The Water Hay Oats Alliance is a grassroots movement made up of like-minded individuals.  All WHOA members are invited to share their thoughts here


  • Michelle Buckley
    Horse Industry Professional

    Dear WHOA,

    Like they say in politics: It's the the economy stupid.

    In horse racing, it seems no one is aware of the tapping of the joints. Sometimes its done by vets- sometimes by trainers. They go back into the joint with alcohol, which is absorbs into the body, and doesn't test.

    I have seen big named trainers, let vets, go into joints of two year olds. I have seen them go into knees, ankles and hocks. I witnessed a vet go into the hocks of a two year old, who went on, to miraculously survive on grit and breeding, and win The Belmont, despite the butchery.

    They don't just tap these joint once- they do it over and over. The expensive horses get hyaluronic acid, and the rest get cheaper synthetics, or alcohol. 

    The Vets, like everyone else in this sport, don't care about the animals- just what they will bill the naive owners.

    Between this, trainers using Rat Poison at Hollywood Park, and the jockeys using 9 volt batteries- Good Luck trying to clean up this Mess.

    The trainers duck in and out of stalls after morning training hours, or hide the needles under the water bucket in the stall.

    Hollywood Park is soon to be a football stadium. If something isn’t done, this sport is due for the scrap heap.

  • Malcomb Lindy
    Horseman

    I grew up in a racing family. My father, Dr Harry W Lindy was a founding member of the HBPA. He authored the first contract representing the HBPA with track management regarding purse distribution in 1954 at Hazel Park. He subsequently shut down race tracks throughout the country until an agreement could be reached. The only hold out was Ellis Park finally signing in the mid sixties. 


    The last horse he ran before he died was Ohio bred Buckabye who won the Governors Buckeye Cup twice. I retired him and rode him everyday thru the Santa Monica hills until his death at age 33 in 2015.


    My last job on the racetrack was working for Charlie Whittingham. Working for Charlie was the only entry on my bucket list. Charlie trained by the feed tub. My father and Charlie were about a month apart in age and had the same philosophy in there approach to training horses. "If you don't wait, they'll make you wait".


    The time has come to gather the WHOA forces and shut down horse racing until an emergency act of congress is enacted. The Governor of California is on board. The Jockey Club is on board. Mr Stronach is on board. When a horse is allowed to compete and win the triple crown after a covered up positive with ownership conflict of interest with the governing body, enough is enough.


    Stop admitting juice trainers to the racing hall of fame and give racing back to the real horsemen.
    Best Regards,
    Malcolm Lindy

  • Jil Stathis
    Karma Racing

    My name is Jil Stathis and I am the managing partner of Karma Racing. We are owner/breeders and I am seeking to obtain my trainer's license in California.

    I am interested in becoming a member of WHOA because I watch the beauty of these animals every day in their natural state and I firmly believe that there is a way to enjoy their athleticism without adding unnecessary and harmful chemicals to their feed and injecting more medications than absolutely needed. I am owner/breeder and am learning to be a trainer. However, I refuse to use unnatural means of allowing a horse to develop. It is clear to me that we have a problem in the US when Lasix has to be used for all horses, because no one wants to take the EIPH horses(possibly top priced) out of competition or out of the breeding shed, while virtually guaranteeing other horses without the issue would have to use Lasix to ensure an even playing ground. The only even playing ground is to race horses WITHOUT unnecessary medications, steroids or other non-natural supplements. I look forward to meeting with other like-minded people in the racing world. I only hope I can actually see it here in the US where my horses have the opportunity to compete.

     

  • Susan Arrington
    USHRAA

    At the Crossroads of Change.  
    Due to recent events at Santa Anita which have led to the deliberation of whether or not horse racing is inherently safe and/or humane by the public, track owners, and several States, we need to first decide to respond across the industry. Then in a sense of responsibility, we can determine what would increase safety and welfare at a sufficient scope to endure.

    Complacency and indecision in addressing the issues that are now in the media daily are not a desirable option. Unless we can come together to gain consensus to end the faction that degrades the sport, which is doping, we may not prevail. Inaction is something that Congress is well-known for in a very negative light, not horsemen. It is merely a matter of time until public opinion overrides our apparent avoidance to make the appropriate changes.

