The Daily Puppy

Monday, December 31, 2012

Santa Anita: A distressed Baffert speaks out on Tweebster


Shigeki Kikkawa
Tweebster, shown in the paddock in the fall, broke down and was euthanized Sunday after being dropped in class.
ARCADIA, Calif. – Tweebster, a past stakes-class runner, was euthanized because of his injuries suffered when racing for a $12,500 claiming price Sunday at Santa Anita, and on Monday, his trainer, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, took the unusual step of issuing a statement through Santa Anita about the horse, the result, he said, of an outcry in social media.
Tweebster in 2011 was third in the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap, and in 2012 he was fourth in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap. As recently as September, he competed in a stakes race at Fairplex. But he was risked for a $40,000 claiming price at Santa Anita on Oct. 26, then did not race again until Sunday, when he ran for $12,500. He finished fifth of nine in a sprint, but was pulled up shortly following the race and was removed via ambulance.
According to Santa Anita’s stewards, Tweebster suffered fractures to both sesamoids in his left front leg, which led to him being euthanized.
“There is nothing lower than the death of a horse,” Baffert’s statement read. “When the public’s perception is that you are somehow responsible it makes the pain all the greater. Not only am I distressed over the death of this tough, gallant horse, I am deeply troubled by the comments on social media,” which, he said suggest “the horse was unsound and I was merely trying to get rid of him.”
According to Baffert, the significant class drop Sunday was “not based on a lack of soundness, but rather a lack of races available for him at higher claiming prices.”
“Tweebster was healthy and happy,” Baffert said. “I felt he was in need of a confidence booster and thought this would be an easy spot for him to get it. I understand a severe drop in class can indicate a horse is unsound, but I assure you that was not the case with Tweebster.”
Baffert pointed out that Tweebster, like all horses scheduled to compete, was examined by the state veterinarian the morning of the race and judged fit to run. In addition, veterinarians watch horses during the post parade for any signs of distress.
Baffert said jockey Martin Garcia felt Tweebster take a bad step after the race.
“We brought him back to the barn in hopes of saving him, but knew quickly that wasn’t going to be the case,” Baffert said.
“While I realize some people are going to think what they want, I want to express my feelings and deepest regret over the loss of a horse for whom I had a great deal of affection,” Baffert said.
Tweebster, a gelding who would have been 6 on Jan. 1, was owned by Kaleem Shah. He won 3 times in 22 starts and earned just shy of $250,000.
Statement from Bob Baffert regarding Tweebster
We all know racing is a sport of extreme highs and lows, and there is nothing lower than the death of a horse. When the public's perception is that you are somehow responsible it makes the pain all the greater. Not only am I distressed over the death of this tough, gallant horse, I am deeply troubled by the comments on social media.  They insinuate Tweebster's death was a result of my dropping him down for a $12,500 claiming tag, suggesting the horse was unsound and I was merely trying to get rid of him.
I respect and fully appreciate the sensitivity regarding the well being of animals, so I feel I owe it to everyone to explain the events that led to Tweebster's injury and subsequent death.
As is required, Tweebster was thoroughly examined by the state veterinarian yesterday morning and found to be perfectly sound going into the race.  The decision to run him in this particular race was not based on a lack of soundness, but rather a lack of races available for him at higher claiming prices. Tweebster was healthy and happy.  I felt he was in need of a confidence booster and thought this would be an easy spot for him to get it. I understand a severe drop in class can indicate a horse is unsound, but I assure you that was not the case with Tweebster.  Just before the race, heavy rain and hail poured down, making the track  more muddy and heavier.  The horse was moving great and his jockey says he felt comfortable throughout the race.  It wasn't until after the finish that Martin felt him take a bad step.  We brought him back to the barn in hopes of saving him, but knew quickly that wasn't going to be the case.
I have run horses at lower levels in the past and seen them regain their old form by getting their confidence back.  Sometimes I have had the horses claimed from me in the process and they have gone on to win stakes and allowance races for other owners and trainers.  I realize that is part of the claiming game.
The death of any horse on the racetrack is hard to accept.  When that horse is one who you saw and took care of everyday, the pain is physically gut wrenching .  While I realize some people are going to think what they want, I want to express my feelings and deepest regret over the loss of a horse for whom I had a great deal of affection.

