Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Please, California, No More Pointless Exercises
LOS ANGELES, April 18, 2013--In a cleverly-titled, http://www.drf.com/news/jay-hovdey-illinois-derby-tries-rise-above-being-pointless" target="_new"> “Illinois Derby tries to rise above being pointless,”, Jay Hovdey wrote, "Pity the poor Illinois Derby, suddenly racing’s unwanted stepchild, all dressed up in its $750,000 finery on Saturday afternoon with no place to go. Except maybe Pimlico.
… The Illinois Derby was left off the list of Kentucky Derby preps, leaving Churchill Downs officials wide open to speculation that the move traced to a local power struggle between Hawthorne and Arlington Park. Churchill Downs Inc. owns Arlington Park."
I applaud Mr. Hovdey and the Daily Racing Form for stepping up and not allowing this irritating injustice to go unnoticed, but in the continued absence of a centralized racing authority, there is nothing to prevent such intended destruction of races (and consequently racetracks) from continuing.
Impetus to fill that void, however, may have resulted from recent revelations regarding the unintended deaths of racehorses in California. Seven sudden deaths from the barn of a single trainer over a period of sixteen months suggests a situation out of control.
One such fatality is not suspicious, two could be considered a coincidence, but three should have rung alarm bells. For the total to have reached seven without sanctions of some sort emits an odor of corruption, incompetence, or both.
The creation of a National Horse Racing Commission (NHRC) is long overdue. The non-cooperation among racing venues must end, as must the one that exists between horsemen/veterinarians and equine medical researchers within those jurisdictions. Uniformity in the regulation of racing and wagering must finally become a reality, not just in the mid-Atlantic region but everywhere.
How much longer will the Federal government continue ignoring such a lack of integrity and the pursuit of profit at the expense of humanity and the animals that enrich them? One doesn’t have to agree with PETA to acknowledge that the sport can no longer be trusted to conduct itself.
A group dedicated to the formation of an NHRC, Bladerunners, has often appeared publicly forthright about their anti-Lasix position. Hopefully the events in California will trigger an expansion of their agenda.
In his piece "In the Great Lasix Debate, the HBPA Proves Too Big To Fail," HRI Executive Editor, John Pricci, rationalized the retreat from reform by the Breeders Cup, the Association of Racing Commissioners, the American Graded Stakes Committee, and the Jockey Club, reflected in their collective capitulation to horsemen: "There’s just no time, money or willingness to take the long view of what’s best for the sport, not when the game’s 2% wield all the power and influence."
I disagree. It seems to me that battle has escalated beyond logic and objectivity to become belief-based -- each side convinced it is acting in the best interests of North American racing. As such, sufficient resources should be available to proponents to advance their positions.
Clearly, opposition to banning raceday use of Lasix on thoroughbreds is no less politically, economically and ideologically motivated than the inability to eliminate domestic possession of automatic weapons for non-military purposes, in order to prevent their illegal, irrational, and inhumane use.
Just as manufacturers, marketers, and consumers of firearms exercise political and economic control in order to maintain a status quo benefitting themselves, it could be argued that so do the breeders, sellers, owners, and conditioners of thoroughbred race horses.
In both situations, the result is sometimes unnecessary or unjustifiable injury, a tragic waste of innocent life. Like the gun, the syringe has the potential for good and bad, depending on circumstances. At what point does the gratification of the owner/consumer outweigh the physical, psychological, and emotional damage done to others, human or equine?
PETA, conversely, seems almost too small to win and too inflexible to win. Further, its own deployment of deception and distortion gave their opposition license to duplicate their disingenuousness.
Moreover, they have transitioned into something so devoid of empathy that opposing them has nearly become a badge of honor.
But what about the less extreme opponents of race day Lasix use whose common sense tells them that racing in this country has degenerated during the last four decades due to permissive medication?
Some economic news recently appeared that gives some hope to those who find their interests being thwarted by the arrogantly powerful. According to Infoworld, first quarter PC sales were down for all but Lenovo who kept the Windows 7 operating system in their computers rather than allow Microsoft force Windows 8 down consumer’s throats, just like the Windows Vista vs. Windows XP scenario.
What was most interesting is that shoppers stopped buying on their own. There was no organized boycott of Windows 8, despite plenty of negative reviews. Maybe this is a model for horseplayers wanting reform to adopt. Simply stop giving any business to those who not only aren’t trying their best to satisfy you but won’t even give it the time of day.
In California, it has been the owners that placed profits over the plight of the horseplayers that make the game go. Perhaps a boycott limited to those races filled by board members of the Thoroughbred Owners of California known for their player-unfriendly policies? We don’t want to hurt the game; only send a message that we want our voices to be heard.