ARCI’s Martin: Cheating Not ‘Ubiquitous’ In Racing

by | 02.01.2017 | 1:54pm
Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International

Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, submitted the following as a rebuttal to a recent two-part series in the Paulick Report, written by former Indiana Horse Racing Commission executive director Joe Gorajec. Those articles, dealing with what Gorajec referred to as a “culture of cheating,” can be read here as part one and part two.

I read with great interest and sadness the latest opinion pieces implying that most everyone in racing is dirty and those responsible for policing the sport just don't give a damn. Frankly this drumbeat is getting boorish.

The latest installments were authored by my friend and former colleague Joe Gorajec who in the past has consulted for something called the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, an entity bankrolled by those pursuing a political agenda in Washington. (Editor's note: The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity membership includes Breeders' Cup Ltd., Consignors and Breeders Association, the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, The Jockey Club, The Jockey Club of Canada, Keeneland Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the Water Hay Oats Alliance.)

Mr. Gorajec claims that non-Lasix race-day injections with performance enhancements are commonplace as is the falsification of veterinary records and filings with racing commissions. He offers no proof, just belief, yet his comments throw red meat at a constituency eager to believe anything bad about their local racing cops.

If what he claims was so commonplace then surely he would have a long litany of prosecutions to point to. Even though the Indiana Horse Racing Commission has prosecuted such infractions, as have most other racing regulatory agencies, such incidents are not as prevalent as Joe would have people believe.

With over 96,000 horse races in the U.S. each year and commissions on guard against the race-day use of illegal drugs, the instances of these violations have been remote, even in Indiana when Joe was on the job.   The data shows that the commissions have found cheaters everywhere, but that doesn't mean that everywhere and every time you look you find cheating.

Joe implies that the lack of universal adoption of the Association of Racing Commissioners International Model Rule requiring the independent administration of furosemide (Lasix) is indicative of a lax attitude toward doping. That is fantasy. If anyone thinks that getting the vet out of the stall on race day will guarantee against illegal drug administrations, I have a bridge to sell you. Those hell bent on cheating will just find a way to work around it.   The rule may and does help, but it is but one piece of a much larger effort.

As one who has been in the trenches on these issues for the past 20 years, what is needed is: increased electronic surveillance; more boots-on-the-ground investigators; aggressive research into designer drugs and emerging threats; a dedicated way to pay for all this as well as expanded testing; AND a lot less politics.

Increased out-of-competition testing can have a deterrent effect.   On this Joe and I agree.   But Lance Armstrong proved to the world that this is no panacea as he beat the tests over 200 times before getting caught thanks to an informant.

During Joe's last year with Indiana, 10 percent of their commission's tests were out of competition.   But he didn't catch anyone or find anything with these tests. While many commissions already are moving to do more such tests, some of our most senior experts warn that we may be putting the cart before the horse absent greatly expanded research into emerging threats and designer drugs.

While I have no argument with Joe's claim that there are cheaters, I disagree with the attitude that cheating is ubiquitous. The testing and enforcement data is not supportive of that claim. That does not mean it doesn't happen or that we should ever stop looking for new and better ways to police the sport. Suspicious vigilance is a constant necessity.

Just as it does the sport a disservice to deny a problem, it is an equal disservice to overstate a problem or portray it as something unique to our sport when it is not.

Combatting doping in sport is not a match race between anti-doping agencies who face the same problem in their individual sports. Greater cohesion, sharing of resources, research and intelligence would serve both racing and human sport better than the “us vs. them” mentality used so destructively in political campaigns.

  • Peter Scarnati

    Hmm. I read both of Mr. Gorajec’s articles and never once did I have the impression “…that most everyone in racing is dirty and those responsible for policing the sport just don’t give a damn,” as Mr. Martin so brazenly states. In fact, I’m rather taken aback by Mr. Martin’s rather abrasive commentary above. Seems border-line unprofessional.
    On the lighter side, I find it laughable that Mr. Martin first states his belief that third party Lasix administration is no big deal, as he goes on to later state “more boots on the ground” are needed. Doesn’t Mr. Martin think highly enough of State Vets for them to be considered “boots on the ground?”
    And, by the way, I don’t think anyone believes that third party Lasix administration will “guarantee against illegal drug administrations,” as Martin, again rather brazenly, states. It is merely one of many steps which could be (painlessly) taken to combat this problem. If Mr. Martin doesn’t believe this to be a reasonable position, I have a bridge to sell HIM.

    • Ed Martin

      I am a supporter of third party lasix and have been part of the effort to help implement it. That being said, it’s not the be all, end all. That is my point. It helps, but those hell bent on cheating will work to find a way around it. The regulatory vets are an essential part of the effort, but their primary role is to ensure that horses that should not be running in a race are scratched. When I was Executive Director in NY I had former DEA agents, police investigators, former trainers, and former horse people augmenting the state vets as part of our investigative team. That, my friend, is what I mean about “boots on the ground”.

      • Guest

        No. That’s not how regulatory veterinarians work. In jurisdictions with third party Lasix, on any given race day, one group of regulatory veterinarians administers Lasix, and another group of veterinarians examines horses.

        • Belinda W

          Not to mention the pre race vet checks are completely laughable. Oh yes run your hands quickly down the legs , jog out 15 yard most times in soft dirt or sand , turn around and come back. For God’s sake it takes them more time to verify the tattoo than to “examine” for race soundness. Not to mention “therapuetic applications” of nsaids can be just enough to mask lameness. No drugs no problems. Seems pretty simple to me.

          • Guest

            If that’s so, why do trainers scream long and loud when a horse is scratched pre-race? If you don’t think this happens, you haven’t spent much time on a backstretch.

            As for NSAIDs – NSAIDs test. It’s easy to detect NSAIDs. The person who mentioned ice and other strategies to pass the vet knows what really goes on in the AM on race day.

          • Lehane

            Spot on.

      • And where are those boots today? And did you catch any of these phantom cheats?

  • Pete Sundar

    I have been involved in various capacities in racing for over forty years, and given up the sport recently because of cheating. Quite sadly, this problem is magnified when there ostriches like Mr. Martin who ought to know better, but bewildering proclaim that “cheating is not ubiquitous.” Maybe Mr. Martin is simply/willfully ignorant of the fact that 83 % of America’s top 100 trainers were at some time or another either suspended or fined for drug/rules violations.

    • Mr J

      You gave up the sport (for now) because you lost all your money,so you’re blaming your losses on cheating. Keeping it real Pete

  • Tinky

    This:

    I disagree with the attitude that cheating is ubiquitous. The testing and enforcement data is not supportive of that claim.

    is both a straw man, and dishonest. How about “widespread”, Ed? Do you disagree with that assertion?

    As for the “supportive data”, this the same, tired old refrain from those with their heads in the sand (or worse) on the issue. How many times need it be pointed out that most cheating is accomplished with undetectable substances, so of course the “testing and enforcement data” does not support claims of widespread cheating!

    and this:

    If anyone thinks that getting the vet out of the stall on race day will guarantee against illegal drug administrations, I have a bridge to sell you. Those hell bent on cheating will just find a way to work around it.

    The first sentence is yet another straw man, as not a single person has argued that it would “guarantee” anything.

    The second line is spoken like someone who is keen to rationalize an inability to be effective. It is a not-so-tacit admission that those serious about cheating can and do get away with it! And yet we’re to believe that it’s not widespread?

    Please.

    • mikec

      Pea brain know it all with the usual “straw man” bullcrap. Plenty of “unannounced” testing going on right here in NY revealed nothing in the way of positives. Cheating goes on but it is nowhere near rampant except in the mind of the conspiracy idiots

      • Tinky

        Whenever you post something, it’s odd-on to be self-parody.

        Oh, and while it’s clear that you don’t understand the meaning of the expression “straw man”, you might want to also look up the word “undetectable”.

        • mikec

          You are a conspiracy blowhard without any first hand knowledge of testing, OOCT, barn raids and more that repeatedly yield ZERO. And right everybody has undectable illegal stuff and this far flung cheating never yields someone caught

    • johnnyknj

      Right. Anyone who does not think cheating, in one or another of its many forms, is at least “widespread”, is either clueless or advancing an agenda.

      • Meydan Rocks

        Please expound. Thank you.