    Neutrality has now also run its course and is no longer a viable stand. It disregards the critical nature of the objections to what is currently being done and therefore, endorses and continues doping. This year is without a doubt not one to skirt the issues.

    The horse racing organizations may be forced to compile a list of offenders that engage in horse doping to separate bad players from the sport.  

    We could decide to back the Horse Racing Integrity Act this year as an effective solution or we could do nothing. It is certainly our choice.

    The following are excerpts from the Meadowland’s statement May 30, 2019, Meadowlands Media Relations on this topic:

    On medications: It is the intention of The Meadowlands as the flagship track of the Standardbred industry to join that movement and proceed in such a way as to insure the best interests of our equine athletes.

    A proposal to address the use of Lasix as a race day medication at The Meadowlands has been submitted to the New Jersey Racing Commission.

    The submitted proposal states that beginning in 2020, no 2-year-old Standardbred will be permitted to use Lasix when racing at The Meadowlands. Further, in 2021 the track’s signature stakes race, The Meadowlands Pace, will become Lasix free. It is noteworthy that the marquee stake in all of Standardbred racing, the Hambletonian at The Meadowlands, has not permitted the use of Lasix throughout its 93-year history.

    In discussion with several Standardbred trainers, the consensus was that 2-year-old horses should not race with Lasix and should instead be given time away from the track to recover if they are indeed diagnosed with exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). Over the entire 2018 season at The Meadowlands, only seven 2-year-olds raced with Lasix.

    At the end of the 2021 racing season we will review these changes, consider any revisions to the practice in Thoroughbred racing and adjust as necessary.

     

     

  • Jerry Carton
    Racing Fan

         My favorite sport, the one I've been most passionate about as long as I can remember,  the one which I always write I quite literally grew up around on backstretches of racetracks, that sport, may be at a crossroads because perception becomes reality and the perception out there isn't good. Not in the wake of 21 equine deaths in 10 weeks at Santa Anita, California's premier track.  Not in the wake of Santa Anita having shut down while officials try to figure out what's gone wrong since these fatalities occurred on both the main dirt track and the grass course.  The perception out there , the instinctive perception is these happened because horses are mistreated and/or they should not be asked to run.
           It's a wildly incorrect perception but there it is.  You want the truth? The truth is this. I've known plenty of racehorses who are treated better and live significantly better than plenty of humans.  As for a desire to run?  Forget the track for a moment. Go to a thoroughbred farm and watch the babies.  T-breds absolutely are, with apologies to the Boss, born  to run.  Indisputably.   Granted, this is coming from someone whose first song at his wedding was Dan Fogelberg's 'Run for the Roses'.  Yes, I'm biased, but that doesn't change the truth.
          It's true some horses shouldn't be running. There are people in the horse business who shouldn't be allowed within 100 miles of a horse, people who along with their 'chemists' should be ruled off forever.  The trainer who won the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness is living a well-deserved lifetime ban.  And yes, horses break down and perish.  Often we have no idea exactly what caused the catastrophe or at least we don't know if there was an underlying cause and whether that underlying cause might have been preventable. There's so much we don't know.
         Here's what we do know.  Here's what  can't be challenged. Horses run more sparingly than they used to. Part of this is due to the economics surrounding the big names but this extends far beyond the stars.   Field sizes on a normal Thursday afternoon even at the big tracks in New York and California are smaller than ever. Horses don't seem to be as sturdy as they were a couple decades ago.  Some argue this is because the medications, yes, the legal ones, have over time created genetic fissures. Bute and Lasix didn't become legal until the 1970's.  I'm not a veterinarian , I don't know.  But I think maybe it's time to try something radical.
         Maybe it's time to go back to hay, oats, and water.  No race day  medication.  If your horse isn't sound enough to get the okay from the vet on race day then so be it. We always talk about how the welfare of the animal is more important than anything else and for the overwhelming majority of people in the business, that is without question the case.  It's possible , maybe probable , that one of the impacts of Bute and Lasix is how effectively they mask soreness or other ailments.  Without them, smart people might see a horse's gait is off or might see other telltale signs of trouble.  I know the counterargument will go something like - 'well, if we return to "hay, oats and water", field sizes will drop even more' and maybe that 's exactly what  will happen.  But  maybe not. Maybe the opposite will happen. Maybe we'll have healthier horses.  Maybe horses will go off to stud and produce stronger, more durable offspring.  Maybe we can catch problems before they become serious.  I have no idea what the ramifications would be if we eliminate even Bute and Lasix but I think we are at a point where we need to find out.
          The perception that racing is a cruel, inhumane sport cannot be allowed to flourish.  Those of us who grew up in it know it's the greatest sport in the world.  You can't really bond with Tom Brady but you can with a doe-eyed young filly or a strapping chestnut colt whose athleticism can stir your soul. Let me tell you two quick stories.
          At 6 a.m. on a dank, cool Mother's Day in 1973, some 6,000 people showed up at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore to watch a horse stretch his legs and gallop through the mist.  6 a.m. Mother's Day. But 6,000 people made their way simply to watch Secretariat gallop.  Fast forward to a steamy Friday morning in August of 2015 at roughly the same hour.   That morning, about 15,000 people turned out at  old Saratoga to watch another horse stretch his legs.  That horse was American Pharoah, the first to have swept the Triple Crown in 37 years.  People , you see are drawn to horses.  Horses touch us in ways other athletes never can.  We've got an obligation to do all we can to guarantee their safety and as well the safety of the men and women who sit atop them. Changing the medication rules might not be the only solution to disasters like the one which has unfolded at Santa Anita this winter but it can't hurt either.  

