Earlier today, when I logged into my email account, I read an email from a horseplayer named Bob who had sent me a link to story at NOLA.com about suspensions handed out by the Louisiana State Racing Commission to trainers for Demorphin positives.
Louisiana State Racing Commission imposes harsh penalties upon demorphin trainers:
The story at the above link confirms what most horseplayers have known for some time:
Racing has a serious drug problem.
While most of us aren't up on what the latest designer drug is or what it does - we are painfully aware that once labs develop tests and protocols for one drug - another designer drug not being tested for will be there to take its place.
Most of us are also painfully aware that at least SOME of the Demorphin suspensions handed out will be appealed in court.
We are also painfully aware the appeals process is likely to drag on through the court system for months (if not years) while the trainer in question continues to train... You know, business as usual.
For Racing's sake, there HAS to be a better way.
A few days ago, Bill Finley penned a story for ESPN.com titled Cheaters Lock Them Up:
There is a current thread about that story on Paceadvantage.com. In that thread I made the following post:
In my humble opinion, the FIRST order of business for running a successful gambling game is that the game itself be regulated in such a way that there is very little question among the wagering public that the game itself is on the up and up.
In my humble opinion, racing's status quo in no way shape or form leads ANYONE to believe that racing as a gambling game is currently being regulated in such a way that the game itself is on the up and up.
Personally, I LIKE the way the drug issue is currently handled by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. There, only the track vet can administer drugs or perform veterinary procedures for horses that are "in training." Every substance administered and every procedure performed is handled by the track vet.
Further, info about meds administered and procedures performed are LOGGED by the track vet as part of the horse’s medical record. From there, one can navigate to the entries page at the official Hong Kong Jockey Club website and view the entries info for any horse entered to race - and when one does this - there is a clickable link where one can view a brief description of the horse’s medical record.
Transparency and integrity are two things that come to mind.
Compared to North American horse racing, cheating through the use of drugs at Hong Kong’s two tracks (Happy Valley and Sha Tin) is pretty much unheard of. More importantly, there is a prevailing belief among the wagering public that both the racing conducted by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and that regulation of said racing is on the up and up.
Allow me to play "What If" for a second –
What if one or more MAJOR racing jurisdictions (NYRA, SOCAL, KY, etc.) decided to LEAD and implement the following? Or better yet, what if they collectively decided to LEAD and implement the following?
• While a horse is in training, ALL medications administered (both therapeutic and race day) must be administered by the state or track vet.
• While a horse is in training, ALL veterinary procedures performed must be performed by the state or track vet.
• While a horse is in training, ALL veterinary procedures performed and ALL medications administered by the state or track vet must be recorded on a document that acts as the horse’s (for lack of a better term) "medical passport."
• When a horse is claimed, sold, or otherwise changes hands, the medical passport document accompanies the horse (just like foaling papers do.)
• Medical passport documents for ALL horses in training are made available for the world to see (just like horse past performance data.)
• Horses shipping in from a racing jurisdiction where the above rules have not (yet) been adopted, or horses that have been "out of training" can enter "into training" but must first undergo a 45 day quarantine period (where the state/track vet is the one who administers all meds and/or performs all procedures and logs same on the horse’s medical passport) before the horse becomes eligible to race and earn purse money.
• Horses shipping in from a "recognized" racing jurisdiction where the above rules are already in place face NO such quarantine period.
I would argue that if the above model were implemented by NYRA, SOCAL, KY, FL, etc., 90% of the other smaller racing jurisdictions would do the same shortly afterwards.
I would further argue that the above model would go a long way towards pretty much ending racing’s drug problem (and the negative perception among the wagering public that goes with it.)
As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcomed.