07/14/2013 7:21PM

Disassociated Press

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A pox on the Associated Press. A painful, festering pox on the Associated Press and on their enablers, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, for the photograph chosen to illustrate the on-line verson of this story on The Times-Picayune site -- http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2013/07/lake_charles_drug_sting_leads.html -- about cyrstal meth busts in the Lake Charles region of Southwest Louisiana that involved several people connected in some way to “horse racing.”

It should not be a surprise that the story failed to mention the only local horse racing going on in the area lately was Quarter Horse racing at Delta Downs, owned and operated by Boyd Gaming, which just ended its meet. To the general press, if horses race it’s horse racing. And even horse racing in general does its best to perpetuate the conflation of the breeds through common state regulation, mixed meets and historical lore.

But there is no excuse -- save abject indifference, gross ignorance or shameful sloth – for the Associated Press to have illustrated the story with the image of Vyjack winning the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct earlier this year, or for an editor at The Times-Picayune (with its self-important cap “T” in “The”) to have failed to either notice the photo credit as “AP Photo/New York Racing Association, Adam Coglianese” or ignore it if they did.

The message is clear: Here’s a juicy story about drugs with a vague but at least officially attributed horse racing angle, with no names known beyond their circle, but now inscribed on the police blotter. And to catch your eye, here’s a picture of a horse – just any old horse – at the end of a horse race. Never mind that he is a horse who won a major New York prep for the Kentucky Derby, whose name was in the news for several months earlier in the year, or that Thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct, as tedious as it can sometimes be in the depths of winter, is a far, far cry from Quarter Horse racing at Delta Downs.

Then again, both tracks have a casino.

I admire the sight of a fast Quarter Horse in action as much as the next person. I’ve even sat on a few of them, and man are those critters a sweet ride. But for those of us whose first and only true love is Thoroughbred racing, the idea of being a fan of Quarter Horse racing usually begins and ends the moment it is learned that artificial insemination is used to populate the breed. This puts them on a par with chickens.

So let’s go ahead and pile on. The use of demorphin, aka frog juice, was first discovered in Quarter Horse racing. Drug money from Mexico’s Los Zetas crime cartel was laundered through Quarter Horse purchases. A local Illinois politician embezzled $53 million from her community and spent most of it buying and breeding Quarter Horses. The American Quarter Horse Association endorses equine slaughter as a viable management option and has no problem with slaughterhouses approved to open in Iowa and New Mexico. The notorious New York Times series damning horse racing with a broad swipe used Quarter Horse statistics and Quarter Horse horror stories to illustrate its point, including a photo of a freshly euthanized Quarter Horse corpse. At least in that case the paper got the right picture.

Of course, sweeping generalizations are unfair, just as the blatant misuse of a photograph is poor journalism. In California, the closure of Hollywood Park at the end of the year for racing and training has created a justifiable panic over finding alternative, cost-efficient stall space. The management of Los Alamitos, California’s home of Quarter Horse racing, has offered part of its stabling for Thoroughbreds that will be competing at Santa Anita and Del Mar. For some reason the idea was more popular among owners than trainers, but the plan was finally accepted as a temporary fix. Any port in a storm.

There is no question Thoroughbred racing has its own bad actors and its share of homegrown scandals. Still, it might be time to urge the people in charge to encourage a more distinct separation of the breeds, or at least mount an effort aimed at the perception that not all race horses are created equally, especially when there is a semen-filled syringe involved.

Bob Rose More than 1 year ago
"A local Illinois politician embezzled $53 million from her community and spent most of it buying and breeding Quarter Horses." Not a single one of these were race horses though Jay. They were show horses only, Jay.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
"The Times-Picayune (with its self-important cap 'T' in 'The'”)..." This is a minor variation of what effortlessly creates bad writing: "The New York Times 'The' Disease," which transforms text into sludge. A good deal of this can also be found in the work of the windbag historians of all nations whose books with a price tag of $40 and up are unreadable.
Ty Wyant More than 1 year ago
This makes me smile with sarcasm. Too many breeding farm owners who acquired a bluegrass-blooded thoroughbred stallion with the option of breeding him to quarter horse mares have told me that the Kentucky-bred knew exactly what the breeding dummy was for when led into the breeding shed. Obviously, these horses are so smart that they can see something for the first time and understand its use.
rob werstler More than 1 year ago
Hovdey, you should be ashamed. I do not have the space to list the thoroughbred drug related stories. Remember when 75% of the trainers at Calder were ruled off, including the leading trainers, for sublimaze? How about Dan Lassiter at DRC? Let's see, was it not Big Brown and his illustrious trainer that started the steroids scandal? Was not Jacinto Vasquez ruled off for race fixing?! Thoroughbred racing and all of its participants should look in the mirror before looking at any other sport. And to compare you to Joe Hirsch is an insult to him.
Jack Twee More than 1 year ago
The Liberal print media has been pushing their agenda for years.Welcome to the party!
Chuck Seeger More than 1 year ago
While the handling of this article is atrocious, I find it a bit ironic that DRF prints an article like this, written by it's most creditable columnist, yet continues to ignore the drug problems in thoroughbred racing. I'll continue to wait for the investigative stories on trainers with 30+ win percentages, how they show up then disappear just as fast, and just one article on the veterinarian practices of those employed by the "super trainers". Does anyone really believe the industry is predominately drug free?
William Waters More than 1 year ago
Chuck, To see the best series ever on the drug problems, just go to the Thoroughbred Daily News. It's online and a subscription to your e-box is free.
VanSavant More than 1 year ago
Good article, Jay, and I agree with you wholeheartedly, although the same type of article could be written about dozens of socio-economic and/or political issues given that same abject indifference, gross ignorance, or shameful sloth of the liberal-dominated major mass media in this country. And I didn't even get into these same "news organizations" that do this very thing simply as due course in their pursuit of a larger political agenda. It's all quite shameful, really. Good work, though. Later gator vs
Debbie Bertone Francis More than 1 year ago
Jay, the Times is a 3-day a week rag that shouldn't be taken seriously on any levels, particularly when it comes horseracing. Consider its miniscule coverage of the nation's third oldest track, Fair Grounds, and the laying off of its racing editor Bob Fortus.
hialeah More than 1 year ago
Not to "pile on", but when I went to the link (per your direction) one of the advertisers was : Betfair Hollywood ParkFree daily programs. Our SELECTIONS have won $500,000 + at Ca. tracks www.fasttracktowinning.com file: can't make this up
Al More than 1 year ago
Don't blame the AP. Problem here lies with the Times-Picayune, which dug up the unrelated photo to illustrate the AP story. The AP is a news cooperative. It sends out stories and photos but can't control what its member papers do with them The problem at the Times-Picayune is that last year they when they reduced publication last year, they laid off half their staff, including their racing writer, Bob Fortus. There's no one left there who knows one end of a horse from the other, let alone the differences between breeds.