The Post World War II Years
Part 3

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Stimulation continued to be a sore spot, not only in cases of willful skulduggery, but more often through innocent mistakes, accidents and misunderstanding. The "suspension" of Seabiscuit's former trainer,Tom Smith, leading money-winning trainer of 1945, became a cause celebre . . . . .

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My sincere thanks to The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America 
by William Robertson
for permission to excerpt this article that we may re-live the moment.

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. . . when the affair was taken to court. 
(Technically, Smith was not suspended; his license was revoked, 
which paved the way for an appeal.) It was testified that the alleged stimulation of 
Magnific Duel had consisted of eight squirts of a nasal spray containing ephedrine, which Smith had purchased at a drugstore without prescription, 
and which he used on himself as well as his horses. 
An expert witness for the defense stated that the amount of ephedrine thus ingested would not have affected the physical performance of a flea, 
and, moreover, it was brought out that on the day in question Smith hadn't ordered the horse's nose to be sprayed in the first place. 
This last aspect was somewhat irrelevant to the specific case, but germane to the root of the stimulation problem as a whole. 
Under the rules (following precedent of the Ladana affair) a trainer could be held responsible for a horse's condition regardless of the acts of third parties; a 
without imputing a connection with the actual stimulation one way or the other, punishment was meted out for negligence in failing to protect the horse from tampering,

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The case dragged on and Smith lost his appeal, 
but by the time the legal machinery had finished grinding he had practically served his one-year-term, and he soon was reinstated.

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(In the course of the hassle, Silent Tom did loosen up enough to comment wryly that if ever he had been inclined to use a stimulant, he would't have wasted it on Magnific Duel -- he'd have used it on War Date when she was running against Busher.)

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Big targets are the easiest kind to shoot at,
and the press in general enjoyed a picnic sniping at what was called the stuffy attitude of the Jockey Club and the New York State Racing Commission.
However, there was also the issue of public interest. The official viewpoint was that to give an inch in security was to risk loss of a mile,
that if substances innocuous enough in themselves were permitted, they could be used to mask the presence of more serious drugs; and that a rule was a rule,
 to be obeyed as a matter of course.

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Onstage more or less concurrently with the Smith case was another which would have been hilarious had it not been for the distress it brought on the persons directly involved.
 Maryland had been using the New York laboratory
 for chemical analyses, but a zealout racing commissioner, in an effort to double check, caused samples to be sent to another analyst, who gave this report: five horses (four of whom had raced on the same day), including representatives of prominent stables under the control of reputable trainers, had shown positive for morphine.
Appeals and lawsuits flew back and forth. It subsequently was brought out that a biological test had been used which was based on the reaction of mice.
Samples from horses were injected into the rodents, and if a mouse's tail curled up into the shape of the letter S, it was classified as a morphine reaction. As the fate of gladiators in ancient Rome had been determined by
 thumb signals of the Caesars,
 the careers of these trainers had hung by a mouse's tail. It was demonstrated during the hearings that the jars containing the damning samples could be opened without disturbing the protective seal, and it was suggested that the rubber gaskets on the jars were
of such composition as to have possibly caused the samples to produce the reaction they did. Ultimately, all the suspensions were overruled in court.

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Various remedies for the perplexing problem were advanced.
The receiving barn, where horses scheduled to race were held in isolation, was one of them, but, beyond the disinclination to subject a high-strung animal to unfamiliar experience
just before he raced, trainers objected to being held responsible for a horse
that was taken out of their custody.
A mobile testing laboratory was instituted, through which horses could be given a saliva test before the race, and the trainer thereby relieved of responsibility if further chemical analysis indicated presence of unauthorized substances.
This took the trainer off the hook.

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Tom Smith to be elected to Hall of Fame in 2001  ---  click here and scroll down.