12/01/2009 12:00AM

Events offer plenty of food for thought

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TUCSON, Ariz. - Racing's early December daily double is on tap next week, in Tucson and Las Vegas.

Both events, overlapping as usual, are offered in glossy locations. The University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Symposium is at the Westin La Paloma resort, and the 55th annual convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners is based at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

On the basis of size and breadth alone, the veterinarians' gargantuan production comes first. It is a massive undertaking, requiring all of the previous 11 months of the year to assemble. The incredible amount of work that goes into the construction of the convention agenda is simply staggering.

AAEP executive director David Foley and incoming president Dr. Nathaniel White, who did much of the technical planning, and their staffs deserve a national award.

Racing occupies only one small portion of the giant five-day agenda. The schedule takes 25 pages of packed information to present and a lot of very highly specialized knowledge to follow. Reading it, a racing man gets a better understanding of why vet bills are so high.

On opening day Sunday, you have to pick and choose from 45 topics ranging from subjects like Intravenous Versus Intra-Articular Treatment of Osteoarthritis with Polyglycan Assessed Using an Equine Experimental Model to the equally challenging How to Evaluate Clinically Indistinct Gait Deficits to Differentiate Musculoskeletal and Neurological Cause. My favorite of the thousand or so topics is Magic Angle Effect in Normal Collateral Ligaments of the Distal Interphalangeal Joint in Horses Imaged with a High-Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging System, offered at 8 a.m. next Wednesday morning.

A racing man fortunate to be there Wednesday could enjoy Best Practices for Equine Practitioners - Racing and Performance Horses. That busy afternoon includes the State of the Racing Industry and the Need for Change: Racing Industry Perspectives and the Veterinarian's Role, presented by Dr. Larry R. Bramlage, Kentucky's archdeacon of all veterinary knowledge, who also is one of the convention's keynote speakers. Regulatory Aspects of the Racing Industry also is on the Wednesday afternoon card.

Meanwhile, back in Tucson, the usual four-day gabfest.

It starts Monday morning with an interesting panel on Officiating Horseracing, hosted by the Racing Officials Accreditation Program, ROAP, and the Race Track Industry Program. Alan Foreman, one of the foremost racing law attorneys in the country, and Ira Finkelstein, who oversees cases here and internationally for the U.S. Equestrian Foundation and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, provide the legal guidelines, and three of the nation's leading authorities on medication issues - Drs. George Maylin, Scott Stanley, and Scot Waterman - will provide their expertise.

The program was designed for assistant attorneys general, presenters of evidence, racing commission counsel, stewards, and racing commissioners, and I hope state budget restrictions do not limit attendance too severely. A lot of people who should hear this session may have to read transcripts because of economic considerations.

Tuesday's general session kickoff should be highly interesting, with Gerard Cunningham, president of U.S. Betfair, speaking on what that aggressive newcomer to American racing has done and hopes to do in this country. It should make for an illuminating opening hour.

The Jockeys Guild also gets the stage Tuesday morning, along with a concurrent session offering the intriguing title Exposing Yourself to Strangers.

I'm interested in hearing how and why New York state plans "a broader Interstate Compact," while a non-New York version that deserves wider national support already exists. Current New York participation in that program requires a separate set of fingerprints from the national compact, which defeats one of the main purposes of any national plan. For a state that has taken eight years to pick an operator of the Aqueduct racino and has a legislature that can't agree on budget cuts, declaring everyone else out of step on licensing seems a strange pronouncement.

Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin and now leader of the NTRA's Safety & Integrity Alliance, will explain that program, sort of a seal of good housekeeping, and the Turf Publicists of America will hold their annual workshop, discussing television and racing under the hopeful title Lights, Camera . . . Racing!

All that on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a panel on Bringing Cutting Edge Technology to Wagering Platforms and another consisting of slots and racino operators will conduct roundtables on slots.

On Thursday, more on drug testing, with top racing chemists talking about threshold levels, and a discussion of card rooms, table games, and sports betting. RTIP students will present reports, and social media will be discussed.

Finally, the "gifted boss" will learn how to Think Like a Hero and Work Like an Artist, sending everyone home motivated, inspired, and completely listened out.