I awoke today to read an interesting article from Peter Kinney of the Times-Picayune. He spoke about tales of deceit and trickery in racing. I guess we would like to think the game is on the straight, but there were times when the sport was like eating soup with a fork.
He talked about switching horses, no tattoos to identify horses, and con-artists plying their trade. I am sure that things did happen, and I have heard my share of tales.
I remember a horse that was given a marijuana inhaler. He had huffed the smoke of some downtown weed, and ran like a scalded dog. Or, when the two folks that used to train their horses on the farm sent one runner to a big swimming operation. He was so fit that he ran like a stakes horse. How about the old man who would not feed his runners a few days in advance? What was the name of the jerk who hit his own horse in the head after bad efforts, and he went out and won that day? Poor practice and slight of hand tricks did happen, but there is too much money on the table now, and even the cheapest races take place in front of a national audience.
Today, I believe the game is making strides to ensure integrity. The old days of tricks and fixes are dying. We have tests that can determine a substance up to one millionth of a nanogram. The racing offices have employed spot checks, security, cameras, and the ever popular whistle blower who may know of plans. Overall, I would have to say that game has never been cleaner. We read about medication hearings, and the restrictions of substances before race day. Nothing is perfect, but this game is doing its share to police itself. If you look at all sports, there are no shortages of payoffs, and short cuts. That is the nature of competition. People have always looked for an edge over their rivals.
If you compare racing to other sports and the athletes that take part, I think the sport of kings is doing a good job. We will have issues from time to time, and you can sit back and watch how the powers that be handle things. I think we will be hearing about Life at Ten for quite sometime. What about the jock who misjudged the finish? How about an animal abuser, and how the whole industry wanted him banished from the galaxy? Times are a changing, and I for one am glad to hear this.