        • johnnyknj

          What would you like to know? Electrolyte paste or wind-aid given in the receiving barn? Of course. Pre-racing with cool n calm the morning of? Yup. Cobalt? Check. Clenbuterol four days out? Roger. Synthetic blood boosters? Oh yeah. Joint injections four days out? Yessir. Shocking and blocking? What do you think?

          • Meydan Rocks

            My Goodness! I’m going to need a research break.

    • Michael Castellano

      We’ve all seen the form reversals after a horse gets claimed, and the subsequent “improvement” usually lasts for a few races and wears off. What miracle do you think is being performed in these cases? Sure, it could be an equipment, training or rider change, but some trainers do this at a very high success rate. If you go to a place like Parx, you can virtually “handicap” and bet on the trainers doing this.

  • SteveTG

    If Mr. Martin’s position mirrors the prevailing opinion among decision-makers in our sport, a position that is decades old, then I do not think we will ever see serious reform enacted from within the industry. He sounds out of touch. Stake-holders are either unwilling or unable, or a little of both, to upset the apple cart. I believe their primary motive for supporting the status quo while covering the thousand cuts with a thousand band-aids is pure irrational fear. They believe, wrongly, that to turn over all the rocks would lead to massive bettor flight instead of a needed increase of confidence in the integrity of the game. Both Hong Kong & Japan are reformed models (after declines from loss of bettor confidence) that now flourish. It is short-sighted & ignorant to line your pockets today when you may have to hock your suit tomorrow.

    This is the primary reason that fashioning effective regulation & meaningful punishment must be taken out of the hands of industry decision-makers & into uniform wholeness. For if the current crop of bosses have proven one thing it’s that they are expert at keeping their jobs while bouncing from crisis to crisis. As bettors, fans & participants we deserve a better shake, the honest owners & trainers deserve a better shake than the corrupt (and it’s clear no one knows how corrupt) sport we somehow continue to support.

    • Belinda W

      Steve you get it.

    • wmk3400

      Steve, I have never owned a racehorse or worked at a racetrack and I have no desire to. With that said your statement “they believe, wrongly, that to turn over all the rocks would lead to massive bettor flight instead of a needed increase of confidence in the integrity of the game.” is absolutely spot on. I am far more suspicious of never hearing of chicanery being uncovered and the miscreants punished than when I do. When cheaters are thrown out and/or prosecuted it increases my confidence in the game.

      To those who rationalize everything and stick their heads in the sand go ahead. You aren’t going to be getting racino money forever. Sooner or later it will be sink or swim. If you don’t try to keep your industry clean I know which of those I’m betting on.

      • SteveTG

        There is a very long history of opacity rather than transparency in the sport. One can read Pittsburgh Phil, the famous punter, who operated somewhere around 120 years ago. He wrote beware & know the hopped up horse, the doped up horse. He also held a trainer’s license & knew of what he spoke about both ends of the game. It would be correct to conclude there has always been corruption. That legacy is what bolsters the status quo & doesn’t present well as an excuse to continue on in the same way.

        If the game is as clean as apologists for the status quo purport, they should welcome the most rigorous, most diligent oversight to prove their point. Instead, they equivocate.

        Also, it’s been often said that the sport is its own worst enemy & in many ways that’s true. However, the real enemy waits outside the gate. They don’t care about bettors, handle, track survival, how trainers will make a living once the sport is shut down despite it being a cash cow to interests outside the sport. They view every manipulation of form through undetectable substances, the over-use of perfectly legal meds to mask injury, the overages, the breakdowns, the injuries as animal abuse. If one loves horses mmore than racing it’s hard to disagree in the strict sense of it. The general public that doesn’t care one whit for racing lands with them, not us. If that faction mobilizes effectively it would be naive indeed to think the sport is bullet-proof. That’s why reform shouldn’t be considered optional but mandatory.

  • Jack Frazier

    Reading this fantasy, if this is the way racing is viewing the problem, they are dead wrong and nothing will change. The easiest way to stop all this nonsense is the limit the time a veterinarian can be in any one barn and put their name on the racing form on every horse they treat. It would not take long for everyone to know which horses to bet. I trained horses at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Los Alamitos, Golden Gate and San Luis Rey as well as the fairs, and I can tell you the trainers and veterinarians who are cheating, . There are some trainers who have a vet truck sitting in front of their barn from opening to closing every day of the week. There are trainers who average $1,500 per month in veterinary work on every horse in their barn and these are supposedly healthy horses. If they need that much medication, they do not need to be on the track. I have spoken to owners who after winning a race, received only a token amount after the vet fee, training fee, jockey fees and other fees were taken from their winnings.

