Mike Repole, the owner of Uncle Mo, claimed in a media teleconference yesterday that “everybody has been talking about full disclosure” when it comes to the physical condition of his once-beaten champion colt.
He then went on to lecture members of the racing press about what their role should be: “…the media has to do a better job of [presenting] more positive stories,” he said. “Why do we only get the negative stories? … If you start disclosing every single thing about horse racing, whether it's horse rescue, issues with horses, or suspensions … there are so many positives about this sport that we don't focus on.”
And I thought Repole made his money peddling VitaminWater. Sounds to me like he's been drinking Kool-Aid.
But it's only a few of us media deadbeats that Repole doesn't like.
“I'm very accommodating, and 99% of the media, I love you guys,” Repole continued. “It's that 1% that is so negative of the sport and really ruin it for everybody else—that 1% that announced his retirement or that [Uncle Mo] came in basically lame. That 1% really bothers me.”
(Click here to read all of Repole's comments on the subject.)
I'm not sure who the “everybody” is that Repole said has been talking about full disclosure. The Paulick Report recently brought up the subject of the American Thoroughbred industry's propensity for avoiding veterinary transparency — whether it's minor procedures to straighten crooked legs on foals so they can bring more money at public auction, the removal of bone chips in knees and ankles of horses in training, or the medication records of horses who compete in a highly regulated gambling industry where integrity is of utmost importance.
Uncle Mo was used as an example in the article. (Click here to read). I pointed out several physical issues concerning the colt that many people are wondering about: the pinfiring marks on his shins, the shaved area below his right knee, and the apparent work done on a hoof wall. I then compared how issues like this are handled with complete transparency in the world's most successful racing market, Hong Kong, with the veil of secrecy that is generally used by veterinarians and trainers in American racing, a sport that is in a downward spiral both in its public image and its economic outlook.
I respect Mike Repole. He puts up his money, has tremendous enthusiasm for the game, and shows compassion for the people and horses who make it great. I have no reason to question his personal integrity.
Repole doesn't need to disclose anything about Uncle Mo or any of his other horses to me or anyone else. But this is a subject that cuts at the heart of racing's problems. We are on shaky ground, living in an era when people's confidence in the sports world has been damaged by countless scandals and the emphasis has been on more disclosure — not less. Circling the wagons and saying “it's none of your business” is the way racing has handled many of its problems in the past. And I don't think that is working out very well.
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