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Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Disaster for Horse Racing

For all of horse racing, the timing couldn't have been worse; just after the New York Times started their investigative series on horse racing beginning with the number of breakdowns occurring at racetracks.  Supporters of thoroughbred racing questioned the validity of the methodology regarding breakdowns and pointed out the majority of breakdowns cited in the study were quarter horses.

Then came Dubai, specifically the Dubai Gold Cup where three horses broke down.  The first one in the original running of the race when Fox Hunt broke down in the early portion of the race which required the race to be stopped; the second and third breakdowns in the second attempt of running the race  when Bronze Cannon broke down and was euthanized on the track and Grand Vent was pulled up and vanned off, only to be euthanized later on.

What was that about the Times article being flawed? 

The only thing which could have been worse for American racing interests would have been for the race to have been run in the United States.  If that was the case and the race was shown on television, there would have been a loud call to ban horseracing and quite honestly, while the call to ban racing might have been quelled, the Federal Government almost certainly would step in and have a say in how all horse racing was regulated.

Three horses in one (two races).  Not a case of an accident or horses falling over each other.  Not cheap horses, but horses competing in a Grade 3 event.

I mention this because while harness racing is basically ignored by the regular media, you  can rest assured it would have been caught up in the mess for while breakdowns are fortunately rare in harness racing, especially when compared to other racing breeds, we can not escape the public scrutiny which would focus on our medication policies.  There we can't claim we are better than the thoroughbreds.

Standardbred racing along with other racing breeds need to take a draconian view on medication violations.  Penalties for violators need to be severe and hard to get around; no nod nod, wink wink when it comes to beards.  This is not to say sacrifice due process, but the administrative process for handling violations needs to be be streamlined.  If racing can't regulate itself, Uncle Same is waiting in the wings.


Anonymous said...

It took New York five years to get a five year suspension started against trainer Carmine Fusco. The guy with a long history of drug and medication violations kept things tied up in courts until last week when he ran out of appeals. Fusco's gone from NY, but looks like business almost as usual in Pennsylvania. His owners all chose the same new trainer. Imagine that and she just happens to be in a relationship with Fusco. Does the management at Harrah's Chester and Pocono Downs not know? Do they not care? A five year suspension is supposed to mean five years with no involvement of any kind, not just removing a name from the programs.

Pacingguy said...

I recall in the old days if you associated with someone who the state had a problem with, basically someone they wouldn't give a license to, you couldn't get a license.

I suspect the problem is as the states rely less and less on horse racing as a revenue source, the states just don't care and are less stringent regarding who they license. You need to realy go overboard to get tossed.