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Monday, May 13, 2013

Would It Work Here?

In NSW, Australia, two men are charged with race fixing and betting corruption with regards to Prussian Secret winning the Tamworth Cup, a race for thoroughbreds.  The grounds for the race fixing charges?  It is alleged that Prussian Secret was 'drenched' with performance enhancing drugs prior to the race.

This plot was discovered by Strike Force Trentbridge, a group formed to investigate allegations of racing fixing in the Australian state of New South Wales.  The Strike Force is a group funded by NSW racing to handle investigation in the 'gallops', standardbreds, and greyhound racing industry and they work with civil authorities.

While I can't speak about greyhounds, administering illegal medication is done in all forms of horse racing; it is part of the human condition.  People will try to get an advantage over their opponents, especially when money is involved regardless of the type of sport.  It is when money is involved, people tend to notice it more..  .

One has to wonder what would happen if medication violations in North America were treated as criminal offenses instead of administrative violations?  Granted, someone merely accused under the trainers responsibility rule would never be convicted as you need to be caught in the act of medicating a horse, but in those cases where someone is caught red-handed, perhaps handing them over to the criminal court is the way to go.  The question is would it work here?  Would racing appoint its own Strike Force Trenbridge and cover the expense in order to root out cheaters?. 

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Most likely e wouldn't have many repeat offenders, What I don't understand in horse racing is the fact that putting any drug into a horse that will enhance it's performance not considered cheating or race fixing?

Pacingguy said...

I would suggest not necessarily. First of all, there are those cases where overages are unintentional and have therapeutic value. I think the only way you could argue a race fixing charge is warranted is when a drug is used which has no legitimate truth in the benefit of the horse. You also would have to be able to prove a person medicated a horse. You would not be able to convict anyone based on a trainer's responsibility rule.

Anonymous said...


Race tracks operate as if they're exempt from laws that get people arrested elsewhere and no one's ever been able to explain to me why. In some states with racinos, state police are even stationed on the property and don't act on crimes connected to racing.

Examples? Fights in the paddock or barn areas. In a secured area for racing, it's an administrative thing under racing rules. If they happen in the casino, police step in and cite or arrest those involved.

Possession of illegal drugs or illegal possession of prescription drugs. In the casino, charges are filed by police. In racing, it's violating racing rules.

Drugging a horse for a race constitutes fraud, conspiracy and probably many more crimes.

We don't need a strike force. We need racing commissions to stop treating crimes as rules violation and we need police along with state attorneys/district attorneys to enforce the laws everywhere.

Pacingguy said...

There lies the problem. While racing commissions are supposed to be there to promote racing and protect the public's interests, they seem to have forgotten about the public's interest; instead becoming basically pro-industry groups. Eliminating the recall rule without instituting a fair start rule is a perfect example.

Marv S. said...

Many years ago, we claimed a horse off a now infamous trainer. We learned after the claim was successful, the horse (along with several others in that trainer's barn) came up positive for clenbuterol in his race the week before the claim was made. I contacted the stewards to see if the claim could be rescinded. I was told no. Not only that, had the horse come up positive in the actual race he was claimed out of, the claim couldn't be rescinded. Many jurisdictions -- including the one in question -- require post-race testing of all claimed horses. I asked why they test all claims if the claims were not rescindable.

Essentially, we claimed that horse based on a fraudulent performance (and perhaps more than one). It was no consolation to me that the trainer later was given a 6 month suspension. I ended up with a horse which never won a race for us and raced at much lower levels than what he was claimed for. Yes, the claim game is buyer beware but the racing commission should be protecting the public and horsemen against fraud.

A civil lawsuit for fraud did enter into my mind at the time, which would have been an uphill battle that would have cost more than the claim. Perhaps a few civil suits by those so defrauded (and with lots of money) can help us to police ourselves.

Pacingguy said...

Well, now many states do allow you to get out of a claim if you request a blood test be done on a horse when claimed. It is unfortunate it was not available at the time you claimed the horse, assuming the state you claimed the horse in is one of the more enlightened jurisdictions.

You are not alone. I claimed a horse and by the following week, the horse could barely get around the track. That is when I found out the trainer we claimed off of was allegedly one of the biggest chemist trainers around at the time. Once he ended up on the vet's list, he never made it back to the races. At that time, I swore I never would claim another one off a trainer that ships in to race. Of course, at many tracks these days, that means there would be nobody to claim off of.