03/21/2012 2:40PM

Aqueduct: Main track reopens with bevy of scratches


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Scratches replaced breakdowns as the topic of the day on this circuit Wednesday as racing at Aqueduct moved from the winterized inner track to the main track.

Eighteen of the 73 horses carded for Wednesday’s nine-race program, or 24.6 percent, were scratched – a high number considering conditions were dry and the track was labeled fast throughout the day.

The bevy of scratches come on the heels of an inner-track meet in which 18 horses suffered fatal breakdowns, nine in the final 17 days of the meet. The governor has asked the New York Racing Association to investigate.

New York Racing Association officials decided to move up the opening of the main track meet by two weeks, from April 4 to Wednesday.

According to NYRA veterinarian Yessenia Almeida, five horses were scratched by her and her team, which conducts pre-race examinations. In the case of a vet scratch, a horse can be put either on a restricted list or a vet’s list. Horses placed on a restricted list cannot be entered back for 10 days. Horses placed on the vet’s list cannot run for 14 days and are required to have a workout in front of a state vet before being permitted to run.

Almeida said that her and her staff didn’t do anything different in their pre-race exams Wednesday than they have been doing.

NYRA president Charles Hayward, in an e-mail, stated “any vet scratches that are announced are the direct result of the NYRA vet pre-race physical exams, a procedure that has been in place for some time.”

Entries for Wednesday’s card were made last Friday, so there could be a variety of reasons that horses are scratched. Anaphylaxis scratched out of Wednesday’s ninth to run Thursday. Quick Money, part of a Linda Rice-trained entry in the seventh, scratched to run on Saturday.

Trainers David Jacobson and Rudy Rodriguez both scratched two horses on Wednesday’s program. Jacobson, who was the leading trainer at the inner-track meet, scratched morning-line favorite Bojan from the opener and 8-1 shot Winaholic from the seventh.

Jacobson said his scratches were made in consultation with the veterinarian.

“We both agreed these two horses needed to be scratched today,” Jacobson said. “They’re not being scratched for any other reason.”

Rodriguez scratched longshot Beau de Beaupre out of the seventh because he was showing signs of colic. He scratched Isn’t She Grand out of the $75,000 Lynclar Stakes because he thought she was in too tough.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said it was his decision to scratch Maple Forest out of the Lynclar and trainer Tony Dutrow said that High Quality had a gluteal muscle injury that prompted him to scratch. The Lynclar ran with four horses.

As a result of the breakdowns, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked NYRA to hire an independent investigative team to look into the causes of these breakdowns and seek measures to try and prevent them from occurring in the future.

NYRA is in the process of putting together that team and submitting a list of names to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for approval.

The 18 fatalities over the inner track were the highest for at least the last eight years, according to statistics provided by NYRA. In 2009, there were 13 fatalities over the inner track.

* Beginning April 4, races for $20,000 claimers or cheaper will have their purses cut by $6,000 to $9,000.