Derby Innovator, Industry Agitator: Q&A With Barry Irwin

by | 05.13.2016 | 8:47am
Team Valor International founder and CEO Barry Irwin, former racing journalist, has written "Derby Innovator: The Making of Animal Kingdom"

Team Valor International founder and CEO Barry Irwin has recently published “Derby Innovator: The Making of Animal Kingdom,” a book that is much more than a story about the racing partnership's success with Animal Kingdom, a homebred son of Leroidesanimaux, in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and 2013 Dubai World Cup. It's a fascinating memoir of Irwin's lifetime in racing: from selling racing tips for 25 cents on a Los Angeles street corner as a 12-year-old to putting together seven-figure syndication deals as the head of a successful international racing and breeding operation.

In between were plenty of ups and downs. Bankruptcy, deals gone bad, failed marriages – all offset by success in some of the sport's biggest races. A failed attempt as a writer of fiction led to a series of jobs as a racing journalist, which opened the door to the bloodstock business, where entrepreneurial Irwin wheeled and dealed his way around the world. Throughout the various stages of his life, Irwin has been an agitator or provocateur, quarreling with his bosses at the Daily Racing Form and fighting to make racing a drug-free sport.

Irwin was interviewed by Paulick Report publisher Ray Paulick.

Given your penchant for putting ink to paper (or tapping on keyboards) over the years, why did you wait until now to write a book?

I actually wrote four of these stories some years ago, showed them to friends and they discouraged me from publishing them, saying they were too volatile. I once asked Doc Harthill to let me write his biography and he declined because he didn't want to upset the families of some of the likely subjects. Once I thought about that, I knew exactly what he meant and it made me hesitate to write a book

What is your reason for writing it now?
I decided to write the book for a couple of reasons. First, I knew some interesting stories, the kind people never get to read about, and I wanted to tell them. And I wanted to write what I felt was important about Animal Kingdom before his first runners appeared, because a lot of times a top horse's racing career is discounted if they fail at stud.

You begin with the infamous “lying trainers” interview on national television right after Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby, but you really aren't that critical of any of your former trainers in the book. Why?
I knew the lying comment would be the elephant in the room and I wanted to deal with it up front. As for the trainers, even though they lied to me, some of them I consider to be friends. Lying to owners, whether by outright falsehood or by the so-called “sin of omission,” is so entrenched in the culture of training I have learned to accept it and not be too critical of these trainers. Even though I like them, it doesn't mean that I want to have horses trained by them.

You didn't address why you and Graham Motion parted ways, and you're now back to using multiple trainers. If the given the right opportunity, would you go back to having all of the Team Valor horses under one trainer?
Ideally, I would love to have one trainer in one location, on an off-site facility, because I truly believe that this is the way to get the best results. But one has to be a billionaire in order to afford it and I am not such an individual. The reason Graham and I parted ways had everything to do with my desire to have one trainer devoting himself solely to my stable and Graham was not in a position to do that.

A significant portion of the book is devoted to the state of racing journalism. Why do you think, going back to when you were first hired by Blood-Horse magazine in 1969, there has been so little critical writing done on the industry?
Publications, whether daily or weekly, for too many years relied on racetrack publicity departments to supply them with news. Most newspaper writers were handicappers that had to also write some stories and it was easier to use a publicity handout than generate some fresh copy. Another reason is that racetracks wanted to control the news and they were successful in stifling critical reporting. Other than your website, there is very little space available within our industry for this sort of writing. As for the dailies, their coverage has just about shriveled up to nothing. The Washington Post and New York Times were viable for years, but with Andy Beyer gone from the post and Joe Drape assigned to stories that have been hit jobs, newspapers in America have forgotten about our sport. It takes a strong individual to buck the “house organ” trend of trade journals and the racing press. One such writer who managed to do it was our old pal Kent Hollingsworth of The Blood-Horse. You are another. Andy Beyer was one for many years. Stan Begstein was another. The list has dwindled significantly.

