STORMY LIBERAL A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN

Multiple Breeders’ Cup winning trainer Peter Miller and his veterinarian have strongly urged that Stormy Liberal, back-to-back winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2017 and 2018, be retired but that’s not going to happen.

David Bernsen, co-owner of the 7-year-old gelding, sees things differently. He bought out his partner Rockingham Ranch, whose Gary Hartunian also favored retiring the former $40,000 claimer, who has earned more than $2 million.

Reportedly, a spot is waiting for Stormy Liberal at Old Friends Farm retirement facility, where he can live the rest of his days in a bucolic, caring atmosphere. He has earned it.

It’s time. Stormy Liberal closed his 2018 campaign with four straight wins, including his score at the Breeders’ Cup. However, he is winless in seven 2019 starts.

Bernsen intends to send the colt to Ocala to be thoroughly checked over before a decision is made on his future. Bernsen has not said Stormy Liberal will return to the races. But the fact that Miller,his vet and Hartunian, his former partner in Stormy Liberal are advocating retirement puts Bernsen in a ticklish situation. If he continues to race Stormy Liberal, he comes off as a bad guy, whether this is fair or not.

 It’s clear Stormy Liberal can no longer compete at the highest level. This necessitates a drop in class, God forbid onto the claiming race ladder.

In the midst of the contretemps over equine deaths, if tragedy were to strike Stormy Liberal in a race or in training, the story would become a national cause celebre. Joe Drape of The New York Times and Bernie Goldberg of HBO would be all over it. The story would become a black eye racing can’t afford.

There is a solution. Racing secretaries have the option to refuse the entry of any horse. If Bernsen tries to put Stormy Liberal into a race anywhere, his entry should be refused.

Accentuate the positive

Racing can be its own worst enemy.

It appears the New England Patriots have been caught cheating again. In the wake of Spy-gate and Deflate-gate, a videographer was nailed last weekend shooting sideline footage of the actions and signals of the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff. This has to be the dumbest overkill since Watergate. The Bengals, the Patriots’ next opponent, have won one game; New England is 10-3.

The Houston Astros, thrice division winners and twice American League champions in the past three seasons, are being investigated for stealing signs electronically, a big no-no.

But you don’t see the NFL or MLB groveling for forgiveness, self-flagellating and requesting the federal government take control of their sport. Only racing does that.

Racing acts as if it is the only sport in which participants cheat. It airs its dirty laundry in public symposiums, round tables and hearings and issues mea culpas, which serve only to undermine the game.

To be sure, horsemen taking illegal edges is rampant. Racing is striving mightily to identify cheaters and punish them. This is what the leadership should be stressing.

What’s more there are plenty of positives racing’s hierarchy should be talking about: the beauty, the pageantry and all out will-to-win of the competitors. The love horse people have for the animals.

If all the leaders talk about is what is wrong about racing, how can you expect the public to have positive feelings about the sport?

 Blood money

The Saudis got us again. Yet there still are American horsemen planning to go to Saudi Arabia for a new richly endowed race, whose sole purpose is to burnish the image of the viciously cruel and backward nation. Apparently the attitude of these horsemen is that blood money spends as well as any other kind.

The assassin who gunned down three young Americans at Pensacola Naval Base last week came from the same country that was home to 15 of the 19 killers who pulled off the most deadly attack ever on the mainland of our country on 9-11.

Our government has disgracefully vigorously withheld information of how deeply involved the Saudi government was involved. There is little doubt important Saudis were up to their turbans in planning and funding the attack.

A word of advice to reporters intending to cover the race. Don’t write anything bad about the Saudis. U.S. based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was critical of Saudi Arabia and its leadership, was grotesquely murdered and his body dismembered last year. According to a United Nations report, Khashoggi was “the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible.”

It was also reported that there is credible evidence Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high level officials were individually liable. The Crown Prince will be the one taking the bows at the big race.

Writers who are gay also might want to think twice about going. Members of the LGBTQ community are subject to whipping, torture and execution in Saudi Arabia. Granted, it is unlikely any outsider there for the race will be targeted. But a writer’s presence amounts to saying, “As long as it doesn’t happen to me, it doesn’t matter.”

The Pensacola atrocity wasn’t the work of a disgruntled loner and loser. He was a pilot in the Saudi Arabian air corps, sent to America for flight training. In other words, he had been thoroughly vetted by his home nation. What’s more, this wasn’t a random act of violence. There is ample evidence the attack was premeditated, and possibly known about by fellow Saudis.