  • Kathleen Price
    WHOA Member

    Drugs are a huge problem in our industry and most trainers do not believe they can win without them, so this is going to be an interesting battle. I believe in good food and not the abusive training that is being done in the US, look to Britain for direction on this.   
     

  • David Powell
    Thoroughbred Owner and Breeder

    The problem with the Santa Anita track surface has been a catalyst for several issues related to safety and well being, both for horses and riders. However, I feel some common sense has to prevail, and not only the Santa Anita management, but some industry leaders overall, are mixing all these matters into one bag, and getting their signals crossed : the fatalities on that track, or any other, are nearly always directly related to horses travelling at speed without feeling the pain barrier, with no other factor as often involved. As the white paper has so aptly stated, "the only way (horses) can tell us if something is wrong is by reacting to a symptom. If that symptom is suppressed, the results can be devastating." As Dr Jeff Burk pointed out to me, this includes the attenuation of clinical symptoms, such as swelling or heat.

    I'd just like to recall a few points :

    1. As various leaders in Britain, and notably Paul Bittar, have pointed out, it is a waste of time to attempt placating people who are against racing "on principle" because horses should be left to graze peacefully all their lives, and that even riding them is a form of abuse. Some will even maintain that domestication of animals is a form of species bias.... (just witness Guillermo's comments at the CHRB meeting, that nobody should be earning money out of animals, which is basically a condemnation of all livestock farming .... has she ever realized that this would actually lead to the extinction of all domestic breeds ?)
    They will never approve, and in fact they don't even care - once they have vented their self righteous one-upmanship on us, the next day they will be airing their indignation on some other target of the social networks.

    2. Use of the whip is another issue entirely, and we all agree that its misuse on a tiring horse is an unpleasant, if not disgusting, sight. That's a matter of teaching apprentices, and giving the appropriate orders. However, any horseman knows that the mere fact of carrying a whip can sufficiently influence a rowdy colt's behaviour to avoid using it. Unfortunately, the main concern seems to be with the public's perception of its use, and the shorter, softer "crops" miss the point completely, because most people don't know the difference : a raised arm means the horse is being struck, therefore abused, and I don't think many can understand what a tap of encouragement means. (Nobody seems to object, by the way, to the use of electric prods on cattle ...)
    One could restrict its use to slaps down the shoulder, with both hands on the reins, but again will that suffice to placate the trolls ? Those aren't our public, anyway... (note : for similar humanitarian reasons, we are actively promoting the reconversion of retired racehorses, and there is also the long term risk of eliminating from the breed the calmer, more idle horses, who "run from the whip" with subsequently more difficulty in reconverting racehorses into pleasure horses, where a vast number of amateurs need quiet animals to ride ...)

