RCI Chairman Takes Hypocritical Stance On Federal Racing Bills

by | 08.19.2015 | 5:45pm

Mark Lamberth, a member of the Arkansas Racing Commission and chairman of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, turned the dial on the BS Meter all the way up on Tuesday in a press release on RCI letterhead stating: “Entire Arkansas Horse Racing Industry Opposes Federal Bills.”

Among other things, Lamberth said any initiative to create a national, independent, non-profit, non-governmental agency was a “departure from cooperative efforts that have historically been productive.”

The key phrase here is “cooperative efforts that have historically been productive.”

One such cooperative effort is the Equine Injury Database, created in 2008 by The Jockey Club to identify the frequency, type and outcome of racing injuries, better identify at-risk horses, and serve as an important data source for research to improve safety and prevent injuries.

Arkansas does not participate in the Equine Injury Database. Oaklawn Park is the lone holdout among major U.S. racetracks.


Another cooperative effort is the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, created in 2009 to deal with a wide range of issues, including medication and drug testing standards, equine injuries, safety equipment for jockeys and others, Thoroughbred aftercare and wagering integrity. Tracks from Florida to New York to California have gone through the accreditation process and are members of the alliance.

Arkansas does not participate in the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. Oaklawn Park is a holdout.

A more recent cooperative effort is the Jockey Injury Database, created by the Jockeys' Guild with support from Keeneland, The Jockey Club and the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. This database is designed to make the sport as safe as possible for those who put their life on the line each time they get aboard a horse to compete.

Arkansas does not participate in the Jockey Injury Database. Lamberth's lip service to “cooperative efforts” is a textbook example of hypocrisy.

There may be a reason Lamberth and his fellow commissioners at the Arkansas Racing Commission don't want someone like the United States Anti-Doping Agency poking around their neighborhood, establishing uniform national rules, setting exemplary drug testing standards and enforcing drug policies in a strict, even-handed manner.

They might not want anyone to know how little the Arkansas Racing Commission spends on drug testing for the annual Thoroughbred race meeting at Oaklawn Park.

The current contract between the commission and Truesdail Laboratories in Irvine, Calif. (yes, the same Truesdail that was fired by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission for failing to detect commonly used drugs and missing a Class 1 drug during an audit of the lab) is for just $90,510 – and that includes $18,000 to test dogs racing at Southland Greyhound Park. One regulatory analyst said this equated to about $55 per horse tested. For comparison's sake, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is said to spend about $160 per test and the California Horse Racing Board about $190 per test.

Are you a horseplayer who wonders whether horses racing at Oaklawn might be milkshaked to improve performance? According to the contract, no more than 100 horses during the entire 2016 Oaklawn Park meet will be tested for total carbon dioxide content (TCO2) or bicarbonate loading.

Are you a horse owner who wants reassurance that the drug testing conducted for Oaklawn Park uses the most modern detection methods possible? According to the contract, fully one-third of the samples will be screened using enzyme-linked immunoassay kits. Those tests may have been cutting edge in the 1980s. Not so today.

Another one-third of the samples are to be screened using one of several other methods, including thin-layer chromatography (TLC). A racing regulator I spoke with called TLC “stone age testing.”

The final third of the Oaklawn Park samples are to be screened utilizing more modern technology – liquid chromatography diode array detection  (LC-DDAD) or gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS).

This Arkansas Racing Commission drug testing contract, which one industry analyst calls “pitiful,” is exactly why medication regulation should be taken out of the hands of local political appointees who know nothing about science or cheating in sports and turned over to experts. Arkansas commissioner Lamberth called the move to name USADA in that role a “hostile takeover.”

Maybe that is what's needed.

Lamberth didn't respond to questions about the refusal of Arkansas to take part in “cooperative efforts” like the Equine Injury Database, Jockey Injury Database or NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. He also failed to answer questions about why the Arkansas Racing Commission is so stingy in spending money on drug testing or not insisting on better technology from its drug-testing lab.

So, as far as the Arkansas Racing Commission being a participant in “cooperative efforts that have historically been productive,” I call BS.

  • Spot on observation and reporting.

    • guest

      Only if you share this biased view. The better question is where is the follow-up to the top story from a year ago when top shelf owners and trainers pledged to divulge publically all vet approved medicines which had been used on their upcoming entries? How has that worked out?

      • RayPaulick
        • David Juffet

          Actions always speak louder then words Ray.

