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Monday, January 28, 2008

Biancone Getting Last Laugh

This guy seems pretty happy, and why the hell not? He's hanging out, attending sales, and plotting his future, which may just be brighter now that he and loyal owner Fab Oak Farm have purchased the training facility at Hurricane Hall in Kentucky.

Biancone said the uphill Polytrack course was the determining factor in purchasing the property.

“To be able to gallop horses everyday up hill is a huge advantage, as you don't need to gallop as long as on a flat track to arrive at the same level of fitness....As an example, if you gallop one mile up hill, to obtain the same work on a flat track you would have to gallop at least a mile and a half. This will help with the soundness by less concussion on the legs and extend the length of racing career.” [Thoroughbred Times]
So Biancone may not be earning money now (or perhaps he is, as he's allowed to be a bloodstock agent, consultant, and who knows, perhaps he took out a real estate license and got a commission on this deal). But this little vacation may work out just fine, given the time, as he has, to build up his operation, and on private property too, so he doesn't have to deal with those nosy investigators snooping around his refrigerator. Yeah, this will act as a real deterrent to other trainers, that's for sure. Some may decide that an enforced vacation isn't a bad idea, and that the time could be used quite productively. It's almost as if Brian McNamee was allowed to buy the Yanks' training facility at their spring complex in Tampa.

And in case you missed it, Ed Fountaine's story on Jack Van Berg that ran in Sunday's NY Post is a devastatingly bleak assessment of the state of the game. The industry tries to lead us to believe that most trainers are clean, but this article conjures up an image of syringes being crushed beneath one's feet as you walk around the backstretch. The hall of fame trainer calls for a strict no-medication rule, and says:
"If you had sophisticated testing, and no medication whatsoever, and you caught them and sent them down the road for a year, (you would see) a lot of difference in them."
But I don't think that Biancone's suspension is exactly what Van Berg has in mind by "down the road." This is supposed to be a punishment, a setback, not an opportunity to enhance his future earning potential. It's been a joke, really, ever since the day that New Jersey racing officials had to kick him off the grounds of the Breeders' Cup. Except that Biancone seems to be the only one laughing.


Anonymous said...

The situation isn't quite so bad that syringes are thick on the ground, but I do know from my backstretch experience that vets are ubiquitous, supplements are given to almost all horses in training, NY's detention barn just moved raceday "vitamin shots" to early morning instead of midday, and that horsemen are experimenting with just about every substance available in pursuit of an edge. Van Berg's words are grim, but spot on.

Superfecta said...

Why bother running uphill when you can just juice them? Seems a bit of a wasted effort for King Cobra.

Anonymous said...

Why only run uphill when you can do both?

In all seriousness, NYRA will surely take the same action as the other eastern states as soon as the big issue is settled.

But the funding for state of the art testing should be included in the language of any deal that is struck. Steroid testing is not cheap, but owners should be willing to fund it as their vet bills will surely decrease more than enough to offset the reduction in purse money.

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but it looks like Magna just hired someone to be the "VP of Racing," whatever that means.

So I naturally wondered what his qualifications were:

"Prior to joining MEC, Mr. Borgemenke served as chief of staff to Ohio House Speaker, Jon Husted. Previously, Borgemenke served as chief of staff in
the Ohio Senate and as chief policy advisor and director of cabinet affairs for Ohio Governor Bob Taft. Additionally, he served a stint as executive director of the Cincinnati Business Committee and headed his own public affairs, government relations and campaign consulting firm. Mr. Borgemenke
served as a member and chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission from 2002 to 2004."

This should be fun to watch. My aunt Edna is more qualified for the job than this guy. It's so hard to watch Magna keep screwing things up!

Alan Mann said...

Steve D - This guy worked for Bob Taft? There's a guy with a stellar record! Where did Frank come up with this one??

And regarding steroid testing in NY, it sounded from the Post article that it's not going to happen too soon.

