Editor's Note: The following is an industry proposal by Joseph Faraldo, President, Standardbred Owners Association of New York, regarding "beard" trainers.
Let’s face it -- our industry loves to demean itself and is often the victim of self-inflicted wounds and so let’s acknowledge that we will have difficulty drawing any new people to harness racing unless we address ongoing rumors and innuendo and start tackling issues -- or even supposed issues -- in a fact-based, structured manner. A perfect example is the issue of “beard” trainers and I would like to suggest action is needed immediately by industry stakeholders to clarify exactly what the scope and scale of the problem is and then root it out entirely.
The issue of “beard” trainers is one of those things we all believe to be true, despite lacking the type of details and data that would either substantiate or disprove the many industry pronouncements we often hear (and the tendency to feed upon these pronouncements like piranhas doesn’t serve anyone’s interest). So why don’t the Commissions proactively put this to bed and take concrete steps to end the careers of “beards” and those who utilize them with a coordinated, thoughtful industry initiative?
The Standardbred Owners Association of New York has taken a first step to do just that and has sent an open letter to the Executive Branch, the New York Gaming Commission, formally requesting that they incorporate the following proposed procedure to weed out any and all so called “beard” trainers. And since this is not a unique problem to New York harness racing, but also seems to be endemic at a number of tracks, I would offer an invitation to all concerned industry participants, especially horsemen’s, to join with the SOA of NY and support this initiative in other jurisdictions as well.
The intended purpose is to seek a regulatory procedure to expose factually, not anecdotally, “beard” trainers. To follow, will be a similar recommended course regarding undisclosed owners or “beard” owners seeking either the avoidance of race conflicts or as a consequence of some impediment to their identity being revealed on the racing program.
The Commissions having this jurisdiction should incorporate a number of suggested protocols as soon as possible. And the Presiding Judges, under their broad powers to regulate racing, can and should delegate to an Associate Judge the following directives to ferret out these this serious problem:
At each track in your state or commonwealth, the Presiding Judge should assign to one or more of his/her Associate Judges the task of asking in writing -- to any trainer, at any time -- to supply the following information:
The Associate Judge will, upon making the request, immediately inform the Commission in writing that said request was made, to whom it was made, and the date thereof. If the trainer is not in attendance at the track, the designated trainer shall be so notified and asked to acknowledge the notice. In the event of the non-appearance at the track of the programed trainer, a writing shall be sent to the trainer at the address appearing on his license application, certified mail with return receipt requested.
All records hereby requested shall be for the period encompassing the last completed quarter of the year or quarter in the prior year preceding the request. Said records are to be provided pursuant to this request within 45 days from the date of the writing and or acknowledgement by the trainer or his/her designated substitute.
Notice of failure to provide this information within the time set forth will be sent to the Commission with a request to issue a subpoena for those documents along with a request by the Presiding Judge to the Commission to commence a formal investigation.
Individuals would not be the subject of multiple requests from each track raced at, as once an Associate Judge informs the Commission of the request that will constitute the sole request that needs to be complied with for that period. In no calendar year will a trainer be requested to supply thus information more than for two quarters.
The judges shall keep a listing of any and all information received regarding suspected “beards” whether the judges in their discretion, act upon the same or not.
Once again, the idea behind this thoughtful, substantive and fact-based initiative is to stop once-and-for-all the rumor mongering undertaken by too many individuals in this business and that, frankly, too many of us simply accept as true. Let’s finally get all of the actual facts on the table and then either honestly or transparently resolve the problem we all “believe” exists and ferret out “beards” or stop accusing people of something unproven. I am fully confident it can be done the right way and all it takes is the resources currently possessed by the regulatory agency. While this is not perfect by any means, the thought process is to have the Commissions undertake without tremendous cost the necessary regulatory function of addressing this problem.
/S/ JAF , Pres. SOA of NY
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