The West Virginia Legislature continues to fail in its feeble efforts to to get their financial house in order. As a result they are raiding the slots fund and taking money that was legislated for other purposes and using it to cover their own lack of will and acts of mismanagement.
Tuesday’s Paulick Report features a press release containing quotes from RCI President Ed Martin. “At a critical time for the racing industry RCI continues to demonstrate proficiency and leadership in a number of areas essential to the sport. The collective involvement of our members, working in consultation with the various breeds has resulted in important advances designed to safeguard horses as well as the integrity of the sport. “Those advances include widespread adherence to RCI/RMTC lab standards, increased reliance on pre-race veterinarian examinations, limits on toe grabs, development of universal totalizator system standards and increased training and accreditation for racing officials. “The expertise represented in the RCI leadership and Board is balanced and represents every aspect of the sport. Veterinarians, owners, trainers, fans , those who know the business, those who know racing, and those who understand government. RCI is truly independent with no agenda other than to protect these great sports by safeguarding our athletes and participants as well as the public interest.”
My reply to Mr. Martin: If RCI is and has been concerned for some time about safeguarding the industry, its athletes, and participants as well as the public interest, where in hell have they been? We have heard no suggestions coming from RCI directly. They support the ideas of others and definitely are not proactive. At a critical time for the industry stewards and commissioners have failed in their responsibilities to protect athletes, participants and the public interest. With the recent rash of bad tests for illegal drugs, this industry has been screaming for leadership in the form of some individual or organization. They are screaming because many of your members and the stewards they approve have done a disgraceful job of regulating the industry. Stewards and commissioners have adjudicated cases in a very liberal manner promoting the idea that none of these violations are any matter of importance. Stewards and commissioners suspend trainers for days that should have been given years and allow them to transfer horses in their care to their assistants on an almost automatic basis during the period of suspension however brief. By their silence, commissioners condone these short suspensions and along with their stewards have brought the industry to its present status.
I have really had enough of this clamoring for model rules. Granted they would be a convenience but if the regulators remain the same, nothing will change. The cause of the problem is simple. The regulators do not regulate. The tail is wagging the dog. You can adopt rules that say absolutely anything you wish, but if stewards and racing commissioners do not impose meaningful punishment on violators all is in vain. For those of you who just don’t get it, the problem is the regulators! They are dealing with a few bandits that have absolutely no respect for the rules or the law and they treat them with kid gloves. Many of these violations deserve months and years, some of them life. It is a disgrace how these people are punished for some of these rule violations. The industry has a dire need for people of a different ilk in regulatory positions and the people who do the placing can not see or do not know of the real source of the problem.
Steven Crist, in writing for the Daily Racing Form on March 1st of this year, claims that standards for the stewards need reviewing and I agree with him in part. I believe the bettors deserve a detailed explanation by one of the stewards on in house video explaining and justifying any disqualification. That type of accountability should be accompanied by a long step toward transparency which makes the vote of each steward public knowledge. I also believe that this same procedure should be applied to racing commissioners and the decisions that they make. All stakeholders have a right to know how the decision makers voted on any given issue.
Mr. Crist’s remark that stewards should not continue to be unseen and unaccountable is totally off base. Of what possible value to anyone could ‘‘seeing” the stewards be? To say that they are unaccountable is absolutely incorrect because it is a matter of rule that the stewards are accountable to the racing commissioners. He is right about disqualification not being used as a tool to discourage reckless or otherwise improper riding. Any steward signing such a ruling should be removed immediately.
Recently, Quarter horse trainer John Stinebaugh was fined forty thousand dollars and suspended for sixteen years in New Mexico for findings of Viagra in samples taken from horses in his care last year. The New Mexico commission under the leadership of Executive Secretary Vince Mares has recently changed attitudes and procedures with regard to non permissive drugs found in horses racing in New Mexico and for this I applaud them. Suspensions of that nature will, without a doubt, cause severe restraint on those considering using illegal drugs in order to collect a purse or win a bet. Some (Trainers) will say that sixteen years is excessive for this particular case, however I submit that sanctions of this magnitude or stronger are necessary to achieve effectiveness in reducing these types of violations in todays culture. Having established this new standard, The stewards and commission in New Mexico must now be very cautious in future adjudications to make the punishment equal to the crime in a proper ratio to this new standard of sixteen years for these Viagra tests. In order to be supported by the courts on appeal they must demonstrate that their adjudications are not only tough, but also fair and consistent. Anyone care to keep a scorecard on medication violations in New Mexico during 2014 and thereafter? I see no reason why every jurisdiction in horse racing should not follow suit here as well as exercising their private property rights during periods of stay handed down by the courts.
Has anyone read Ray Paulick’s report on a trainer in California being assessed a fine of twenty-five hundred dollars for his fifth violation of the bute threshold rule? Below is a summary along with my comments.
Where is the outrage? With the semi-approval of California stewards and the racing board Mr. Pender has already demonstrated his disdain for the rule book on four different occasions in 2013. Now comes Pender again with yet another bute overage and the Santa Anita stewards fine him twenty five hundred dollars and threaten to suspend him for a full week if it happens again. A full week, wow! How do people who think in this fashion find themselves in the stewards’ stand in California and other jurisdictions? I will tell you how! Too many board members and commissioners along with their executive secretaries have an extreme lack of knowledge of what type of person it takes to be a good steward. They don’t even ask the pertinent questions when they hire or approve these people. They appoint and approve those men and women who think that twenty five hundred dollar fines and threats of a full week suspension will curb or discontinue excessive bute treatments. What does that tell you? It tells me that neither the racing board nor the stewards know what the hell they are doing. This man defies the stewards on five different occassions and he gets another slap on the wrist. This is exactly the kind of regulation that accounts for a very large part of the loss of faith on the part of those who wager on horse racing. Remember them, the life blood of the industry? This ruling and everything about it reeks of incompetence. These people live in a dream world