02/08/2013 5:38PM

Letters to the Editor Feb. 10


Horsemen see secrecy as trumping transparency

I am responding to a letter in the Feb. 3 Daily Racing Form from David Switzer, the executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. He asserted that I was somehow "misleading" in my describing as "secret science" the Association of Racing Commissioners International's and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium's use of non-public, non-published, non-peer-reviewed data to justify proposed medication rules.

Yet in making his claim, Mr. Switzer freely admits that "data like this is not immediately, if ever, public" and that a number of research studies "have not yet been published -- but eventually will be." Implicit in that latter admission is the concession that these studies have not been peer-reviewed as required for publication as scientific studies, a process that often results in modified conclusions.
In these circumstances Dr. Thomas Tobin, the veterinary adviser to the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, refused to sign a confidentiality agreement that would have permitted him to read the "secret science" but would have prevented him from discussing any aspects of it with other scientists or horsemen who had not signed the confidentiality agreement. With these constraints and because the national horsemen's association believes in complete transparency when it comes to rule-making, we supported Dr. Tobin's refusal to sign the agreement.

Medication rules and regulations should be based on publicly available science demonstrating what is in the best interest of the horse. Otherwise, reliance on "secret science" subjects its proponents to charges of being motivated by political convenience rather than reasoned decision-making.

Phil Hanrahan, chief executive officer, National Thoroughbred Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association

Starting gate crew second to none

I know members of the gate crew don't grace the pages of Daily Racing Form very often, but in light of what just happened to assistant starter Kenny "Puff" Moore on Jan. 20, I think it is about time we recognize these hardworking men.

Puff was involved in a starting gate accident at Hialeah Park that would prove to be fatal. It was a terrible blow to the starting gate crew community as well as those who knew him from around the racetrack. Puff was a real professional. He worked as hard as he could to assist trainers with their horses, good and bad alike.

I have to say, the guys on the gate are really the unsung heroes of Quarter Horse racing. Because of the danger involved, they take tons of abuse and have to make split-second decisions. These guys never get much praise for the work that they do. Their names are not listed on the program like trainers, jockeys, owners, and breeders. To the general public, they are just the guys leading the horses in. All horsemen, though, know how important a role they play in the equations of races.

I am sure some big winners won because of the handling those horses got and the schooling they received. How many times have we seen the best get beat, because the not-so-best got away in front of everyone else? Even though I can't remember everyone, I can still remember a bunch of those guys who were just as responsible for my success in Quarter Horse racing as anyone else.

So, with that being said, thanks a million to all the countless unsung heroes of racing, for your great hands and dedication to a job that seems to be shaded from praise.

Robert Edwards - Belen, N.M.