Rick Dutrow lashed out at Andy Beyer (h/t to reader Erin), and he and bloodstock agent Nick Sallusto, who recommended the purchase of This Ones for Phil for owner Paul Pompa, laid out detailed and perfectly reasonable explanations for the horse's improvement.
"He was wiped out in behind, as many horses tend to be after training for a prolonged period at Calder, and that was messing his heels up," Dutrow said. "So I changed shoes, training him in a shoe with a plate across the heel. We also wormed him, did his teeth, and put about 50 pounds on him. I also backed off on his training between works. [Daily Racing Form]Dutrow is not the only trainer ticked off about the column, and personally, I think the others have more legitimate reasons to be upset. Beyer never actually accused Dutrow of doing anything wrong in this case. Noting his record of suspensions, he simply pointed out that turnarounds such as this one make bettors highly suspicious. He went out of his way to note that there was no evidence of wrongdoing with Big Brown under the Triple Crown spotlight, and added that Dutrow is "a skillful trainer who certainly has the ability to improve horses put in his care." The fact is that the trainer has brought this kind of distrust upon himself with his history of suspensions and his cavalier attitude towards them. My gut feeling is that the performance was legit; but I certainly don't blame the readers who wrote in to mock that notion. Dutrow needs to earn their trust, and good for him for detailing his training regimen despite no doubt revealing some trade secrets along the way.
Where I think Beyer was wrong in his column was to lump in a group of other trainers, mostly without the same kind of history, in with Dutrow. He labeled them, in a tone that came across as sarcastic to me, as "miracle workers." Marty Wolfson was one of them.
"Maybe Andy Beyer should take the time to come visit my barn one day and see our operation before making accusations," Wolfson said. "To see how many hours I spend here or some of the treatments we give, legally, that can improve a horse. I don't like what was inferred."And I consider that to be an eminently fair and legitimate point.
Trainer Peter Walder, a member of the Gulfstream backstretch committee that meets regularly to discuss horsemen's issues, said Beyer's article was upsetting to the committee, including such notable trainers as Dale Romans, Ken McPeek, Joe Orseno, and John Ward.
"Writing that type of stuff is a discredit to the game, especially when written without getting all the facts, and Andy Beyer is part of this game," Walder said.
- Dick Powell also weighs in on This Ones For Phil in his Handicapping Insights column at BRIS.
The fact is, there's a lot of vet work, perfectly legal, that takes place between races. And, even if you knew what was being done it wouldn't help you as a handicapper. I can't tell you how many times I have heard about a horse receiving a throat operation and the horse runs poorly even though it allegedly has had its breathing problems fixed. Sometimes, you are better off not knowing as there is an element of sausage-making to the training of horses and if you really knew how many ailments they have you would never play them.