06/30/2004 11:00PM

Investigation launched into foaling date of colt


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Jockey Club in England will launch an investigation into Juddmonte Farms' registration of Group 2 winner Endless Summer, the Racing Post reported Thursday.

The investigation centers around Endless Summer's correct age. Juddmonte registered the Zafonic colt as having been foaled on Jan. 2, 1998, but Juddmonte's English manager, Philip Mitchell, has since acknowledged that Endless Summer was in fact born prematurely on Dec. 26 or 27, 1997.

Mitchell told the newspaper that he has offered to resign. It was not immediately clear whether Juddmonte's owner, Khalid Abdullah, had accepted the resignation.

The English Jockey Club said Mitchell had alerted them that the horse had been registered with an incorrect foaling date. Jockey Club rules require that a horse's age be determined as starting on Jan. 1 of the year in which it was foaled; The Jockey Club in the United States uses the same rule. Because he was registered as a foal of 1998, Endless Summer was considered a 2-year-old in 2000, when he won his first start and the Group 2 Richmond Stakes, open only to juveniles. But under the rules of racing, the colt actually was 3, because his foaling occurred in 1997. The colt went on to finish second in a pair of Group 1 contests.

"The mare was covered on Feb. 17," Mitchell told the Racing Post, referring to Endless Summer's dam, Well Away. "I state that rather deliberately because, obviously, by covering her on Feb. 17, when the official season starts on Feb. 14, it was our full intention, therefore, to breed to Northern Hemisphere time.

"The mare foaled a small, premature foal just after Christmas, and I personally took an operating decision to register the foal on Jan. 2."

Mitchell said he made the decision "on what I considered to be in the best interests of the foal." He noted that the foal's actual birthdate would have led him to be "banished to the Southern Hemisphere where he would be a very late foal," instead of allowing him to compete at 2 in the Northern Hemisphere, where he had been intended to run.

Jockey Club officials said that the investigation could lead to redistribution of Endless Summer's earnings in races with age restrictions. The Post reported that there was no evidence that Abdullah or trainer John Gosden knew the foal's actual birth date.

Endless Summer competed in California in 2001, finishing third in two claiming races at Hollywood Park. But, as of Thursday, The Jockey Club in the United States was not planning an investigation.

"California racing authorities would be made aware of the situation, and it would be up to them to determine whether there should be a purse redistribution," said Bob Curran, spokesman for The Jockey Club.