“Ominous Clouds Ahead”

A recent column in Saratoga Today by attorney and owner William G. Gotimer Jr. shows that there are still plenty of clear-eyed folks within the racing ranks. The piece, a general assessment of the industry heading into the new year, begins with some good (for Racing) – stronger economic numbers over covid-impacted 2020 – but then Gotimer warns of “ominous clouds ahead.” Here are some excerpts:

“The industry in general, including NY racing, survives in large part with hefty subsidies…. In many jurisdictions these subsidies were guaranteed only for a certain period and as is the case in NY authorities are now questioning to what extent they should continue. A proposal [which HW has a hand in] to eradicate these subsidies to racing and direct them to more generalized needs has already been proposed in NYS. While this current proposal is unlikely to succeed it would be naïve to think it will be the last attempt to ‘decouple’ casino revenues from racing subsidies. Decoupling…means divorce and this is and should be a frightening word to the racing industry as it is unclear which if any racing circuits could survive a full decoupling.

“Additionally, regulation of horse racing by the Federal Government has arrived with the passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which promises to provide oversight of the myriad racing interests. It is axiomatic that the power to regulate includes the power to outlaw. Those that think horse racing is too important or too ingrained in American culture to face extinction should be mindful of the recent history of live animal circuses and theme parks like SeaWorld. Public sentiment and regulations can turn quickly and dramatically. Whether horse racing likes it or not it is now subject (more than ever) to political (and by extension public) opinion.

“The criminal guilty pleas of former wonder trainer, Jorge Navarro (and his sentence to five-year imprisonment this week), and the ongoing prosecution of another wonder trainer, Jason Servis, publicly portray an industry that sees the criminal use of performance-enhancing drugs on animals by numerous players…and a general acceptance of such misdeeds by a host of industry members, licensed professionals, regulators, advertisers and gamblers. The official and public documents in the federal court cases are a damning condemnation of the sport and its participants. If you like racing it is a painful read bereft of ‘good guys.’

“It is truly sobering that these multiple guilty pleas and the future incarceration of former trainers and veterinarians is not the biggest scandal of 2021 racing. Sadly, that distinction lies with the sudden, yet unexplained [though not rare], death of…Medina Spirit. After his Kentucky Derby win [Medina] tested positive for a prohibited substance – an event that spawned a spate of denials then retraction of some of the denials, lawsuits, public ridicule on “SNL,” accusations of corruption at heretofore respected testing facilities, an attempted ban of [Bob] Baffert by the NYRA, federal court intervention preventing that ban on US Constitutional grounds and uncertainty as to which horse won the 2021 Kentucky Derby and which horses will be allowed to compete in the 2022 Kentucky Derby.

“While most, or all, of the above is still to be finally determined the outcome almost does not matter for racing’s reputation and by extension – its future. While I certainly believe there is a case for racing’s future – its participants and regulators are providing ample ammunition to its growing detractors.”

Indeed, Mr. Gotimer, “ample ammunition” like this.


  1. I think every politician should be shown the video footage of every horse writhing in pain, the absolute terror in their eyes, and waiting for the ultimate effect of the final needle burning through their veins until the life drains out of them. Get a new F*****g hobby you lazy a******s (billionaire owners).

    • Your comment is vitally important for all to process and sincerely understand. The suffering these downed endure under the whip and illegal drugs is tragic and sickening. Documentation must continue so truth is told

  2. The incessant propensity of horse racing participants and gamblers to illegally dope horses and fix the outcomes of races is catching up with them. I am glad that this is coming to light for more and more people to see and be aware of so that eventually this criminal activity can be terminated from public funding of any and all kinds. The laws against the doping of horses should always be enforced. It’s somewhat shocking that the “illegal milkshake race injection” is advertised and sold online. It’s very bold for a company to advertise an illegal substance and they don’t even try to hide the fact that it’s illegal. It is past due for the FBI and other appropriate law enforcement agencies to stop this egregious abuse of horses and the put the wonder trainers in jail which is where criminals belong.

  3. Horse racing is no better than bullfighting. Needs to end. No redeeming social value whatsoever.

  4. Interesting that he sees the ‘ handwriting on the wall’ , so to speak. And lets not forget dog racing and cockfighting.
    Its time ( Way past) for horseracing to join these heinous activities and become extinct.
    Horse abuse, cruelty and murder should be outlawed.

