Looking at the Fines and Suspension list from last week, the eyes of some people opened wide when a horse of a prominent owner who has a reputation of doing good things for people within and outside the industry (as others do as well) apparently came up with two positives. "Ah ha", they said; perhaps what they were saying is "Gotcha! Another one (respected person in the industry) tore down".
I won't be mentioning names, and admittedly, the facts are not fully known. Some interpret the fact the owner paid back the purse money without an appeal as trying to bury the issue as quickly as possible, never considering the reason why the purse money may have been paid back quickly may be respecting the blood test results and after consulting with his trainer, found out the positive was legitimate. As someone on the outside, I don't know if it was a case of deliberately trying to sneak one past the judges or a case of messing up withdrawal times, but as far as some people were concerned, it was 'tried and convicted', likely without knowing all the facts.
What we do know is the horse in question was shipped to another state and since he was going to be there for a couple of races, was given to another trainer for those starts, then returned to original trainer once those engagements were honored. While trained by the 'guest' trainer, the horse raced only to later test positive for those starts. The regular trainer has no major violations against him so one may assume he didn't tell the local trainer to cheat. So the local trainer may have decided to cheat or more likely messed up medication withdrawal times.
I'm a firm believer you get to know the character of an owner by the company he keeps, and that includes who trains for him. This means at best, not using a trainer with a record of positives or at a minimum, firing the trainer if you get an inexcusable positive. It gets fuzzier when you ship somewhere where you need to use a temporary trainer. It's one thing if it is where you normally race, but when your horse is traveling to a state where you don't know the trainers and depend on who you regular trainer makes arrangements with, the onus falls on the person who made the arrangements, the trainer. So in my book, the owner gets a pass here.
Make no mistake. Doping of horses is a problem in all of racing which needs to be seriously attacked, this is why I favor having standardized medication rules overseen by a national organization with the ability to sanction wrong doers. Rather than wagging their tongues at someone who does much for racing off the track inadvertently getting caught up in the net, it would be a better use of their time to contact their elected federal officials to support the US Anti-Doping Association.