You transitioned from journalist to bloodstock agent/wheeler dealer and hit some significant home runs in the early going. What did you find so attractive about this part of the game?
I was unable to get much satisfaction from writing fluff for Daily Racing Form. When the first two horses I bought with some friends won a bunch of races right off the bat, I found it to be exhilarating. Instead of writing about players, I was able to become a player.

The description of your late 1980s bankruptcy is pretty dramatic: borrowing $20 at a time to eat, no workable transportation, etc. What would Barry Irwin be doing today if Jeff Siegel hadn't invited you into the partnership of a filly you claimed and turned a nice profit on?
I feel confident that I would have come out of my financial funk. That was a depressing circumstance, but it lasted only a few weeks. Virtually concurrent with the bankruptcy, I brought Jeff into the start of Clover Racing Stable, which was the forerunner of Team Valor.

Derby Innovator Barry IrwinThere is a lot of criticism of how racing partnerships rely on OPM (other people's money), mark up the price of horses too much or charge excessive management fees. How do you defend that kind of stuff?
Critics of successful racing partnerships usually have one thing in common, which is that they are unable to raise similar amounts of capital for their own ventures. Racing is a competitive enterprise and there is a lot of jealousy. I remember in Los Angeles when we first started winning a lot of Grade 1 races and people started to stare me down as I walked from my box in the clubhouse down to the winners' circle. After a couple of years of this, I would walk downstairs to the winner's circle to avoid those stares. As for the contention that syndicators are addicted to the opiate of OPM, that is laughable. Our economy is based on the same principle. Where would Wall Street or Broadway be without outside investment? How many show business producers use only their own money for a movie or a play? As for my business model, it has worked well for four decades. It might interest you to know that I am my biggest investor and I own more of the stable's horses than anybody else.

What is it about racing that, despite all the odds against an owner making money, continues to bring people in as owners in racing partnerships?
Your premise takes it for granted that the main or the only reason somebody would consider racehorse ownership is based on the profit motive, which I humbly submit to you is incorrect. The question you should have asked is this one: Racing horses as an owner appears to be a losing proposition financially, so where is the value to you in owning a horse? Here is the answer to that question: The value comes from my involvement in owning a horse, the experience, the excitement, the camaraderie with the other partners, etc.

You've made a lot of unconventional moves, especially on the international front with South African or German bloodstock in recent years. Where is the your next undiscovered frontier to find horses?
Stay tuned…

The book doesn't get into how the racing industry has changed, with tracks largely owned by casino companies or relying on casino revenue for purse money. Given the retraction we've seen, do you have any idea what horse racing in the United States will look like 20 years from now?
If racing is going to survive on any sort of viable level, I anticipate racetracks and training centers will be built in rural areas. Horsemen and die-hard fans will move close by. Racing will become a televised event with few people in attendance. Preference will be given to the welfare of the animal, as it should be, and horses will be trained and raced at state-of-the-art venues designed with the well being of the horse in mind. I unfortunately will not be alive to see this and I envy those that are.

You created a stir among Kentucky commercial breeders with a commentary in The Blood-Horse when I was still there, criticizing them for altering conformation through surgeries and veterinary procedures. Do you still hold the belief they are damaging the breed long term?
Yes and this practice has grown legs and is now practiced world wide and has started to negatively impact horses in such faraway places as South Africa.

Does your pursuit of getting drugs out of racing have more to do with how you think drugs are affecting the breed or are you more concerned having clean competition?
Competition. Racing is about competition. I am a big Track & Field fan and drugs have all but ruined this sport. In this world, there are “sharps” and there are “squares.” There are infinitely more squares than sharps, which is what the sharps rely on to survive. They cheat because they lack a moral compass. And the squares live in denial that they are being cheated because facing this realization would be too difficult to deal with. So they live like an ostrich. I don't suffer from this malady.

What are the telltale signs of cheating in racing?
Horses that tire less than they are supposed to.

