TDN Weekend

OP/ED Authors:

Op/Ed

Op/Ed: Nutraceuticals: The Shadow of American Horseracing

Numerous Op/Eds have been penned detailing and debating medication use in American racing. However, racing regulators and industry leaders have targeted drugs and medication to the exclusion of an even bigger threat to equine welfare and the competitive integrity of American horseracing: nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals, generally, are orally administered substances supposed to have pharmaceutical properties, which include but are not limited to vitamins and minerals fed at high dosages, herbal combinations, and chemical compounds. So long as their labels do not purport to prevent disease or achieve drug-like effects, veterinary nutraceuticals evade Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") regulation. This, paradoxically, was the result of a 1996 Federal Register notice, in which the FDA determined that the weak federal framework governing human...

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Good Things Happen When Customers’ Bankrolls Grow

For the past few years, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has been lobbying for changes to the tax code on behalf of racetracks and betting customers. Since the late 1960’s, single wagers paying over 300-1 were reported to be taxed, and bets that pay over $5,000 were subject to withholding. The NTRA believes that (with inflation and the explosion of exotic wagering) this is unfair, and they’ve drafted a proposal to modernize the system. They are now in the home-stretch of this effort, and (so far) with little resistance, there’s a strong chance new rules will be enacted sometime in 2017. When I speak to some in the industry, or scan social media, this subject seems to not get...

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Op/Ed: Englehart Marijuana Suspension: Enough Already

Trainer Jeffrey Englehart, 26, smoked marijuana. In eight states that’s legal. In New York State, where Englehart trains, the punishment for possessing 25 grams or less of marijuana is a $100 fine. The second offense is a $200 fine. Get the point? It’s 2017 and smoking marijuana is no longer considered a big deal; it’s about as innocuous a crime as there is, right up there with having an overdue library book. Yet, the New York Gaming Commission apparently doesn’t see it that way. Englehart’s license was up for renewal and because he had failed a random drug test administered by the Gaming Commission, he was told that he could not apply for a renewal for one year. A young...

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Chrome Back for ’18 Pegasus? Why Not?

Ask someone in horse racing why things are done a certain way and the answer is usually "because that’s the way it’s always been done." It’s a terrible answer and speaks to an industry so stuck in the past that it's afraid to try anything new an innovative. Well, Frank Stronach didn't just try something different last Saturday with the GI Pegasus World Cup, he turned the entire sport upside down with something so bold and daring that it was one part brilliant, one part crazy. And guess what? It worked. Now it’s time for breeders and owners to do the same. Between the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup, there will be $17 million in purse...

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Op/Ed: Eric Hamelback

The horse-racing industry is poised to take an incredibly important step forward this week in achieving true uniformity among jurisdictions on medication policies and penalties for violators. Following the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) September meeting in Chicago, a subcommittee was formed to investigate and recommend the possibility of changes to the Multiple Medication Violation (MMV) penalty system of the National Uniform Medication Program (NUMP). The subcommittee was comprised of a wide array of industry stake-holders, and the consortium board approved the recommendations, which was then proposed to the RMTC Board. The RMTC board voted in favor to approve the changes proposed by the subcommittee. Those approved changes will now be presented Thursday to the Association of Racing Commissioners...

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Lessons Learned This Weekend

A Handicap is a Handicap... When previewing a Group 1 race, it is all too easy merely to try to find the best horse in the race. That's obviously fair enough; but when it is a Group 1 handicap, the situation is no different from any other handicap, i.e. that the key is generally to find the best-handicapped, rather than merely the best, horse. Ever since Jameka (Aus) (Myboycharlie {Ire}) landed the G3 Naturalism S. at Caulfield on 17th Sept., the 4-year-old loomed as potentially the blot on the handicap for the G1 BMW Caulfield Cup. That day she dominated a field deep in both quality and quantity under 55.5 kilos, so the drop to 52.5 kilos (115.5 lb) was...

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Motion Responds to KHRC Ruling

Editor’s Note: Trainer H. Graham Motion has penned the following response to a KHRC ruling Tuesday fining him for a Robaxin positive with last year’s GIII Bewitch S. winner Kitten’s Point (Kitten’s Joy). Click here to read a TDN article on his initial appeal to the suspension and fine. After over 11,000 starters and more than 2,000 winners over the course of more than 20 years, [Tuesday] I was fined by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for the first positive in my career and Kitten's Point was disqualified from her win in the 2015 GIII Bewitch S. at Keeneland. This hearing took place in a meeting where I was denied the opportunity to address the commission. Of course I wanted...

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Do Britain/Ireland Make Enough of Their Thoroughbred Heritage?

In life, sometimes our most valuable commodities are right in front of our noses, but remain underappreciated and underutilised such is our familiarity with them. Horse racing can often seem like a sport that is quite insecure about its own value. Many of the marketing and promotional methods used by racing authorities around the world focus on attracting new fans to the sport using non-racing-related events and gimmicks such as post-race concerts, best-dressed lady competitions and student racedays, the hope being that those that attend for those sideshows will enjoy the horse racing experience and return under their own steam in the future. Of course, such methods have some merit and have certainly helped improve attendances on racecourses, but one...

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Op-Ed: “Saratoga Live” Gets It Right

I never understood why so many people putting together racing broadcasts didn’t understand their viewers or their viewers’ wants. We’ve gotten a lot of babble, features on the friendship between the goat and the favorite in that day’s stakes races and some nauseating banality and silliness. Even NBC, on its Derby show, forces figure skaters Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski down our throats, which often produces some cringe-worthy moment. I’ll give NBC as pass because the audience for the Derby does in fact include a lot of non-racing fans who probably enjoy a dose of fluff. For me, it had gotten to the point where I rarely watch racing on TV. My ADW feed is just fine. I can watch...

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Keep Customers Engaged the Old-Fashioned Way

The Jockey Club’s 64th annual Round Table Conference took place on Sunday at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs. As I usually find with this conference, the speakers were interesting and informative, and I learned something. One speaker stood out to me, however, because he shared something that I found particularly compelling. Kip Levin, CEO of Betfair US and TVG, told the assembled audience that when a customer deposits $100 into a TVG account through NJBets, he or she generates $310 in handle. Meanwhile, when a customer deposits $100 into a Betfair US account (to bet horse racing), he or she generates over $1,000 in handle. Let’s examine that for a moment. When Joe from Jersey City--a good handicapper--bets...

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