Racing fans might be scratching their heads when they see William Cesare listed as trainer of Willy Beamin in Saturday's $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park.
Since the 3-year-old gelding by Suave was claimed by Rick Dutrow for $25,000 on March 23 on behalf of owner James Riccio, he's done nothing wrong. Willy Beamin has won five consecutive races for Dutrow and Riccio: two allowance events, two stakes restricted to New York-breds, and the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga.
Why, then, is Cesare replacing Dutrow as trainer?
It might have something to do with the fact Kentucky denied Dutrow a license when he applied for one in 2011. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission cited misrepresentations by Dutrow and said his conduct was not in the best interests of racing. Dutrow is facing a 10-year ban by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. He's appealed the suspension and continues to train in New York.
However, because of the action of the Kentucky commission, states that recognize other racing commission actions and reciprocate on suspensions and license revocation may not give Dutrow a trainer's license.
Furthermore, Remington Park president Scott Wells told the Paulick Report Dutrow would not be welcome at the Oklahoma City track. He said Remington would have exercised its right to private property exclusions if Dutrow were licensed in Oklahoma.
According to Mary Ann Roberts, counsel for the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, Dutrow did not apply for a license. Roberts said Cesare was issued a trainers' license on Wednesday.
“With regard to Willy Beamin,” Roberts told the Paulick Report, “Mr. Cesare was the trainer of record for the horse when the horse was nominated for the race. Mr. Cesare was the trainer of record when the horse was entered in the race. I have been advised that the horse is currently under the care and custody of Mr. Cesare and/or his staff at Remington Park.”
That all may be technically correct, but allowing Willy Beamin to race in the Oklahoma Derby for what appears to be a temporary trainer allows Dutrow to violate the spirit of Kentucky's decision to deny him a license.
That's nothing new for Oklahoma.
Last year, Redeemed shipped to Remington to win the Oklahoma Derby in the name of trainer Tony Dutrow, Rick's brother. In the race before and after the Oklahoma Derby, Redeemed was trained by Rick Dutrow.
Roberts, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission's counsel, noted that Tony Dutrow's Oklahoma license expired at the end of 2011.
Earlier this year, the Dutrow brothers were involved in a case where I Want Revenge was sent from New York to West Virginia to race. He had previously been trained by Rick Dutrow but Tony Dutrow was listed as trainer when the horse was entered to race.
West Virginia stewards looked into who was the actual trainer of I Want Revenge and determined it was Rick Dutrow. He was not licensed in West Virginia. As a result, stewards scratched I Want Revenge. He has not run since.
The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission doesn't appear to really care who the actual trainer of Willy Beamin is. If the horse runs in the name of William Cesare and then returns to the barn of Dutrow, this racing commission will be complicit in permitting Dutrow to skirt the spirit of horse racing rules and regulations.
I can't really blame Dutrow or owner James Riccio for this maneuver. I do blame the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission for letting them get away with it.
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