Even with the quarantine for Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) lifted on Monday, trainer Kenny McPeek filed a hearing request with the New York State Gaming Commission after several of his horses were denied entry into early-week races at Saratoga.

Kenny McPeek-Hearing Request
Trainer Kenny McPeek isn’t smiling after seven of his horses were denied entry into various Saratoga races this week. He’s seeking a hearing with the New York State Gaming Commission over the denials. McPeek’s stable emerged from a 21-day quarantine on Monday. (Image: Sarah Andrew)

BloodHorse reported that attorney Andrew Mollica filed the request on McPeek’s behalf after seven of McPeek’s horses were refused entry into various races this week. The publication reported the seven as Simply Ravishing, Fighting Seabee, Far Away Look, Laynlowmakndough, Penny Saver, Knightly Mischief, and Wicked Bobby.

The 21-day quarantine on Saratoga’s Barn 86 that began July 11 ended on Monday. McPeek has 30 horses stabled there, all of whom were put on the shelf after an unnamed filly tested positive for EHV-1 on July 15. The quarantine affected McPeek’s stable and that of trainer Jorge Abreu, who shares Barn 86.

No other horses tested positive since that initial diagnosis.

McPeek proactively sought entries for his horses

Mollica and McPeek filed the request after New York State Gaming Commission Steward Braulio Baeza Jr. denied the entries. According to BloodHorse, Baeza said the entries for those horses couldn’t be accepted until Sunday. McPeek wanted to enter one horse on Thursday, July 29 for this past Sunday’s card, three on Friday, July 30 for the Aug. 4 card, and three on Saturday, July 31 for the Aug. 5 card.

Baeza denied all of them, citing a rule that said entries for those horses couldn’t be taken until this past Sunday. Mollica told BloodHorse he tried contacting Baeza last Friday, attempting to get the horses entered in advance of a hearing, but he received no response.

“Our position is very clear. We were told we were clear [on] August 1. If you won’t let us run that day, wouldn’t you say that? No one said anything to us about that,” Mollica told BloodHorse. “We followed their protocols. Kenny detrimentally relied on the commitment they made to him and his owners. He entered Thursday because he was told he was clear [on] August 1. Not only is this arbitrary and capricious, the game is hard enough without the Commission working against people. It’s illogical.”

Swiss Skydiver, King Fury emerge from quarantine

The saving grace for McPeek on Monday was that he was able to get several of his horses out for workouts. Star filly Swiss Skydiver put in a 1:01.21, five-furlong workout on the main course in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 1 Whitney Stakes. That breeze was seventh of 31 horses working that distance on Monday.

Lexington Stakes winner King Fury clocked his five furlongs in 1:01.25 on the Oklahoma turf course for a grass race he’s running on Saturday. His breeze, working with Fighting Seabee, was sixth of 25 at that distance. Even so, McPeek didn’t pull any punches about the decision, which he called “illogical.” He told BloodHorse that the NYSGC could have handled the situation better by being more proactive and forthright with information.

“I’m very disappointed in the state steward. I think he’s done us an injustice. We should have been able to run (Sunday) and to add three more race days to this is wrong,” McPeek told BloodHorse. “It’s one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen by a racing official. I don’t get it.”

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