      • Mr./Ms. Guest, I couldn’t agree with you more. The owners’ failure to honor their pledges of transparency should be held against them. Nonetheless, it does not negate the hypocrisy of the Arkansas Racing Commission in this situation. Those two issues are not mutually exclusive. Hypocrisy = bad.

      • Amazing how most of the responses of this ilk are done either by a “guest” or an anonymous screen name.

        • David Juffet

          That’s the case most of the time Barry. Now we know why some ‘trainers’ look forward to that meet. Cheaters.

          • Keyne

            Stevie Asmussen winning 5 reaces every closing day?VillaFranco,Richard,MidWest? Hey ,like the old saying goes..”If it IS broke don’t fix it!”

          • Naprovnik Naprovnik

            There are two states where BB enters Derby preps.

          • David Juffet

            Steve A too! There the first two I thought of after reading the article. Time for a change? Duh.

        • Bill

          What does it matter who said what? Isn’t the content of what is said more important than who said it? If what is said is valid and thoughtful, then it deserves merit no matter who said it. However, if what was said has no validity or is ignorant, then who cares, disregard it and move on. It seems that our industry is more concerned about “who” than “what”, and I think that may be one of our biggest problems.

          • Naprovnik Naprovnik

            Bill, the “guest” offered up a straw man argument which is not relative to the topic of this article in an effort to persuade the dim to think about a different subject. Some will fall prey to this infantile mind game. Then, the debate is not about the topic but about a diversion from the topic, which is what the “guest” wanted in making the comment. Now, ask yourself, why would someone want to change the topic? What would motivate that?

          • That is what all of the eunuchs say. When somebody uses their own name there is every chance they will write in a more responsible manner because they have skin in the conversation. Is this concept understandable to you Bill? It has nothing to do with the credibility behind the name, as you seem to want to suggest. Anybody that writes a letter to the editor of a quality publication must use their own name. One never sees a letter to the editor in a real publication without a verifiable identity.

          • KY RACE FAN

            TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU BILL!!!!!!!!!!

        • 4Bellwether666

          Get use to it as every human on this site has heard this comment a hundred times…ty…

        • longtimehorsewoman

          .People who have used their real names have been banned, so people come back with anonymous names. You of course haven’t been banned, because you are Barry Irwin. Those of us with lesser names are not so lucky.

    • Ben van den Brink

      It shows perfectly the dire state from the industry at least there is no russian word in it ( meaning it is all very clear)

  • Tres Abagados Stupidos

    WOW. And this from a place that has a short meet (lower regulatory costs) and instant racing to fatten up the commission’s budget some. Apparently the funds the racing commission gets is not going toward a solid, sound, iron-clad testing laboratory. Unbelievable.

    • Good point re Instant Racing.

    • Horse Guy

      Indeed and pretty common in Arkansas. as usual, its difficult to see the light when you are wearing a blindfold.

    • Concerned Observer

      Another self-important alphabet organization (dedicated to preserving its position) that hasn’t noticed that the critical people in racing (owners and bettors) are beginning to pay attention, and are tired of the mushroom treatment. Guess we are not as dumb as they think we are.

      He said:
      “the entire Arkansas Horse Racing Industry Opposes federal Bills”

      Foal crop 356 (2014) down from 868 (1994) NOW 1% of North American foal crop.
      Arkansas racing 481 races (2014) LESS THAN 1% OF North American racing.

      Most of the Arkansas racing is based on transient horses…not the state industry.

  • Hamish

    If Arkansas racing did not exist, what difference would it make?

    • guest

      Probably none to you! But, it may make a difference to the 60,000 plus horse racing fans who frequent Oaklawn Park on a premier day!.
      The fact is—HORSE RACING IS A DYING SPORT!
      No matter how much some so-called authorities preach about all the cheating, doping, and transparency, etc., and how the sport will only see increases in popularity when these draconic reforms are instituted, that is simply wrong. Much like the knee-jerk reaction a few years back when California was duped into mandating synthetic surfaces state-wide. Looking back now, that was a great move wasn’t it?
      If Ray Paulick wants to be the Mike Wallace of racing journalism, he could have raised these questions two years ago when he was at Oaklawn Park. Instead, he became the Morley Schaffer and did meaningless spots on an elevator operator and failed to even make inquiries into what Oaklawn was doing to draw huge crowds and happy fans.
      The decline of popularity has damn little to do with doping, cheating, etc.
      The downfall of popularity has more to do with a lack of marketing than anything related to Lasix and the like. When the marketing guru’s that are in charge of promotion lost ESPN, the sport fans,in general, lost interest in horse racing being a legitimate sport. Once that took place, it didn’t take long before major metropolitan newspaper sport editors followed suit and discontinued coverage.
      Currently, an old network like NBC is old hat and means nothing to young sport fans.
      Again, Horse Racing is a dying sport—and if you truly love it, as I do, you better enjoy it while you can! With the idiots making decisions currently, we don’t have much time left!