  5. So they admit they can’t survive without a monetary government crutch, they admit their ranks are full of criminals, they admit their practices cause the death of their horses, yet they are still trying to claw themselves along on the crumbling surface of propaganda and misdirection. What other sport – human or otherwise – could openly admit such things and still be allowed to function with no repercussions and no type of investigation other than their own laughably impotent and corrupt internal committees? Racing is mistaken if it thinks its death throes are actually powerful strides into the future.

  6. The irony is that most of these people will tell you that income redistribution is bad. Unless, of course, they are the recipients. They know they only survive by taking much needed money from economically beneficial services but they’re okay with that.

    • They’re okay with abusing horses to death. It’s consistent with their unsavory and unscrupulous characters to claim that any type of government funding or corporate welfare to prop up their gambling racket belongs to them and only them. Their greedy, narcissistic, criminal minds are incapable of any kind of empathy. Children need decent schools and so forth. It’s beyond their capacity to care what children need. That’s just one example.

  7. This needs to happen faster. Lives of horses are at stake. We (horseracing wrongs) have MORE than prosecuted the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The “mega” rich are a menace to society. This loser cornball gambling racket wouldn’t even still be going on if it wasn’t for : repole,vinny viola,george soros, etc. It’s these lazy,bored billionaires that are keeping this EVIL going on ….because of their never ending stream of non-earned money. Billionaires are the dreck of society.They have so much free time on their hands they don’t know what to do with themselves.

  8. I would say to Gotimer racing has been a corrupt and cruel business from it’s inception.
    There never was any believable effort to make the life of the horse better or to root out those responsible for the most heinous treatment and drugging of horses as it evolved. There never was an effort to have a national governing body with universal rules and meaningful consequences for the most obvious of bad actors.

    Rather, racing evolved into a collection of fiefdoms with incestuous oversight and arbitrary rules none of which remotely provided any protection for the horse and little or no consequences for breaking rules. Win at any cost to the horse became the accepted modus operandi.
    The horse as a disposable commodity has always been fundamental to the survival of this gambling business.That cannot change.
    What has changed is the ability of racing to whitewash and coverup.
    Racing can no longer hide behind the pageantry and hype of the Kentucky Derby.
    Society will reject the inherent corruption and cruelty that is racing.
    That is inevitable.

    • “The pageantry” of the derby? Yeah,you mean Eight Belles desperately trying to get standing up after finishing second to the boys in the derby after snapping off BOTH front legs?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is that what constitutes “pageantry”?????????????????? This shit show gets more sickening the more you think about it.

      • Bonnie, aside from the hideous cruelty to EIGHT BELLES and before that horrific incident, “once upon a time” (so to speak) the Kentucky Derby was the equivalent, sort of, to the Super Bowl in football as far as drawing large crowds and people watching it on national television. The part about horses not having a choice in the matter, the many forms of cruelty and torture to the horses, and the doping and killing of racehorses makes it completely different from football, of course. Back in the 1960s, 1970s and maybe the 1980s, I think there was a kind of pageantry associated with the Kentucky Derby. It was the most famous horse race as far as Thoroughbred racing in the United States. In my experience, I didn’t see horses getting broken bones on nationally televised horse racing until the 1990s if I recall correctly. My fourth grade inner child, if you will, would have agreed that there was pageantry associated with the Kentucky Derby, but nowadays, forget about it. It was a fascinating event when it was broadcast on ABC’S WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS. I have a much different view point and opinion now that I have seen so much more, and the fact that more information is available. The point is that the most so-called prestigious event in Thoroughbred racing has lost the fascination it may have had in the past before EIGHT BELLES.
        The horses are beautiful but the gambling and exploitation of horses is ugly.

        • It’s ALWAYS been evil. Thanks to Patrick everything is EXPOSED. I see these idiots wax poetically (Barbara Livingston) about how oh I loved Ruffian more than any horse ….BUT. Boy that sure didn’t stop her from being a corny propaganda machine. Hey Barbara if you truly loved horses you would SEE and be HONEST about how it kills them. You didn’t need to be a horse photog. That’s not a REAL job.

          • It really is sickening, disgusting, nauseating, repulsive that horses are forced to endure this horrendous abuse and torture. The horses are treated as a disposable commodity and yet racing is portrayed as the Sport of Kings, as if…
            It’s repulsive. It needs to be recognized by law as the animal cruelty and abuse that it is! Back when D. Wayne Lukas and Gary Stevens were winning in Grade One races, I had no idea that they or anyone else were shocking the horses with those small handheld devices.

            • You are dead on right Wanda! It is TOTALLY unnecessary! Nothing makes me angrier than humans abusing animals. There’s a special place in hell for people who abuse kids and ANIMALS.

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