Monday, April 8, 2013

D-Barn Eggs with Some Crist Bacon

Last week Paulick wrote a little bit about detention (or security, or retention, or surveillance depending on where you live it seems) barns at the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby. He likened the whole experience to the intrusive TSA background checks, along with the narrative that if a little inconvenience is necessary to ensure an honestly run race, it's a small price to pay. In the end, both the Wood and the Santa Anita Derby went off without a hitch.

While not mentioning him by name, Steve Crist let his opposite thoughts to the Baconater known on security barns, with the following. 
  •  Some supporters have likened the measures to extra security at airports, inconvenient but benign. This selective implementation, however, is more like increasing airport security only for first-class passengers on flights to expensive resorts.
Looking at both articles and applying some Pocket logic (beware, sometimes it's not good logic), I have to side with the Bacon man on this one.

Crist wrote:

"If extra security is necessary, why is it being taken for only one of the thousand or so races being run at Aqueduct this year? "

This is the "aren't all races important" argument. To me the argument has never held water. At the Tour De North Dakota (pretty sure I made that up, but you get my drift), riders are not subjected to trailer searches, random blood doping checks in the middle of the night, or a rigorous pre-race blood passport regime. For the Tour De France they are. This makes common-sense: A rider who wins the Tour De France can cash in on millions of dollars, and the race is watched by millions of people. If they win the Tour De Fargo, neither are likely.

The winner of a Derby prep, through purses and stud fees, the value of brothers and sisters of the horse, the progeny sales numbers of the sire and the dam can cause millions in ripple effects; especially if he wins the Derby. We aren't racing for ribbons.

Some like to say that detention barns hurt integrity because it makes the public think we're all cheaters. I think the opposite. If you tell anyone on earth that horses who win a big Triple Crown race can earn millions of dollars they'd probably say "and you don't monitor them before the race? Are you crazy?"

And let's be serious. In popular culture any reference you see on a TV show, book, or in a discussion at your local bar about racing usually involves horses and "doping". It's engrained. It's not like we're exposing some sort of industry secret by having a security barn. Yes, at times people have drugged horses for monetary gain. Oh boy. What a revelation.

In the end, detention barns and the like should probably be implemented for all big races, just like it's done for all big cycling events. The simple fact is that there are things that can be done to a horse before a race to help him or her win. Shock wave therapy, frog juice, to name but two, and let's not pretend that people haven't tried anything before, even in detention.

Is this a pandemic problem? Are trainers running around with frog juice needles before the Derby each year? Of course not, but sometimes it's better to be 100% sure, and having a track security guard monitoring a horse worth a potential millions of dollars for a few hours before a race doesn't seem odd in the least. In fact, it probably seems more odd that we don't.


3 comments:

Pacingguy said...

Of course there should be detention on all races but the tracks and horsemen won't go for it due to the expense.

Eric Poteck said...

Mr Pocket, I respectfully disagree with your cycling analogy and conclusion. Cycling does not sanction wagering on their events, nor do they receive any direct revenue from such, unlike horse racing.
When I bet my $2 I couldn't care less if the purse is $1,000,000 or $1,000. The return to me is the same. So the message that resonates with me is that the industry will do their best to eliminate or reduce cheating in big races, but no so in the overwhelming majority of lesser purse races.
Based on such logic the industry is conditioning horseplayers to bet only on races in which surveillance or retention barns are used because the chances of cheating are reduced.
This is a horrible message to send to horseplayers. Further, I cannot see how such a strategy will be successful in luring non horse racing gamblers to wagering on the races.
IMHO the industry's strategy is about protecting the owners in the big races, not their wagering customer the horseplayer. Going forward a strategy is needed to protect both the owners and wagering public on all races.

Anonymous said...

Eric Poteck"When I bet my $2 I couldn't care less if the purse is $1,000,000 or $1,000. The return to me is the same."


Agreed,I tell(educate)my friends all the time.I could care less about the purse when I'm betting.i'm more interested in the takeout.

Can you think of one person getting paid by this Industry that openly agrees?Haha! they would be fired if they did.