U.S. Senate hearing: We’ve been here before

  • click above & share!
    X
  • click above & share!
    X


  • click above & share!
    X
  • click above & share!
    X

If Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees Hall of Famer, were in attendance at this afternoon’s United States Senate hearing of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (entitled Medication and Performance Enhancing Drugs in Horseracing), he might say it was déjà vu all over again.  

Note: follow @raypaulick on Twitter for live reporting on today’s hearing, which has been moved from 2:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

The date was May 26, 1982, and then it was the Senate’s Judiciary Committee talking about the Corrupt Horse Racing Practices Act, a bill sponsored by Arkansas Sen. David Pryor. The meeting was chaired by Maryland’s Charles “Mac” Mathias, who a year earlier said he had cautioned “the racing community that there was a small, dark cloud on the horizon, the possibility of federal legislation dealing with the problem of horse drugging.”


Sen. Mathias said: “Drug abuse on some racetracks persists and the practice of numbing or masking injuries or soreness is still with us…it is unfair to the horses and unfair to the bettors, since the records of past performances are worthless without an accompanying record of medication. … We want to find out if the states have a real interest in eliminating race-day drugs.”

Sen. Pryor proclaimed “no other major racing country in the world today allows the prerace medication of horses – only in America.” He cited a survey of Blood-Horse magazine readers saying more than two-thirds of owners and breeders opposed raceday medication of horses.

The Corrupt Horse Racing Practices Act, written in the wake of highly publicized articles in Sports Illustrated detailing race-fixing involving drugging of horses, would 1) require pre-race testing of horses; 2) ban all race-day drugs, including phenylbutazone and Lasix; and 3) prohibit the icing, numbing or freezing of horses prior to a race.

“Most important objective of the legislation we are considering today,” said Sen. Pryor said, “is to turn the current state medication rules and regulations into one single, enforceable, uniform standard.”

Sound familiar?

That bill died, just as the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act of 2011 is likely to die later this year. The current bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, who may be the only senator who actually shows up to question the witnesses invited to testify (believe it or not, some witnesses who testified in 1982 will be back to testify in 2012). There are 25 members of the Commerce Committee and as late as Wednesday afternoon, sources told the Paulick Report not one of the other members had expressed an intention to attend.

So with such anticipated apathy from the U.S. Senate in an election year, why go forward with this hearing (click here to see who will be testifying)?

Simply stated, the legislation will not go forward this year without virtually unanimous support from all 100 U.S. senators, and that isn’t likely to happen.

Perhaps it is a matter of setting the stage for new legislation in 2013, when a new Congress is sworn in. The current legislation before the House and Senate is too onerous, too vague, and simply won’t work. Another attempt in 2013, this time with the cooperation of some powerful industry groups, might have a better chance of succeeding. For example, there has been talk of simply changing the language of the Interstate Horseracing Act that facilitates interstate simulcasting. A change in the approval for simulcasting, from “representative horsemen’s organization” at the host racetrack to a national organization such as The Jockey Club or Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, could accomplish the same goal as the current legislation.

For those who are interested in seeing the transcripts from the 1982 Corrupt Horse Racing Practices Act Senate hearing, click here.

I’m sure there will be more than a few similaries to what you can see online in today’s hearing (click here at 2:00 p.m. ET to follow).

New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry
  • Chip Wiley

    The word inside the beltway is that Glenn Thompson will be moderating the session.

  • Chip Wiley

    The word inside the beltway is that Glenn Thompson will be moderating the session.

  • Steve Garbarini

    Failsafe reaction for me:  everytime I become disheartened by the way racing is run, all I need to see, hear, taste or smell is how the Guvmint is run…

    …and presto.  I feel better about racing.

