Paul Daley the racing writer at the Lowell Sun wrote a thought provoking piece today. Thanks to Equidaily.com for pointing us to it.
As I mentioned below on the blog, the head of the NTRA was called to testify in front of congress about drugs in horse racing. His answers were decent enough, but Mr. Daley takes issue with some of his actions, namely saying that he did not go far enough. He did not mince words, and frankly I damn well applaud that he did not.
For myself, I felt that Waldrop, former Sr. Vice President of Public Affairs at Churchill Downs, did the sport of horseracing no favors in his testimony, talking only about the use of steroids on horses while neglecting to speak plainly about other aspects of the sport which also could compromise its integrity with owners, trainers, jockeys, fans, and the welfare of the horse itself.
Why, Mr. Waldrop, didn't you tell the committee that the 38 racing jurisdictions in the U.S. have their own sets of testing rules rather than constituting a unified body?
Why didn't you address drugs other than steroids, such as the snake venom which was found in trainer Patrick Biancone's barn, leading to a year's suspension, rather than a lifetime ban?
We DO NOT think of the horse enough in this business. It bothers me, too. One thing that the public can not stand is animals, who can not speak, think or act for themselves being used as a pin cushion to make money for their handlers. When Ben Johnson uses steroids, he knows what he is doing, and he is probably doing it for personal fame, and personal gain. He makes that decision. A horse? He wants a carrot and to run in a field for gosh sakes.
Further, the writer expands upon a problem that I have with racing – that is, the “it can not be done” talk – the talk that seems to inflict everyone in racing like they are a wind-up doll.
In response to a query, Waldrop told the committee, "Pre-race testing would be prohibitive, cost-wise." Let me ask you, Mr. Waldrop, what price would you put on the integrity of the sport?
As much as the New York Racing Association has been maligned in many quarters, in spite of a few early glitches, the pre-race detention barn has been well received by horsemen and bettors alike for helping keepsake the integrity of the sport.
Lastly he speaks of something that might be long overdue for the true offenders who use class one performance enhancers like EPO and pain killers. These drugs are knowingly used to cheat and they endanger the horse, the drivers and riders, and the sport.
Perhaps horseracing can learn from the practices of the NCAA, which tests over 400,000 athletes per year. Any first offense in drug testing results in a year's suspension, with a second positive resulting in permanent expulsion. In a word, one strike allowed, and then you're out.
Sounds like a plan to me, but then horses can't talk for themselves.
This was an interesting article by someone who obviously deeply cares about the sport of horse racing.
Bravo Mr. Daley, bravo.
Notes of the Night:
At Woodbine, pacer Tigerama jogged in 1:49.4. Last week he was hopelessly boxed and would have won by a football field. Tonight he paid $4, and that might have been generous...... Best By Far looked good winning in 52.3. He has always been a super-fast pacer when right. He is showing his old form nicely...... Simcoe Stakes winner and one of the fastest 3YO's in Canada last year, Hagi, returned off some r'nr to win a conditioned race in 153.1 with a 55.2 back half. It is nice to see him back in the winners circle. He is a quality animal.
At the Meadowlands, Greg Reinhart's favorite pacer Manhardt did not disappoint, jogging in 49 and change.
At Santa Anita I was working on a Pick 4 in race 6. I would have hit it, but the pick 4 didn't start then. I also worked on the real pick 4, which started a couple of races later. Funny thing? If I took a pick 6 in race 6 I might have hit it as I had all the winners on my "two" pick 4's. It only paid $700,000, so not really a big deal ;)
On a sad note, Windsong's Legacy a Hambletonian and Trotting Triple Crown champ died at age 7. He was a super trotter. That was a fine year for trotters with Tom Ridge being blazing fast and future world record holder Cash Hall in hot pursuit. He ended up beating them all. Bob Marks is a poster on harnessracingblog.com and he seems like a good guy. Sorry for your loss Bob.
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