    3. Lasix is detrimental to the breed, but let's not confuse the reasons : the principal harm comes from its massive and systematic use, which has led to producing an ever increasing number of bleeders who require it, rather than from the harm it may or not cause to any individual animal. Lots of people with heart problems live on lasix. 
    Human medical research has now demonstrated how deleterious the excessive use of omeprazol can be, and nobody is denouncing gastrogard.  It is a genetic issue, not a health one.  
    Before banning lasix, you will need to re-adapt the breed to the rule, which can be done in a few generations, but I feel is a necessary stage, and I am a bit dubious about the Jockey Club's statement that only 10 % of American horses suffer from EIPH, it would be an evolutionary anomaly if it were that low. I have also wondered if a dehydrated horse really does have an advantage, other than if he is a bleeder - personally I don't enjoy being dehydrated ! On the other hand, it certainly makes it more difficult to recover from a race.   
    The simple, fair and efficient way, is to have only medication free black type races.  The market and racing are so intertwined nowadays, that this would be a true incentive for any track to ban lasix in order to keep their black type, rather than a constraint, and it would be a strong motive for the breeders to plan their matings accordingly.  Otherwise, as the breed in the U.S. stands, the owners (and consequently the trainers) will just move their horses out of California, where lasix is allowed, if there is no nation-wide agreement.  
    There is no such animal as a horse who cannot race without lasix : he just won't run as well, and may be a claimer instead of a stakes horse - but that proves the point about the black type, doesn't it ?  On the other hand, there are horses who cannot race - or even breeze - without bute, and those should not be racing, or even working fast.

    4. Nobody in Europe does tildren on young stock any more, so that is not news. The possibility of testing at the sales makes sense, to prevent any misguided use. However, it is not that simple :
    a. it is a bit awkward to put the onus of asking for the test on the purchaser : it's a small world, we all know each other, and the request could well be perceived as injurious to the vendor 
    b. we all appreciate that testing all the sales horses could be costly 
    c. another approach could be to give each consignor the option of testing his own, with the result on repository, along with x rays, scope, etc. If a sales horse had required local tildren in its joints as a foal or yearling, there could be a veterinary certificate, because there is not much wrong with that, or for example using shock waves on a weanling.

    If shock waves or tildren were as analgesic as bute, we'd all know about it .... there is also a major distinction between banning pre-race shock waves on a limb - which is logical - or on a horse's back or shoulders, where the comfort this provides can actually contribute to his and the rider's safety. Some people in New York are now militating to ban all forms of physiotherapy on racehorses .... these techniques were precisely developed to reduce the amount of medication required. .. 

    The real issue which the breakdowns has raised is of horses travelling at speed without feeling nature's warning signal of pain. Lasix, tildren, or shock waves won't do that : bute & banamine will, and when used in this way it is dangerous for both horse and rider. I am bemused by the Jockeys' Guild issuing a protest about the use of tildren, and their silence concerning phenybutazone, when I frequently wonder how many riders have been killed or maimed because the horse who crashed wasn't feeling the pain - and am mystified why there have not been any lawsuits against horses' connections.   

    The Jockey Club denounces the use of phenylbutazone and banamine pre race, and we must all agree. Their description of some of the state labs is devastating (the method of testing the labs is downright "keystone cops" material). To Europeans, where we sanction even infinitesimal, insignificant residues of therapies, these shortcomings appear a bit shocking, if they are true. On the other hand, the accusation of inadequate testing because a state is not returning enough positives is debatable - it could just be that their system is working well enough to be dissuasive. In France recently, a disgruntled bettors' group accused even the extremely punctilious French lab of "not finding enough positives," assuming there "had to be more than that". Out-of-competition testing is the only way to find EPO or most anabolic steroids because they will be eliminated by race day, and so is an obvious must, but should be restricted to those.   

    I found the Jockey Club's disparagement of the veterinary profession ungracious, unnecessary and unfair. A practioner is not a moralist, and having worked with a number of vets over the years, I have found they much more often try to save us money, than spend more of it.   

