JC / Railbird


Tarnished Encke

The British Horseracing Authority released on Monday the results of tests done on all Godolphin-owned racehorses based in Newmarket, revealing that seven additional horses trained by the now-suspended Mahmood al Zarooni turned up positive for steroids — including the 2012 St. Leger winner Encke. That name atop the list was explosive, immediately raising the question of whether Camelot, second in the St. Leger, lost the Triple Crown to a horse who may have been treated with banned substances. Encke tested clean before and after the race last September, but the question will linger, writes Greg Wood:

And, thanks to the poisonous nature of anabolic steroids, which leave suspicions lingering when all traces of the drug have gone, it is a question that will probably never have an answer.

For Paul Hayward, Encke’s positive:

is a disaster all by itself. It casts doubt on a whole season of Flat racing and requires an asterisk to be placed next to the final Classic of 2012.

Encke will not be disqualified, said the BHA. “There is absolutely no evidence at all that [he] was gaining benefit from prohibited substances in the St Leger.”

It’s a determination that must be accepted, unless new details emerge about Zarooni’s operation at Moulton Paddocks (the investigation is ongoing).

American racing fans know the uncertainty, even if the situations are different: Big Brown’s 2008 run for the Triple Crown, and his baffling performance in the Belmont Stakes, was also clouded by the issue of (then legal) steroids.

Forty-Two Years

Greg Wood reflects on Coolmore, Camelot, and the Triple Crown:

Racing has changed since Nijinsky won the Triple Crown and Magnier has probably done as much as anyone alive to change it. Nor is there anything that Camelot can do on Saturday afternoon to bring the old days back. But the fact that he is running in the St Leger at all shows that, even now, there are still precious moments in the billion-dollar business of international Flat racing when the money is secondary to the sport.

9/15/12 Addendum: Forty-three years. Encke outruns Camelot.