JC / Railbird


The Cornerstone

Bill Finley on who should follow RCI’s call for a medication ban:

… the Breeders’ Cup is exactly the organization that should lead the way. Just announce that starting next year no horse will be allowed to race in the Breeders’ Cup on any medications. A grandfather clause is fine. You can allow any horse that raced on Lasix in 2011 to continue to run on the drug, but no one else. The Breeders’ Cup has nothing to lose. There’s not a trainer in America who would decline a spot in the Breeders’ Cup because they’d have to run drug free. And if they do, too bad.

Such a move by the Breeders’ Cup would not only help clean up American racing, it would be a significant signal to the international scene.

Maybe Europe would call off the boycott? (Note the posted date.)

The Trouble With Racing

Speculation, allegations, rumor, and hearsay from Jim Squires in his new book, “Headless Horsemen,” reviewed by Ray Kerrison in the Wall Street Journal:

Mr Squires believes steroids were first used in ­racing in the 1950s. He makes some startling claims about earlier horse-racing champions. He alleges that 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat may have raced on steroids. “There are oldtimers who insist that even the magnificent physical stature of the great ­Secretariat was not all genetic and his early problem settling mares” — that is, breeding — “may have been a by-product of steroids.”

The allegations continue. Mr. Squires writes: ­“Denigrators of the late Frank Whiteley [1915-2008], the surly magician who trained Damascus and Ruffian, ­sincerely believe that his magic came from sniffs of ­cocaine and say they know people who say they saw Whiteley coming out of the stalls brushing the white dust off his hands.”

Fascinating stuff, as I expect Squires’ commentary on the industry power structure to be when I begin reading the book. More to come …

Quick Hits

– Following up on his Letter to the Editor in the New York Times, Alex Waldrop presses his response to Joe Drape’s drugs-in-racing commentary of last week with a Blood-Horse column and a short blog post, both of which amp up the defensiveness of the original reaction to little effect, other than to make the NTRA and the Safety Alliance appear as irrelevant as critics charge and to expose the limits of industry self-regulation. (It doesn’t help that Waldrop outlandishly claims in the Blood-Horse, “Race-day medications have been virtually eliminated nationwide,” when Lasix remains legal everywhere and phenylbutazone is widely used in California and elsewhere.) That’s unfortunate, especially as racing heads into a season of increased scrutiny.

– Yesterday’s news: David Lanzman sells 50% of I Want Revenge to IEAH. Today’s news: IEAH sells 25% of Stardom Bound to David Lanzman. Foolish Pleasure questions if the deal — which, according to one report, was for $2 million + the share in Stardom Bound + bonuses — is a sign that IEAH is struggling to muster capital. I wondered if Joe Talamo would really retain the mount on the Gotham winner, as the press release announcing the deal stated. Asked during the Tuesday NTRA teleconference about just that point, Lanzman vehemently replied, “It’s Joe’s horse … I can’t imagine taking the kid off.” Note to Talamo: Don’t screw up in the Wood.

– The first HANA sponsored buy-cott was a success, with total handle on the selected race up nearly 100%. Well done, horseplayers.