Honestly, after making my two futile longshot picks in the Kentucky Derby last week, I thought I would probably be finished writing about horseracing for at least a few months or until there was some new finding(s) in the investigation as to why so many horses have died at Santa Anita this year. Then the Derby ended; then the objection was lodged; then the winner was taken down from first to a mile up the track; then … So, here I am writing about horseracing again today. [For the record, I did not have the $1 Superfecta that paid $51,400.10. I missed it by only 4 horses.]
The owner of Maximum Security says that he will appeal the stewards’ ruling from Saturday even though Kentucky’s racing regulations say that the stewards’ decisions are final and cannot be appealed. So, who knows what that is all about? The stewards took about 20 minutes to make their decision; it was historic; no other Derby winner had been taken down for a foul within the race itself in the 144 previous runnings of the Derby. And that 20-minute review process showed me something that horseracing should do routinely.
- In the spirit of transparency, people should be able to see the stewards as they review the replays of the race and the times of the alleged fouls.
- Moreover, the racegoers should also be allowed to hear the stewards as they interact with one another. The fact that there is a camera in the room with the stewards looking at the screens they see means the technology to add audio to the transmission is well within reach.
- Maybe if this practice becomes commonplace, there will be some benefit derived from the sturm und drang from last Saturday.
Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian Pilot last week; I totally agree with him here; so, let it be the final word on the 2019 Kentucky Derby:
“The mint julep, the signature drink of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, is a waste of good bourbon.”
Adding a tad of transparency to the stewards’ decision making will not resurrect the sport of horseracing, but it probably will not hurt the sport either. There is something out there on the fringes of logic, however, that will not help the sport and might do it even more damage than it has suffered so far. I am referring to something that is in the hopper for consideration by – – hold your breath here – – the United States Congress. Indeed, Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY) has introduced something called the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019. The bill has 69 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House energy and Commerce Committee. Here is the purpose of the bill:
“To improve the integrity and safety of horseracing by requiring a uniform anti-doping and medication control program to be developed and enforced by an independent Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority.”
You can read the bill itself and see where it stands in the legislative process here:
The Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority cited above would consist of the following membership:
- The chief executive officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
- Six individuals selected by the United States Anti-Doping Agency from among members of the board of the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
- Six individuals selected by the United States Anti-Doping Agency [who represent the racing industry and equine medicine]
For those who complained about the length of the 20-minute process involving the stewards at the Derby last Saturday, please recognize that it sometimes takes the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) a couple of years to decide if an athlete’s urine sample contains enough of a banned or unknown substance to warrant a disqualification. If you want to understand why the processes here take as long as they do, please check out the USADA Adjudication Process here:
There is indeed a problem in horseracing with medications and performance enhancing drugs and the like; there has been said problem for decades. Why the co-sponsors of this bill believe that the same folks who have cleaned up the sport of track and field – – and several other sports to be sure – – so certainly are the ones to rely on here is something only a Congressthing might understand.
Another way to look at this situation is through the prism of the now declared unconstitutional law related to sports betting. Walk through this with me, please:
- In 1992, Congress passed PASPA making it illegal to bet on college and pro sports.
- PASPA was declared unconstitutional in 2018.
- Does anyone – even a Congressthing – believe for even a nanosecond that sports betting stopped illegal gambling on sports in the US between 1992 and 2018?
- So, why would a rational person think that the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 will resolve the doping problems related to the sport and/or instill integrity into the sport from 2019 into the future?
Finally, here is a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Bank: A place to enjoy waiting in line when you can’t make it to the post office.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………