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DRF: Trainers respond to Irwin's comments

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  • DRF: Trainers respond to Irwin's comments


    This whole Irwin thing prods me to bring up an issue I've had for some time now.

    Having had experience owning a piece of a minor partnership in recent years, and having seen a lot of finger pointing, (managing partner to trainer and back - I side with the trainer), I'm curious how much others have experienced this kind of dissension. I've read a bit about Irwin's comments, and on the web there have been some grumblings about accounts outstanding, etc. - true or untrue.

    As sig other once said in a TOBA introduction to racing forum, "So what happens when someone bails out of the partnership? Who pays the bills?"

    I love that partnerships are a viable option for owning, when you couldn't otherwise pay for a race horse. However, I now see so much room for manipulation of funds, and even Bernie Maddox/pyramid schemes where partnership number 1 hasn't paid its bills, so they seek new members for partership number 2, and so on. Not good for the industry on top of other issues at the present time.

    These thoughts are NOT to detract from AK's win nor as an affront to Team Valor - I'm ecstatic that Graham Motion won, and my wallet is happy as well. I'm just curious about others' experiences and thoughts on dysfunctional partnerships.
    But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson

  • #2
    I just think his comments (considering the time and place) were inappropriate for the circumstances. The comments made it a little bit tougher to be happy for Team Valor winning the Derby. (Although this in NO way diminished the feeling of happiness for the trainer, jockey and horse winning).


    • #3
      Are you talking about his comments on the way to the winner's circle? It seemed like he just answered the reporter's question a little more candidly than anyone might have expected!

      Or did he make more comments later? If so, is there a link to a transcript or video?


      • #4
        I'm talking about on the way to the winner's circle. Candid or not, they seemed a little un-sportsmanlike.


        • #5
          MOST trainers are honest with their owners.

          But in this day of partnerships and factory style training of multiple strings? There have been some high profile cases of bad behavior, questionable aquisitions and head scratching choices of big races for said aquisitions. At the expense of the various syndicate/partnerships. Probably because nobody is in charge excpt some CPA or in a position to advocate for the horses and what is actually best for them.

          It may have been blunt and off the cuff along with a bit of poor sportsmanship/playing the blame game. But there was some truth to it and it should not be dismissed.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            More details:


            • #7
              Originally posted by MHM View Post
              yeah...but somebody should point out to that NYT sports guy that Irwin was not referring to "corruption".

              Just misleading owners about the quality of their purchases, their training progress (or lack thereof) and putting them in races where they don't belong.

              That is, unfortunately, business as usual in too many race and show barns to keep the income stream going.

              And good for Team Valor for getting their own training center so the horses can have an actual home base.
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              • #8
                More comments from Irwin:


                • #9
                  Y'all ought to read this, thanks MHM.

                  Much truth there, he can speak out of turn if he wants...maybe some feelings and egos need a little bruising from within the industry before the powers that be outside do it for them.

                  Imagine that, an actual training center instead of life at one track after another-and telling the truth to an owner. Astonishing.
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by findeight View Post
                    Much truth there, he can speak out of turn if he wants...maybe some feelings and egos need a little bruising from within the industry before the powers that be outside do it for them.
                    From Bill Finley (ESPN/NYT) 5-10-11

                    OK, Barry Irwin is not the most diplomatic person, maybe he picked the wrong time and place to make his infamous "I got tired of trainers lying to me" comment, and if you called him arrogant or a pain in the butt you wouldn't be alone. And I wish this sport had about 1,000 more just like him.
                    Long before Animal Kingdom came around, Irwin gave a bunch of horses to trainer Ralph Nicks. Nicks and veterinarian David Bryant were suspended 15 days and fined $500 after the vet was caught injecting a Team Valor horse before a 2004 race at Belmont. Immediately, Nicks was fired.

                    "Team Valor has a zero-tolerance policy with regards to drugs," Irwin said at the time. "We had no choice other than to do what we did. This was the most difficult business decision I've ever had to make, because we like Ralph and we think he is an outstanding horseman."

                    Nicks is hardly the sport's worst miscreant and has stayed out of trouble since. But he did something wrong, was caught and had to go.
                    That said having gone through 40-trainers in 5-years suggests that Irwin won't stop with Graham, no matter how much of a public boy scout he is and even with success. Irwin might garner applause on his remarks in general - although nobody should say it was the right time whatsoever - I still think at best its worthy of a golf clap in the context of who is saying it.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by findeight View Post
                      MOST trainers are honest with their owners.

                      nobody is in charge excpt some CPA or in a position to advocate for the horses and what is actually best for them.

                      It may have been blunt and off the cuff along with a bit of poor sportsmanship/playing the blame game. But there was some truth to it and it should not be dismissed.
                      Sadly those in charge are often now big time gamblers, not just CPAs. And the bottom line is getting the horse to pay for himself, NOT what's best for the horse, even though in the long run, it may be best for the partnership. And those who "know everything" because they've read all the books, can quote all the stats, and drop sire's names...yet cannot identify a hoof pick. They are running the show as managing partners.

                      I'm no longer, but sig other still is, in a partnership group with a former "possible Classic horse", now running every 2 weeks for 10k, with known issues on the track. Said managing partner consistently blamed classic trainer, saying he (managing partner) "didn't know" about horse's issues... said the same about horses in previous partnerships, whenever there was a change in plans, a delay in running, or attending a particular meet. As for sig other's current 10k claimer, when we got to chat with the trainer before horse was moved, found the horse had some injury concerns, so we confronted managing partner directly - he still played dumb. Managing partner found "new trainer", and is repeating the same scenario. This, in spite of the fact that those I brought into the partnership would have been fine hearing the truth, and waiting to see what happened.

                      Others continue to compliment the emperors' new clothes.

                      I'm frankly on the fence about Barry Irwin, and thought there probably is a lot of truth to what he said, as there certainly are trainers who hide issues. Just not ours, and managing partner placed all the blame on an outstanding trainer...

                      From today's NY Times article, “A lot of trainers do not have the confidence in themselves to give out bad news,” Irwin said. “They hide stuff and hope against hope that they can resolve a bad situation before having to tell you about it. I can’t have that.”

                      I'm afraid that the same is true of some managing partners, who also can't tell the truth about unpaid bills, continue to look for new funds for more new partnerships, brag about the good times they can all have at the track, what it's like being in the paddock and the winner's circle, and pay token donations to rescues... but meanwhile not put the horses' welfare as a priority.

                      And that is what I want in a partnership.
                      But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson