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Thursday, October 13, 2011

"I See Nothing" Has its Limits

Anyone who argues you shouldn't suspend a horse or an owner when a trainer gets caught with a drug positive needs to read Pull The Pocket's column recapping the saga of The Robinson's in Canada.  There could not be a better case for ruling a horse or owner off than this case, but let me summarize this as succinctly as possible.

Owner A is with Trainer B.  Trainer B after numerous violations gets the boot.  Trainer C takes over the stable and Owner A remains with him.  Trainer C gets tossed and his assistant, Trainer D takes over.  Owner A remains with Trainer D.  Trainer D gets the boot.

Notice the pattern? Now, you can't suspend an owner whose horse doesn't show a positive, but you can track who the owner uses as trainers and how many violations a trainer gets during their relationship if the industry wanted to and if the day his horse comes up positive (not for a minor medication violation) you can look at who they have been using as a trainer all along and assess a penalty on the horse and/or owner accordingly.  Owners are responsible for due diligence and can be judged by the company they keep; at some point the Sgt Schultze excuse of "I See Nothing, I Know Nothing" rings hollow.  It is up to an owner to realize they are dealing with a bad apple and remove themselves from the situation.

People in the industry will say we can't afford to lose owners.  To them I ask, do we need owners that implicitly allow trainers to sink the ship or do we need quality owners?  I would suggest quality is better than quantity.

The Meadowlands has released their Winter Late Closing program for 2012 and it shows reduced nomination fees for some events and the addition of two new late closers to the calendar.  The key is to the nomination fees for some of their more prominent stakes to attract additional entries and to offer more late closing series for greener horses.  If these events are fully subscribed, there will be plenty of opportunities for horsemen to make money and for gamblers to get competitive racing events.  Of course, while late closing series will dominate the cold months, the key will be what the overnight sheet will look like.  Late closing series are like the meat on a sandwich; if the bread is soggy the sandwich will still be lousy.

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