Coalition For Horse Racing Integrity: In Wake of Vitali Case, ‘We Need Better Regulation’

by | 09.21.2016 | 8:30am
The Coalition For Horse Racing Integrity includes the Jockey Club, Breeders' Cup, WHOA, and Humane Society of the United States

The Paulick Received the following Letter to the Editor from the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, whose members include national and local organizations representing breeders, owners, sale consignors, racetracks and veterinarians 

As a group that shares the common belief that the Thoroughbred racing industry is in serious need of medication reform, we would like to commend the Paulick Report for its insightful, ongoing coverage of a saga involving a Florida-based trainer with numerous medication violations (“Vitali License Reinstated, Despite Record That Includes Complaint Of Cruelty.”

While the establishment of the National Uniform Medication Program has enabled some progress on the medication reform front, we still don't have uniformity of rules, drug-testing or penalties.

Clearly, the current path to uniformity enables unnecessary delay and uneven enforcement. Slap-on-the-wrist fines or suspensions are not deterring bad behavior. Repeat offenders just go about their business or take their horses elsewhere.

Does the state of Florida need any more motivation than this case to finally adopt the Multiple Medication Violation (MMV) Penalty System that is a key component of the RMTC's National Uniform Medication Program?

To be frank, it is hard to believe that the National Uniform Medication Program will ever live up to its name, which indicates meaningful adoption of all four of its components in all 38 racing jurisdictions.

That is why our group has rallied together, through the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, to encourage the adoption of a national, uniform standard for drugs and medication in American Thoroughbred racing, and the granting of rulemaking, testing and enforcement oversight to an entity created by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

We need better regulation and we need it to be independent regulation, such as that outlined in H.R. 3084 (the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act).

As we have said many time before: In a sport built on the integrity of competition, nothing is more important than a level playing field for the horses, jockeys, and trainers who compete, as well as the fans who wager on the races.

We would encourage interested parties to learn more about our coalition by visiting horseracingintegrity.com.

In the meantime, we hope the Paulick Report will continue to serve the industry with its crucial investigative reporting.

Signed,

Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity

 

  • PaulieWalnuts

    I recently came to the conclusion that the sport of horse racing is beyond repair.
    From the Ohio State Racing Commission dismissing an instance of a gelded multiple time winner entering the gate against maiden fillies. The Commission expended all their effort in exonerating the employees responsible for this fiasco, never once issuing an apology to the bettors who were directly affected by this mix-up.
    From the Stewards at Louisiana Downs who cleared a jockey for holding back his mount and then claiming heat stroke when social media demanded some answers. Subsequent (I have not viewed this evidence) comments have claimed that said jockey can be seen on video feed for several minutes after completion of the race, not receiving immediate medical attention as claimed by the Stewards.
    Too many instances such as these, nobody has a vested interest in exposing the warts on this game.
    I decided several months ago that I was hanging up my Racing Form after 30+ years of a passionate affair with horse racing. At the conclusion of the SAR meet I depleted my online account and will not replenish it again. I did not feel sadness as I made my last wager, I felt like I did when I quit smoking after almost 40 years, it was something that just wasn’t good for me.

    • gus stewart

      Sorry to hear you have arrived at this point with racing. I have been around the races in so cal for over 40 years starting at 12 yrs old. I no longer put much time or money in this sport anymore also. In a world of media cable and the Internet, its mind boggling when you have a product that can grow via all the above listed outlets, that the owners of these horses would not demand changes. A commisionar would be the first step. But for some reason as i have said before no one wants to take the time to clean house. Sorry to bring race and gender in the conversation, but being white and liberal, i only see the same base of fans that look like me. Women and other ethnicities and a younger based was really never addressed until the last 5 to 10 years. But when you have the meds problem and no accountability for the higher levels exucutive, similar to the wells fargo current fiasco, those new and younger fans walk away from ever getting exposed to the most exciting spectator sport in the sports world. And how much fun it used to be to own and love a horse you owned.

      • Peter Scarnati

        How true… Diversity makes everything better. Although that hasn’t seemed to help the Greyhound industry, which, I daresay, was/is heavily followed by the groups which you believe don’t patronize horse racing.
        How does the “Wells Fargo fiasco” have any relevance here? A people flocking away from and/or turning in their Wells Fargo credit cards, mortgages and loans?

        • gus stewart

          Lol, with wells just the layoffs of 5000 over the last 5 years, most of them lower level employees, the top guys still have their jobs making 50 to a hundred million not taking a pay cut.. so i see racing, weve gone from 5 racing days to four next could be three and still the same folks employeed on top just changing titles.also clarification on me, not a complete liberal, an open minded moderate is a more accurate bio for me.

          • Peter Scarnati

            Thanks for the explanation about Wells Fargo. It escaped me.
            What about your take on diversity?