  • Steve Garbarini

    Failsafe reaction for me:  everytime I become disheartened by the way racing is run, all I need to see, hear, taste or smell is how the Guvmint is run…

    …and presto.  I feel better about racing.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GN75TMMTTZCDAKCKWH4QH6RDYQ Ronald T

    This will not change in our lifetime…These hearings are nothing but a bunch of sabre rattling by the usual suspects on both sides of the issue…..On the one hand you are now on a generation of horse trainers who never had to learn any horsemanship to begin with…With most of these guys their favorite saying is “Let the vet look at it”….The owners are no better because if they’re winning it’s “I don’t want to know” and if they’re losing it’s either “The vet bills to high” or it’s “If we don’t start winning I’m gonna have to change trainers”…..The last part of this equation is that there is NO uniform body in charge of enforcing any penalties against the cheats with each state having it’s own cash cow for license fees and all the political hacks getting jobs

    • Marc Paulhus

      I can certainly understand being disgusted with the current state regulation of racing because it’s hodge-podge of ineffective rules and poor enforcement. But why not join forces to try and clean it up once and for all. Racehorses need our help.  The proposed federal bill is intended to make it better for horses, jockeys and the betting public.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GN75TMMTTZCDAKCKWH4QH6RDYQ Ronald T

    This will not change in our lifetime…These hearings are nothing but a bunch of sabre rattling by the usual suspects on both sides of the issue…..On the one hand you are now on a generation of horse trainers who never had to learn any horsemanship to begin with…With most of these guys their favorite saying is “Let the vet look at it”….The owners are no better because if they’re winning it’s “I don’t want to know” and if they’re losing it’s either “The vet bills to high” or it’s “If we don’t start winning I’m gonna have to change trainers”…..The last part of this equation is that there is NO uniform body in charge of enforcing any penalties against the cheats with each state having it’s own cash cow for license fees and all the political hacks getting jobs

  • DT

    Sounds like this hearing will be a reflection of today’s horse racing.  No one shows at the actual event and everyone instead follows along online. We created this apathy, no one to blame but ourselves.

  • DT

    Sounds like this hearing will be a reflection of today’s horse racing.  No one shows at the actual event and everyone instead follows along online. We created this apathy, no one to blame but ourselves.

  • Just interested

    If that doesn’t speak volumes, on 2 of the 25 people on the committee are in attendance. 

  • Just interested

    If that doesn’t speak volumes, on 2 of the 25 people on the committee are in attendance. 

  • herewego

    “A change in the approval for simulcasting, from “representative horsemen’s organization” at the host racetrack to a national organization such as The Jockey Club or Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, could accomplish the same goal as the current legislation.”
    Boy this is rich. What an unmitigated disaster this would be. The Jockey Club or TOBA approving simulcasting talk about a system that has no checks and balances.

    While Mr. Paulick correctly points out the flaws in the Udall legislation I would love to hear how the current medication issues we are dealing with could possibily be resolved in anyway by the Jockey Club having simulcast approval rights.

    The only ones pushing for this will be Jockey Clubber’s as even those who have no respect for horsemen’s organizations around the country will be able to see through this flawed scheme.

  • herewego

    “A change in the approval for simulcasting, from “representative horsemen’s organization” at the host racetrack to a national organization such as The Jockey Club or Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, could accomplish the same goal as the current legislation.”
    Boy this is rich. What an unmitigated disaster this would be. The Jockey Club or TOBA approving simulcasting talk about a system that has no checks and balances.

    While Mr. Paulick correctly points out the flaws in the Udall legislation I would love to hear how the current medication issues we are dealing with could possibily be resolved in anyway by the Jockey Club having simulcast approval rights.

    The only ones pushing for this will be Jockey Clubber’s as even those who have no respect for horsemen’s organizations around the country will be able to see through this flawed scheme.

  • stillriledup

    Talk is cheap.

    I wouldnt hold my breath waiting for positive change in this industry.

    • Marc Paulhus

      Apathy assures that nothing will be done to address the problem. If you favor the intent of the Interstate Horse racing Improvement Act, then at the very least let your US Senator know and ask for his/her co-sponsorship of the bill.

  • stillriledup

    Talk is cheap.

    I wouldnt hold my breath waiting for positive change in this industry.

  • Rachel

    He also said “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

  • Rachel

    He also said “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

  • Bob C

    The United States is spending billions of dollars on the war in the Middle-East while our economy is going to hell.  Unemployment is the highest since the Great Depression while we continue to send jobs overseas. Wall Street crooks are robbing the American people of their life savings.  And the folks in Washington have nothing better to do than investigate drug use in Horse Racing?

    • Concerned Observer

      Sorry, the hardworking folks in Washington were busy voting for the 33rd time to repeal Obamacare, knowing that the vote was a pointless waste of time.

      All, a pointless exercise in theatre, dramatics and self aggrandizement.

      Both parties are suckers for this foolishness.

