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A Huevo returns to thoroughbred competition

August 17, 2003|by LARRY YANOS

Remember A Huevo?

The seven-year-old thoroughbred, who won the 1999 West Virginia Breeders Classics at Charles Town Races & Slots only to be disqualified for testing positive for the drug Clenbuterol, has returned to racing following a four-year layoff.

Owned by Mark Hopkins and trained by Michael Dickinson, the son of Cool Joe competed in the $85,000-added The Harvey Arneault Memorial Handicap at Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort in Chester, W.Va., last Saturday afternoon and finished seventh in the 6-furlong test for 3-years-olds-and-upwards.

It was the first outing for the oft-injured A Huevo since that Oct. 10, 1999, afternoon at Charles Town, when he romped to victory in the $150,000 featured event of the Classics.

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Jockey Mike McCarthy rode A Huevo that day, covering the mile-and-an-eighth distance in 1:50 and winning by almost eight lengths.

However, the $67,500 purse was stripped from A Huevo following a West Virginia Racing Commission decision to uphold a track finding that the winner had a banned substance in its system.

The $150,000 total purse was held up after the track's board of stewards alleged that a urine sample taken from A Huevo tested positive for Clenbuterol.

The board of stewards alleged that trainer Michael W. Dickinson violated state rules. Dickinson appealed the decision, a process that took a long time to resolve. In a ruling handed down in 2001, the Racing Commission said that although there was no proof that Dickinson or anyone affiliated with him had administered Clenbuterol to A Huevo, he would be held responsible in the matter.

"He's had numerous physical problems since that race at Charles Town. It's been bone chips or suspensory problems or something else," Hopkins said. "Michael has been extremely patient, though. He still believes A Huevo has a great future. He has told me more than once, 'I refuse to give up on this horse, he's too (darn) good.'"

Hopkins says if A Huevo shows improvement in the next few months off the outing at Mountaineer Park, the Breeders Classics on Oct. 12 at Charles Town is definitely on the agenda.

"Michael has always been high on this horse," Hopkins says. "I wasn't satisfied with his effort at Mountaineer Park, unacceptable, but we'll see how he runs the next time out. We'll probably place him in an allowance race or a stakes somewhere in the (Mid-Atlantic) region."

A Huevo is stabled at Dickinson's farm in North East, Md.

Hopkins purchased the thoroughbred from Suzanne Moscarelli weeks before the 1999 Breeders Classics.

"We ran him at Delaware Park in September of that year and he was impressive (1:09.2 for 6 furlongs)," Hopkins said. "After the race, Michael was suggesting the Pegasus (at the Meadowlands) or the Breeders' Cup Sprint for his next race. I then realized this was not a run-of-the-mill race horse."

Then came another impressive effort in the Breeders Classics before problems set in.

"He had problems. It was frustrating," Hopkins said. "Each year we tried to get him back... we knew potentially we had a Grade I winner. Last year, he was moving better than at anytime in his career and he came up lame coming back from the barn one morning. He returned to training this year and again went bad."

A determined Dickinson sent A Huevo to Delaware Park for a 5-furlong workout on July 21 and returned there again on Aug. 1 for a 6-furlong work. He also had three additional workouts at the farm.

"He worked the 6 furlongs at Delaware Park in 1:13.3 and was under wraps," Hopkins said.

A Huevo was handled during the workouts and last Saturday's race by jockey Ramon Dominguez - one of the leading riders in the country.

Hopkins says A Huevo will "go to school" before his next outing.

"He was very unruly in the paddock, he never freaked out like that in his life, he's such a sweet horse," Hopkins said. "He'll defenitely be going to Delaware Park for some schooling in the paddock.

"He came back sound as he could be. There was definitely more wear and tear on the owner than on the horse."

A long ride for one ride

California-based jockey Kent Desormeaux journeyed coast to coast last Saturday and rode just one horse on the West Virginia Derby Day card - Drexel Monorail in the $85,000-added West Virginia Secretary of Stakes Stakes.

Desormeaux finished fourth in the 6-furlong race.

A former apprentice of the year when based in Maryland, Desormeaux thought he had a good chance of winning the $600,000 West Virginia Derby aboard Outta Here.

Desormeaux said Outta Here didn't warm up well and track veterinarian Jon Day eventually scratched the thoroughbred.

Earlier this year, Desormeaux rode Outta Here, trained by William Currin, to a seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

He had two solid races at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California before experiencing problems at Mountaineer Park.

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