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Dutrow ready to start 30-day suspension
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Even as a strong, chilled wind whipped in his face while standing along the rail on a steel-gray Friday morning at Aqueduct, there was no place else trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. wanted to be. Unfortunately for Dutrow, starting Sunday, he will not be permitted at Aqueduct or any other track in North America for the next month.
On Sunday, Dutrow begins serving a 30-day suspension issued by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission dating back to an overage of clenbuterol found in the system of Salute the Count following that gelding's second-place finish in the Aegon Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on May 2, 2008. That was the day before Dutrow won the Kentucky Derby with Big Brown.
Initially issuing a 15-day suspension, the Kentucky commission eventually doubled the penalty in part due to comments Dutrow made that he appealed the suspension so that he could prepare horses for major stakes races. Dutrow, through his attorneys, worked out an agreement with the commission where he could take the days starting Sunday, after most of the major races of the year had been run. Still, the suspension comes at a time when Dutrow's barn has gotten hot and with some exciting prospects like Stardom Bound and Homeboykris aimed at big races at the end of the month. Dutrow's horses, including two entered here Sunday, will run under the name of Juan Rodriguez, a longtime Dutrow assistant.
"I'm not going to like it because I've got some really good horses in the barn," Dutrow said Friday morning as he watched the 3-year-old filly Stardom Bound gallop. "I'm not going to be happy about it. But I've got really good people with these really good horses. They've been here, they know the routine. They know what's right, they know what's wrong. I don't have any kind of problems leaving the horses with my help. As long as things go the way they're supposed to, we're just going to be fine. This isn't the first time I've done it."
In 2005, Dutrow served a 60-day suspension, but the barn didn't miss a beat, winning 26 of 86 races during that span with 28 in-the-money finishes. In 2007, Dutrow served two separate suspensions, and his barn went 6-6-6 from 33 starters.
The biggest day of racing Dutrow will miss during his suspension is Nov. 28, when his stable plans to run Stardom Bound in the Grade 1 Gazelle and Homeboykris in the Grade 2 Remsen. Stardom Bound, last year's 2-year-old filly champion, has not run since finishing third in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland in April. She had some hind-end issues that Dutrow says have been fixed.
"If she likes the track and she's ready to run big," Dutrow said. "I'm sure she's going to run big. She's just been training so good lately. She's just full of herself."
Dutrow did say that Mike Smith, who has ridden Stardom Bound in all eight of her starts, would come to New York to ride in the Gazelle.
Homeboykris will be stretching out around two turns for the first time in the Remsen after coming off a layoff to win the Grade 1 Champagne, a one-turn mile race at Belmont.
"He's been training unbelievable since he's run," Dutrow said. "I'm very excited with that horse."
Dutrow, who is not permitted to have contact with his assistants during his suspension, said he has trips to Las Vegas and Costa Rica lined up with some of his owners.
"I might as well take advantage of it and have some fun," Dutrow said.
Santos to become agent for Jara
Jose Santos, the Hall of Fame jockey who retired in July 2007 due to injuries suffered in a spill here earlier that year, will return to New York this week and become the agent for jockey Fernando Jara, who also plans a return to New York this winter to resuscitate his once-promising career.
Jara, 21, became the regular rider of Invasor in 2006 and guided that horse to Grade 1 victories in the Suburban, Whitney, and Breeders' Cup Classic en route to Invasor earning Horse of the Year honors. Jara also won the 2006 Belmont Stakes aboard Jazil.
But success appeared to spoil Jara, who in 2007 - despite winning the Donn and Dubai World Cup aboard Invasor - began to fall out of favor with New York horsemen. By August 2007, Jara had moved his tack to Southern California, where he had no success before moving back to Panama. Jara tried to make a comeback in North America this year, riding at Arlington during the summer. He won 27 races from 185 mounts before again moving back to Panama at the end of August.
As of Friday, Jara was still in Panama, according to Santos, but he was expected to arrive in New York on Thursday.
"Success came too early for him," Santos said Friday from Florida. "With my experience, we're going to try and do things differently. I'm very excited to come back to New York, it's a place that I love and I'll be working. I need to work."
Hushion red-hot in November
Friday the 13th was certainly not unlucky for trainer Mike Hushion, who went 3 for 3 on the card, winning races 2 through 4 with Freight Forward ($6.40), Tidal Dance ($6.40), and Jazzy Jordan ($3.30).
Hushion, who is 6 for 7 at this meet, has won all seven races in which he has participated this month. His horse, Kokoro, was eased in the same race that Jazzy Jordan won.
Hushion's streak began at Aqueduct on Nov. 4 with Rereadthefootnotes and continued here Nov. 8 with Sean Avery. On Tuesday, Hushion shipped Saratoga Russell to win a second-level allowance at Penn National. On Wednesday, Rodman was a convincing first-level allowance victor before Hushion's natural hat trick on Friday.
"It happens in this business, you have your streaks," Hushion said. "I was just telling [owner] Barry [Schwartz], I wish I could put one in my pocket and keep it when I'm on an 0-for-15 sometime."
Hushion had four horses entered on Friday's card but had to scratch South Bronx out of the opener because he was sick. Hushion did not have any horses entered for either Saturday or Sunday at Aqueduct.
"That's it, I'm finished for the year," Hushion quipped.