What do you see as the strongest argument for no race-day medication?
There are two types of drugs: legal therapeutic meds and illegal or designer drugs. My issue with the first category is that they mask weakness in an athlete that has less chance to survive the rigors of racing if his brain is unable to receive signals of stress and cannot compensate. My issue with the latter is that they create a playing field that is not level, thereby poisoning the entire purpose of having a contest.

The book ends on something of a hopeful note. that “the ranks of those insisting on integrity of competition, continues to grow.” Do you honestly believe we will see the day when – as you first proposed – we will have an independent agency like USADA governing the drug regulations in all racing states?
Yes I do. I only hope that it does not come too late because once we lose our fans we will have nothing left except for a couple of rich guys getting together in a big field in Kentucky or Texas and racing one horse against another to find out which one is best, which is basically how it all started anyway.

“Derby Innovator: The Making of Animal Kingdom,” was published by Xlibris and is available at Amazon and other book sellers.

  • cgriff

    “Yes and this practice has grown legs and is now practiced world wide…”

    And crooked legs at that. Keep being the very loud, articulate squeaky wheel, Mr. Irwin. Your rational for not wanting either legal or illegal drugs in the industry is concise, logical, and so plainly spoken that no one can claim they do not understand the premise. I would rather see a more boutique industry that was clean and fair than a bloated one barely hanging on with hopped up horses that cannot even feel when they are doing damage that will ultimately kill them (not to mention the jockey on top.) In any other life – that’s willful negligence and lawsuits would fly. In racing – just business as usual.

    I do hope to see the day we meet the international standard. Looking forward to a good beach read with your book this summer!

  • Quilla

    Thank you, Barry!

    Next time my skeptical friend asks, “That four-legged investment found the winner’s circle yet?” I can say, “The value comes from my involvement in owning a horse, the experience, the excitement, the camaraderie with the other partners, etc.”

    Because that’s what it’s always been with me. :)

    • Concerned Observer

      Amen! People that count everything in dollars and cents, miss the best things in life like, Love, Lust, Friendship, Winning, Losing, a crisp morning, and glorious sunset. Add to that watching your horse (Stakes or claimer) cross the finish line first!

  • Concerned Observer

    Racing is lucky to have a Barry Irwin, who can simplify it’s complex issues into easily understood alternatives. His focus on doing what is right for the future of the sport is paramount in his quest.
    Few can do it as well, and most importantly, he has the balls to stand up and say what he believes.
    A powerful combination. Thanks Barry. I look forward to reading the book.

    • Interpreter

      The definition of genius is the ability to make the complex simple. It sounds easy to do on the face of it, but in reality, it’s not. In racing terms, Barry Irwin has it.

  • Native Diver

    Our industry needs more outspoken leaders like Barry. I don’t always agree with him but I respect him for taking the risk of public ridicule for stating his positions.

  • kcbca1

    I have disagreed with Mr. Irwin on several issues regarding how to improve racing. The one issue that I stand with him on and that all horseplayers should as well is the use of drugs in our sport. Nothing should come before the welfare of the horse. I applaud him as someone with some real skin in the game that speaks out. Excellent interview Mr. Paulick.

  • Jack Frazier

    A very astute article. I believe when he said that those who lack a moral compass in racing and thus use both legal and illegal drugs was right on. I have noticed one particular trainer, and it has been observed even by some of the nitwits at TVG, has horses that seem to re-break at the quarter pole. That is the antithesis of how it works. Horses only have a short turn of foot, usually a quarter to three eighths of of mile but this particular trainer’s horses seem to defy the laws of physics. Those trainers will be around forever so it is driving those who wish to be competitive legally, to just leave the game. These is also a moral and ethical compass between some in the racing office and their pet trainers who get anything they want and more, including your stalls if they want them. It is a rotten business at this time and to use Irwin’s’ words, there is no moral compass with these folks. I wish the people who post on these pages felt strongly enough about their convictions that they would post their real names instead of a pseudonym. I imagine it is either cuteness or fear of retaliation that lends itself to this practice. Personally, I do care because how a person feels is important. I respect Irwin because he doesn’t care what people think and it serves him well. So what if the “racing gods” don’t like you? They are not well like either.

