Horologist Owner Barred From Monmouth For Remainder Of Meet, Questions Track’s Motives

For owner Cameron Beatty, the final race of the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes card on July 18 eventually proved to be a testament to the highs and lows horse racing can provide. Beatty, who races as There’s a Chance Racing, was the lone representative at Monmouth Park that day for Horologist when she won the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher by a decisive two lengths. The filly’s trainer, Bill Mott, is based out of Saratoga this time of year and NYRA’s COVID-19 protocols don’t permit anyone working on the backstretch to return to The Spa after traveling out of state. Mott and Beatty coordinated with a local assistant trainer to saddle the filly and provide a groom to care for her for the day. When that assistant waved Beatty into the winner’s circle, Beatty didn’t think too much of it.

“After the race, obviously we were all going crazy,” said Beatty. “He told me to grab my filly and take her in the winner’s circle. With me, the horse, and Joe Bravo that was two people so we thought everything was fine.”

Monmouth Park representatives subsequently told Beatty he violated the track’s COVID-19 protocols and will be banned from the property for the remainder of 2020.

After his filly’s big win, Beatty got a letter asking him to call racing secretary John Heims.

“[John Heims] was saying I put racing in New Jersey at risk, and I was extremely selfish for doing that,” Beatty recalled. “He also said the owner of Authentic was extremely upset because he was there and he wasn’t allowed to go into the winner’s circle. I apologized for all of that. I didn’t intend for any of that to happen … I really didn’t know that I wasn’t allowed to go in, or I would have never gone in.”

According to documents published on its website, the winner’s circle at Monmouth “will be limited to no more than four people (jockey, groom, trainer and an additional stable hand if necessary). No owners will be permitted in the winner’s circle. Everyone in the winner’s circle must have face covering.”

Beatty’s understanding of the house rule had been that it was the number – four people – that was important, not what those people’s jobs were, which is why he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong.

Meanwhile, Beatty points out, out-of-state riders are permitted to ride at Monmouth, though they are required to produce a negative COVID-19 test and keep their distance from others. Photos from earlier in the meet show groups of as many as five people in winner’s circle shots that feature the winning horse. In other images that seem to be taken after the horse has left the winner’s circle, as many as seven people can be seen without masks over their noses or mouths, arms slung over each other. For Beatty, these things raise questions about how stringent protocols really are, and how evenly they’re being applied.

“It kind of seems like I’m a 28-year-old guy who’s having a little bit of success, getting a little lucky and they don’t really like that,” said Beatty. “It seems like I’m getting attacked. They want me to be the example, but Dennis Drazin walks around the track without a mask on. That’s what the example should be. The majority of people who work there, they’re walking around with their masks on their chin.

“I respect the rules. I understand that they have rules in place for a reason. I just don’t feel I should be made an example of when there’s other people breaking the rules and just getting warnings.”

Drazin confirms that the track’s action against Beatty is the first taken against an owner for violating COVID-19 protocols. He also said that he’s unaware of other incidents of owners violating protocol, but that other licensees have received warnings for violations, including not having their masks pulled up over their mouth or nose.

“I spend a significant amount of my time every day trying to walk around and talk nicely to people to get them to put their masks on,” said Drazin. “I would tell you this – the governor expects us to enforce these rules. What ends up happening is if a jockey gets off a horse and he’s walking back to the jocks’ room, and the owners or fans approach the jockey and start to hug him and they don’t have masks on, with social media these days, that goes wild. And then we get calls from people saying we’re not enforcing the rules.

“I’m the chairman of the track. I have not been in the winner’s circle. I was not in the paddock on Haskell Day. Could I have gone in? I did not do that because I consider myself an owner also and I apply all the rules to myself.”

Beatty was offered the opportunity to present his case at a hearing conducted by Monmouth. When COVID-19 protocols were first put in place, Drazin communicated with the New Jersey Racing Commission, asking whether they wanted to adjudicate COVID protocol violations or whether that should be left up to the track. He says the commission told him it was fine for Monmouth to handle those incidents themselves and if they felt they couldn’t, track management could refer rule breakers on. At first, Beatty said, he was interested in the opportunity, but backed off when Monmouth management suggested the other partners in Horologist, who were not present for her race in the Molly Pitcher, may be brought into the proceeding, fearing they would face punishment also.

