Driven by Greed

By now I’m sure the most of the world has viewed the PETA video. If you have been in deep Alaska or living under a rock, you are probably better off. The first knee-jerk response when seeing this was shock, surprise, and anger. But now that the initial wave has passed, where do we go from here to ensure this is eradicated?

Steve Asmussen fired Scott Blasi after the profanity laced tirade that created an explosive video to be judged by the world.  Didn’t someone give him a life-coaching lesson about using his head?  It’s right after eat all of your veggies, and look both ways when crossing the street. I wonder where he’ll get a job? I guarantee no outfit worth their salt will touch this guy unless they lose a bet.

Mr. Asmussen hails from a horse racing family. He calls Arlington, Texas home and over a 26-year career, he has built one of the largest and most successful racing operations in the nation. His runners could be found at any track at any time, and when their names appeared in the PP’s. You made a mental note to take a good look at this race. His record speaks volumes, and with over 6,700 wins to his name. Asmussen was a name that always came up in conversation when a big race was on tap. His name was on the ballot for the National Museum Racing’s Hall of Fame. That was until the PETA accusation video made the light of day.  That’s on hold right now, as he and his assistant are being investigated by regulators in New York and Kentucky.

What would you do if you were the “King of Racing?” I know, many of us feel the same. But we have to remember that due process is part of the investigation, and we’re not convicted in the court of You Tube. I think a full and detailed report will be forth coming, and we need to patiently wait for all for all of the answers. As the song goes: “The waiting is the hardest part.”

I have known many blue-collar trainers who barely make ends meet. They feed their horses better than they eat, and when a runner is “off” they will not hesitate to get them off the track. Then there are the mid-level operations. Sometimes they have a good run, and many times there is a drought. But that is the business of racing, and they know it all too well as they begin their day before the sun comes up. If the PETA video and investigation all prove to be true. There should be swift and harsh penalties to deter this type of behavior, and take measures to ensure  transparency.  By no means is this the way  everyone in racing conducts business. As we await the long investigation, try and remember that all parties are not guilty. It would be like blaming all professional athletes for the few that take performance enhancing drugs. One case at a time, and this one has center stage right now.

Scott Blasi was talking more than a little kid full of Halloween candy. If half of what he said is true. There could be stricter standards coming down. But, that’s not a problem for the many that keep their nose clean and love their horses. There are so many hard-working people that feel as if they should be ashamed of their sport. Not the case, and now more than ever be proud of your efforts. You may not have the stakes race winner, but your runners are sound and ready. They do battle on the track and sometimes they win, and sometimes they don’t. That is racing.

Is this caused by greed? Maybe that’s the case, and sometimes when that sweet limelight shines. You crave it more than a cold beer on a hot day. I think the connections enjoyed the game at one time in their career. They learned the ropes and had a bit of success. This draws the attention of the bigger pocket owners, and you find yourself doing things to give you that edge to move to the next level. As we zero in on the road to the Derby, there is something that creeps up every year and exposes a few bad apples to the light of day.

Who are the biggest losers with this accusation? The owners who backed you with mega-cash, and the players whose wagering builds bigger purse structures.  How will we attract new fans to a sport that has to answer allegations like these? Trust is a tough thing to gain, and it only takes one sad event to lose it. According to the Daily Racing Form, “Ahmed Zayat is transferring more than a dozen horses to three trainers on various circuits. – The horses at Oaklawn will be going to D. Wayne Lukas, the Fair Grounds runners will going to the Dale Romans barn, and the string that are stables at Belmont will going to the care of Michael Wilson. Wilson is a graduate of the Darley Flying Start program, and he has worked with horsemen Dick Mandella, Bob Baffert, Doug O’Neill, and Ken McPeek. Mr. Zayat and Steve Asmussen have parted ways.” – This sounds like a step in the right direction.