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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Who's Looking Out for the Horseplayers?

While horsemen seem to have a love/hate relationship with Jeff Gural, the latest announcement by the three Gural-operated tracks regarding Cobalt levels shows why Gural was given the Railbird Award by harness racing fans.  

Not only are fans appreciative of his efforts in saving the Meadowlands, they seem to be applauding his willingness to use the exclusionary rights he has as an operator as well as his investing in out-of-competition testing for horses trained by those wishing to race at his tracks.  It is the result of this testing which has resulted in the new Cobalt policy adopted by Gural-operated tracks.  The result is gamblers feel they are getting a fair chance with integrity being king.

The use of Cobalt is not new.  Back in 2009, the ORC had issued an advisory regarding the use of Cobalt Sulfate.  The question many are asking is why did it take a track operator to identify the excessive use of Cobalt in horses?  No racing jurisdictions in North America was testing for it?

Now that the abuse of Cobalt has been discovered in standardbred racing, the RMTC acknowledges the problem likely exists in thoroughbred racing as well and they need to do studies.  The CHRB acknowledges it knew there was a Cobalt problem 'simmering' but it seems nothing was going on there to stop it..

Yet, amazingly on some boards, there are people questioning if Gural should be allowed to perform out-of-competition testing in addition to banning the use of Cobalt as a doping substance (besides being harmful to horses, excessive Cobalt is believed to build blood like EPO). 

My question is if not Gural, who would be doing it?  For while it is hard to keep up with the cheats, it seems few are even willing to try.  Pardon the common horseplayer if they feel abandoned by regulators when people who have run into problems seem to return or find a new home to ply their trade.

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