The Real Shame of Dutrow Ban

Ten years. If Rick Dutrow’s suspension ended today, it would mean the last time we saw him training horses was the year Funny Cide won the Derby and Preakness. That’s a lot of racing and a lot of years gone by. When Dutrow does return, assuming he has exhausted all avenues and finally capitulates, he’ll be 64.

There have been a number of precedents set in all aspects of the racing industry, but perhaps none quite as dramatic as Dutrow’s 10-year suspension, considering that in the past, 60 days was considered a long ban, and those were pretty rare.

His ban, it has been said, is more cumulative than based on any one or two infractions. Who knows to what extent Dutrow is guiltier than other trainers in bending and sometimes breaking the rules. But throughout his whole life, he’s been the kid who always gets caught with his hands in the cookie jar.

Whether you believe the 10 years is warranted or not, the real shame of it all is that the sport will lose an outstanding trainer and horseman, who connected with his horses like few others and had a rare affection for them. He literally became giddy when he talked about them. Anyone who has ever listened to him discuss his horses will tell you there was something very childlike in his feelings toward them.

That doesn’t excuse having disregard for rules and regulations, but I have no idea what went on in the Dutrow barn over the years, so there is no way I can say he’s innocent of this or guilty of that or whether he is simply a scapegoat in a sport desperately looking to improve its image. Once his suspension is enforced, with no other options, it becomes irrelevant. There is nothing he or anyone else can do about it. Perhaps in the course of time his “sentence” will be reduced.

It is apparent that Dutrow was no angel if one looks at his “rap sheet.” Some of the infractions involved the use of medication, while many of them just were minor misdeeds that did not apply to racing performance. To the powers that be, and in Dutrow’s case those powers reached higher levels of authority, all these infractions added up over the years. Who really knows if the impetus for all this was someone simply having it out for him or whether it was a case of enough is enough.

It must be noted, however, that racing’s normal governing bodies -- stewards and racing commissions -- have been criticized for administering mere slaps on the wrist for major violations and for making a mockery of suspensions, which amounted to nothing more than a vacation for the perpetrators.

But this column is not about Dutrow’s infractions or right and wrong or whether you find him a lovable rascal or a serial transgressor. All the infractions aside, there has to be a sense of loss, regardless of how one perceived his actions.

Most people in racing had raised eyebrows over Dutrow’s amazing run of victories, especially in major stakes, in the mid-2000s, but there was never any proof that his horses were “juiced.” That will forever remain open to speculation.

As a writer, I can only make judgments and comment on what has already been proven as fact. Yes, Dutrow has had medication positives and other infractions, and those cannot be condoned, whether he was made a scapegoat or not. But also as a writer I have to go by what I witness with my own eyes.

On a personal level, there are always going to be people you like and people you don’t like. Many do not like Dutrow because of the poor filtering mechanism between his brain and his mouth. His thoughts, no matter how outrageous, come spewing forth with no line of defense to stop or temper them before they can cause any damage.

Such was the case with Big brown when he announced to the world before the Belmont Stakes that the colt had been on steroids. Even though steroids (Winstrol) were not illegal and many horses, including well-known stakes horses, were on them, it was Dutrow and only Dutrow who uttered the dirty word in public, informing everyone that Big Brown was now off Winstrol.

And then there were the comments he made before the Belmont about his main rival, the Japanese invader Casino Drive.

“I got a chance to see him coming on the track when we were going off,” Dutrow said. “Someone pointed out the horse to me and I watched him run and saw him in person. He can't beat Big Brown. There's no way in the world he can beat Big Brown. I’m not worried about that horse anymore. I heard the clockers didn't understand what the hell they were trying to do with the horse. He is another horse in the race. Big Brown is going to have to school him like he has every other horse he has ever run against. It's going to be simple.”

Yes, it was a brazen comment, although Casino Drive did suffer a bruised foot the day before the Belmont and was scratched.
But there is another Rick Dutrow that most people have never seen, and it is that person that makes it difficult to accept the fact he will not be around what he loves the most in life – horses. That, as mentioned earlier, is the real shame of it all.

When I think of Dutrow, it’s hard not to see the person who returned to his barn following Big Brown’s victory in the Kentucky Derby and headed straight to the colt’s stall.

“Where is he?” Dutrow asked rhetorically, as if about to greet a long lost friend. “You are the freakin’ man,” he said to Big Brown as he entered the stall. He gave the colt about a dozen affectionate smacks on the neck and then wrapped his arms tightly around his neck for about 30 seconds, as if unable or unwilling to let go. Big Brown never moved as he rested his head on Dutrow’s shoulder.

This was the Rick Dutrow who easily becomes humbled by the equine gifts that have been bestowed upon him.

When Dutrow finally did let go, he noticed something he had never seen before from Big Brown.

“He’s tired,” Dutrow said incredulously. “Look at my boy.” Then directing his attention to the horse, he said, “I finally got you. I finally got you tired. Look at my little buddy. You kicked their ass, Brown.”

It was this Rick Dutrow who stood out on the track, emotionally drained, waiting for Saint Liam to return following his victory three years earlier in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He couldn’t stop laughing, sounding like a giddy child opening presents on Christmas morning. One second he was letting out screams of joy and the next he was shaking his head in disbelief and trying to hold back tears.

When Saint Liam returned, Dutrow began applauding his horse, knowing this was the last race of his career. “Oh, my God,” he kept repeating. “I can’t explain the feeling. He gives me a feeling I’ve never had before. I owe him everything. He is my boy. I see him every night before I go to bed. And I’m going to miss him so much. Words just can’t describe this horse.”

Perhaps these feelings emerged with such fervor because Dutrow realized what he had to overcome to get there. Many of the hardships he endured were brought on by his need to live life on the edge. That resulted in scrapes with the law for petty crimes in his younger days and substance abuse, all of which led him to a life of despair, with no money for food and having to live out of a tack room at Aqueduct. He was lucky to get to train one horse. He also suffered through the murder of his daughter’s mother and the death of his father, trainer Dick Dutrow Sr.

The elder Dutrow never forgave Rick for wasting his God-given talents, even to the day he died.

“My dad knew Rick was talented,” Dutrow’s brother, Tony, himself a successful trainer, said several years ago “But he never thought he would get anywhere because of his wildness. Ricky was a free spirit from the time he was 13. Everything he’s done in his life has been for the thrill and the excitement. Money doesn’t mean anything to him, believe me. He’d never steal to have more money. He’d steal to see if he could get away with it.”

Several years ago, Dutrow bought a beautiful, sprawling home on Long Island and lived there for years without putting any furniture in it. He couldn’t be bothered by such mundane things.

In the early 2000s, Dutrow hooked up with owner Sandy Goldfarb and the two had great success. Dutrow’s career began to take off, reaching new heights in 2004 when owners began sending him good horses, such as Saint Liam and Offlee Wild. But in 2005, he was slapped with a 60-day suspension, reduced from 120 days for two drug positives and a claiming violation. But the barn continued to flourish and win major races. With success came the accusations that Dutrow was using nefarious methods.

“I don’t pay attention to all the talk,” Dutrow said later that year. “I just try to get the horses there the right way. That’s all I really care about.”

That likely is where his problems began – not paying attention and not caring about anything but his horses and how they perform. He even welcomed the close scrutiny of his barn, insisting he was doing nothing wrong. “We stick to the fundamentals,” he said.

There was no “How to” manual in Dutrow’s training. He did everything by the gut and the horse sense with which he was born. In short, he was a natural.

But in the end, he paid for his indiscretions, whether deserved or not. Many feel racing is for the better not having Dutrow training horses. But as disappointed as his father was in his son wasting his God-given ability, racing and the horses he loved may be even more disappointed. Dutrow is as talented as any trainer in the country. And it is a shame to see those talents come to an end.

116 Comments

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Old Old Cat

More questions than answers, a life lost...   Taking Big Brown off the medication before the Belmont was probably a big mistake, not that it may have given an advantage, but changing horses (or medication) midstream, is upsetting the general routine.  Big Brown was a push-button horse in the Derby, a basket case in the Belmont.  My buddy called me while they were saddling up and I told him BB had already lost the race before the post parade...

I have no condemnation for Rick Dutrow, but he certainly contributed to the situation, and he probably could have avoided the suspensions if he wanted to.  

I feel sorry for his stakes disqualification at Pimlico (from first place) was because the Lasix injection (required) was given on the van coming from New York that was backed up due to I95 traffic.  That was damned if you do,  damned if you don't.  It wasn't his fault.

26 Jan 2013 3:05 PM
Cdnkowboy

Steve,

    I am glad you wrote this.  Someone needed to say something and as always you have just the right words.  Ten years is a long time when tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.  Wether or not he did things outside the rules, the punishment seems awfully severe for the crimes.  I like my racing with a little colour and Dutrow painted it just the way I like it.  It is great to have a guy like him boast and win, and its just as fabulous to hear him brag and watch him lose.   I believe Dutrow genuinely loves his horses and feel there is room for a guy like him.  Ten years?  Wether you like him or not,  take away all the insane money involved and isn't racing about bragging rights?  

26 Jan 2013 3:08 PM
Steel Dragon

Exactly where is he banned from? New York? The whole world?

26 Jan 2013 4:02 PM
Cassandra.Says

Good one, Steve.

Sentimental journeys are good for racing and good for readers' souls, but once in a while we need someone to take a cool-headed look at the administration of justice in our neighborhood.

Groucho Marx said "Military music is to music as military justice is to justice."

The administration of justice in racing brings that deadly riposte to mind again and again.

As an old, decrepit person I note with alarm the idea of cumulative guilt. Doesn't that amount to senior bashing?

Presumption of innocence is nowhere in evidence in the industry. The "absolute insurer" rule replaces it with presumption of guilt.

The theory is whispered that Dutrow is guilty of worse things that there isn't any evidence for. It's rarely accompanied by any sense that you shouldn't hang a man for unsubstantiated suspicions. God bless America.

And God bless the Sport of Toadies.

Does anyone really doubt that the tipping point with Dutrow was the undisguised contempt he held for the decision-makers?

