In New South Wales, Australia, the special hearings into the scandal where drivers knew when their horses would or would not be swabbed are continuing. However, the first rulings by the special panel in NSW have been issued, giving trainer Dean Atkinson a 10 year suspension for three counts of corruption.
One reader asked is a ten year suspension really enough? Well, actually I would prefer an expulsion or a criminal prosecution, but realistically, ten years out of the business often turns into a 'death sentence' for their career. But even if he comes back in ten years, there is no guarantee that he will be licensed once again.
The same reader told me he is beginning to wonder if Lou Pena is a victim of racism. I would hope not, but one must wonder why there has been such outrage about Lou Pena through out the industry and fan base while the industry has been relatively quiet when someone already has a 15 race lead in the training standings at a track after nine days of racing. and little is said about that (personally I think 9 days is to soon to start accusing anyone of wrong doing).
Now I am not suggesting Pena's exclusion at the Meadowlands is related to racism, as there are some legitimate questions about his record and training methods; especially when his success seems to have come overnight and horses have been approving dramatically.. At first, I said I don't think there is an issue of racism regarding Pena, but when most trainers have an American, Canadian, or European background can Pena's Mexican background subconsciously get into the thinking of his accusers? I checked with a friend out on the West Coast familiar with harness racing who has been following what is going on with Pena and he himself is wondering if racism is involved.
Now two or three people wondering if racism is a factor with Pena, does not make it so but there is no way to prove racism is or isn't involved in the horsemen's and fans' criticism. However, it may be time for some self reflection from Pena's critics.