Joe Faraldo released a statement regarding the current debate regarding the actions of Lou Pena and comments made by George Brennan.
Faraldo makes some good arguments. However, I do wish he would just say Jeff Gural's name instead of beating around the bush. I imagine there is a commandment at the SOA's office which refers to Jeff Gural's name as "the one who must not be named".
Faraldo is absolutely correct with regards to Lou Pena. Despite what you may think of Lou Pena, you have acknowledge Pena was targeted, singled out. That being said you can't get past the fact that Pena's horses were treated in violation of the NYSRWB's rules regarding withdrawal time.
I will go even further in commending Faraldo for pointing out that a newspaper quote can be certainly taken out of context as I believe was the case with George Brennan.
However, while Faraldo makes some good arguments in his letter, it is not without problems.
New York Withdrawal Rule
Let's start with the easiest of the problems with Mr. Faraldo's letter. Regardless of what you may think of the rule, the withdrawal rule in New York is the rule which racing is conducted in the state. Don't like the rule, then work to get it repealed. In the meanwhile, the trainer is obligated to adhere to the rule.
The trainer is responsible for the care of the horses in his/her custody. This means it is up to the trainer to make sure the rules where the horse(s) race are adhered to. You can't hide behind the veterinarian relying on the guidelines in the state he works in as a defense. If you could hide behind that defense, what is to keep a trainer from setting up base in a state with the most liberal rules when it comes to medication and train and have the vet there treat your horse before a race? If and until the NYSRWB rule is modified or repealed it is the duty of the trainer to tell the veterinarian that they are unable to administer a certain medication to a horse.
If the trainers don't want to be responsible for knowing the rules, perhaps until the rules are made uniform, perhaps the racing commissions should take care of the problem by requiring all horses to be stabled in the state they are going to race in 72 hours before race time so a vet knowledgeable in the state's particular medication rules can ensure enforcement of whatever rule is in effect.
Perception is Reality (aka Those Darn Customers)
Mr. Faraldo states: "The honest therapeutic treatment of horses is not at all a sinister or corrupt practice, but one merely necessary to keep these equine athletes conditioned for the rigors of racing".
If only all the gamblers and perspective customers (and horsemen) were convinced all treatments of horses was honest. The problem is they don't. They know about milkshakes, steroids, ITTP and other substances. Tell them all those legitimate drugs are not impacting performance of the horse.
It is easy for Mr. Faraldo not to worry about the customer. How much would purses drop if Yonkers got rid of wagering on the races and just raced for purse money; maybe 15%. If Monticello had no wagering? Perhaps 5-10%. It is nice being in a racino state.
Unfortunately, Jeff Gural doesn't have the same luxury at the Meadowlands. Handle covers operating expenses and purse accounts; not one dollar comes from alternative gaming. Same thing in Kentucky, California and other states without alternative gaming. Perhaps horsemen in New York have the luxury of not caring what the gambler thinks. Unfortunately, in states without slots, they need their customer to think the game is as clean as possible. Because if the customer stays away or turns off their computer from where they wager, these tracks and horsemen suffer.
It would be nice to think the Pena incident was some local story, but it is not. It has become national. Even if the courts in New York eventually give Mr. Pena the relief he will be seeking, the genie is out of the bottle; the fact is 1,719 medication violations of a legal rule (as crappy as it may or may not be) involving 635 races occurred according to the vet records is out there, there is no pulling it back. Class 3 or Class 4 medication doesn't matter to the wagering public, they hear medication violations. You tell the public they shouldn't be concerned about what vet records are saying.
Many in the public think the game is rigged. Heck, we have handicappers handicapping races based on the trainer they feel has the best vet. Those who think they can't beat a rigged game go elsewhere or just stop playing the races. Want an example? Go look at Connecticut Jai Lai after their match fixing scandal. You can't; the fontons all closed shortly after the scandal became public.
Through a lot of hard work, which Faraldo deserves credit for some of it, New York is blessed with the ideal racing scenario possible. I understand where he is coming from. However, talk to the horsemen in Kentucky, Michigan, and yes, New Jersey, and ask them about what it is like having to depend on actual wagering to fund their purses. Then you see what a big deal this whole Pena/Brennan mess is all about.
So while Mr. Faraldo puts out a very good argument, he is preaching to the choir. I suggest if he looked at it from the outside in, he would see things differently. Then you see what a big deal this whole mess is all about.