Oklahoma Racing Commission cracks down … sort of
Thursday morning at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Okla., the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission will be discussing the case of a horseman who submitted his name as the trainer of a starter in a race, when in fact the horse was actually trained by someone else.
This type of incident, use of a “program trainer,” is often done when an individual is unable to get stalls at a certain track or even a racing license – for whatever reason – and asks someone else to do them a favor and run the horse in his or her name.
It's encouraging to see the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission – under the direction of chairman Becky Goumaz and executive director Constanin Rieger – take this type of issue seriously. When a trainer runs one of his horses in someone else's name – especially in cases where that trainer is unable to do so because of licensing issues or regulatory problems – the integrity of racing is brought into question. And integrity is what racing commissioners are appointed to uphold.
I'm just sorry the case of the program trainer in Oklahoma involves Michael Gass II and Frank Gladd, along with a horse named Bring Her Home, and NOT Rick Dutrow and William Cesare and a horse named Willy Beamin. Or even Tony Dutrow, Rick Dutrow's brother, and a horse named Redeemed.
Bring Her Home is a maiden claimer trained by Gladd, who was unable to get stalls at Remington Park. Gladd allegedly asked if Gass would stable Bring Her Home in one of the stalls allotted to him and run the filly in his name. Gass did so for several races in late 2011.
Around that same time, Rick Dutrow, the trainer of Jay Em Ess Stable's Redeemed, sent the colt to Remington Park to contest the Oklahoma Derby, except Redeemed ran in the name of Tony Dutrow when he won the $400,000 race. In his next start, the Discovery Handicap, at Aqueduct, he was back running in Rick's name.
Is it possible Rick Dutrow was unable to be licensed in Oklahoma in 2011, but the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission allowed the horse to run anyway, in the name of his brother Tony?
Let's fast forward a year to the 2012 Oklahoma Derby, when James Riccio's Redeemed was sent to Remington to compete for the first time since he raced in Rick Dutrow's name in August at Saratoga, winning the Grade 1 King's Bishop.
In the year between the 2011 and '12 Oklahoma Derby, the Dutrow brothers were involved in a horse transfer controversy in West Virginia, when Rick Dutrow-trained I Want Revenge was entered to race in the name of brother Tony at Charles Town. Stewards there got wise as to who the actual trainer was and refused to let the horse race. Good for them.
For the 2012 Oklahoma Derby, Willy Beamin was transferred not to Tony Dutrow but to William Cesare, just in time to ship to Remington Park and go for the giant pot. Rick Dutrow is not licensed in Oklahoma and did not apply for a license, according to the commission's spokesperson, attorney Mary Ann Roberts (the only individual at the commission who responds to press inquiries from Paulick Report). Roberts said Willy Beamin was nominated by Cesare and entered by Cesare, so the commission was satisfied that Cesare was the actual trainer of the horse.
There you have it. The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission's wink-wink, nudge-nudge definition of integrity. and it's crackdown … sort of … on program trainers
Oh, by the way, Willy Beamin, who wound up second in the Oklahoma Derby, is racing this weekend at Aqueduct in the Discovery Handicap, the same race in which Redeemed returned to action following his race in Oklahoma.
You get one guess who is listed as Willy Beamin's trainer for the Discovery.
As I said, it's encouraging to see the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission go after a small-time trainer who allegedly tried to juke the system with his maiden claimer. But I have to wonder why they don't seem to care about determining the actual trainer of a horse competing in a $400,000 stakes race.
Maybe that's a question Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin should be asking of her horse racing commission.