      • Rhonda Groomer

        Spot on!!!

      • gus stewart

        bingo, its hopeless currently with almost all marketing old gaurd in calif where i live, to remove or change a higher level job,, you better bring in the mafia of old,, hey that may bring more money in the sport..lol,,

        • Naprovnik Naprovnik

          Yes , sure – market the same old pile of steaming smelly poop. That’ll bring the crowds back…

      • ben van den brink

        Like me, you can not enjoying the racing with the knowledge that you see, overmedicated horses competing. BTW they are called

        THOROUGHBREDS Not to differ with thorough medicated horses.

        And yeah my own name stands above.

      • Naprovnik Naprovnik

        Hey, “guest”, you’d better open your eyes: doping and cheating are the MAIN reasons the sport is dying. One cannot “market ” a steaming pile of poop … unless you are one of those snake oil salesman who polish turds for a living and think that the general public will buy it.

    • You might want to ask Bob Baffert that question, since his Triple Crown winner prepped there.

      • Peyton

        As did Smarty, Afleet Alex, Summer Bird, many good fillies, etc. etc.

        • Naprovnik Naprovnik

          But Baffert NEVER ships to NY, KY or FL for THOSE prep races. Ever. Have you stopped to wonder why?

          • Dee R. Eff

            I’ve wondered why, and maybe it’s starting to become more clear, not that we didn’t already know.

          • turffan

            No, because he doesn’t need to go there. His base is SA, lots of point races, then he uses Sunland (easy ship) & Oaklawn (nice prep series). What’s wrong with that? Someone like TAP is trying to get more horses pts so he has to spread them out. Much of it as to do with geography & logistics. Besides FL esp is loose with meds.

          • Naprovnik Naprovnik

            Geez – what contorted “logic” you have to contrive to excuse the obvious. We all see it. It’s not a secret. He has some jurisdictions where he feels… comfortable, shall we say? Never goes to LA, either. VERY odd!!!!!!

          • turffan

            I’m not accusing, implying or defending anyone But if your implying that he avoids NY, KY, FL or LA because of testing your logic is contorted. He has zero problem shipping & winning in NY & KY, does it frequently considering his base is CA…Dortmond (msw), Hoppertunity( clark) & GoD 2nd by nose(clark), Bayern(Bel undercard) ect. Why would he ship a 1000m+ to run in FL derby when he has $1,000,000. SA derby. Your right he likes Oaklawn. So do a lot of people…Like John & Zen.. Oaklawn has good races with a good track & nice purses. Testing is lacking in many places. Goodness, how many would leave CA for Aqueduct in early spring??

  • Robert

    Great reporting.
    ____________________________

    One minor point of contention as a horseplayer:

    “Are you a horseplayer who wonders whether horses racing at Oaklawn might be milkshaked to improve performance? According to the contract, no more than 100 horses during the entire 2016 Oaklawn Park meet will be tested for total carbon dioxide content (TCO2) or bicarbonate loading.”

    Answer: No. Not really.

    Horseplayers are concerned about the welfare of the horses (medication issues) just the same as any group of decent, moral, ethical human beings, but to say horseplayers are making economic decisions off of the lasix/medication debate is a “red herring” if there ever was one.

    Horseplayers are leaving in droves and migrating to more exciting, more relevant wagering options because they are getting fleeced by the tracks, adws and data providers (Equibase).

    It’s pretty simple, if DFS (Daily fantasy sports) charge between 5-10% for a “wager” (free data) and horse racing charges ~22% in the form of takeout and breakage – guess where the money goes?

    Handle, and the sport in general, is getting destroyed because the tote companies, racetracks, adws and data providers (Equibase) etc. keep trying to polish the “takeout t$rd” and the “data t$rd”.

    People are not stupid if you charge them 2 to 5 times more for an inferior wagering product and inferior data then you will see people get up out of their chairs and leave.

