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Thursday, September 15, 2011

When Racing Doesn't Get Hands Around Medication

For years racing has been talking about the problem of illegal medication and the drug cheats.  While racing has attempted to fight the battle with limited resources, it has not been able to clean it up as much as it should.  The net result, the government gets involved.

The latest salvo in government internvention is now occuring in New York state, when a bill similar to proposed federal legislation has been proposed to outlaw the use of Lasix.  In addition to outlawing Lasix, the proposed legislation bans the use of any performance-enhancing drugs and it has stiff penalties under the three strikes and you are out:

  • Strike 1 - $5,000 fine and at least 180 day suspension
  • Strike 2 - $20,000 fine and at least a one year suspension
  • Strike 3 - $50,000 fine and permanent ban
The horse doesn't get off much easier.  A six month suspension for the first violation; one year suspension for second violation; two year suspension for third violation.  I am all for stiff violations for trainers, but have a problem with the proposed suspensions for horses.  It is one thing when you have a ninety day suspension for a horse; even sixty days.  But when you are talking about suspensions of a year or more, you are not protecting the horse; you are most likely condeming the horse to slaughter as owners are not going to pay for the upkeep of a horse ofr an extended period of time; especially when many horses will not return to their old form with a one year or longer suspension.

Horsemen will be screaming mad about the states coming in trying to regulate medication use and should this legislation pass, the cheats will get out of Dodge to states with easier rules.  However, racing has no one to blame but themselves.  Yes, I understand the cheats are always a step ahead of the regulators, but it is a lot easier for the cheats when racing does not dedicate sufficient financial resources on developing new drug testing.  Of course, find out which racing interests are going to open their pockets further for the development of new drug tests.

See You At Peelers returns to the racing wars this Monday at Yonkers Raceway in the NYSS.  Apparently Cornell University has checked the filly out from head to toe and couldn't find anything wrong with the fily.  I am not she can't win, but Johannson and Morrill are not listed to be in the bike as Takter has the drive; no doubt to see if th horse still has it in her or if something with the horse suggests she is done.

But as much as See You At Peelers will gain the attention of many in harness racing, the big race on Monday is the Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway as Foiled Again seeks his second straight victory in the $335,000 race.  With the half mile specialist drawing the rail and his main competition racing from post position six and out, this may be a walk in the park.  Over the weekend, we will look at the Quillen Memorial.


riceownz2 said...

How does Foiled Again always seem to draw the rail in these half mile big money races?

Pacingguy said...

I don't think he always gets the rail, but being we know he is a half mile specialist, we know it is a big advantage and remember it.

Remember, a horsemen's rep and a judge is at the draw to prevent chicanery.

Jim H. said...

Chst on 9/8/2011 FINED: $50
PA Code 58-183.251 Failed to complete licensing for 2011 in PA.

Isn't this a bit over the top?

One would like to think that her promotion of the sport (which is way, way beyond most) would mitigate something that I would perceive to be a peccadillo.

At the very least, if she had decided not to renew (or whatever the protocol is), is there a need to publicly embarass her by publishing the suspension on a website?

Not saying that she's above the reg's but this thing strikes me as an issue that could have been handled differently.

Pacingguy said...

Jim, I agree Heather does a great job representing the sport. That being said, a violation occured and it was reported like every other violation. I think the $50 fine shows there was some mitigating circumstances.

That being said, if they didn't publicly post the suspension, you go down the proverbial slippery slope. Who doesn't get publicized next?

Jim H. said...

You're right about the slippery slope thing; but I still hate seeing her name close to the blacksmith found with the needles...she deserves better.

I have no clue as to what the exact protocol is relative to PA Licensing--could it have been a simple oversight?

Could a quick heads-up call avoided this?

I hope she pays the $50 and resolves the licensing issue.

Pacingguy said...

I need to disclose that Heather is a friend of mine. I have not talked to her about this, so rather than address the specific case, let me give a general response.

When a trainer enters a horse for an owner who has not raced in the state before, they will accept the entry with the understanding the owner will be licensed before race time; meaning showing up to the commission's office at the track before or on the day the horse is to race; a courtesy offered since an owner may be comming from afar.

If the owner has not completed licensing, the horse is scratched. Obviously, at that point the horse will not be accepted for entry in that state until the owner is licensed.

Why may the owner not have been licensed in time? Another obligation may come up (something unforeseen), car or plane trouble, etc. Seldom is it just a case of the owner just not wanting to follow through.

Why does the racing commission not follow up with the person and remind them to get licensed? They have other things to do and chasing down owners is something they can't do. Remember, racing commissions have budget issues too so having someone around just to make these type of calls is not realistic. The owners know they need to get licensed and it is their responsibility to get it done.

As much as you hate to see Heather's name listed with the 'rogues' gallery, I wouldn't worry about it. Paying the fine and completing the licensing requirements will put her in good graces once again.

Pacingguy said...

After talking to Heathr, here is the cliff notes as to what happened.

1. Went to commission office on backstretch to get licensed. Told she needed to get fingerprints done at State Police office in the grandstand.

2. Went with 9yo son to the State Police office and the person who does the fingerprints was not there at the time and apparently the seven other people in the office didn't know how to do it.

3. After twenty minutes, you know what happens when you have young children with you so she left and went back to commission office and told women she would get her prints done in DE. The woman in the commission office seemed to be okay with it. Apparently, the judges had a different view about it and she gets fined and suspended.

4. She is paying her fine and getting her license finalized.

Jim H. said...

Thanks for following up.

I can't help but keep scratching my head over this one...just hope that when she's licensed, etc., that her record gets completely expunged.