RSS Feed for this Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wonky Take on Dutrow, Common Sense on Uncle Mo

Here's a wonky legal take, by wonky lawyer Chris Wittstruck, on Dutrow's legal challenge to the revocation of his license and 10 year suspension. As you may know, the trainer got a 30 day stay of the ban on Monday.

Interesting reading; an unbiased and unemotional look at some issues not quite as cut and dried as what we've been reading in the press. For example, Dutrow's legal team is accusing NYS Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini as having a "remarkable" conflict of interest...

...inasmuch as Sabini is also a board member of the Association of Racing Commissioners International; the same group whose President, Ed Martin, a former New York racing official, called for the revocation of Dutrow's license in a highly publicized letter to the Board. Mr. Koenig's call for Chairman Sabini's recusal was denied by the Hearing Officer as beyond the scope of his authority and was, in any event, rejected by Chairman Sabini himself. Whether Mr. Koenig's theory of conflict goes beyond a mere appearance of impropriety remains to be seen.
Seems a valid point there, as it has always seemed to me that the Board was being pressured by toothless national bodies such as this one and The Jockey Club to do what they are unable to do, and thus do their bidding for them.
The rejection by the Hearing Officer of the testimony of Mr. Dutrow's character witnesses, ranging from retired Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero, Jr. to renowned Kentucky veterinary surgeon Dr. Lawrence Bramlage, coupled with the nature of Mr. Dutrow's medication violations over the last 10 years as being mostly minor overages of legitimate therapeutic drugs, sets the stage for a claim that the 10-year administrative ban is "shocking to the conscious" (See Matter of Pell v. Board of Education, 34 NY2d 222 (1974)). The Board's 10-year reapplication ban, however, was in fact a melioration of the hearing officer's recommendation that Dutrow never be permitted to reapply for a racing license.
The lawyer for the Board argues that, should Dutrow be permitted to obtain stays throughout his appeals process, he could drag this thing out and continue training for up to 3 years. So we may still be deciding what to do with his dropdowns and 3-day runbacks for quite some time still.

- I've been reading some suggestions that Uncle Mo run in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile rather than the Classic....and my reaction is....HUH?? Because, as some people say, that race would be better suited for him? Why would we, as horseplayers, care about that? After all, I think we have a vested interest, in the never-ending quest for the kind of value we should all be seeking all of the time, to see that high profile horses who are sure to take a lot of money be entered in races that they can NOT win! (See Winter Memories, and what some "respected handicappers" had to say before the race!) Not saying (yet) that that's the case with Uncle Mo's chances in the Classic. But the mile and a quarter distance surely raises the kind of questions that will have me looking elsewhere should his odds not reflect that uncertainty.

And, strictly as fans, why would we possibly want to see him run in a non-Championship race on a program billed as World Championships? After all, the Dirt Mile shouldn't even be run on Saturday anyway. It should be part of a Friday program of nice, but strictly supporting races such as the F&M Sprint (sorry girls) and the juvenile turf races. As they were when the Friday program was instituted at Monmouth, before the stupid Filly Friday idea that I guess we'll need an overhaul of BC management in order to finally get rid of. Mike Repole should be applauded for showing the kind of sportsmanship and risk-taking that we always lament that we don't see enough of in the sport. (And for, perhaps, giving us a chance to make a little money on the race.)


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more, Alan, that Uncle Mo belongs in the Classic. How I harken back for the days before the internet when every nitwit didn't think it was there inalienable right to offer up their hideously bad opinions under the guise of all opinions being equal. Count me in the group that just seven months ago felt he could well have become a Triple Crown winner. Other than getting sick in between, what has he done to dispell that notion from a talent standpoint?

Good for Mike Repole for running him...and good for you for recognizing where he belongs. Whether or not any of us bet on, or against, him....he is absolutely running in the right spot. The right spot is not always the race you have the best chance of winning.

steve in nc said...

Well said on all points. I guess I should reserve judgement until I actually handicap the race, but going in, the chance to play against horses like Uncle Mo at 10 panels is part of why I love the BC. Repole deserves credit and gratitude.

As for Winter Memories, Sheet players were among the skeptical, as this post on the Sheets board shows:

Winter Memories - (Mike I) 10-15-11 - 5:34 PM
Looks like the 4th or 5th slowest horse in race. Why is she 4-5??
Date=10-15-11 [Msgid=1972838]

And last but not least, thanks for sharing the lawyer's take on Dutrow. As a civil libertarian and champion of the need for due process, I hate it when the processors disrepect the process and give apparent scoundrels a chance to paint themselves as victims. If they have physical evidence like syringes, why feel threatened by character witnesses? Or was it impatience?

Racing is administered by amateurs and patronage pawns. Really sad.

Figless said...

IF Stay Thirsty had run better in his last Uncle Mo would be in the dirt mile, just sayin...

As for Dutrow there is no doubt that current penalties need strengthening and tough enforcement is warranted.

However, if the Board is so concerned with med overages they should increase the penalties on EVERYONE instead of singling out one trainer.

I do believe deserves to be banned for life but nonetheless this does fell like he is being scapegoated to make it seem as if they are doing something when in fact they have changed nothing in the big picture.

Anonymous said...

The filly will probably be favored over Mo in the classic. Don't expect him to be 3/5. -jp

Anonymous said...

Mo won't get a mile and a quarter with this group. He's a definite bet against for me. A value play is in order. The amount of money Mo and Havre will suck up, will insure a terrific price. Can't wait!