Saturday, January 19, 2013
Rick Dutrow’s father was a racing hero. About 15 years ago, I was thrilled to own a broodmare out of a half sister to Dutrow’s claimer turned Grade One millionaire KING’S SWAN.
In 1987, I had horses with Bobby Frankel in New York. At the time, Rick’s older brother Anthony was Frankel’s assistant. I lived in Manhattan, so I spent five mornings a week at Belmont Park, not only to see my horses, but to explore the wicked crush I had on Tony.
I never really got to know Rick except through brief social encounters, usually on a late-summer night in Saratoga. I have stayed current on his exploits through the press.
John Sabini’s hubristic quote in the New York Times compelled me to write this post. John said, “the court’s action confirms that cheaters who repeatedly violate the rules have no place in New York racing.” Really?! One look through the NYSRWB Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database and Racing and Wagering Board Ruling Database shows dozens of trainers with multiple violations racing every day.
The simple bureaucratic fact is that NYSRWB investigators pick and choose who to go after. Obnoxious and arrogant personalities are easy prey, whether guilty or innocent, their big mouths help investigators.
When it comes to enforcing its rules, the NYSRWB acts as investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury. How does the same agency perform all four roles?
Dutrow, and his alter-ego Lou Pena in harness racing, are long time rule breakers. Had they each been served with bigger fines and longer suspensions for previous offenses I probably wouldn’t be writing this post. So, why didn’t NYSRWB deal with this matter more effectively years ago? Why weren’t both charged criminally under the anti-cruelty statute? The offenses fit the statute. And, why aren’t all trainers investigated with the same vigor NYSRWB utilized to nail Dutrow and Pena?
I do not condone the abuses of Dutrow or Pena.Their actions are unconscionable. Drugging an innocent creature for financial gain is SICK, it is an ill of the human condition, a stain upon what is left of the sport of horse racing and an insult to any genuine horse lover.
There will never be integrity in racing until the State, along with every industry participant, comes to recognize the well-being of each individual horse as a precious life and partner from which its own power and authority are derived, and treats each with respect and dignity.
That being said, I find the selective sanctioning by the NYSRWB just as offensive, and that is why I find Sabini’s statement so disingenuous.
Dutrow never claimed innocence in the violations against him, instead, his defense has claimed that the process was biased against him and there were significant conflicts of interest.
Dutrow is suspended is because an investigator chose to focus his time and energy on Dutrow. It was common knowledge among insiders that Dutrow “juiced” -- and so it is with many of the leading trainers. Cheats are light-years ahead of drug tests, and Lasix provides the perfect cover for oxygenating, pain-killing concoctions.
In February of 2012, I presented the NYSRWB with original signed treatment records by a long-standing, well-respected equine practitioner on the NYRA circuit confirming illegal drugging. Documents clearly show nine instances of a trainer violating 4043.2 (e, g) (7) which could add up to $225,000 in fines and untold days banned from the shedrow.
The trainer has a history of drug overages, so the infractions are not out of character, the offense is ILLEGAL DRUGGING, equal to the wrongdoing of Dutrow and Pena. The trainer in question is a friend of the NYSRWB investigator assigned to the matter -- so is it any wonder the investigator refuses to sanction his friend?!
This is an example of the type of cronyism crippling New York racing from ever eradicating deceit in the Sport of Kings.
In February , the NYSRWB merges with the NYS Lottery under the Gaming Commission. What then my friends? Who will look after the horses? I’d value your thoughts, please share your comments.
Posted by Susan Kayne