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Friday, March 14, 2014

The Banishment Of P.J. Fraley And Access To Stakes Races

P.J. Fraley, who has reportedly been barred from participating at the Meadowlands, Vernon Downs and Tioga (HRU), joins two other high profile trainers, Lou Pena and Rene Allard, in Jeff Gural’s rendition of Siberia. Pena has pretty much fallen off the planet as he failed to make the top 50 on the trainers earning’s list last year, while Allard, who was banished in the spring,  finished fourth. Fraley was sixth on that list, finishing just above Linda Toscano and Bee’s trainer, Nifty Norman. He currently sits fourth, behind Ron Burke, Allard and Carmen Auciello.

Fraley worked for Noel Daley for nine years before setting out on his own in 2011/2012. His horses went from 55 starts and earnings of $190,000 in 2011 to 947 starts and earnings of 3.7 million in 2012. He trains primarily for Bamond Racing. Taking into consideration the fact that he’s relatively new to the trainer of record ranks, his record of fines and suspensions is pretty tame, with fines for going through the post while warming up, disturbing the peace and being late to the Lasix/detention barn. A $250 fine for an out of spec level of an authorized medication is the only other infraction listed on his USTA record. While Pena and Allard have engendered controversy right along, Fraley appears to be something of an outlier.

As the HRU piece notes, whether or not Fraley’s charges are allowed to race in stakes races they’re already nominated to at Gural’s tracks is a key question that hasn’t been resolved. Lou Pena is persona non grata at Yonkers Raceway but he has a horse racing right now in the Sagamore Hill Series. Obviously this would have a big effect on Fraley’s star pupil Anndrovette’s season. The three time division champ in the U.S. and Canada is as much an outlier as her trainer. She has banked in excess of 2.5 million dollars, while no other daughter of her seventeen-year-old sire, Riverboat King, has passed the $250,000 mark. If Fraley continues as her trainer, and the ban is all encompassing, she will not be able to race in the Artiscape, Lady Liberty, Golden Girls and Breeders Crown. She didn’t win any of those races last year, but seconds in the Lady Liberty and Golden Girls, and third place finishes in the BC and Artiscape certainly fortified her bank account.

Anndrovette, who was a principal in a 105-day suspension for Bamond’s former trainer Mark Kesmodel in 2011,  set herself apart in July with an eye popping 1:48 win in the Roses Are Red at Mohawk. This established a track, stakes and Canadian record for an older pacing mare. Another sit up and take notice mile from the Fraley barn came in December, when the then three-year-old Lis Mara colt Validus Deo, who also won an OSS Gold leg, went a big first over mile to beat Sweet Talkin Satin in 1:48.4 in a B-1/A-2 handicap at the Meadowlands. That’s a very fast mile for December.

Bamond is rich in aged pacing mares; they acquired the then four-year-old Artiscape mare, Shelliscape, at the end of September and had spectacular success with her in only three starts. She won the Allerage in the pouring rain at The Red Mile , with Norman listed as trainer, and also took the Breeders Crown Mare on a nasty night at Harrah’s. Fraley was the trainer of record for that one. Unlike Anndrovette, who is a Matchmaker mainstay, Shelliscape did not race in it last year, but she is staked to this year’s edition, which kicks off next week. Obviously Shellicape would be subject to the same restrictions on where she can compete as stablemate Anndrovette. Krispy Apple is another Fraley charge who is staked to next week’s Matchmaker. The six-year-old made the top ten on the aged mares earning’s list last year with a take of almost $250,000. The five-year-old Rocknroll mare, Rockaround Sue, is another from the Fraley barn staked to the Matchmaker, although she is currently off form at Yonkers.

Fraley’s Fat Mans Alley won a Yonkers open a couple of weeks ago over Dancin Yankee and Pan From Nantucket…..P H Supercam, winner of a Yonkers open in December, just won a WO25 at Yonkers….The then two-year-old Allamerican Native freshman, Jack Attack, won a $69,000 PASS race at Harrah’s last season….Supplemental Income was another freshman from this barn….Four Starz Roe was an open mare at Yonkers and in PA for Fraley last year.

I have no idea why Fraley was given the boot but between the quality of Bamond’s stock and the serious money Rene Allard invested at the sales, the question of whether or not these ostracized trainers are allowed to compete in stakes races at the tracks that have banished them is a sure bet to heat up in short order.
Joe FitzGerald

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