In late March the Racing Commissioners International called for a five-year phase out of medication on raceday. This was met with some debate - on one side were most horseplayers and fans, some in the media, and several insiders and horse owners. On the other there were primarily horsemen groups. The debate was spirited and good points were made on both sides.
In racing, spirited debate, studies and new policy usually ends up in the trash can, and time will tell if this initiative does as well. However, there is some evidence the RCI has already done some good.
The California Horse Racing Board announced that trainer Jeff Mullins has been forced to "dismantle his stable during a 70 day ban." This seems to be a shift for the state, where horseplayers - including boycotters of the product who have long asked for more stringent penalties and no "training by cell phone" - have long complained that the board has handled suspensions with kid-gloves.
"The suspension effectively means, for the first time in California, a suspended trainer may not simply turn over the operation of his stable to an assistant while he serves out his penalty."
It appears that the RCI call - this time - has legs and shows that change can come.