TheDamienZone.com stands aside when the issue is horse racing and we defer to out expert racing journalist and harness racehorse trainer, David Mattia. This time David is mad as hell at The New York Times — and I think they deserve it. [Damien LeGallienne, editor 11 July 2012]
EXCLUSIVE FOR TheDamienZone.com by David Mattia
This is a real hatchet job by the New York Times — and it’s downright loathsome.
Like I said in my piece for Harness Link — the mystique of racing is gone because the line between the elite media and TMZ or the National Enquirer is a thin one.
Every family has issues that need to remain private. Mistreatment of horses should be dealt with intramurally simply because what outsiders view as abhorrent abuse, is most often just innocuous and — more often than not — very competent veterinary care of the animal.
In Harness Link I may have sounded a bit glib, but it’s undeniably true that a horse who gets heads-up medical care that outsiders see as abuse, is more apt to die by tripping over the fallen carcass of a horse whose trainer didn’t know enough to use modern veterinary care. This is why the 48-hour rule that is being used to dissolve the career of harness racing trainer Lou Pena is absurd.
If every trainer in the USA had their vet records pulled, the final analysis would show two columns, A and B.
Column A would be horses who were treated within 48 hours — usually with IV electrolytez or “jugs” and NSAIDS, or anything within reason that helps what ails them.
Column B would be horses who were treated with nothing.
To be painfully honest here, as a trainer, I would be embarrassed to be listed in column B. To be included in column B would be a pretty good indicator that you’re probably an incompetent idiot and your horses — especially in summer — are not only going to race poorly, they’re going to be dehydrated and prone to sickness and injury.
Of course you don’t pump a horse with painkillers if you know he has a slab fracture or a chipped sesamoid, but this should all be dealt with by industry insiders — but it’s never going to happen.
The great Seabiscuit was a great hero in his day but today he would be written about as a sad and wounded warrior who, “was forced to stand an hour each day in a foot tub full of the horrible substances thymol and eucalyptol and menthol” — in other words, Listerine.
I have said this before to horse racing insiders, and I will say it forever: Your fans and the outside media are not your friends! They need to see you as untouchable and unreachable. There is no reason to know them or pal around with them or give them access to your complicated world — a world that would take them years to learn about and comprehend.
The minute you let “fans” and “reporters” into your house to have a look around, they start taking the silverware and ashtrays — or else they will find a place to trip and sue you in the public courts. This is why movie stars don’t hang out with their fans — and historically, racehorses have been some of the world’s biggest stars.
Racing should only be written about by racing insiders because the outsiders — like the loons over at The New York Times — simply do not understand it.
Lastly, there are two kinds of Animal Rights people — the ones who want to help animals and the ones who want to crucify people. This NY Times pile of manure sounds like a demented version of both — a hybrid of psycho do-gooders.
Nobody cares more about these animals than the people who own and train them — without the horses they’d be out of business. Why is that so hard for people to understand? Go after the bull fighters for crying out loud! Those bastards kill the creature in the middle of an arena while thousands cheer. I would bet dollars to donuts that the New York Times would cover a bullfight and describe all the fine costumes and the elegant Spanish culture and the great macho heritage of the ancient sport. It’s so dumb it boggles the mind.
Also, please note the photo the New York Times uses for this careless piece. It’s very subliminal — very cagey too — but it did not escape my eye. In the Times piece, I’ll Have Another is photographed wearing his big white polo wraps which look to the untrained eye like “bandages” or “casts.” This image was most certainly culled from a series of quick shots taken when the horse was turning towards the camera. The shot where he is in mid-stride and his leg is held up — looking as though he is lame — is the shot they used. Why did they pick the shot that makes the horse look like a poor little crippled child? These people are intentionally trying to cause trouble.
Like I said — The news people are not out to help animals — not for a moment — they are out to crucify humans and sell papers to the onlookers. It’s a gladiator show.
As far as allegations that I’ll have Another suffered from a “freakish injury” goes, another very influential racing insider had this to say:
“The caption of the photo that accompanies the NYTimes article claims that it’s “I’ll Have Another after he was scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes with what was called a ‘freakish’ tendon injury.” Lisa Myers, the “investigative reporter” who parroted the article on tonight’s NBC Nightly News segment, repeated that it was a “freakish” injury. Now it’s going to go down in history as a freakish injury. I don’t remember ever hearing or reading the trainer say that it was a freakish injury. To me, a freakish horse injury is if the horse had a head-on collision with a tractor during a training mile, or if a horse got loose and is hit by a car. That’s freakish. So you might want to look back in the archives of press coverage of I’ll Have Another to disprove this freakish injury meme.”
David Mattia reporting for TheDamienZone.com.