01/29/2009 1:00AM

Dutrow expresses ire over column


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Rick Dutrow responded angrily on Thursday to an article written by columnist Andrew Beyer that raised questions about Saturday's Sunshine Millions Dash, which Dutrow won with This Ones for Phil.

This Ones for Phil rallied to a two-length victory over favored You Luckie Mann, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 117 and paying $25.40. His previous best speed figure was an 81 in his maiden win at Calder.

In the article, Beyer called the degree of improvement of This Ones for Phil "extraordinary" and mentioned Dutrow's long history of medication infractions, saying, "When certain trainers repeatedly perform feats that defy the laws of nature and logic of handicapping, bettors invariably suspect they are using illegal substances." The article was published in Tuesday's Washington Post and in Wednesday's Daily Racing Form.

At his barn Thursday, Dutrow attributed the horse's improvement to a number of changes, including alterations in his diet and training regimen.

"I'm extremely disappointed this story was printed without Andy Beyer getting my side," Dutrow said. "He basically was accusing me of juicing This Ones for Phil without taking the time to find out what steps I might have taken to improve the horse. And his whole premise was made on the basis of his numbers. Who said his numbers have to be right? And if Beyer's gambling is influencing his opinion, then that should come out. I thought the story insulted not only me but my staff and my owners as well."

Dutrow said he took several steps after getting This Ones for Phil into his barn late last year. The gelding was making his first start for Dutrow in the Sunshine Millions Dash.

"He was wiped out in behind, as many horses tend to be after training for a prolonged period at Calder, and that was messing his heels up," Dutrow said. "So I changed shoes, training him in a shoe with a plate across the heel. We also wormed him, did his teeth, and put about 50 pounds on him. I also backed off on his training between works. For the race, we teamed him up with one of the best jockeys in the game and got a perfect trip over a track he obviously loves. Sometimes none of these things work. In this instance, we got lucky."

Dutrow was joined at his barn by bloodstock agent Nick Sallusto, who was instrumental in the purchase of This Ones for Phil.

Sallusto said he recommended that Dutrow purchase This Ones for Phil for owner Paul Pompa Jr. after assessing the competition the horse had run against at Calder during his 2-year-old races.

"He had all the physical and mental attributes to be a good horse," Sallusto said. "He was heavily raced at 2 and needed a break. And all the 2-year-old numbers I use, regardless of what Beyer's numbers said, suggested he could run with top-level 3-year-olds this year with a little improvement.

"Our main concern about a story like this is that it implies there was some sort of cheating involved and does not take into consideration Rick's horsemanship and 40 years of experience, the type of first-class operation he runs, or the mere fact that like in any sport, some trainers or athletes are just better at what they do than others."

In the article, Beyer also mentioned You Luckie Mann's trainer, Marty Wolfson, as one of several "supertrainers" whom Beyer called "miracle workers."

"Maybe Andy Beyer should take the time to come visit my barn one day and see our operation before making accusations," Wolfson said. "To see how many hours I spend here or some of the treatments we give, legally, that can improve a horse. I don't like what was inferred."

Trainer Peter Walder, a member of the Gulfstream backstretch committee that meets regularly to discuss horsemen's issues, said Beyer's article was upsetting to the committee, including such notable trainers as Dale Romans, Ken McPeek, Joe Orseno, and John Ward.

"Writing that type of stuff is a discredit to the game, especially when written without getting all the facts, and Andy Beyer is part of this game," Walder said.