With NTRA, Moelis team, equine charities win big

On Horse Racing

April 11, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, horse racing's coordinating body since April 1998, spent its first year identifying the sport's greatest assets. When it came to charities, the NTRA knocked at the door of Ellen and Herb Moelis.

Since 1991, the Moelises have conducted an annual auction featuring stallion seasons, or breedings, at their CandyLand Farm in Middletown, Del. With the help of volunteers from Maryland, they built the auction into a national event that this year cleared about $400,000.

Their fund-raising became so successful that last year they formed Thoroughbred Charities of America. As the only national charity for equine research, retirement and rescue, the all-volunteer group dispensed auction proceeds to about 20 groups.

The NTRA suggested a collaboration for the creation of NTRA Charities. Herb Moelis said he's delighted.

"The NTRA will generate more and better seasons for us," Moelis said. "The result will be that we'll raise a lot more money, and the NTRA will get credit for distributing it. This should double the size of the auction."

The board of directors of the original Moelis charity will have the greatest say in where the proceeds go, he said. The NTRA will also raise money through an NTRA Visa card, and it will contribute production work and television time for public-service announcements about the charity and benevolent projects of the racing industry.

Mills' N.J. suspension

Starting tomorrow, don't bother trying to reach Dale Mills at his Laurel Park barn. That's when he begins serving his 45-day suspension for Testafly's clenbuterol positive last summer in the Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park.

Even though Mills denied administering or prescribing the drug that helps horses breathe, he received a 45-day suspension from the New Jersey stewards, and then, last month, an additional fine of $1,000 from the New Jersey Racing Commission.

Compared to Maryland, where a similar infraction would result in a 15-day suspension, the 45-day suspension was outrageous. But that's the norm in New Jersey, so Mills accepted it with little public grousing. The fine, however, lighted his fuse.

"I've never been in trouble before," Mills said. "This is my first offense, and they're treating me like a criminal."

Alan Foreman, who represented Mills at the hearings, said New Jersey officials wanted to give Mills an even longer suspension, mainly because he had no explanation for how the drug got into Testafly. Mills said he simply doesn't know.

"If I had admitted guilt, if I had lied in other words, I might have gotten fewer days," Mills said. "This whole thing has been unfair from the beginning. It doesn't make any sense.

"If they don't want people like me running horses up there, they ought to put out a sign so I know not to come. Why should I have to run from any racetrack? This is the '90s, not the '60s."

A native of Trinidad, Mills said the positive drug test already cost Testafly's owners about $100,000 in purse money and lost opportunities in the MATCH series.

"I can't keep fighting this," he said. "I can't afford to sit with those people in court every week. I'm a little guy trying to get started, and they're bleeding me like I've got all this money to give them."

Foreman said Mills' case screams for the standardization of drug penalties, especially in this part of the country, where horsemen frequently ship from state to state. Foreman said representatives of horsemen and racing commissions from New York to Maryland met at Fair Hill in January and formed a committee to start working on that.

It will be too late for Mills, however. For 45 days, his career will be on hold.

Flying high

Jove Stone set a track record at Philadelphia Park eight days ago in the $50,000 Mr. Nickerson Handicap. Owned by Peter Angelos and trained by Tony Dutrow, the 5-year-old ran six furlongs in 1 minute, 8 seconds, breaking the record of 1: 08 1/5 set in 1982.

"Can you imagine how many horses ran since then?" said Harry Strovel, Angelos' racing manager. "That was really flying."

Jove Stone is Angelos' favorite horse, Strovel said. Angelos picked him out at the Timonium yearling sale in 1995. Dick Dutrow developed him.

Miscellaneous

Beginning in early May, Charles Town's races will be simulcast to tracks throughout the country. Also, Charles Town will soon begin replacing its video-lottery terminals, which pay off in receipts, with the more popular machines that pay off in coins. The Jockey Club, the registry for North American thoroughbreds, reported last week that the foal crop for 1996 was 35,332, the first increase over the previous year since 1986. On April 17, 1972, the future champion Ruffian was foaled at Claiborne Farm.

Pub Date: 4/11/99

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