26 Jan 2013 4:50 PM
anita b

Hello Steve,

You are so right. It is a shame. Mr. Dutrow is a natural and deeply loves his horses. When a trainer like Allen Jerkins goes to bat for him--that says it all. It sounds like Dutrow was a slow learner (ie, wild in his earlier days,etc.)---should he be penilized for that? I think some of these stewards and racing officials need to live in a glass house. They are not perfect yet try to make the public think they are. If I had a farm, I would see if Rick would like working with the wealings and yearlings. Sadly I don't. I hope the suspension is shortened though. Thanks again, Steve.

Anita Carter

26 Jan 2013 4:54 PM
AJJ

Way too many generalities in this piece.  If anyone wants to know why he was suspended for ten years - let's get the laundry list of violations.  It was LONG and egregious.  If I had a dime for any time someone said..."ah, he's a nice guy."    

I'm sure plenty of guys who had no interest in rules governing their business are nice guys too.  Every other trainer that follows rules, some of them very simple ones, are trampled by rules violators who aren't punished.  This was a LONG time coming.

26 Jan 2013 4:59 PM
Lmaris

The REAL shame of the ban, is that it took so long to enforce.  The man has disregarded the rules of the sport, both medical and regulatory, with impunity.  Repeated violations while on probation for prior violations, showed how little he cared about the rules others followed to the letter.

Great trainer?  Maybe, but we'll never know whether it was because he was a better horseman or a better medicine cabinet.

Good riddance.  The sport is better without serial offenders like him.  It is just a shame it took so long for the appropriate ban to be enforce.

26 Jan 2013 5:08 PM
Mary Adkins

It is very emotional to read this and I have no doubt as I have heard from others that know Rick Dutrow personally that also say how much he loves his horses but as Haskin has pointed out, the good can not take away the bad. I guess a comparison that comes to my mind is an abusive parent that truly believes that they love their child. But have no doubt that Rick Dutrow was not the worse in this industry and he most certainly was being singled out for years. Will the industry be better off without him? NO it will not be any better unless the industry itself starts talking BIG steps to protect the athletes in this sport from bad trainers that use illegal drugs  and those that send the horses off to slaughter. Until then, fans continue to turn away and learn to slowly hate racing because of their love for the horses. For many, the love of the horses means more than the love of the sport ever will. This is what many people involved in the racing industry has yet to accept. If they love this sport, then they had better start loving the horses first.

26 Jan 2013 5:35 PM
Steve Haskin

Lmaris and AJJ, your feelings toward Dutrow has no doubt clouded your reading comprehension.I never said Dutrow shouldnt have been suspended or defended his actions in the slightest. I merely said it was a shame that someone with such talent had to  throw it all away. Compared to other violators, and there are many, his suspension was harsh in my opinion. And my relationship with Dutrow was no different than other writers. I just knew what a great horseman he was, and that shouldnt be confused with how I felt about his violations. I stated emphatically I dont condone what he did.

26 Jan 2013 5:54 PM
Owlbet

I'm confused.  How does medication violations make Dutrow a good horseman?  

As usual, Steve, a great article.

26 Jan 2013 6:24 PM
AJJ

"Good horseman," tough to argue against that...but ALSO a chronic rules violator?  Someone can be good with horses, have a great connection with them, and still wildly ignore the rules, which are there for protection of said horses, the other owners/trainers, and the bettors.  That HAS to negate simply being a good horseman.

26 Jan 2013 6:30 PM
greyghost

There is a disconnect in Dutro's make-up. You love your horses, yet you do them harm. Is that like a man that batters his wife? I believe ten years is more than enough time to learn a lesson (or two). If training and horses are his life, confinement from his life's work and the measure of time to think about his transgressions can surely be realized in half that time. They say everyone deserves a second chance. Dutro appears to have experienced more than his share of second chances. Own up to what you did and pepper it with plenty of mea culpas.

26 Jan 2013 6:41 PM
Steel Dragon

Will you still need him?

Will you still feed him?

26 Jan 2013 6:42 PM
John from Baltimore

Professional baseball, football and basketball are all fighting sports betting because they know the integrity of the game is everything.  Dutrow had no respect for the rules of the game and it is time for him to go. Baseball did without Shoeless Joe Jackson, racing can do without Dutrow. Maybe Dutrow and Lance Armstrong can get together and talk about how thier sports treated them while they cry in thier beer.

26 Jan 2013 6:55 PM
Fran

Very well written.  I have seen so many negative comments about this gentleman, however, unless you are in his barn one does not have first hand knowledge.  Mr. Dutrow seems to be a rough around the edges kind of guy which seems to rub people the wrong way.  I remember when I first read the charges; some of which indicated his manner was not becoming to the industry.  Comments such as that seem to be a personal attack rather than an attack on real issues.  Ten years seems to be an extraordinary long time.  The industry does not have hard and fast rules for infractions so I see this a more of a personal attack.  People speak of a long list of disregard for rules and regulations.  Well, should it be retroactive from the beginning?  It seems as though there is a drugging issue in the racing industry as well as other sports, and I am sure other trainers are just as guilty but give a better presentation to the industry.  Let me add, there are trainers who sell their unwanted horses to slaughter, and I don't see them having banning issues.  I am afraid the stewards turn a blind eye to many trainers.  I have to conclude that personal attacks have no business in this industry.

26 Jan 2013 6:57 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, you did a beautiful job describing Rick Dutrow. I feel exactly as you do. He is a man who loves racing and he loves his horses. His heart is on his sleeve, for better or worse. I agree that his violations had to be addressed, but I feel a 10 year ban is Draconian in every respect. If some of the other transgressors had been dealt with in a consistent manner, this might not seem so unfair. But they haven't. I would never compare Rick Dutrow to "a man who beats his wife but loves her." That isn't a) a good comparison and b) no one who loves his wife beats her. Personally, I think Rick's personality is not what the powers to be want to be seen as the face of horse racing. He has angered some very powerful people in the sport. However, when you destroy someone's career, you better have a darn good reason for doing it so you can look at yourself in the mirror in the morning. If I was them, I wouldn't be looking at myself in the mirror anytime too soon. A 2-3 year suspension would have been enough and sent him the proper message. I know good people may disagree with me about this, but I think this penalty is excessive and life-altering. A place you don't want to go unless murder is involved imo.

26 Jan 2013 8:02 PM
PomDeTerre

Dutrow did not love horses or the sport enough to play nby the rules.  Instead, he seemed to find pleasure in flaunting them.  I feel no sympathy toward his ban.  The fact of the matter was that SOMEONE had to go first.  Pick your poison- a certain california trainer or this NY one.

The REAL shame on the Dutrow ban is that he has found yet another way to bend the rules and armchair train, as witnessed by last weekend's Sunshine Millions Turf win by Teak's North, who- until last Thursday- was in Dutrow's barn.  As of that afternoon the new "trainer of record" became Michelle Nevin, his (possibly former) girlfriend and barn assistant who received her trainer's license THAT DAY.  Sure, as an owner I would send my horses to a 3 day old trainer, especially the stakes caliber ones...NOT.  And, btw, Teaks North went on to win, bet down  from a m/l of 12/1 to one of the 2 favorites.  Shame on the Gulfstream officials for allowing this storefront sham to operate.  And it just adds more evidence of Dutrow's arrogance and attitude that the "rules" apply to all but him.

26 Jan 2013 8:34 PM
Brown brother

Steve, your writing on this issue was riveting art for true fans. One part of this story which would be useful for us to make up our minds is a thorough, easy-to-understand comparison between dutrow's transgressions with those of pletcher, asmussen and other top trainers with a history of similar rules violations. It's a big issue and I'd love to see a follow-up centered around such a comparison because it would provide much needed context.

26 Jan 2013 8:41 PM
fuzzbert

I don't particularly care for RD or his blatent disregard for rules.  Almost seems like he was made a scapegoat.  Ten yrs - a wee bit long.  If the stewards are enforcing this, they better stop and look at all the other trainers out there.  This whole drugging thing HAS TO STOP so instead of giving days - make it a mandatory year for first offense and increase the time of each consequent suspension when trainers are caught.  They need some uniform rules across the board.  And yeah, lets start looking at the guys who send their horses to the "plant".  My prayers are with RD as he tries to understand/comprehend the seriousness of this whole thing.  As an old TV show once said in its opening theme "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."  Good luck RD.

26 Jan 2013 8:52 PM
fasthorse

IMO dutrow is a helluva trainer.medication violations aside. trainer responsibility it what got him..how many times was he in violation when he wasnt even there ? this happens to trainers who ship around to run..how many times was he cited for class 1 violations?? mostly minor stuff that does add up in time..in my opinion there was more to it than just medication. i personally think it is a personal attack on the man and not violations he has had...so what if he doesnt have a "brain to mouth" filter 80% of people dont.i sure dont. 10 yrs is way to harsh unless someone is making it " personal"

26 Jan 2013 9:31 PM
Richard Patrick

I think the reason he was considered such a "good horseman" was because he won races.  The reason he won races is because he illegally pumped those horses he "truly loved" full of drugs.   Sounds like he loved "winning" and not so much "his horses" to me.  The game will only be better without him for the next ten years. There's a few others like him that are out there abusing horses to win that new to go, too.

26 Jan 2013 10:11 PM
zevida

There is a fundamental disconnect in your column. A person with repeated drug violations is not a horseman. Horsemanship is about honoring the horse above all else, not breaking rules and putting the animal at risk for your own glory.

I'm sure that Dutrow loved some of the horses that have come through his barn. Who wouldn't be in tears greeting their BC Classic winner or give their Derby winner an enthusiastic thank you? Dutrow is a blight on the sport and that he continues to be glorified in spite of his toxic behavior is shameful.

I'm sure that Lance Armstrong loves the sport of cycling. That's no excuse.  It is a shame that Dutrow and Armstong chose to cheat instead of using their natural talent. But the only ones I'm sad for are the people and horses they ran over on their path to glory.

