Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PETA or Not We Need Fixing

Entertaining is probably not how the “powers that be” in racing would describe the ongoing discussions over PETA’s alleged “undercover investigation” of trainer Steve Asmussen’s operation and allegations of animal abuse and misdocumented workers.  However, I have found it to be just that.  There are so many sides to this issue I can’t keep the arguments straight.  So I made myself a list in order to keep things straight in my own mind.

  • If someone took 9 hours of video of me over the last 8 months and wanted to dice me to pieces in a 9 minute, heavily edited synopsis, they certainly could.  And I’m pretty sure that I could do it to anyone reading this;
  • How in the world did a groom get access to fancy dinners and so much “inner circle” stuff?  Just wondering…
  • Scott Blasi has a foul mouth;
  • How in the world did the Zayat’s NOT know about Nehro’s feet?  Seriously.  Do they NOT review the bills and see that the horse was costing them more than double on shoes than anyone else in the barn?  This didn’t raise questions?  Just who handles the day to day business operations over there and what is it are they doing?  While appearing “admirable” it appears a bit disingenuous given how outspoken and active they are;
  • Where is the Department of Labor?  Hard to believe we haven’t gotten a whiff of an investigation on the whole fake names and SS numbers debacle.  There’s a shoe to drop there and don’t kid yourself, it’s a big one;
  • There is a camp that wants Asmussen to move his top trainees, Tapiture, a top Derby contender and Untapable, a top Oaks contender, to other trainers so that he won’t be a disruptive influence in the biggest 3-year old races of the year;
  • There is a camp that feels that the best thing that can happen is that Asmussen not only stays in, but wins the races since all the “unwanted” attention will force the industry to clean itself up;
  • Horses shouldn’t have pulses in their feet and if they did it would be a sign of trouble – something PETA conveniently leaves out and actually lets the inference be that it’s quite the opposite.  Crap like that weakens your case;
  • Injections occur and they are not always bad.  Much as an elite human athlete may get cortisone shots to help treat a joint condition, many an equine athlete receives an injection to treat passing maladies as well.  Because it comes in a needle does not make it bad. We never know what is being injected and why – and that’s how PETA likes the public to view it.
  • Just because the messengers CLEARLY have an agenda and are, in my opinion, over the top loons, doesn’t mean that there aren’t things wrong in our industry that need to get cleaned up.  Pronto. 

WHATEVER side (and there are several) you come down on, the sport desperately needs two things: universal medication rules and a national governing body.  I really feel for trainers that come up to Minnesota from states that may not have as strict medication guidelines because it really changes the playing field for them.  And I’m not talking about what’s illegal, but those medications that are legal.  There is a lot more to prepare to move from one jurisdiction to another than just lining up trucks.  Changing a horse’s entire regime may be necessary.  Again, I’m not judging good or bad, but it is different.  Uniform rules would take out this one huge headache for trainers and make the transition from state to state easier.  Now, they’ll need to come together on race day Lasix…

While states may give way on universal medication rules and standards, I find it hard to believe that any of them are going to want to give any ground on the regulation.  States have been regulating racing since the beginning and there is a lot of revenue that is associated with it.  Perhaps state racing commissions become unnecessary with a National Horse Racing Commission or the local entities exist more to police nationwide regulations and racing infractions?  It’s a bit more complex than calling for a commissioner, but I think it’s doable if someone/some group would sit down and do it – at least develop the framework to get it started.  But then who will be the first to offer to subjugate them to it?  Which state would lead the way?  Which governing body would be the first to back it?

There needs to be collaboration, cooperation and, to paraphrase everyone’s favorite Vulcan, a way to make sure that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.  Our sport needs it.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Process of Becoming George


This is the brief story of Tabby Dacat (Eastwood Dacat-Tabby Lane-Even the Score) in pictures.  Heather took most of these, the ultrasound is courtesy of the vets over at Weitz, the halfway mark photo was taken by Lisa Duoos at Dove Hill Farm and the one of Tabby and I by Annie Ringwelski.  Some were on nice cameras and some were via iPhone but the net result are pictures that tell a sweet story and are hopefully the prelude to a happy and successful one.

