04/04/2008 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Top California vet can't fathom delay in steroid regulation

Responding to the inaccuracies and misstatements in the March 30 letter to the Racing Form ("Horsemen's voice sounds warning call on steroid action") on anabolic steroid regulation would take too much time and space. There are technical, manageable issues with anabolic steroid testing, but the racing public should know a few basic facts.

California is well prepared to address anabolic steroids in horse racing and is in the process of implementing the necessary regulatory steps. The regulations proposed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and adopted by California are based on international rules that have been in place for decades. They are not complicated, and horsemen in France, England, Hong Kong, Australia, and other countries have raced under similar rules with very few violations. The horses from the United States racing in Dubai last week raced under international rules, which ban anabolic steroids and have done so since the first Dubai World Cup. What's the problem?

California does have an advantage over many other racing jurisdictions. We have been preparing for anabolic steroid regulation at the California Horse Racing Board and the Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Laboratory at the University of California at Davis. While our drug-testing budget is funded nowhere near the level of the Hong Kong, English, or French racing labs, we will be able to do anabolic steroid testing within our current budgetary constraints. Other racing labs are not so fortunate.

The amount of money spent on drug testing today is essentially unchanged from 15 years ago. In real dollars adjusted for inflation, states are spending less than half today on drug testing than was spent back then. Even California, with what is considered a relatively well funded program, has a smaller budget for drug testing today than we did in the early 1990s. Drug-testing capability is the problem, not a regulation that has been successfully administered for decades internationally.

Anabolic steroid regulation is about what kind of sport we want. Most sports, including horse racing internationally, have answered the question. To be honest, my primary concern is for the horse, but should bettors have to be concerned about which horse is on anabolic steroids and which isn't? I don't think so.

Rick M. Arthur, DVM, Equine Medical Director, California Horse Racing Board

Public should see how pick six was hit

Steven Crist has hit the nail on the head with his March 30 column, "Years after Fix Six, little has changed," regarding the integrity of parimutuel pools in this country.

As a dedicated pick-six player in Southern California who has hit several times - and never with a ticket more costly than $256 - I can tell you that I have concerns over the integrity of some wins I have witnessed. When people hit pick sixes with big longshots in midweek pools that have no carryovers, when hitting the "all" button in some races would seem to make no sense, it arouses suspicion.

Under the freedom of information principle - the public's right to know - I would like to know what comprises the ticket that wins these big pools, especially when there is a single.

I don't need to know anyone's name. Just print the composition of the winning ticket in the next possible program. Was it 6 with "all" with 1 with whatever? Let us know. Real players will know if it made sense.

Computer forensics are done on a regular basis within gaming to protect the integrity of multisite slot payouts. Horseplayers should expect nothing less from our industry.

Steve Orton - Los Angeles

Curlin took his spot on top of the world

Curlin's Dubai World Cup victory was truly one of the most spectacular races ever witnessed by fans and horsemen in any land. Three wide almost the entire race, Curlin still changed leads and dug in as hard as a horse can. I have watched countless thousands of races in my 41 years in horse racing and never viewed such a champion in motion. He was competitive, bold, and amazing the entire race. He is America's horse.

The training of Curlin this winter by Steve Asmussen and his right-hand man, Scott Blasi, should be applauded. They had Curlin at the top of his game. The wonderful ride by Robby Albarado in the World Cup made for a truly classic Group 1 event.

I can only wonder how Albarado felt the last three-sixteenths of a mile, to have such a powerhouse of a horse under him. He had to have known since the five-eighths pole that Curlin was going to defeat his rivals with both grace and authority.

As Curlin eased up past the finish line - giving all who witnessed his race a feeling of joy for this great horse - I felt a lump in my throat thinking what an exceptional horse this truly is. The Dubai World Cup may never again see such an amazing performance as in the 2008 running.

I will be praying for Curlin's health and safety, since we all know how fragile this sport's equine athletes can be. I truly hope, though, that his connections continue to race him for a few more years.

Additional thanks go out to Curlin's groom and hotwalkers. Without you guys, racing could not be what it is. And thank you, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, for hosting a world-class event.

Anthony Montanino - Weatherford, Texas