      • Bob C

        No—the American people are suckers for tolerating this foolishness from both parties. It’s time—no it’s past time, for the American people to demand real and meaningful change and put an end to politics as usual.

        • Concerned Observer

          Bob C, I agree, but unfortunately, the stalwarts and rank and file from both sides lap up this soap opera foolishness like the audience at a Maury Povich show. Sadly, I am beginning to think the American people are getting the government they deserve. 

      • Larry Ensor

        At a cost according to recent reports of more then $2,000,000 each time they voted on it.

  • Bob C

    The United States is spending billions of dollars on the war in the Middle-East while our economy is going to hell.  Unemployment is the highest since the Great Depression while we continue to send jobs overseas. Wall Street crooks are robbing the American people of their life savings.  And the folks in Washington have nothing better to do than investigate drug use in Horse Racing?

  • Concerned Observer

    Sorry, the hardworking folks in Washington were busy voting for the 33rd time to repeal Obamacare, knowing that the vote was a pointless waste of time.

    All, a pointless exercise in theatre, dramatics and self aggrandizement.

    Both parties are suckers for this foolishness.

  • Sampan

    First and foremost the reason a Medication Bill needs to be
    presented and passed is a huge number of North Americans see an immediate need to
    prevent well documented abuses of medications in race horses.

    Firstly, the benefit of this legislation will ensure the
    horse is healthier and safer for racing and not medically at risk or abused. Not
    only is the horse not at risk neither is the rider and other participants in a race.

    Secondly, the general public is questioning the integrity of
    the sport caused by drug use and has little or no confidence in the Governing Agencies
    and Officials carrying out the Rules & Regulations for Racing.

    In my opinion the hearing seemed to be split down the middle
    which will necessitate Federal intervention.

    It was also apparent to me there were some witnesses who
    were out of touch with how the public sees the sport of horse racing and how
    they affect that perception.

    There were instances of witnesses who either lacked in depth
    knowledge or were insensitive of the issue at hand. There was also evidence of
    preserving one’s own turf.

    On the plus side Sen. Udall said the funds are there so that
    is not a problem.

    This is early July and you have a Federal Election in
    November.

    I didn’t see any encouraging signs of getting the job done
    in time due to the split in the committee witnesses.

    The bottom line is if this bill is written properly and
    passed not only will you see increased attendance and renewed confidence
    regarding the integrity of the sport you will also see the resurgence of much
    need to new owners to horse racing.      
     

    • horse

      Where on the net can drafts of this proposed legislation be found?

      • Sampan

         I’m wadding through numerous Commerce , Science and Transportation links right now. I have a question for anyone who may have the answer out there. Did the Corrupt Horse Racing Practices Act S.1043 dated May 26, 1982 get passed by the government or did it fail to get approved?

        • Marc Paulhus

          The Corrupt Horse Racing Practices Act was withdrawn after a negotiated settlement was reached between the Jockey Club, the National Association of State Racing Commissioners (now RCI), the American Horse Council, the Humane Society of the United States and others.  In exchange for dropping federal intervention, the agreement compelled the NASRC and the Jockey Club to promote a uniform medication policy, implement better drug testing methodologies and create uniform penalties for violations. There were some initial successes as states reduced the numbers and allowable amounts of permissive medications, but the effort at uniformity did not last long.  Horsemen pushed for more liberal rules, states failed to coordinate their enforcement efforts and, over time, the problems compelling the federal legislation continued unabated.  

          • Sampan

             I suspected that’s what might have happened. I was reading letters submitted, and in some cases biased scare tactics were used. If people who have an in depth knowledgeable about horse racing and its history, read the submissions by witnesses and sponsors, they should advise members of Congress on the committee when and if there are omissions or distortion of facts. That’s about all we can do. 

          • Sampan

             I was just going through the text of the porposed Bill and here is my first recommendation.

            Partial text from Bill H.R. 1733

             

            (3) requires, for each horse race that is the subject of an
            interstate off-wager, that an accredited third party conformity assessment body
            test for any performance-enhancing drug –

            (A) the first-place horse in the race; and

            (B) one additional horse, to be randomly selected from the
            other horses participating in the race; and

                                             ***

            I would suggest:

            The first-place horse and randomly select either the one
            second, third or fourth place finisher.

            I would further suggest the Stewards have 4 random
            selections on any 4 horses for any reason on the race card for that race day.

                                             ***

            As an example if we look at the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic,
            10th race Nov. 5, 2010 here is how I would use my suggested system of
            selection.

            Test winner, Unrivalled Belle and additional selection It’s
            Tea Time, 4th place finisher and this race had Superfecta wagering.

            I would use one of my random test selections to test Life At
            Ten who was second choice in the wagering and finished last.   

             

      • Rachel
        • Sampan

           Thank you very much for adding this link. I know it will help me look at the bigger picture and give me a better understanding of what is going on with the political side of things.

  • Sampan

    First and foremost the reason a Medication Bill needs to be
    presented and passed is a huge number of North Americans see an immediate need to
    prevent well documented abuses of medications in race horses.

    Firstly, the benefit of this legislation will ensure the
    horse is healthier and safer for racing and not medically at risk or abused. Not
    only is the horse not at risk neither is the rider and other participants in a race.

    Secondly, the general public is questioning the integrity of
    the sport caused by drug use and has little or no confidence in the Governing Agencies
    and Officials carrying out the Rules & Regulations for Racing.

    In my opinion the hearing seemed to be split down the middle
    which will necessitate Federal intervention.

    It was also apparent to me there were some witnesses who
    were out of touch with how the public sees the sport of horse racing and how
    they affect that perception.

    There were instances of witnesses who either lacked in depth
    knowledge or were insensitive of the issue at hand. There was also evidence of
    preserving one’s own turf.

    On the plus side Sen. Udall said the funds are there so that
    is not a problem.

    This is early July and you have a Federal Election in
    November.

    I didn’t see any encouraging signs of getting the job done
    in time due to the split in the committee witnesses.

    The bottom line is if this bill is written properly and
    passed not only will you see increased attendance and renewed confidence
    regarding the integrity of the sport you will also see the resurgence of much
    need to new owners to horse racing.      
     

  • horse

    Where on the net can drafts of this proposed legislation be found?

  • Bob C

    No—the American people are suckers for tolerating this foolishness from both parties. It’s time—no it’s past time, for the American people to demand real and meaningful change and put an end to politics as usual.

  • Sampan

     I’m wadding through numerous Commerce , Science and Transportation links right now. I have a question for anyone who may have the answer out there. Did the Corrupt Horse Racing Practices Act S.1043 dated May 26, 1982 get passed by the government or did it fail to get approved?

  • Concerned Observer

    Bob C, I agree, but unfortunately, the stalwarts and rank and file from both sides lap up this soap opera foolishness like the audience at a Maury Povich show. Sadly, I am beginning to think the American people are getting the government they deserve. 

  • Marc Paulhus

    The Corrupt Horse Racing Practices Act was withdrawn after a negotiated settlement was reached between the Jockey Club, the National Association of State Racing Commissioners (now RCI), the American Horse Council, the Humane Society of the United States and others.  In exchange for dropping federal intervention, the agreement compelled the NASRC and the Jockey Club to promote a uniform medication policy, implement better drug testing methodologies and create uniform penalties for violations. There were some initial successes as states reduced the numbers and allowable amounts of permissive medications, but the effort at uniformity did not last long.  Horsemen pushed for more liberal rules, states failed to coordinate their enforcement efforts and, over time, the problems compelling the federal legislation continued unabated.  

  • Marc Paulhus

    Apathy assures that nothing will be done to address the problem. If you favor the intent of the Interstate Horse racing Improvement Act, then at the very least let your US Senator know and ask for his/her co-sponsorship of the bill.

  • Harland

    Let’s keep the government out of racing or they will muck it up like everything else.

    • Marc Paulhus

      Government already IS in racing, and has been for decades. In fact, state governments get a portion of every dollar wagered.  And they are already tasked with enforcing regulations regarding the control pre-race medications and illegal drugs. Problem is they aren’t doing a very good job of it.  There are no uniform rules and penalties that apply in all racing jurisdictions.  The pending federal bill merely provides for uniform rules and uniform enforcement among and between states that participate in simulcasting. It won’t cost taxpayers a penny in federal money and it doesn’t duplicate state efforts.

      • RayPaulick

        I now regret sending out a Tweet during the Senate hearing that said I would taze Marc Paulhus if given the opportunity until he screams “Don’t taze me bro’.” Marc, you actually make a lot of sense in what you’re saying. 