    It is really frustrating to see people try to create a link between handle and lasix/medication. It doesn’t exist. You cannot model an illogical connection or something that is purely qualitative.

    However, you can model what would happen to horse racing if basic data was free, exchange wagering was allowed and a blended takeout rate of less than 10% was adopted. Why? Because these are changes to the economics (quantitative) encountered by horseplayers that actually exist in horse racing markets that are thriving (to use a TJC term).

    If I here – “ban lasix and the bettors will return” one more time I am going to go crazy. Any relationship between the two variables is completely coincidental.
    ____________________

    Side note – As a horse lover, I hope horses in the US will race with as little aid from medication as possible at some point in the near future. They deserve it.

    • morethanready

      Excellent points- if the horseplayer is willing to jump ship and bet on sports they are less comfortable with. I certainly have gravitated to websites offering competitions for horseplayers with just a 10% vig. The takeout in PA is obscene- 30%.

    • SteveG

      There’s a big difference between legal administration of lasix & open-season on illegal milkshaking due to regulatory indifference, which is what 100 tests for it during an entire meet amounts to. Most bettors deal with lasix as a perverse field leveler, despite the occasional horse who will have an adverse reaction & run out of form. Cheating, on the other hand, has no reliable indicator & smart bettors become rightfully wary.

      Your point about punitive pricing is well taken, though. Depending on how much stock one puts in the study, McKinsey reported, if my memory serves, that 80% of big bettors (those betting over 10k/month) said they would bet more if their suspicions about drugs were allayed & pricing made less punitive.

      It’s a combination of factors (perceived lack of integrity & price gouging) that proves particularly toxic to revenue.

      • morethanready

        Steve, I think it all has to be weighed by the handicapper. Lasix can have an adverse effect particularly in hot, humid weather where horses are susceptible to dehydration. If a 40% trainer claims a horse with back class from a 10% guy typically the bettor can count on a form reversal. Milkshaking is just one way; it doesn’t help with soundness.

        • SteveG

          Nothing there I disagree with. However, as serious players know, the game is difficult enough in legitimate contests without the added insult of having to consider nefarious activity as another obscure & in most cases, an inscrutable variable.

          • morethanready

            Oaklawn happens to be one of the few tracks I consider a good bet. Their takeout is very fair, they have large fields, trainers point for the short meet and they have had just one 30% trainer in the last 3 years. The testing program is obviously a joke but are the venues spending more money providing a better product?

    • Keyne

      Where to begin ,Robert,as your assertions are asinine….You really don’t think that horse players care who is “milkshaked”? Why the heck do you think Major League Baseball has banned one of its best players,Pete Rose,FOR LIFE? Why do you think the NFL is holding Tom Brady’s feet to the fire? Because if the INTEGRITY of either game is PERCEIVED to be not on the up & up,both their industries will die a quick death.This is why people have left racing in droves,NOT THE TAKE-OUT.
      I am all for a lower take out,thinking a lower take out will stimulate even more betting.But the average Joe has no problem betting one track over another when the takeout rates may vary by 3%.However,when 1 of those tracks has several trainers that are routinely winning at 45%,and when they do,they are bet down to 1/2 everytime,perception of cheating turns people waaaaay off.
      I’m a broken record,but Ill say it again;Oaklawn,if you don’t want fed oversight,fine.But you can never send your signal across state lines ever again…

      • Robert

        Keyne – I’ll write this once as I can see this turning an enormous waste of time. Why? Because you clearly did not read what I said and your reply is all over the place. Here are the points I am making:

        *Ray wrote a great article
        *Medication reform, on all levels, is desperately needed but the current leadership is making it difficult
        *As a minor point of contention – as stated above – many folks, including Ray, are drawing a direct economic line from medication reform to a potential increase in handle. I don’t think that economic line exists and conflates two very important issues that need to be addressed – 1) medication reform and 2) the high cost of being a horseplayer.
        *I think horseplayers, in general, are very concerned with horse welfare. I just don’t think you can draw a direct line from medication/reform to positive horseplayer behavior. Example, if Oaklawn enacted a 100% milkshake testing for every horse every race and lasix was outlawed then you would see x% increase in horseplayer activity => that formula does not exist.
        *I do think you can create a pretty strong economic argument, supported by tons of data overseas, that if you make racing more cost effective (lower takeout + data), more exciting (big fields) and more relevant (exchange wagering) => handle + horseplayer attention/engagement + revenue + purses would increase.
        *If you think I am wrong than please supply an economic model, based on real data and statistics, that shows, if (x) medication reform takes place then you can expect a (y) increase in horseplayer confidence resulting in (z) increase in handle. If you cannot – which I know you cannot – please do not respond and waste everyone’s precious time.
        *Again, I don’t think it helps to solve problems by attaching different problems together. Solving the medication issue is not going to be driven by horseplayers demanding reform and horseplayer fleecing by TJC, the racetracks, adws etc is not going to be accomplished through medication reform.
        *Two separate problems