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Todd Elliot (Logout)
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Todd Elliot2 minutes ago
Saying he was running this horse for a confidence booster is a joke for we are talking almost the bottom of the barrel horses in the race tweebster ran..Nobody should blame the trainer or jockey for the horses death but in truth,, the horse had issues obviously being lowered into a low level claiming race hoping someone would take him and not that baffert was looking for a confidence booster to run in the strub next.
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Leslie Bliman-Kuretzky5 minutes ago
RIP Tweebster :(
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Jenny Potter6 minutes ago
Bob Baffert has had more than "a couple" euthanized. With that said, I want to believe that they were actually doing what's best for this horse. I do not think 12.5K is a "confidence builder". This is more of "please claim this horse and get him off our hands". A former graded stakes horse doesn't just drop for confidence reasons. There was an issue there. I hope that they were essentially doing best for him at the time. But it sure didn't work out that way. Tweebster looked beautiful in the post, but had some pretty bad action during the race. I like Bob, I just don't really care for this issue here.
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Rachel Harding28 minutes ago
Whats funny is that the posting done about Tweebster took place on the news for Paynter. And everyone said crap about Paynter coming back too. I think Zayat ought to speak out about the nasty things people said about Paynter, cuz if you followed with the news you would see lots of pictures and updates on paynter, while he was in the clinic and at fair hill. His recovery is remarkable. The news on Tweeebster is aweful but unforunately freak accidents happen.
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Joel Ittner32 minutes ago
have you "seen them" at all in the am? Maybe around 10:30 or 11:00 - whiner, and behind the skirt sore loser...how 'bout Free Pourin? Care to discuss that charge? We who bet really know what's up - YOU ARE NOT ASMUSSEN, NOR OR YOU PLETCHER... get hands-on once a week, yuppie
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Craig Gilbert43 minutes ago
Dont blame the trainer, It is part of the game, I am sorry Mr. Baffert for the loss of tweebster but i have been around this game long enough to no you wouldnt do that to a animal. RIP tweebster
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Gerard Doise59 minutes ago
Just how many of you posting actually know anything about owning race horses? Do any of you understand that pretty much all race horse owners, that own geldings are going to put them in races they have a chance to win, no matter how low the level. It is all about making money. Bob Baffert, as someone stated in an earlier post, has only had a couple of horses breakdown and be euthanized. He runs horses for the owners who hire him to train their runners. Those who say he drugs them, where is your proof? There are many trainers who have been caught in positive tests more often than Baffert. All thoroughbreds, like any athlete, human or animal, needs medication. Vitamins, pain killers, anti inflammatory meds. How many of you actually watched Tweebster warm up for the race? He looked good and sharp before the race. He broke bad and tried to maker a run and couldn't get there. I have seen horses breakdown just walking to the paddock. These animals are very fragile. There has been too many years of inbreeding that has weekend the breed.
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Melanie Lema1 hour ago
I have a hard time believing Mr. Baffert felt a need to squeek a few extra bucks out of his horse. As for making a statement a day later... how many of us are prepared to go public in a moment of shock and grief? Condolences to all of the connections on their loss.
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Joel Ittner1 hour ago
This entry was a total red flag - we were talkin about the 7th since before the card began...I, and probably many others, am not surprised by the result...Shah thought he might get the purse and a claim check, while ridding himself of Tweebster...In addition, bringing the horse back on an iffy track was very unnecessary...l­essons learned, all the time...sorry I singled Tweebster because of a scratch and supposed class, but more sorry for the animal who had NO say in the matter...listen to the horse and he will tell you when he's ready...Man, Baffert - are ya lookin behind your back at every turn? should be...
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STARR D1 hour ago
The nerve of anyone to talk stuff about what they know nothing about! Were ANY of those who are commenting about this situation here and elsewhere actually involved in ANY aspect of this to have ANY actual knowledge? If not, then I wonder why they should comment.....?! It's people spewing their negativity based on speculation that is damaging this sport more than anything in my opinion! Mr Baffert probably knows more about race horses than all the naysayers put together but he is not psychic! If all you complainers don't like racing, and your comments make it appear as though you don't, why dont you go find a sport you like so the rest of us don't have to hear you tearing this one down?!
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