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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Arrogance, Punishment and Co-Conspirators

The big news today is that the owners of All the Weapons, winner of the Gold Cup & Saucer was fined by the ORC for violating what is commonly know as the 'jail' rule. In Ontario, if you claim a horse you may only race the horse in the province of Ontario unless the horse was previously nominated in an added money event before the claim or the track where claimed is closing for more than 30 days (for purposes of this rule Mohawk and Woodbine are considered the same track). For winning the trial for the Gold Cup & Saucer (in a dead-heat) and for winning the final, the owners earned $34,687.00 and a trophy. The fine? $17,343.50 per owner (there is two owners). Well, for their efforts they still have a trophy and will be listed as a winner of the race; but they will have not made a dime. For the record, they have appealed the fine.

From where I see it, the owners got away easy as did the trainer who did not get sanctioned at all.

According to a release by the ORC following up on the judge's ruling, what was exhibited was plain arrogance by the owners and trainer.

  • Before the All the Weapons even started in the Gold Cup & Saucer trial, the trainer called the judges at Mohawk for an explanation of the rule in question, TWICE. He also was advised of the penalty, TWICE.
  • When the Mohawk judges saw All the Weapons was entered for the final, they attempted to contact the trainer the Thursday before the race. They even contacted a judge at Charlottetown asking him to have the trainer call. No call back was received except from the trainer's wife asking why the judges' phone number came up on the caller ID. The judges supposedly left another message on the trainer's phone on Friday.
  • According to an article in The Guardian, the director of racing for the Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Commission, advised the owners before they started the horse that they may face a fine or suspension from the ORC. So ignorance no longer was an excuse.
  • One would think a trainer who races regularly in Ontario would know the rules regarding claiming a horse.

What happened here was pure arrogance, plain and simple. The owners and trainers were aware of the rules and they decided the rules didn't apply to them. If I was the judges, I would be scouring the rule book to find a way to fine or suspend the trainer as well as find a way to fine the owner more so they ended up loosing more money than they won as well as suspend the owners for a period of time. When you take out a license you agree to abide by the rules. It is one thing when you violate a rule and get caught, but when you are so arrogant to just ignore the rules so flagrantly after being told specifically that you will be violating a rule a little something extra needs to be added to the penalty.

However, before we move on, this whole event would not have happened without the cooperation of some co-conspirators. Let's start with Standardbred Canada; there should be something on their systems to indicate a horse is in 'jail' so when the trainer/owner attempt to race the horse where they don't belong something would come up and the judges could have refused the entry after seeing why there was a 'hold' on the horse. Blame also goes to the racing office at Charlottetown Driving Park as well as the judges who once they found out the horse was violating the claiming restrictions still allowed the horse to race.

Yes, I know the claiming rule restricting movement of a horse is protectionism but that is the rule of the ORC. Just because another jurisdiction/track does not think that rule is appropriate or works against their interest should not give them the right to ignore the rule. If that jurisdiction or track has a rule which someone else would think is foolish, don't think they would take kindly to someone else ignoring their rule.

These problems don't occur in Canada alone. In 2008, Cal-Expo evicted the Summersby Stable (Stephen Slender) for violating the claiming rules regarding 'jail' time by claiming the upper echelon horses at Cal Expo and sending them east to race. Some of those horses ended up racing on the east coast even though racing officials were made aware of the problem (I guess when it serves your interest, you close your eyes).

Until we get centralized rules, race tracks and racing commissions need to honor the rules of the other jurisdictions even if they disagree with it if it is brought to their attention. Remember, enforcement is a two way street. This time it is racing a horse that is in 'jail' in another jurisdiction; next time it could be a someone racing in another state for violating one of your rules.

Jason Moore Update: Last month we discussed the fundraising efforts for horseman Jason Moore, one of the founders of Koshy's Kids. The fundraising efforts continue. Additional items are up for sale on eBay. Pick up a souvenir and help on of our own in need.

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