Horse racing has long conceded that it has a drug problem. On Sunday, some of the sport's leaders announced that it would finally seek help by surrendering to a higher power: Congress.
The chairman of the Jockey Club, Ogden Mills Phipps, said his organization would seek federal legislation to empower the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to rewrite the sport's drug rules, upgrade its testing and come up with stiff and meaningful penalties for horsemen who break the rules.
It's an old idea, but one that suddenly has important muscle. The Jockey Club, which keeps the breed registry, is made up of horse racing's most influential and wealthiest owners and breeders. For decades, it has resisted federal control, partly out of a belief that the industry could police itself.
Faced with frequent scandals, most recently involving the trainers Steve Asmussen and Scott Blasi; plummeting economics; and polls indicating that horse racing's most devoted followers did not believe it was on the up-and-up, the Jockey Club conceded that the sport needed someone from the outside to restore law and order.
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"Our horsemen and our customers all deserve a level playing field, with uniform rules and clean competition," Phipps said at the organization's annual round table at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. "We need the national uniform medication program to be implemented in every racing state. We need uniformity of rules and greatly improved lab standards. We need a penalty structure that is strong enough to be a meaningful deterrent — not one that would allow a trainer to amass literally dozens of violations over the course of his career and continue training. And we need to eliminate the use of all drugs on race day."
Just because the Jockey Club says it will push for federal legislation doesn't mean Congress will snap to attention. Last year, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act — written by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa. — went nowhere.
Mr Speaker might be headed to Travers
A graded stakes winner on turf and synthetics, Mr Speaker tuned up for a possible start in the Grade I Travers with a 5-furlong work over the main track on Sunday at Saratoga
"I was very impressed with the way he worked today," trainer Shug McGaughey said. "I'm feeling more confident all the time. I thought his work today was exceptionally good. He's progressing along very well up here."
Mr Speaker won the Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational on July 5 at the Travers' 1¼-mile distance. He also won the Grade III Dania Beach on grass at Gulfstream Park and the Grade III Lexington at Keeneland. In his lone dirt start this year, Mr Speaker ran seventh in the Grade II Holy Bull on Jan. 25.
"We'll see how he comes out of his work, see how he works next weekend, and then I'll make up my mind," McGaughey said. "I'm not ready to commit myself one way or the other, but I'm kind of getting excited."
Wall: 'I guess I'm overlooked again'
Former University of Kentucky star John Wall, who was one of three players cut from Team USA after its first training camp stop in Las Vegas, told CSN Washington that he wasn't given much of a shot to make the team since he was a late addition to the pool of players.
"Nah, I don't think so, but it's a part of the game," Wall said. "I'm just happy to have the opportunity to be there and represent my country. I wish them the best of luck and hope they can win gold."
The Washington Wizards All-Star told CSN Washington that he thought his week with the team went well. He was dealing with a left knee injury.
"It was cool. It wasn't bad at all," Wall said of his left knee. "I got through the whole week. I thought I played pretty well. Things didn't go in my favor. But, we'll (get) past it."
Wall told CSN he'll use the cut as a source of motivation.
"You want to make every team you try out for," he said. "I guess I'm overlooked again. I guess have to prove myself one more time."
Self: Wiggins wants to be traded to T-wolves
Andrew Wiggins told Kansas Coach Bill Self that he wants to be traded from Cleveland to Minnesota because the No. 1 overall pick thinks it will be better for his long-term future.
Wiggins joined his former coach as a guest instructor at Self's basketball camp in suburban Kansas City on Sunday. And while Wiggins declined to speak to the few reporters at Shawnee Mission West High School, Self said the rookie wants to carve out his own legacy in the NBA.
"When all this trade stuff started, I talked to Andrew and Andrew told me, "I hope I get traded," Self said. "And I'm like, 'No you don't.' And he said, "Coach, I do. It's better for me, knowing my personality and what I need to do, to go somewhere where I'm forced to be something as opposed to going in there where they're going to be patient with me and I'm going to be a piece."
Earlier this week, The Associated Press and several other outlets reported a deal has been reached to send Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick to Minnesota for All-Star forward Kevin Love, who will join LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to form a new "Big 3" in Cleveland.
The deal cannot be consummated until Aug. 23, when Wiggins is eligible to be traded.
Giants testing ex-Cat Conner for concussion
New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin reported that the lone injury to come out of Saturday night's game was a possible concussion to fullback John Conner.
The former New York Jets draft pick, who joined the Giants' roster late last year, was hit in the second quarter and came off the field.
"We're going to take the proper protocol," Coughlin said about the NFL's strict policy on head injuries. "He seemed fine and his eyes were bright, but he will go through the proper protocol. It's all about safety first, then we'll see where he's at and whether he can practice or play."
A further determination about the former University of Kentucky standout's condition will be done Monday.
South Korea's Lee earns first LPGA victory
Mirim Lee won the Meijer LPGA Classic on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour victory, beating fellow South Korean Inbee Park with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff in Belmont, Mich.
The long-hitting Lee drove into greenside bunker on the second extra hole — the short par-4 17th — and blasted out to 5 feet. After Park's 15-foot birdie try lipped out, Lee holed her putt for the victory.
■ Kristen Gillman rallied to win the U.S. Women's Amateur on Sunday in Glen Cove, N.Y., defeating Canada's Brooke Mackenzie Henderson 2 up in the 36-hole finals at Nassau Country Club. Gillman, a 16-year-old from Austin, Texas, was coming off an 11-stroke victory last week in the Junior PGA Championship.
The last word
Kentuckian Kenny Perry on the PGA Championship galleries that sung "Happy Birthday" as he turned 54 on Sunday:
"Every hole. Poor Luke (Donald, his playing partner), was like, 'Did you tweet out that it was your birthday today, or how did everybody know?' It was funny. It was pretty special."