  • Harland

    Let’s keep the government out of racing or they will muck it up like everything else.

  • Marc Paulhus

    Government already IS in racing, and has been for decades. In fact, state governments get a portion of every dollar wagered.  And they are already tasked with enforcing regulations regarding the control pre-race medications and illegal drugs. Problem is they aren’t doing a very good job of it.  There are no uniform rules and penalties that apply in all racing jurisdictions.  The pending federal bill merely provides for uniform rules and uniform enforcement among and between states that participate in simulcasting. It won’t cost taxpayers a penny in federal money and it doesn’t duplicate state efforts.

  • Marc Paulhus

    I can certainly understand being disgusted with the current state regulation of racing because it’s hodge-podge of ineffective rules and poor enforcement. But why not join forces to try and clean it up once and for all. Racehorses need our help.  The proposed federal bill is intended to make it better for horses, jockeys and the betting public.

  • Mzebriski

    The use of medication in the equine athlete has been around since the dawn of time.  Pompous rabble rousers such as Barry Irwin continue to insight uninformed politicians in  a quest to mold the sport into the “Utopia” he and others desire.  Even under federal oversight (which is never a good thing), this cannot be achieved.  We need to drop the ridiculous assault on Lasix, steroids, and Clenbuterol and focus our attention to the real problems crippling the sport-illegal performance enhancing drugs currently escaping detection and the growth of the “supertrainer”.

    The drugs we know about and currently test for on race days are not the problem.  Synthetics and drugs such as EPO and ITPP are being utilize to give racehorses extra pain relief or extra “wind” inside the final sixteenth.  One only needs to see horses suddenly “re-break” versus their clean competition (horses who are clearly tiring from the normal exertion of a race) to know which trainers are cheating and which are not.

    More importantly, racing jurisdictions have to open their eyes to the incredible damage the rise of the supertrainer is exerting on the game.  The “product” of competitive racing is being destroyed as a smaller minority of trainers continues to control a larger population of horses, especially allowance and stakes quality horses.  This single factor accounts for the trouble racing secretaries have filling races, creating larger competitive fields, and increasing handle through more bets sold.  The seemingly bottomless pit of greed that trainers have to take every horse made available to them is a plague on the sport.  What started with D. Wayne Lukas (the expansion of racing outfits to a national level) has been elevated to dizzying heights by Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen, and others…even up and coming trainers such as Chad Brown are now taking a “acquire as many horses no matter what the cost approach.”  In July alone, Pletcher will have stabled horses in Belmont, Saratoga, Monmouth and Delaware.  These numbers may be as high as 250-300 total horses.  The word in NY is that Chad Brown has 2 2yos for every MSW race at Saratoga, how is this promoting competition in the sport.

    Racing management should be limiting stalls, requiring trainers to establish rosters, and keeping strict records of shippers.  In essence, a few trainers are trying to monopolize a sport.  These policies will break that monopoly and create a more competitive product.  Smaller, but competent trainers, would then have an opportunity to grow their stables, and overall the game gets better overnight.

    Truth is, horse training is not rocket science.  The horse makes the trainer, the jockey, and the owner.  Major propaganda machines, which are nothing more than empty hype, fool unsuspecting owners into believing these supertrainers are the cream of the crop.  The reality is this belief creates a self-fulfilling prophecy because owners send these few trainers all the best horses.

    As evidence, one only needs to look at the leading trainer statistics from the recent AQU and BEL meets.  Higher purses failed to attract a wide array of training outfits over the winter/spring AQU meet, and several trainers dominated while acquiring win percentages of 35-50 pct.  Once BEL arrived, with even higher purses, and a wider array of trainers including many KY outfits, the leading trainers averaged between 15-25% win rates.  These number are more in line with historical statistics.  Moreover, a return to normalcy through increased competition squelches the “doping” rhetoric brought about by 35-50% win rates.  It is important to note, however, that it is not the increased purses that leads to more competitive racing (see the pathetic plight of PA racing where a small percentage of trainers control the racing, field sizes are small, and handle is horribly low), but the influx of a wider diversity of training outfits with competitive horses.

