Perhaps one of the biggest news stories to come out of British Horse Racing recently is the drug positives for Gondolphin Stable at Newmarket where eleven of their horses tested positive for anabolic steroids. The trainer, Mahmood Al Zarooni has admitted to what he described as a "catastrophic error" and awaits a hearing by the British HRA. The stable owner Sheikh Mohammed is reportedly livid over the findings but will await making internal changes until the hearing is held.
One would not be surprised if the Gondolphin owner will be making a change in trainers as he is undoubtedly embarrassed by this incident. Of course, being his wife is the President of FEI, the body which regulates equestrian sports internationally, makes matters worse.
It will be interesting to see the final response by Sheikh Mohammed once the hearing is held, but one thing is for sure it is already different from the way standardbred and thoroughbred racing would handle it in the states. Typically, you hear no comments by the owner regarding the trainer and there would be no talk of abandoning the trainer. What typically happens is the horse gets transferred to an assistant trainer for the period of suspension with a good chance of returning to the original trainer afterwards.
Granted, the Sheikh and his stable have reputations to protect but it would be nice to think American owners valued their reputations as well. One doesn't need to make declarations of outrage, but yanking your stable away from a trainer would be doing the same. After all, action speaks louder than words.
Update: Sheikh Mohammed has ordered all horses on the premises of the Newmarket Stable tested for illegal drugs and has indicated no horse will race from his stable until it can be assured all horses are racing clean.
Unless you expect hell to breakout, you may as well skip the Pick 4 Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway as the track has once again scheduled the sequence to include both the finals and consolations of the Matchmaker and Levy Memorial series. No doubt management cards these races late in the program to keep people interested in the card but if they are looking for Pick 4 players, they need to keep the finals out of the sequence, possibly putting one or both consolations in the race. It certainly doesn't help that Annieswesterncard and Foiled Again are coupled in the Levy as are Camille and Rocklamation as well as Krispy Apple and Androvette are coupled entries in the Matchmaker. As far as I am concerned, these are races to watch, not to wager on.
If there is any buyer's remorse, it has to come from Mark Ford and his team who purchased points leader SomethingforDoc for an undisclosed amount as he drew the dreaded eight post in the Levy final. Not that it is impossible to win from that position, but for the amount of money Ford likely paid for the horse, it is the worst possible post to draw. If there is any consolation, Foiled Again will be his next door neighbor starting out of slot seven.
Not a big deal in the immediate sense of things, but Cal Expo, Meadowlands, and The Red Mile have joined the Harness Tracks of America (HTA). The more tracks which decide to join the HTA the better as it allows track operators the opportunity to speak with a single voice.