          • gus stewart

            Well i think all lives matter, so thats my take on that. I think women need to be in more positions of power,, not hillary. I feel that playing any race card for power is hypocrisy. And i think political correctness can only work when we have complete freedom of speech,, for the rich and poor mr trump goes on tilt with that tooooo much,, nice chatting with u.

          • Peter Scarnati

            Sorry Gus. I was wondering what you meant when you mentioned diversity (or lack of) being a problem in the racing industry. Didn’t really care about generalities.

          • gus stewart

            Oh i see sorry, its definitely lacking in ages 20 to 40 and with women. I think i also mentioned in another post, paddock veiw sitting with my asian college student bud, and a black film writer agent, freinds of mine, santa anita, looking at owners and guests in paddock for a race, i said to them , you dont see many folks that look like you out there do you.

    • David Juffet

      Are you still going to follow the sport?

      • PaulieWalnuts

        Yes I will still follow the sport but I’m a gambler at heart so it’s safe to assume that I won’t have the same passion for the sport.

    • Will Styles

      Paige’s prize was the worst travesty I’ve seen in my 25 years. Right there in Ohio. Then the steward Darryl Parker not only gets to keep his job, but is hired as a head steward at Mahoning Valley Racecourse. That there indicates no integrity and that is the problem with racing. No accountability.

      • PaulieWalnuts

        I exchanged several e-mails with Bill Crawford from the Ohio State Racing Commission. He focused on the slap on the wrist suspensions and the fact that an independent party had reviewed the wagering data.
        I repeatedly asked him the same question, WHAT ABOUT THE BETTOR? There was over $130K wagered and since it was the final race of the day the DD, P3 and P4 were also decided.
        Never once did I see an apology made to the bettors, they were the ones who were harmed without recourse. Mr. Crawford didn’t seem to understand why I kept pestering him on this, according to him all monies had been paid out and there’s nothing that could be done.

        • Will Styles

          Paulie, it sucks for the bettor for sure. I think they should at least have a protocol to refund the original wager, in the end the identifier is at fault. When I was in Albuquerque downs back in 2010 Agenting for Freddy FongJr the same thing happened there. A quarter horse who had won a maiden race that had 5 wins in alws competition won and they didn’t catch it until the test barn. The penaltys on the trainer should be much stiffer then what was handed down.

  • Karjo

    Let me join the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity in saying “Bravo” to the Paulick Report for ‘Standing Up’ and not ‘Giving Up’. It’s easy to walk away from something when it seems like it can’t be won and hard to keep grinding away at it. Thank You, Paulick Report, for not giving up on this very important cause.

    • David Juffet

      I second that emotion.

  • Real fan

    “Better Regulation?” Forgive the pessimism, but the time has long since passed whereby better regulation could have solved the innumerable problems in racing. I question whether there has ever been one solitary person in a position of influence that operated on a purely objective level for the good of racing. Horsemen are treated with utter disdain, almost as pitifully as the fans and gamblers who truly drive the game. Owners are misinformed and seem to be cannon fodder for the greedy bloodstock agents, managers, advisors, or “teams” that gleefully line their pockets with huge sums of money taken from owners under the banner of “program!” Yes indeed, better regulation will certainly do the job.

    • Peter Scarnati

      How is that horsemen are “treated with utter disdain.” Seems to me with casino infused purses being roughly 10 times higher than they ever were (at many, many tracks), horsemen should be spinning cartwheels over this bonanza. Please explain.
      No doubt though that fans and gamblers are totally abused. And they get it from both sides — management which could seemingly care less about them and the cheating horsemen which treat them as they don’t even exist.

  • wjfraz

    Nothing will come of any of this because there is way too much money being made by those who cheat and their nefarious cheating is, if not condoned, look away with askance. When those who could affect change refuse to do so because they mistakenly believe ridding the sport of the big cheaters would hurt their bottom line, not one thing will be done other than endless babbling about how to fix it. They don’t want to touch this for fear of lawsuits.

  • J

    VITALI ISN’T THE ONLY TRAINER WHO HAS ALLEGEDLY OVER MEDICATED THOROUGHBREDS.
    THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOREVER.
    IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE – HE IS THE FALL GUY.

    • Exhausted Race Fan

      The Fall Guy? One of the heinous things he did was race a filly with a broken leg. Come on? It doesn’t have to continue. Start making fellow owners feel it and get them to police themselves by advertising their drug reputation and fining their pocket book. Stop allowing them to hide behind their sleazy trainers. Vitali is a sleaze not a fall guy.

  • Larry Sterne

    Trainers are afraid to police their own.. Maybe when they take their horses to a track they be required to sign an oath , to
    accept the findings of a state regulartory agency and the authority be required to administer predefined punishment. This may help regain some integrity to our sport for the sake of the betters and spectatora.

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