    Which leads to the list of measures the "white paper" advocates, and this Orwellian scenario would amount to a proper "big brother" situation : thankfully, it is not about to happen, but let us stay within the bounds of reason.
    We cannot subject the 99.99 % of honest professionals to a police state, because of a few cheats. We all know how much abuse a little power in the wrong hands can lead to. And in fact the financial effort should be concentrated on keeping up with those who are constantly, as the white paper says, one step ahead of the law.  

    Tildren, shock waves, lasix, the whip, all are worth some thought, but let's not let the main and immediate issue raised by the 23 deaths at Santa Anita, get lost in an uproar about animal welfare.  

    Racehorses get the best care of any domesticated animal, we should be proud of that.  

    And not let the public forget it, either.


     

  • Janet delcastillo
    Trainer, Author, BACKYARD RACE HORSE

    Having been in racing for the last 35 years, I have seen the change in this industry. I used to be able to buy two year olds in training and turn them out for month and then continue training. In the last few years when I have purchased them, I have had to wait as long as six months before I can continue training as they turn out to have problems that would become major if I "treated" them with anti inflammatories and joint injections to get the illusion of soundness.


    This happens to many of the two year old purchases. The legal meds can keep them going but eventually the "medical therapeutic support" catches up with them.  With that in mind I went to the yearling sales, thinking I might have more luck even though it means more than a year of carrying and feeding before beginning training. I had a little more luck but one filly, from a large breeding farm, even after time to grow, would have problems being trained. I had a very knowledgeable vet check her and she said that the filly had ovaries that were the size of walnuts and very hard. She surmised that the filly had been given anabolic steroids to grow for the yearling sale. (Did you know that there is a pellet given to cattle when weaned to have them grow faster it has been used to push the growth of young horses also.)  I had the filly monitored and when the ovaries were soft and normal sized, a year later, she then became trainable. The point of this is to remind owners that the "therapeutic" meds given along the way in the training, do build up and the ultimate result is breakdown. While I understand the plight of trainers with owners wanting quick results, what has happened is a complete ruination of our business.


    We are looked upon as evil as we "run the horses to break down and death." There are many caring and competent trainers out there but it is hard to win playing by the rules. In the old days a good horse could run for years. Now it is get in, run a few times, and on to the next horse.
    I am unable to see these animals as "disposable" and strive to find them another life after racing. There is hope, that as we control the medication issues, perhaps following the guidelines in other countries and eliminate the cheaters, racing will survive. Right now the bill would help with the testing of the horses and put teeth into the punishment of those cheating.


    It is a long way to go but if we don't change the ways of racing, it will cease to be. It is really easy to train without drugs, you just train when horse is sound and give time for minor problems when he is not right. You can't know how your horse feels if he is constantly on medications. The majority of the anti inflammatories will cause other problems such as ulcers, etc 

    Owners! Read your Vet bills; ask your trainer why a horse needs tons of medicines in order to run. You pay the bills. You can learn cause and effect of what goes on.

  • Jason Reed
    horseman

    As a diabetic, I test my blood a few times a day. I was reading up on natural blood thinners and found that Celery does this. I bought some bulk Celery seed and sprinkled about 1,000mg on my salad. After two days of this, my blood was noticeably thinner. Instead of a dark bubble, I had a lighter colored pool. Lasix thins the blood to stop bleeding. Can someone experiment on the race horse to see if this is a viable substitute? I'm 99% sure it is. Know that it isn't instant. It may take 2-3 days of consumption. 
     

  • David Juffet
    ex yearling scout

     Jason Read is a humble man. He's worked around horses for many years and his opinion must be respected. Glad he joined our alliance.

  • Jason Reed
    professional scout w/42 yrs. experience

    What's eating away at the thoroughbred industry?   Licensing! We license some of the worst people possible. They have no desire to become horsemen. They know very little about the horse and how to train one. Read the form. It's all right there. 

    The test is ridiculous when you think about what is at stake. Horsemen are becoming a thing of the past. Any of us probably can point to less than a dozen. So very few trainers know that when horses reach 5 years old, they go through a mental change. They become adults, if you will. How many times have you seen an older horse get a freshening and expected to need one, romp with top speed numbers? Only to be run back in 21-28 days and watch the numbers digress, race after race. Now, the horse is mentally ruined because he told his trainer, the only way he knows how to communicate and got ignored. Now he starts a pattern of cheating. He gave up. Why? Because his trainer has no desire to become a horseman.


