- Steven Crist takes a look in the Form at the "toothless suspensions" that we've recently seen Richard Dutrow mock. But in contemplating a more effective alternative, he writes: This is not to say there is an obvious better way to proceed.
The throw-the-book, zero-tolerance crowd has proposed tougher penalties, such as barring a suspended trainer's horses from competition or forcing them to be turned over to independent trainers and moved to different stables. These actions, however, would only punish owners and horses who had absolutely nothing to do with the infraction that prompted the suspension.It's true that a suspension of the horse would hit innocent owners hard; not to mention the horses themselves (though some might say that any owners who give or keep their horses with a trainer with repeat violations would have only themselves to blame.) But I think that Crist hits upon a punishment that could strike a more proper balance. By disallowing a suspended trainer's assistants to enter horses at all, but permitting those animals to run for a different stable, you would certainly create an inconvenience and possibly some financial cost (and certainly one in terms of time) for the owners; enough, it would be hoped, to encourage them to exercise discretion in their selection of trainers. But it would stop short of the draconian measure of banning their horses altogether and thus depriving them of the opportunity to earn purse money.
Some argue that these harsh measures would discourage owners from giving their horses to trainers who have had positives, but there is no evidence that these suspensions are having any such effect. [Daily Racing Form]
Whatsmore, under the current system - and perhaps even under one which would result from banning the horses altogether - the suspended trainers merely resume their duties with their horses and systems still in place. But under this idea there's no guarantee that the owners will ever move their horses back. So the trainer would face a real possibility of suffering some debilitating long-term effects from a suspension instead of merely incurring a temporary cost of doing business.
This may not be a perfect solution. If the suspended trainer has a large barn, it could create logistical hazards at certain tracks, and some owners may be unable to find a trainer they feel is suitable for their stock. But it would certainly be a more meaningful punishment, and perhaps it's a good starting point for discussion.
- Buffalo Man is off the Derby trail.
“He took a bad step,” said trainer Cam Gambolati Monday morning. “Fortunately, it’s not life-threatening or anything like that and he should be able to come back. He could make it back sometime in the fall.” [Bloodhorse]- A half mile in 48 seconds (2/35) for Invasor at Palm Meadows on Sunday. Kiaran McLaughlin told John at Not To The Swift last week that he would ship his champion colt to Dubai around March 20.
- According to The Downey Profile, Todd Pletcher is considering Twilight Meteor for the Lane's End. The colt did win on the Polytrack in his only non-grass start. "He looks like a horse that can go both ways.” These days, however, a horse might have to do a three-way (turf, Polytrack, dirt) in order to be a Derby horse.