    • Pebbles

      I think you are missing the point about a ban on same day race medication. The issues is not that the bettors will return. It is that it will be much easier to enforce a ban on race day medication than the current system which allows race day medication. As a result, the integrity of the sport will improve because bettors will have more confidence that the horses running are doing so on level terms. This increased confidence will hopefully spur increased betting. But I believe you are correct, bettors are not campaigning for a ban on Lasix. I think what most bettors would like is more information. If trainers were required to list the medications that they give to the horses, etc. I think that information would be useful to bettors.

      I think another point that is overlooked is that banning race day medication could also have a direct correlation with race day injuries and deaths as a result of not being a to run a horse as frequently or disguise their injuries. As a result, the sport would be seen better by the general public and more people would be encouraged to enjoy it.

  • ben van den brink

    These are at least pure facts, and does prove that the industry needs the Fed,s but far better the FBI needs to step in.

    Save them lousy 55 dollar, because there is not testing at all with that. Transport from the tests to the lab is costing more. yeah the wild west .

  • KARL Bittner

    Don’t play Oaklawn Park

  • Tinky

    Outstanding reporting, Ray.

  • Yikes!

  • Don’t you think that SAT reference is hitting below the belt, ha ha ha?

  • Peyton

    Good for you Ray. If there ever was a good ole boy system, certainly Arkansas racing fits at the top of the list in that category. Another example of ARC’s desire to keep the public uninformed is the lack of transparency of test results. Several years ago, they made a PR statement that milkshaking was not to be tolerated and they were launching an intensive testing program for that. I was never able to locate the results of those tests. There is a definite flaw in the sport because if the public becomes aware of cheaters by test results, they are likely to stay away from the track. The less handle the less taxes and track income. Horsemen’s purses are reduced, etc. etc. Enforcing the rules with stiff penalties and making tests results public is somewhat self defeating for the industry and the commissions. Albeit at the expense of the bettors and horses.

  • Linda Berd

    THANK YOU, RAY PAULICK – for saying it like it is! Exemplary article. I wish all reporters were like you! LB

  • David Worley

    Ray, another outstanding piece of reporting! I am very disappointed with Oaklawn’s actions.

  • Richard C

    Mark Lamberth is simply another talking head who obediently performs stupid pet tricks for well-connected lobbyists……no matter the time of day, surface coditions or weather.

  • pete k

    National Association Racing and Integrity Act. Just because tracks do the work to obtain certification does certainly does not mean they keep up the safety and integrity after the fact. Just look at NJ, NY.

  • AngelaFromAbilene

    Arkansas… almost as azz backwards as Texas. I’m willing to bet good money, anybody that opposes uniform, coast to coast and border to border medication rules does so because they know it’s going to hurt them. Here’s a novel idea, TRAIN your horses with skill instead of pharmaceuticals. If you can’t do that, get a new job or hobby!

    • Peyton

      If there are uniform rules, the commission will still be responsible for enforcing them. The answer is not uniformity, but enforcement of what there is. The commissions will need to be held accountable for their rulings. Can you imagine that the state racing commissions will be completely taken out of the equation, even if federal legislation is passed? Will they just disappear into the air? State racing commissions will continue to exist and do the job of protecting the public from unfair racing. They must be forced to do a better job. They will always have that constitutional ability to regulate racing within their own states.

      • AngelaFromAbilene

        Sorry Peyton, you are WRONG. Drug uniformity is the only answer. This will be no different than how states currently adhere to federal guidelines.

        • Peyton

          What federal guidelines are you referring to states currently adhering to? How does having uniform rules stop cheaters? It is like saying if all states have the same speed limit, then the speeding will stop. So you see uniformity without enforcement does nothing and you are WRONG.

          • AngelaFromAbilene

            I can start with gay marriage and work my way back. Just admit you can’t train a horse without drugs Peyton.

