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Monday, April 25, 2011

Stable Responsibility Rule

Remember the old days, when in the racing program they would list the trainer and the stable he/she works for?  The rationale was you would have a stable, say the William Haughton stable that had horses all over the country racing.  Obviously Billy Haughton couldn't be at each track training the horses, so there would be an assistant trainer in charge, be it in the case of Billy, his sons Tommy or Peter, or 'Apples' Thomas.  They got away from listing both the stable and the trainer for the obvious reason, why list William Haughton if son Peter was training a horse.

Well, with this era of the Super Trainer, maybe it is time to go back and list both the trainer and the stable and while we are at it, if a horse comes back positive, let the trainer and stable be suspended, depending on the type of medication violation.  No doubt some people would feel it would be overly harsh.  If trainer Joe gets a positive, why should the whole stable be suspended?  Well, to not use names of any real trainer, let's say trainer Mary Doe trains the horses that race for the John Smith stable at Balmoral Park, while John Smith trains the main string at the Meadowlands.  Do you think Mary Doe is going to use a drug that is not approved for horses without her employer's permission? Of course not.  Therefore, to just suspend Mary Doe is not realistic, John Smith should pay the price as well, and if Mary Doe was using a drug like that on a horse without John Smith's permission, John will be sure to fire  Mary Doe.

Now of course, a rule like this should be reserved for serious medication violations, such as using drugs that are clearly performance enhancing and not approved for horses.  I am not suggesting the entire stable be suspended for an error in withdrawal times, overage or underage levels of medications, or use of Class 3 or 4 medications.  But if a trainer is caught using Class 1 or 2 medications, the whole stable should be suspended as the trainer is an employee of the stable.  Now, if the John Smith stable sends a horse to Fraiser Downs where they don't have horses and they ask a local trainer to look after the horse for one week and that trainer gets a positive on one of the horses the local trainer trains, of course the Stable shouldn't be penalized.

However, in this era of the Super Trainer and Super Stables, maybe the prospect of finding one hundred plus horses sitting on the sideline for a period of time will discourage the use of illegal medications.  Maybe a Stable Responsibility Rule is just what we need.

By the way, for people who think harness racing has a much bigger problem with medications, I suggest you look at the RMTC's recent rulings list.  Yes, there are more thoroughbred tracks than harness, but the overwhelming majority of positives are for thoroughbred trainers.

Meadowlands News:  Word has it that Local 137 will vote again this week.  This may be the week things finally are decided (how many times have we said this before).  Unfortunately, this is a situation where the tellers are going to lose regardless on how they vote and I can actually understand if they vote against the contract.  Over this weekend, Harness Racing Update interviewed a teller who said if the union accepts the contract, he will be earning what he did 20 to 25 years ago.  Now, let's make an assumption this person has been a lifer at the Meadowlands and has been there since 1976.  This contract proposal calls for a 20% cut in salary where their $24 maximum rate goes down to roughly $20.  Remember there was a 15% pay cut under the Whitman Administraton, which means the maximum salary was roughly $28 back in 1996, which means from the height of their salary, some tellers will have taken a net 29% pay cut.  I can understand why some employees prefer unemployment (especially when it is extended).