26 Jan 2013 10:46 PM
Mary in VT

You nailed it with your "sense of loss" description. That's exactly what I feel. A keen sense of loss for a truly gifted individual.

Like you, I don't know if he is guilty as charged, or not, but I have always thought some miserable bad a** must have it in for him big time to rule him completely out of the game for an unprecedented 10 long years. I had never heard of anything but 30 and 60 day suspensions prior to this, not that I am an expert in such matters.

Delivering a sentence based on cumulative infractions that each must have been dealt with separately in their own time sounds like double jeopardy to me. Can't believe the SCOTUS would stand with that. I think it just might be possible that at some point Dutrow could turn this around and sue for malicious prosecution.

I wish you would publish the name(s) of the bad a**es so everyone from their ex-mother-in-laws forward can be asked about their misadventures and indiscretions. Or maybe they are candidates for sainthood. Dunno. But I would just like to understand a wee bit more about the character of such men.

I too enjoyed the boyish glee with which Rick Dutrow loved his horses. He was delightful. And soooo much more entertaining to watch than the 'nother day at the office types that can leave one wondering if they comprehend the magnitude of what their horse just did.

But no, I don't want any horses juiced. None. Zero. It is unfortunate that they didn't meet each violation with escalating sentences instead of hand slaps so that it would eventually become clear to each violator that they can't afford further infractions. That might be a different point for different people but I gotta believe it would be long before 10 years for everybody.

26 Jan 2013 11:36 PM
Steve Haskin

Zevida, I understand how your love of horses can cloud your thinking. I love horses as much as anyone, having been around them for over 40 years. As I said, I don't condone Dutrow's violations, but dont confuse that with horsemanship or caring fo the animals. Before you make comments like that, list the names Dutrow's horses who broke down or suffered a life-threantening injury. Can you name any?

27 Jan 2013 12:07 AM
steve from st louis

We just got done burying Stan Musial here, an athlete who was never thrown out of a game in 22 seasons, one who hit .310 or better the first 17 consecutive years he played his game.

Athletic greatness can be measured by numbers but true greatness is the measure of the man. I don't care how many races Dutrow won, he got what he deserved. Is 10 years too much? I disagree with you Steve; he was lucky it wasn't a life sentence. Think of the message that would have sent.

Cheating is cheating. Period. No, he never fooled his horses. They were just toys to cash a bet, like the huge bet he made on Saint Liam in the Classic. But he tried to fool every other man in the race game he came in contact with.

27 Jan 2013 12:26 AM
Davids

Hopefully, the positive to come from this is that it will/may deter others from 'risking all' to win. In other sports, they have been reduced to jailing their reprobates.

27 Jan 2013 12:55 AM
kincsem

How about zero medication and zero tolerance for infractions? The severity of his suspension has been a long time coming. If only the so-called officials of the sport would be consistent, then they might be taken seriously. Mary Adkins, I agree - Americans do not view the horses as a disposable commodity. The racing world loves them when they win, but the majority of owners and trainers do not care about the horses once they have wrung their youth and utility from them. So, it is difficult to swallow any protestations that they "love" their horses.

27 Jan 2013 1:02 AM
Steve Haskin

Steve, go back and read my column again and then please tell me what the heck you're talking about. I haven't a clue. Youre entitled to your comments and opinions on Dutrow, but I'd like to know what they have to do with what I wrote. Did I say his suspension was "too" long or did I say it was long? Did I state he did not cheat? Or did I merely say it is sad and a shame when talent like his is wasted? You obviously know him well from your factual comments, obviously better than I do, so I defer to your knowledge. By the way, let me know sometime when you'd like a list of Hall of Fame trainers, as well as big-time owners, who bet tons of money on their horses. I didnt realize that was a crime.

27 Jan 2013 1:08 AM
Mike Relva

There are several great trainers who proceed the correct way without having to break the rules, they respect the horse and the game. He has no one to blame but himself.

27 Jan 2013 1:43 AM
Paula Higgins

O.k. reality check here. How many trainers do you think haven't given their horses some kind of drug at one time or another? They probably all have (I am including Lasix). Some of these drugs were legal at one time or another and some still are. But they may not be in the future. Most of them care about their horses, just like Rick Dutrow. But there are trainers who feel very little connection to their horses on a personal level. That is one thing you can't accuse Dutrow of in all fairness. His horses did not die or suffer serious injury. The perception of the people who actually know him,is markedly different from the perception of those who don't know him. There are other high profile trainers who have gotten away with repeated violations. If a governing body is to be just, it should be essentially equitable. In a sport as small as horse racing, this should not be difficult to achieve. But their decision regarding Dutrow was not about doing the right and fair thing, but to make him the poster boy for all the things that are not right in racing. We are talking about New York State (Gov. Cuomo and his grandstanding about horse racing), the recent NY Times article and the resulting negative publicity. So Dutrow is taking the fall for not just his violations, but everyone else's.

As for Lance Armstrong, we are talking about a whole other can of worms. Banning him for life is appropriate. He juiced and lied his way through 7 Tour de France competitions. He destroyed lives  by suing people for defammation, collecting damages and destroying THEIR reputations in the cycling field, even though he knew they were telling the truth. That is an incredibly vicious thing to do. I really don't think Rick Dutrow comes even close to Armstrong's level of personal corruption. Again, I think a 2-3 year ban is appropriate.

27 Jan 2013 1:46 AM
footy231

in my opinion it took way too long to get him out but im glad he is now. i say on to the next one, this great sport needs to punish those that bring shame on the game.

27 Jan 2013 4:01 AM
Barry Irwin

Roy Rogers was a great horseman AND he made great cowboy films.

Lance Armstrong could really ride a bike BUT he was a cheater.

Roy Rogers lives forever in the hearts and minds of his fans.

Lance Armstrong gave himself a life sentence.

27 Jan 2013 7:01 AM
Karen in Indiana

It appears that the lack of control and good judgment that Rick Dutrow showed when he kept running at the mouth during the time he had Big Brown carried over into other areas of his life as well. It is a shame that a man who had the gifts of dealing with horses like he did instead chose to abuse that gift, and the horses he had responsibility for. Because what else would you call medicating horses to run or run better? If an action is against the rules, there's a reason for that. And it doesn't make it any more o.k. saying that other trainers do it also, RD just got caught. I can remember the same thing being said about Richard Nixon. Hopefully, the severe sentence that RD received will cause other trainers to think twice before doing something questionable.

27 Jan 2013 8:39 AM
Lise from Maine

Hi!

Dutrow's "wild, shady" personality is what got him into trouble.

Living off the edge just means that rules to him don't matter for the most part.

It's his own fault, and breaking "enough" rules have finally caught up with him.

Loving horses is not about medicating them needlessly in order to obtain a certain result and getting a "big" high from it.

That's not love of the horse at all.

That is a self-centered attitude meaning that "I must have my high" no matter what.

To me it is "using" the horse for his benefit and then "pretending" to love the horse.

We don't need people such as him in the horse racing business.

What we need are honest people in this business in order to raise the "image" of horse racing.

"Truly loving" the horses during their racing careers and taking care of them after they are off the tracks are what it is all about - an honest industry.

Thank you!

27 Jan 2013 8:48 AM
Arian Haxhillari

Well. See a lot of different point of views in this article.

Im an horse owner and got my first horse after seeing eight belle collapse on the field on national TV. There it was when i sow Dutrow firs.

As an owner i see every day that my trainers i have don't care for my horses just the bill at the first of the month. I get a vet bill full of medication before and after the race. And still no results.

Dutrow has great results and I would hire a trainer like him any time in the future.

The problem isn't only the trainer it is the racing rules and regulations which are not clear, public, and equal all over.

It is the vets who are making a kill with med given who are making this sport not be as clear as it can.

There is no nation wide standard on racing and as a results there is confusion about it.

When this will get regulated you will see changes.

I dont see his problem worse than Demorphine trainers used in recent racing in south usa.

I think using this kind of med is dangerous.

I think the med treatment on horses need to be public, the vets who treat them should be responsible for administration of different medications as well.

In this mixture of mess we just punish the end of the line.

It is ok but we have to take it to a different level.

27 Jan 2013 10:18 AM
Pedigree Ann

Why is Patrick Biancone still training in the US? He was banned in both France and Hong Kong. Cobra venom in the tack-room fridge gets him a year. Were Dutrow's sins ten times as bad? I don't know.

27 Jan 2013 10:35 AM
Steve Haskin

Barry, is it not a shame that someone with Lance Armstrong's amazing talent went astray and in the end he wasted those talents? That is the only point I'm making. Armstrong cheated in a world of mass cheating. He got caught. And now he's suffering the consequences. There lies the similarity between the two. You know as well as anyone, Dutrow is not alone when it comes to cheating violations. Let's get all the mass offenders and ban them for 10 years. Care to venture a guess how many top trainers will disappear from the sport? Hey, who knows, maybe we'll find out that Trigger was on steroids.

27 Jan 2013 10:36 AM
Sureshot

Generally speaking a track is owned by a group of people or even an individual, altho NYRA is not.

so while following the rules set out by the state racing commission, the tracks also have a right of exclusion of what they consider undesirables. Sort of like a drunk buffon at a party. If he does not behave himself the host has a right to tell him to straighten up or leave and not come back.

Dutrow may very well be picked on by some at NYRA. It may very well be an excessive sentence. but New York is  not the only place that has suspended him. In some 65 instances in different jurisdictions, he has been told to straighten up and get his act together, and he has done what he does without thinking of long term consequences.

Picked on an singled out, maybe. but where there is smoke there is fire. He has for many years conducted himself in a way that is detrimental to horse racing.

I hope he is the first of many cheats that will find themselves on a long forced vacation.

There needed to be an example made and NYRA picked the right one.

He will just go be a bloodstock agent or something similar, seems he has no shortage of clients standing behind him, which is part of the problem.

What does that say about the owners sticking with a known cheat right to the last appeal?

27 Jan 2013 10:52 AM
Sureshot

And Steve, to your point wasted talent is always a shame.

Its a shame to see the brains, talent, athletic ability, or genius be thrown away by those that have it.