    The fix: Anyone applying for a trainers license must take a horsemanship course, designed to teach about speed horses and stayers and the vast difference in training. Training the horses mind. Knowing how to get a horse ready for 2 turns without it being a big surprise. A course that also sets them on a path to horsemanship. I mark really nice horses to stable mail and watch 80% of them go right down hill due to shear ignorance. I'm SICK of it. Back in 1972, I remember full fields, all day. I also remember no shortage of true horsemen. As they died off, they left us with pretenders. They inturn turned out more pretenders. It's time to stop this destructive snowball and teach trainers how to train. Make testing far more intensive. Employ real horsemen to put together a course that works.

  • Holly Hoffman, Good Cheer Stable LLC

    The druggers don't have a high level of horsemanship because they have abandoned it under a pile of drugs.  WHOA members, give your drug-free horses the extra care and horsemanship to be champions for the cause of getting other horses off drugs by winning against every single drugged horse they meet! 
     

  • Rob Henie, East Coast Handicapping Report and West Coast Handicapping Report

    My name is Rob Henie. I write both the ECHR (East Coast Handicapping Report) and WCHR (West Coast Handicapping Report), both very popular reports for winners with solid information. I try to provide transparency with regard to "super feed" trainers, those of which are not on a level playing field with others. Understanding who these "characters" are, and calling them out, is so important I believe. These are barns ruining our sport, yet, are so easy to spot, instantly improving runners upon a claim, sending out horses who "re-break" at the top of the lane, suddenly finding a miraculous extra gear, spotting their horses so brazenly.

    Let's make a concerted effort to clean up the sport we love so much! I invite you to check out our handicapping reports, email for a free report today.....WESTcoasthorseracing.com and EASTcoasthorseracing.com.......

  • Hal Handel, former Executive Director NJ Racing Commission and Racing Executive in NJ, PA and NY

    The ongoing saga of Pennsylvania regulators and trainer Ramon Preciado simply and eloquently underscores the compelling need for uniform standards and a firm hand at the wheel to avoid sideshows eroding the public's confidence and interest in our sport

  • Carol Ahearn, Rebah Farm

    We must, as an industry, adopt a drug free racing stance.  Our continuing use of medication in our horses not only compromises their safety and the safety of our jockeys, it compromises our pedigrees long term and leaves our industry with no integrity whatsoever.  There is no more important goal for insuring the long term success of our sport than to assure our patrons that we run a sport that is above board and that we value our horses and want to assure what's best for their long term safety and welfare.
     

  • Patrick Sheperd, Run Aweigh Stable

    My wife lost her great grey jumper in a pasture accident. She looked for a year for a replacement. Since she had always bred her own horses, one at a time from her 2 horse brood mare band, and stayed  with them until they found a home after their competitive careers were over. The horse she found was running at a race track and she claimed him, another first. The horse was under the care of a trainer, we subsequently learned, had lost his license for multiple drug violations. The withdrawal period for the animal was slow and frustrating but with an excellent horseman, as his trainer, and plenty of hay and grain he became a willing athlete. He became a steeplechase horse which requires stamina and courage over miles of turf. He has been entered twice this spring and won his maiden race and an allowance race and we look forward to the rest of this fine animals drug free racing. At the premier race in Virginia this spring over 50 horses competed, all but 13 on Lasix, but the good news was winners in 2 of the races ran without drugs so progress is being made. Many of the non-Lasix horses were horses imported from Europe.

    Having competed in various jurisdictions  and watched over many years as each of these separate organizations attempted to control the influx of drugs and administer the uneven and timid punishments of offenders it has become obvious that it simply is not working. Something must be done before we loose any opportunity to salvage racing as a sport of in this country or to stabilize the loss of the fan base. I believe the bill currently being prepared in Congress is the best last hope.

