Some people both through the blog and elsewhere have questioned me as to what did I see in the American National which indicates Tim Tetrick kicked Captaintreacherous?
The answer is simple. Nothing. I didn't say Tetrick kicked the Captain. Truth be told, with the angle and clarity of the video I saw, I couldn't say if he did or didn't. Without definitive proof to the contrary, I would have to say the Captain wasn't kicked in the race. That's the way it ought to be.
What I did do in my last post is quote a comment someone sent to me which accused Tetrick of doing so. My response was "All kidding aside, regardless of who did or didn't last night..." Perhaps I should have stated more clearly I didn't see it (and I have updated the post accordingly) but that doesn't change the fact kicking and using the whip where it doesn't belong occurs.
This is not about a celebrity horse and driver. This is about any
driver which violates the rules be they a long-in-the-tooth seasoned
veteran or the provisional driver starting off at some county fair.
What makes this maddening is am not asking judges to set new rules. The rules are on the books. Is
asking the judges to do their job and enforce the rules with regards to
whipping and kicking too much to ask for? When paltry fines are not
doing the job to stop violations, is asking judges to take another arrow
out of their quiver to crack down on these violations, especially with
repeat offenders, so heretical?
I am not naming anyone in particular, it is a general statement. Go look at the weekly fines and suspension list and you will see numerous drivers cited for kicking a horse and their names show up regularly, clearly fines are not a deterrent. With a little research you can find...
The driver at the Meadows who has 15 violations for kicking a horse this year. His fine for violation #1? $100. His fine for violation #15? $100. Clearly a fine of $100 is not a deterrent to this driver who has earned $2,187,880 in purses, earning him $109,394 thus far this year.
Then there is a driver on a major circuit who has a reputation for kicking horses. His fines this year have ranged from $100 and up for kicking a horse or other verbiage which suggests the same depending on what state the penalty is issued in. There are six violations this year recorded for him (that is when the judges decided to even bother to cite him). Clearly the fines aren't a deterrent when you earn more than $400,000 for the year and when some judges don't even bother calling him on it, what kind of message is this sending him? Carry on.
If asking judges to do their job is so controversial, this sport is in deep trouble.
You may be wondering why I care about this? A fair question indeed. Some of us harness racing fans also believe horses should be treated fairly and humanely in a race. Whether a boot to a horse's hock or a whip swaying around their genitalia, I don't consider it fair treatment. Admittedly, when I first started following racing in the 1970's, such issues were not of concern to me. However, like society, my opinions have evolved and what may have been considered acceptable back then by me and others is no longer considered acceptable. Whether it is truly abusive or not is not the question, perception is reality. The rule is in the book. Enforce it.
One Canadian horsemen noted a trainer has a problem and they immediately get days. He suggests the rule be made black and white, you do the infraction you get called on it plain and simple. He further suggests a 15 day suspension and a $1,000 fine the first time is all it will take to stop these infractions. I personally am not looking to rule drivers off on the first infraction. What I am looking for are meaningful fines (meaning they hurt) so they act as a deterrent and if someone continues to violate the rule after fines are progressively increased, then send them to the sidelines.