2 April 2008

How Widespread Is Buzzer Use In Horse Racing?

Now that Shane Sellers has admitted to using buzzers, one has to wonder how widespread the practice is. Lots of allegations have been made in the past. One famous allegation occurred after the 1995 Kentucky Derby. Here is a handshake? exchange? between Gary Stevens and Pat Day. Stevens was on Thunder Gulch, the winner of the Derby, while Pat Day was on Timber Country. Both horses were trained by D. Wayne Lucas (check it out in slow motion):

It is pretty easy to notice that Day had an open hand when he and Stevens touch. Afterwards, Days hand was tightly closed. What wound up in Day's fist?

a) Crack rocks
b) Air
c) Steven's phone number
d) An electronic device

Of course, recently there were allegations against Jose Santos after he rode Funny Cide to victory in the Derby thanks to this picture:

Santos was eventually cleared of the allegations, but you have to admit that either he had something in his palm or he holds the whip like he has severe arthritis in his fingers.

Bill Finley makes a great case for banning lasix from horse racing:

'...On any day at any track, virtually every horse racing runs on Lasix. On the same day as the Dubai World Cup, 107 horses raced at Gulfstream and 105 of them ran on Lasix. That includes all 12 starters in the Florida Derby. That these 105 horses all have bleeding problems is laughable...

'Thirteen years after New York legalized Lasix, we should be seeing the fruits of the medication. With the help of this drug, horses should be running more than ever and lasting longer than ever and 12-horse fields should be the norm.

It turns out that exactly the opposite has happened. In 1970, before Lasix had permeated racing's landscape, the average number of starts per runner per year was 10.22. It's now down to an alarmingly low 6.31. During that same period, the average field size has fallen from 8.62 to 8.17.

It can't be a coincidence that the introduction of Lasix came at precisely the time a trend began whereby horses make fewer and fewer starts each year.

So, it appears that Lasix doesn't solve bleeding or keep horses in training longer. Then what does it do? According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, it masks other drugs. That's why it is on its list of banned drugs, which means athletes competing in the Olympics are not permitted to use it.'

Good discussion about Finley's article can be found on Pace Advantage.

Left At The Gate has figured out that Frank Stronach is buying Magna Entertainment for himself at a bargain price. Here is Magna's Reorganization Proposal to Shareholders. H/T Equidaily

Nick Eaves quoted on Jen's Blog about the idiotic rule to ban the horse, hence punish the owner, when a clear positive occurs:

"It's fundamentally fair, it closes the circle where there is clear violation, there should be a shared responsibility," said Eaves. "It's about the bettor being more confident in the product."
Sorry Mr. Eaves, but the bettor understands that owners of horses generally have nothing to do with what happens in the backstretch. And since when does WEG give a rats ass about the bettor anyway.
This rule is a deterrent to owners. It is like blaming a parent who chooses a child's doctor for a doctor's malpractice on the child. How can an owner or a parent prevent this kind of thing from happening? It is ludicrous to blame them or make them suffer unnecessarily.
If there are suspicious trainers out there, make a list of them for the public to see, so owners can avoid them, just like any doctor who has had malpractice suits in the past should have them available to the public.
My solution is give the trainer a larger ban and fine, and if you really want to take the incentive away from the trainer to even attempt to cheat, also make it that the horse who tested positive must be moved to another barn (so they don't end up in the same barn with the banned trainer's assistant). Trainers don't like losing owners.

A few people say that I hate Woodbine. Pull the Pocket mentions it in his newest post, for example.
Let me make this clear. I don't hate anyone. I am just very frustrated with their business model, and in fact, the industries business model. Woodbine just happens to be close to a monopoly in Canada, where I live. And they happen to be one of the worst culprits when it comes screwing the bettor.
I'd love to be making all my bets through HPI and WEG. But I have to look out for myself. I'm not into giving them charity. Heck, they aren't into giving me charity.
It is frustrating that I live in Canada, a supposed capitalist and free society but have to bet in other jurisdictions because they are the ones who are offering me a MUCH BIGGER bang for my buck.
I can honestly say that so far this year, I haven't bet a dime on my WEG account, though I did bet 20 bucks at a teletheatre when I was in Toronto on business early in January.
I have churned over $100,000 this year though in other jurisdictions. I'd much rather have done it through WEG, because I'm all for supporting the local purse structures, etc. But I'm not about to give them charity donations at my expense. And the reality is that if I was betting without rebates, I would have only churned less than a quarter of that figure because rebates kept me in the game.
On my blog I don't just complain, I offer valid solutions that I feel are guaranteed to really grow the game I love, but racing execs have their own agendas that completely conflict with growth and client satisfaction.
Again, WEG is one of the largest offenders out there. And I've backed this up over and over again, as there was a lot of truth in my April Fool's Day post yesterday.


Anonymous said...

I always thought the owner should be suspended along with the trainer. Whether the owner knows his/her trainer is doping the horse or not shouldn't matter. Everyone involved should face a penalty.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I totally disagree. If you take a kid to a doctor, and you picked the doctor, and the doctor prescribes the wrong drug and your kid dies, the state doesn't sue you for anything but the doctor might get sued for malpractice.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog. Thats all.