          • Peyton

            Most state’s adherence to Federal guidelines which you referred to is based on the Feds leveraging funding against the states if they do not comply. As far as I read there is no federal funding involved in these bills which could be withheld if states do not comply. Gay marriage is a constitutional issue which is entirely different than state’s rights to regulate gambling. If you know of any other examples of federal guidelines please inform us. I am all for stopping the illegal drugging of horses. Ask yourself if this federal bill becomes law, who will regulate it? Will racing completely stop until the framework for enforcement is set up? Will all state racing commissions suddenly be abolished? I don’t think that is practical or likely. At some point commissions are going to have to be held accountable for their performance. Thanks.

          • longtimehorsewoman

            Doing nothing isn’t working. Things do not change unless real attempts are made to make them change. So it won’t be perfect in the beginning, but a step forward is far better than what has been “done” by racing over the past nearly 40 years!

          • Peyton

            I am not suggesting doing nothing. I think efforts should be made at the state government level to put pressure on the commissions to do the job of protecting the betting public by assuring the game is fair without the use of illegal drugs. That is what they are supposed to be doing and are commissioned to do by state laws. They are not doing it and they should be made to do it. If they do not do the job, then they should be recalled, fired, sanctioned and jailed for failure. IMO these are the real attempts which should be undertaken to make change. Hoping that uniform rules are going to make any difference is just hope. If you follow your line of thinking, you are suggesting that trainer A is getting bad test results in CA because he was previously training in Fla and with uniform rules he will not get bad tests when he moves to train in CA. So the reason he got bad tests in CA is because the rules were different than what he was used to in Fla. That solves nothing. In fact his vet in CA is already required to know what the rules are as is his vet in Fla. Making the rules uniform does nothing to stop the cheating.

          • longtimehorsewoman

            Yes they should!!! But they are not and they will not. And I said nothing about drug testing. If an independent group takes over than testing will be the same throughout the country.

          • Pebbles

            While enforcement is important, most people abide by rules and regulations without a serious enforcement mechanism. This is the nature of living in a civilized society of law and order. Enforcement is only necessary to catch the “cheats”, but most people will abide by the rules.

            But the bottom line is that there needs to be a standard. A uniform standard, rather than 50 different standards or more. Once you have a uniform standard regulators can be trained to enforce it. But you need the standard first.

  • Ed Martin

    Ray, interesting hatchet job. Arkansas, specifically Mr. Lamberth, is a major proponent of the uniform ARCI/RMTC medication rules being heralded and advocated by major industry groups and worked diligently in his home state to get them put on the books. He has and remains a major advocate for the utilization of internationally accredited labs which are held to the same standard as the WADA labs are through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and participate and are required to pass the quality assurance programs both of the International Association of Official Racing Chemists and the US based Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

    The equine injury database is a matter between the tracks and The Jockey Club. Participation with the NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance is a matter between the tracks and the NTRA. It’s an interesting journalistic smear to lay blame for anyone’s non-participation at Mr. Lamberth’s feet.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist for anyone to understand why you are so in the tank for those advocating the federal bill. But your attack on Mark is not warranted and it is an unfortunate reaction to a message you obviously didn’t care for: that an entire state’s racing industry opposes the federal bills.

    Racing commissions do not determine their own budgets and must manage the responsibilities as best they can with the assets at their disposal. $9 million of USADA’s $14 million budget comes as a result of a federal anti-doping appropriation that is not earmarked to go to them alone. It is interesting to note that not one cent of federal funds are being proposed to be used for horse racing. Not a dime to help out the sport.

    • RayPaulick

      Thanks for confirming that the Arkansas Racing Commission is toothless, Ed.

      • Ed Martin

        Some people drive a Mercedes to get to the other side of town, others drive a Chevy. They both get there. Hey, how’s that story coming on USADA transparency?

        • Dee R. Eff

          I get that you want to keep the ARCI relevant, and if the USADA comes in the ARCI will become less relevant than they are quickly becoming. Never let them see you sweat Ed. In the interest of transparency, are you telling us you traded in that Mercedes for a Chevy? You’re right, they both get you where you’re going, but some people use non approved or illegal mechanics.

    • Dee R. Eff

      It was Lamberth who used his mouth to make the statement that it is “a departure from cooperative efforts that have historically been productive”, therefore it is proper that evidence to the contrary should be laid at his feet.

