Gotcha

So Rick Dutrow heads to the sidelines again, this time for thirty days following a Clenbuterol overage that took place in, ahem, May of 2008.

Glenn Craven wrote about this at length at his site yesterday; his piece and the Associated Press report that appeared in Wednesday’s Saratogian both note that while a 15 day suspension was initially recommended by the stewards at Churchill Downs (where the infraction occurred) and an officer who heard the appeal, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted for the 30 day suspension.

Commission executive director Lisa Underwood explained the harsher penalty was
due in part because they felt he was dragging out the process. “He flagrantly
worked the system,” Underwood said.

“He worked the system.” “He was dragging out the process.”

Wait a minute. The system says that the accused has a variety of options with which to delay, challenge, appeal the finding…but if he chooses to exercise them, he gets additional days?

I have written critically of Dutrow more than once here; I am not an apologist for those who break the rules. But it seems to me that there’s something fundamentally wrong with a system that says, “OK, Accused, here are your options,” and then says, “Oops, sorry, you did what we said you could, and now we’re going to punish you for it.”

I’ve worked in student discipline for nearly a decade, and I’ve learned that you’ve got to make sure that your system is clear, fair, and efficient. If it’s not, attention and responsibility shift from those who committed the infraction to those who mete out consequences. Dutrow’s an easy target and most of the responses I’ve seen express outrage with him; it would be easier to be outraged, I think, if the system that oversees these infractions made a little more sense.

6 thoughts on “Gotcha

  1. Good point but PLEASE with Dutrow isn't it, 33 strikes and you're out.Yes the logic is ass backwards but the message is clear enough.

  2. I think the issue here was that Dutrow took full responsibility for the violation. From the Bloodhorse:According to a release from the KHRC, at the April hearing Dutrow testified that he was not aware that a member of his training staff had given the horse the drug too close to the racing date, but took full responsibility for the actions of the staff member. The hearing officer found that Dutrow did not dispute the overage.Yes, he had every right to appeal. But if you take "full responsibility", just take the 15 days for Pete's sake.

  3. Jennifer, I see your point–but if the system offers the opportunity to try to schedule your days when it's least convenient/least hurtful to your business, it makes sense to take advantage of it. A screwy system doesn't absolve Dutrow for the initial infraction, but I can't blame Dutrow for trying to work it.

  4. "if the system offers the opportunity to try to schedule your days when it's least convenient/least hurtful to your business, it makes sense to take advantage of it." – good point, but that's precisely why I think intentional stalling SHOULD play a role in determining the penalty. Increasing the penalty seems to be one of the most effective ways to fix that specific flaw. After all, the system also can't work without an appeals process.Still, I absolutely agree that the KHRC's system needs to be improved. No matter how much Dutrow stalled, they still shouldn't need more than two years to (narrowly) decide on a penalty for a clear-cut violation.

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