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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When Arbitrary is Not So Arbitrary

Yesterday I had a spirited discussion complaining how arbitrary it was for a racetrack owner in deciding which trainers were excluded from racing while other trainers 'perceived' cheats were allowed to race there, including a trainer the track operator uses.

I must admit, not living or working on the backstretch I decided to see how arbitrary these exclusions were so I went on Pathways to check these trainers out.  When making my decision on trainers, I went exclusively by the USTA record of fines and suspensions.  Not that some of the racetrack banter is incorrect, but in this country legal decisions are made on the official record, not rumors on the street.  Why?  There is no due process on rumors, due process is only on formal charges.

  • We have trainer A who is related to former trainer B who has a checkered record.  Stable is still racing at the track.
  • We have trainer C who is excluded from racing at the track.
  • Finally, there is trainer D who runs a major stable.  Trainer still races at the track.

Well, checking out trainer B, I was appalled by their record.  Truthfully, I wouldn't let this person take care of a hermit crab if it was up to me.  This person claims this former trainer is working for trainer A.  Trainer A basically has a clean record.  Any violations are minor.

Is Trainer B involved with the stable?  I can't say.  What I can say is the farm they train at is under control of their racing commission so they shouldn't be at the facility.  They could be working at a non-licensed facility  where the commission has no control, but they are far from the actively racing stock.  Even if Trainer B was more involved in the workings of Trainer A's stable, the fact is Trainer A is responsible should anything go wrong so odds are they are not taking advantage of the 'folk' medicating Trainer B was allegedly involved in.  Based on the 'record', why shouldn't this trainer be allowed to race at the track?

Trainer C has a relatively recent violation regarding a medication which another track says would result in the trainer being banned from that track.  If a cheaper track won't let this person race at their track, why should the this track allow them to race there?  This one is an easy call.

Trainer D runs a major stable.  A check of his record shows an incident involving a medication commonly abused by people.  It turns out a stable worker apparently had a drug issue involving this medication and that day managed to get their hands on the drug and then handled the horse later in the day.  So yes, the trainer was held responsible for the positive, the purse was forfeited, and the horse placed last, but the judges determined the positive was the result of contamination instead of an intentional drugging.  Forgetting about rumor and innuendo, why shouldn't the trainer be allowed ot race there?

Of course, we are talking about the Meadowlands and Jeff Gural.  It needs to be noted in addition of going with the official record, Gural employs a private investigator.  Since the track is often the judge and jury, and actions are taken in secret, it allows for a whole lot of speculation as to why someone is excluded and someone else isn't.  Complicating things further are the rumors regarding trainers which seemingly are ignored.  Well, you don't get convicted in a court of law based on rumors, you get convicted based on fact which is why rumors tend to be ignored (though Gural's private investigator may investigate those issues) and decisions are made based on fact.  Does this mean a trainer allowed to race at the Meadowlands can't later find themselves in  trouble?  Of course not.  This is not a perfect process.  The problem appears to be with the cynics who are not used to a person who will take advantage of the ability to exclude so freely.

Of course the person this was discussed with was not satisfied; you can't satisfy everyone.  They have their convictions and I respect their position and views.   The point is, if you go by the official record, and filter out the noise, it turns out these arbitrary decisions are not so arbitrary after all.  

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