    • Darrell

      Jack you are spot on yourself. It is amazing how many horses trained by certain trainers at ALL levels of competition are able to set very fast early fractions and when they get hooked at the quarter pole by a horse trying to close they are miraculously able to re-break and pull away. Plain and simple horses cannot do this on a regular basis with the use of only legal therapeutic medications (and horses definitely did not do this 20 plus years ago and bute and lasix were in use then). Most every super trainer’s horses always go straight to the front and keep on going even when they shouldn’t. I am glad to see Barry Irwin put it out there that a telltale sign of doping is horses not getting tired when they should – it is so obvious to me but nobody seems to want to acknowledge or call that out. Unfortunately I see this tell tale sign at many, many tracks in everything from $5k claiming races to our most prestigious Grade I races.

  • Lonestar95

    I don’t think Barry Irwin has ever said anything I didn’t agree with. He is a blessing to The Sport and a man of class and integrity. I’d love to work for him .

  • Tinky

    I just wish that he’d use his real name.

    ;>)`

    • William Evins

      God tink you beat me to that one

    • McGov

      hahahahahahahaha! Almost choked on my coffee there ….I know right?

  • kmlman

    What are the telltale signs of cheating in racing?
    Horses that tire less than they are supposed to.

    Hmmmm
    . . . Nyquist, with his pedigree, appears to be able to run all day . .
    .a trainer well known, even without milkshaking, for pushing the
    envelope in an attempt to reduce lactic acid buildup (and who has
    admitted to it). Just sayin. I hope he gets beat.

    • Stuart H.

      Is there an echo in here? You posted this earlier. Sheer conjecture and surmise. Past behavior is never the final arbiter of current conditions. There is no evidence that Doug is currently doing ANYTHING untoward while conditioning Nyquist. If you have any evidence, and not supposition, please let us know. Perhaps the horse is just that good? The good ones often outrun their pedigree (see Cal Chrome, AP).

      It deminishes real cheating and violations when people just conjure and speculate without any facts.

      • Tim Lambro Sr.

        Yeah, really man……kmlman, we get it, we get it………….you got a hard on for O’Neill……….

  • G. Rarick

    I’m glad Barry hasn’t tired of the battle to bring honesty to racing. Keep up the fight!

  • kmlman

    Ok, was my comment deleted? It’s an opinion based on an admission. It should not have been deleted. I am going to post it again. If it is deleted again, que sera sera.

  • kmlman

    “What are the telltale signs of cheating in racing?
    Horses that tire less than they are supposed to.”

    Hmmmm
    . . . Nyquist, with his pedigree, appears to be able to run all day . .
    .a trainer well known, even without milkshaking, for pushing the
    envelope in an attempt to reduce lactic acid buildup (and who has
    admitted to it). Just sayin. I hope he gets beat.

    • vinceNYC

      Just sayin…drugs in racing have been around for a century ..just sayin Chromes pedigree was far more limited than Nyquist …just sayin horses frequently outrun their pedigree…nice to be able to slander reputations behnd a keyboard just sayin…maybe UNBEATEN Nyquist is just that good just sayin

      • juleswins3

        Amen, amen and amen!!!

      • Stuart H.

        Good rebuttal, vinceNYC!

    • Michael Cusortelli

      Why don’t you sign your actual name to your accusatory posts?
      Just sayin…

  • kmlman

    Actually, that should say, “Nyquist, with his less than formidable pedigree with regard to stamina, appears to be able to run all day . .

    .a trainer well known, even without milkshaking, for pushing the
    envelope in an attempt to reduce lactic acid buildup (and who has
    admitted to it). Just sayin. I hope he gets beat.

