OP/ED Authors:


Op/Ed: In Extending Baffert Ban, Churchill Downs Has Gone Too Far

With the Churchill Downs spring meet, which was moved over to Ellis Park, winding down, it appeared that Bob Baffert would soon be able to put the worst of his problems behind him. Baffert was serving a two-year suspension from Churchill Downs that came in the aftermath of Medina Spirit (Protonico) testing positive for a substance banned on race day after crossing the wire first in the 2021 GI Kentucky Derby. The suspension forced Baffert to sit out the 2022 and 2023 runnings of the Derby, the race that is...

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Op/Ed: Robert M. Beck, Jr.

During one of the most politically polarizing times in our country's history, Congress passed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 (HISA) with bipartisan support. What did this rare display of unity say about the health of the Thoroughbred racing industry? To say it kindly: the industry needed help. HISA handed over the reins for regulating Thoroughbred safety and anti-doping and medication control matters to a private, self-regulatory organization named the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (Authority). Before HISA, Thoroughbred racing in the United States was regulated by a...

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Fishman Has Been Sentenced. Is That the End of This Story?

Having been convicted of two counts of drug adulteration and misbranding, with intent to defraud and mislead, Dr. Seth Fishman was sentenced Monday to 11 years in prison, by far the longest sentence handed down to anyone among the many people tied up in a far-reaching doping scandal that has shaken the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries. He will soon call a federal penitentiary home, and for a long time. Good. He got what he deserved. But is this the end of his story or a precursor to what's to come?...

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Op/Ed: NY Gaming Commission Gets It Wrong..Again

When the news was reported earlier in the week that a NYRA clocker had been charged with altering a published workout, it may have seemed at first that a significant penalty was in order. Workouts are an important part of a horse's history and gamblers must be able to have trust in their accuracy. The New York Gaming Commission is alleging that clocker Richie Gazer played around with the workout of a horse named Papi On Ice (Keen Ice) and suspended him for 30 days and fined him $2,500.  He...

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Op/Ed: The King of Sports

Throughout the nation, the horse racing industry is under both increased scrutiny and pressure to reduce the number of equine fatalities and breakdowns. While progress has been made at many tracks, in recent years, i.e. Turfway, Woodbine, Golden Gate, and Gulfstream, there is less of a tolerance than ever for equine injuries and fatalities, as doping scandals have marred our most cherished events and as advocates and animal rights groups such as PETA have gained momentum. Horse racing is under real pressure to enhance safety, with many critics seeking to...

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Op/Ed: Corniche Connections Should Consider Dennis Diaz Wisdom

In 1985, owner Dennis Diaz had a decision to make after his runner, Spend a Buck, won the GI Kentucky Derby. Under ordinary circumstances it would be on to the GI Preakness S. two weeks later. But, as Lee Corso would say: "Not so fast." In this particular year, before the Triple Crown prep season had begun, Garden State Park owner Robert Brennan offered a $2-million bonus to any horse who won the track's two preps plus the Kentucky Derby and GIII Jersey Derby. Diaz and trainer Cam Gambolati sent...

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They Ran a Lasix Free Breeders' Cup…And Nothing Happened

The biggest story when it comes to the ban of Lasix in the Breeders' Cup is that there was no story. It was, simply, a non-factor. A total of 148 horses competed in this year's Breeders' Cup, all of them running Lasix-free. There were no reports of any horses being in distress or bleeding from the nostrils. I did not hear of one trainer blaming a defeat on the ban of the diuretic. Nor did I hear of or read about any trainers saying they were passing the Breeders' Cup...

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OP/ED: What's Next in the Fight to Ban Horse Slaughter in the U.S.?

For close to 20 years, activists have been working to protect American horses by lobbying for a federal ban on horse slaughter, rallying each year to keep the inspection of horse slaughter plants defunded and continuously working to pass the Save America's Forgotten Equine (SAFE) Act. The next 30 days are important in the push for a federal ban on horse slaughter. Every one in the racing business can have a hand in helping to pass a ban. In March 2021, the TDN interviewed veteran animal welfare lobbyist Chris Heyde,...

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Op/Ed: Guild Members: You Should Not Be Proud

Perhaps no collection of companies makes decisions based more on hard data, charts, statistics and actuarial tables then those that make up the insurance industry. Non-smokers get better rates on health insurance. Middle-aged drivers pay lower premiums than do those a generation or two younger. Those driving in Los Angeles traffic pay more than those who live in rural areas of the country. Apply for a term policy and the insurance company can list your premiums for the rest of your life. They know what the statistics show, based on...

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Letter to the Editor from James McIngvale: Where You Bet Matters

As handicappers and racing enthusiasts across America prepare to dive into this week's sensational Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, keep this in mind: Where you bet matters. It took 25-plus years of horse ownership and a $2.4-million wager for me to fully appreciate the huge difference it makes where a bet is placed. It was a wake-up call for me, and it should be for you. Everyone in horse racing whenever possible should put their money through the windows or self-bet machines at the racetrack. If you're like I was, you've...

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Op/Ed: HISA Necessary for Our Future

At the end of 2020, I was happy to hear that an important piece of legislation geared toward keeping our horses safe, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), was signed into law. I chose to support HISA because it will establish the same medication rules and penalties at every track in every jurisdiction in the United States, which makes for fair and equal competition, promotes equine welfare and punishes those who cross the line. This week, I read the news that the governing authority established by HISA announced its...

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Steve Asmussen Op/Ed: Please Do What is Right for the Racehorse

With heightened accountability for the health and welfare of horses, trainers today are being held to the highest of standards--as we should. However, we can see every day that race tracks and track ownership groups are not held to that same standard. A prime example is the unfortunate trend of closing a racetrack one day a week for training. This short-sighted cost-cutting move is not in racehorses' best interest. I feel that I've exhausted the proper channels to discuss this with people in charge of safety. We need all concerned...

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