Motion Joins WHOA, Calls For A ‘National Governing Body’

by | 01.09.2018 | 6:15pm
Graham Motion

Leading North American trainer H. Graham Motion has joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) as the latest member in a growing list of trainers who support efforts for passage of The Horseracing Integrity Act.  To date, 65 trainers are represented on WHOA's roster, including Hall of Famers Roger Attfield, Michael Dickinson, Neil Drysdale, and Jonathan Sheppard, as well as leading international trainers Ian Balding, John Gosden, Alec Head, Criquette Head-Maarek and Gai Waterhouse.

In a statement to WHOA, Motion shared the following:

From what I have seen WHOA is the only group that is making a serious effort to form a national governing body with uniform rules and penalties covering all 38 racing jurisdictions and in sync with international rules of racing (IFHA) bringing transparency and integrity to US racing.

I have held off joining WHOA up until now, but frustration with the lack of a governing body continues to become more apparent as shown by the problems that several horsemen including myself have experienced in the last few years.

There is a lack of understanding as to how complicated the medication rules have become from state to state and there seems to be a desire from the powers that be to trip us up rather than guide us through these issues.

We cannot compare ourselves to other countries when it comes to medication infractions. In the US we are allowed certain medications within a closer time frame to race day and in my mind herein lies the problem.

There is only one solution and that is a governing body with guidelines similar to other countries where common sense and uniform rules are used. Despite the sensitivity of testing, little has changed with regards to the environment in which our samples are handled.  This also would be better addressed by a group that would oversee all testing protocols. Without change we will continue to give our industry a black eye.

Graham Motion

Herringswell Stables

Graham Motion was born in Cambridge, England in May 1964 and was raised at Newmarket's Herringswell Manor Stud operated by his parents Michael and Jo.

Michael was an international bloodstock agent and North American representative for Tattersalls, the British bloodstock sales company. Jo rode as an amateur in England and took care of the 1951 (Aintree) Grand National winner Nickel Coin before becoming an assistant trainer in the U.S. Jo now owns a successful tack shop in Middleburg, VA.

The family moved to the U.S. in 1980 where Graham attended and graduated from Kent in Connecticut.

Andrew, Graham's younger brother, also a WHOA member, was the Thoroughbred manager at Lazy Lane Farm in Virginia for 10 years before turning to consultancy work. He now owns his own sales consignment company.

Graham's career began with six years working with Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, during which he traveled extensively with four-time Eclipse award winning steeplechaser Flatterer. This was followed by time with trainer Jonathan Pease in Chantilly, France.  While in Chantilly, Graham met his future wife, Anita, who was working at the time for Alain de Royer-Dupre.

Returning to the U.S. in 1990, Graham went to work as assistant to Bernard (Bernie) P. Bond. On Bernie's death in 1993, two owners left their horses with Graham, who took out his trainer's license at that time.

Motion finished in the top ten of all Maryland conditioners nine times, including seven straight years from 1995 through 2001.  He won the 1,000th race of his career in 2006 and entered 2015 with more than 1,900 wins and more than $97 million in purse earnings.

~ Better Talk Now was his breakout horse in 2004 when he won the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf.

~ In 2010, Shared Account won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

~ In 2011, Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby and the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old male in North America.

~ In 2013, Animal Kingdom won the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

~ In 2014, Main Sequence won the Breeders' Cup Turf and three other Grade 1 stakes en route to Eclipse Awards as Champion Male Turf Horse and Champion Older Male.

~ In 2015, Ring Weekend won the G1 Kilroe Mile. Photo Call won the G1 Rodeo Drive S. Main Sequence won G2 Mac Diarmida S. Hoop of Colour won the G2 Santa Ana H. Miss Ella won the G2 Beaumont.

~ In 2016, Miss Temple City won the G1 Maker's Mark Mile and Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, as well as the G1 Matriarch at Del Mar.

~ In 2017,  Ascend won the G1 Manhattan Handicap. Irish War Cry won the G2 Wood Memorial and ran 2nd in the G1 Belmont Stakes. Maya Malibu placed in the G1 Spinaway and G1 Frizette Stakes. Untamed Domain won the G2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine and ran 2nd in the G1 BC Juvenile Turf.

