06/22/2012 4:33PM

Owner succeeds in claiming horses at Calder to race in California


A California-based horse owner has rankled the feathers of Calder Race Course in Florida by claiming two horses and shipping them to California, where they are eligible to enter races despite a rule at Calder prohibiting the practice.

The incident highlights the difficulty racetracks are increasingly facing when attempting to enforce rules that have been severely weakened by a decision three years ago by the California Horse Racing Board to stop enforcing its own version of the so-called “jail-time” rule. Jail-time rules, adopted decades ago to protect tracks’ ability to fill races, typically prevent an owner from entering a claimed horse at any track other than where it was claimed for a specific time period, sometimes until the end of a meet.

In this case, Red Chapter Racing, which is owned by Robert Bone, claimed two horses at Calder in the last six weeks and recently shipped them to California. After Calder’s stewards discovered the horses had been shipped out of state, they called the stewards at Hollywood Park to inform them that the horses should not be allowed to be entered because of Calder’s jail rule, according to Larry Hill, one of Calder’s stewards. In cases such as these, tracks typically deny the horses eligibility in a kind of reciprocity that allows the jail-time rules to stick, even if, as many experts contend, they are dubious legally.

However, Tom Ward, a steward at Hollywood, told the Calder stewards that Bone would be able to enter the horses at Hollywood, citing the decision three years ago by the CHRB to waive its own rule, Hill said.

“We had papers already made up to fax them,” Hill said. “But I guess it’s understandable.”

Mike Marten, a spokesperson for the CHRB, verified that the Calder stewards and Ward discussed the eligibility issues surrounding the Bone horses.

“Because California no longer restricts claimed horses from racing outside of California, the converse is also true,” Marten said. “Horses that enter California after being claimed at other tracks are not restricted from entering races here.”

Calder’s stewards are considering taking action that would prevent Bone from claiming at the track in the future, according to steward Don Brumfield, but, “as of right now, he hasn’t broken any rule” because the horses have not been entered to race.

“It’s hard to make a decision on someone who hasn’t broken a rule,” Brumfield said. “So right now we’re just kicking things around.”

Bone said on Friday that he was aware that California tracks would not be able to deny entry to his horses when he shipped them to the state.

“I wasn’t trying to make a statement. I really wasn’t,” Bone said. “But I guess I have anyway. That being said, I’m sure every horse owner in the country would like to know that you can operate your business in a free-market way.”

The trainers who claimed the horses for Bone sounded on Friday as if they had some regrets.

“I know him from California and he’s a good guy,” said Dennis Ward, who claimed the 3-year-old Rich Kid for Bone on May 5 for $12,500. “There is really no race to run this horse in here, where he’s eligible for those $40,000 starters out there so I don’t blame him for taking him out west if he can. But I won’t mess with him or claim any horses for him again.”

David Vivian Jr. claimed Budidinha for Bone on June 10 for $16,000.

“If I knew he was going to ship this horse out of here I wouldn’t have claimed it,” Vivian said. “I’m trying to build my business, not claim horses to ship out. He called me last minute on this one and never said anything about his intentions to take her out of here.”

The rule restricting claimed horses from starting at tracks outside of California was waived after the California Horse Racing Board was sued by an activist owner, Jerry Jamgotchian, who contended that the rule violated laws protecting interstate commerce.

Last July, Jamgotchian also challenged the legality of the jail-time rule in Kentucky after a horse he claimed at Churchill Downs was denied entry at a track in Pennsylvania. Jamgotchian claimed in the lawsuit he filed that Churchill officials contacted officials at Penn National Race Course to block the horse from being entered.

That lawsuit has yet to be resolved, according to Marc Guilfoil, the acting executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Many legal experts have said that such rules clearly violate the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, and that they are unenforceable anyway without the cooperation of tracks in other states, since a racetrack’s authority to set the rules of racing does not extend beyond its property.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch


Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At the end of the day, times are changing. Calder holds a monopoly on Florida racing in the summer, and there's no reason to expect these archaic rules to matter anymore. There's no reason for an owner to be held to restrictions made many years ago when racing was an everyday occurrence, when many tracks were battling it out against one another, and when shipping was costly enough that horses were pretty much tethered to the tracks they started at. Expecting them to sit out for months at a time is an unreasonable penalty that restrains the owner's ability to make a buck at tracks with less competition and bigger purses.
MJTetzlaff More than 1 year ago
Could tracks require owners to register with them before they can have anyone claim a horse on their behalf—and, as a condition of becoming a registered owner at the track, have the owner sign a contract prohibiting them from running the horse elsewhere until certain conditions are met?
Cindy More than 1 year ago
racing is fixed anyways.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Then why are you here wasting your time?
Mark More than 1 year ago
Cindy, you're an idiot and its important that you know it. Steps need to be taken to keep people like Cindy out of the voting booth.
BNastanovich More than 1 year ago
Back in the '90s, I claimed a horse in Arkansas called Festive Amigo and ran him back at Turfway understanding the rule was 60 days. He won by 4 and the winner's share was $5400. He'd been entered 100 or so hours before he ran. Oaklawn claimed they'd changed their rule to "can't run elsewhere until meet over." Security came to the barn about 40 minutes later. They disqualified the horse as ineligible, took the purse money and Leland Seba from Oaklawn Park fined me $900 and said "we have to make an example out of you owners who don't learn the rules." In the end, the whole deal cost me about $3000 and I won by 4. I told my trainer that "it's unconstitutional as the ruling violates interstate commerce stautes." He said, "horse racing makes up its own constitutions and there's about 30 of them filled with things that fluctuate back and forth depending on who their dealing with."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You should have sued. Horse racing's own constitutions were never ratified by Congress.
Robert More than 1 year ago
As an owner i want to be able to claim a horse adn bring them anywhere to run in a race or condition but i understand why tracks do it. The "lesser" tracks have to protect their horse population inorder to fill races . it is better for bettors too.
William Hubbell More than 1 year ago
If you put out your money for a horse, you should be able to run back when and where you want to! It makes it a bit more interesting for the bettor.
mace More than 1 year ago
I speak for the bettors and these organizations are producing inferior product races with small fields so I could give a hoot about this issue.Calder tries to squeeze the last dime out of the bettor,I cant speak for the Cali tracks but it wouldnt be far-fetched to visualize similar conditions out there.
nick More than 1 year ago
It would seem to me you are purchasing something on a conditional basis, to wit you can buy the horse out of a race with the understanding that you can't leave the race track for the balance of the meet. if you try leaving the grounds with the horse, the claim should be voided. This is a known condition of the purchase. If you don't want to meet the condition of the purchase, don't claim the horse, try to buy him/her outright.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
The Racing Secretary at Calder should know exactly how to handle this...
Dave Schuler More than 1 year ago
LETS claim iha from japan and bring him back-ha-lolk-DS
STEPHEN MERCIER More than 1 year ago
there will be a dgofight for horses and some tracks on the losing end will close ....how many and when is anyones guess
Michael More than 1 year ago
Disagree. You want to claim a horse from say Emerald Downs? I think not. On the other hand I believe you might get a few nicer horse at a track like that if you could ship them...