Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Life At Ten Debacle

It's Breeders Cup Friday. Horse racing takes center stage. Life At Ten, a mare that has garnered her share of national attention, appears to be tying up during the post parade and pre-race warm ups.

The mare is so noticeably off that Jerry Bailey, who is working as part of ESPN's broadcast crew, decides to ask jockey John Velazquez if Life At Ten is ok.

Velazquez told a worldwide television audience, not once but twice, that Life At Ten was not ok.

Despite this, the horse wasn't scratched. Instead, she was loaded into the starting gate. And when the gate sprang, Life At Ten showed no interest in running and lagged badly behind the field. Fortunately, Velazquez did not persevere, and Life At Ten was eventually pulled up.

Amazingly, after the press started asking questions about the incident, Chief Steward John Veitch allegedly suggested a gag order be implemented going forward, apparently to prevent jockeys from talking about this type of incident - as if a rider answering questions was somehow the root of the problem.

A number of players and HANA members have told me in no uncertain terms that as HANA's President, I should have immediately called for Veitch's head on a plate.

A number of HANA members and players have also asked why HANA has been silent about the Life At Ten debacle. (And make no mistake: It was a debacle.)

It's a valid question. One that deserves an answer.

Please do not take our silence to mean we approve of what happened or the apparent attempt by Veitch to sweep it under the rug. We are every bit as incensed and bewildered over the events surrounding the Life At Ten incident as you are.

Our mission at HANA is to give horseplayers a voice. As a way of achieving that, we strive to shine a very public spotlight on racing's many debacles (and yes, there are many.)

Almost immediately after the Life At Ten debacle, we looked around and noticed that a very public spotlight was indeed pointing out the events surrounding the Life At Ten incident.

Frankly, once we saw that a spotlight was being pointed at events surrounding this incident, we felt that not only was the job being done, but that is was being done well.

Jeremy Plonk's column at about this incident is an excellent read:

Here are some other links to coverage of the incident:

Thoroughbred Times:

Paulick Report:

NY Post:

Turf N Sport:

In closing, we would like to ask racing's decision makers the following (obvious) questions:

What assurances do we as bettors have that measures will be taken so that an incident of this type will not be repeated?

Can you not see that racing is a gambling game?

Do you not understand that integrity is one of the requirements for running a successful gambling game?

In the hearts and minds of thousands of bettors everywhere, failure to scratch Life At Ten was a breach of the public trust, as was failure to test the horse after the race. If ever a horse should have been subjected to a full battery of drug tests, it was Life at Ten after the 2010 Breeders Cup Ladies Classic.

Jeff Platt
President, HANA


dana said...

Here are all, or at least most, of the commentaries on the debacle as well. Plenty of great points raised (and anger ventilated):

Anonymous said...

why surprised? it's pletcher.
as a horseplayer, i can assure you that todd pletcher is NOTORIOUS for having horses run a bummer and then coming back to run super.
why? over-medication.
to put it in perspective in big races, check out quality rd. in the b.c. 09. further back, check out bluegrass cat before and during the triple crown. in between, there have been dozens of occassions that a pltcher horse runs up the track and then comes back with a good race.
i know you won't print this. you guys are all talk, no action.

Chris Sorenson said...

This was a disaster and jeopardized not only the safety of the horse and jockey but also the integrity of the wagers.

What a mess.