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Monday, August 18, 2014

The Genesis of Race Day Medicating?

The subject of race day doping of horses is one of the major topics in racing these days but one must wonder where does the problem begin?  According to a guest editorial by Carlo Vaccarezza, a horse owner and trainer of thoroughbreds in Horse Racing Insider, the problem begins with 'sales ring doping', where yearlings are bulked up to hide injuries or physical inferiorities.  Vaccarezza claims bleeding and breakdowns start with this type of behavior in the sales ring.

The case is made that trainers are forced to use illicit drugs to keep these horses, purchased often at a high price due to the use of steroids, racing once they deflate and the trainers finally get to see what their owners actually purchased in an effort to recover their investment.

Amazingly, some of the major sales companies allow these drugs to be used on the horses going through the sales ring and they objected when an effort was made to ban the use of these medications on horses within 45 days of their sale.  Why do the sales companies object?  A bulked up horse brings more money, hence larger commissions.

While this article deals with thoroughbreds, one must wonder if this type of 'sales ring doping' occurs in the standardbred industry?  Being standardbreds tend to bring lower sales prices, I tend to doubt it happens as often in harness racing, but if it happens at all and people have been burnt buying drugged up yearlings, is there any surprise why there are fewer owners in harness racing and more interest in ready-made horses?

Sales companies should band the use of steroids to close to sales time and there should be testing done to make sure these horses are 'clean'.  Failure to ensure this may mean bigger profits in the short run but in the long run an industry so decimated that there will be no profits to be made at all. 

There were plenty of surprises this weekend in racing action but nothing was as surprising as the defeat of Father Patrick in the $36,036 Arthur Tompkins Memorial at Tioga Downs yesterday, being defeated by Datsyuk in a mile of 1:53.1 track record.

You could argue that Father Patrick needed the race, this being his first start after the Hambletonian but these days racing two weeks between starts is nothing.  Clearly this race was supposed to be an easier tightener with a purse but it turned into a disappointing effort. 

Yes, Datsyuk was not a patsy, having finished 2nd to Trixton in the Reynolds (by 6 lengths) at the Meadowlands and being in the money against Nuncio and Father Patrick in the Beal at Pocono.  However, until yesterday, his only wins have come in Pennsylvania Sires Stakes events; not a horse you expect to defeat Father Patrick if he was 100%.  Time will tell if illness, being short, or the campaign has caught up with the son of Cantab Hall.

Let's have a race!  In Sweden, they love their trotters, so much that this past week at their Culture Festival, a race course on the streets of Göteborg and the trotters went at it.  What a great way to bring the sport to the people.  If the people won't go to the track, we'll bring the track to the people.  Wouldn't it be great if someone was able to do that here.  You may see the video of the day's activity here (unfortunately, it is in Swedish, so the video will have to tell the story).  What we can show you is the final heat of the day.

Part of the race can be seen on the video screen on the right side of the picture.

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