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Just Say No?

Brass Hat’s DQ was upheld by the Emirates Racing Authority; while it’s not an unexpected outcome, it is disappointing since he truly deserved his second place finish and the resulting purse. Stateside, trainer Steve Asmussen’s suspension for ‘medication infractions’ was similarly upheld in Louisiana. While the types of drugs in question are quite different in these cases, one issue remains clear — there is a lack of consensus regarding what, if any, medications are ‘legal.’ Moreover, the enforcement of these rules can seem entirely arbitrary and unfair; particularly in Brass Hat’s case, the drug he was given was not a ‘performance enhancer’ and had no bearing on the outcome of the race at all. I hope he comes back into form and wins some ludicrous number of races this year just to prove the point.

If the larger issue is truly one of whether or not racehorses should be medicated at all, let the industry discuss that; piecemeal regulations and the odd local suspension or disqualification is not going to change the way the sport operates.

Despite ongoing issues like these, there is a good weekend of racing coming up. The Suburban is going to be a bit lighter if Bandini is indeed out (as was rumored), but the CashCall Mile should be exciting as it heralds the US return of Japan-based Dance in the Mood, a very impressive second in the 2004 American Oaks. Her countryhorse, Asahi Rising, will be running in this year’s installment of the American Oaks. If she is anything like Cesario, last year’s winner (and fellow grand-daughter of Sunday Silence), we are in for a treat.

Another interesting race this weekend will be the Dominion Day at Woodbine; Funny Cide will be making the trip north of the border. I always enjoy watching the few races from Woodbine that ESPN opts to show; it looks like a beautiful track. The indefatigable Alex at Tim Woolley Racing chatted with Funny Cide’s trainer, Barclay Tagg, about Showing up and Barbaro — once again, Tagg had very positive comments of the sort we’re not used to hearing from him.

They have also set up a separate page for comments and suggestions from people who would like to rally around Barbaro to help raise money for other horses in his name — it’s well worth checking out. All seems to be well with Barbaro as of now — he is deemed a ‘happy, healthy horse‘ and I found it encouraging to hear that New Bolton has a Thompson’s Gazelle with more plates and pins than Barbaro; scroll down to update 138 for details. Which reminds me, it’s back to specialist vet #17 for my bionic cat tomorrow; we’re having a regular dermatology intervention which will hopefully see him come off the steroids for a while. If there were races for adorable (if somewhat gimpy) cats, he’d certainly be disqualified for drug use.

edit: Check out the new additions to the gallery at Tim Woolley Racing for some new pictures of Barbaro’s dam, La Ville Rouge, and his full brother. They are really great photos; she’s a lovely mare and he’s really a cute colt.

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3 comments to Just Say No?

  • alan

    I don’t disagree with your sentiments about Brass Hat’s DQ; it seems quite unfair considering the nature of the drug and the fact that it was adminstered in accordance to what the trainer believed was official guidelines. But there’s something to be said for the zero tolerance for any medications in Dubai, doncha think?

  • Tote Board Brad

    The Brass Hat DQ just makes me furious. Remember how the ERA prided themselves on their openness, touting the cameras in the stewards office during an inquiry? Well, no when things are a little sticky during an appeal, they ask the reporters to leave!

    The fact that the guidelines were personally handed to the trainer by an ERA affilate who represented the document as an ERA endorsed document is ample weight to overturn the decision. I believe this action by the ERA will cause connections not to send their horses there. Yeah, maybe it’s millions of dollars, but if they cheat and lie to deny you purse money, why go?

  • Superfecta

    I’d be all for a zero tolerance policy if it were really the standard, but the medications list seems to be exactly the opposite of that — it’s essentially inviting people to administer drug a or b as long as it’s within the supposed withdrawl time.

    I certainly think the whole drugs issue needs to be addressed (along with soundness issues in general — let’s stop breeding to stallions we know pass on bad feet, an inability to run without Lasix, etc.), but until the industry has gotten its act together to do so, it seems underhanded to change the rules after the fact.

    I also think it will make people think twice about sending their horses to Dubai; the trip itself is already such a drain, both physically and financially — why take the chance of winning and being denied the cash? I wonder if this would be happening if Brass Hat were trained by a Pletcher, Baffert or Lukas; I’m guessing not so much.


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