Letter to the Editor: Sport of Kings vs. King of Sports

Charles Town | Coady

by Ken Lowe

(TDN is re-running this letter to the editor, which originally appeared in Wednesday's newsletter, due to editing errors).

There were many empty seats at the table when HISA was invented, that being “Middle America Racing”, comprised of almost every jurisdiction between “the moon (California) and New York City (NYJC).” Now, being “blue collar horse folks,” we all know it takes three (3) legs for a stool and in this “fixed race” it was Kentucky. Throw kerosene on the flames, when certain trainers were indicted by the Feds and…as Fred Capossela and Costy Caras echoed, “It's now POST TIME!”

For years, horse racing was sometimes called the “sport of kings” but more appropriately resembles the “king of sports.” Few have billions of dollars to purchase a professional franchise, but actually every Thoroughbred owner has their own professional sports team. An athlete (horse), coach (trainer), quarterback (jockey), athletic trainer (veterinarian), and other similarities including a team name (Seabiscuit), uniform (colors) plus you can legally wager on your own team, (Pete Rose), now that's Americana.

Reading the Small Business Administration Act (1953), an act of congress, one could conclude that every owner/trainer in this country is a small business. The SBA was created as an independent agency of the federal government “to aid, counsel, assist, and protect the interests of small business concerns; preserves free competitive enterprise; and maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. Small businesses fuel economic growth by insuring job opportunities and raising employment rates.”

The U.S. government often favors small businesses with incentives, tax cuts, grants, and good access to help to keep them competitive. Now that's more Americana.

But, “Whoa, Nellie!” Does HISA interfere with the SBA Act (1953) causing potential ending, hardships, unemployment, etc., to the racing industry? Is this government overreach, personified only to be overturned by the courts (Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court) as unconstitutional? Where in the U.S. Constitution does it allow to be formed an ill-conceived, forced mandate with little input by the industry, especially the hard-working horse caring and loving persons, numbering tens of thousands of people and thousands of horses potentially, in “Middle America Racing?” Folks up at 4-5 a.m., 6-7 days a week, calloused hands, stiff backs, and “boots on the ground,” who never had a say. That's not Americana!

The elimination of Middle America Racing will occur with the prohibition of Lasix, an approved medication for humans and equine. If you ever witnessed a horse bleed, you would condone the use of the diuretic. Humans take Lasix in tablet form. Reduce the public perception of treating horses with a “syringe?” and conclude, “there is no medical evidence that Lasix is harmful or a masking agent for horses” and Middle America Racing will continue….otherwise, it's the Golden Rule: “He with the gold makes the rules and that is anything but American!”

All across the United States, this wonderful Constitutional Republic, founded on a capitalist economic system, the end of racing by eliminating Lasix with an unfounded mandate, threatens all but the high echelon of the industry and we deserve better. Remember this quote from “Seabiscuit” the movie: “They say my horse is too small, my jockey's too big, my trainer's too old, and I'm too dumb to know it!” Well, the “racing heart of America” does know it and HISA should be on an indefinite hold until all the voices have a chance to be heard, the true facts known, and we all get along together, with the care and safety of horses and humans finishing first in every race. Now that's the Americana we all hope for!

Ken Lowe spent his earliest years around horses, began working in the mutuels at Charles Town in his teens until he graduated from Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, WV. He “scratched” the idea of attending law school and attended the New York Jockey Club School for Racing Officials, where twice Mr. Kenny Noe asked him to stay and work with the NYRA as a racing official. After years as a successful businessman, he became an owner and breeder within the Mid-Atlantic region. He served as President of the CTHBPA and is now serving as Chairman, WV Racing Commission, and RCI Board of Directors

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