    Inspector Clousseau, in his bumbling manner, could find these culprits in a heartbeat. This article is pure hyperbole and in my opinion, completely clueless in its conclusions. As a trainer who quit racing in California because there is no way a trainer can play the game and win with the drug cheating climate that permeates racing here. Other than observing a race on television or maybe going for an afternoon of just watching, I will never own or train a horse in California again. I imagine there would be ramification should I choose to but I really have nothing to lose so I will continue to make my observations. Whether people believe what I say or not is irrelevant too. I don’t need the aggravation of having to try to compete against people I know use PED’s and drugs we don’t even know are being used. If the FDA would not hold drugs in a five year period before letting them be marketed, the cheating might be curtailed but these folks know they have a five year window to use drugs that have the same effect as banned drugs and yet there is no test because they haven’t developed a test for them since they are not supposed to be on the market.

    This is an attempt to say nothing is going on and it is all in our imagination. Baloney.

    • Will Styles

      I really don’t think cheating is rampant with the majority of trainers. How ever I know some top trainers have their own compounding labs but it’s very few.

      • Erin Casseday

        Which ones?

      • Racing Fan

        If cheating is 20-30%, which it is, then it’s rampant. 5% is too many. Doesn’t have to be a “majority”.

        • Jack Frazier

          It is rampant. Count the number of vets working the backside. They are the enablers and the place to start if they really want to stop it. There are good vets so I don’t want to throw them all under the bus, but look who are driving new trucks and cars.

        • Will Styles

          Where is all the cheating? Who is doing all the cheating? Most horse trainers I know can barely pay their own bills and are chasing down owners to pay them on time. I sure do see a lot more jealousy among barns and outfits upset with their competition that’s winning races. They always blame the outfits winning races for cheating instead of looking at why their program isn’t performing. Either way their won’t be much of a sport to regulate in 10 years or so. Most tracks will go under and their will be even less horses to run. What’s killing horse racing and running off owners is the CORRUPTION in these racing offices and stewards offices. Some of these people in positions of power don’t even have high school degrees.

          • Racing Fan

            Parx, California, Louisiana. When people win at 30%, it’s not the training methods, my friend. What was Charlie Whittingham’s career win %? 18% – training blue blooded horses.

          • Will Styles

            Yea but there were full fields back then. It’s easier to win at 30% in 5 to 7 horse fields then it is to win in 12 horse fields. Not to mention their were alot more quality horsemen and horses Whittingham had to face back then.

      • Jack Frazier

        It is rampant and any effort to say otherwise is naïve.

    • Leo M

      Hi Jack. Thank you for your honest and heartfelt opinions. I’m glad that someone has the guts to come out and tell it like it is. I believe you 100% because you have nothing to gain from your comments except making the public aware. My utmost respect for you Mr. Frazier.

      • Horsesfirst

        Ed Martin is in denial. The labs and on grounds surveillance are hopelessly underfunded that it is easy to escape detection. He does not know what he does not know. When the truth comes out it will make him look foolish.

        • Jack Frazier

          I’m not so sure it is denial. I think he is trying to distract from the real issue and doesn’t have a clue. What he says is nonsense and hyperbole. The whole organization he speaks for are gutless wonders.

    • Bristling

      The commission in PA know who and what they’re doing, they just don’t care !!!!!! They never step foot in the trainers barns at anytime just to make their presence known. Also the trainers are in they’re barn early in the morning way before anyone in the commission wakes up and also after 5 o clock when the commission is gone home.

      • Jack Frazier

        As do those in California but those trainers are “protected” by the very body that could do something about it and won’t.

