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08.29.13

Thoughts on “Handicapping Dopers at the Racetrack”

After recently reading the NYT’s opinion article “Handicapping Dopers at the Racetrack,” I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you. From the previous comments I made about the article “Twilight at the Track,” many of you may already know where I stand in regards to the doping of racehorses. This recent article shares encouraging news that doping’s negative effect on bettors, the life blood of the thoroughbred racing industry, may help bring much needed reforms to horse racing.  In the article, NYT’s editorial board states that bettors, large and small, are being discouraged from large wagers because of the rampant illegal drug use in the industry. Since the bettors are threatened by the practice and the horses themselves are dying from it, the Jockey Club is willing to spend as much as $500,000 to employ the use of “out-of-competition” drug-testing. At this time, this type of testing is used only by 1/3rd of the industry.

I want to see thoroughbred racing thrive, not be abused.  I support any reforms that eliminate the doping of racehorses, but I am suspicious of the success of self-policing.  I am not a veterinarian and therefore do not know the pros and cons of different drugs and their use for legitimate or illegitimate health reasons. Those more knowledgeable in animal science and medicine can determine that.  However, I feel there needs to be more transparency in the medications a horse is receiving and which of those are needed, if any. There needs to be an elimination of any and all performance enhancing drugs or medications.  I approve of the Jockey Club’s intent to build a national database that will offer this kind of transparency. Stiffer fines and punishment of offenders, as well as a national or federally instituted policy of policing or monitoring, may also achieve the same end.

I support the Jockey Club’s efforts to control the abuses in the industry, but I’m not convinced it is a sufficient amount or that it will happen soon enough. The inefficient and uneven enforcement of regulations from state to state and track to track may not substantially remove the suspicions held by many bettors.  I hope I am wrong, but if not, then some sort of federally instituted monitoring program with stiffer penalties for abusers should be applied sooner rather than later.

See also this article for more information: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/12/sports/as-concerns-over-drugs-mount-the-jockey-club-says-it-will-pay-for-testing.html

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09.01.11

Capital Improvements Announced at Saratoga Race Course: Blackburn to Revive the Backstretch

Blackburn Architects is pleased to be a part of the improvement plans at the historic Saratoga Race Course. We are working with NYRA (New York Racing Association) to improve the backstretch area and its facilities to increase safety and efficiency for workers, riders, and horses. All of the proposed improvements for the frontside and backside at the track are outlined on NYRA’s website; the public is invited to provide comment and feedback. A community forum takes place at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Thursday, September 1 at 6:30 p.m. Renderings of the proposed work is on display at the City Center through September 2nd.

NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward says, “The projects we choose to undertake will not be determined unilaterally. We recognize that part of what makes Saratoga Race Course so special is its deep integration and embracement by the community. All of us at NYRA truly look forward to hearing from the public as we prepare to make essential and intelligent changes to bolster the fan experience and to secure the future of Saratoga.”

Please read more about the proposed improvements for the frontside and backstretch at Saratoga in the official press release.

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05.23.11

Sagamore Farm: The Washington Post & The New York Times

Blackburn Architects is so grateful to be a part of Kevin Plank’s dream to revitalize the horse racing industry in Maryland through his work at Sagamore Farm in Glyndon. We hope you’ll enjoy these articles from The Washington Post and The New York Times about Mr. Plank’s impressive ambitions for the historic farm and to elevate Maryland’s racing industry clout. We believe that if anyone can do it, it’s Mr. Plank. Congratulations to the whole team at Sagamore Farm, whose All Mettle won Pimlico’s $30,000 maiden special weight race in only her second career start!

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06.02.10

Baghdad Equestrian Club: NPR’s Weekend Edition

I thought this short piece about the Baghdad Equestrian Club by NPR’s Peter Kenyon is worth sharing. I’ve always enjoyed a day at the track and think it’s a tradition worth saving. For that reason, it’s uplifting to hear that, despite the turmoil that has pervaded the lives of Iraqis over the past several years, a day at the track can provide Iraqis with the same sense of escape and excitement as it does for me and others the world over.

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03.03.10

Upcoming HBO Show on Horse Racing

HBO has signed on Dustin Hoffman to star in Luck, an upcoming drama about horse racing culture. The show is slated to begin filming in spring. For more information, check out the blurb in Thoroughbred Times.

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