Not being a thoroughbred fan, I must confess not paying attention to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Being I didn't pay attention to those races, I didn't see any of the post race comments. I wish I did. Apparently, Barry Irwin, owner of Animal Kingdom, raised quite a stir with his comments after winning the Kentucky Derby. Apparently, in the aftermath of his Derby win, Irwin went on a tear and blasted thoroughbred racing for trainers who don't tell their owners the truth, and more importantly, how certain trainers are using designer drugs which can't be detected and he called for a FBI investigation into 'designer' drugs. As you can imagine Barry Irwin is in favor of federal legislation outlawing race day medication. In addition, he felt that his comments made some consider him a pariah and a 'boy scout'.
And I was wondering why they were putting 24 hour guards on Animal Kingdom after the Kentucky Derby. I guess I got my answer now. I am sure some called him a pariah, boy scout, and something worse as Irwin broke the unspoken code of not talking publicly about cheating trainers and drug use in racing.
Well Equidaily has a transcript of NBC's Bob Costas with Barry Irwin after the running of this past weekend's Preakness and it makes for interesting reading. Here is just one exchange:
Bob Costas: OK. Part of your concern -- and it's
shared by many -- is the rampant use of drugs in the sport. It's much more
tightly controlled in Europe and Australia for example. There's bipartisan
legislation now that would tighten things up across the country. You favor it?
Barry Irwin: I'm all for it. I can't wait. One thing
I'd like to see happen in this sport is I'd like to see the FBI get involved.
There are a certain amount of guys that are always going to want to cheat.
There's tons of guys out there that will sell drugs to these people but there's
only a few guys that can use it and it's the same guys year-in and year-out. I'm
not talking about the drugs people know everyday - bute, lasix, all that stuff -
I'm talking designer drugs. Drugs like the BALCO guys had. We need to get the
FBI to investigate that kind of stuff. Pass this legislation that's three
strikes and you're out. And then root these guys out of the sport.
These same comments can be made for standardbred racing. Let's face it, there are poor trainers, good trainers, and better trainers, but let's face it, while some trainers have unique ways to do things, the concept of training is the same. The biggest difference between trainers is the shallow or deep pockets of their owners and the people they are able to employ. But we have some trainers, year in and year out who have phenomenal success. You can have great success one year, possibly two but if year after year a trainer is leaps and bounds above everyone else, you have to wonder if something's not kosher. After all, the law of averages has to catch up to a trainer.
I do have some bad news Mr. Irwin, unless federal legislation concerning medication in horse racing is passed, don't expect to see the FBI getting involved. I understand the fear the racing industry has of Federal intervention, but unless racing can get its hand around the medication problem, perhaps Federal intervention is needed. I am not saying the proposed legislation is perfect; it does need some changes, but the concept is good. Whether it is the lack of desire or financal issues, racing has not been able to get its hand around the problem of illegal drugs and it won't.
I feel sorry for Barry Irwin. I am sure he is financially sound, but if he gets treated like a certain harness racing individual got treated last year for raising a similar issue, there are going to be people ready to drill him a proverbial 'new one'. And Barry Irwin's crime? He spoke the truth.