Medication is a big conversation topic in racing these days. A trainer (I am not talking about any specific trainer here), becomes very successful all of a sudden and the assumption is he/she is cheating. When someone complains about the trainer’s success, a supporter of the accused will invariably look up the accuser’s (or accuser’s trainer) regulatory record and cite the number of times that trainer has been cited for medication violations and accuse them of being a cheater as well. Of course, no one ever looks at the specifics of those medication violations. Whether people don’t look at the specifics due to laziness, ignorance (i.e., the difference between banamine, cortone, and EPO), or intellectual dishonesty to make a point, all drug violations are lumped together. Hence, all trainers with medication violations are labeled as cheaters.
If this is happening within racing’s inner circle, you can imagine what the thinking is elesewhere; in particular the media, and yes, the blogosphere and how that influences the general public. Someone goes and looks at the USTA Fines and Suspension list or a particular racing commission’s website and they see trainer John Doe being suspended thirty days for a violation involving medication XYZ; trainer Mary Smith is fined $400 for using medication EFG and it is gets reported in some blog or newspaper and the next thing you know everyone thinks racing is full of drug cheats.
Look, I am no Pollyanna, there certainly are trainers out there who seek to affect the outcome of races by medicating their horses, but the problem is being overstated because we don’t accurately differentiate when it comes to reporting violations for medications which impact a horse’s performance versus violations involving legitimate non-performance enhancing medications. When you run stables that race in multiple states, it is hard to keep track of differing rules. Different withdrawal times may apply and sometimes simple dosage level errors are made.
It is essential the industry develops a means to differentiate and report the types of violations being incurred. By differentiating the type of violations and accurately reporting them, not only make it easier for owners to avoid ‘bad’ trainers, it will permit the industry to present a clearer picture regarding the problem of trainers and drugs; hopefully improving the image we have amongst the wagering public. Otherwise, we will have to continue battling a problem which is not as bad as we think.
Anderlecht scratched out of Saturday night's first race at Mohawk Racetrack in order to race in the Des Smith Classic at Rideau Carleton on Sunday night. It was a smart move as Anderlecht was victorious in a driving finish in the $170,000 Des Smith, winning in 1:49.3. As for Awesome Armbro? His well known problems at the start of the race nailed him again as he was far behind at the start and was used to just catch up to the field at the start. Bigtime Ball, a mainstay in the open class on the WEG circuit, took the lead in a hard fought :25.3 first quarter and paid the price at the end.