Friday, June 27, 2008

Damage Control

It's inevitable that I begin to address the many serious issues surrounding the sport and, er, "business" that is my lifeblood. I'm relieved that it's all come to the forefront. However, I didn't foresee the avalanche of troubles crashing down simultaneously. The domino effect...I suppose.

Therefore, a smattering of posts in the near future will focus on my extremely biased yet experienced opinions of current affairs in horse racing in America. The issues are too numerous to tackle in one post, so, I'll start with: one governing body.

At the recent meeting with the congressional Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection during a hearing entitled "Breeding, Drugs, and Breakdowns", racing's finest were in agreement that "racing needs a national governing authority". Amen. Discussions on the table included creating uniform rules in racing's 38 states. In addition to the varying amounts of acceptable levels of medication from state to state (to be discussed in a future post), there is also inconsistent approval of license applications nationwide.

Case in point: the immensely talented yet troubled Patrick Valenzuela. Let's just say he holds apatrick valenzuela long history of substance abuse problems which have repeated derailed an otherwise stellar career as an outstanding race-rider (remember Sunday Silence?). California tolerated P-Val's drug and alcohol tribulations for years. He'd get popped, ruled off, and re-instated. He shaved off all of his body hair in an attempt to foil the chemists. Oh, and remember the armed taxi-cab holdup? Regardless of the fact that charges were dropped, how to you think the New York State Board of Pari-Mutual Wagering would have reacted to such shenanigans? Sternly and harshly, me thinks. In recent times, P-Val rode in California with a "conditional" license until getting popped again for a DUI on Dec. 20, 2007.

Now, he's riding in New Mexico and winning races. My intention is not to pick on P-Val but his example illustrates the huge inconsistency of rule enforcement within racing jurisdictions. And I haven't even touched on the drug issue, absolute insurer rule, race track security for the backside, American obsession with speed, responsibility and actions of vets and owner, etc.

Fairness is what justice really is.” - Potter Stewart

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