I hope you enjoy them and George's story - there is certainly more to come!

Tabby Lane (Even the Score-Keeley Chay-Rodeo) surges to the front at Canterbury Park during her racing days.  One of her 10 victories in 40 starts.  She retired with nearly $120,000 in earnings.
Tabby and I enjoying her retirement around Christmas 2012.  I totally fell for her, breaking a cardinal rule of racing horses - don't fall in love with them!
Eastwood Dacat (Storm Cat-Western Eternity-Gone West) looking especially regal in his paddock at Bleu Valley Farm in Stillwater Minnesota.  Bred to Tabby to inject speed into her stamina we hope to get a versatile, quick mid-distance runner.

George...very, VERY early on!  This was our first glimpse about 6 weeks after the cover.

With about 2 months to go, Tabby was slowing down.  Granted, it was frigidly cold, but she seemed to be getting that "I'm WAY ready for this to be over with" look about her.  You could see George when he would move around which was very cool but also made you feel her discomfort a well!

Welcome to the world, George.  He got a bit of an assist from Lisa here!  Mom backed herself into a corner nearly cutting off George's exit route so she stepped in and help him get back on track and out!
Tabs loving on her baby in the first hour.  She took to him right away and has proven herself to be a loving mom.  I could not be more proud of her. My favorite picture of the two of them and one that I feel needs more exposure - it is a beautiful expression of unconditional and instant love and devotion between thoroughbred mare and foal.  I'd really like to see Heather get some real recognition for capturing this moment so exquisitely.

Hopefully a sign of things to come - less than 48 hours old and he's off and running.  At first he was chasing mom if she wandered off, then he discovered running and it was mom doing the chasing!
Mother and son time.

Heather with mom and George - a gorgeous family!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jockey Arvizu Honored by Arizona HBPA; Von Rosen Fundraising Updates

Much thanks to Tom Metzen Jr. for sharing a story that I hasn't received much attention in the wake of the Anne Von Rosen accident at Turf Paradise on March 11.

The part of the story we all knew was that Ponchita Bonita went down on top of jockey Anne Von Rosen on the backstretch after a Quarter Horse race at Turf Paradise.  The resulting injuries have paralyzed the popular rider from the waist down and have subjected her to two surgeries thus far.  By all reports her attitude is excellent and her determination to eventually walk again is strong.

Here is what was much less publicized:

Jockey Rodolpho Arvizu, who had ridden My Corona Blue in the 1st race was pulling the horse up behind Von Rosen when he saw her go down.  He leapt from his mount and rushed over to Von Rosen whose foot was still caught in the stirrup.  If Bonita got back to his feet and took off with Von Rosen in the stirrup, she would have been killed.  Arvizu was able to release Von Rosen before the horse regained his footing and then sat on it's head, keeping it from rolling back on the injured jockey.  Arvizu's quick actions prevented the tragedy for escalating and probably saved Von Rosen's life.

In recognition of his efforts, Arvizu was presented last night with the "The Arizona Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association Humanitarian Award" at the Horsemen's Spring Fling at Turf Paradise.

According to Metzen this is only the second time that the award has been presented.  I can't think of a more deserving recipient.



Those wishing to donate directly can send a check made out to Turf Paradise Foundation and mark the memo line Anne von Rosen. All donations are tax deductible.

Turf Paradise
1501 West Bell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85023

Folks at Turf Paradise have also scheduled a "Walk for Annie" fundraiser on Fan Appreciation Day on April 12. Fans will be able to purchase either a bracelet or T-shirt, and then walk with the local jockey colony on the Turf course. All proceeds will benefit von Rosen.

In Minnesota the address for donations is:

Voyager Bank
500 Marschall Rd
Shakopee, MN 55379

With checks made out to the "Benefit of Anne Von Rosen". 

There will also be a fundraising effort at Canterbury Park after live racing resumes this spring - details to come.