TORONTO – His heart is broken but Ian Moore’s conscience is clear.
The veterinarian and standardbred trainer scratched Arthur Blue Chip from the $683,000 Metro Pace on Friday. The son of Shadow Play-Advantest won his elimination race last weekend and was training well heading into North America’s richest event for two year olds at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday night before developing a lung infection.
“I was very depressed and stressed thinking and talking about it,” Moore said Friday. “But if you were the client and it was your horse, I know what I’d tell you as a veterinarian . . . so why would I tell myself any different?
“The horse is healthy, it’s not his fault. It’s a contagious thing that’s been slowly moving its way around.”
Fortunately, the condition can be treated quickly and effectively. But Moore said Arthur Blue Chip would be risking career-threatening implications if he raced Saturday night.
“It’s not a serious issue but can definitely become a serious issue if you race a young horse with the problem,” Moore said. “You could end up ruining them for life so you need to be very careful with that to ensure you don’t have any long-term situations develop.
“I’ll treat him with antibiotics and a mucolytic (agent to break up mucus buildup), a combination (other horses) have responded to very well and potentially I might even be able to race him next week.”
Arthur Blue Chip was the 7-2 early second pick and scheduled to be driven by Randy Waples of Milton, Ont. A $135,000 yearling purchase, Arthur Blue Chip has won five-of-seven starts for earnings of $194,495.
“He had a great week up until (Thursday),” Moore said. “I scoped him and he showed signs of sickness but was five times worse (Friday morning).
“This is probably the biggest scratch I’ve had to make in my lifetime. The horse business has many highs and lows so you enjoy the highs when you get them and ride along with the lows or else find another business . . . I really feel bad for Randy, I’ve already told him how sorry I am and he understands. He’s been there before.”
Moore and Waples weren’t the only ones disappointed. So to was co-owner Serge Savard, the former NHL star defenceman.
“I called him (Thursday) and interrupted his golf game and I think he shot a whole bunch of bogeys after that,” Moore said. “I could tell he wasn’t happy at first but we had a conference call (Friday morning) with the partners and the horse scoped five times worse than he did yesterday so how can we race him?
“I’m disappointed but I know I made the right decision. This would’ve been our best chance in the five years we’ve been in it . . . but, hey, we’ve still got the other horse in it so maybe we can win it with him.”
Moore also trains Play It Again Sam, an 8-1 pick who’ll be driven by David Miller from the No. 9 hole Saturday. Moore said Play It Again Sam showed signs of a lung infection following last weekend’s elimination race but has responded well to treatment and, barring a last-second setback, will race at Mohawk.
In an ironic twist, Moore said Waples had the choice to drive either Arthur Blue Chip or Play It Again Sam on Saturday. He opted for Arthur Blue Chip after leading him to his elimination victory.
The Metro Pace will highlight a racing card that also features the $651,000 Canadian Pacing Derby and $451,000 Shes A Great Lady stakes event.
Western Vintage is the early 3-1 Metro Pace favourite with driver Yannick Gingras, of Sorel Que., going from the No. 3 spot. Western Vintage won his elimination race by two lengths in 1:51.3 and has finished first in four-of-five starts and earned $117,250.
“He was full of pace, he was just waiting for me to call on him,” Gingras said of his elim victory. “Everytime I’ve called on him so far, he’s had something left.
“I think he has as good a chance as anybody and he’s done nothing wrong so far.”
Lets Drink On It is the 4-1 third choice who’ll go from the No. 2 post for American driver Jim Morrill Jr. Lets Drink On It held off a late-charging Boomboom Ballykeel to win by a neck in 1:51.1, the fastest of the three elimination races.