Monday, January 16, 2012

Our take on the John Veitch / Life At Ten mess

I can't believe that the charge against Kentucky Steward John Veitch has dragged on this long without someone with authority speaking up on behalf of John Veitch. I'm afraid that a lot of people who would otherwise speak up are scared of establishment retaliation that could ruin their racing related business. From our point of view as owner and trainer involved in Kentucky thoroughbred racing for decades, it seems like either an insane vendetta by a corrupt racing commission or an attempt to divert guilt from the very high profile trainer and the racing commission appointed state veterinarian.

Those of us who race are very aware of the ultimate power of the state vet to examine and possibly scratch any horse leading up to a race, in the paddock, during the post parade, behind the gate. The AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) clearly states on their web page at titled "RESPONSIBILITIES OF VETERINARY OFFICIALS AT RACETRACKS" under "Pre-Race Inspection" -

An important duty for regulatory (commission or association) veterinarians is the pre-race inspection of all horses scheduled to race. This inspection is performed to determine, in the veterinarian’s professional opinion, whether a horse is able to compete.

A suggested pre-race inspection should include:
•proper identification of each horse;
•pre-race observation of each horse in motion;
•manual palpation when indicated;
•close observation in the paddock and saddling area, during the parade to post, at the starting gate, during and after the race and any other inspection deemed necessary.

Following inspection, regulatory veterinarians will recommend to the stewards or judges the scratching of any horse that, in their opinion, is physically unfit to race. The AAEP recognizes that pre-race inspection cannot prevent all racing injuries nor can it detect all pre-existing conditions. The primary responsibility for the condition of the horses entered to race rests with the trainer.

What the public doesn't realize is something I see every day with owners who are not hands on horsepeople - horses are just like human athletes in that they do have sluggish days when they are not 100% - for many different reasons. Sometimes it's just the weather, could be a touch of allergies that day, could be they didn't eat or sleep well the night before, could even be a reaction to LEGAL race day medication - some horses can get lethargic after being treated with Lasix (Salix). If the steward overrules the trainer and state vet every time a horse is reportedly acting different than their normal, he could scratch a horse in nearly every race.

Isn't there somebody in KY government with enough power to stand up to the KY Racing Commission in this matter? Governor Beshear? Republican senate leader Mitch McConnell, attorney general Jack Conway? This is the kind of scandal that is ruining Kentucky racing, and I'm just really sad about it, because the hard working horses and dedicated horse people of the racetrack do not deserve to be associated with it.


Anonymous said...

Now that you have expressed your feelings about how Mr. Veitch handled his responsibilities before the race, how do you explain his totally inept way he handled his responsibilities AFTER the race. Over a million dollars was lost on this horse who WALKED out of the gate and WALKED around the track and was NEVER tested for drugs or anything else. What about the racing public ? Mr. Veitch deserved to be fired a long time before he was let go.

amy4hsales said...

What you are suggesting is that it's the responsibility of the stewards to monitor horses after each race from their offices on the front side, but it is my experience that the STATE VETERINARIAN does this job at every major track I've race at, so why are you not holding the state vet responsible? My guess is the general public doesn't know anything about the state veterinarian's role at racetracks. Perhaps what needs to change is the rules about which horses are tested in each race to include every horse that ever runs last.