Its also a shame, as an owner/ trainer to lead a clean healthy horse thats been training well over and see your competition walking around with bodies that they didnt get just by hay oats and water.

27 Jan 2013 11:01 AM
steve from st louis

Steve, I was trying, obviously not successfully, to point out there is nothing more important in any "sport" than competing honestly and with integrity. It's at the core of any game. Whether it's baseball, cycling or training horses.

Get rid of the cheaters and it is likely we would lose a great number of trainers who couldn't win races without masking illegal drugs. So what? Look who would be left; honest horsemen who know how to get a horse ready with only  oats, hay and water. And the betting public would have a greater transparency when they invest their money.

There is no stigma on betting on a horse race, but those who wagered on Big Brown in the Belmont or Life At Ten in the Breeders Cup were no doubt cheated out of their money. How about the thousands of races where the public was cheated on medicated horses of which we aren't aware? Get rid of medication and you get rid of the Rick Dutrows and Patrick Biancones of the world. And the "game" would be better for it.

27 Jan 2013 11:26 AM
Steve Haskin

Steve, I agree with everying you say, but it still has nothing to do with the premise of my column. You make it sound like I excuse cheaters. My column is about the shame of wasted talent.

27 Jan 2013 12:07 PM
Old Timer

Steve,

I give you a lot of credit for even writing this article. I say that because we all know that R. Dutrow stirs strong emotions in many fans.

I do not argue with any of your words.

However in my opinion the shame of it is not that he gets banned from racing but that the others DON'T. This sport needs to put in place a zero tolerance policy and stick to their guns. What choice is there? The public is sick of not having a level playing field, whether it be in horse racing, bicycling; baseball; football or whatever.

I'd say having over 60 violations and showing no regret or attempt to change is reason enough to say "Adios".  

27 Jan 2013 12:44 PM
Bill Rinker

It's a little difficult to say thanks for the article Steve, but in this case it's irrational to view our sport through rose colored glasses. Once again you have done a masterful job at your craft, and this will probably be one of the most responded too blogs you've written so far.  I would agree with your synopsis of Rick Dutrow's plight, and it is unfortunate for everyone involved. In addition to a greater respect for medication violations, I am thinking that a good thing to come from this would be to impliment greater surveilance in all barn areas. I think we could see and have a greater understanding of the improvements necessary to faciliate the sport's direction. It would give us the ability to set a standard of accountibilty that we all could reach for, learn from, and ultimately feel good about. Most people close to the sport would probably agree, that advancements in all aspects of horse racing can be made through barn improvement. It would create a layer of transparency that would increase over all support, and improve life.

27 Jan 2013 1:11 PM
Linda Stephan

Isn't he only banned in NY? Aren't there many great tracks in other states? He's hardly losing his profession, etc! And his horses will run there (NY) anyway, under his assistants, as always is the case when a trainer is suspended. No real teeth in any of the rules: racings biggest problem.

27 Jan 2013 1:18 PM
Steve Haskin

Linda, it is extremely rare that a state does not acknowledge another's state's ban. They do not want the firestorm that comes with it, especially in this case. And this is not a 30-day ban. He has no more assistants. His main assistant, Michelle Nevin, has just passed her trainers test and was given 20 stalls at GP with the stipulation they will be rescinded if she has any contact with Dutrow...and she will be monitored closely. No young trainer is going to jeopardize their entire career. All ties between Dutrow and his assistants have been or will be broken.

27 Jan 2013 2:19 PM
smarie

If anyone should bemoan Dutrow's wasted talent, it should be Dutrow himself. He did all these thi gs to himself. Who knows how successful the man would have been if he'd been honest and followed the rules? Racing has no room for cheaters. Dutrow has been given more than his fair share of chances and has blown most of them. Lance Armstrong's cheating has finally caught up with him and that will be his legacy. This is no one's fault but his own. Same thing with Rick Dutrow. All who cheat to win in sport should be banned. The numbers of horses and jockeys who are endangered by cheating trainers who send doped-up horses out to run must be tremendous. There is absolutely no reason or defense for this. Dutrow has to go, as all who act in this manner must.

27 Jan 2013 3:35 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

I read every word of this intriguing story and I personally take no pleasure in someone else's pain.  I'm passing no judgment on Rick Dutrow. How well do we really know anyone, even those closest to us?  I liked reading how much he loved his horses.  Thank you for writing this story.  I hope for a happy ending.

27 Jan 2013 4:06 PM
Barry Irwin

Pedigree Ann--you might want to check your facts re Mon. Biancone.

Steve, Dutrow is gone because he couldn't help himself.

27 Jan 2013 4:35 PM
steve from st louis

Didn't Dutrow get suspended for cheating? How good would he have been without his phamaceutical talents? We don't know. You assume Dutrow wasted his talents where as I assume the only reason he "showed" talent and won races was because of his deftness with the needles they found in his desk and the prohibited drugs they found in his runners time and time again. At no time did I believe you were condoning cheating.

You say "no young trainer is going to jeopardize their entire career". But isn't that exactly what Dutrow did?

27 Jan 2013 4:42 PM
Sureshot

Linda, the New York suspension will be upheld all over north america, and probably even some foreign countries.

He will not even be allowed to attend races at another track as a spectator.

This suspension has teeth. He cannot just go to another track and continue business as usual. Or continue calling the shots behind the scenes using an assistant as the trainer of record.

Rest assured that any license he may have had in any jurisdiction has been revoked.

27 Jan 2013 6:46 PM
Howard da Walker

It was a complete frame up. Todd Pletcher and Stephanie Beatty both have more infractions than Dutrow. She voted the horsemans rep in PA. and Todd is the golden boy. I don't think there is a better horseman in the country. There was no race fixing just superior horsemanship.

27 Jan 2013 7:05 PM
predict

I don't quite get it, " the real shame". How can you decide on the talents of someone based on illegally obtained results. Was Armstrong a great bicyclist? Was Barry Bonds a great baseball player, or Mcguire or

Clemens? The problem is we do not know, and will not know because they all cheated, that is the real shame.

27 Jan 2013 7:23 PM
Johnno

Well, all I can say is this apparently somewhat/sometime popular character wouldn't be in the sport as long as he has in Australia, with his length-of-the-home-straight rap sheet.  Actually, forget Australia.  In Hong Kong if you throw/fix/drug/jockey tip a race you go to jail, as one very notable Australian rider has experienced in recent years.  Listen, all I can say is I am a lover of racing, who only in the last few days has returned from the US and having a great time at Gulfstream, Tampa, the Lousiana tracks, Hollywood Park, and not to mention the Derby  and Preakness in previous years. Your fans are as enthusiastic as I have seen here and also love the sport not just for the thrill of the bet but also for the magic of the occasion, when a great competitor  graces the track.  In the case of myself, an owner of a couple of very average performers who gets a thrill out of a rare win or a very pleasing run I cherish the thought and hope that my horses have ran on their merits - win, lose or draw. In the case of this banned trainer...oh boy!  Didn't he get the hint that a long holiday was on the itinery if he continued in this vein no matter the severity of the offenses?  As for the affection that he shows for his horses, well most horse people are in racing because hey love the animals and get an extra thrill of watching them compete. If I was the owner of Big Brown, I too would have ran to his barn and thrown my arms around him after the Derby. Everyone loves a champion.  So please,  let's keep it in perspective. Finally I will make this observation.  Racing in America is on the wane. Forgive me.  I suspect there are many reasons for this. But a sterner approach to penalties for cheating, especially in the post-Armstrong climate can only benefit our beautiful sport and pastime.  Race strong and fair, America!

27 Jan 2013 7:28 PM
Paula Higgins

Barry Irwin, one of the truest comments on this blog is the one you made-"Dutrow is gone because he couldn't help himself." You are quite right. It is also one of the more sympathetic and perceptive comments posted here. I have great sympathy for him. He is a very talented and gifted horse trainer, who's livelyhood has been taken away from him because of his inability to control himself and an inequitable process and penalty. I will miss seeing him. He was loaded with personality and his love for his horses was crystal clear. Steve from St. Louis, I have alot of respect for your opinion, but Dutrow is acknowledged by everyone in the industry for having a talent with horses that have nothing to do with doping. I have 0 symapthy for Lance Armstrong because he inflicted serious damage on anyone who challenged him. The only one Rick Dutrow hurt is himself.

27 Jan 2013 7:39 PM
Paula Higgins

I loved Roy Rogers and Trigger. He was a class act and my hero when i was a child. A very good man. His family just auctioned off everything from his museum, including Trigger for a hefty sum ($266,500). Glad someone valued him but, sad they sold off the museum contents.

27 Jan 2013 7:45 PM
fb0252

someone has suggested a driver's license like points system for trainer violations.  This would separate the jay walkers from the ax murders and also bring a halt to multiple though inadvertent offenses.

27 Jan 2013 8:37 PM
Cassandra.Says

STEVE:

Since ELISA testing was adopted in the late 80s to early 90s, there is little chance of a trainer making his rep and fortune with a needle. There are close to 1000 "foreign substances" banned on race day which ELISA nails with unprecedented accuracy.

The vast majority of positives nowadays are trace elements left from legal therapeutic use which have been unexpectedly slow in clearing the horse's system.

There were years of back and forth before administrations excepted from disciplinary action levels of drugs that were acknowledged to be too low to be pharmacologically active

You have to look back to "the Greats of Yesteryear" to find horses kept on their feet and trying by wizards with illegal drugs.

BTW, I've realized that some of my posts on this topic sound as though I am an aggrieved subject of a ruling off, or something. Let me say "I am not now, nor have I ever been ..."

It's about my day job, which was law on the academic side, where we tend to cling to the lofty Roman principles inculcated in us early, and are appalled at what happens when the Majesty of the Law gets filtered though some less than majestic bureaucrats.

I'm actually rather encouraged that posters are assuming a long history of nefarious activity by Dutrow. They have this touching faith that the rules are wise, the processes fair, and the sentences fit the crime.

As it should be. As it isn't.

27 Jan 2013 8:46 PM
Uncle Smiley

Steve,

This is your most provocative blog in the past year.

