Trainer Jeremiah Englehart and owner Ron Paolucci have parted ways over adjudged Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Ria Antonia, both parties confirmed Feb. 27.
The 3-year-old daughter of Rockport Harbor was moved from the supervision of Englehart's assistant, Elizabeth Dobles, into the barn of Jonas Gibson, who is Paolucci's main trainer at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Gibson will oversee the filly until arrangements can be made to ship her to the West Coast base of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Ria Antonia, who finished a tired fourth in the Feb. 22 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds in her season debut for Loooch Racing and partner Chris Dunn, is being pointed for the April 5 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park
Paolucci said the decision to move Ria Antonia stemmed from wanting Englehart to travel to California with the filly three weeks out from her next target. Englehart said he could not leave around 50 horses in training in New York for that long of a stay.
"Do you think I wanted to move my horse from the guy who won the Breeders' Cup with her? No," Paolucci said. "This is the part of the business I hate, but I want her trainer to be with her out there leading up to the race."
Englehart said he regretted the loss but stands by the commitment to his larger string.
"You develop a relationship with the animal, and so do the people who work for you who show up there every morning at 4:30 a.m. and basically give their lives to what they're doing for the horse," the trainer said. "For us, it's losing the relationship with her that's tough. It's the reason you do what you do."