  • Tod Adamson, Tod Adamson Racing Stable
    Did you read the comments about the two horses that died at the Preakness yesterday? Thousands of derogatory comments about horse racing, as well as questioning the morals of owners and trainers that participate in horse racing. When NBC drops their coverage of the Triple Crown races, that will be the last nail in the coffin. The Jockey Club, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, HBPA,........they can only agree to medication withdrawal timing. Not to the complete elimination of drugs. It's been an out-of-control, downward spiral for a couple of decades. It is hard to believe the race horse industry leadership can't see what is happening.
  • Jeffrey Begg, Windways Farm Limited

    Our industry needs consistent and uniform drug and medication rules. Elimination of race day medication is an essential part of these needed rules. Horsemanship has taken a back seat to veterinary and medication use and abuse. It seems that our sport has taken a wrong turn and it will take drastic measures to get back on track. 

     

  • Garrett Redmond
    Ballycapple Paris, KY

    No other major Thoroughbred racing country permits horses to be given drugs on raceday. We, these United States and Canada, are the only notable exceptions. Many countries have bans on some drugs for a day or longer before raceday.  The anti-medication rules are sternly enforced.  Penalties for breaking the rules are severe and are applied regardless of the identity of the offender.  A ban for life may be imposed. Read more...

  • William Robert Cook, Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. BitlessBridle Inc., Research Veterinarian

    Science, safety and ethics render it essential.

     

  • Marion Seidel, Former Apprentice Jockey, Exercise Rider

    After learning and working in the sport of racing over 15 years in Germany, I moved to the US and experienced the differences between drug free racing and racing and training with all kind of medications or drugs. I left the sport I loved so much after only 3 years of working as exercise rider in Florida.


    The support of so many well known and respected insiders of the sport WHOA is getting now, is literally my last hope to bring about some changes to the industry. Our horses and riders deserve better than risking their lives due to over medication, over work and exploitation of the animals, without whom the sport wouldn't even exist anymore!


    Just let them run drug free and give them time to heal if they are in need of medication due to illness or injury! It would be only of benefit to the whole industry if the US would get in tune with some rules of other countries who are very successful at racing drug free and spend more time on actual training of our great thoroughbred athletes!

  • Bill Reepmeyer, Harness Horse Owner

    I have been an owner of harness race horses for 25 years and love the sport and the horses. The decline in the industry saddens me and I fear may get worse. I believe a significant factor is the use of performance enhancing drugs. It seems that side of the business is increasing and the number of honest trainers and owners is decreasing.. The industry appears incapable of dealing with the issue and state regulation and testing is not equal to the task. If a positive is found penalties are small fines and or short suspensions are imposed which are overcome by merely listing a "beard" trainer and doing business as usual.  People in the industry at all levels know this and who many of the violators are but it has become tolerated as part of a poor culture.

    Horses are being harmed and in my opinion money is being stolen. Remember Michael Vick was sent to prison for participating in dog fighting. Where is the enforcement in horse racing?

  • Craig Minten, Le Beau Cheval TB Partners LLC

    My goal when I got into breeding was to breed the finest thoroughbreds. I didn't look at drugs for an advantage but rather into solid, old bloodlines that produced the strong, athletic and durable horse. As I began racing and searching for trainers I noticed that my vet bills were filled with all sorts of medications. When I asked about this the common response was that they didn't want to find out that they needed it, better safe than sorry. Well I'm not interested in that. 


    I recently opened Le Beau Cheval TB Partners LLC. The purpose for this is to invite people into thoroughbred racing to race clean and win clean. With research, development, proper diet, excellent conditioning and patience I know that we can not only breed a superior, healthy strong thoroughbred but we can win as well and not only win but win for a long time. With the recent addition of Le Beau Cheval Farm where we retrain our athletes for second careers, having a healthy horse with a clear mind is a huge plus. 


    I am very proud of WHOA's efforts and you have our support. We will do our part to breed, train, race and retrain horses the way nature intended and furthermore to prove that a clean athlete can and will outperform the others. We invite others to help fix today so our tomorrow is focused on training athletes with soul, not drugs. We at Le Beau Cheval Partners LLC are committed to breeding, buying, and training the right way that produces a solid, clean foundation to race longer and strong.

