02/18/2016 4:26PM

Stallion Law Enforcement returns to training

Barbara D. Livingston
Law Enforcement, a four-time New York-bred stakes winner who last raced in August 2012, has been returned to training at Fonner Park.

Law Enforcement, an 11-year old son of Posse who stood the last three seasons at stud in Minnesota, returned to the work tab Tuesday at Fonner Park, breezing a bullet three furlongs in 37.20 seconds.

It was such an unexpected sight for the Fonner Park clocker that the track’s racing office called trainer Troy Bethke to make sure they had the right horse.

“They said, ‘The only one we could find was an 11-year-old stallion.’ ” Bethke recalled. “I said, ‘No, that’s him.’ ”

The breeze was a testing of the waters for Law Enforcement, a four-time New York-bred stakes winner who last raced in August 2012, to help Bethke and owner David O. Hansen of Quintana Farm determine whether the horse is suitable to race or return to stud.

Both owner and trainer said they were pleased with the first steps, but decisions as to where, when, or at what level the horse might race were a long way off.

“My main concern is the horse,” Hansen said. “He’s a neat animal, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to try to hurt the horse in any way, shape, or form. Troy’s a very good trainer, one of the best horsemen in the country. He’s been bringing this guy along really slow.”

Bethke has saddled 540 winners from 5,021 runners since 1987 for earnings of $5,221,727. The majority of his 18 career stakes wins have come at Canterbury Park, highlighted by the $60,000 Northern Lights Futurity, won by Bet Your Boots in 2009.

Law Enforcement was purchased by Hansen last year following the death of original owner and breeder Cam Casby. He covered seven mares for Hansen in 2015 and had 19 live foals from 31 mares bred combined over his first two seasons at stud, standing his entire career at Dove Hill Farm in New Prague, Minn.

Prior to his stallion career, Law Enforcement won 6 of 30 starts for $458,638 racing for trainer Mark Hennig. He won New York-bred stakes at all four of the state’s Thoroughbred venues, highlighted by the $100,000 Aspirant Stakes at Finger Lakes.

Hansen and Bethke both acknowledged that their decision to give Law Enforcement another try at the races would be met with criticism but noted that the horse has seen a sea change in attitude since returning to training.

Hansen “keeps telling me that everybody’s going to think we’re crazy, and I say, ‘Why?’ ” Bethke said. “As far as I know, he’s a sound horse, and he looks great, and is training good, and he loves it. He loves working. He likes going out and having a job. They did have some issues with him at the farm when he wasn’t doing anything. He was meaner than a rattlesnake, so I think he just needs a job.”

Hansen called it a “Jekyll and Hyde” transformation, both in appearance in demeanor.

“The big thing is, I don’t remember seeing the horse as happy as he is right now,” Hansen said. “If I feel that he can run and be a credit to himself, we’ll do it. If not, he’s just had a nice experience, he’s happy and healthy, and can go back to his job again.”

Nebraska state regulations prohibit horses 12 years old and older from entering or starting without special permission from the state’s racing commission and horsemen’s association, giving Law Enforcement at least two years of eligibility in that state. In Minnesota – the owner’s and trainer’s home state – horses can run up to age 14.

Wayne Anderson, Fonner Park’s assistant racing secretary, added that horses also are required to turn in two credible works before being eligible to start, of which Law Enforcement already has one, and that the horse would have to pass the standard state veterinarian’s exam, similar to any runner at the track.

With the first breeze behind him, Bethke said he had a clearer picture of the horse’s road map going forward, but he did not plan to deviate from his slow and steady pace in bringing him back to the races.\

“The deciding factors will be when we stretch him out a little farther and how he handles the distance better, but that was pretty easy for him, I do have to say,” Bethke said. “He galloped out good and came back nice after the workout, but it is a long time being off.”

Blaze Gaede More than 1 year ago
Really, jumping like thats safer than racing, and I don't believe that they intend on putting him in a cheap claimer, he a graded stakes horse and sometimes you feel the horse might be happier at the track I've had multiple horses that way. If they feel he can't do it they won't make him, I know him and i have horses at Fonner.
Cheryl Kleist More than 1 year ago
Lava Man is thrilled being at the track with O'Neil and made the triple crown journey with I'll Have Another. Now he's doing the same with Nynquist. He's training company and a focus influence on younger horses. He known as the COUCH around the barn. Law Enforcement would enjoy that type of a role. Lava Man has a very busy facebook site and website.
Laura More than 1 year ago
if galloping under tack makes him happy, why not do like Three Chimneys does, gallop him under tack every morning, he doesn't have to know there's no race coming...and if he really gets antsy, van him somewhere with a training track and starting gate and let him work out of it, maybe in company, there, satisfied....and if they think this little of him as a stud, it's not like doing this would hurt insurance-wise
Cherie Colt More than 1 year ago
Sounds like the new owner wants a piece of the half a million he won Yrs ago. If he was still that good at the track he wouldn't have been Retired.
Tom More than 1 year ago
They own the horse, so they can do what they please. Why geld the horse if not necessary? I love when others comment on what they think the owners should do. If asked, then willfully give your opinions, if not, do you really think the connections are reading through these threads and taking your opinions to heart?
Christie Craven More than 1 year ago
It's been done many times with 'duds at stud' meaning stallions who are infertile or subfertile. Darley had one a few years back I think. But, those are much younger horses generally. Wasn't there someone who did this like last year and the horse died? Took the horse from the KY Horse Park maybe because they said he missed racing? What about Gelding him and making him a track pony?
Christie Craven More than 1 year ago
Found it.. It was Au Moon who died trying to make a comeback after being at the Kentucky Derby Museum - http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/94147/former-derby-museum-resident-au-moon-dies
mike More than 1 year ago
Yeah,the idiots that brought Au Moon back are scum.
Diana More than 1 year ago
If he's healthy and sound and enjoys it then why not? They're obviously taking their time and being careful with him. And for those that say leave him alone and let him enjoy his retirement, doesn't sound like he was. Seems he was "meaner than a rattlesnake" and now that he's training again he's a happier horse. And I don't see how cross country, show jumping, etc can be considered safer. Lots of injuries and deaths happen in those sports as well.
Asia Smith More than 1 year ago
Uhmmmmm...11, put of training since 2012, why? He proved himself once. Let him enjoy his retirement. If he nerds a job, Let it be something different. Crosscountry might be up his Alley. Why does it need to be racing.
Megan Grant More than 1 year ago
So the horse needs a job. Couldn't he do something else? Something a little safer for a horse of his age who hasn't run in going on four years? Some dressage? A little jumping, perhaps?
Omar Razvi More than 1 year ago
If your bringing him back to be a cheap claimer doesn't make much sense, and they must not think much of him as a stallion prospect to make a move like this!