Mary Adkins' contribution is spot on, too.  

US

27 Jan 2013 8:53 PM
Bigtex

Steve,

Well written!  Very gracious of you to acknowledge the fact that Dutrow is guilty of wrongdoing, but, also acknowledging the fact that the penalty does not fit the crime.  Two years to, let's say, four years for a man who's passion in life is horses should be quite a nightmare and provide the intended result.  

We live in a world where, amongst humans, it seems love for one another seems to be a thing of the past. Offering grace to one another for mistakes they've made, allowing someone to be who they really are and not some false self, well, forget it.  

I'm with you!  Punish him but don't abuse your power and ruin his life forever!

27 Jan 2013 9:17 PM
Anna Laios

Dutrow is not the only trainer who has used "medication" for horses, it's just he was singled out because he was successful and it annoys other trainers.  He sounds like a genuine horseman and he was successful cause he did treat his horses to get the best out of them. Here in Australia medications are allowed to be used but there is a withholding period you must stop before a race. You can't expect a horse to run if you don't treat them for past injuries, breathing problems, bleeding or arthritis. All trainers do it, but Dutrow had the upper hand cause he knew how to train horses in trackwork, despite the medications. Ten years is a long time. I love your article Steve, you don't write in a biased way. If they disqualified everyone who got caught, there would be no horses making up the fields on raceday!

27 Jan 2013 9:30 PM
Bigtex

Paula Higgins,

Great comments!

27 Jan 2013 9:32 PM
Bigtex

Steve, it could be that those in the industry who are cut from the same cloth as Dutrow, brash and arrogant, will be the harshest critics.

27 Jan 2013 9:36 PM
Sabrina

At my job, if you break the rules,  you get fired. He is responsible for his stable and everything inside his stable.  I live in the real world,  but the horse racing industry seems to be very lenient in enforcing their rules and that bothers me.  I won't mention any names, but but I know of certain jockeys who have tested positive over and over again,  but yet,  they get an attorney to fight the drug test and get their job back within a few weeks or months.  My employer would fire me on the spot if I tested positive for, or possessed an illegal substance and no attorney in their right mind would take my case...because they would lose. It's in my contract that I signed when I was offered my job that I am not to engage in illegal drug use. Besides, I don't make enough money to hire a lawyer even if I wanted to. If Dutrow didn't have the big bucks to hire an attorney...I wonder what he would have done then...called legal aid? This industry just seems to be too lenient. And,  yes I am aware that another high-profile trainer was also suspended for violations a couple of years back, but it's very rare in this industry. Maybe they are making an example of him,  but if he broke the rules what are they supposed to do...give him a light sentence and hope he learns. I agree that ten years is a long time but in other industries the suspension would be permanent.  You would not continue to get second chances. Exactly when should a trainer be suspended and, how much should they be permitted to get away with?  Maybe that should be established first.

27 Jan 2013 11:21 PM
Paseana

I think the "chemistry" stuff with Dick Dutrow is overblown.  The only prohibited medication that he got caught with is clenbuterol.....maybe a couple of times.  All of his other positives were overages of permitted drugs like bute and lasix.

Dutrow's problem has been from his incessant nose-thumbing.  He has proven over the years to have zero respect for the game and its rules.

Papers not on file in the racing office, horses being led over late to the receiving barn....even parking violations.  He was penalized for making "mis-statements" on his trainer license renewal application.  Come to find out, by Dutrow's own admission, somebody else fills out that form and he just signs it.  Terrific!

The one I really love is when he got an extra 30 days added to a suspension because he was caught training by cell phone!  No intelligent person will believe that suspended trainers haven't done that before, but Rick's disregard for the rules of racing and those that govern them got him caught.

Steve is right....I don't ever remember a Rick Dutrow horse breaking down.  If someone were to run stats on that, I expect that Dutrow would be next to zero.

The fact is that he's an excellent horseman, and there's no doubt in my mind that he loves the animals that are put in his charge.  But his disrespect for the rules of the game over several years is coming back to bite him.

10 years is too harsh, in my opinion.  The same message would have been sent with one or two years.

27 Jan 2013 11:39 PM
The Deacon

Sreve, well written article but you must know that you were going to get a lot of passionate responses from folks, good or bad.

Great horseman is Dutrow, yes.......exceptional talent, agreed......breaking and bending the rules, obviously.

In my opinion it was his arrogance and lack of respect he showed for authority that got him in the end. Along with his lack of willingness for compliance in an industry he knew that has had many black marks.

Is 10 years excessive, maybe,  and the powers that be are setting an example I believe.

Since the Life at Ten fiasco with Todd Pletcher and Johnny V, and the John Veitch witch hunt I have little or no respect for the racing authorities....but that's just me.

Nevertheless Steve I highly respected this article and it was something that needed to be said.

Lastly, I am one too quick to judge. Both sides have their arguement, usually somewhere in the middle lies the truth.

28 Jan 2013 2:31 AM
duchess

This is the closest thing I could find for stats on trainer violations:

www.nytimes.com/.../04racing.html

Thing is - as far as I can tell it does not differentiate between major and minor violations, and it only covers the top twenty trainers in the US, as well as being a couple of years old.

I would like to see more recent data, as well as some sort of breakdown as to what the violations were.

If anyone knows where to find the data, can they please share?

There are two trainers with NO violations on that list - Graham Motion and Christophe Clement. God bless them.

There are many trainers with pretty clean looking records, including some of the biggest names out there like Pletcher, Zito, Mott, and Romans.

Then there are some whose records look pretty bad (again, with no telling if they are minor or major violations).

Rick Dutrow is second on the list behind a trainer named Jaimie Ness. Out of curiosity, is anything pending against that trainer?

28 Jan 2013 2:36 AM
Dark Horse

The main themes I'm picking up from this story are kangaroo court and pitchfork crowd.  

Does horse racing need to be clean? Yes. But not this way. If steroids are legal, and Dutrow mentions them, the crowd is crying foul. If Dutrow dramatically improves claimers, the crowd cries foul, even though he picked them because he knew he could fix hind-end issues, which can lead to dramatic improvement. If Dutrow runs Willy Beamin' on a few days rest to win two in a row the accusations fly. It never even occurs to this crowd that he may know something that they don't.  

The people that know little or nothing about horse racing should have no voice in matters such as these. What happened last year in Belmont with I'll Have Another was their victory. A detention barn? Are you kidding? Because of a successful attack through the media on the trainer? Wasn't this about IHA, and didn't he run clean in the Derby and Preakness?  It didn't matter to the easily inflamed crowd.  The first attack against O'Neil and I'll Have Another came right after IHA won the Derby. But the allegation against him was from long before that(more than a year earlier, if I recall correctly), and related to a horse than ran 7th in some low grade race. But did that matter to the crowd?  None whatsoever. When it is this easy to play the crowd, it is very easy to cast any trainer in a bad light.  

The manner in which these matters are addressed is worse than the problem itself. Evidence isn't even necessary. Suspicion was enough to convict O'Neill to a 45 day 'sentence'. This is medieval type justice. And NY, as the most arrogant and self-righteous racing state in the country, is the expert at it.

Yes, horse racing needs to be clean, and cleaned up where dirty. And no, this is not the way to do it.

28 Jan 2013 5:46 AM
Keen follower

Here is a perspective of an observer and follower of racing both in the US and outside, mostly in Europe.

In contrast to the US, absolutely no medication or foreign substances are permitted to be administered in Europe, including Great Britain ----- none, nothing, nada.In essence, hay and oats only.

With the medication debate ongoing in the US it seems that it will be a very long time, if ever that nation wide agreement on 'foreign substances' will be reached, however the continued use of steroids, phenylbutazone (bute)as well as lasix and other 'medications' are having and will continue to have far reaching consequences, not the lrast of which will be demand for American bred horses for racing outside the US.

From my own stand point, I have purchased and raced horses in the US previously but because of the continued use of so called medications, it is unlikely that I will do so again.

28 Jan 2013 8:39 AM
Banker

If he comes back in 10 years to the sport he loves, he will still be young enough.  There are plenty of good trainers in their late sixties, early seventies.   Look how well Mr Lucas is doing right now.  Ray.

28 Jan 2013 9:33 AM
TripleCrownKaren

Steve;

I couldn't agree more with your observations.    However, people need to know that the Racing world is not the ONLY place that this all goes on.   I rode show horses (jumpers) for awhile growing up and I can tell you the medication goes on there as well....and much worse in other areas of showing as well.   The only reason you don't hear about it is because there is no spotlight on it as there is in Racing.    I'm sure if there was pari-mutual wagering going on in showing, there would be "some" scrutiny there as well.....but i daresay not as much as in Racing.   Having said that, I think this "penalty" to Mr. Dutrow was supposed to send a message to the rest of the racing world and those of us who follow it, that the "powers that be" will be "tough" on  the rule breakers.    Sorry to say, I think this is just symbolic on their part and Dutrow just happened to get caught in the cross hairs because it was a "personality" issue for them and he was being seen as thumbing his nose at the establishment.   Perhaps the authorities would be smart to add a few "officials" to the mix who have NO vested interest in Racing.   As a sport, we (Racing and Racing fans) are under scrutiny by the general public at large and still seen as a somewhat "shady" type of sport.    Well, in recent years I guess EVERYONE has seen that it's not just Racing!   Baseball, Football, Cycling.....ALL have their shame to bear and ALL need some corrections.     The only difference in racing is that we are putting an innocent animal at risk, who has no choice of who handles them, how they are treated, medicated, etc.     THIS is the shame in "our sport"....we should be guardians of these innocent, magnificent creatures who are responsible for the very lively hood the Racing  community enjoys.     IF enough of the public continues to see Racing as abusers of the  Thoroughbred for our own pockets with a "win at any cost' attitude, then the reverse of the Field of Dreams movie will become Racing's reality.   It's already "built" and NO ONE will come.

28 Jan 2013 9:49 AM
Steve Haskin

Thesquaredeal, I cannot post your accusations of other trainers by name unless you supply documented facts to back up your figures and comments.

