Responding to a previous blog entry, someone offered the suggestion that instead of wasting $100,000 for the Chester Driving Championship, the PHHA would have been better served to offer ten $10,000 awards to people who informed on the beards.
I don't know if this person (who posted anonymously) was serious or tongue-in-cheek but it made me wonder, what if we offered bounties for people who informed on those who were involved with serious violations of racing rules or those who acted as beards? We are not talking about overages or missing cut off times; it is the use of illegal medications (not approved for horses or serious PEDs); being or employing a beard. Would something like this work or would we be flooded with people making false accusations in an attempt to 'cash in'?
With regards to people making false accusations, steps could be taken to punish those who report accusations which turn out to be unquestionably false, the same way people are punished for making frivolous appeals. Secondly, no process against the accused would even begin until investigators could substantiate the accusations.
So assuming we took care of the problem of false accusations, what would offering bounties to informants do to the racing industry? Would it make trainers paranoid that someone could be watching every step they took, in effect our own mini-McCarthy era? Would this fear, irrational or not, cause trainers to hew to the rules more so or just drive these cheaters underground more? Woul such a fear be a bad thing? Obviously, those who attempt to follow the rules would have nothing to fear but those who bend the rules or function as beards would find themselves under pressure from the fear of being caught.
What would the reward be? It could be a percentage of the fine or purse money returned, it can be a specific bounty from a fund established via horsemen or from fines paid to the state. One thing, the reward would need to be big enough to compensate someone who may be subjected to retaliation.
I don't know if it would work but I'd love to see such a system be implemented as a pilot program to see if it was something worth doing and expand to all racing states.
What do you think?