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Friday, December 31, 2010

Education on Drugs is Important & Other Notes

The DRF speaks today about how hard it is for trainers to not get nabbed with tiny infractions at times. Horse racing drug use is highly regulated - not unlike the Olympics is - in terms of drug use. A good deal of normal everyday substances that you and I might have are no-no's, and sometimes these drugs in small amounts can find their way into a horse, because of a cut-off time, mistakes, or other issues the article mentions.

Education is key for this industry, and for too long the customer was not educated on drugs and racing; they were simply ignored. As we all know well: We were a monopoly, so if customers spouted "he's a cheater" for a 0.00001mg overage of grape juice, it was left stand with no response. No one seemed to care because there was nowhere else to bet.

Now that we are not a monopoly, it is vitally important to have informed bettors and fans. In that vein HANA worked with the folks at the RMTC in constructing a database of violations. What they achieved is a great first step. The database, accessible here, shows all violations and allows you to scroll over each drugs name to find out what it is. It is a good first step and we urge players to check it out when they see a suspension.

HANA believes horsepeople are not out to shaft us as bettors, or be bad to their horses en masse. We believe most are hard-working and honest. If the infraction looks small it is probably is small and an error. However, where we have a hard-line as horseplayers is on performance enhancing drugs or drugs which can harm a racehorse (blood builders like Epogen, Aranesp or CERA, painkillers like venom, and any new undetectable drug which is used with intent to injure our horses and sport), as well as horse abuse of any sort. For those violations, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. You should not have the honor to work with animals and once you are exposed, we suggest you find a new line of work.

Notes:

Tom Lamarra over at the Bloodhorse makes some predictions. He says there will be a triple crown winner this year (I wonder who that would be :)) and that in 2011 the CHRB will move the takeout rates back down in not-so-sunny California. He did title his piece "ridiculous predictions" though!

The Buffalo News gives their top story list here.

Rich Eng tells readers that the California racing situation might get worse and he calls the early drop in betting there 'one of the biggest year end stories'.

Bill Finley, fresh off winning an Eclipse award, does not hold back in his most recent column.

A lot of people do not know how, in the long run, takeout works. Trackmaster shows you here in a comprehensive piece.

In addition, Jeff Platt shows you the takeout increase that happens tomorrow with some math (via Paceadvantage.com). Bill, another board member here, tells you it in terms of tax (he's an engineer so they talk a little funny, but even I understood his "heady" point, so I imagine for you smart reader, it will be easy.) In a nutshell, like the trackmaster piece showed, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see this hurts handle and shrinks the sports customer base (just like the Los Al empirical numbers showed here in easy to see pics)

Funniest new name I have seen on a chat board? "I-do-not-like-ham." I think that poster is a youtube watcher!

5 comments:

steve in nc said...

Does HANA have an official position on lasix & bute?

HANA said...

Hi Steve,

No. We had one section of our last survey on broad drug issues but it was not that specific. We are advised by a couple of vets who we ask questions to and that is a good question. One we should press them on.

If players have any thoughts on it, it is a good thread right here to share them (if they want to)

HANA

steve in nc said...

OK, some thoughts:

1 - Cheating & perception of cheating drives some players awaym drives remaining players crazy on occasion, and deters potential new players. Trying to clean up the game should be a top priority. In a game perceived as clean, it would be easier to adopt a sane, lenient policy for trace amounts of many substances.

2 - Lasix is unnecessary for most horses, as shown by US past experience and most of the world's current practice. Some studies indicate it is performance enhancing. As a diuretic, it can help flush other banned substances out of the system before detection. Current US practice of pretending that almost every horse needs it to race is a bad joke, but it shows that horsemen will stretch any gray area to make sure their competitors don't have an advantage. So let's ban lasix. Losing a few bleeders from the game is a small price to pay. Making them unable to compete and less likely to breed would be good for the breed.

3 - I know nothing about bute, and would love to hear from vets, but have a strong predisposition to keeping things clean and simple with a total ban. Are other countries' bans unenforced? If not, why can't we do it?

4 - Nationally uniform rules and testing protocols would be better for players (certain trainers would presumably no longer be 25% at one track and 8% everywhere else) and easier for horsemen. The 9th race at a minor track can be just important to those who bet it as the BC Classic, so it should have the same drug rules.

5 - Preventing milkshaking is more important to the honesty of the sport than the convenience of horsemen and the comfort of horses, so detention barns are needed. If a particular horse needs a favorite groom or stable pony there, so be it, but they should have to go through what we all go through at the airport before entering that detention barn.

6 - Samples should be frozen, so today's cheaters will have to fear that tomorrow's better tests may expose them and lead to penalties including purse reposessions.

I'm no vet and may be oversimplifying or incorrect on some issues. I'd value the real-world info from horsemen. But horsemen should realize this may be an issue where they and we players have opposing interests. I'm all for treating horses that are sick/injured. And then giving them time to recuperate and get the drugs out of their systems before returning to the races.

steve in nc said...

OK, some thoughts:

1 - Cheating & perception of cheating drives some players awaym drives remaining players crazy on occasion, and deters potential new players. Trying to clean up the game should be a top priority. In a game perceived as clean, it would be easier to adopt a sane, lenient policy for trace amounts of many substances.

2 - Lasix is unnecessary for most horses, as shown by US past experience and most of the world's current practice. Some studies indicate it is performance enhancing. As a diuretic, it can help flush other banned substances out of the system before detection. Current US practice of pretending that almost every horse needs it to race is a bad joke, but it shows that horsemen will stretch any gray area to make sure their competitors don't have an advantage. So let's ban lasix. Losing a few bleeders from the game is a small price to pay. Making them unable to compete and less likely to breed would be good for the breed.

3 - I know nothing about bute, and would love to hear from vets, but have a strong predisposition to keeping things clean and simple with a total ban. Are other countries' bans unenforced? If not, why can't we do it?

4 - Nationally uniform rules and testing protocols would be better for players (certain trainers would presumably no longer be 25% at one track and 8% everywhere else) and easier for horsemen. The 9th race at a minor track can be just important to those who bet it as the BC Classic, so it should have the same drug rules.

5 - Preventing milkshaking is more important to the honesty of the sport than the convenience of horsemen and the comfort of horses, so detention barns are needed. If a particular horse needs a favorite groom or stable pony there, so be it, but they should have to go through what we all go through at the airport before entering that detention barn.

6 - Samples should be frozen, so today's cheaters will have to fear that tomorrow's better tests may expose them and lead to penalties including purse reposessions.

I'm no vet and may be oversimplifying or incorrect on some issues. I'd value the real-world info from horsemen. But horsemen should realize this may be an issue where they and we players have opposing interests. I'm all for treating horses that are sick/injured. And then giving them time to recuperate and get the drugs out of their systems before returning to the races.

Anonymous said...

1- No argument from me as a player

2, 3 - I dont know enough about it

4 - A godsend... I think part of hana's mission statement

5- milkshakes are a scourge

6- being done?