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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Training vs. Bearding

Yesterday, Jay Bergman in a DRF column wrote about Mark Capone training Somenicebeach for Susan Oakes, wife of banned trainer Chris Oakes in a late closing event final at the Meadowlands.  Specifically, Bergman brought up the point Capone could be considered a beard, something the Meadowlands has indicated it would not tolerate.

From Bergman's article, whether or not you consider Capone is a beard is similar to President Clinton claiming it "depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is".  There's no doubt that Capone did the physical training of Somenicebeach which would qualify as training, but it also is apparent the ultimate call of what Somenicebeach's future plans are belong to the Oakes.  The question is where does bearding begin and where does it end?

It is possible all training decisions were left to Capone where decisions on future racing engagements were left to the Oakes, but is it any different than a knowledgeable engaged owner making the calls as to where their horse races?  If an owner is so involved and a trainer is willing to cede the right to make the call on where an owner's horses may race, is the trainer a beard?  Of course not, the problem here is the owner's husband has a trainers license; hence the allegations of bearding.

If anything, this affair is a good reason to exclude horses owned by individuals who are close enough related to those banned that it may be assumed they have a strong financial interest together as a married couple would.  This is the only way to avoid the conflict of interest which has arisen here.

As to why Susan Oakes was allowed to enter the horse into a paid up event, thus being allowed to race at the Meadowlands in the late closing event?  My suspicion is the entry was allowed to get through as the policy being used by the Gural tracks is a work in progress.  One would suspect and expect this will not be allowed to happen again.

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