Justice Remains Delayed in Dutrow Case
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., November 20, 2016—Last weekend, trainer Kellyn Gorder began a 60-day suspension nearly two years after one of the horses he trained tested positive for methamphetamine following a race at Churchill Downs.
The suspension was the result of an agreement negotiated with stewards, one subsequently upheld by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Gorder was initially suspended for 14 months for the positive test and discovery of a syringe during a related barn search.
Methamphetamine is classified as a Class A violation but the penalty was reduced to a Class B violation after further testing determined that the methamphetamine discovered was an ingredient in a popular over-the-counter medication.
At face value, reason and justice seems to have prevailed in this instance. But when measured against the way many violations have been handled, it points out how uneven justice is meted out in the racing industry.
Come January 7, 2017, Rick Dutrow will begin his fourth year of a 10-year suspension when a barn search and drug test detected the presence of Butorphanol, an analgesic pain killer having yet-to-be-proven performance-altering properties.
Butorphanol is highly controversial because the time-frame of both its efficacy and withdrawal guidelines between administration and raceday is widely disputed. After all this time, why is this trainer still being singled out as the worst transgressor ever?
All this despite expert testimony debunking the findings and statements of state witnesses; documentation from the renowned drug laboratory at University of California-Davis and confirmed by findings from the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics published in 2012, the year of Dutrow’s appeal.
The Incomparable, Invincible, Unbeatable Breeders’ Cup
LAS VEGAS, November 6, 2015—As the horses for the Breeders’ Cup Classic stepped onto the Santa Anita racetrack, TJ turned to me and said:
“We’re as guilty of this as anyone, but you know, when we’re at the track on big days, Florida Derby day, Belmont day, the Travers, we look at those cards and say ‘this is just like the Breeders’ Cup’. But the truth is there’s nothing like the Breeders’ Cup.”
Which is one-thousand percent correct. For years, we’ve called Breeders’ Cup: “The event that never fails to fire.”
All the great racing, the great performances throughout a two-day orgy of 13 races, the centerpiece Distaff and Classic as headliners, all of it remarkable equine theater.
And, by the way, as long as Breeders’ Cup is going to remain a two-day event--judging by Friday’s business it will be a two-day event in perpetuity—the Distaff should have its own day to command center stage: Make America Filly Friday Again.
Racing against males is, in historical context, all well and good. But in this country it’s not mandatory in order for our fillies to be recognized as great. Hell, sometimes you don’t even need to leave your home state to prove that, either.
“The Europeans, many of the world’s best horses against our best, there’s just nothing like it,” reiterated TJ, “the betting, the prices...” Yes, yes, and yes.
While it was considered a Battle of the Big Three, the 2016 Distaff was always Songbird vs. Beholder; the young, undefeated champion vs. a three-time champion race mare dancing one more dance in a brilliant career.
And what a show they put on: Songbird, flaunting her speed with the prodigious Mike Smith standing up in the irons through moderate backstretch fractions as Gary Stevens bided his time on Beholder.