    • Bein

      I don’t see anything wrong with using baking soda to reduce lactic acid. Banning it is like banning molasses because it creates energy.

      • Larry Ensor

        The use of “baking soda” even the name may sound innocuous and it is, can be depending on how it is used. When combined with other ingredients (milkshake) forced fed by using a stomach tube to trick, manipulate a horse’s biochemical system it is far from innocuous. The body a horse or a human produces lactic acid for a reason. Think of it as the “governor” used on a engine to keep it from being over revved and blowing. Lactic acid does much the same thing it “governs” the horse’s. athlete’s muscles, tendons etc. from over exertion which can and does lead to catastrophic. Given the fact there are no “directions” on the label those who choose to “milkshake” a horse are by and large guessing the “formula” and the dosage to give.

        Every horse as humans are basically born with a lactic acid threshold. Some much higher than others. It is my understanding conditioning can only bring the horse, athlete to its “built in” peak levels. No amount of training/conditioning can increase that “god given level”. Blood testing will give the trainer an idea of their horses peak levels. The only way to get “more” out of the horse is by “milk shaking”. Which can and does have a dramatic effect on the horse’s performance. Not exactly fair to the betting public and others in the race who are playing by the rules.

        Molasses brings very little to the nutritional table. It does contain some essential minerals but by and large it is used in feed as a binder and makes it more palatable, tasty. Given the fact there is very little in the feed as a percentage of the total make up and the average racehorse weighs around 1,200 lbs. there would be very little “energy” to be had from it.

  • Kevin Callinan

    Mr, Irwin has become the industry’s voice of reason. He is always ready to jump in and push the racing globe back on its axis. The drug culture in sports is at a crossroads. The revelation that Russia juiced to at least 15 golds at their recent Olympics has severely compromised interest in Brazil. Cycling is essentially dead as a viable sport. Racing is one high profile positive from the same fate. How tracks can justify taking signals and bets from tracks that are licensing trainers they have kicked out is duplicitous. Mr. Irwin’s national reform ideas need to take place before it’s too late.

    • kmunster2015

      Dear Kevin; I think you are right on with your analysis. Over the last 15-20 years the three sports that have had the most doping problems are baseball, cycling and horse racing. I think the first two are at least making an effort to cleanup the sport while horse racing generally has its head in the sand.
      Mr. Irwin is at least very accurate in his assessment of the “squares” and “solids. I have no idea why an honest owner or trainer would not go to the stewards and complain about the “super’ trainers juicing their horses and beating them( THey would probably do little but at least make an attempt).
      Just yesterday On TVG one of the talking head “experts” to quote said HIGH PERCENTAGE TRAINERS win because they “put horses in aggressive spots.’ Is that the reason Navarro, NESs,Preciado, Rivelli etc win at close to 30% while Hall of Famers like Mott and Mccaughey win at about 15% Common that is ridiculous. Modern pharmacology and designer drugs has kept the cheaters way ahead of testing. Remember Lance Armstrong and Bonds never had a positive test amazingly. One can beat the test if there is no test for the compound used or if it metabolized and out of the horse’s system by the time the test is taken(I am a physician by the way).
      For now as a bettor, just play the “super’ trainers off the claim or first time acquisition privately and when they are claimed by an honest Rube trainer pitch the horse . Take care Kevin M. M.D.

      • Kevin Callinan

        Navarro won Monmouth’s training title two years ago and the next day he started a lengthy suspension due to six Tampa positives. If Cespedes had stayed hot and led the Mets past the Cubs only to be suspended the next day for a positive test in July, Cubs fans would be bringing up Bartman and the Billy Goat.

      • Joel Schiff

        Why was this post, which names names, kept on and mine deleted?

  • Joel Schiff

    Until Pletcher, Baffert, O’Neill, McLaughlin, RRodgriguez, Jacobson, and all the other drug cheaters are thrown out of the “sport” it will keep dying a slow death.