      • billy

        You 2 guys right here get it…..it’s sad for everyone it’s all for the money and not for the horse right now in pa preciado license suspended indefintly Chloe bradley girlfriend of suspended trainer same horses same track same connections but yet nothin but a turned cheek it’s disgusting for the honest guy to deal with the guy with ethics and morals for his horse gets ran over by the tracks doing what they can to have full fields they care about filling races and generating revenue that is it the horse is not their problem not their worry it becomes a trickle down effect the guy that cares doesn’t do much for the track the guy that runs alot of horses sore or not uses the therapeutics to keep them going because all he cares about is the money gets a pass in a sense because he keeps the racing wheel greased and its good for everyone involved the tracks vets farriers everyone except the horse there just the means to make it happen the tracks and commissions will allow this because it’s good for them and their buissness and there’s nobody there to tell them they can’t in my mind if an amateur such as myself can see these things I’m not sure how the pros miss it which I’m sure they don’t

  • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

    Well, nothing wrong with getting tougher and that is what they should do.

  • McGov

    First, let’s start with the obvious. Cheaters use drugs to cheat that are NOT being tested for. So, if you test every single horse, every single day, and you are not testing for the right metabolites, then you are chasing your own tail.
    Next, let’s talk about the WAYS that people cheat. There are jockeys that stiff horses or use devices; trainers that ensure a horse keeps its conditions for an eternity; barn staff that use anything from an assortment of ridiculous elixirs to ice, to ensure passing vet inspections on race day; racing officials and all the different ways they ‘help’ certain people; vets and the systematic drugging of every problem and so called race preparedness ( hard to imagine describing their work as ‘ ethical’)………phew….out of breath there Ed…..best to not to keep going lest we start to talk about the corruption beyond the boundaries of race properties…ya know, perhaps one might say the REAL problem in racing.
    Solutions…..we need solutions that mean something and it starts with understanding that we don’t need to invent the wheel of awesome solutions regarding corruption and cheating. Just take a peak at how others in the world handle it ….maybe borrow an idea from our friends ..it’s not that shameful of a thing really ;)

    • Leo M

      Very well said. Here’s one idea, a life time ban for any offender from groom to owner. This way, each would police each other to insure that everyone on the team is being legit. It’s fantasy, but would that be cool if it happened?

      • Jack Frazier

        I would not ban grooms. They follow the dictates of the trainer. I would ban for a time the horses, the trainer and owners who enable the cheaters. Won’t happen because they don’t want to change the status quo.

        • Minneola

          If they did ban a trainer or owner, would they be more inclined to find someone who is not as well known as compared to a well-known one? For instance, if they found a well-known trainer to be cheating, would that change the results of previous wins? Or, would those wins, which might become questionable, be allowed to stand? You mention “status quo” and that prompted my questions.

          • Jack Frazier

            I really don’t think they have a clue on how to fix this very nefarious problem that permeates racing. Everyone has an opinion but in fact, it is so engrained in the culture of the backside, trainers and veterinarians who are enabled by the front offices, the governing body and people who are afraid that if they go after the big cheaters, it will destroy racing. Those big names who are cheating know this and hold it like an anvil over the heads of those who could affect change.
            Those who can change if have to have the intestinal fortitude to do it regardless of who is caught in the web of deceit. They will however, as you suggest, go after a small fry instead of the big fish. It would not change anything other than like Mark McGuire, who broke so many records in baseball, has an asterisk after his name and will not get into the HOF for baseball.
            The status quo I am speaking of is the folks who could fix the problem turning their heads in spite of knowing who it is. It is no secret to those who race horses who is doing it but those who are cheating know they have carte blanche because they will not be punished until those who they are using their drugs against stand up and say no more, and they won’t because they fear retribution from those in power and rightly so.
            I don’t really believe they want to ban anyone but this lip service that has been dragging on for decades is their way of saying, “We are trying.” No they are not. It is stuff and nonsense. The only thing I can do is not race anymore and that is a travesty. I have been involved, until 2014, as a jockey, trainer and owner but no more. The playing field is not level and it will never be as long as the people in power retain their power.

          • Minneola

            ” …are afraid that if they go after the big cheaters, it will destroy racing.” That is what I have suspected as well. There have been some very loud whispers about a top trainer or two and their reliance on cheating in order to win (and with some evidence of doing things that harm their horses). Yet, nothing happens. Why not? For the reason that you stated: A fear of having this being exposed to those outside the racing world. But, don’t those of the status quo realize that it may be that someone from the outside will do this and without the fear of retribution? It can happen. Those that produced the film “Blackfish” ended Sea World’s Orcas act. Doesn’t the status quo in racing understand that they are being passive rather than staying ahead of the curve by getting rid of the cheaters and, instead, “leveling that playing field?” Might there might be a way of doing so without having this be front page news and, thereby, protecting racing, at the same time?