    • Kevin Callinan

      I consider Oaklawn one of the few tracks that offers the bettor a fair shake(no pun intended). Their takeout is among the lowest in the country, it’s a short meet that trainers point for, they have large fields, the horses tend to be more lightly raced, their stakes are quality events and the 40% trainers seem to think there are easier pickings elsewhere. My first concern would be the jurisdictions that race 300 days a year(not 55), gouge the public for over 30% and welcome the trainers that are frequently mentioned on RMTC’s suspensions database. These jurisdictions may join all of these new alliances but in practice they fall short.

      While I find Oaklawn’s contract with the lab embarrassing I do think Lamberth’s point about the USADA’s policy to permit medical exceptions without informing the public an unfortunate omission to this article.

      • ben van den brink

        The horses,honest owners and trainers, and bettors are paying a high price for that.

        Who,s to say that usaada,s policies remain the same when horseracing is on the table. Did you ever seen them med,s reports with horseracing.

      • Dee R. Eff

        Oh come on, I can’t believe anyone bought into that, let’s dig up some dirt on the USADA, and try a smear campaign tactic. How many medical exemptions were there? I think it was about 110, out of tens of thousands? Do you know what they were for or why? Of course not, Lamberth didn’t bother to offer that which says a lot. I have a feeling that if you looked into an exemption you would probably say, oh yea, I get that.

        • Ed Martin

          According to the 2014 USADA annual report, there were 275 therapeutic use exemptions granted by USADA. Of the applications they process, they approve 85% of the requests received according to their own report. The public does not know which athlete, the drug, or which competition. Additionally your comment about “tens of thousands” is incorrect. According to USADA, they performed a total of 9,475 drug tests in 2014. The comparable number for state racing commissions in the US is upwards of 340,000, about thirty seven times larger.

          • Dee R. Eff

            Took you 24 hours to come up with some numbers, which doesn’t change the basis of my statement, just the math. The ARCI wants to strut around throwing insults to the other side while doing nothing but attempting to keep some importance. Rather than the former why don’t they step up and actually do something. Talk and drag feet and do nothing and say goodbye.

    • ben van den brink

      IMHO, the RCI can put up any rules they want, but at the end the states commissions are the ones, who take the decisions. So it seems that a lot ot time and money has been wasted on uniform rules, knowing that a lot of states ain,t prepare to pay the price

      Any talk about integrity is useless, and just window talk. As long as the states are not preparing to pay the price. The public and the bettors are just legal ripped off.
      But that is just IMHO.

      Therefore the pitt,s udall bill should be the one and not the soft other bill. If the states keeps refusing, then just turn off interstate betting for them.

      • I agree in large part with what you said. Wish the Pitts/Udall bill, though, actually pre-empted the state racing commissions given their lack of funding, favoritism/cronyism, failure to adopt the RMTC four-part program, etc. that impair these commissions from doing their job. System remains broken notwithstanding all the inaccurate stats being pushed by the ARCI/RMTC and horsemen’s groups.

      • Peyton

        Agree.

    • Alex

      Hit job? Maybe. Certainly a full court press for passage of Federal Legislation. However you and The ARCI do have some blame. Your failure has been at least in part for using The RMTC’S junk science for thresholds and withdraw times. The ARCI’s MODEL RULES have written into them many wrong thresholds and wrong withdraw times.
      Examples, Dr. Palmer New York’s Equine Medical Director couldn’t use the ARCI thresholds and withdraw times and withdraw times for Flunixin or Depo. Why because they are wrong. The Virginia Racing Commission gave the boot to the ARCI’S Depo threshold. Then there is the Tod Pletcher case in Delaware that exposed the RMTC threshold of Betamethasone. The RMTC (Arm of The Jockey Club) couldn’t defend scintificly how the thresholds written in the ARCI’S Model Rules were established.
      It was stated at the Equine Law Conference held last week at Saratoga, 19 of the 26 thearpudic medications in the ARCI’S MODEL RULES have no published data as to how the thresholds and withdraw times were developed.

      Now the same wrong thresholds and wrong withdraw times are in some of this Federal Legislation. Certainly a good reason to oppose this Federal Legislation. At the same time much of the mess of wrong thresholds and wrong withdraw times needs to be recognized and corrected.