    • vinceNYC

      Joel you can literally read articles from 100 years ago talking about drugs in racing……it isnt new….

      • Matthew Hood

        Isn’t that really the problem? Nothing has changed in a century and it still doesn’t look like anything will change soon. I don’t think the “it’s always been that way”, is the best way to go.

  • Joel Schiff

    On the other hand, honest trainers: Jerkens, Mott, Motion, McGaughey, Clement, Sheriffs, Art Sherman.

    • vinceNYC

      art sherman…cmon

    • vinceNYC

      Trainer H. Graham Motion has been suspended five days and fined $500 by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission as a result of George Strawbridge Jr.’s Kitten’s Point, first-place finisher of the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland on April 24, testing positive for the muscle relaxant methocarbamol

      Trainer ART SHERMAN is fined ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($1,000.00)
      pursuant to California Horse Racing Board rule #1629 (Penalty for Late
      Declaration) for violation of California Horse Racing Board rule #1843
      (Medication, Drugs and Other Substances – double medication) necessitating
      the late declaration of BILLY WIN in the fourth race and MATZOH BALL MAGIC

      TRAINER STARTS PER MEDICATION VIOLATION
      William Mott 19,551 2,444 (8 violations)

      • Doug Arnold

        don’t forget CLEMENT

      • larry

        Amen

  • justintime

    Question for Barry: Your vision of the future of racing (tracks and training centers in rural areas with horsemen and die hard fans nearby) sounds a bit like today’s (and yesterday’s) European racing, particularly England. Is that the basis for your model?

  • Danny boy

    White shoes back at it again with the novel?

  • McGov

    This book is going to be AWESOME…can’t wait to read it and thank you for writing it :))))

  • Sal Carcia

    Interesting interview and story! What I really appreciate about Barry is his willingness to engage with the fans of all types.

  • Larry Ensor

    Great read and look forward to getting my hands on a copy. Like Barry I have spent many years behind the scenes in various aspects of the sport and industry. Domestic and international. It will be interesting and fun to read his views, experiences.

    A number of people have told me to do the same, right a book. It will open with me looking for change in my car seat, floor and couch to buy a pack of smokes. The year before having had a couple hundred thousand in the bank.

    Thank god for friends and mentors.

  • Always Curious

    “The love of money is the root of all evil” King Soloman

    • Convene

      Yup.

    • Convene

      Actually, I always thought it was supposed to be something we participated in for the enjoyment of it. How many lifelong fans, owners, breeders, trainers turn a high profit? Not as many as some would think. So why do they stay? Because there’s something addictive and entrancing about being around horses and watching them run.

      • Joan and Fred

        How true! If were lucky this year we will show a TINY profit this year. We have horses with good temperaments that people seem to fall in love upon first sight with as well as ourselves too.We now market them as family horses primarily, as we became tired of the abuses placed upon many horses racing in our area. We HATE the use of medication and wish there were none used on race days or workouts too.

        Fortunately, when we working out horses the trainers did not DARE use any medications on the horses we were exercising at the time because a good jockey friend of ours had just been injured very badly in the weeks prior to our works. That particular trainer was under intense observation.

  • Joel Schiff

    I do not appreciate that my post was taken down. Ray: who are YOU protecting? Is it someone who contributes to your website? Then you have a conflict of interest if you only publish the posts that agree with your line. Let’s face it: HORSE RACING IS A CROOKED GAMES, from breeding, the sales, pinhooking, workouts, vets, trainers, jockeys, stewards, commissions, and racing. People want the edge and want to dump their crap (yearlings, weanlings, mares, race horses, etc.) on some other naive party.

    • Joan and Fred

      Not always. Whenever we worked a horse, the workout with us and the horse participating was honest. It was a mutual relationship of respect and affection with a desire of how fast we could go working together as a team.At the time we had the fastest posted workout time the horse had ever had. No one else ever went faster with him either as it was the fastest workout time of the day too.The horse received no medications either but he was only shod on his front feet.

