Reader Mail: New Times, Not Calder, Is Killing Horses

Horse Play

Florida does catch cheaters: In your story about allegations of fraud and horse doping at Calder Casino & Race Course ("Dark Horse," Michael E. Miller, August 9), your characterization of the State of Florida's regulatory atmosphere for horse racing calls for more professionalism than is provided. Although we made you aware that new penalty guidelines for impermissible medications found in racehorses were updated effective June 26, 2011, and reflect a more stringent set of penalties for drug positives than the previous set, I didn't see this information referenced in your story. I'm also interested to know how you determined Florida has some of the "laxest" regulations in the nation.

Additionally, your characterization of the department's disinterest in retrieving winning purses from Kirk Ziadie, the trainer you cite for violating drug rules 41 times, is inaccurate, as we advised you that purses are paid to the owners of the horses, not the trainers. Furthermore, your repeated references to the state's deliberately outdated testing techniques fail to communicate the truth to your audience: The University of Florida's Racing Laboratory is one of only seven laboratories in the nation that has been accredited by Forensic Quality Services. The lab uses state-of-the-art equipment to analyze samples collected from racing animals in Florida and updates its procedures regularly. I'm concerned that your story makes broad generalizations rather than presenting the facts in an unbiased manner. Sandi Copes Poreda, Director of Communications, Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation

Missed the facts: This story is not exactly fair and balanced journalism. I would question your expert Bob Jarvis from Nova Southeastern University in regard to his claim that purses haven't risen as slots have been added to racetracks. In New York, there's been a huge increase directly attributable to slots. Also, I love the nonspecific terms you use like drugs and doping, especially when you're referring to "bute," which is essentially aspirin for horses. I'm not saying Ziadie is innocent, but how many of these violations were for cobra venom or other truly illegal drugs? Also, Dennis Fisher and Rene Wagner, the former trainers trying to sue Calder, are both pikers in an industry that swallows those little minnows with glee. Let's be real — you didn't have to cheat to beat their horses; all you had to do was show up. Trainers like them are routinely denied stalls because they do not earn any money. MoseswiththeTabloids

Stop killing horse racing: I work at Calder, and your words are giving an impression that is way off-course. You're hurting a great business by giving the impression of so many ugly, overexaggerated truths. You're missing the truth: The amount of drugs found positive on horses would fit on the tip of a needle. These drugs are the same as Advil for humans. It's unfair that theses horses — which are incredible athletes that love to run — will get these drugs taken away because of stories such as this one. Sadly, your story leaves out that the majority of people in our business love their horses and bring out the best in them. Like so many in our industry, I care for horses by fueling them with proper care and compassion. By falsely projecting such a negative image on the industry, stories like yours will kill horses by closing tracks. Theses horses will have nowhere to go but slaughterhouses. Who is the killer now? jockeylydon

Not an expert: You write that the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association "bizarrely claims that a drug ban would be dangerous" in testimony to Congress. It's rather presumptuous that the author would take the liberty to use the word bizarre without substantiating why he felt the comment to be out of whack. This article was written by someone who clearly does not have a strong handle on how the horse-racing industry works. The insinuations made by this author are either factually incorrect or without any proper frame of reference. If we were in court, the author could not be called to give expert testimony on this subject. RichRoma


Ballot Fraud Fracas

Handle it locally: Uncle Luke's argument that the feds should be brought in to combat the ballot fraud scandal in Miami ("Stolen Votes," Luther Campbell, August 9) lost me when he said Obama should send investigators here. The best thing to do here is to document all the cases of fraud and prosecute them individually. Even State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, whom Luke complains is tainted by the scandal, eventually filed charges in this case after enough pressure. There will always be fraud on both sides. portablefernie

 
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