05/21/2013 2:00PM

Hollywood Park: Trainer says horse at center of rescinded claim is fine

Benoit & Associates
Open Water will train at Saratoga this summer, but is likely to return to California for the Clement Hirsch at Del Mar in August.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The gelding at the center of a rescinded claim because of unsoundness at Betfair Hollywood Park last Sunday emerged from the race without injury, trainer Bill Spawr said on Tuesday.

Plenny of Henny won Sunday’s first race and was claimed for $10,000 from Spawr by trainer Ted H. West. When Plenny of Henny was ruled to be unsound in the backstretch test barn after the race by state veterinarian Tim Grande, the claim was rescinded through a new rule enacted on May 16 by the California Horse Racing Board.

The rule rescinds the claim of a horse that dies on the track or is found to be unsound by the official or state veterinarian immediately after the race. Under the new rule, the new owner and trainer do not take possession of the claimed horse until he has cleared the test barn.

The 4-year-old Plenny of Henny was “fine” on Tuesday, Spawr said. “He seems to be okay.”

Plenny of Henny must have an approved workout witnessed by an official or state veterinarian before the gelding is removed from the vet’s list and eligible to be entered for another race.

Even though Spawr ended up keeping a horse who won on Sunday by 2 1/4 lengths as the 2-1 favorite, he said he is not in favor of the new rule.

“The rule stinks,” he said. “It won’t last. I don’t see it working out. Horses can get banged up in a race and it might last two days or six months.”

West submitted the claim for Plenny of Henny on behalf of his mother, Mary Ellen West, and Phil Bongiovanni. West said he was “surprised” when he was informed that the claim had been rescinded.

“It’s an interesting rule,” West said. “I’m of the camp that the claiming game is self-monitoring, and didn’t need a lot of rules attached to it.”

The circumstance regarding Plenny of Henny is the first instance on the Southern California Thoroughbred circuit when a claim was rescinded under the new rule. There were two instances when claims of Thoroughbreds were rescinded at Los Alamitos last weekend. Thoroughbreds at that track run for claiming prices ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.

The rule was approved by the racing board earlier this year, and took effect after it was reviewed by the state’s office of administrative law, a process that was completed earlier this month.

The issue is likely to resurface in coming weeks and months. Claiming activity tends to increase in Southern California in late spring and summer as many owners seek horses to race at the popular Del Mar meeting in the second half of the summer.

Spawr emphasized that his argument is with the language of the rule, and not Grande or official veterinarian Dana Stead, who observes horses before and after a race on the racetrack. Stead also has authority to place any horse on a veterinarian’s list for unsoundness.

“I feel for the vets making the decision,” Spawr said. “It’s unjust responsibility. These vets we have are good guys. I trust what they say.”

Open Water may try Clement Hirsch

Trainer Eric Guillot is leaving California for Saratoga this summer, but he will not miss out on one major weekend of the Del Mar meeting.

Open Water, the winner of Saturday’s Grade 2 Marjorie Everett Handicap, is a candidate for Del Mar’s top race for fillies and mares on the synthetic main track – the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 3.

“She’s a synthetic horse,” Guillot said.

Owned by a partnership that includes Southern Equine Stable, Open Water won her first stakes in the $150,250 Marjorie Everett Handicap. Ridden by Joe Talamo, Open Water (9-1) closed from fifth in a field of six to win by a length over 3-5 Lady of Fifty.

Guillot said he intends to run Open Water in the $250,000 Vanity Handicap, a Grade 1 race for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles on Hollywood Park’s synthetic main track on June 15. He will take her to Saratoga, which has a dirt track, then bring her back to California for the Clement Hirsch.

The Everett was Open Water’s first start since a sixth in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita in January.

“We gave her two months off,” Guillot said. “She was a little tired. I brought her back in April.”

By Include, the 4-year-old Open Water has won 3 of 14 starts and $270,750. She has won 3 of 5 starts on synthetic tracks, including a second to Lady of Fifty in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap here last December.