04/29/2014 1:10PM

Vaccarezza protests by pulling Little Mike from Woodford Reserve Turf Classic

Barbara D Livingston
Little Mike, who had been projected to be one of the favorites for Saturday's Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, will not run.

Carlo Vaccarezza, the owner and trainer of multiple Grade 1 winner Little Mike, pulled his horse from Churchill Downs on Tuesday, in a protest of a decision by Kentucky racing regulators to take a blood sample from the horse for out-of-competition testing.

The decision was accompanied by a statement from Vaccarezza highly critical of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Churchill Downs, even though Kentucky’s racing regulations explicitly allow commission personnel to pull blood and urine samples from any horse who is being pointed to a race in the state, at any time or location. Little Mike was being pointed to the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Classic on the undercard of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

In the statement, Vaccarezza claimed that the action by the commission was a “draconian violation of my property and integrity.” He claimed that the KHRC pulled the sample “allegedly in response to prodding from a neighboring rival stable, without my knowledge, physical presence or consent, against the strong protestations of my employees, and without advance notice, or security or law enforcement personnel present.”

Dr. Mary Scollay, the equine medical director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said that the commission’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Will Farmer, arrived at Vaccarezza’s barn shortly before 10 a.m. on Monday to pull the samples from the horse. At the time, Little Mike was getting a bath from a stablehand, and Vaccarezza was not at the barn, Scollay said.

Farmer then called Vaccarezza “as a courtesy,” Scollay said, and told him that Little Mike had been selected for out-of-competition testing. Vaccarezza did not object to the procedure at that time, Scollay said, and the personnel at the barn did not in any way protest.

“The way [the conversation] was described to me, was, ‘Do what you gotta do,’” Scollay said. “Our protocol was followed by the letter.”

Vaccarezza took over the training of Little Mike, a 7-year-old he bred who won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf, from Dale Romans after the horse finished ninth in the Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on Dec. 9.

In an interview, Vaccarezza also said he was upset that the commission was requiring that he pass the state’s trainer’s test to obtain his license. Although Vaccarezza is licensed in Florida, he has been refused an owner’s license in New York in the past.

“They are not asking any of the other trainers shipping in from Florida or anywhere else for that matter to take a trainer’s test again,” Vaccarezza said.

John Ward, the executive director of the commission, said: “Mr. Vaccarezza and I agreed two or three months ago that it would be appropriate for him to take another trainer’s test as a condition of him being issued an owner or trainer’s license in Kentucky.”

Little Mike would likely have been the strong second choice in the Woodford Reserve, behind two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan. Vaccarezza said last week that Churchill’s racing office had hustled Little Mike for the Woodford Reserve.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved rules allowing for out-of-competition testing several years ago. The regulations do not require “advance notice,” and the rules state that an “owner, trainer, or any authorized designee shall fully cooperate” with commission personnel as they obtain the samples.

Many national racing organizations have come out strongly in support of out-of-competition testing programs like those that are in place in Kentucky. Supporters contend that the programs are the best line of defense in catching or deterring trainers who may be using powerful drugs that are used well in advance of a race and are hard to detect, such as blood-doping substances.

At least six states currently have active out-of-competition testing programs . In New York, the state’s harness horsemen challenged the rules on a number of grounds, including a violation of a prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, but many of those challenges were shot down by a state judge.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch


Gayle Gerth More than 1 year ago
Maybe another consideration for his pulling Little Mike was because he didn't want to run him against Wise Dan.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Fine.....he can take his horse and run him somewhere else!
Kell More than 1 year ago
why would you protest if there is nothing wrong???????????????????
julietvalcouer . More than 1 year ago
The rules say they can pull samples. If I compete in a sport regulated by WADA/the US affiliate, they can show up at my HOUSE at ten o'clock at night and tell me to pee in a cup or else I get a suspension. Give the blood or don't run. The issue about the license is another story--either everyone needs to take the test or no one does.
John Nicoletti More than 1 year ago
If you are not illegally medicating your horses, what is the problem.?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When PLUNDER has become a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it. The constitution has been cr@ped on again, and this is just another example of it. Random means an equal probability of being chosen, this was not random.
John Nester More than 1 year ago
You guys MIGHT be missing the point of the protest. If the horse is clean the guy has a legit point. He pulled the horse from Romans - a horse who made Romans a lot of money. Romans was surely upset. The owner-trainer is saying he shouldn't be tested on the basis that Dale Romans complained. Romans shouldn't run the track and be able to get other trainer's horses tested. That's not what "random" means at all. The fact that they are after the guy to get a license when other trainers with out of state licenses haven't been asked to is a VERY strong case for discrimination. It's easy for the commission to push around the trainers with small stables but do they act the same way with the trainers with large stables. Were Asmussen's horses tested? Can anyone call them and get another trainer's horses tested? I doubt it all. Now, if the horse is dirty then that's another story.. but you can't just assume that. The horse certainly ran a lot better under Roman's care than he has under CV.. who's dirty? you just don't know until you get test results, but "random" testing should be completely random. The commission themselves shouldn't even be the ones determining who gets tested - they should have an outside, uninvolved source determining who gets tested - that's what random means.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gulfstream permitted both Jorge Navarro and Jane Cibeli to run horses there this winter. Both of them had been banned from Tampa Bay Downs. Obviously, GP is just interested in filling races and not the integrity of racing.
jaybern1 More than 1 year ago
Just what horse racing needs...another high-profile loser.
Diane Hain More than 1 year ago
This guy needs to go. Racing doesn't need this negativity. Please somebody make aan offer and buy this horse away from him!