The website of The Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) states that the organization “is a grassroots movement of like-minded individuals who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing.  The appointment of an independent anti-doping program run by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will resolve the problem of widespread drug use in American racing and put U.S. racing jurisdictions in step with international standards.”

WHOA recently released a letter signed by 64 active and retired Thoroughbred racehorse trainers, from North America and Europe, in support of WHOA’s mission (click here for an article from The Paulick Report with the names of the signees).  The letter reads in part:

“Passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act will help revitalize the horse racing industry and will protect horses and jockeys from those individuals who would seek to win races at any cost.  We encourage like-minded colleagues to join us and to add their voices to the clamor for change by simply including their names on WHOA’s roster.  Support of WHOA’s efforts will send a message to our fans and our legislators that clean sport is important to our industry.”

While the letter aptly articulates an admirable point of view, it lacks sufficient clout and gravitas because it is does not include the names of the vast majority of North America’s premier horse trainers.  Thus the “clamor for change” does not appear to extend to the upper-echelon of the trainer fraternity.

The continuously-updated Equibase list of the 100 leading Thoroughbred racehorse trainers in North America is based on the amount of money won by the trainers’ stables.  As of this writing, the list for 2018 [click here for the current standings] included only two trainers who signed the WHOA letter, Neil Drysdale at 85th on the Equibase list and Patrick Gallagher at 97th.

It is highly speculative to attempt to discern the motivation of others, in this case the motivation for why 98 of the leading 100 racehorse trainers in North America did not sign the WHOA letter.  Surely, at least some of them were asked.

Whatever the reasons, the important point is that there is a glaring division within the North American racing enterprise pertaining to medication policy and regulation.  One or more provisions of the Horseracing Integrity Act is deeply troubling to virtually every leading trainer.

It is unlikely that the U. S. Congress can be persuaded to enact a bill into law when the industry sponsoring the legislation does not present a united front.  The absence of the names of 98% of North America’s foremost trainers on a document supporting the bill is an overwhelming negative.

It may be that many of North America’s best trainers are adamantly opposed to any sort of federal oversight of medication in horse racing…and their minds can’t be changed.  However, to my knowledge, no one knows for sure.  If they have not already done so, proponents of the Horseracing Integrity Act like WHOA might be well advised to consult top money-earning trainers to ascertain what, if anything, could be done to assuage their concerns so they would affix their names to a letter in support of federal regulation that could be sent to members of Congress.

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