    Racing has many ills, but having to listen to Barry Irwin spout off to Congress that the game is crooked (when in fact we have more comprehensive testing than any other sport outside the Olympics), and we all need to have stakes quality runners, is a waste of time and energy.  Who is he to represent owners when his entire career has been built on the backs and pockets of others.  He is a syndicate owner, a racing manager, not a “prominent” owner as depicted by various bios.  Furthermore, he has a personal agenda…his goals are clearly not altruistic.

    • HorseWhisperer

      Well said Mr Z…watching racing over the past several years has become more difficult as a handful of trainers dominate the game, either through sheer numbers of the use of cutting edge PEDs.  Sadly, losing the great conditions of the past has been the tragedy of this trend.  Gone are NW3Xs, money allowances, and higher priced claimers (while they may run $50K claimers, they are typically maiden or horses that a really worth $20-25K)…In general, racing everywhere not as exciting as it used to be, and its a shame because it doesn’t have to be that way.

      As for Mr. Irwin, I can’t agree more.  His notion that horses overseas race without medication is absurd.  Anyone who is involved with the business, and has either purchased or raced horses in Europe or Asia knows that race day medications make their way into the game just as they do here in the U.S., the only difference, the penalties for getting caught.  Patrick Biancone is banned all over the world for using snake venom, but in the U.S. he gets licensed.  Enough said.  As for Mr. Irwin’s credibility, I’m not buying it…with little oversight in the arena of buying/selling equine athletes, grifters abound…enough said.

      • Hopefieldstables

        No race day meds overseas. No meds the entire race week. We have purchased and raced horses in the UK for 40 years. Bute clearance is 8 days. There is no one giving bute as a “pre race med”. If you want to try it go ahead. Telling yourself that everyone overseas uses race day meds may make you feel better but that would not make it true.

  • Mzebriski

    The use of medication in the equine athlete has been around since the dawn of time.  Pompous rabble rousers such as Barry Irwin continue to insight uninformed politicians in  a quest to mold the sport into the “Utopia” he and others desire.  Even under federal oversight (which is never a good thing), this cannot be achieved.  We need to drop the ridiculous assault on Lasix, steroids, and Clenbuterol and focus our attention to the real problems crippling the sport-illegal performance enhancing drugs currently escaping detection and the growth of the “supertrainer”.

    The drugs we know about and currently test for on race days are not the problem.  Synthetics and drugs such as EPO and ITPP are being utilize to give racehorses extra pain relief or extra “wind” inside the final sixteenth.  One only needs to see horses suddenly “re-break” versus their clean competition (horses who are clearly tiring from the normal exertion of a race) to know which trainers are cheating and which are not.

    More importantly, racing jurisdictions have to open their eyes to the incredible damage the rise of the supertrainer is exerting on the game.  The “product” of competitive racing is being destroyed as a smaller minority of trainers continues to control a larger population of horses, especially allowance and stakes quality horses.  This single factor accounts for the trouble racing secretaries have filling races, creating larger competitive fields, and increasing handle through more bets sold.  The seemingly bottomless pit of greed that trainers have to take every horse made available to them is a plague on the sport.  What started with D. Wayne Lukas (the expansion of racing outfits to a national level) has been elevated to dizzying heights by Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen, and others…even up and coming trainers such as Chad Brown are now taking a “acquire as many horses no matter what the cost approach.”  In July alone, Pletcher will have stabled horses in Belmont, Saratoga, Monmouth and Delaware.  These numbers may be as high as 250-300 total horses.  The word in NY is that Chad Brown has 2 2yos for every MSW race at Saratoga, how is this promoting competition in the sport.

    Racing management should be limiting stalls, requiring trainers to establish rosters, and keeping strict records of shippers.  In essence, a few trainers are trying to monopolize a sport.  These policies will break that monopoly and create a more competitive product.  Smaller, but competent trainers, would then have an opportunity to grow their stables, and overall the game gets better overnight.

    Truth is, horse training is not rocket science.  The horse makes the trainer, the jockey, and the owner.  Major propaganda machines, which are nothing more than empty hype, fool unsuspecting owners into believing these supertrainers are the cream of the crop.  The reality is this belief creates a self-fulfilling prophecy because owners send these few trainers all the best horses.

