Alan Leavitt’s suggestion for tackling the blood doping problem and more

HRU Feedback (2019-09-29)

September 28, 2019

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Alan Leavitt suggestion for tackling the blood doping problem

No question Ronnie Gurfein is right that blood doping is the worst problem facing our sport today (full story here).

The most prevalent form of blood doping is the use of EPO, although I am quick to concede that there may well be more advanced forms now available and in use. The testing methods now in use are totally inadequate to catch anyone because they can only detect the presence of blood doping within very narrow windows of time once the stuff is administered. Since EPO etc., can be given weeks out, and the window for detection by present day testing methods is no more than 36 hours, the bad guys have an unbeatable advantage.

But life, in general, and harness racing in particular, are identical to my favorite sport, wrestling, in that for every move there is a counter move, if you only know it. Here I think people like Ray Schnittker, David Meirs and Sam Beegle will know exactly what I’m talking about. All three of them were great on the mat in their day, and probably still would be today, if challenged.

The solution to the problem of blood doping is a good snitch network. Once you have someone on the inside, it’s easy to pinpoint the exact time to send in a technician with a needle and syringe, and you’ve got all the evidence you need to convict. Most states have draconian penalties, like five-year or more suspensions, that will put the evil doers out of action for good.

It isn’t hard to create a snitch network. One way is to send in an undercover agent who is already an adequate groom or second trainer. A few months at a major training center where a suspect or two has his headquarters, and he’ll have all the information any commission will need. Anyone who has spent time on the track knows that there are no secrets.

Alternatively, one could quietly spread the word that there’s a $5,000 reward, to be given to anyone who comes forward in total confidence with the necessary information for a successful bust.

I suspect there will be some reluctance to endorse a plan that includes the word “snitch,” but the fact is, however, that the key to solving many different forms of crimes is an undercover informant.

The people who are destroying our sport with their use of blood doping deserve a lot worse that being snitched on.

— Alan J. Leavitt / Lexington, KY

Observations on talented families

1. Metro winner Tall Dark Stranger was probably no surprise to breeder James Avritt who has historically raced many of the fillies in that family and sold off the colts. There are numerous, huge winners in this family that can directly trace their lineage to Dominique Semalu including stallions Sportswriter and Downbytheseaside, not to mention some great fillies. Once the hammer fell on Tall Dark Stranger last year at Lexington for $330,000, I thought this one could be the next top member of the family.

2. The Chapter Seven train just keeps rolling along. Unlike $330,000 purchase Tall Dark Stranger, Richard Gutnick purchased Chapter Seven for $42,000. At the New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions at Batavia, all four 2- and 3-year-old trotting final events were won by Chapter Seven’s offspring including the hugely talented filly Hypnotic AM. If you wish to compete on the trotting side in the New York sire stakes and also win on the grand circuit, you need a Chapter Seven who is now starting to get bred to much better mares as he keeps producing. Who wouldn’t want to own another Atlanta, Hypnotic AM, Walner, Woodside Charm, or Gimpanzee?

— Jordan Farkas, Long Brach, NY

Six Crowns no slouch

While I agree with the majority of Bill Hartenstine of Farmingdale, NY’s letter (2019-09-15 Feedback) maintaining that retiring horses early will be the death of our sport, I had to correct his comment about thoroughbred Six Crowns. While Secretariat was indeed bred to Chris Evert (not Krissy Evert), the resulting foal was a filly named Six Crowns. While she wasn’t as good as her esteemed parents, she could certainly put one foot in front of another. She was a stakes winner of 5 of her 15 starts, and later was the dam of Chief’s Crown, a champion in his own right.

Sorry, Bill, couldn’t let that one go!

— Kathy Weightman / Burgettstown, PA.

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