28 Jan 2013 10:17 AM
Slew

I haven't had time to read all the comments, but I had a few things to say.

"Justice delayed is justice denied."  But, it seems the delay is due to Dutrow's continuous appeals over the last few years.

On the other hand, I certainly would not want my state to go back to my early driving days, and now decide to prosecute me for a violation from 40 years ago.

Even as a parent, we learn that discipline is best applied immediately after the infraction...not a few years down the road.  There's a bit of that going on here.

Dutrow may love his horses.  He may have an outstanding rapport with these lovely creatures.  But he seems to have little or no respect for the horses in his care.  If he did, winning would not be his only goal, and cheating to win would be a foreign idea, alien to his moral make-up.  We see that's not the case.  

Of course, Rick Dutrow's own mouth is his biggest enemy.  Flaunting regulations openly with a "catch me if you can" attitude.  Even his brother, Tony, has distanced himself from his brother, because every infraction by Rick casts a shadow over Tony's own hard-earned reputation.

This is not a case of "everybody does it" and he just happens to get caught.  It doesn't matter who else does it...the fact remains he DID do it.  I thought we already learned this dealing with our teenagers.  We never quite buy the ambiguous nature of "everybody".  

I simply don't care how likeable the man may be.  (Some of our biggest serial killers were handsome and charming.) I have my own personal code of ethics.  Most people do....but not everyone does.

I don't know the man personally, however I feel he does break the rules often, and then brags about it.  That is unacceptable behavior.  Why join an organization if you won't abide by its rules.  It's one thing to be a maverick, it's an entirely different matter to be a rogue mountain lion, eating up your own business.

Is the punishment too severe?...I think it's been well deserved.  While the penalty involves only New York state, what other state would allow Dutrow a license on their home ground?  Probably none.

It seems to be time to pay the piper for Dutrow.  Remember the line from "Barretta"..." don't do the crime if you can't do the time."  His time is up.

So is mine including all the trite platitudes...but they're not called truisms for nothing.

28 Jan 2013 11:06 AM
kincsem

I do not think that getting rid of all the cheating trainers would be horrible, especially if there were a very few left. There are plenty of able horsemen/women to take their place, and it would send the right message. However, this unwillingness to clean the sport isn't about the trainers - it's about not upsetting the wealthy owners' egos that are sooooooooo invested in a four legged animal running against their peers. A bit silly, isn't it? Does it really make someone super special because the horse that they spent a lot of money to buy, beat another person's horse, who might have spent more?

28 Jan 2013 11:54 AM
Fran Loszynski

And then Steve, there are the Joe Judge's, the sweet and kind men of horseracing. The guy who wears the racehorses's cap and jacket wherever he goes. His arm around his wife's shoulder as they watch their horse come storming down the track. What a great loss for horseracing. My heart is so sad.

I feel Rick Dutrow as much as he loves racehorses just needs to cut his edge off and there you have it; he loves the sport but he needs to be a "Joe Judge". I know Joe is walking near Alex in Kentucky and feeling the breeze of a racehorse finishing his race at Keeneland.

28 Jan 2013 1:52 PM
RG442

First of all, very well written article.  Yes, the ban is probably excessive considering Patrick Biancone only got 2 years for using snake venom to numb his horses from feeling any pain.  However, I disagree that Rick is as loving and compassionate about his horses to put them ahead of fame, glory, and money.  

Being a horseman, I know the pressures of getting horses to the races that is put on by today's owners and having them be successful at the highest levels.  Very few owners and trainers put the horse before the dollar in today's society.  That being said, if Rick was as caring and loving about his horses as he portrays, he would not have run Big Brown in the Belmont with his ongoing foot problems.  He, of all people, knew Big Brown was not going to perform up to expectations because he is a great horseman and knows that a foot problem will stop a horse faster than anything.  He was not able to train the horse as he wanted, and knew he wasn't the same horse going into that race, that he was for the Derby and Preakness. In that, he disappointed the horse first and foremost and second the gamblers that put millions of dollars into the game that made Big Brown the favorite that day. Thus, Rick ran the horse anyways hoping for fame, glory, and money.

As much as I don't want to give him the credit for it due to his habitual rule-breaking, this past year's potential triple crown winning trainer took the high road, settled for winning 2 out of 3, and kept his horse and the gamblers free from any pain and disappointment.

28 Jan 2013 3:02 PM
Old Old Cat

Steve, you opened a can of worms.  I have never seen so many blogs with such vehemence? in them both pro and con.  Seriously, you should write a book about the situation.  This article has touched every aspect of the sport from horses' health, to integrity of the game, to equal justice undr the law, to administration of the rules...  It just points out how involved this whole situation is, and how anyone's simple-minded analysis is totally inadequate...

Thanks again for another thought provoking piece.

28 Jan 2013 3:11 PM
Acrosstheboard

Steve-- I can't tell you how much your column disappoints me.  I have enjoyed so much your columns and show wtih Lenny, and while I don't always agree with your commentary, I find it interesting to read.  Not so today.  I have known people who I liked and even admired and found out later that they did bad things.  It is a hard pill to swallow and often difficult to come to terms with. So, I understand your difficulty.  But, how dare you tell us "that the sport will lose an outstanding trainer and horseman, who connected with his horses like few others and had a rare affection for them."  People who drug horses to win don't care for the horses or the sport of facing.  Sorry, hugging Big Brown does not make up for the things he has done to other horses.  I agree with others the only shame here is that it is taken so long for him to be punished.  

28 Jan 2013 5:38 PM
ROBBIEJOE25

Steve, well written

Dark Horse well said

28 Jan 2013 6:11 PM
Paula Higgins

Bigtex, thank you. We are exactly of like minds. Compassion and forgiveness are qualities that are in short shrift these days. I think quite a few of us on this blog feel the same way.

Slew, the problem with your approach is that it is the "all or nothing" scenario. Also, I am not sure I would have used Robert Blake's Barretta as an example. If you recall, there was the small case of his wife's murder. There are laws in place when you commit a civil or criminal crime. Horse racing does not have a uniform set of standards, rules/body of laws, and penalties. It has been a "seat of the pants" system which decides as it goes along. That is a set up for failure, resulting in an unfair system. It is a system which judges a person based on perceived personality issues, nose thumbing and violations which did not occur in isolation (meaning most of the trainers have and are guilty of them) and not according to a set of laws and rules by which ALL are judged. If there were a standard set of laws in horse racing, 3/4 of the people training would no longer be doing so. The point being is that their response should have been more measured in light of the fact that they have no standardized set of laws in place. The way this was handled has left people feeling an injustice has cocured, which is telling.

28 Jan 2013 6:25 PM
Slew

I should have mentioned another aspect to the NYRA.  They were going bankrupt.  They borrowed money from the state of New York.  The state money belongs to the taxpayers.  The NYRA now has the state monitoring everything they do.  So the state is out to make certain the NYRA cleans up its act. The state really stomped its foot down since all those horses broke down at Aqueduct last January.

No one will be thrilled to have me quote the NY Times, but.."Mr. Cuomo, who took control of racing in the state in summer 2012, announced a series of overhauls on Sept. 28..."

As you can see, the NYRA itself is not an autonomous body but is under close scrutiny and being pressured to clean up its own act.

28 Jan 2013 7:07 PM
Your Only Friend

Ya all know the rules going in and  you ignore them.....called arogant......deserves what he got... the penalty will make others blink and take stock of themselves.....will help racing in long run.

28 Jan 2013 8:00 PM
Uncle Smiley

Steve,  

Not only do you touch the nerve.  You have the nerve to touch it!

Mary Adkins' reply about the love of the horse parallels what the designer and developer of Delaware Park, also tried to build into racing, making it a family friendly, horse oriented venue.

Wonderfully provocative blog, thanks,

US

28 Jan 2013 8:03 PM
KY VET

An idiot.....being punished by idiots........to an idiodic sentence.......where was the 1 or 2 yr ban? oh...they go right to 10 yrs.....thats fair....idiotic!

28 Jan 2013 8:41 PM
E O P

As a bettor, the problem with Dutrow's horses was that you never knew when there was going to be sudden, dramatic improvement.  First off the claim, Dutrow's horses often ran so much better than their previous history suggested that the change could be pharmaceutical.  Or, Dutrow was a miracle worker.  Or the previous trainer should have been investigated for incompetence.  Granted, much of this occurred in the steroid era when a horse could be claimed off of a non-steroid trainer by a steroid using trainer and the improvement could be explained by the administration of the steroids.  But, of course the public was unaware of the introduction of the steroids.  All that considered, I have lost a lot of money betting on and against Dutrow's horses guessing when they might or might not have some of that Dutrow magic.  But, I've done the same with lots of other trainers too.  What I believe now with Dutrow's suspension is that high profile trainers who have been suspended in the past, Todd & Steve et al, will be very, very careful and meticulously clean with their horses.  THEY  DO NOT want to be in the Dick Dutrow parade.  All the best to Dick in the future.  Hopefully, this somehow turns out well for him in the long run.  

29 Jan 2013 8:07 AM
Bellwether

I want to take the time to thank U Steve for another GREAT article on "THE GAME I LOVE" so much its ABSURD!!!(a stone cold Freak???)...This one you have written here is Hollywood Material Brother!!!...I gotta believe if Babe plays his cards right & puts that filter between the brain & lips(a ton of us humans have that problem)the powers that bee will greatly reduce his sentence in the not so distant future...ty...

29 Jan 2013 9:47 AM
Slew

Paula, I do appreciate your point of view.  However, in my quote from "Barretta" that simple statement was from the theme song, and the basis of a fictional show.  The words were written by Dave Grusin & Morgan Ames, not Robert Blake.  I was using those words, not referring to the actor.

As far as Dutrow is concerned, the NYRA instituted a program whereby only NYRA official veterinarians were allowed to administer medication to horses...not trainers...not private Vets.  And yet Dutrow "In October 2011, the three-member racing board cited infractions including syringes containing a painkiller and a sedative found in Dutrow's desk."  He said that he didn't know how they got there.

That was not a vague rule.  It was very specific.  Dutrow flaunted it.

I return to my main point, that Dutrow does not respect the horses in his care.  

And Dutrow has had his day in court, filing appeal after appeal for several years, until the NY State Supreme Court declined to hear any more.

Has there ever been a more strict judgement?  Yes.  Ernie Paragallo received a lifetime ban.

29 Jan 2013 9:56 AM
jancatalona

First, I want to say that I am so impressed with your thoughtful essay and your willingness to write it. I have found that humans are reluctant to say anything of a positive nature about anyone in disfavor lest they become tainted as well. You showed a lot of character by putting these remarks in the public domain.

Second,  I was moved by your descriptions of your eye witness accounts of Rick Dutrow’s genuine emotions around his horses, in particular Big Brown.  That’s something that can’t be feigned.  Also, his success as a trainer is a matter of record, and the fact that through all this travail, he still had owners who stayed with him with their horses in his barn, speaks volumes.

Third, I do not know all of the ins and outs of the legal case against him. However whatever wrong doings there were, there is little information in the public domain of anything so heinous as to impose the virtual death sentence given him.  It would appear that he was one who would not kowtow to NYRA.  Had he been more obsequious, he may not have found himself in this situation.  I think NYRA thought he was not good for the sport because he was not deferential enough.  Rick Dutrow was too proud and NYRA wanted to break him.  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18. Pride happens before the fall, because people want their winners to be humble.  A price is paid for arrogance.  I sometimes think prideful people do not fall down, they are pulled down. In this particular case, it appears that both falling and pulling were happening simultaneously. It is a sad commentary that a mustang like Rick Dutrow has been exiled. In reviewing some previously written articles, trainers of great stature came to his defense back in 2008 saying that he loves his horses—they are his life.  There is nothing good about this story.

29 Jan 2013 10:25 AM
Karen in Indiana

Slew, thank you! Both of those people are being made to deal with the consequences of their choices and actions. If they don't deserve the sentences they got, what is the point of having rules and laws?

29 Jan 2013 11:16 AM
Your Only Friend

When one gets Racing License he/she knows the rules of game....when one has too win at all cost...must pay the penalty....No excuse.....He has had his day in court.....He Lost.

29 Jan 2013 11:39 AM
johnaugustwest

Even though Mr. Haskin appeared to bend over backwards to avoid giving the impression that he was doing so,  his piece on Mr. Dutrow reads like a character reference submitted to a judge that argues for a reduced sentence.  Certainly it has much in common with such.  The "accused's" defects were acknowledged, but more emphasis was placed on whatever "good" qualities may be there.

In any case, I certainly don't see anything sad or "it's a shame," about Mr. Dutrow's situation, since it appears that he brought much of this on himself.  And over an extended period of time at that.

I also don't agree with Mr. Haskin's contention that,  "...in the end, he (Mr. Dutrow) paid for his indiscretions."  Ten years from now (if the full suspension is served) that may prove to be a true statement, but so far, really,  all Mr. Dutrow has paid are attorney fees.

29 Jan 2013 11:47 AM
hrh1951

I was an assistant trainer at Belmont when Oscar Barrera was winning races at an incredible pace. He was never caught using anything, yet there are few people who believe that he wasn't juicing. He too was an interesting character, and he probably loved his horses. This does not excuse what is done in the name of winning races. Horse racing in America is now a minor sport and it is not helped by the appearance that it is not on the level. I for one will not miss Dutrow for the next 10 years and beyond.

29 Jan 2013 12:46 PM
sara futh

Well written article as always, Steve, and most thought-provoking.

To me the biggest issue is,

Did Dutrow damage his horses?

you cannot love horses and hurt them.

Certainly steroids affect the horse negatively, for the sake of a temporary advantage. What else did he use that caused injury, pain, breakdowns, sterility?

If he had not fought any suspension for so long certainly it would have been for a lesser time and perhaps he could have learned a lesson? if that as in his own genetic makeup,  which seems unlikely,.

Yes, it is very sad, particularly if it does not contribute to the good effect of warning others and protecting the hiorses, as well as our endangered sport.

Thanks to all who have considered this subject and weighed in on all sides!

29 Jan 2013 12:53 PM
deb

if you do the crime, quit whinning and serve the time.

you have to grow up and face what you did and live with the consequences of your actions.

Anyone is replaceable, maybe not forgettable but racing will move on.

29 Jan 2013 1:11 PM
Bill Two

Speaking of wasted talent,years ago, there was a trainer named Buddy Jacobson who was quite talented, but troubled.  In fact, he mentored Bobby Frankel when that great one was coming up.  Buddy was frequently the recipient of "disciplinary action" due to numerous transgressions and his life took a sinister turn when he was convicted - albeit controversally - of the murder of Melanie Cain.  He subsequently died of bone cancer while in prison. The point I'm trying to make is that talent without personal accountability is a waste. In both cases it is very sad to see this happening.  Dutrow's father was also a great trainer, but never lacked the necessary self discipline to succeed on a long term basis.  I just hope that David Jacobson has learned from his father's mistakes and continues his rise to the top of his profession.

29 Jan 2013 1:37 PM
FooBird

In times of universal deceit,telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

29 Jan 2013 1:56 PM
sunfire65

The real shame of Dutrow is that he has been allowed to continually get away with it.  He should have been banned ten years ago.  

If he had been banned sooner with a shorter time, perhaps he might have mended his ways be training properly now.  If he is truly upset because of his "Love" of horses" he would have never started his actions in the first place.  He loves himself and the win at ANY cost.

29 Jan 2013 2:35 PM
Steve Haskin

Sara I dont know of any study that affirms that winstrol hurts a horse and causes injury, pain, and breakdowns. If you've seen a study on that I'd love to see it, because if I told you the names of big-name horses over the years that have been presumed to be or definitely on Winstrol or other steroids it would no doubt shock and disturb you. And I'm talking U.S. and Europe. All I'm saying is that Dutrow using steroids unfortunately is nothing new. He's just the only one to admit it, as foolish as that was. He certainly didnt get any points for coming clean on the subject. Mostly steroids have been used to help a horse recover from an injury more quickly.

29 Jan 2013 2:44 PM
Siphon

Great Piece on Dutrow. These trainers are all glad to see him and his 30% win percentage go. I wonder if some of these 11% guys would like their livelihood taken from them for 10 years? Rick Dutrow painted his own target on his own back, but 10 years? Let's tiptoe around the medication positives for years with little to no penalty, and then we'll shoot up the easy target like Bonnie and Clyde. His detractors can point to his multiple mediation positives over the years, but one statistic was overlooked in all of this: Rick Dutrow has't had a horse breakdown in NY in 10 years. If he was really juicing his runners, like they want you to believe, wouldn't his horses be breaking down more than once every 10 years???? Witchhunt

29 Jan 2013 3:05 PM
Steve Haskin

Bill Two, the difference between Buddy Jacobson and Rick Dutrow is that Jacobson admitted in print he didn't like horses.

29 Jan 2013 3:26 PM
Slew

Steve, as much as I respect and admire you, I must disagree on one point..You said..."Mostly steroids have been used to help a horse recover from an injury more quickly."

Steroids mask pain and reduce an inflamation.  In no way do they contribute to healing.  In fact, steroids have been shown to hinder the healing process.  While using steroids, a person (horse) is more vulnerable to infection.  

From Dr. Lullove:

"Steroids negatively affect wound healing by inhibiting the inflammatory response needed to start the healing process. Additionally exogenous or external steroids (even topical) will cause the wound and patient to be susceptible to opportunistic bacteria that may increase the risk of infection."

And this is not restricted to anabolic steraoids.  Any steroid has short term benefit, but long term detriment.

29 Jan 2013 5:21 PM
mwill

I think I am in the majority by saying "the real shame" is that he got away with this for so long. And, with his attitude, he is not a good ambassador for the sport.

29 Jan 2013 5:28 PM
Ted from LA

I think like Martha Stewart, Pete Rose, Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Shoeless Joe Jackson, etc... Rick Dutrow is misunderstood.

29 Jan 2013 6:21 PM
Your Only Friend

Mr. Haskins ...nice article but why not do the public a real service and publish those who are fined and sat down by racing commissions around the country on weekly/monthly basis....should not take much man power or research.

29 Jan 2013 9:17 PM
The Deacon

Shoeless Joe Jackson doesn't belong in that group in my opinion. Man are we getting way off base here.

I agree with Ky Vet: Idiotic sentence, 10 years is ludicris. He did wrong, he was arrogant, he felt he was above the rules, but the crime doesn't fit the punishment in my book.

Look how they jumped all over O'Neill last while on the Derby trail. Wise Dan is a very good horse but I'll Have Another was the HOTY in my book and it isn't even close. I mention again the Life at Ten fiasco and the John Veitch witch hunt that both Lenny and Steve addressed on the ATO show.........as far as I concerned the governing powers that be have no credibility. maybe that's harsh but that is how I look at it......

29 Jan 2013 9:37 PM
Paula Higgins

Slew, I understood how you meant the reference to Barretta. I was just needling you. Look, Ernie Paragallo deserved more than a lifetime ban from racing. Prison would have been appropriate as well. We cannot compare that particular monster to Rick Dutrow. So many of you commenting here presume to know him better than the people who actually do know him. He is not evil incarnate. mwill, not being "a good amabassador for the sport" is not even close to reason enough for banning someone from their livelyhood for 10 years. To say the guy doesn't love his horses is just nonsense. He clearly loved his horses, Winstrol or no Winstrol. So did all the other trainers who gave their horses Winstrol. These trainers flourished for years in a climate where Winstrol was tolerated and/or winked at. We are talking about a drug that has been used for years with no penalty. When the "powers that be" finally got serious about clamping down, some got the message and responded appropriately. There were others that continued to use drugs in violation of the rules. Rick Dutrow was not alone in this. But he was cherry picked to be the one they made an example of and in my opinion that is because they didn't like his personality or attitude towards the NYRA. So for all of you who think Rick Dutrow is being justly banned, I am sure you would want the other trainers with numerous violations in the past to be aggressively ferreted out by the NYRA and banned for 10 years as well. You would be missing quite a few trainers.  As for the New York State of Appeals Court refusing to hear this case when he appealed, you could count on it. There was no way any court was going to get involved in this hornet's nest for a variety of reasons. Appeals courts just don't want to deal with cases like this. Ted from LA, Rick Dutrow is Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm compared to the above cast of characters. Why didn't you throw in Michael Vick while you were at it? Speaking of which......

