HRU Feedback (2017-10-08)

October 8, 2017

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Applauding PA for suspending horses

I applaud Pennsylvania’s decision to suspend horses that show Class 1, 2 or 3 positives or high TCO2 readings. When I read Brett Sturman’s opinion piece (full story here) arguing that the owner gets hurt and “it’s not his fault,” I say hogwash. There is no such thing in this business as a neophyte owner. We all know the score. We know who the good guys and the bad guys are. Way too many owners chase the “hot” trainer who all of a sudden has become the reincarnation of Superman.

There are no shortcuts in this business. If an owner wants to risk dealing with a suspect trainer, then let the owner pay the price when that trainer gets caught.

For all the many years that I sat on the board of directors of the USTA, I argued for just a sanction on owners, but, unfortunately, the entrenchment remained too strong.

I am surprised and thrilled that it took a racing commission to do something that our industry should have done on its own long ago. And it’s never too late. Let’s have the directors at the USTA pass such a rule. Let’s submit the rule change proposal and see which of our directors are on the right side of the questions and which ones want to duck the issue again for the sake of avoiding controversy and the ruffling of the proverbial feathers.

There is only one reason why “beard’ trainers continue to operate: It is because owners give them horses to train. Stop the supply of horses to the beards and cheaters and beards disappear. No horse equals no beard. Make the owners who supply the horses pay severely. As a matter of fact, why not suspend the owner, as well. Make it an integrity trifecta — horse, trainer and owner.

Joe Faraldo’s piece in the 2017-9-24 edition (page 29) calls the Racing Commission action a “knee jerk effort,” and says that our industry “seems to be intent on chasing owners away.”I’m sorry, Joe, but you got it all wrong. This action should have been taken long ago by our industry and it is with the clear intent of getting more owners involved because they will know a serious effort is being made to make all of us more honest.

— Paul Fontaine / Woonsocket, RI

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