As NYSRWB vs Dutrow clearly demonstrates, many people in decision making positions have great difficulty saying NO! Those people should not serve as stewards. How do they gain employment as stewards? Some are hired by racing associations and others are hired by racing boards and racing commissions. (In the interest of brevity, I will hereinafter refer to both bodys as commissions). All racing officials hired by racing associations must gain commission approval.
In my judgement, that procedure places the ultimate responsibility for who serves as a steward and who does not, squarely on the shoulders of the commissioncommission having regulatory responsibility for the jurisdiction. This procedure provides commissions the opportunity to investigate the backgrounds and qualifications of those persons about to assume responsibilities of varying degree as racing officials. That is as it should be.
However, when the number and nature of Mr. Dutrow’s violations became such that reasonable and judicious stewards would have re-evaluated his suitability to hold a license, the commission approved stewards reviewing Mr. Dutrow’s applications for license favorably endorsed him. Why? Did any of those commission approved stewards dissent from any decision to license Mr. Dutrow? If so that information was not made public. Dissenting opinions should be filed with the ruling and become part of the record.
As the number of violations continued to increase, why didn’t one of the boards of stewards which heard cases of alleged violations against Mr. Dutrow in which he was found guilty, then consider all previous violations when deciding on an appropriate sanction? Why not, they are empowered to do so? That is precisely what the NYSRWB did. A board of commission approved stewards somewhere in this progression of such violations should have intervened before now. The industry, the bettors and the participants deserve better.
In addition to the background investigations that are commonplace, commissions need to learn more about a potential steward’s values and thinking progressions. Does the applicant demonstrate an ability to think reasonably and judiciously? I believe those qualities to be a very important part of the character that competent stewards demonstrate. Commissioners, take a closer look!