Friday, May 23, 2008

P. Val Redux

This post ran yesterday in a truncated version. As I mentioned Tuesday my schedule this week has me scrambling for time to make entries. After reading the post I knew it desperately needed to be reworked. I deleted the opening remark on Dutrow's comments about Big Brown's future but I did add a possible play for Friday.

I read in the DRF that P. Val is moving his tack to Louisiana Downs. I do have empathy for him and and any person that has to struggle with addictions. However, his ability to relocate his tack to another circuit is just another example of how the industry undermines itself through its members refusal to show any accord or acknowledgement of legal reciprocity. The industry needs to have industry wide rules. If the entities can't find a way to agree then perhaps the government should intervene. The integrity of the sport is at stake. When gambling of any kind - especially government sanctioned - takes place the integrity of the system is absolutely vital to the health of the system. When a trainer or jockey who has been suspended in one jurisdiction can find acceptance elsewhere it undermines confidence.

It seems a heartless thing to deny a person the ability to make a living at something they do well, but sometimes you have to do the hard thing. In this situation the good of the many definitely outweighs the good of the few. The problem events that led to California revoking Patrick Valenzuela's conditional jockey's license was not the result of a single event. A single error in judgement or mistake should be forgiven. Everyone is fallible. But, repetitious offenses are a wholly different circumstance. Any time he has a mount a question may exist in the mind of the fan as to his abilities or motivations. One has to look no farther than Big Brown's trainer Richard Dutrow as an example. In the blogs and in print some question the validity of the horse because of Dutrow's past offenses. This doubt is a disservice to the horse and the game. How can we expect any one to invest in a sport they think is rigged?

Also, safety must be a top priority. The demise of Eight Belles augments this need all the more. The industry is too much of an enabler. If your horse can't run under the rules of one circuit because of medication it needs to get into the gate, a circuit can always be found where it is able to start. Horses that rely on drugs to run do present a danger. And a jockey that rides under the influence of drugs or alcohol presents a great danger as well. Imagine the outcry that would result from a catastrophic injury if the jockey was found to be under some influence! It is always a difficult situation when judgement has to be passed because we are all flawed and... there but for the grace of god go I. But, banning him from the sport is not passing judgement on him as a person. It is judging him not good for the sport. And the sport needs to be bigger than any of it's players. To allow any such situations like this to exist hurts the integrity of a sport that cannot exist without integrity.

Race Note: On my watch list I have have a horse named Be Bullish. He disappointed last out in the [s] Screenland 75k but today he's in for a tag for the first time. He has really impressed me at times. In any case he is entered in the 2nd at Belmont a 60K claimer. Coa's up and the morning line is 10-1.
I wouldn't be shocked if he's claimed.

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