Day At The Track

Protecting our future at all costs

03:03 PM 11 Jan 2018 NZDT
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Anthony MacDonald
Anthony MacDonald

Here is a letter from Anthony MacDonald of TheStable regarding the contoversy around the pending new harness racing owners rule put together by Jeff Gural and Woodbine Entertainment.

Here is the letter;

I can't even go away for a week without all hell breaking loose. I woke up yesterday to the largest unread inbox I've had in a very long time. Those of you who know me, know roughly how many emails I generally receive, so the endless comments and questions about "the rule" drowned out even our clients for a good chunk of the morning. I think I even saw a dirty look from the guy wearing the goofy costume at magic kingdom who was surely judging me as that "guy" who answers emails at Disney world all day.

My answer to the rule from Mr Horner and Mr Gural is simple, but not:

Yes we have some dark corners of this game.

What facet of life doesn't? We race for money, and there are going to be cheaters; how we combat this defines us as an industry.

We will not be able to build any future in horse racing by looking to the past for direction. The past got us here, and it is not where we need to be. These "draconian measures" will surely lead to lawsuits and more black marks on our industry that we cannot afford.

The overwhelming majority of this industry is not considered cheaters. Yet we are willing to partake in a witch hunt not seen since McCarthyism to smoke out this miniscule portion of the industry. The first time we get it wrong and someone is excluded only to be later exonerated you will find this story in the main stream news and in a court room only further validating the general publics reasoning for not investing in this industry.

The stigmas most of us work hard to dismiss will only be affirmed by this direction.

We cannot focus on growth and investment in this industry by shrinking it. If you have mice in your house you do not burn your house down.
Extermination is handled in various forms but none damage the structure of your home.

Under this rule our industry owners will inevitability claw back investment.

They will not partake in group investing programs, (fractional or otherwise) and yearling sale revenue will most certainly drop.

The smaller trainers who are already in peril will feel the pinch the most, and again our industry will contract.

Do NOT think the governments will not notice this contraction, and as growth again slows and retreats as it has over the past decade, so to will government investment and subsidies.

It was difficult to write this for me. My closet in not "Skeleton free".

Many of you are well aware that my wife is in the final stages of class II medication violation proceedings for levels of alcohol found in a 2 years old filly this summer that were contamination level readings.

I myself served a 7 day reduced suspension just after Christmas for an error made by our veterinarian regarding jurisdictional withdrawal times in Ohio.
Neither would exclude our stable under the new rule but plenty of other trainers in the past have also found themselves in similar situations with the Aminorex positives of the past, the Glaucine and Ractopomine positives more recently. Of course you start under this rule with a clean slate, but contamination positives will not cease to occur and its only a matter of when not if improper exclusion will occur.

I believe with proper checks and balances most of this industry would get behind a rule like this. But not in its current form.

This rule has fallen short of what our industry should strive for. Inclusiveness and industry growth above all else should far outweigh the pursuit of a small group of bandits.

I'm not saying turn a blind eye, I'm saying build an air tight policy that the industry can get behind. Through consultation with industry stake holders and regulators we can all take a stance together on behavior that is harming our industry.

I'm not expecting, or asking to be invited to any consultation meetings, but I hope my words are noticed. I represent just under 400 owners in 10 countries and have introduced many people to horse racing over the past 3 years.

I applaud the efforts and hard work of Mr Gural and Mr Horner on this. No one seems to be too concerned about integrity these days and this rule speaks for the people who didn't get their picture taken. The foundation of something great is before us, I ask only again that we use consultation from our own industry stake holders to ensure we get it right.

With respect,

Anthony MacDonald

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