  • Convene

    Great interview, Barry. We need voices like yours, people who are more concerned with the welfare of the horse – and the sport – than about their popularity poll results. People like you are the reason I joined WHOA and am proud to be included in the group. ‘Way back when – yeah, I’m an old dinosaur, I guess – I remember when they legalized Bute. A bunch of trainers and others looked at each other and predicted most of what we’re seeing today. If the darn horse doesn’t know his leg hurts, he’s going to use it as if it was sound – until he ends up in a broken heap on the racetrack. What follows is a media-wide blasting of the entire industry and everyone who’s attached to it; guilty or innocent, we’re all evil, cruel, heartless and cheaters, to boot. Some people are – so keep talking, Barry. Even if the sport contracts for a while, it’s better off with people who care about the horse – his nobility, his courage, his will to win – and the sheer breathtaking wonder of a good horse in flight. Thank you for speaking out for so many of us who care.

  • secondlife

    I wish somebody would be an “industry agitator” for the humans who work in horse racing. I don’t know of any other industry where people work 6 days a week at 48+ hours a week at the breeding farms, and 7 days a week at the tracks, all year long with hardly a day off. Racetrack grooms & hot walkers live in tack rooms or concrete dorms, many have untreated drug & alcohol problems, or head injuries for the riders, etc etc. Maybe if the humans were better taken care of, the horses would get better care.

    • Forty-seven years ago, as a reporter for The Blood-Horse in 1969, I covered a meeting of the Kentucky Farm Managers, where the speaker was a New York-born sociologist who worked at the University of Kentucky. He developed a program in concert with the U. S. federal government in which the Feds would provide matching dollars for farm workers. It was found money for the farm owners. There was a catch: employees participating in the program had their weekly schedule limited to 40 hours. The farm managers that spoke that evening failed to see the benefit of the program because it meant more to them to have employees working longer than to have more employees working fewer hours. I then interviewed the UK professor, who was stunned at the response to his proposal. This is the culture from which Thoroughbred farm life in the bluegrass has sprung.

      • Stuart H.

        Better to work them into the ground and attempt to avoid overtime than to actually hire more workers and have to match any SSI and Medicare withholdings, Barry. Its amazing that this was actually the culture…but it was, and in many ways still is. Now it is even easier to hire undocumented workers and take that chance, or continue to work the fewest emp.for the longest hours…or has the industry suddenly decided to do what is in the best interests of its farm workers?

        • secondlife

          To be honest, sometimes it seems like the horses are put on a pedestal & worshipped & treated better than the humans, at some places.

          • Stuart H.

            A point indeed when certain types of workers are considered.

      • secondlife

        And I’m sure the general workaholic culture in America (compared to other countries) probably does not help any. I often hear people say “It’s hard to find good help” when working with horses. But there are a lot of people who would enjoy working with horses. If someplace has a hard time keeping good help, there’s usually a reason for it. And as much as I love racing as a sport, much of the daily work at a breeding farm involves making things “look good” around the barn, rather than spending a lot of time working with the horses. You get more interaction with horses at the track than you do at a farm.
        But personally I think it should be against labor laws to work anybody 7 days a week with no days off. We all know horses have to be fed 7 days a week. And people in hospitals have to be taken care of 7 days a week too, but not by the same nurses and doctors every single day.

  • Noelle

    Can’t wait to read the book and will buy copies for my friends. I’ve been a fan since his comments following Animal Kingdom’s KY Derby win and my esteem has only grown in the following years, in which Mr. Irwin has declared himself an opponent to the legally sanctioned routine drugging of racing horses.

  • Dan Camoro

    Put observers with a supposed cheater’s horse for four days before the horse races. Take samples of everything administered to that horse and see how they run. What’s so hard about that?