Graham and Anita live in Fair Hill, MD with their two children, Jane and Marcus.

  • dave

    no drugs in his horses

    • The Smallguy

      Not correct. He has been caught as he stated and he also stated that he participates in giving medications closer to Races then other countries allow. He’s playing to game too, he’s just more knowledgeable then most that get caught more frequently. He has a choice to run natural or clean. But he wants to be a leading trainer so he pushes the envelope like all the other leading trainers that cheat. He can’t have it both ways. The only losers here are the horses. The bettors know who’s dirty and that’s who they bet on.

      • dave

        hes more knowledgeable than THE BIG B, AND THE BIG T, LOOK AT THE STATS DUDE!

        • dave

          no horses dropping over in his barn?

          • dave

            how many medical violations did he have in his training career?

        • Big G

          BUT NOT THE BIG G.

          • dave

            you sure your not the big D?

          • Big G

            nope ,,there’s only one BIG G. AND THATS ME BABY.

      • Dear Smallguy: I humbly suggest that you don’t have enough of an understanding about what you write about to making these comments. You assume an awful lot and extrapolate from there. Bone up on the topic so that your contributions are more worthwhile. BTW, how tall are you, anyway?

      • Ben van den Brink

        Just do as the others do, that in itself will create a level playing filed.

      • Baloo

        One violation
        Only a know-nothing would accuse him of being a cheat

  • Steve

    That’s great that Graham is joining WHOA but it would be nice if he fulfilled his duties as a board member of the MTHA instead of sunning himself in Florida. Laurel has had at least 9 horses go down both in the morning and afternoon because of the track condition. Everyone knows the MTHA is a popularity contest and not a true organization that supports its horseman and trainers!

  • Peter Scarnati

    “….Despite the sensitivity of testing, little has changed with regards to the environment in which our samples are handled,…..” Motion says.
    Interesting.
    Rather than complaining about such matters, how about training and racing with without medication in the first place? Isn’t that what WHOA (you know, water, hay oats alliance) is supposed to mean anyway?

    • Because he doesn’t want to be forced to play with his hands tied behind his back?

  • McGov

    Mr. Motion is an excellent trainer and represents our sport very well. IMO he does things the way they should be done…he’s a true horseman.
    It’s great to see him sign onto WHOA, it’s a good fit :)

  • I congratulate Graham Motion for taking this courageous stand. It is not easy for an American trainer to make this move because of peer pressure. I know that Graham didn’t always feel this way, but when one is embroiled in a system that is unfair and cumbersome, it does tend to change one’s perspective. Ask Bill Mott! I feel sorry for all participants in American racing, from owners to trainers, for having to be involved in an enterprise where the fans of the sport apparently have been unable to distinguish between an overage for a so-called therapeutic drug and an illegal substance. I do not hold an overage against an American trainer unless that individual is chronically involved or is using legal meds in a manner to create a different impact by stacking. I do hold it against connections that use illegal drugs, such as EPO (and its derivatives) and designer drugs. I make the dividing line between cheaters and honest horsemen their intent. If they do not intend to cheat, I cut them slack. If their intent is to take an edge by cheating with illegal substances, I have no use for them. Until state regulatory bodies start to get more serious about investigating and identifying cheaters, it will be up to people like me to do their best to figure out who the cheaters are. Jerry Brown and Andy Beyer have a pretty good line on who these cads are. Professional and serious handicappers of form also have a very good idea of who they are. And for sure rival trainers know who they are. I leave you with this one anecdote to illustrate my point., Two trainers of considerable accomplishment were chatting late last year. One said to the other “You know how every half dozen years or so you come up with a horse that can come his last quarter in :22 and change, and you get so excited to finally have one like that? Well that guy (fill in the blanks) over there, well, he has a barrel full of them right now!”