  • Sid Gustafson, DVM, Veterinarian, Equine Behaviorist, Educator

    Here is a link to an article I wrote regarding progressive medication reform.
    http://sidgustafson.blogspot.com/2012/04/racehorse-advocacy.html#.U9UYVVZZJbk

     

  • John Koenig, Two Rivers Racing Stable, Owner/Farm Owner

    I think we are at a tipping point. The time for arguing "therapeutic" medications and permissible drugs is over. Regardless of our opinions, the public will never believe running horses on drugs is humane. Further, as we all know, it truly is "chemical warfare" at the racetrack. This has created a crazy arms race that no one can win - expensive in both owners dollars and horses health. At the same time, the industry is dying. This is due to many reasons, but a drug-riddled image is certainly among them. We currently use many legal medications in our stable. Real change would effect us and the way we operate, forcing us to possibly retire or rest horses more frequently. I say good. If outfits like ours are forced to change or disappear because they cannot, so be it. I believe it is the only way racing will survive.

     

  • Tod Adamson, Tod Adamson Racing Stable

    I don’t understand why race track stewards can’t draw up a race card so only “clean” horses run in a specific race. I think you will see more trainers willing to enter horses in these kinds of races since the playing field is even. It is a small step but a good one IMO.

    No, I do not support the HPBA on their position on Lasix administration to race horses. Administration of any kind of drug to a horse for the purpose winning a race, is immoral.

     

  • Robert Corey

    The article about Doug ONeill is further testimony to my previous statements concerning the "look the other way" attitude of the racing officials at both harness and thoroughbred tracks. It has gotten way out of hand. I have been a harness racing official for 8 yrs and trained and drove for 40+ yrs, it disgusts me to see my peers take this attitude, they blame the commission for not backing them , I am not working full time, they are ! 

    Our racing regulatory system needs revamping NOW. We are in such a rapid demise , if something is not done now, Racing will never be what it was! Stewards and Judges must not be intimidated by attorneys and their clients or racetrack management.
    The rules are in place , some need enhanced penalties, but 95% just need to be enforced consistently.

     

  • Gary S. Broad, Oakmont Ranch, Owner

    The battle against pre race drug use, is the moral battle for the soul of racing. LET THEM RACE DRUG FREE.

    I have been a horse owner for about 9 years and a fan of racing for about 40. When I became involved with owning horses I just thought that you buy a horse and then turn it over to a trainer and then enjoy watching your horse either workout in the morning or race in the afternoon. Now 9 years later, I have learned that acceptable levels of 27 drugs, that injecting joints, both knees and ankles is not just accepted, but part of a trainers program. I thought about getting out of this dirty drug infested sport. I have come to the conclusion that if you really want to make a change in this sport that it has to come from within the sport.

    Owners of the horses and the horse playing public are the lifeblood of this sport, what would happen if all concerned WHOA owners pulled there horses from competition? A national strike for a week or a month, maybe track owners may take owners seriously for a change. Right now the inmates (trainers) are running this asylum. It is insane to give horses drugs prior to a race, it endangers the lives of both jockey and horse. Why are we putting up with this? Why are we accepting our horses being abused by drugs? I don't know about any other owners but I care about the well being of my horses, I am responsible for their well being. I have found that most horse owners also have dogs, would you give your dogs thyroid medications that they don't need? How about bute or lasix? If you really care about your horse, tell your trainer NO DRUGS for racing, drugs are for recovering. 

     

  • Andrew Kessler, Slingshot Solutions LLC, Substance Abuse Expert

    As an advocate working in Washington, D.C. on the subject of substance abuse treatment and prevention, I see every day the damage that drugs can do to a life, to a family, and to a business. As a lifelong racing fan, I am witnessing a collision of my professional expertise and one of my greatest passions. While the policy I work on pertains to human health, I have developed an expertise on what damage unregulated drugs can to do a body. Whether we are human or equine, we deserve to live a life that is free from the destruction caused by illegal drugs, or even legal drugs administered in unsafe dosages.

    Substance abuse does not damage only those who ingest drugs and narcotics. Amongst people, drug use causes severe economic damage, stemming from increased health care costs, lost economic productivity, and a plethora of other problems. The difference between humans and equines in this regard is negligible. Drugging of horses leads not only to bodily damage, but to economic damage as well, in the form of increased medical costs, and shortened careers.

    Nothing should be more paramount to the Sport of Kings than the safety of its participants. Every other sport- football, hockey, baseball, etc- are taking part in a movement to place participant safety at a level never before seen. Thoroughbred racing must join in this movement.

     

 


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