excuse the scenario that evolved prior to and after the race. It was made blatantly obvious to the millions of people watching the post parade that something was terribly amiss. The stewards were alerted by telephone to that fact by the ESPN production truck prior to the race. The stewards have direct radio contact with the veterinarians stationed at the starting gate. So why was our filly allowed to enter that starting gate?
Mr. Veitch had one explanation; “Well, you know, she was a little dull…but except for the dullness, it wasn't apparent to anyone.”
Accordingly, we invite him and anyone else to go to http://espn.go.com/espn3/index/_/sport/horse%20racing#. There you can click on Replay, Friday Breeders Cup World Championship and when the video appears, click and drag on the bar below the picture to 3:19.42 and watch for the next twelve minutes or so. In particular, view at 3:30.15 to 3:30.47 and you will see Life At Ten stumble and stagger and appear weak-kneed almost to the point of falling. A little dull, you say? Now, there are three stewards who are suppose to be viewing the post parade with binoculars and via the most sophisticated video surveillance available, along with numerous ESPN cameras trained on the post parade. What's more, the three state veterinarians are at the starting gate looking for “overt” signs. Failing to test her after the race only exacerbates the problem.
There is an unpleasant reality here; the betting public was denied a fair shake and racing nurses an ugly black eye. The fact that we would have been reimbursed $60,000 in entry fees had she not walked in that starting gate, simply underscores the irresponsibility that took place. Mr. Veitch has had a distinguished career as a trainer and as a steward, but that doesn't excuse what took place that night or since.
Losing that race by a quarter of a mile because our horse was ill is no less heartbreaking for us than the owners of Zenyatta must surely have felt when she was beaten by a nose in the Classic.
We can't fix the wrong, but we can't ignore it, either. For that reason, we expect further action by the KHRC and we are equally hopeful that the Breeders Cup will address the issue, as well.
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