Sports should be kept separate from politics. But the new Saudi Cup is not a race that happens to be taking place in an outlaw nation. It is being sponsored by the government solely for the purpose of trying to convince the world that it is not what it is.

Any American horseman who participates is spitting in the face of the families and friends of those slaughtered on 9-11 and the young men who died last week in Pensacola. They deserve ostracism and shunning when they return.

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⚠ Before you comment

Our staff likes nothing better than to engage with the HRI Faithful and provide a forum for interaction on horseracing and sports. In that spirit, please be kind and reasonable; keep the language clean, and the tone civil. Comments from those who cannot comply will be deleted. Thank you.

18 Responses

  1. TJ, how anyone who was along was a major portion of a $2M ride can ignore the advice of his partners and, most significantly, the trainer that helped make it all possible is beyond me, especially given the reality of today’s Thoroughbred racing environment.
    How much is ever enough?

    You correctly note, too, that “our government has disgracefully vigorously withheld information of how deeply involved the Saudi government was involved” with respect to the Pensacola atrocity. I would like to add there was no official outcry following the Khashoggi massacre either.

    Not only are the times difficult but it’s the treachery that is most disturbing. Things change, as we all know, and sports and politics should be separate, again as you noted. But it seems the toxic atmosphere that exists now permeates everything, sadly informing American life at every level.

  2. JP,
    You are right associating the Saudis with Pensacola but I was actually referring to the more horrendous tragedy, 9-11. Families of survivors have been trying to get information for 18 years and have been constantly stone-walled. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to conclude that there is information that would poison our relationship with the Saudis.

    The sick justification is the Saudis might be bad people but the Iranians are even worse.

  3. The late, great radio announcer Bob Grant used to say on his program, “It’s sick out there and getting sicker.” There is a World Cup in Soccer for 2022 in Qatar. Mr. Jicha, it’s all about “The Benjamins.” I live in seacoast of NH and not far from where the captain of Pan Am 103 flite that went down over Lockerbie lived. 259 killed and quite a few Syracuse students also perished. Our “friends” in Syria were responsible for that beauty. Above-mentioned Bob Grant would sign off back then with the words, “Get Gaddafi!” Not saying all Syrians are culpable, far from it, but that country makes me puke.

  4. TTT

    In the absence of any physical problem that would preclude him from competing, and if he is able to compete without the use of drugs, feel strongly that he should continue racing. Fear that these leftists are causing we normal people to react to their idiocy, instead of focusing on banning drugs, and caring for the animals. Give Stormy Liberal a rest and make him the poster boy for drug free racing.

  5. T,

    Excellent suggestion re making Stormy Liberal a poster boy for drug free racing. But, as Richard Migliore, who has ridden over 4,000 career winners advised me in relation to all Thoroughbreds, “there are only so many miles in those legs.”

    Meanwhile, leftists might not be normal, but at least they still allow facts to get in the way…

  6. NBC’s Phil Helsel posted the following notice regarding the service men who lost their lives in Pensacola on Dec. 6th:

    The three service members killed in a shooting at Florida naval base will be honored Saturday during the annual Army-Navy football game, the U.S. Naval Academy said.Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed S. Haitham and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed Dec. 6 when the shooter, a Saudi air force member who was in the U.S. for training, opened fire in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Watson’s shipmates will wear red, white and blue ribbons pinned to their lapels, and Navy’s defensive co-captain will wear a memorial patch from Naval Aviation Schools Command, where the three were assigned, the naval academy said in a statement Friday. Others will wear patches from the flight suits of Watson’s classmates in his memory. The Navy has also posthumously awarded wings of gold to the three sailors killed and designated Watson as a naval aviator.

    So agree with Tom Jihca regarding any horsemen participating in the Saudi Cup. The Saudi government is indeed “what it is”.

    I wanted to add comment on the HRI question on the Home page regarding any interest in the next future Derby Pool. I would like to reply with a “maybe”. Depends on the pool participants listed. Of all the entries listed in Poll 1 which was closed on 12/1, only one runner, Green Light Go, was listed as being Lasix free. Brings to mind John’s recent “status quo will not stand” commentary. Instead of race day meds, the industry may instead bring into play minus 24 hour race day medication. Really? Shame on the overseers for continuing this deception.

