Back in August 2021, trainer Orlando Noda was fined $5,000 for an incident at Saratoga earlier that month. After a subsequent hearing, Noda was also suspended 90 days and ordered to complete an anger-management course. He is currently fighting those penalties, and last week received a stay from a NYS Supreme Court judge. So what exactly did he do? From the Gaming Commission’s “Findings of Fact,” which were based on two eyewitnesses (who, the Commission notes, had no axes to grind):
“On August 5, 2021, Respondent struck a horse – Win With Pride – with Respondent’s whip…in a very aggressive manner and in anger, cursing at the horse by calling the horse a ‘piece of shit’ while striking it. The horse was not acting dangerously when Respondent repeatedly struck – at least seven times [for] possibly as long as five minutes – the horse in anger or frustration. Rather, the horse was refusing to train. Respondent’s actions were not to encourage the horse, rather they were meant to punish the horse for its lack of cooperation in training.”
“repeatedly struck the horse in anger or frustration”
“called the horse a ‘piece of shit’ while striking it”
“actions were meant to punish the horse for its lack of cooperation”
In defense, Noda’s lawyer cites hearing officer David Devaprasad’s report arguing that the rules are not clear regarding “how a crop may or may not be used while training a horse or that specify what type of actions qualify as mistreatment of a horse.” To which the Commission replied: “There is no feasible detailed rule that could describe all ways in which behavior may be abusive, violent, or disgraceful that could apply to every situation. … In any event, it is self-evident that the abusive and violent [my emphasis] conduct found herein constitutes improper conduct.” No-brainer, defined.
(Win With Pride changed hands – was sold – in Nov ’21 and then again last March. He has been raced 50 times in all. I’ll keep you updated on the proceedings.)