The mysterious fate of 3.6 million dollar horse Cezanne

September 17, 2022

Just the horse fax please

Cezanne, a 3.6 million dollar example of selective transparency in horse racing

Horse racing is never short on surprises. Can a 3.6 million dollar horse like Cezanne just vanish without a word? Apparently so. I wonder if he was trained by Bob Baffert when he disappeared and either died or was euthanized if it would have been as hush hush. Actually I don’t wonder that at all, I believe it would have likely been racing headline news.

When Midnight Bourbon died at Churchill Downs, I believe in the same barn where Epicenter, the early Kentucky Derby favorite lived, on a Wednesday but it did not make the news until Sunday I found it odd. We all know how much media are on the grounds pre Kentucky Derby and the barn where one of the favorites for the Derby resides gets a fair share of attention. Midnight Bourbon was a high level Graded Stakes performer. One would think he would get a mention before he was gone four days. Especially given his location, his trainer Steve Asmussen and his neighbor, the Kentucky Derby favorite. Again I believe if Midnight Bourbon was trained by Bob Baffert his death would have been reported as breaking news on Wednesday not as an after thought on Sunday.

At least Midnight Bourbon was reported. Cezanne and the circumstances surrounding his death have been mysteriously quiet. I learned about Cezanne’s death a few months ago not long after it happened. It was my understanding he was given an injection, developed an infection as a result of it and died. I never reported it because I am not a reporter and I could not confirm it and only believed it to be true. I also thought surely someone else would report it and there would be no need to repeat bad news. At this point I do know Cezanne is gone, but the circumstances are less than transparent.

There is a lot of talk about transparency in horse racing. Talk is cheap. It always has been and always will be.

If you haven’t watched Unfiltered on Past The Wire TV you really should. We get into a lot of topics a lot of people leave alone. We always try and look for solutions. Transparency in claiming, sales, and breeding has come up in a few different episodes. I recently suggested on one of the shows horse racing should have something similar to Carfax in the automotive industry. Carfax changed the automotive industry for the better and the most significant impact it had is on the pre owned buying and selling market.

Horse fax was what I came up with. Imagine every racehorse having a record accessible by bettors, breeders, owners, and trainers, even buyers containing all pertinent information including but not limited to medical records and treatment. We all know Flightline has something that keeps his schedule of racing very light by any standard. He will go to stud with a fee of probably 150-200K a mare. Will we or the owner of the mare know more than the farm is willing “to tell us”? Probably not but if I had a mare and was going to breed to any stallion with known issues or suspected issues I would want to know exactly what they were. Horse fax, you get that HISA?

Cezanne was purchased out of the Fasig Tipton Florida two-year olds in training sale in 2019, sold to M. V. Magnier after being consigned by Crupi’s New Castle Farm. The price was $3,650,000. He was sent to trainer Bob Baffert who ran the horse seven times. He broke his maiden first out on June 6th, 2020 at Santa Anita. He won the Grade 3 Kona Gold and the Grade 2 San Carlos for Bob. He made his last start in the Bob Baffert barn on April 2, 2022 in The Grade 3 Oaklawn Mile Stakes. He ran second as the favorite and shortly afterwards was sent to trainer Todd Pletcher. It was not long after that Cezanne was dead. His death does not appear on any racetrack records I could find in New York or Kentucky, both the places Todd Pletcher has horses stabled. This troubled me personally in the wake of rumors, and granted rumors are just that, that some tracks might be having horses removed from the grounds to be euthanized to keep those numbers off their statistics. Where did Cezanne die and why did nobody know?

I have been able to confirm Cezanne is indeed gone. I believe but have not 100% confirmed he was given an injection while in the barn and under the care of Todd Pletcher and died after that injection as a result of an infection.

While Cezanne had not yet lived up to the high price he brought at auction he was a developing stakes horse with a future. To me, he looked like a big lanky almost lazy type of horse but I only saw him on TV and I am no horseman or trainer. He looked to me like a horse who would get better with time and as he got older. We’ll never know.

Selective enforcement exists but is not fair and in the end doesn’t work for the greater good. Selective transparency is equally as weak in my view. Why the hush hush surrounding Cezanne? Is there litigation requiring secrecy? Is there an insurance claim requiring no public comments? Was an embarrassing mistake made? I am not implying anything nefarious or otherwise, I have no idea why the lack of reporting or transparency exists regarding Cezanne. I only know we talk transparency but we practice it selectively. Had this horse remained in the Bob Baffert barn and this happened, which it may not have, we’d have three versions reported at least. What happened, what may have happened, and what the peanut gallery decided happened. How about someone just tell us what actually happened to this 3.6 million dollar thoroughbred? Horse fax!

Carfax has every police report of an accident submitted to them at the push of a button. Every maintenance visit, oil change and repair gets reported to them. Anytime a body shop or repair facility orders parts or a distributor ships parts it gets reported to Carfax. The vehicle’s VIN number, the equivalent of a horse’s tattoo or micro-chip, is on every report. These are hunks of metal, are they more important than our racehorses? Horse fax will bring the transparency we need. Not selectively either. Every vet record goes in. It can be that simple. Every injection, medication, diagnosis, etc. Everything tracked and recorded from birth to death by an independent third party. Horse fax.

As surprising as the silence regarding Cezanne is, it probably shouldn’t be at this point. Every single day we see our so called beloved thoroughbreds who give us so much, in kill pens, while simultaneously, the industry brags about record breaking all source handles, high purses, and stellar sales markets. We can do so much better. We have made a lot of progress but our work and efforts are far from finished.

Photo: Cezanne, Benoit Photography

Contributing Authors

Jon Stettin

Jonathan’s always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. Growing up around the game, he came about as close as anyone...

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@jonathanstettin great wrap up to the weekend. Had a $20 double to close SA with your picks!

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