          • Jack Frazier

            No. It is going to take draconian measure to get rid of the cheaters. It is like a cancer and at some point it is going to metastasize, at which point many of those in racing will either have left or will leave. An analogy of this problem is like a person having a huge boil on their nose and instead of taking care of the problem, use make-up to cover it up. I really do not believe those who could fix it have the balls to fix it.

          • Minneola

            I wish I could say, otherwise, but I am going to have to agree with you, 100%. I’m, by temperament, a positive-minded person. But, in this case, yes, draconian means.

          • McGov

            Well, if someone doesn’t fix it the result will likely be a combination of carnival meets organised crime with a few big Fairs to appease. No sport. No fair business. No confidence. No future.

          • Jack Frazier

            No, it will just dwindle away. It won’t be fixed either because they really don’t want to stir up a hornets nest if they go after the big guys who cheat. They will all lawyer up and keep on keeping.

  • Nucky Thompson

    To quote the great Trevor Denman ” This is UNBELIEVABLE” . This guy is so out of touch the headline should have been ARCI’s Martin makes Arse of himself.

  • Jeff G

    “and a lot less politics.” That is the line that sticks out to me. Each commenter has picked a side. If everyone posting wants horse racing to thrive, they should spend less time poking the other side and more time finding common ground to promote the sport.

    • Larry Sterne

      Good point. But their is no common in allowing or promoting a sport that tolerates cheating.

    • Do cops try to find common ground with criminals?

  • ofmyownaccord

    “Never complain, never explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you anyway.”

  • Mark Gory

    Where there is money and power, you will always find cheaters. Wall Street and Politics are the worst. Racing has its problems I agree, but many times the problems are with track ownership, top brass, the stewards and the racing secretaries. Don’t always blame the horsemen. Let’s start with suspending the horses that come up with positives for 60 days. That’s when the owners will stop supporting cheating trainers. That is one of the best solutions to cheating and it doesn’t cost anything to implement !!!!!!!!

    • Racing Fan

      Great point,

    • Larry Sterne

      Ageed but I also feel if you give owners a meaningful fine for the behavior of their emploeye (trainer) that will give them a wake up call. They must set the ground rules for the trainer if he wants his money. Want the money-follow the rules.

    • Mark, I know a racing secretary at a major venue and he is just as frustrated with the cheating as many of us are and he cannot figure out how t change the environment. It is cultural issue with trainers. It needs to change and that change can only come from within at the deepest level.

      • Racing Fan

        Cutting the stalls on the suspected cheats is a start. Not saying boot them, but give them 8-10 stalls not 30.

  • Racing Fan

    Sorry, Ed. You aren’t on a backside. You are in an office. Go live on the backside for 6 months then share your opinion.

    Start at Parx.

    • We’re watching

      And then go to New York and investigate high win percentage trainers starting with corporate trainer.
      Such talent as horsemen, baloney.

  • Steven Hill

    I’m tried of the whole argument as the little guy will always get caught. He doesn’t have access to the new formulation or vitamin mixes etc. Brown (unbelievable winnings), Baffort (how many horses died), old days Lukas..the Old Lady Bolted @ Satatoga to the Rail didn’t finish the race, never raced and was barren as a Mare….Hello Fans

  • Larry Sterne

    Hard to get his point. He agrees there is cheating but disagrees to what degree. A little cheating is not okay. The customer*
    (Bettor) get hosed. In no way is it okay to cheat the customer a lititle bit. The system needs to tighten up with punitive sanctions at the local level which many times has failed to be exacted.

  • richard resnik

    Any intelligent discussion on this issue must be, in large measure, statistic based. For purposes of this argument let’s agree that the definition of a “supertrainer”, as the pseudonym for alleged cheaters is often phrased, is 1. a trainer who somehow moves a horse way up in class after a claim or entry into that trainers barn (often immune to the bounce theory) and/or 2. wins approximately 25% of the time no matter the category, i.e., long, short, off layoff, turf, dirt etc. The first category is difficult to check historically since speed figures, i.e Thorograph, Beyer etc were not maintained in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. We should, however,be able to compare the current supertrainers with Hall of Fame trainers from days of yore. So, I challenge Mr. Martin or anyone else to look up or research the records of (at random) William Preston Burch, Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Hirsch Jacobs, Ben Jones and Jon Nerud–all in the Hall of Fame from a different era. How many of those had the 25% win in every category above?? Any bets?

