07/31/2014 5:22PM

Del Mar owners scratch horse as protest


Owners David Frankham and Brian Carmody withdrew Smogcutter from Thursday’s first race at Del Mar to protest the presence of a rival horse that tested positive for a sedative in March, but whose trainer, A.C. Avila, has yet to be sanctioned.

Smogcutter was scratched at 12:55 p.m., a few minutes before he was due to be sent to the receiving barn before the race. Horses are sent to the receiving barn before proceeding to the paddock to be saddled. Not showing up at the receiving barn before a race is a violation of California Horse Racing Board rules.

Trainer Dan Blacker said on Thursday morning that he was told by Frankham to keep Smogcutter in the barn.

“We’ll just choose not to bring him over for the race,” Blacker said. “I’m following instructions.”

The horse the connections of Smogcutter scratched to avoid running against, Masochistic, won Thursday's first race by 2 1/2 lengths over Passing Game, with minimal urging from jockey Victor Espinoza. He paid $2.80.

In a phone interview on Wednesday evening, Frankham said that he and Carmody were protesting a lack of action beyond the redistribution of the purse by the California Horse Racing Board regarding Masochistic’s positive for the tranquilizer acepromazine, found in a post-race test conducted on March 15.

In late April, Santa Anita stewards disqualified Masochistic from the purse of the March 15 race because of the positive.  Masochistic earned $1,120 for owners Los Pollos Hermanos Racing and Santa Ines Stable. In their April ruling, the stewards ordered the money forfeited and redistributed to Durango Flier, who finished sixth.

Avila is scheduled to have a hearing with an administrative law judge on Aug. 12 regarding the acepromazine positive. Avila could face a fine or suspension for the positive. But Frankham said that too much time has passed for the racing board not to have taken action.

"I have a hard time thinking this guy is still training for 4 ½ months and there have been no consequences,” Frankham said.
Avila said on Thursday that Masochistic was given a double dose of acepromazine by accident on March 12, about 72 hours before the race.

Omar Berrio rode Masochistic on March 15, and the next day the stewards conducted an informal hearing with him. The stewards were “concerned that Mr. Berrio prevented his horse from giving his best race,” according to the weekly minutes the stewards submitted to the racing board. The stewards called for a racing board investigation into the matter and a post-race test for Maschostic, which revealed the positive.

Avila said in an interview in early April that Masochistic is a difficult horse to ride, and that the intention was for Berrio to preserve his mount to the stretch before asking for an effort. Masochistic was beaten 4 1/4 lengths at 8-1. The race was won by 4-5 favorite Whine for Wine.

Avila said Masochistic was plagued by knee and tibia injuries as a young horse, which postponed the start of his career. Thursday, Avila said that Masochistic was given the sedative because the horse has a tendency to try to bite stable staff.

Following his March 15 race, Masochistic was sent to Churchill Downs where he won a maiden race by 14 lengths as the 2-1 favorite early on Kentucky Derby Day.

Del Mar stewards said on Thursday that the scratch of Smogcutter would be referred to the racing board’s investigators for a possible complaint.

If a complaint is filed, a hearing could be held, which could result in a penalty against the owners or Blacker.

Frankham, who became a racehorse owner in 2013, said he is willing to accept a penalty for not letting Smogcutter race on Thursday.

"I think we'll have to go in a hearing," he said. "In principle, I'm okay with that.

"I've decided this is the worst part of the sport. It's a hard step. If someone doesn't say anything, it will go on. I see this as an attack on the bettors. It's defrauding of the trust. We don't feel comfortable being in the field. It's a tough decision to come to.”

Frankham, 44, is a Los Angeles-based film director and producer, with credits in commercials and the HBO series "Witness."


Diana Beall More than 1 year ago
Hats off to David Frankham and Brian Carmody for withdrew Smogcutter as a protest of abusive drug use. It might have cost them the race. I understand why they did this. It was the only way to get somebody's attention about the over use of drugs on the racehorses. Racehorses are dying every day, some 2-3 in one race, and most are 2-3 yrs old. Yet, the racetrack boards are still turning their backs on all of this. So sad, these horses are abused until they die, either behind walls, in training and racing.
Bob Rose More than 1 year ago
Sad, but true Ma'am.
Desmond Vader More than 1 year ago
Is this the same David Frankham that directed commercials for Citibank and Bank of America? The same 2 banks largely responsible for the 2008 financial crisis that destroyed tens of millions lives and started Federal investigations? The same investigations that just concluded this year (almost 6 years later) with both banks admitting guilt to the tune of $15.5 BILLION? I wonder how he's protesting this ridiculous injustice and criminal fraud? Maybe he's depositing those royalty checks into different banks!
Bryan E More than 1 year ago
I don't think anyone on here is dumb enough to blame the director of commercials for the business practices of the company. Do you blame the actors also? If you want to find something that Frankham is actually responsible for, watch the HBO documentary series 'Witness', which puts the spotlight on the violence and injustice occurring in 4 different locations around the world. It would be hard not to admire and respect Frankham after watching.
Bob Rose More than 1 year ago
With all due respect Mr. Vader, I think you've confused this thread with a Banking or Financial type subject. This one deals with horse racing violations and an attempt to bring justice to the violators on behalf of the abused animals as well as the bettors. I'm sure you can Google the subjects you made reference to and they will get you back on track. Happy to be of service Sir.
Walfred More than 1 year ago
I believe this was the same this was the same horse that was part of that betting coup on Derby Day!
Bob Rose More than 1 year ago
You can say that again Walfred, oh wait, you did. It was it was.
LoreGoldberg More than 1 year ago
Frankham will be sitting out a lot of races if he boycotts every race with a possible cheater in it. If he truly walked the walk he would also be boycotting his filthy business, the L. A. film industry. Heck why not just boycott life? WAKE UP!!
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
Way to defend the cheaters - the old, "everyone does it" excuse. Blah, blah, blah....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
you people still have money left to bet Del mar?
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Frankham should stay behind the camera and let the trainer make the decision, after the horse was entered ! Trainer responsibility rule, its Blacker that will get the penalty. There was NO medical reason for the SCRATCH
Alex More than 1 year ago
Just watched that march 15 race at SA ,doesn't take a genius to figure out what happen there.I hope a bettor got into omars face when he got off that horse but then again he is paid to do what they ask of him its sad but that's the true business of it they dont care about us .
papajoe el papi More than 1 year ago
I can see that everybody has become an expert in the matter &an a new owner interest in the bettor if you fall for that one then you need to go belvue hospital to check yourself in the 3 third floor ask for moe to get a discount.
The Baron More than 1 year ago
"Avila said that Masochistic was given the sedative because the horse has a tendency to try to bite stable staff." -This is a bunch of bologna - I trained horses for many years and that is not what you give ACE for - who are these guys BSing?? You give it to keep them calm when shipping for the most part on a legal basis - or illegally to do the same in the paddock and post parade.
Jake Footballe More than 1 year ago
It is amazing no one in horseracing seems to care about the major scam he pulled derby day with his animal. If you are not "inside" in this business you are definitely outside.