  • Pimlico Rules

    LOL! The king of bringing in suckers to pay for his overpriced “Triple Crown Prospects” (and Paulick Report advertiser) deigns to give an interview. I can learn more about horse racing from a cigar-smoking railbird peering into a Form. However, if I want to learn about how to fleece pigeons with fancy promises, I can listen to Barry. Shouldn’t this “interview” be more properly listed as paid advertising?

    • RayPaulick

      I don’t like to disparage any of our readers (thanks for the click, by the way), but you, sir or madam, are a gutless bottom feeder hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. I’ll leave your chicken scratch post up because it is an entertaining rant from a hopeless loser.

      • gus stewart

        Not in agreement with pimlico rules overwhelming negativity,, that being said of course all hear say,, but i was around during the times of clovers beginning in so cal, and did hear grumbling of prices being paid for certain horses and breeding not adding up to price paid. I think barry is honest in his words at this time of his life and a good advocate for moving ahead in the biz.. liked and agree with his cheating veiw, a horse running longer they should without getting tired.. no one is perfect, and i had made mistakes at the track, and some folks liked me and others ………. but i was under the radar barry wasnt..

    • Kevin Callinan

      I feel like a real sucker now after reading your contribution; I just bought the book on Amazon. I’ll retreat to the cheap seats with my tiparillo. Thanks for the heads-up.

  • we’re watching

    I am glad Barry has written a book and I will be going to the store to get one and read it. Also, I enjoy reading his opinions and others on the PR.
    i write my opinions as well because I believe in the welfare of these fine equine athletes and the sooner we get down to the nitty gritty and bounce the cheaters out of the game, we can enjoy it even better. Let’s get the cheating trainers identified and out soonest.

  • Kingturf

    Barry, I am still pissed thinking in the fall of 1989 that I was driving to Gulfstream Park to make a huge score on a long shot first time on turf out of Kris S. with Eddie D. riding. I knew that I was screwed when the horse first opened at a paltry 9/2 and eventually went off at 8-1. I kept saying to myself this outfit must know something. Great race winning the BC Turf even though Sierra Roberto almost gave me a darn heart attack…RIP Prized you ran your guts out on that cloudy and humid afternoon.

  • David Worley

    I read ‘Derby Innovator’ cover-to-cover (actually, literally, I read it digitally on my kindle) and can attest that it is an amazing read. Barry, predictably to anyone who reads his comments on this website, does not mince words and gives readers an honest assessment of his life and the industry. The book is an act of courageous writing and the overwhelming majority of Paulick Report readers will enjoy it. I give it my highest possible recommendation.

    As for the man Irwin, three words comes to mind: courageous, insightful, articulate. Barry, thanks for the book and for so consistently (and intelligently) posting on this site. I have learned so much from your comments.

    Ray, great interview.

  • stlouiskid1

    I look forward to reading the book. I enjoy Mr. Irwin’s comments and observations on this site. World needs more people who can have a fair opinion and not worry about rocking the powers that be.

  • gus stewart

    Mr irwin, is telling his story about his dealings in the racing biz,, as i commented to a negative comment to mr paulick. This biz can be very non exact when it comes to buying and partnerships with horses. Whatever he did wasnt close to what i was involved with in estimating values on breeding sires and mares, stud fees values and racing stock during a big biz corporate purchase with included these commodities… turned out to be a smoke and mirrors thing during the mid to late eightees… so trust me im sure mr irwin was never close to the real scammers in the racing biz.

  • Al Milano

    Thanks for being here Barry Irwin.

  • I only have one regret about this book. It really ruined my sleep for a few days. I bought it on Kindle and they send to your computer as well as the Kindle itself. I would read till late and then get up at 2-3 in the morning and read some more. I could not put this book down. Barry Irwin is the fresh air that racing so desperately needs today. Thanks so Barry. You are a real champ.

  • Kathryn R Wilt

    This is a really good book for the fan and for a student of business management.

  • Rob Bingel

    The book has been interesting. Mr. Irwin through his writing of the book makes himself come across as very difficult to work with, but I appreciate his honesty.

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