    • Exactly. Also, in theory, the more horses a trainer conditions, the lower his winning percentage should be, and this is simply not the case.

    • Ann715

      Yes. It’s pretty easy to see which ones are the cheaters by just looking at the winning %. I’ve found that I’m losing interest in horse racing as a small group of trainers seem to win most of the important stakes. I’ve been in many partnerships over the last 10 years but have gotten tired of my horses running second or third behind certain trainers’ horses. So, as the horses are retired or claimed and the partnerships dissolved, I’m not buying into any new ones. Owning racehorses is a losing game anyway, and the cheating removes any fun that you get out of it.

  • Noelle

    Any drugs administered to racing horses, and that includes Lasix, confirms the general impression that race horses are routinely drugged to allow their performance – because they ARE routinely drugged. That a drug is “legal” doesn’t make it any less a drug.

    The quality of drug testing is spotty – rules vary from one jurisdiction to another – cheaters can move from an area in which they are banned to some other area and keep going or transfer their horses to a subordinate or relative – penalties are frequently inadequate – rules violators are permitted to serve suspensions at their convenience – fines are laughable. Why would the public trust the current system?

    Racing needs centralized management with uniform, severe, highly-publicized penalties for rules violators.

  • Richard C

    — Crisis? What Crisis? —

  • Ed Martin is laughable. I will give him credit for one thing and one thing only: he does know how to blow that dog whistle to enlist support from a certain constituency. The problem with this guy is that the group to whom he is trying most to appeal–horseman–also devoutly believe in law and order and support law enforcement.

    Rather ironic then that he is the top dog in an organization whose job it is to help regulate the sport of Thoroughbred racing. Can you imagine, for example, if the chief of police of a major metropolitan department said that his city did not have a drug problem? He would be laughed out of town.

    The sad part about our drug problem is the lack of peer pressure from trainers to keep their ranks clean. Trainers by and large want law and order in every aspect of life and in their own neighborhoods, but they do precious little to clean it up in racing. I think this is because they fear that when crooks amongst their ranks are exposed, it paints all trainers with the same brush. In fact just the opposite is true.

    There is going to come a day when a leading trainer is exposed and it will be very bad for our sport. The time to get our house in order is now, before that horse pucky hits the fan and kills the hen that lays the golden egg. If horsemen put pressure on their peers they know or think are cheating, it could prevent the catastrophe of which I write.

    Look: my other favorite sport is Track & Field, a sport that filled the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and countless other stadiums throughout America. One of the major reasons this sport has been relegated to a sideshow is the incidences of major figures that got busted for cheating with drugs. I don’t want to see that happen to Thoroughbred horse racing.

    Ed Martin acts like he is working for the HBPA, not racing’s regulators.

    Cheating is not about accidental overages of therapeutic medication for goodness sake, it is about the use of illegal drugs like EPO, milkshaking (yes, this still exists, but on a more sophisticated level), undetected designer meds to mask pain and act like steroids. Better function of the respiratory system, pain management, additional muscle mass and buffering of lactic acid remain the goals of cheaters.

    Horsemen and vets need to stop these practices from within their ranks, or all of will be going down the same path as Barnum & Bailey and Ringling Brothers.

    • Patrick Kane

      New to this industry / sport but have seen/heard plenty. Can understand why trainers seem to do “precious little” as the people they report to drag their feet in executing decisions and meaningful punishments. Trainers , I imagine have a real concern of sabotage retribution if they speak up too much, although I believe investment in video surveillance is affordable. Real pressure may come from a class action suit brought by bettors against tracks and state commissioners. I have started saving my betting slips from parx as in the past I have bet on horses that later were awarded the win be/c of drug D/Q. Suspending the horse/owner as well as stiff monetary penalties on the actual track for each drug violation might make headway as well. Cheating might not be rampant but it seems to be pretty bleeping prevalant

  • ishy111

    Interesting discussion. I have owned horses for more than 40 years and run in more than 15 states plus Canada. I compare this to the same question that I ask my accountant every year: “Where are all of these loopholes that everyone else seems to find…and we never do?”