    As evidence, one only needs to look at the leading trainer statistics from the recent AQU and BEL meets.  Higher purses failed to attract a wide array of training outfits over the winter/spring AQU meet, and several trainers dominated while acquiring win percentages of 35-50 pct.  Once BEL arrived, with even higher purses, and a wider array of trainers including many KY outfits, the leading trainers averaged between 15-25% win rates.  These number are more in line with historical statistics.  Moreover, a return to normalcy through increased competition squelches the “doping” rhetoric brought about by 35-50% win rates.  It is important to note, however, that it is not the increased purses that leads to more competitive racing (see the pathetic plight of PA racing where a small percentage of trainers control the racing, field sizes are small, and handle is horribly low), but the influx of a wider diversity of training outfits with competitive horses.

    Racing has many ills, but having to listen to Barry Irwin spout off to Congress that the game is crooked (when in fact we have more comprehensive testing than any other sport outside the Olympics), and we all need to have stakes quality runners, is a waste of time and energy.  Who is he to represent owners when his entire career has been built on the backs and pockets of others.  He is a syndicate owner, a racing manager, not a “prominent” owner as depicted by various bios.  Furthermore, he has a personal agenda…his goals are clearly not altruistic.

  • Rachel
  • Larry Ensor

    At a cost according to recent reports of more then $2,000,000 each time they voted on it.

  • HorseWhisperer

    Well said Mr Z…watching racing over the past several years has become more difficult as a handful of trainers dominate the game, either through sheer numbers of the use of cutting edge PEDs.  Sadly, losing the great conditions of the past has been the tragedy of this trend.  Gone are NW3Xs, money allowances, and higher priced claimers (while they may run $50K claimers, they are typically maiden or horses that a really worth $20-25K)…In general, racing everywhere not as exciting as it used to be, and its a shame because it doesn’t have to be that way.

    As for Mr. Irwin, I can’t agree more.  His notion that horses overseas race without medication is absurd.  Anyone who is involved with the business, and has either purchased or raced horses in Europe or Asia knows that race day medications make their way into the game just as they do here in the U.S., the only difference, the penalties for getting caught.  Patrick Biancone is banned all over the world for using snake venom, but in the U.S. he gets licensed.  Enough said.  As for Mr. Irwin’s credibility, I’m not buying it…with little oversight in the arena of buying/selling equine athletes, grifters abound…enough said.

  • Sampan

     Thank you very much for adding this link. I know it will help me look at the bigger picture and give me a better understanding of what is going on with the political side of things.

  • Sampan

     I suspected that’s what might have happened. I was reading letters submitted, and in some cases biased scare tactics were used. If people who have an in depth knowledgeable about horse racing and its history, read the submissions by witnesses and sponsors, they should advise members of Congress on the committee when and if there are omissions or distortion of facts. That’s about all we can do. 

  • Sampan

     I was just going through the text of the porposed Bill and here is my first recommendation.

    Partial text from Bill H.R. 1733

     

    (3) requires, for each horse race that is the subject of an
    interstate off-wager, that an accredited third party conformity assessment body
    test for any performance-enhancing drug –

    (A) the first-place horse in the race; and

    (B) one additional horse, to be randomly selected from the
    other horses participating in the race; and

                                     ***

    I would suggest:

    The first-place horse and randomly select either the one
    second, third or fourth place finisher.

    I would further suggest the Stewards have 4 random
    selections on any 4 horses for any reason on the race card for that race day.

                                     ***

    As an example if we look at the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic,
    10th race Nov. 5, 2010 here is how I would use my suggested system of
    selection.

    Test winner, Unrivalled Belle and additional selection It’s
    Tea Time, 4th place finisher and this race had Superfecta wagering.

    I would use one of my random test selections to test Life At
    Ten who was second choice in the wagering and finished last.   

     

  • RayPaulick

    I now regret sending out a Tweet during the Senate hearing that said I would taze Marc Paulhus if given the opportunity until he screams “Don’t taze me bro’.” Marc, you actually make a lot of sense in what you’re saying. 

  • John F. Greenhaw

    Please excuse my pun, but it’s time to quit beating a dead horse!
    I am quite perplexed over the Salix ban?  Years ago,  if a horse showed a propensity to bleed, it was allowed to be administered anti-bleeding medicine.  As salix became in vogue, we all knew it was performance enhancing, so if one or two horses were allowed to race with lasix, it was only  fair to allow all entries to receive the same benefits therefrom.  Presently,  there are few who debut without lasix. 

