The last of the four best horsemen to serve, in recent times, on Maryland Thoroughbred Racing Commission resigned Tuesday. Carle Jackson, after 19 years on the five-man board, announced he had "had it" and had decided to "stop wasting my time."
E. Taylor Chewning and Milton Polinger are dead. They owned and bred race horses before being named to, and while serving on, the commission. Even Newtie Brewer, the former chairman, invested in a couple of thoroughbreds.
And now Jackson, the Great Dissenter, has called it quits. He is disgusted with the Maryland's lack of concern for the sport's health and with the sport's lack of concern for the horses' health.
"I've been wrong, occasionally, with some of the stands I've taken," Jackson admitted yesterday from his Baltimore home. "But when it comes to the subject of controlled medication, which to me means permissive drugs, well, many things have happened to make me think I was dead right when I opposed the program three years ago.
"You know," the 72-year-old former polo player said, "there was a time in the old days that if a man had a horse that bled, he'd try to hide him. It was a little like hiding a sister if she'd made a mistake that was embarrassing.
"But now we've approved Lasix, which is for bleeders, and about four out of every five horses that run in this state are listed as running on it. There are that many bleeders in Maryland? No one can convince me that's right."
Jackson is equally critical of Butazolidin.
"I still hack this quarter-horse, I have some two, three hours a day," he said. "I weigh 216 pounds, and I put this Western saddle and all the tack on him - it must total 280 pounds.
"Well, when he goes out - he wears bar shoes - and he starts to get a little gimpy, I give him a Bute pill and he's soon okay. It removes whatever it is that makes the pain, and it helps make sure he doesn't fall with old Jackson.
"So I had to think my original feeling about permissive drugs was absolutely correct. Of course, the trainers say, 'What the hell does Jackson know?' and they may be right, to a point. I believe I failed chemistry in school, and you can't get even the veterinarians to agree on the medication controversy today.
"Then again, there are a lot of scared horsemen around when it comes to talking about these things.They want to be sure to get stalls and it's important to some of them that they're asked out to lunch by the right people. I'm convinced its way past time for the HBPA (Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Association) to designate a regional committee in the Eastern Corridor to meet with racing commissions from these states and work out a policy."
Jackson offers one final thought on the Maryland medication situation. "When the controlled program was approved, a review was to be held after a reasonable period of time as to the effects, if any, it might be having," he said. "I never could get that review on the commission's business agenda."
Jackson reveled in playing the role, as the board's only Republican, of the rugged reactionary. When the race tracks sought higher prices for admission and programs, he invariably cast the only, opposing vote. He could be stubborn.
"I had a friend come up to me the other day, moaning about a trainer's entry that had been split," Jackson noted. "The 4-to-5 shot finished down the track. The other horse paid $12. Oh, the fans really love that rule! I opposed it, too.
"I lost a lot. I felt frustrated. More important, I thought Maryland's racing was losing, not getting the help it needs. The horsemen got the extra money they wanted for higher purses this year, but it was at the bettors' expense, through a higher takeout. The state didn't give up a penny. Some people tend to forget we have a hard core of 6,500 racing fans in this state. They're out there every day. We're just going to make it harder for them to stay in the game."
"You know, I was the only one on the commission to be for the Maryland Bred Fund when it was established by the legislature in 1962. The fund worked. The trouble is, we never improved upon it.Our problem, in Maryland racing, is that everybody is selfish. Everyone paddles their own canoe, like with the industry bill this year. It was dead before it started. The next thing will be a dates fight among the tracks."
Some things never change in Maryland racing. Unfortunately, the makeup of the thoroughbred racing commission has. Jackson's resignation is effective Wednesday.
"Then I can bet," he exclaimed. "I haven't bet in 19 years. When I first came on the board, there was a hearing, and the lawyer for the defendant asked if any commissioner had bet on the race in question. If they had, the lawyer said, they should disqualify themselves from the case. I decided, right then and there, old Jackson wasn't going to be placed in the position.
"Besides, I thought it would have been wrong."