Paul Moran

For 30 years, more than 22 at Newsday, in New York, Paul Moran has covered thoroughbred racing on its highest level. During that time, he has covered 30 Triple Crown series, every running of the Breeders' Cup Championships, 23 race meetings at Saratoga, won two Eclipse Awards, a Red Smith Award for coverage of the Kentucky Derby and other writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Editors, Long Island Press Club, Society of Silurians (the oldest press club in New York), Long Island Veterinary Medical Association, Florida Magazine Publishers Association.

In 2002, he was named New York's best thoroughbred handicapper by the New York Press in its annual "Best of Manhattan" edition. His work has appeared in virtually every racing publication published in the United States and most major American newspapers. He is a licensed owner of thoroughbreds in New York Contact:

Most recent entries

Monthly Archives


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mullins debate: Peering through the smoke

The Jeff Mullins incident has spawned a good deal of debate and two distinctly different schools of thought.

The first: Since the substance that Mullins was observed administering with an oral syringe to Gato Go Win, who was to have run in the Bay Shore Stakes, was a perfectly legal product, a mixture of natural ingredients (and a small amount of alcohol) called Air Power, the matter is overblown and amounts to no more than a detention barn infraction. “It’s like sucking on a cough drop,” Mullins said, claiming ignorance of the New York rules and inferring that detention barn personnel saw him carry both the syringe and the substance into the facility in which horses are sequestered prior to races.

Security personnel at the barn, however, contend that both the substance and syringe were concealed, in fact smuggled into the barn. Mullins has raced in New York before. The rules have not changed. Then again, Mullins said that he routinely gives his horses Air Power on race day in California, but rules in that state prohibit all such substances on race day.

The second school of thought: Where there is smoke, there is fire.

Considering Mullins long and less than illustrious record, built primarily in California and other western states, where he is known as “Milkshake Mullins,” giving him benefit of the doubt out of the question, a possibility only for the naïve who would consider the remote possibility the Mullins is telling the truth. If Gato Go Win required a “cough drop” before a race, he should not have been running on Saturday. It would require an unreasonable leap of faith to believe that Mullins was simply giving the horse something totally innocuous that he did not require for an effective run.

Despite the endorsement of Air Power by the respected and Michael Matz, it is interesting that the promotional literature assures potential customers that the product: “Will not test.”

Though no veterinarian who practices on racetracks will address this on the record, some claim that the interaction of Air Power and some medications – Lasix, derivatives of procaine and some antiseptics – can meaningfully alter performance in horses.

If this is true, the story – and perhaps many others -- has a new and intriguing element. The interaction of various permitted medications, especially the universally-used Lasix, and other substances, some of which may be natural, is not a subject that has been scrutinized, at least in the public light, by regulatory chemists.

More smoke? -- PM

Written by Paul Moran

Check out Paul Moran on Blogspot At the Races
Comments (1)

BallHype: hype it up!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sooner or later …

This may not be the year and it may not be the next but sooner or later a horse trained in Dubai will win the Kentucky Derby.

Having added Vineyard Haven and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman to the arsenal, Dubai interests owned at least four high-class 3-year-olds at the outset of the season, two of which finished first and second in the UAE Derby beneath the Godolphin colors on Saturday at Nad Al Sheba, where Regal Ransom avenged two runner-up finishes behind Desert Party, who was already among the division leaders. Things haven’t exactly panned out for Vineyard Haven and Midshipman but despite the depth of this group of 3-year-olds the Maktoum family is nevertheless strongly positioned in the Kentucky Derby chase.

Obviously, Regal Ransom was always regarded highly by his connections, who sent him from a maiden win at Saratoga last summer in his career debut directly to the Grade 1 Norfolk at Santa Anita, where they discovered quickly his distaste for the synthetic course. Were it not for that misadventure the colt would have begun the season in a more prominent position. As it stands, the UAE Derby result was hardly surprising. There was little separating the first two to begin with and both stayed on well in their first test at 9 furlongs while racing on a course said to be almost identical to the ground at Churchill.

The Derby is an important objective for the Sheikhs who race in the various noms de course, Godolphin, Darley and Shadwell and while many Americans believe that it is not possible to prepare a horse in Dubai for the Kentucky Derby but it was considered until recently implausible to win the first leg of the Triple Crown off a five-week layoff. Now it has been done twice in three years. All trends are eventually reversed and sooner or later a member of the Maktoum family will buy a yearling or 2-year-old capable of winning the Kentucky Derby after having spent the winter in Dubai.

The Maktoums have not yet threatened to win a Derby, or any Triple Crown race, but the reason has nothing to do with the time zone in which the animals they have sent were prepared. Despite the staggering amount of money spent in pursuit of the Derby, they have yet to send the right horse to Louisville. They are not, however, easily discouraged. -- PM

Written by Paul Moran

Check out Paul Moran on Blogspot At the Races
Comments (0)

BallHype: hype it up!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A little sport, a whole lot of gambling

The sport or gambling vehicle debate was not dormant long, it appears. Again, it bubbles to the surface, as it has for years.

Truth is racing is both though the gambling aspect is probably more important in the grand scheme than the sporting aspect.

Few of those who define themselves as fans refrain from wagering and few of those who are the everyday-horseplayer backbone of the business do not appreciate a competition on the highest level even without having taken a wagering position.

Claiming horses do not provide “sport.” There is no consequence to the outcome of such races beyond the gambling level to anyone not in position to benefit financially, including owners, who are gambling on more than one level. Do we not inspect fields of 2-year-olds beginning their careers looking for the potentially good horses; spend time examining pedigree all the while with no intention of making a bet. Some of these horses will become claimers, some champions.

If racing were pure sport there would no need of betting. Huge crowds would pay admission but there would be no more than a few dozen race cards held during the year. It would again be a sport only for the elite wealthy with the means to breed and race a handful of horses, like present day steeplechase and the show horse circuit. The breeding business would all but disappear. Everyone would wear tweed.

But it doesn’t work that way.

Racing cannot survive a day without wagering. Betting receipts pay the bills and provide purses for $10,000 claimers. There is a large group of people of every stripe who enjoy the challenge that handicapping a field of horses poses and they play against one another, not the house. Some people prefer slot machines, roulette, the lottery. But this game appeals to another distinct type.

Some horseplayers deny that the class of horse or importance of a race matters. They are either liars, in denial or soulless. There is nothing like a big race day. I seldom bet on the Kentucky Derby. I have never made a future-book bet on the Derby and passed an entire Breeders’ Cup run on a synthetic track. But I also found these races exciting displays of top-class thoroughbreds under extreme pressure, some quite memorable, a few unforgettable.

But to get to the days when racing means more than cashing a bet there are countless nine-race afternoons when nothing matters expect the betting and the most important question involves the pick-six carryover.

These are the days when the people who do the most for racing are involved.--PM

Written by Paul Moran

Check out Paul Moran on Blogspot At the Races
Comments (3)

BallHype: hype it up!

Page 2 of 7 pages  <  1 2 3 4 >  Last »