    In short, I am in agreement with Ms. Moss regarding her well reasoned opinion regarding the lasix ban.  Reason being that if you have invested heavily in a youngster who bleeds, or has shown a likelihood to do so, it is only reasonable to allow a horse to to compete without the chance of ending up with a Demon’s Begone type of incident.  By the way, Demon’s Begone was found to have had Black Flag bug spray shot up his nostrils, but I have no proof of such, but I have very good info that such was the case.  But I regress. 

    If someone can provide me with empirical evidence or proof that salix has caused the problems we are hearing about,  I would be most interested in review of same.  I am just not remotely convinced at this time that salix does anything but help our horses.  If anything, I believe the breeders are responsible for the alleged decline in our  horse’s health.  If you breed to a horse with problems,  you can expect problems.  Simple as that!

    In a time where we are faced with cobra venom and Amazon frog juice, it appears to me that salix is but a diversion.  But I don’t know? 

    • Marc

      There are literally dozens of studies showing furosemide / Lasix / Salix can have deleterious effects on the horse including dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and leaching calcium from bones.  That it enhances performance is well established.  What is much less well established is that it significantly reduces the incidence of bleeding.  In my opinion, Lasix is used because it enhances performance not because it protects bleeders.

      Anecdotal information and stories circulating on the backstretch do not offer an objective view of pre-race furosemide, Lasix, steroids, clenbuterol, etc.  Some trainers are always searching for a magic pill and unwilling to concede that the short-term gains do not justify the long-term risks.

      • Hopefieldstables

         Well said

    • Tinky

      “If you breed to a horse with problems,  you can expect problems.  Simple as that!”

      Ironic that you would make that point, given that Lasix clearly masks bad bleeding problems in racehorses. So how, precisely, would you suggest that responsible breeders’ avoid such horses in a permissive medication environment?

  • John F. Greenhaw

    Please excuse my pun, but it’s time to quit beating a dead horse!
    I am quite perplexed over the Salix ban?  Years ago,  if a horse showed a propensity to bleed, it was allowed to be administered anti-bleeding medicine.  As salix became in vogue, we all knew it was performance enhancing, so if one or two horses were allowed to race with lasix, it was only  fair to allow all entries to receive the same benefits therefrom.  Presently,  there are few who debut without lasix. 

    In short, I am in agreement with Ms. Moss regarding her well reasoned opinion regarding the lasix ban.  Reason being that if you have invested heavily in a youngster who bleeds, or has shown a likelihood to do so, it is only reasonable to allow a horse to to compete without the chance of ending up with a Demon’s Begone type of incident.  By the way, Demon’s Begone was found to have had Black Flag bug spray shot up his nostrils, but I have no proof of such, but I have very good info that such was the case.  But I regress. 

    If someone can provide me with empirical evidence or proof that salix has caused the problems we are hearing about,  I would be most interested in review of same.  I am just not remotely convinced at this time that salix does anything but help our horses.  If anything, I believe the breeders are responsible for the alleged decline in our  horse’s health.  If you breed to a horse with problems,  you can expect problems.  Simple as that!

    In a time where we are faced with cobra venom and Amazon frog juice, it appears to me that salix is but a diversion.  But I don’t know? 

  • Marc

    There are literally dozens of studies showing furosemide / Lasix / Salix can have deleterious effects on the horse including dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and leaching calcium from bones.  That it enhances performance is well established.  What is much less well established is that it significantly reduces the incidence of bleeding.  In my opinion, Lasix is used because it enhances performance not because it protects bleeders.

    Anecdotal information and stories circulating on the backstretch do not offer an objective view of pre-race furosemide, Lasix, steroids, clenbuterol, etc.  Some trainers are always searching for a magic pill and unwilling to concede that the short-term gains do not justify the long-term risks.

  • Hopefieldstables

    No race day meds overseas. No meds the entire race week. We have purchased and raced horses in the UK for 40 years. Bute clearance is 8 days. There is no one giving bute as a “pre race med”. If you want to try it go ahead. Telling yourself that everyone overseas uses race day meds may make you feel better but that would not make it true.

  • Hopefieldstables

     Well said

  • Tinky

    “If you breed to a horse with problems,  you can expect problems.  Simple as that!”

    Ironic that you would make that point, given that Lasix clearly masks bad bleeding problems in racehorses. So how, precisely, would you suggest that responsible breeders’ avoid such horses in a permissive medication environment?

Twitter