    My point is that never have any of my trainers used any of these magic elixirs or “juice” (snake venom; frog venom; super stuff from Australia; voodoo stuff from LA; and on and on) that so many people seem to think are prevalent in every barn. Yes, I absolutely think that a select few trainers have access to some truly high tech compounds that are not detectable because there is simply no way you can move an 8 year old gelding up several levels of class or get him to re-break at the 1/8th pole when you have had him for a whole 2 weeks.

    I think the truth is that the vast majority of trainers are indeed honest and doing it right. They live in fear of a bad test because they cannot afford to be suspended. This is how they feed their families and being set down for 30, 60, or 180 days may mean they lose their entire stable and livelihood. Plus, most do truly care about their horses despite the impression often given in so many articles disparaging the sport.

    The bottom line is the exception proves the rule but we need to clean up the few who are ruining it for the many. There are indeed many obvious places to start. If the authorities would simply do a thorough investigation in one of these areas, follow through objectively to a factual conclusion, and then give out punishments that actually fit the crime the rest of the “cheaters” might clean up their act which would then benefit us all.

  • Kevin Callinan

    You have spent 20 years in the trenches and you see no evidence of a cheating culture. PARX has a clenbuterol stand on the backstretch next to the coffee and lemonade.

  • kuzdal

    Thoroughbred horse racing. I love it, for more than 50 years, I love it. And if you ask me to defend my love for the game, especially as we consider the way some “professionals” in the game cheat….well, I can’t.

    I can’t defend some of the rides I’ve witnessed, I can’t explain some form reversals. I won’t try to look the other way, when I know there’s been “misguided passion for winning”. Amazingly, there are still a number of us who enjoy the show.

    It’s the economics that’ll kill the game. And, maybe, I think it’s time. If we all came to the same conclusion in our handicapping, is that really “fun”? We’re the ones who drive this game; toss your money in or go away. Do I care that you’re a conspiracy theorist? Absolutely not. But, until you’ve got skin in the game, shut up.

    And if you’ve seen something (and said nothing), well, you have to read my mind to know how I feel.

  • Mark Belling

    Ramon Preciado started hundreds of horses last year. Marcus Vitali likewise started hundreds. They were “ubiquitous” at Parx and Gulfstream respectively. I am only mentioning two that were caught and in both cases it was brutally difficult to get them ruled off.
    Martin calls for more “boots on the ground” but the commissioners he represents choose not to follow his suggestion.
    Martin brings to mind J. Edgar Hoover’s repeated assertions that there was no Mafia.

  • Condor

    Everyone of us huffs and puffs when articles like this come out but at the end of the day nothing changes. If the authorities had the will to clean the sport up which they dont, lawyers would only get cheaters off. Only one thing to do and thats walk away from the sport and find something else to do. Its never going to change.

  • Duke

    Finally, someone tells it like it is. If cheating was widespread, we would all be making tons of $.
    The reality is most trainers are barely making it.

  • Michael Castellano

    One day a disgruntled vet or employee will blow the whistle on one of the top trainers in the Sport. And the damage to the Sport’s public image will be considerable. And it will give all those forces that oppose racing plenty of ammunition. If one remembers the case of Lance Armstrong, there were rumors of his cheating and a firm belief by many of his fellow riders even after he won the first Tour De France. Many of the riders were themselves cheating, and who would know that better than his fellow riders? Who would know this better in racing than an honest trainer. The day may also finally come when the sport is infiltrated by government agents, perhaps with help from a disgruntled or compromised trainer or employee. It doesn’t look like most racing authorities are at all interested in cleaning things up. They are as corrupt or clueless as the politicians in Washington of both parties.

  • Bob Hope

    if passion prevailed we would not be facing a dilemma but unfortunately there isn’t enough to encompass the political and passionless monstrosities that have been developed within the architecture of the sport in past decades. Without racecourses having the power of participating in their future corrective measures meaningful change remains weak and at the mercy of regulatory and major event participants. We must look abroad for answers and away from the incestuous poster of stupidity.

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