  • Dee R. Eff

    When I saw that statement, “cooperative efforts that have historically been productive,” in another article a few days ago, it smelled like a contradiction at best, or as you put it, hypocritical. Obviously you smelled the same thing.
    Thank you Ray for taking the time to flesh that out and let us know our gut instinct was right and it was one of those things where “thou dost protest too much.”

    On a slightly side topic, I’ve had the feeling that Oaklawn is one of those tracks that might be considered “friendly” to certain shippers, and from what I’m seeing, I might be right about that. It also makes me wonder about where Monmouth, or the state of NJ stands on the USADA and the national uniform medication program.
    And if I can get one more favor from you, maybe you can ask the TOC board members why they are so against the same. The president said the TOC is 100% against the USADA and admitted they have yet to approve the uniform drug rules. Maybe you could ask the six trainers on the board why they are against it, one of which is Bob Baffert. And maybe ask his buddy Pegram as well.

    • Naprovnik Naprovnik

      We have similar perceptions.

    • longtimehorsewoman

      What a conflict of interest – trainers on a board where things like medication reform are voted on. Let’s let the foxes build the chicken coops.

      • Peyton

        Yes if the foxes are removed from the hen house then it will go along way to solving the problems of the sport.

        • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: most owners like a fox – especially if, when the fox does get caught, they can say “I never guessed for a second that this bushy tailed pet of mine could be a fox” and walk away unscathed. There is exactly the same situation in Britain, although with deceitful handicapping rather than doping – horses from elite stables regularly get into the system 21lbs [about 10 lengths] lower than they ought to. Things would improve greatly if the owners faced appearing in the dock too.

          • longtimehorsewoman

            Agreed. Punish owners and they would see that trainers change their ways.

          • Thank you LWH. I think you are the first to agree, although Naprovnik Naprovnik has said that the problem is that too many people don’t want to change things. Exactly the same in England, wall to wall non-triers, Classic winners running in H’caps off 85[they are 120 a few weeks later], but everyone is happy.

      • Paul Skelton

        Great point. Get the trainers, journalists, owners, and politicians out of the equation. Let the vets, those who really understand the drugs and their effects, decide what can be and can’t be used.

  • Peyton

    Unfortunately, the fed legislation will never make a vote and therefore all our concerns and commits will be for not. We just keep hoping someone will save the sport but it will most likely IMHO have to come from grass roots upward via boycott.

  • Matthew Martini

    Arkansas racing is just proving that they “can’t see the forest for the trees.” The last thing that racing needs is regressive thinking by those who run it. It is time to boycott Oaklawn Park.

    I’m an optimist that this sport will start getting straightened out with some federal legislation. It will not be a panacea, but it will be a start. Much more will need to be done to address the other warts (Lasix, equine retirement funds, promoting euthanasia over slaughter, etc.). Racing needs to build a sport to which people can take their families and not suffer cognitive dissonance that the animals are all on dope that they do not need. Eventually, we’ll get there.

    We can have an American Pharoah every year, but it will still not keep people from turning away from the sport due to the perception of drugs, horses as commodities, etc. Any ground made on these matters, however incremental, should be applauded.

    Email your congressional representatives about H.R.3084. Even if they are not on the Committee of Energy and Commerce, give them an earful. That will make them talk about it. As my man W.C. Williams once wrote, “so much depends/ upon/ a red wheel/ barrow/ glazed with rain/ water/ beside the white/ chickens.” We cannot allow this bill to die in the committee, like so many other good bills pertaining to horses rights in recent years.

  • Danny Gonzalez

    Racing is already screwed up because of the regulators cough I mean the RCI no significant change that has any merit has been introduced the medication bill has already been screwed up due to bad science Enough is enough. A strong opposition in favor of adding amendmants to the intertrack wagering act is being put forth in congress For states who dont agree with it they dont have to be involved in the intertrack wagering act The other Alternative being introduced is shutting down racing altogether since we cant let the lunatics continue to run the asylum.

  • SusanKayne

    For clarity on the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 watch ABC WTEN​ episode of Real Horse Rescues​ with Congressman Paul D. Tonko & uber-author BILL HELLER at Saratoga Race Course​ … https://youtu.be/llRHeTSvGKo

  • PEyton

    I agree the money spent on prosecuting would be better spent than thrown at some new guidelines without presenting a real threat of jailing the cheaters.

  • Gary S. Broad

    This is a perfect example of why this sport needs a national governing body. One organization that enforces rules, regulations, fines and penalizes. These state run alphabet groups with questionable motives need to be eliminated.

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