11/19/2008 1:00AM

Vets still won't let Cost of Freedom race


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Cost of Freedom, the Grade 1-winning sprinter, was not permitted to be entered in Saturday's $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park after failing a physical examination on Wednesday regarding soundness.

Cost of Freedom worked five furlongs in 1:00 at Hollywood Park on Wednesday, but did not jog to the satisfaction of state veterinarian Tom Connor after the workout. As a result, Cost of Freedom remained on the state veterinarian's list and is banned from racing for at least 10 days.

The decision left co-owner Gary Barber contemplating legal action against the California Horse Racing Board and trainer John Sadler unsure when the 5-year-old gelding would be able to start. Cost of Freedom won his last start, the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 27. He was scratched from the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on the morning of the race after he was deemed unsound. He was placed on the veterinarian's list at that time.

Wednesday, Barber, a film producer based in Los Angeles, challenged the decision of racing board officials to classify Cost of Freedom as unsound. Barber said Cost of Freedom recently underwent a battery of tests, including an MRI, nuclear scan, ultrasound, and X-ray, which he said did not disclose any injuries.

"We have archaic methods to tell whether a horse is sound," Barber said. "He's got a funny gait when he jogs on the road. That's his idiosyncrasy. He worked like a machine. They have zero medical records to support their position.

"I've got to deal with fighting city hall, so to speak," Barber said. "I'm not here to run a bad horse. This is an absolute disgrace. I'm a big supporter of this game."

Wednesday, Connor inspected Cost of Freedom before his workout, watched him work, and then inspected the gelding later in the morning.

"He's pretty much the same as he was before," Connor said. "He's nodding off on the right front."

Asked what must happen for Cost of Freedom to be clear from the vet's list, Connor said, "He'd have to be sound and not showing a head nod."

Rick Arthur, the racing board's equine medical director, supported Connor's findings. Arthur said Cost of Freedom was inspected by six veterinarians before the Breeders' Cup.

"All agreed, and I was not one of them, that he should be on the vet's list," Arthur said. "He's still unsound."

Arthur said Barber's recent efforts to diagnose the reason for Cost of Freedom's jogging gait does not affect the gelding's status on the veterinarian's list.

"It means you have a lame horse without a diagnosis," he said. "Horses that are lame can't run on a California racetrack. We err on the side of the horse."

Neil Papiano, representing Barber, said he may seek legal recourse in Los Angeles Superior Court in coming days against the racing board.

"They can tell the judge why it can't run," Papiano said. "They don't have any real reason for it. It's an opinion that they're using and not facts."

Barber "has spent a lot of money testing. We want a chance to show other opinions. They're depriving a very good horse from running. Somebody has an opinion, and somebody else has an opinion."

Cost of Freedom was claimed by Barber and his brother Cecil for $50,000 at Del Mar in July. The gelding has since won two races for them, an allowance race at Del Mar on Aug. 9 and the Ancient Title.

Sadler said if Cost of Freedom is not excused from the veterinarian's list that he would consider taking the gelding to the $2 million Golden Shaheen for sprinters in Dubai in late March.

"We'll get him ready for Dubai, I guess," Sadler said.

Without Cost of Freedom, the six-furlong Underwood has drawn a field of seven, including the stakes winners Bob Black Jack, Johnny Eves, Noble Court, and Northern Soldier.

Wait a While's racing career is over

Wait a While, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2006, has been sent to Kentucky to be bred in 2009 and will not race again, according to Michael McCarthy, trainer Todd Pletcher's assistant trainer in California.

Wait a While, 5, finished third in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 24, three-quarters of a length behind Forever Together. She ends her career with 12 wins in 24 starts and earnings of $2,394,917.

"She's in Kentucky," McCarthy said. "She will be bred. Racing is over for her."

Wait a While won 11 stakes, including three Grade 1 races - the American Oaks and Yellow Ribbon of 2006 and the 2008 Yellow Ribbon in September. She won seven other graded stakes, including the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Handicap at Saratoga in 2007 and 2008.

McCarthy said that breeding plans have not been finalized.

Zambezi Sun coming to Frankel's barn

Zambezi Sun, the winner of two group stakes in France in the last 18 months, will join trainer Bobby Frankel's stable next month, Frankel said Sunday. Frankel said Zambezi Sun will be pointed for a 2009 campaign.

A 4-year-old owned by Juddmonte Stables, Zambezi Sun was 15th in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris in his last start on Oct. 5. Zambezi Sun won the Group 2 Prix Foy earlier this year. Last year, he won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris and was eighth in the Arc de Triomphe.

Finalists for Woolf Award announced

Jockeys Gary Baze, Calvin Borel, Javier Castellano, David Flores, and John Velazquez are the finalists for the 2009 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, Santa Anita announced on Wednesday.

The award is voted on by jockeys, and recognizes riders for outstanding performance and personal character. The voting will take place in coming weeks, and the winner will be announced in January. A ceremony honoring the winner is scheduled for early 2009 at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

The five finalists compete throughout the nation. Baze is based in the Pacific Northwest, Flores in Southern California, Castellano and Velazquez are primarily in New York, while Borel is a fixture in Kentucky.

The Woolf has been awarded annually since 1950 and is named in honor of the jockey who died as a result of injuries suffered in a spill at Santa Anita in 1946.