I have had a nagging suspicion that Bob Baffert had gotten special treatment – – kid gloves actually – – in previous incidents where his horses had improper substances in their blood after a race. Obviously, I had no evidence; but his fame and his success seemed to be “factors” whenever racing authorities closed one of his cases. In this morning’s Washington Post, there is a report by Gus Garcia-Roberts based on “confidential records” obtained by the Post. These are not the Pentagon Papers, but they are records from the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) as that body investigated 2018 Kentucky Derby winner, Justify, and his failed drug test at Santa Anita prior to the Derby.
Here is the lead paragraph from a lengthy – and well written – report:
“In 2018, as star trainer Bob Baffert led his thoroughbred Justify to the Triple Crown, California regulators embarked on a secret effort to exonerate Baffert after the horse’s positive test for a banned substance, according to confidential records obtained by The Washington Post that fully detail the saga for the first time.”
The most damning part of this report in my mind is that as this investigative process proceeded, the CHRB rewrote its own rules so that they would be more lenient regarding Justify’s blood test and to the possible avenues for its appearance in those blood analyses. You can read the report at www.washingtonpost.com.
Currently, Baffert is suspended from racing in NY for 2 years; he is contesting that suspension in court. I do not understand the legal issues involved nearly well enough to pontificate on how it might turn out. However, if the NY racing mavens have not done anything that is illegal, it would be a good thing for horse racing as a sport to come down hard on a highly successful trainer who has a history of bending – and sometimes breaking – some of the fundamental rules of racing in place to make the sport fair.
Switching gears … The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to begin on 23 July; that is a mere 3 weeks and 2 days from today. As of this morning, things are “GO” for the Games. There is still some apprehension among Japanese people about holding the games in a time when COVID is not under greater control in Japan, but it seems as if organizers and the government in Japan believe the Games can be handled safely.
Vaccination rates in Japan are not good; as of yesterday, only a little more than 8% of the population of Japan were fully vaccinated. Two factors have hindered progress there with regard to vaccinations:
- There was governmental bureaucratic infighting that went on for a few months putting Japan well behind the rest of the developed countries in terms of acquiring large numbers of doses of the various vaccines.
- Now that vaccines are available, officials there face an existing Japanese law that says only licensed physicians and RNs may administer shots. That is a restriction to be sure, but it is magnified by the fact that Japan had a shortage of health care workers even before anyone ever heard of COVID-19.
For anyone planning to travel to Japan with the hope – but not nearly any certainty – of seeing some of the competitions there, this is what the CDC offers as guidance:
- The coronavirus risk in Japan is considered HIGH.
- Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to Japan.
- Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Japan.
- Because of the current situation in Japan, all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.
Moving on … Here is a comment from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald:
“CARL NASSIB: Finally! NFL Has first openly gay, active player: The Las Vegas Raiders defensive end is a journeyman 28-year-old with his third team in five years. But this week, forever more, Carl Nassib was to be defined for his history making more than his football. Not since Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 has sports had a more groundbreaking ‘first.’”
I have exactly no problem with Carl Nassib’s sexual preferences. I am not shocked, titillated nor offended by his proclamation. I do take issue with Greg Cote on three far less “exciting” points in his comment than Nassib’s announcement itself:
- Wasn’t Michael Sam openly gay when he was drafted by the Rams in 2014 and when he spent a year with the Cowboys?
- I think the comparison with Jackie Robinson is a real stretch. Blacks were not permitted to play in the major leagues until Robinson came along; gay men were not barred from the NFL – and potentially lucrative careers there; gay men only needed to keep their gayness quiet. Neither situation is a good one, but what Black men faced regarding baseball 75-100 years ago was far worse because Black men could hot hide or disguise their skin color.
- I believe the real situation that deserves the description “forever more” is the time when there will be no such announcements of sexual preference by athletes, celebrities, politicians or “ordinary Joes” simply because it does not matter enough to merit an announcement.
Finally, let me close today with a comment from Mae West that seems appropriate:
“Those that are easily offended should be offended more often.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………