>>In fact, several racing jurisdictions - Kentucky, California and the mid-Atlantic states - plan a partial ban on steroids. But not New York, not yet.

"It's a lengthy process," said Dr. George Maylin, director of the N.Y. State Racing and Wagering Board's Drug Testing Program at Cornell University. "Undoubtedly there will be a rule change. They certainly are abused. Why didn't we do it before? The answer is money."

Anonymous said...

The piece on Van Berg is sobering to say the very least. Like Van Berg, it is hard for me to believe that racing can really prosper in a cynical, corrupt atmosphere such as this. Is widespread drug use just the last mile down the road to racing's demise? I wonder if this is the major obstacle to growing a new generation of fans? Is the general sports fan seeing racing in the same light as, say, wrestling, i.e., a new age circus side show not to be taken seriously? /S/Green Mtn Punter

TripCrown73 said...

I'm happy to see that I was not the only one that thought that same sentiment when I read the article and saw the picture. Now he can sit back and since he can "manage" he can manage the training facility in approximate 90 days. What a joke. It just goes to show if there's a will, there's a way around the rules, especially when you have had as much practice at it as he has. I wonder what's next not that it would surprise me anymore.

Anonymous said...

I have thought for sometime that the increase in use of steroids and other meds has led to more breakdowns by far than track surface issues. The sooner a broad uniform policy can be pu into place the better! We love JVB down her in Tennessee!

the chalk said...

Thought I would add a few things to add here;

Cobra venom is used as a nerve blocking agent. In two locations, the ankle or knee. It's not a steroid by any means. Nor does it have muscle implications. Should also mention Shockwave Therapy ESWT as well.

The anabolic steroids being used and regulated increase appetite, testosterone and recovery. EPO is on its on regulation slate as well by the RCI. You can also throw the steroid cremes into this mix.

There needs to be a careful relationship between breakdowns and steroids. They should not be correlated. The steroid regulation is creating standard guideline for competition and consumption.

What the world would find if breakdowns were properly studied, the number of horses breaking down previously had bone or soft tissue injuries prior to the race or training.

The breakdown itself is not the result of the treatment. Its the fact they are still training and racing. That being the breakdown cause the majority of the time. The last important fact which would be uncovered with the right numbers in study, breakdowns occur the vast majority of the time at the lowest levels of racing. Something to think about.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chalk, just stop giving steroids to horses. The fact of the matter is steroids make the horse run faster than they ordinarly would. In NY, the NYRA, the NYTHA and the NYSRWB have been rather derelict in their duties on this issue. Perhaps too many name trainers use the juice as a means to make ordinary horses do extraordinary things. If Spitzer were serious about the future of racing in NY, he himself would be forward on the steroid issue. For the most part, New York horsemen are a bunch of "phony baloneys", and pawns of the Kentucky horse breeders.

the chalk said...


As I can't disagree, steroids need regulation. You need to be careful about blanket statements regarding what types. Anabolic versions in place today (Winstrol and Equipoise) have their place, which many horsemen would argue their continued existence. EPO or blood doping is absolutely different.

Also there is far to much speculation and subjectivity in the industry as is. There is absolutely no validity behind appetitive motivators (which the anabolic steroids above are) and increasing speed and ability. Sorry. Until you show us a trade study, you might want to read up on Winstrol. FYI, if you did a tack room inspection on the backside 9 out of 10 would have it in their cabinets.

NY is actually playing wise in this situation regarding regulating steroids. So don't jump the gun here. Just as California did with another situation. The RCI hasn't put a full proof plan in place for the model rules. See the Bloodhorse article.

I would guess your a NY, but your KY comment has me questioning it? Would love your thoughts on NY breeding, given your a resident.

Anonymous said...

Jack Van Berg, can't train winners anymore.

Must be the drugs?

What say you, Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert? Tell us why you both are not as effective.

Jack has opened the door.