Via Craig Bandoroff
As many of you know, I have been a member of WHOA and a supporter of HISA from the very beginning. I want what we all want. Consistent and reasonable drug testing and rules that promote the integrity of our sport while protecting the innocent and punishing cheaters. So when I received a call that a horse I helped manage had been disqualified for testing positive for acepromazine, I was surprised to say the least.
My initial reaction and explanation to the owner was that the horse must have been injected with the drug and it was not able to clear its system in the expected time. Texting back and forth with his Hall of Fame coach, I was told that wasn’t the case. He is adamant that no one in his stable is in charge of the ace horse at any time. So the $64,000 question: how did it get there? The pollution, the nefariousness of an unknown person? And more importantly, what does this mean? Here’s a horse running at full speed, hit with one nose on a grading post. So he’s definitely not performing like a horse with sedation in his system.
I have been explained many times about why we test at the very small level that we do and how this can affect a 1,200-pound racehorse. But, to be honest, the explanation still doesn’t fit my lay brain. And while my desire and belief is in no way diminished that we as an industry should benefit from uniform rules and testing, I do not understand how judgments like This serves this purpose. Forget the fact that a Hall of Fame coach with a record of two violations in his 43-year career was fined. The real harm to our sport is that an innocent owner loses his wallet and no one has a satisfactory explanation for the amount of illegal (and very small) drugs that have entered the horse system like his. How to keep an owner in the game or attract new ones? Now that HISA has hit the reset button, can we please come up with reasonable rules and tests so that the innocent are protected and the guilty punished? The system is still broken. There must be a better way.