    So there you have it. Shame On You Doug O’Neil for entering the latest Saudi blood money event. Shame On You Steve Asmussen for your most recent drug violation against the remaining integrity of racing and Shame On You recently cited New York Trainers all. The Department of Labor’s WHD recently levied fines against several NY trainers for back wage hourly payment violations. Chad Brown was cited for violations against nearly 350 “low paid” back stretch workers. Chad Brown has agreed to pay $1,617,67 in fines. Kieran McLaughlin’s operation violated an additional 89 employees. Linda Rice another 113, and James Jerkins an additional 17. Enough is enough!

    As HRI may be the only conscience of thoroughbred racing remaining, I could think of no better place to voice my angst with racing’s decline. There is no reason for it other than greed. Unlike Mark Berner, I am still hanging on, but only via the life support lifelines extended by HRI.

    Should I see Green Light Go offered in the next future pool, I no doubt will place a two dollar win bet. As ex-cabinet member John Bolton recently commented however, I will no be a part of any drug related deal.

  7. Funny closing line, McD. Meanwhile, what I phony: “I will testify,” Guess that happens when the book is finally published.

    An appropriate but very sad tribute indeed; have no words for the world we currently live in…

  8. C,
    Bob Grant was a giant in talk radio. He is the guy who lured me from Top 40 music on WABC and turned me on to talk on WMCA.

    McD,
    I’m all for stable hands being paid fairly but the nature of their work doesn’t always lend itself to a 40 hour time clock.

    I wonder if the feds factored in all the bonus money that typically goes to the barn help when one of their horses win a Stakes and the Chadster wins them in bunches.

  9. Adding correction to clarify first paragraph comments were lines quoted from NBC. Apologize for the omission on the cut and paste. Just wanted everyone to be aware the service victims were being remembered. Rooting for Army as I served under a grad from West Point years back. Top shelf man! Thanking all who served past and present.

    “The three service members killed in a shooting at Florida naval base will be honored Saturday during the annual Army-Navy football game, the U.S. Naval Academy said.Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed S. Haitham and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed Dec. 6 when the shooter, a Saudi air force member who was in the U.S. for training, opened fire in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Watson’s shipmates will wear red, white and blue ribbons pinned to their lapels, and Navy’s defensive co-captain will wear a memorial patch from Naval Aviation Schools Command, where the three were assigned, the naval academy said in a statement Friday. Others will wear patches from the flight suits of Watson’s classmates in his memory. The Navy has also posthumously awarded wings of gold to the three sailors killed and designated Watson as a naval aviator.” – Phil Helsel (NBC)

  10. TJ, If the lower level workers were treated fairly, then I can’t understand the hourly wage offenses not being challenged, If the treatment was fair in all cases, the Trainers involved should all be litigating against the State of New York for Defamation of Character. At the end of the day, I wish your reasoning would prevail, but suspect the charges hold validity.

  11. The U.S. Government, represented by the President’s son-in-law, is said to have given the Saudi’s the OK to murder Khassoggi in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey.

  12. D,
    Now you’re being silly.
    It’s shameful that we let the Saudis get away with impunity for Khasshogi’s murder but not even Adam Schiff would suggest Jared Kushner put out the hit.

    1. Good one. It is troubling, ‘tho, when DJT states that Saudi top guy says he had nothing to do with it and he seemingly believes him. There’s a really nice bridge connecting NYC to BKLYN that is now for sale. Be sure to go to Grimaldi’s for pizza when there (near bridge).

  13. TTT, JP, you name-dropper you. Richard Migliore is not my guru by any stretch of the imagination, a guy who made a living as an announcer by simply repeating the line over and over again, “looks good on the racetrack.” Wouldn’t be surprised if he is one of the “Lasix 600. In fairness to the truth, which you mentioned, must say that Migliore’s statement about those legs only having so many miles is probably true. However, we must give the benefit of the doubt to the owner/trainer, whose job it is to determine when that time occurs, not just have some regulatory internet consortium tell us when a horse should retire based on who knows what criteria, or lack thereof. I, me, ego, am 64 years old, and recently completed a half marathon (13.1) miles in New York City. Been running all my life, and will run until the day I die. As you can expect, finished much slower than when I was in my 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, but thoroughly enjoyed the event just like I did in yesteryear. Query, should I be retired?

  14. Not at all but you are not being wagered upon or urged by a rider. Are you suggesting that Stormy Liberal would prefer running for his owner than chillin’ down on the farm at Old Friends? And the trainer did recommend that he retire. Cheap purchase has made a small fortune. Not a good look. Get out now, Stormy.

  15. I disagree with the headline that Stormy Liberal is a disaster waiting to happen.

    Instead, a thorough exam may reveal things about his previous trainer Peter Miller that he might not like to be uncovered.

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