- Oh man.
The California Horse Racing Board filed complaints Monday against Martin J. Wygod, the owner of Sweet Catomine, and Dean Kerkhoff, a racehorse transport driver, after determining the champion filly was falsely identified to the stable gate guard as a "pony" when she left Santa Anita at 3 a.m. on April 4 for special medical treatment and again when she returned to the stable area the following night.The investigator went on to say that Wygod had made positive statements about the filly in “public forum", but then when she needed medical attention, this was "not discussed in the same forum, and as such, was both false and deceptive," making Wygod’s actions "detrimental to the best interests of horse racing.”[Bloodhorse] That last phrase is the type that can sometimes preface severe penalties. If this is all true, a story of an owner sneaking his horse, a champion filly, off the grounds in the middle of the night for two days and then whisking her back, at which point she was “identified as a "pony" returning from a "clinic," all the while not only not letting on that there was a problem, but talking about her in glowing terms, even questioning why anyone would even bother running against her, is the type of story that will spread way beyond the usual confines of the horse racing press. It would be funny if it wasn't so harmful to the sport. It comes just a month before the Kentucky Derby, and on top of recent race-fixing indictments and drug positives.
The complaint further alleges that Wygod violated CHRB Rule 1902 (Conduct Detrimental to Horse Racing) in connection with statements he made before and after Saturday's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) concerning the health of Sweet Catomine, who finished fifth in the race as the even-money favorite. The owner was widely quoted in newspapers, magazines, and on news Web sites as saying after the race that the filly had physical problems, such as internal bleeding after she exercised on Sunday, April 3, and providing details that were not made public before the race. [Bloodhorse]