An Editorial from the pages of the New York Times
“A new threat to racing’s integrity is the opening of casinos..”
At the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, racing fans will be watching to see if I’ll Have Another can duplicate its Kentucky Derby victory and claim the second leg of the Triple Crown. Attention should be focused no less on the horse’s trainer, Doug O’Neill, who has a troubled record of sanctions and penalties for administering illegal performance-enhancing concoctions that endanger racehorses.
Over 14 years in four different states, Mr. O’Neill received more than a dozen citations for violating drug rules. His horses break down or show signs of injury at more than twice the national rate, according to a recent report in The Times by Joe Drape and Walter Bogdanich.
Mr. O’Neill denies ever illegally boosting his horses with drugs or “milkshakes” of baking soda, sugar and electrolytes. But he and other successful trainers are the focus of increasing calls for tougher punishments to protect the industry’s integrity. Of the sport’s top 20 trainers, only two have never been cited for abusing medications. The industry’s influential Jockey Club has called for a ban on all drugs on racing day and a lifetime ban on trainers who are repeat offenders. The proposal deserves prompt adoption by state racing commissions.
A new threat to racing’s integrity is the opening of casinos adjacent to racetracks, where trainers, tempted by bloated purses, push unfit horses to race with more medications. Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered a task force investigation after The Times found the fatality rate had doubled at Aqueduct, with 30 horses put down since the opening of an adjacent casino last year.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A number of racing experts are picking Went the Day Well to win the Preakness, and his trainer is Graham Motion, one of the two trainers in the top 20 never cited for doping. We know who we’ll be rooting for.
- 2012 Preakness: I’ll Have Another Trainer Doug O’Neill Answers Questions About Performance Enhancing Drugs (detroit.sbnation.com)
- Slideshow: Who are the 2012 Preakness Stakes horse trainers? (examiner.com)
- 2012 Preakness: I’ll Have Another Trainer Doug O’Neill Faces Possible Suspension (sbnation.com)