Andrew Cohen not rooting for ‘Another’
Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic writes that while he would like to see a Triple Crown winner, he’s hoping I’ll Have Another does not become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to accomplish that feat. Cohen, like many others, thinks that racing needs a Triple Crown winner to bring the sport back into the spotlight. The problem with I’ll Have Another being the horse to bring it back is the spotlight it would put on trainer Doug O’Neill, his issues with allegations of drugging horses, and drug use in the sport in general. The spotlight would highlight the issues horse racing has with not just use of drugs in racing, but also the problems it has enforcing rules.
Doug O’Neill, for example, is fighting allegations that he milkshaked a horse in 2010. He faces the possibility of a 180-day suspension for an act that occurred two years ago. He asked for, and was granted, a stay of suspension until a hearing could be held on the issue.
Cohen writes: “Can you imagine any professional sport or enterprise tolerating such a delay between the announcement of an offense and the disposition of one? There is an entire class of trainers, in both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing, whose members go about their daily jobs under suspended sentences–in legal limbo but free to make a living, earn more purse money, and create the kind of gash marks on the sport that O’Neill’s case has created over the past two weeks.”
Cohen continues: “The scandal here is that the industry has treated O’Neill no differently than thousands of other suspected trainers, jockeys and drivers over the past decades. I understand the presumption of innocence as much as the next fellow. But there is a difference between protecting that presumption and living up to the responsibility that racing participants have toward one another–and toward the public. The sooner the industry bridges this gulf, the stronger it will be.”
This leads Cohen to question whether or not I’ll Have Another winning the Triple Crown is actually a good thing. It would bring a spotlight to racing, but the spotlight would highlight the problems, not the triumphs.