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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Intensive Counseling

- The Rev. Ted Haggard says that after three weeks of intensive counseling he is now "completely heterosexual." No word on whether he ripped any hair out of his chest.

That must be some really intensive counseling! Why, with therapy like that, you could possibly turn Republicans into Democrats, make Red Sox fans wear pinstripes, turn a sprinter into a stayer, or even make a winning bettor out of me!

Of course, the chances are pretty strong that Rev. Haggard is still of whichever sexual orientation that he was during his three year affair with a former male prostitute.

People have qualities that are never going to change, and neither is the fact that there will always be those whose qualities are questionable when there's money at stake. I had to laugh the other day when I saw a headline on the front page of the NY Times that read: S.E.C. Is Looking at Stock Trading. I mean, when is the S.E.C. not looking at stock trading? Or options trading? Or insider trading? Late trading? Options backdating? They can investigate, levy fines and suspensions, but there will be always be some cheaters staying a step ahead.

So it is with most any other business, especially ones like horse racing and securities trading that, by their nature, invite elaborate forms of chicanery with potentially large payoffs. I don't see that ever changing. The industry needs to do what they can, and in areas where they can be effective. The TRPB has spent a lot of hours, we presume, investigating whatever it is that has caused ten jockeys to be summarily barred from riding at many tracks, and for what? A suspicious race at Tampa Bay Downs over a year ago? What are they going to be able prove now that they haven't been able to by now? Couldn't they be using their time more wisely, on pressing problems that can actually be solved? Perhaps to work with racing authorities in all the states on effective drug testing and suspensions? I don't mean to be too glib about this; I'm not condoning race fixing. But you just can't stop every bit of hanky-panky that goes on, and I'd bet that anything that may have happened in a $12.5 maiden claimer at Tampa Bay cost the public far less money than is pissed away by unaware bettors on an uncoupled rabbit in a Grade 1 race.

In one of my very first posts on this blog, over two years ago now, way back when it was that ugly tan color, I suggested only half-kiddingly that, given the culture of deception and mean-spiritedness, and the rather unsavory characters successfully promoted by reality TV (and poker), a little scandal may not only not hurt this sport, but could even spark some interest! When's the last time that the NY Post ran an exclusive on harness racing? Maybe the sport should run with it and raffle off some cobras at the tracks.

Of course, I'm being flip again; there's really nothing funny about a horse trainer administering snake poison to his animal. But there's is a serious point in there somewhere. I believe that racing is like any other industry or sport - most of the participants are honest and compete fairly, while a few cheaters tarnish the reputation of others. For every trainer suspended for a drug positive, there are many more who are not. Perhaps I'm being naive, and it's more widespread than I think. Many people are just downright cynical, and won't be convinced otherwise. Not even after three weeks of intensive counseling.