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Friday, October 31, 2014

A Victory for Justice; A Reality Check

Before anyone gets too excited about the conviction of Canadian trainer Derick Riesberry on fraud charges (actually a reversal of an erroneous 'not guilty' verdict) by a Canadian appeals court and an order for him to stand trial again on two charges of  'cheating at play'.  Enjoy your moment if you think more cases should be sent to the criminal court system instead of the racing commission because the truth is it isn't going to happen,

Riseberry was an aberration, he was caught on tape injecting a horse with an illegal substance.  Most cases are adjudicated via the Trainer Responsibility Rule, which indicates a trainer is responsible for a horse regardless of who may drug the horse.  The standard for sanctions is much lower; the mere presence of an illegal or restricted substance in the horse's blood is prima facie evidence of a violation of the Trainer Responsibility Rule, it doesn't indicate who injected or medicated the horse.  Without testimony of others or being caught on camera, the medication may have been administered by a groom, a vet, someone walking in who should not have been there, or anybody.  The assumption may be the trainer was involved, but it is not proven.  Certainly not to the standard which could convict someone of criminal behavior.

It would be nice to have video cameras all over the paddock as if we were in a society described in "1984", but the fact is it would be cost prohibitive to have such a system in place along with the necessary monitoring and even then, it may be ineffectual when it comes to bringing an alleged cheating incident into the arena of the criminal justice system.  Alas, almost all medication violations will continue to be treated the old fashion way, through disposition by the various racing commissions.

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