Trainer Alison Escobar has been suspended by Delaware stewards for 60 days after they say he kept a horse in training on a tendon injury for months.
A ruling signed by the stewards on Aug. 12 details the recent history of a horse in Escobar’s care named Ashiham.
Ashiham, a son of Tapit, was an $800,000 yearling at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2018, where he was purchased by Shadwell. Shadwell campaigned the chestnut for the first seven starts of his career, racing him at Gulfstream and Churchill before he broke his maiden in August 2020 at Saratoga. Ashiham did not register another race for nearly a year, when he returned to finish eighth in an allowance at Saratoga for Todd Pletcher and Shadwell in August 2021. He then left the track again, not resurfacing until March 2022, when he was trained by Escobar for Tres Portillos Ranch Inc. He ran seventh in an allowance optional claiming contest on March 11.
It is after this the stewards’ ruling picks up the narrative. Ashiham was entered in a race on April 21 at Tampa Bay Downs but was scratched after a veterinarian detected heat and swelling in the left front flexor tendon. Escobar told Delaware stewards “the horse was sore but he did not want the horse scratched because he was the morning line favorite.”
On June 9, Delaware stewards write that Ashiham was intercepted by a state veterinarian at Palm Meadows, where he was observed to be lame on his left front on the track surface. The state veterinarian corresponded with Escobar’s private veterinarian, who said that “in his medical opinion that Ashiham’s injury was career ending.” The horse was then placed on Gulfstream Park’s track veterinarian’s list with the requirement that he be ultrasounded before he could be allowed to work out.
Delaware stewards write that no such ultrasound was ever conducted.
Instead, Ashiham arrived at Delaware Park on July 12 and was spotted on the track surface at Delaware on Aug. 3 by the safety steward, who requested the state veterinarian examine the horse. Delaware’s state veterinarian looked at the horse the same day and concluded his lameness was a four on a scale of one through five. The same left front tendon was warm to the touch and sore on palpation with a visible bow. Escobar was told to have an ultrasound done immediately and ordered to keep the horse on stall rest until it was complete.
In testimony before the stewards, Escobar stated the horse had never been seen by a veterinarian in Delaware – and as of the stewards’ hearing on Aug. 11, more than a week after being ordered to seek an ultrasound, the horse had still not been seen by a private vet.
Stewards also imposed a $2,500 fine against Escobar and required that he pass Delaware’s trainer’s test before his license may be reinstated.
According to Equibase, Escobar has been training since 2005 and has multiple graded stakes win, mostly in his native Puerto Rico. He began training in the mainland United States in 2019. He has saddled runners in 5,067 starts with 779 wins and earnings of over $6.9 million. So far in 2022, he has saddled more runners than any other year since he left Puerto Rico, with 145 starts.