Some notes from recent California State Fair (Sacramento) Stewards Minutes:

July 15, “There were no on-track ‘heat’ related incidents today. Highest heat index, less the wind factor, was 121 for the second race.”


July 22, “Today [Chester] Bonnet explained that he had concerns about the soundness of his mount down the backstretch and into the lane but did not take any actions to pull the horse up. …Bonnet was admonished that should he determine his mount is not physically able to give its best then he should take the horse out of the race rather than relax his efforts in late stretch and hope for the best.”


July 29, “Jockey PEDRO TERRERO who rode the horse MY FRIEND GEORGE in the eighth race at [Sacramento] on July 23, 2017 is fined the sum of $500.00 for causing a welt on the flank… The above ruling was issued after Jockey Terrero appeared and reviewed replays of the race in question and photos of the welts on MY FRIEND GEORGE who won the eighth race… Mr. Terrero was very contrite and apologized.”

$500 for animal cruelty, but all’s good – he apologized.

July 30, “Jockey JUAN E. SANCHEZ who rode the horse HIGH GREELY in the third race at Golden Gate on September 4, 2016 is fined the sum of $500.00 for causing a welt on the flank… Sanchez remembered seeing the pictures back in September of last year and agreed to the fine. Investigator Mulligan said that the case fell through the cracks, which is why we are hearing it eleven months after the incident.”

“Fell through the cracks.”

Just when you think this industry cannot revolt any more, that some within said industry cannot debase themselves any further, comes something like this: A horse named Aurora’s Secret is scheduled for the 5th today at Belterra Park. But Aurora’s Secret is not just any horse, for you see this pitiful animal is almost 13 years old and today’s cheap $5,000 claiming-race will mark his 148th time under the whip. Take a moment to allow those numbers to sink in. 13. 148. How, Stephanie Eilers (trainer), Larry Eilers (owner), Belterra stewards, et al., do you sleep at night?

Ongoing abuse at Belterra Park in Ohio:

Since being bought by Edward Fernandez – who doubles as trainer – 5-year-old Pew has been raced 10 times, all claiming, in a little over 11 weeks…

June 5, last, “earned” $264
June 11, last (25+ lengths back), $95
June 17, last (18+ lengths back), $76
July 8, 3rd, $690
July 16, 3rd, $760
July 24, second-to-last, $210
July 31, 5th, $216
August 7, 4th, $350
August 18, 5th, $222
August 25, 3rd, $770

Since Edward Fernandez became her trainer, 5-year-old Utopia’s Virgin (owner, Quiomary Valentin) has been raced 8 times, all claiming, in less than 9 weeks…

June 26, last (26+ lengths back), “earned” $67
July 8, second-to-last (19+ lengths back), $95
July 14, 5th, $134
July 23, 4th, $345
July 29, 4th, $335
August 13, 4th, $335
August 18, 3rd, $740
August 27, 3rd, $740

Belterra is a racino track, meaning not only does casino revenue “enhance” race purses, it also allows the track to pay “connections” (Fernandez here) first through last. Translation: These awful people have every incentive to run their (relatively) cheap horses – Pew was “For Sale” at $5,000 prior to her last race; Utopia, $4,000 – into the ground. While this may not technically qualify as animal cruelty under the law, I believe the powers that be should still get a sense of our wrath: Belterra.

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11 (soon to be 12)-year-old Sun City has been put to the whip 137 times. The 137th came this past Monday in a $2500 claiming race (all but 7 of her races have been claiming) at Portland Meadows; she finished last.

And so the question becomes, when? As in when will this old – by racing standards, that is – soul break?

Current trainer/owner: Debbie Van Horne.

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The ugly facts on a 5-year-old (soon to be 6) mare named BL’s Dream:

total times under the whip, 86 – all claiming

races in 2015, 26 – that’s once every two weeks

in one summer stretch at Gulfstream, she was run four times in 30 days

closed out the year twice being brought back seven days after her last race

her most recent race, just four days ago at Tampa Bay, finished dead-last of 11

Current owner Juan Carlos Rullier is responsible for the last 51 races.

Without an immediate intervention, this ends badly.

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