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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dutrow Fires Back

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."

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.
And I consider that to be an eminently fair and legitimate point.

- 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.


steve in nc said...

A Ragozin player posted the horse's history with Rag figs on the Sheets bb.

While Ragozin's main guy Len Friedman (who posts as Robespierre) supported Beyer's column, the already mentioned poster found some evidence to support team Dutrow's claim that the horse showed ability at 2.
If the link below doesn't work, you can go to and click on bulletin board and then easily find the string. You may need to make up a password, etc.

Alan Mann said...

Sallusto, the bloodstock agent, said:

"And all the 2-year-old numbers I use, regardless of what Beyer's numbers said, suggested he could run with top-level 3-year-olds this year with a little improvement."

Anonymous said...

Dutrow wins at a shockingly high 39% and in the money 57% with horse making their first start for his barn. He's so good at his work? He's that much better than the likes of Shug or Mott? Please!

How can you defend this guy! The problem with racing is the punishments are a slap on the wrist! Dutrow gets suspended yet his horse runs for Frankel and wins the Woodbine mile as a "Frankel trainee." Sorry this guy is the poster child for everything wrong in racing. Get rid of the Dutrows and Biancones!

HANA said...

I always have a chuckle at the teeth thing.

Dick just mentioned what about 95% of trainers do when they get a horse. Work the feet, work the teeth, put on a bit of weight and sound them up. This is not rocket science, it happens every day.

Anonymous said...

Dutrow is hilarious. He is upset at a column where Andy Beyer questions a performance. What about him six months ago calling Contessa a cheat?

The man should muzzle himself. Don't speak, and save himself some misery.

Anonymous said...

Dutrow wants to have it both ways. He wants us to believe that he's a great horseman, yet he couldn't tell us what steroids did/do to his horses. This point alone makes it hard for me to believe that he's just that much smarter when it comes to horses among his contemporaries - to the tune of 39% of the time, as others have pointed out.

He does have a point about Beyer's numbers, though.

G. Rarick said...

HANA is absolutely right. The first thing I do when a new horse comes into the barn is call the farrier, the dentist, worm the horse and take a blood sample to see what it's missing nutritionally or carrying infection-wise. Horses that are claimed or go through the sales tend to be a little neglected in all these areas, so if the horse is any good and you pay a little attention to it, you'll improve it. That said, I find it hard to believe Dutrow is capable of paying attention to anything. And yes, let's certainly get rid of Biancone once and for all!

Anonymous said...

Someone should ask Dutrow if Big Brown won the Haskell and that made up turf race at Monmouth on steroids. Granted, they were not banned at that point, so if he's such an "honest" trainer he should have no problem answering the wuestion. His response about what he does when he gets a new horse reminds me of the super-trainer that says we "put them on gastroguard and they jumped up (3) classes!" Feet, teeth, and more weight doesn't make a horse suddenly run like the wind. C'mon Dutrow, think about what you want intelligent horsepeople to believe.

Anonymous said...

I fell vindicated in my defense.

The fact is that in every profession some people are better than others and rise to the top over time.

There are thousands of trainers in this country and tens of thousands of owners. Some are better than others.

I am not a big claiming owner, and never used a "super trainer", but have taken a number of horses over the years that I thought we could improve. When we guessed right and brought a relatively sound horse back to the barn, we were usually able to do so simply with good horsemanship.

You would be surprised how many trainers, and owners (who sometimes will not spend the money despite wanting to be in this game), can be improved upon LEGALLY.

Not saying Dutrow is squeaky clean, but this article is absurd even if some of the argument has merit.

What peeves me most about the article is the assumption that the authors figs are the ultimate proof that something is wrong, as if there has never been a bad Beyer fig.

Alan Mann said...

Thanks to HANA and G. Rarick for the training lesson - guess I gave Dutrow too much credit regarding what he revealed and that I won't be getting my supertrainer license anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Beyer figs could be off a couple of lengths either way on a given day, so Dutrow questioning them shows me a complete lack of understanding what the basis of speed figures is all about. This makes me question him further when it comes to his overall knowledge (because I think that a good outfit understands a horse's speed figure/class rating limits when they enter them in races).

Dutrow should have just stuck to teeth and the horse's diet and hind and use that as a defense for why the horse improved 15-20 lengths.

Also, it isn't uncommon for a horse making his 3 year old debut improving 3-7 lengths over his two year old numbers.

That being said, I still think Dutrow juices horses. I think any trainer hitting over 18% with a lot of starts is using something undetectable. I think it is naive to think otherwise.

El Angelo said...

I don't think Dutrow's wholly on the up and up, but I also don't think his gaudy record with horses in his barn for the first time is solely because of juice. There are hundreds and hundreds of trainers practicing on major and minor circuits that have no idea how to train a horse, and when they get something with a marginal level of talent, frankly, don't take advantage of it. Dutrow and his owners may well be very good at spotting horses with glimmers of potential, claiming them, getting them ready to run, and winning with them first out. The comparison to Mott and Shug isn't really valid, they don't play the claiming level, where this kind of thing can happen.

ballyfager said...