29 Jan 2013 9:55 PM
Slew

Apparently a comment I made last night did not quite make it.

Steve, I do respect and admire you, but saying steroids help healing is not what the medical community advises.  The benefit to a steroid is that they mask pain and reduce inflamation and swelling.  However, according to doctors, Steroids negatively affect wound healing. Steroids have so many negative side effects...they thin the blood, retard healing, and leave the user susceptible to various infections, that can quickly become major problems.  This is not just anabolic steroids; this is ALL steroids...even that little dab of ointment folks use on poison ivy is absorbed into the body and can build up.  Just this past Fall, I also discovered that large doses of steroids actually reduce the body's insulin production.  

A lot of athletes have been condemned for their use of anabolic steroids.  But horse racing tends to use cortisone and prednisone essentially to reduce swelling in joint and muscle problems...it's abuse comes when it's used to mask an injury.  The injury remains, but the horse doesn't feel the pain.  If the horse is allowed to race, irreparable damage will be done to the affected injury.

Paula, I really do understand your point of view.  However, Dutrow has been filing appeal after appeal for the past few years.  The court knocked down every appeal.  They simply got tired of hearing appeals that had no merit.

People want to call him a scapegoat; they say everybody does it!  The point is, he did commit the infractions.  He's not paying for others' sins; he's paying for his own.  In 2008, Dutrow had been suspended or fined 72 times by US horse-racing authorities.  Some people don't seem to learn from their mistakes.  That's why the penalty is so stiff.

My only problem with the hearings is that the board cited 69 infractions, some major...going back to 1979. (that's just in NY state).  1979?  Really?  Were these infractions handled appropriately at the time they were committed?  If they were, and he didn't learn from them, he earned the 10 year ban.  But I still can't understand the idea behind a retroactive denouncement.

30 Jan 2013 12:30 PM
jimthepimp

I have been an advocate of no drugs in horseracing for years. There are lots of trainers and vets that will disagree with that statement. Rick Dutrow didnt get a fair shake over the years. Years ago him and everyone else should of got stiffer penalities for there violations. That being said he should get some credit for his improved record lately. Penalties should be handed out evenly and progressively. I agree that a 2 or 3 year ban would of sent the right message here. Rules should be made that go to everyone by violation class and number of violations. That way everyone knows the rules and outcomes are if they decide to give there horses drugs. Until all of this happens we will continue to have trainers get away with things they shouldnt get away with and regulators not sending a clear message to everyone. I have no problem with any rules as long as they are the same for everyone. Put the rules in writing that will be honored accross the country and be as tough as you want. Just dont make them up as you go along.

30 Jan 2013 2:13 PM
Admiral Harriman Nelson's lady

The shame of it is that Dutrow is a talented horseman who did not need to cheat. But he chose to do so, not once or twice, but dozens of times. I cannot feel sorry for a man like that. He is a black eye on the integrity of the sport. If he loves his horses so much, then why inject them with drugs to mask infirmities and run through pain. he was driven by greed and ego. His brash and often nasty demeanor did nothing to help matters any. As far as I am concerned, good riddance. Houses need to be cleaned of their vermin. We got one, now let's make an effort to clean up the sport I love even more.  

30 Jan 2013 3:14 PM
Steve Haskin

Slew, I didnt delete any of your posts. Athletes used to take steroids all the time to help come back quicker from an injury.

Loughmad, if you want your comments posted you have to explain them and provide proof rather than throw out unsubstantiated cryptic comments

30 Jan 2013 6:42 PM
Paula Higgins

Slew, I understand your point of view as well. Steroids can be a very good thing if used for the right reasons. They have to be used judiciously.

30 Jan 2013 11:00 PM
Slew

Steve, I had not meant to imply the comment was deleted, only that it did not transmit.

I've spoken with NFL players.  A lot quit...because...it's the NFL who started them in abusing drugs.  In an injury, they get a shot of lidocaine and prednisone.  (Been there, done that)  the lidocaine numbs the area, and the prednisone reduces the swelling and eliminates the pain.  Many times, the injection site hurts like hell for 3 days, and has to be kept iced.  After that, there is no longer any pain.  But the damage remains damaged until it slowly heals.  Athletes use the steroid to mask the pain so that they can return to the field.  But every Doctor warns you that over use of the affected area could lead to even more extensive damage.

Now the shots have become more sophisticated, and there is less pain at the injection site.

To me, the short term benefit of steroids is so very much outweighed by the negative long term side effects.  

If a horse faces an injury so severe that it requires a steroid, then he shouldn't be racing or working out UNTIL that injury is healed.  

31 Jan 2013 9:13 AM
Lise from Maine

Hi!

I enjoy seeing horses who win on their own merit, for ex., Barbaro.

As far as I know, Barbaro was not medicated in his racing career other than when he had an injury. The Jacksons are against needless medicating. Good for them.

Barbaro's win is what got me interested in thoroughbred horse racing, and there are many things that I like about the sport and some things that I despise.

I do not like what happened to Barbaro's half brother Dyna King. It is tragic that he was abandoned and later found and returned to health somewhat.This is disgusting that he was abandoned.

The horse racing industry needs to get their act together in order to keep fans and bring in newcomers to the industry.

Cheaters are not welcome, and those who abandon their horses are

not either plus owners need to be more responsible in disposing of their unwanted horses after they leave the tracks. These horses can be retrained, and slaughtering them is a no no.

Thank you!

02 Feb 2013 8:21 PM
Weezie

Bravo Steve for having the chutzpah to tackle this thorny topic! Though I do not condone  repeat violations either, I also don't like the existing hypocrisy! I firmly believe that it is a personal vendetta against a man, that no matter how guilty, was never presumed innocent! This was strictly because the powers that be do not like Rick Dutrow or his unrefined manner. If he was more "buttoned down" or reserved like TAP, or perhaps more suave & sophisticated like a few other top Trainers that I shall not name, he would not have become the focus of their self-serving witchhunt. If they really cared about the horses or thought he was actually hurting them, they would have stopped him in his tracks a long time ago. And in the spirit of employee assistance, if they had a heart or an inkling of compassion, they would have intervened and insisted on punishing him early on when it really mattered and could have made a difference, and prevented this dragged out charade. Most importantly, how can there be justice for one if there is not justice for all?! I know many here convicted Rick in the court of public opinion long before his final appeal was up, but I also know there are many insiders who feel his 10 year ban is a travesty because they know he was only guilty of being the 1st in their line of attack. Many will call me a Pollyanna, the foolish though very proud daughter of a Minister, but what saddens me the most is of how unwilling so many today are of experiencing the power of forgiveness...of how quickly we judge and condemn others without looking in the mirror or allowing second chances! Did Rick deliberately drug his horses to abuse and kill them?! Did any of his horses break down after alleged violations?! Or have any of you ever made mistakes or regretted transgressions in your youth or past or broke the law, even if relatively minor?! People literally get away with Murder these days and get out after  5 or 6 years on a technicality. And even felons are allowed by Judges that get the bigger picture to remain on the job....to not be denied their chance to make a living....to not take away the only thing they know or the only way they can contribute! Rick Dutrow loves his horses and is a very talented Trainer and did not deserve a 10 year ban! 60 days used to be a huge sentence, and imho, 2 years would have been plenty now. Trust me, for someone who lives and breathes for their profession, 2 years would punish him more than any of you could ever imagine! Once again, don't be so quick to judge, and don't deny anybody in this great country of ours the right to make a living the only & best way they know how for so very many years, without punishing others that have and are doing the same thing!

09 Feb 2013 2:35 AM
Be kind to the horses

He loves the horses, well words are words if these horses were juiced then it goes beyond loving it becomes more about the win and the money. I see what goes on, on those tracks and behind the scenes and I am appauled that these horses are raced before their legs are ever allowed to be developed, so as far as that goes all that know that and force these magnificent horses to race and so many break down and then are discarded, it is shameful and a disgrace, take your blinders off and evolve. Look what happened to Eight Belles, what an absolute disgrace...The horses suffer because of mans greed and their EGO....So much for loving the horse, yah, rite

01 Mar 2013 8:35 AM
rapture

I'm late in commenting, but it happens. I have to wonder just how truly talented Dutrow really is as a horseman. It takes quite a bit of talent, knowledge, and good practices to get a horse to peak at the right time, to recover well from an injury or illness, and to keep them sound, no matter what the sport is.

Is it a shame? Yes. It's a shame the light didn't flicker on in his head and make him think, "Hey, I keep getting hit with medication violations. Maybe I should stop doing something that is very obviously BAD so that I don't get in worse trouble." Any honest person would get that through their head at some point, right? It's a shame he's so bull-headed, and maybe conditioned by the continued slaps on the wrist. It's beyond high time the powers that be took the kid gloves off and administered one hell of a spanking.

Dutrow can love horses all he wants. Why get involved in racing in any way if you can't at least appreciate the animals? I firmly believe that greed is more powerful than love, and greed took control of Dutrow. He wanted to win. And win he did. But was it his own natural, God-given talent and the power and speed of the horses in his care, or was it drugs?

It boils down to honesty and the paper trail. The paper trail is extensive, and Dutrow hasn't exactly been honest. The rules from state to state aren't uniform. Stewards are giving out too many slaps on the wrists and not enough well-deserved spankings.

The other comments made justifiable references to Lance Armstrong. To that end, it's about damn time.

And Steve, please save the sarcasm should you respond. I'm not blind, nor am I stupid. If that boy (Dutrow) loves the horses in his care, then he would at least be honest, and not just with the public. He would be honest with himself.

23 Apr 2013 3:00 AM

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