And we thought Cobalt was a problem. Apparently, there are those willing to try anything when it comes to doping horses. Today's outrage comes to us courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald where in a hearing conducted by stewards in New South Wales, Australia it was learned it is common for horses to be treated with formaldehyde, known by many as embalming fluid to help prevent bleeding. While this hearing concerned thoroughbred racing, harness racing doesn't go unscathed as it was a suspended standardbred trainer who did the honors of injecting the horse. The other substance identified as being used in this treatment was Vitamin C (at least the horse won't catch cold).
Is there anything rouge trainers won't try to get an edge on their competition? No wonder 'clean' trainers are getting whooped not only in the races, but with owners leaving for other trainers who have better records.
Was this discovery the work of testing? No, this came out in testimony at a hearing. The horse in question tested positive for cobalt and caffeine.
As followers of horse racing know, what is done in Australasia tends to find its way to our shores and vice versa. Will we know when formaldehyde arrives? After all, what is the likelihood a state is testing for formaldehyde which has no therapeutic use in a horse?. This is why in the grand scheme of things testing by individual states is virtually worthless.
If there is any hope in the fight against illegal drugs with our athletes, it is necessary to have all testing and development of tests coordinated by one group on the federal level for the states, despite their best intentions have been unable to dedicate the resources necessary to successfully protect our equine athletes. Such an agency should have undercover agents to investigate and prosecute cheats caught in the act. This will allow regulators to regulate, leaving drug testing and the administering of penalties to the federal level agency.
And so it begins. With the approval of the horsemen, Thursdaday's card at Plainridge Park was postponed until this coming Monday due to the successful opening of the casino and it will be raced at 11:00am instead of the normal post time. Slots are king at Plainridge Park and everything must be done so casino gamers may get to the slot parlor as easily as possible even if it means altering the harness schedule. Of course there is no objection by the harness horsemen as slots is the lifeline to the purse account. Fans in Massachusetts may as well get used to it.
Chris Oakes says 'Let me in'. In today's HRU, we read how Howard Taylor, representing trainer Chris Oakes, is fighting to get Oakes' horses into the Meadowlands for the stakes races, claiming Jeff Gural is inconsistent with his exclusions. This un-legal beagle would argue as a person with private property rights, who says you need to be consistent? If someone looked funny at Gural, he could send that individual packing while another person can make the same face gesture and Gural could ignore it. Is there any rhyme or reason to it? Absolutely not. Would it be better if there was a written exclusion policy which lists when a person can be excluded? Absolutely. I am not saying Gural is or isn't being inconsistent, the point is it his sand box and he can do what ever he pleases.
Jeff Gural has got to be the most sued individual in harness racing these days. You would think these trainers have dozen of horses ready to hit the Meadowlands if they were successful. Unfortunately, it is all about 'hit and run'; get in for the stakes race and head back to Pennsylvania.
In the same edition of HRU, Heather Vitale writes about growing up with Mom, who was active in harness racing and how it made last week's victory in the Pepsi North America Cup all the more affirming. It's worth a read.