The one thing Dutrow says that I agree with wholeheartedly is that Beyer numbers are just opinion.

I've been harping on this for a long time because I see an ongoing trend to treat them as fact. They simply are not fact.

Unless you're a newcomer to the game, you should definitely form your own opinion as to how fast a horse ran in a given race.

Anonymous said...

I have posted on the "Racing" section of Pedigree Forum a conversation I had today with a bodybuilder on the performance enhancing effects of steroids withdrawn 45 days before the event. Read it and see where Beyer is coming from.

Anonymous said...

Hey speaking of supertrainers, mysteriously moving up horses with real high percentages, I heard someone mention that Philly Park's Jayne Vaders, the perennial leading trainer there has lost her appelant court appeal, therfore the lifetime ban imposed by the PA Racing Commission stands? Alan, maybe you can get the "skinny" when Rap Tale runs down there. I haven't seen anything in the trade mags or newspapers but I do see a couple of horses that used to be trained by her now being trained by Edward Auwarter. Keep an eye out for John McCaslin, the trainer that Vaders reportedly took over from. John was there all the time with Jayne and the horses, often without her, over the last few years and if he is now Auwarter's assistant, you can bet who the next supertrainer at Philly Park will be.

Anonymous said...

ok, here;'s the deal: will all commentators who have rarely stepped foot on a racetrack backside, much less spent every day of their adult and childhood lifetime there ) yes, including you Mr. Beyer, please stand up and account for your opinions?

Anonymous said...

I have a novel idea since Mr. Dutrow appears to be the foremost authority on training race horses why doesn't he lead by example. Apparently, he has so much talent and can teach the rest of the industry how to prepare a horse. He should open up his stable to all the new state-of-the-art testing, and scrutiny so that this industry can put rumors of cheating behind them once and for all. I'm sure he wouldn't mind doing this for the good of all.

Anonymous said...

Nice comment 7:11. Spot on!

Anonymous said...

earlier in this string someone asked about BB on steroids in NJ this summer. Why can't all these great racing minds that relate on this blog answer that question?

Anonymous said...

This comment is directed to Thedarkhorse. I must admit your idea would be a nice approach to put rumors of wrong doing on Dutrow's ability as a trainer sounds good, but what's good for one should be good for all. Unfortunately I really do believe that Rick Dutrow is unjustly being singled out. Let's go down the line of all trainers who have an over average rate of 25 to 35% wins. Trust me if you do your homework correct on this you will have a long list including some of the biggest names in this game. A perfect example the trainer of the year Steve Assmussen. So lets get them all!!!! and stop hateing on 'The Babe'.

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous I could not agree with you more. There is a long list of Trainers that need to be cleaned up. It's just Dutrow happens to be the latest example.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, 64 drug suspensions on his horses, and still counting with Dutrow. Asmussen and Biancone rate up there with the elite users of illicit performance enhancing drugs. It is time to make the penalties strong enough, 3 year, 5 year, 10 year, lifetime bans that actually mean something. If you really want to play, you will pay. It is also time "to nationalize" the administration and enforcement of racing rules under one national (covering all the states and Puerto Rico) agency. All current state and racetrack Stewards and their boards would be under them. Stop the pussyfooting and the hand holding. Make the people responsible for doing the evil deeds responsible. It is very simple. If you break the rules and don't abide, you will not be around for a very long time.

Anonymous said...

4:07, get some sleep. Dutrow has not been suspended 64 times, and most of his violations have nothing to do with medication--like Asmussen, most are more technical in nature. I'm not saying Dutrow is squeaky clean and he does need to clean up his act all around but saying that he's got 64 suspensions is just irresponsible. Or alcohol-induced. Or the product of a sleep-addled brain. Or something.

Alan Mann said...

ratherrapid - I read your post at the Pedigree Query site. All very interesting, but how do we know that the effects of steroids are the same in horses as in humans?

Here's an interesting post on the subject I found.

Anonymous said...

8:29 You're right. Steve Crist wrote Dutrow had ONLY 59 infractions against him that he could count, with ONLY 13 of them being for prohibitive amounts drugs, that Dutrow gave his horses. I guess that was why he was still being considered for the Eclipse award with Asmussen. They had about the same number of drug positives with their horses. This is a great game. Why spoil it?

Anonymous said...

Beyer's method is SO outdated yet he still talks as if it were the holy grail.

He said he viewed the DRF speed-rating/variant combination as "picasso would have viewed the paint-by-the-numbers kits." Well, that can be said about his speed figure.

He thinks the horse improved FIFTEEN lengths? Maturity, a new trainer, and a lot of things can account for it.

Was John Henry juiced? Seabuiscit? Prove Out? Onion?

Come on.

The horse "presented new."

There's a logic to what these supertrainers do and it's easy to find, but I'm not paid to ell anyone so I won't.