Friday, March 28, 2014

Ethical Treatment

Only a matter of time.  Given the new technology, the motivation, and the ease with which people will be themselves if given the opportunity, PETA was going to get what it wanted--in a big way.
With the New York Times article by Joe Drape last week, one of the top thoroughbred trainers in the country now finds his nomination to the Hall of Fame "tabled."  Looks like it's going to be on the table for a good while now.
Apparently an undercover investigative reporter with PETA backing has got trainer Steve Assmussen, and his assistant, by the balls.  It's all on tape, captured by a hidden camera.  Reputed accusations of unlawful medications and running injured horses seem to have been norm for the Texas born and bred trainer.  As shocking as that is, what's worse is the way assistant trainer Scott Blasi talks about it all.  His use of expletives in such an uncaring and careless way is telling.  You wouldn't want this man around horses, ever.
And while Assmussen is not quite the Bernie Madoff of horse racing, he does seem, now, to represent the worst of the sport.
I'm sure, in his defense, he'll claim that he is not doing what many others are doing.  He might be right, but that doesn't justify his or those under his employ from their actions.  It doesn't shed any light on the fact that there are thousands of hard working people in the sport that play by the rules and always will.
But Assmussen, who is accused of heartless methods like giving performance enhancements to his charges through thyroid medication or legal drugs like lasix, is definitely in deep horseshit.  The video and it's sound track are damning, if not reprehensible.
Let the chips fall.  To those who don't spoil deserve the victory.

Postscript:  There is also an interesting exchange on this undercover tape featuring the voices of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lucas and Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.  Stevens, often known for his starring role in the wonderful film Seabiscuit, talks with Lucas about the frequency of "buzzers" used by some in the sport.  These are battery operated devices jockeys use to stimulate horses with a small shock.   They don't injure, but they are illegal and unethical.  This is equally disturbing, though known. Again, it diminishes all the hard working honest people in the sport who must grapple with the fallout. Hopefully the sport will get off it's collective ass and regulate, suspend or expel law breakers, and possibly shoot for federal regulation that clearly and effectively deals with medication and ethical behavior.

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