Saturday, June 7, 2008

BIG BROWN: A Dirty Trainer's Dues Are Called

Rick Dutrow, drugging trainer, and Big Brown.

There's no surprise today in Big Brown's failure to perform. Although this is a spectacular horse, he's been entrusted to some of the dirtiest hands in thoroughbred racing today.

The only one to come out of this race with any luster is jockey Kent Desormeaux. Desormeaux, realizing that, as he said, he had "no horse" under him, took care of his horse.

He put the horse first--a message that trainer that's not gotten through to trainer Rick Dutrow in his entire, dirty-brown career. For the past eight years, Dutrow, himself a drug user, has been suspended or fined every single years for illegally doping his horses.

Yet someone funded him, and somehow, this dealer of dirty business made it to the Triple Crown. Dutrow not only dopes his horses, but he takes full advantage of different state's racing laws to legally dope his horses with steroids.

Look at that sentence. There should be no way to "legally dope" horses with steroids. Human athletes caught using anabolic steroid, AKA Winstrol in horse racing circles, have found themselves losing titles, records, and even facing jail. Consider Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Ben Johnson, and most recently, Olympic track star Marion Jones.

Not only does Dutrow routinely dope his horses with dangerous drugs, he decided, no doubt to protect his own horse-appled image, to suddenly pull Big Brown off the steroids. With the longest race of Big Brown's career, in immense heat, and under incredible pressure coming up, Dutrow suddenly changes his medication.

Any human who is legally prescribed a steroid is cautioned: do not stop this drug suddenly. Side effects of stopping this type of drug suddenly can be enormous.

On top of all that, Dutrow ran his horse on a hoof with a quarter-crack at thoroughbred racing's longest challenge on a dirt track: the Belmont. Any good working horse person, or even good pleasure horse person, and definitely any Quarter Horse person, can tell you: a crack in the hoof is serious. Working and running a horse on a quarter crack is risky business.

It's long since time for thoroughbred racing's hierarchy to get itself together, remember that more stallions than geldings win the races. When it comes to adequately protecting horses, horse racing's overseers need to go on a scavenger hunt for their own long-unused, dried-up equipment. Dutrow should have been permanently banned long ago.

Racing should have banned steroids long ago, in every state. And, three track veterinarians should have to review and sign off on all medications given to horses--and any changes made, before races, with written rationale.

Thoroughbred racing has not yet recovered from the needless, cruel, and agonizing death of Eight Belles, literally run to death by a macho jockey and win-maddened trainer at the Kentucky Derby..Now they can add this to the tally of wins and losses: Big Brown, running after dangerous medications were suddenly stopped cold turkey, and running under the control of a trainer who's so dirty with drugs that he shouldn't be allowed in racing barns in America.

Big Brown, stalling out in full view of the world. Big Brown, a great horse, who's been jazzed with drugs, and run on an injured hoof, still calm, willing, and ready to go to work: far more than Dutrow or those who've supported him deserve.

No matter how much the media tries to pretty these stories up, no matter how they come up with cute little "underdog" vignettes about trainer Dutrow making a noble comeback, they can't bury absolute truth. Dutrow is back-of-the-track trash allowed to elevate himself due to greed, lust for publicity, and poorly-monitored racing regulations created and administered by a herd of aging geldings.

As for the race itself, Da' Tara won. Racing lost.

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