Horse Police Get Tough

For about as long as I can remember, on backstretches and in grandstands, the response to a horseman who got caught doing some really bad things was "why don't the police charge them?" This was almost never the case; even when the horse in question was being abused in some way.

But this year it is different. Three weeks ago in Iowa a trainer was charged with three felony counts for allegedly injecting a horse before a race. Now in Ontario, a Windsor triumvirate faces a similar charge.

It appears the Ontario Provincial Police (kind of like state troopers to our US readers) had an ongoing investigation and have reached some conclusions. "The accused have all been charged with one count each of cheat at play, fraud, and offences under the Pari-mutuel (betting) regulations of the Criminal Code. All charged persons have been released on an Undertaking which prohibits involvement in horse racing. They are to appear in Windsor court on January 5, 2011."

For a good long time these folks have been painted with a brush, primarily due to some amazing one-week turnarounds. Haskell sported some numbers that rank up there with Lou Pena, the whipping boy in the US. Last year he won 92 of 179. This year 64 of 179. He claimed several horses for a low, low price, and moved them right up the ladder like we see in thoroughbred and harness racing on almost a weekly basis the last twenty years. Trainers like that have a bulls-eye on their back, especially if they are younger trainers with very little experience.

I have no idea (other than what I read above) what should happen or will happen. Guilt or innocence is for the courts. But one thing I do know - if you are doing something untoward in racing and lighting up horse's like a Christmas tree, chances are that you will not get 60 days and $10k and be right back at it. In this day and age you might find yourself rooming with a dude named Bubba in the local pen.

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