Drazin said he didn’t have any reason to believe those owners — who were not present that day — would face sanctions themselves.

“In my view, the other owners were blameless,” said Drazin.

Drazin suspects the reason Beatty backed off on the idea of a hearing was that he was told the track was prepared to present evidence showing he had been on the backstretch the same day, also in violation of the track’s COVID rules. Beatty said he had permission from the guard on duty to pop in and deliver tips to the van driver and groom; Drazin said it shouldn’t matter what the guard said – signage clearly indicated he shouldn’t have been there.

Beatty also raises questions about the motives of Drazin and director of racing John Heims in delivering this ban from the track property. Drazin represented Vincent Annarella’s Holly Crest Farm in a dispute between Annarella and Beatty over the ownership of Cinderella Time, the dam of Horologist.

Both Beatty and Drazin agree on a few facts: Holly Crest owned homebred Cinderella Time during her racing career. When an injury ended her career, trainer John Mazza (who was also farm manager for Holly Crest and employed by Beatty as a trainer) thought Beatty might be interested in her and got in touch.

Beatty said Annarella gave him the mare, who Beatty boarded at Holly Crest, and apparently had no issue with the arrangement until Horologist started winning races. Then, Beatty said, Annarella started claiming he didn’t know Beatty had been breeding the mare and registering himself as breeder and owner of the foals.

Drazin, who said he has known Annarella some 40 years, began calling Beatty on Annarella’s behalf, relaying his desire to have the mare back, and threatening a civil lawsuit. Drazin said Mazza was never authorized to give the horse away, and Annarella only found out Beatty thought he was her owner when he saw Horologist pop up in race entries.

“I sacrificed a lot of money every month to board that mare, to pay stud fees, to pay vet bills,” Beatty said. “I probably put close to $100,000 into her.

“He claimed he didn’t remember cashing my checks every month for four years.”

Beatty alleges Drazin threatened to block his entries and evict his horses from the Monmouth grounds if he didn’t give up possession of Cinderella Time – a claim Drazin categorically denies.

In the end, the two sides came to an arrangement through private mediation. Cinderella Time was returned to Holly Crest, which sold her for $245,000 in foal to Twirling Candy at last year’s Keeneland November auction; Holly Crest was made as the breeder of record for Horologist and her half-sister, A P Lucky, and Beatty remained as an owner on the two daughters. Drazin said Beatty also received some amount of compensation for board expenses, though Beatty claims it’s a fraction of what he paid.

“I was called by Dennis Drazin and told that this wasn’t a lawsuit I wanted to get into because I would lose,” said Beatty, who said Drazin threatened to sue Mazza also. “At that time, I didn’t have a lot of money. I was a little guy in the business without much success.

“Looking back, I shouldn’t have let that go, but I couldn’t put John through it … It’s kind of like David and Goliath and I’m David because I don’t have millions and millions of dollars, I don’t have 50, 60 horses on the backside keeping the track alive. It puts a really bad taste in your mouth when all this happens … the owner of the track is this guy’s lawyer. How can I compete with that?”

Mazza died earlier this year at the age of 82.

Drazin said as far as he’s concerned, both matters are resolved. If anything, he thinks Beatty has had things easier than he could have. If he had turned Beatty’s COVID rule violations over to the racing commission, he points out, the commission could have suspended Beatty’s ownership license – an action that would likely have been reciprocated by other jurisdictions, causing him more headaches. And as for the Cinderella Time case, Drazin thinks he was quite charitable.

“I think another lawyer may have encouraged them to litigate it, but Mr. Beatty called me up and he seemed like a nice young man,” recalled Drazin. “He told me he was just invested in the business, he hadn’t been a long-time owner, he didn’t understand all the rules. Given he was a young man who was very enthusiastic about the business and wanted to be involved, we wanted to help him out.”

The post Horologist Owner Barred From Monmouth For Remainder Of Meet, Questions Track’s Motives appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.