    • Michael Castellano

      I, like many, have a pretty good idea who the cheats are, and that includes some of the biggest and smallest names in the sport. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so hard to change things for the better. I don’t think cycling ever recovered after the Lance Armstrong affair. Does racing have a similar fate waiting for it? I recently “handicapped” an $80 horse by deducing the trainer was cheating/juicing his horse, as the horse was placed way over his head and hadn’t raced in 6 months. And sadly but honestly, a serious handicapper has to consider this factor along with many others.

      • You have described racing in its modern incarnation.

      • Doug Bennett

        ‘Twas the Parx shipper Zanotti,
        Who was bet by nearly nobody.

        As a handicapper, these situations actually create great betting opportunities. But I’d be happy to forgo these dream betting setups if the benefit were a sound, growing sport where clean trainers felt they could compete, big field sizes, more handle because people felt the sport was clean etc.

        • Michael Castellano

          I resisted placing bets on such suspicions for a long time. But we see this pattern quite often today. It used to be that horses almost always got a prep race off a layoff or an easy race before being moved up. Now we see that horses run in the top races more frequently off relatively long layoffs. It may not be an automatic sign that something is amiss, but in the case I mentioned it practically jumped out at me.

    • Doug Bennett

      Until there are uniform rules and a comprehensive governing body to root them out, keep giving ’em hell, Mr. Irwin!

      “…however the world was made, it was not made without much waste and litter; and truth itself must first come true.”

    • Kincsem

      Very well said. Unfortunately it’s too common in situations where trainers and owners fuel each other in regards to cheating. I very much appreciate your feedback on how you conduct your business as it is a model example.

      Now as far as fill in the blank is concerned, I suppose we can start with Mr. 67% win rate over at Golden Gate.

    • Really?

      I think the vast majority of trainers would wholeheartedly support WHOA if it wasn’t combined in the past with banning lasix. We hate treating horses with lasix but until more research yields effective alternatives we feel it protects many horses.

    • McGov

      I think repeat offenders regarding drug overages of any kind should be subject to random, out of competition testing, as a condition of their license reinstatement.
      We need to spend our resources on these individuals and take a much closer look. We need to ask more questions, and get more answers.
      It is a mockery to watch and everyone knows who….that part, is not rocket science….but catching them, apparently is.
      Or is it? We already have the technology to measure changes 24/7 in the body. All changes.
      Dot eh….meet dot be.

      • Baloo

        No.
        ALL barns should be subject to OOCT
        Period

        • McGov

          I’m not disagreeing with you…..but….
          Let’s win a couple of allowances races before we enter in a G1 …type thing ;)
          If part of the penalty system includes oversight like random, out of competition testing, it would be a good start. ANY three strikes and you either are systematically flawed and need to be reeducated or are cheating with the intent of profit. Which, IMO, should be a crime. Who’s money are you stealing exactly and how many bad tricks did you have to do to steal it???
          It is 2018, does it not seem time yet for us to take this even a weeee bit seriously?? How exactly do other sports catch their athletes hmmmmm lol.

    • Baloo

      Just look for the guy who has horses regularly re- break at the eighth pole…

  • William Nader

    Every country allows medications but the general rule outside of North America is medication free on race day. America needs uniformity among its 38 jurisdictions under guidelines that are easily understood by horsemen and regulators under the umbrella of fairness and integrity.

  • Birdy2

    Great news, and I am now totally in love with Graham Motion… not in THAT way… but in the way I love everyone who does right by the horses who give us their all.

    • James Wale

      How are you doing

  • realfan

    I believe one of the most nefarious forms of cheating is the use/abuse of synthetic EPO. It seems to be impossible to detect, unless blood samples are kept for extended periods and then studied for patterns. I think that was ultimately how Lance Armstrong was caught. It is suspicious to me to see apparently healthy horses trained for months, logging steady works yet only race once every two months or so, and race superbly. I suppose without proper testing and study there is little way of knowing if such patterns can be construed as utilizing a steady supply of blood doping agents to improve performance or not. Perhaps a ruling body could help determine this and take action to clean it up.

    • Baloo

      And OOCT all year long might just wipe out the most egregious cheats, but CRISPR is probably already being toyed with …

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