11/12/2010 3:21PM

Life At Ten should have been scratched, owner says

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Alysse Jacobs
Life At Ten, under John Velazquez, galloped around the track well behind the rest of the field in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

Owner Candy DeBartolo has released a statement contending that her horse Life At Ten should have been scratched by stewards at Churchill Downs before the horse finished last in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic on Nov. 5.

Citing comments made by Kentucky chief steward John Veitch that the horse did not display any obvious signs of lameness prior to the race, the statement said that Veitch “is in total denial or attempting to justify the stewards’ failure to adjudicate the case properly.” Veitch, a former trainer, has defended the stewards’ decision to allow the horse to run in the race, citing the failure by her trainer, Todd Pletcher, or her jockey, John Velazquez, to inform veterinarians or starters that she was in distress.

“Life At Ten, without equivocation, should have been scratched from the race,” the statement from DeBartolo said.

In the event of a scratch by stewards or veterinarians, owners receive a refund of the race’s entry fees. The entry fee for the Ladies’ Classic was $60,000.

Velazquez and Pletcher both told television commentators that Life At Ten was not warming up well during the post parade. The statements have led critics to contend that the horse should not have been allowed to start.

MORE: Kentucky board continuing Life At Ten inquiry

The statement by DeBartolo contended that Life At Ten was showing obvious signs of distress during the post parade, and it further criticized the stewards for failing to draw post-race blood samples from the horse after she galloped around the track unpressured by Velazquez.

Citing requirements to test the top four finishers in graded stakes, Veitch has said that stewards did not order Life At Ten to the test barn because of a backlog of horses from the previous Breeders’ Cup races. However, because Life At Ten provided a mandatory blood sample prior to the race to test for total carbon dioxide, Kentucky regulatory officials have sent that sample to the Kentucky racing commission’s drug-testing laboratory in Florida for analysis.

During a review of the incident conducted by the stewards and racing commission, Pletcher told regulators that Life At Ten spiked a fever the day after the race and had an extremely high white blood-cell count, an indication of infection. The DeBartolo statement also cites the Saturday fever and high white blood cell count, in a reference incorporating Zenyatta’s loss – officially the margin was a head – to Blame in the Classic, the only loss in her 20-race career.

“Losing [the Ladies’ Classic] by a quarter of a mile because our horse was ill is no less heartbreaking for us than the owners of Zenyatta must surely have felt when she was beaten a nose in the Classic,” the statement said.

WATCH REPLAY: Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic