Dr. Andy Roberts, a long-time racetrack veterinarian in Kentucky, believes testing horses for illegal drugs outside of a race can be an important step in getting rule-breakers out of the game. However, he does not want to see horsemen asked for a muscle biopsy, hoof trimming or even a semen sample from a young colt in training.......
Bruce Doupe is a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who has spent the last five of his 13 years at the FBI's Harrisburg, Pa., office investigating what he calls ”allegations of criminal wrongdoing in the conduct of Thoroughbred racing at Penn National Race Course.”
Firstly, Bramlage said the sport needs to eliminate race-day furosemide – not because it doesn't work or he has serious concerns about its use but because the ship has sailed on convincing the public it is safe and necessary ...
Secondly, Bramlage encouraged attendees to support the Barr-Tonko bill creating uniform oversight for the sport ...
Lastly, Bramlage said veterinarians and the racing industry need to get better at communicating with the public about improvements in welfare policy ...
Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, submitted the following as a rebuttal to a recent two-part series in the Paulick Report, written by former Indiana Horse Racing Commission executive director Joe Gorajec. Those articles, dealing with what Gorajec referred to as a “culture of cheating,” can be read in WHOA press.
USADA headquarters is located in an office complex in the town of Colorado Springs at the edge of the Rocky Mountains. The men and women who work here are considered the most tenacious doping investigators in the world. In recent years, the agency has uncovered the doping practices of some of the biggest names in sports, including cyclist Lance Armstrong and the world-class sprinters Tyson Gay and Marion Jones.
Polling of U.S. horse racing bettors has repeatedly demonstrated that drugs and integrity issues are two of the top three issues facing the sport, and 92 percent of them say they want to see uniform medication policies implemented faster than they are being adopted now.
We all know the problem. But what is the best solution?
The members of the Coalition for Horseracing Integrity believe we need a systematic change in the way Thoroughbred racing is regulated.
We need better and more uniform rules.
We need harsher penalties for integrity-related violations.
And we need improved drug testing, including much more out-of-competition testing and more robust investigations.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko wants to ban doping of race horses.
The congressman is proposing an anti-doping bill that penalizes breeders, owners and trainers who feed or inject their horses with performance- enhancing drugs. Co-sponsored with Republican Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky, the bill would also standardize rules, which currently vary state-to-state.
"There is concern that the equine athlete is not abused," said Tonko, D-Amsterdam. "Doping is disturbing. We want to make sure it doesn't happen."
Tonko went onto say that unlike human athletes, equine athletes don't have a choice or an opportunity to say no.
Animal welfare groups, industry officials and political leaders are renewing their calls for stricter federal oversight of thoroughbred horse racing, after a series of reports by the News4 I-Team.
Supporters of two different pieces of legislation have cited the I-Team’s findings in championing their proposals for change.
The I-Team investigation in August revealed at least 160 horse deaths at the Charles Town Races track in West Virginia since 2014. Though the rate of horse deaths at Charles Town is nearly average the rate of thoroughbred breakdowns nationwide, the investigation also detailed dozens of positive drug tests by horses at Charles Town and an ongoing dispute over the positioning of race stewards at the track by the West Virginia Racing Commission.
The Paulick Received the following Letter to the Editor from the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, whose members include national and local organizations representing breeders, owners, sale consignors, racetracks and veterinarians
An investigative piece by the Paulick Report Monday detailed Vitali’s voluntary relinquishing of his Florida training license earlier this year to avoid sanctions for multiple medication violations, an aborted attempt to relocate his racing operation to Maryland, and a complaint about alleged animal cruelty involving a claimed Thoroughbred that was closed by Florida authorities because of “insufficient proof.”
According to that article, dating to 2011, Vitali has had 23 equine medication violations in Florida alone. The piece also reported that under the terms of a July 1 “settlement agreement,” Vitali is currently sitting out a 120-day license suspension from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering and has been assessed a $7,000 fine.
Trainer Marcus Vitali, currently serving a 120-day suspension for multiple medication violations in Florida, has been told by officials with The Stronach Group – owners of Gulfstream Park in Florida, Laurel Park and Pimlico in Maryland and Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields in California – that they will not take entries from him in the future and asked Vitali to leave the Gulfstream Park property.
Trainer Allan Hunter, in whose name Vitali's horses have been running over the last two months, has also been told his entries will not be accepted by Stronach Group tracks. Hunter has been given 10 days to remove all of the horses currently under his care from Gulfstream Park. Hunter has one former Vitali horse entered on Friday's Gulfstream Park program that will be allowed to run, according to Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group's racing division.
One of the familiar themes at the Jockey Club's 64th annual Round Table Conference held Aug. 14 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. was the usefulness of an out-of-competition drug testing program (OOCT) in horse racing. Jeff Novitzky, vice president of athlete health and performance for Ultimate Fighting Championship, pointed out the importance of OOCT to anti-doping efforts at the UFC and for Olympic athletes. One thing that wasn't presented was a comparison of how horse racing is doing with OOCT.
Out-of-competition testing was once heralded as the future of horse racing regulation — and critical to making and keeping the sport cleaner. Ten years in, it isn't catching on with much urgency.
Horse racing may not appear to have much, if anything, in common with mixed martial arts. Still, an official with that sport’s most prominent league will attempt to lay out its common ground with racing on Sunday as a guest of The Jockey Club at its Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in Saratoga Springs.
Jeff Novitzky, the vice president of athlete health and performance for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is scheduled to speak just prior to the Round Table’s keynote speaker, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Novitzky’s placement near the end of the program telegraphs The Jockey Club’s estimation of his message, which will focus on the UFC’s recent hiring of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to design and enforce the sport’s drug-testing program.
The need for consensus among major stakeholders in horse racing in regard to drug testing and enforcement of penalties again was a major theme during The Jockey Club Round Table Conference held Aug. 14 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
There were, as expected, endorsements for the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015, which would grant the United States Anti-Doping Agency authority over a uniform equine medication and testing program. But there also were subtle suggestions the industry could, if it bridges a rather large divide, accomplish its objective perhaps without help from Congress.
The exchange of ideas was a central theme at The Jockey Club's 64th annual Round Table Conference, which took place at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. on Sunday morning. Two of the speakers on the schedule brought inspiration for improvement to American racing from other businesses: Jeff Novitzky, vice president of athlete health and performance for Ultimate Fighting Championship (better known as UFC, the leading mixed martial arts organization), spoke about anti-doping, while Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, spoke about customer service and integrity.
Though many other issues were discussed Sunday morning, the principal theme of The Jockey Club’s 64th annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing was medication reform in the United States.
Last week, this space discussed and theorised about the potential impact of drugs that seek to enhance the peak performance levels of racehorses. Unsurprisingly, the piece generated quite a bit of comment given just how hot a topic performance-enhancing drugs in sport is right now. However, while drugs such as anabolic steroids and cobalt chloride that bid to enhance peak performance levels are the ones that many people fear the most, horse racing arguably has far bigger problems with another medication-related issue, that of an over-reliance on and abuse of therapeutic medications.
The issue of drugs in sport has never been bigger than it is now. There have been so many performance-enhancing drug scandals in recent years that it has bred a culture of scepticism of sporting success amongst the public. Brilliant performances are immediately questioned as being too good to be true, with the trainers/coaches that oversee the success of athletes often coming under as much suspicion as the athletes themselves.
Horse racing has not escaped such scrutiny, with both legal and illegal drugs being a constant subject of controversy and debate. Around the major racing nations of the world there have been steroid scandals and cobalt controversies, not to mention ongoing entrenched debates about what the medication rules should allow on a day-to-day basis. This, combined with the omnipresence of drug scandals in the wider world of sport, has led many to have a heightened scepticism about just how level the playing field is in the high-stakes world of horse racing.
“In the rest of the world, horse racing is more of a sport. In the U.S., it’s got a little bit of a business aspect to it,” said Rick Arthur, the equine medical director at the California Racing Board. “Horse racing needs to become drug-free, and when I talk about drug-free, I’m talking about international standard. I think we need to do that to be able to convince the public that the horse is our primary interest. I think that’s absolutely imperative for horse racing to succeed in a very changing environment.”
On June 22, 2016, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) chief executive officer Wayne Pacelle announced the formation of its HSUS National Horse Racing Advisory Council. The chairman of the council is Joe De Francis, the former CEO and controlling shareholder of the Maryland Jockey Club.
Pacelle and De Francis recently answered some questions from Blood-Horse about HSUS and the new council.
Colorado Springs — FOR those who love clean sport, discovering the extent of Russia’s state-supported doping program has been a nightmare realized. Russian whistle-blowers have come forward with evidence of shadow laboratories, tampering by state intelligence officers andswapped samples at the Olympics. This is a violation of the very essence of sport and — only months from the Summer Games in Rio — an assault on the fundamental values of the Olympic movement.
The powerful Jockey Club is working with the Humane Society to eliminate the scourge of doping and, in the process, get the fragmented racing industry to play by a single set of rules.
The two groups are supporting federal legislation, the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Anti-Doping Act of 2015, that would put the United States Anti-Doping Agency in charge of monitoring the administration of race-day medication at the track. The organizations hope to put USADA, an independent agency, in a position to police the sport’s deeply rooted doping culture.
Race-day doping is particularly troublesome. It can give horses an advantage, but it can also put already injured horses, who should not be racing, at risk of greater, even catastrophic, injury.
When it comes to achieving true uniformity of medication and drug rules in our sport, we can’t continue to have a patchwork system of regulation. It is time for a change and to me the Barr-Tonko bill is the best option for our sport.
Former Maryland Jockey Club CEO Joseph A. De Francis watches the Triple Crown races with growing anxiety, worried that an overmedicated horse will collapse in front of millions of viewers, sending the industry's already tenuous fortunes tumbling along with it.
Questions about drugs in the sport have "the potential to explode on the industry like a nuclear bomb," said De Francis, 61, who spent 35 years in the business and once was a partner in Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, which will host the Preakness on Saturday.
A year after American Pharoah became the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown, U.S. thoroughbred racing officials have struggled to build on that excitement or agree on whether the sport needs a commissioner to rein in its disparate players.
Saturday's running of the 142nd Kentucky Derby, the most famous race in America and the first in the Triple Crown series of three races, puts horse racing at the center of attention for many sports fans, a place it only rarely occupies.
Some who see dark clouds for the industry advocate placing it under the control of a single person, at least as it comes to drug testing for the horses to crack down on cheating. Others question the need to horse around with a formula that has worked for decades in a $25 billion industry.
Members of the Congressional Horse Caucus held a hearing-style discussion of a bill seeking to restructure the regulation of U.S. racing on Thursday afternoon in Washington, D.C., with supporters vowing to continue to press for adoption of the legislation.
The meeting was put together by Reps. Paul Tonko of New York and Andy Barr of Kentucky, the co-chairs of the Congressional Horse Caucus and the sponsors of the legislation. Five panelists were invited to provide comments about the legislation, with four of the panelists clearly in support of the bill. The fifth, a representative of a national horsemen’s organization, urged legislators to keep the current state-by-state approach to regulation in place.
Members of the Congressional Horse Caucus April 28 discussed the pros and cons of legislation that would grant the United States Anti-Doping Agency oversight of equine medication policy, testing, and enforcement during the first hearing on a bill introduced in the United States House of Representatives last spring.
WASHINGTON–A new day, another hearing, a familiar story. That’s often been the case over these many years as reform-minded politicians have held several hearings to discuss efforts to bring reform to horse racing, particularly in the area of drugs. Thursday’s hearing of the Congressional Horse Caucus, which has been pushing for passage of the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2015, didn’t exactly crack the mold as it failed to accomplish much in the area of breaking new ground.
But it did feature a relatively new player in the debate over federal intervention and drugs and one who came with a powerful message. Joe DeFrancis, the former chief executive of Pimlico and Laurel who is currently advising the Humane Society of the United States, brought his A game to the nation’s capital Thursday. DeFrancis was unwavering and unapologetic when he warned the racing industry that if major changes are not made, the sport could suffer dire consequences.
In his statement, Fravel said, “We should not confuse progress with success and we who profess our commitment to integrity, uniformity and transparency should not be content with any system so long as there is room for major improvement.” He continued, “The system contemplated by H.R. 3084 shrinks 38 rulemaking and enforcement bodies to one. … It creates a system that makes sense, and I want to thank Congressman Barr and Congressman Tonko for their concern for our industry and their support for an effort to make a great sport as good as it can be.”
The public's dwindling confidence in American horse racing's medication policies "has reached a critical state" bordering on an industry "crisis," former Maryland Jockey Club chief executive Joseph A. De Francis told members of Congress Thursday.
Speaking before the Congressional Horse Caucus, De Francis said that the industry has failed "to address on a national level" the issue of abuse and misuse of racehorse medications.
It's time for the Congressional Horse Caucus members to go on a field trip. May I suggest they take a break today from their hard work at the U.S. Capitol and make the short drive up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to spend an afternoon at Laurel Park in Maryland? They can see first-hand how badly the current structure for regulating medication policies in horse racing is broken.
The Thoroughbred racing industry is divided over whether Congress should create a national regulatory body to monitor the use of drugs in racehorses competing in races all the way up to the Kentucky Derby.
“I’d be willing to publicly debate anyone who has the nerve to stand up and take the stance that racing is better with drugs,” racehorse owner and celebrity chef Bobby Flay told lawmakers on Thursday.
Cleaning up racing has been a life-long mission that, ultimately and unfortunately, Dinny Phipps was not able to complete.
His death on Wednesday at the age of 75 is a profound personal loss for his family, friends and associates. His passing is also enormously significant to those of us who want horse racing to overcome the stigma of a game where cheating is often perceived to be as important to winning as superior bloodlines and good training. Though others will carry the torch forward, it is difficult to see how anyone will be as committed to the cause of clean sport as Dinny Phipps has been for decades, both as one of the game's leading owners and breeders and as a fearless industry leader.
Thoroughbred racing has a drug problem and, collectively, we hold the blame, yet we can fix it. I personally do not care about semantics, misinformation, mischaracterizations and hurt feelings. Let me restate: I do not care one bit. I care about horses, horse racing, and the owners who have skin in the game, who put up their money, their hopes, their desires, their time and their dreams.
Jockey Club Executive Vice President and Executive Director Matt Iuliano had the guts to speak out in a recent letter to the editor to the TDN [click here], arguing that those opposed to medication reform base their position on “the bedrock assumption that everything is totally fine in the realm of Thoroughbred medication regulation.” I agree with Iuliano. That assumption is totally false.
Imagine, for a minute, that the rules governing the National Football League were developed the same way as horse racing regulations.
During an annual meeting, personnel from the NFL league office would discuss and approve “model rules” for the game, then team owners around the league would be encouraged – but not required – to adopt them. We might have instant replay to help officiate games in Chicago but not in Green Bay. The Houston Texans may decide they don't want to follow protocol for concussions. The Seattle Seahawks could develop their own definition of pass interference. And the New England Patriots might thumb their nose at the league's “model rule” for inflating footballs.
I read with great interest the comments expressed by the chairman of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission and Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) stalwart, W. Duncan Patterson, at the annual meeting of the Organization of Racing Investigators held recently at Delaware Park (Delaware Regulator Argues USADA in Racing a Mistake, TDN, March 15, 2016).
Mr. Patterson’s comments fall in line with the campaign of misinformation waged against H.R. 3084, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015, by opponents of the bill over the past several months.
“I’m grateful for the members of Congress from both parties who have stepped forward to support the goals of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act,” said Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY). “Achieving this milestone is evidence of the growing support for uniform medication standards which will enhance the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred horseracing in America.”
“I am energized to see this critical, bipartisan legislation approach 25 cosponsors,” said Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), “and I look forward to working with Congressman Barr to push this closer to the finish line.
NYRA, which operates Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga under a lease from the state, is the most prominent racetrack operator to join the effort to support the legislation, which is opposed by most racetracks, horsemen’s groups, and state racing commissions. Last year, the Keeneland Association, which runs two prestigious three-week race meets and conducts North America’s largest Thoroughbred auctions, also endorsed the legislation. Several harness tracks and other minor tracks have announced support for the bill.
On March 10, 2016, in Department 85 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the Honorable James C. Chalfant, Judge presiding, granted Quarter Horse Owner Gustavo De La Torre's petition for a writ of mandate directing the California Horse Racing Board to set aside its approval of the Los Alamitos Race Course “house rule” providing for disqualification of horses resulting from hair testing for albuterol and clenbuterol, both authorized medications in California. Additionally, the court ruled that De La Torre is entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief against both the California Horse Racing Board and Los Alamitos regarding enforcement of the illegal “house rule.”
The Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives appears stalled, without a sponsor and companion bill in the Senate to date, faces constitutionality issues raised by the Congressional Research Service and lacks co-sponsors on the committee with jurisdiction, the lobbyist for the largest coalition of owners and trainers said Saturday.
Eric Hamelback likes to focus on the positive in horse racing. Running his first winter convention as chief executive officer of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the former general manager of Frank Stronach's Adena Springs in Kentucky put together several panels on Thursday's opening day designed to give HBPA members reassurance that the light at the end of the tunnel isn't an oncoming train.
Steve Beshear, the former two-term governor of Kentucky whose run ended in December 2014, said the recent winter storm that dumped about 10 inches of snow in Lexington and twice that much in eastern parts of the state drove home the point he didn't have the same responsibilities.
In the first part of his recent Q&A with Karen M. Johnson, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin talked about his exciting prospects for 2016, especially his Kentucky Derby hope Mohaymen and his star older horse, the Dubai World Cup-bound Frosted. Here, in part two, he looks back on his days training for the Maktoums in Dubai and what he learned there, and he talks about his views on Lasix, coping with multiple sclerosis, and the best horse he has trained - so far.
Kiaran McLaughlin spent 10 years training racehorses for the Maktoum family in Dubai, where horses cannot be given any medications within seven days of a race. The trainer referred to the ability to run horses without Lasix or other race-day medications as “eye-opening” in an interview at thoroughbredracing.com.
The relationship between trainer and veterinarian was among the topics of conversation during a panel yesterday at the 36th Asian Racing Conference that included Australian owner Terry Henderson, who pulled no punches when criticizing what he viewed as his country’s over-reliance on vets. “It concerns me that in Australia, vets seem to have a free hand to treat horses in the stable without daily reference to the trainer,” said Henderson.
Minutes before the kickoff of the 2016 National Football League playoff game between the Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers, an announcer casually reported that Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had a separated shoulder, had been injected with a painkiller so he could play. Imagine the outcry if such an announcement were made during a Kentucky Derby telecast about one of the entries.
The fight against illegal drugs in horse racing may have gotten another boost on Monday, when the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council voted to approve funding for a new kind of drug test. The Council approved a proposal to spend a total of $195,474 over two years (if the first year's research proves successful) to develop an biochemical test for the equine sex-hormone binding globulin. This blood protein attaches itself to androgen and estrogen to help them move through the body of horses, people, and other vertebrates.
Recently, I spoke at a continuing education conference for racing officials. The focus of the presentation was whether our expectations of what the National Uniform Medication Program (NUMP) can do to “fix racing” are realistic.
From my perspective, the progress made towards writing and adopting uniform rules and recommended penalties in the last five years far exceeds that made during the last five decades combined.
Even though a 10% purse bonus for winning races while not running on Lasix failed to yield an increase in the actual number of Lasix-free winners at last year’s meet, Oaklawn Park will continue the program in 2016, the track’s director of racing, David Longinotti, confirmed Wednesday.
The 2014 GI Wood Memorial was approaching and Dr. Russell Cohen not only wanted to win the race with Effinex (Mineshaft)–he wanted to make a statement. Cohen is a veterinarian who practices at the NYRA tracks, is a breeder and manages Tri-Bone Stables for his mother, Bernice, and he’s an outspoken hay, oats and water advocate. He was determined to succeed without any drugs, particularly Lasix, and prove that it could be done.
On the eve of this year’s Breeders’ Cup, Representative Joe Pitts (R-Pa) posted on his website a report put together by the Congressional Research Service — an organization that provides policy and legal analysis to committees and members of both the House and Senate — into the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 (H.R. 3084), which is currently working its way through Washington.
In reading the charges and fines against trainer Steve Asmussen in the Nov. 24 issue of TDN, I was upset to read that the administration of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine, T4, (a thyroid hormone molecule with 4 attached iodine atoms), was being referred to as a thyroid “supplement”. A supplement, in the truthful sense of the word, is/are the building blocks, which when administered to an animal/human allows the body to make its own natural chemicals and structures.
In the second part of Karen M. Johnson’s interview with Mark Casse, the trainer, winner of two Breeders’ Cup races and nearly $13 million in prize money this season, gives his views on one of the most controversial subjects in North American racing today.
The results of a Daily Racing Form survey on medication last month attracted scant attention when published Oct. 26, understandable since entries had just been taken for the Breeders’ Cup races later that week. They are worth another look, however, as they contained a key finding that contradicts a theory that many in the industry have been promoting for years.
On Jan. 27, 2015, six Thoroughbreds went to the post for the second race at Turf Paradise, but only five came back. Four-year-old Time for a J fractured the sesamoids in his left front leg and was euthanized on the track.
Now that the dust of American Pharoah's Classic victory has finally settled, it is time to take a look at the underlying story at this year's Breeders' Cup: the Lasix issue. The seemingly endless debate over the pros and cons of race-day medication was brought into sharp relief at Keeneland with the decision landing decidedly in the cons corner.
Should horse racing regulators be promoters? Not according to former Indiana Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson, who wrote in the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind., that “promoting and regulating are two different functions that at times can be at complete odds with one another.”
Absent a smoking gun that would lead to evidence of unethical behavior on the part of Joe Gorajec, the dismissal of the former executive director of the Indiana Racing Commission sends the wrong message to regional and national participants in horse racing.
Recently, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission unanimously voted to remove its executive director, Joe Gorajec, who had held the position since the commission’s inception. Thomas Weatherwax, the commission’s chairman, told the Indianapolis Business Journal that Gorajec was fired because he was too focused on enforcing regulations and he was not focused enough on marketing and promoting horse racing. In other words, Gorajec was fired for doing his job.
The following commentary was written by Joe Gorajec, who on Saturday was relieved of his job as executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission (IHRC), a position he held for nearly 25 years... Gorajec was advised, in no uncertain terms, that he was not to have the article published.
“The support of Keeneland, my home racetrack and home of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, is a significant sign of momentum for our legislation and further evidence of the broad and growing coalition on our efforts,” said Congressman Barr. “I thank the Keeneland Association and all those who are fighting with us for the future success, integrity, and competitiveness of the thoroughbred industry.”
There's no way to know how many Thoroughbreds would go to the post free of a controversial, but popular, drug until more tracks offer some Lasix-free races. That's why Gov. Steve Beshear should open the door to such races in Kentucky, even though a legislative committee recently turned thumbs down on the proposal from the Racing Commission.
The New York State Gaming Commission Sept. 24 passed several rule amendments related to equine medication, including further restrictions on the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and a total ban on stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.
You Said Yes to US Anti-Doping Agency Oversight in Horse Racing – But Tentatively So... In July, the Horseplayers Association of North America commissioned a survey of its membership, with regards to the Tonko-Barr Bill.
Australian trainer Sam Kavanagh has been banned from the racing industry for nine years and three months for his involvement in 23 offences related to cobalt and race-day medication, according to Racing and Sports.
As someone with longstanding personal and professional commitments to equine health and safety, I found the recent “Where’s the Positive” commentary by Eric Hamelback, the chief executive officer of the National HBPA, in the August 20, 2015, edition of the Thoroughbred Daily News to be disappointingly misleading.
With debates currently raging on the pros and cons of the use of furosemide (commonly called Lasix or Salix), and both camps putting up compelling arguments, the fact that the drug is banned on race days in all racing countries other than the United States and Canada gives rise to the question, how do those trainers cope without it?
The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity recently announced that Centaur Gaming – which owns and operates Indiana-based Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, Indiana Grand Racing & Casino and several off-track betting facilities – has joined as a member.
After American Phaorah’s colors were lowered in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, the sense of shock and awe still bristling the packed grandstand, the Triple Crown winner was led over to the post-race test barn where samples of his blood and urine were taken. These samples were then numbered before being sent to the New York’s Equine Drug Testing Program at Morrisville State College for analysis to ensure that no medications in his system exceeded threshold levels.
Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation today announced that it has launched the funding of two projects aimed at in-depth investigation of the pathophysiology of Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH) and the effect of the medication furosemide on that condition. The American Association of Equine Practitioners’ AAEP Foundation is playing a prominent role in funding the projects, and Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has reached out to racetracks to complete the funding.
Throwing a Hail Mary. Pulling the goalie. Desperate measures are all right, if they are taken in desperate times. Thoroughbred racing has lately added a new one. Taking an intractable problem to Washington so that Congress might fix it.
If House Resolution 3084—the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015—can complete the steeplechase from "bill" into "law," New Year's Day 2017 will ring in a new era for American racing. Whether race-day Lasix will be a part of that brave new world is anybody's guess, and that is putting the knickers of more than a few trainers into an awful twist. Nothing strikes fear into people quite like the unknown.
Beyond the Triple Crown races each spring, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships each fall and the occasional feature film profiling legendary horses like Secretariat or Seabiscuit, the American public has limited mainstream exposure to thoroughbred horse racing.
In fact, recent polling found that while the vast majority of adults in the U.S. called horse racing both exciting and fun to watch, only 14% had a very favorable view of the industry.
This commentary is signed by Craig Fravel, president and CEO of Breeders' Cup Ltd.; Arthur and Staci Hancock, owners of Stone Farm and Water Hay Oats Alliance supporting members; Bill Lear, vice chairman of The Jockey Club; and Chauncey Morris, executive director of Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders.
The opinion piece published Aug. 31, "Barr's drug-testing bill unnecessary for racing," perpetuates various myths about the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act.
It's not the first time that Ed Martin of the Association of Racing Commissioners has stretched the facts rather than constructively engage on the goals of the legislation or the proposed role of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in improving existing regulation of medication use and testing
The United States Anti-Doping Agency assisted the Drug Enforcement Agency in a nationwide series of enforcement actions targeting the global underground trade of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, the DEA said Sept. 1.
The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) today announced its commitment to acquire state-of-the-art testing equipment for the New York Equine Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College.
The leadership of California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT) has voted unanimously to pledge $150,000 from its reserves to initiate and assist in leading a comprehensive race‐day camera surveillance and security program in stable areas at Thoroughbred tracks in California.
Banned for use during race days in most other countries, horsemen, veterinarians and others are starting to ask if the drug, should be disallowed in the U.S. due to questions about its efficacy and long-term safety.
The Louisiana State Racing Commission Aug. 24 adopted the Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule of 26 commonly used substances. Under the schedule only the anti-bleeding drug furosemide, also called Lasix or Salix, is permitted on race day.
In major industry forums supporters of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 (THIA) methodically laid out our case. In response, detractors are now throwing far-fetched arguments against the wall to see what sticks.
In a recent column for the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, former New York Racing Association president Charles Hayward voices his support for U.S. racing to have an independent agency in charge of handling medication policies and enforcement.
At its meeting held Thursday at Del Mar, the California Horse Racing Board postponed making any decision on third-party administration of Lasix, or furosemide, instead deciding to send the proposal back to committe for further review.
From micro-dosing to the latest drug that circumvents WADA testing the athletes are in the ascendancy according to the experts in the field, who concede: ‘Drug testing has a public reputation that far exceeds its capabilities’
A rule to require third-party administration of furosemide (Lasix), which has been debated and tweaked in various forms by the California Horse Racing Board since 2012, was picked apart and batted back and forth for 90 minutes Thursday at the board’s monthly meeting before finally being remanded back to the Medication and Track Safety Committee for further clarification.
Recently, I reconnected with a good friend over lunch. He too works in the Thoroughbred racing industry and has been a very high-profile executive. During our meeting we spoke openly about issues challenging our industry and asked ourselves, what areas are our positives? I am very happy to say the positives were plentiful and, while there are negatives, none of them seemed insurmountable.
Every racetrack executive, owner, bettor, trainer, breeder, jockey and industry participant should inform themselves and support this important federal legislation giving USADA the control of the U.S. equine medication rules, drug testing, research and enforcement policies.
Legislation proposed by U.S. Reps. Andy Barr of Kentucky and Paul Tonko of New York is appealing to me. The main thrust of the new bill is to appoint the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) to oversee drug policy in American Thoroughbred horse racing.
Horse racing has been wrestling with the question of how to handle anti-doping regulation for what seems like ages. That's why today, many of us at the forefront of the sport have come to the conclusion that in order to settle (and end) the question of doping, we must actually take it out of horse racing's hands.
With renewed public interest following American Pharoah's amazing run to the Triple Crown, now is the time to build on the progress made by the consortium and finally achieve uniformity in the rules of racing. That is why I, along with my co-chair of the Horse Caucus, Rep. Paul Tonko, D.-N.Y., have introduced the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act, legislation that would establish an independent, nongovernmental anti-doping authority charged with implementing a national uniform medication program with input from the industry.
If there is one issue that won’t go away in horse racing, it’s the use of drugs for the equine athletes. People have argued — and will continue to — over which drugs should be used, if they should be used, how much of each drug should be used and when they should be used.
There was another Battle of Saratoga Tuesday in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. It involved verbal salvos from both sides over proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress to form a national authority to develop, regulate and enforce uniform medication policy for Thoroughbred racing in America.
Gov. Steve Beshear, having presented the Kentucky Derby and eighth and final time this past May, on Sunday reiterated his desire Sunday for uniform medication standards in horse racing across the nation.
There was no mistaking the theme to the The Jockey Club’s 63rd annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing Sunday morning: support for federal legislation to put in place uniform national medication rules with oversight by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Under the bill, USADA would control a federally created governing board that would set medication policies for the entire U.S. In turn, USADA would ensure that those policies are enforced by monitoring the drug-control programs of state racing commissions while also directing a national Thoroughbred racing drug-testing program.
Following Sunday’s Jockey Club Round Table on Matters Pertaining to Racing, held in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the following statements were issued by Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The sixty-third annual Jockey Club Round Table conference took place on Sunday at the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Depending upon your perspective, it was either a marker of tremendous positive change for the racing industry, or a reminder of just how slowly things progress in the sport.
Believing his organization would benefit horsemen if allowed to guide a new approach to medication oversight in racing, United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) chief executive officer Travis Tygart is asking trainers to evaluate what an independent agency would mean for them and the sport.
At their meeting on Friday, August 7, in Saratoga Springs, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) Board of Directors reiterated their firm commitment to the implementation of uniform medication policies with a sense of urgency throughout the United States.
Edwin Moses, Olympic great and chairman of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky will be the featured speakers when The Jockey Club holds its 63rd annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing Sunday, August 9, at the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Organizations in the sport of horse racing appear to be mostly ready to embrace a new antidoping bill that would replace a patchwork of rules governing what drugs horses may be given on race day. While a broad coalition is starting to form around the measure, not everyone’s convinced.
Federal lawmakers who support the United States Anti-Doping Agency providing oversight of drug testing in all forms of horse racing have blasted federal lawmakers who support the United States Anti-Doping Agency providing oversight of drug testing just in Thoroughbred racing. Welcome to Washington.
Gulfstream Park’s first foray into writing Lasix-free races for juveniles drew enough interest from horsemen Wednesday that a 4 1/2-furlong $65,000 maiden special weight for fillies–to be run Saturday–was split into two divisions of 11 and 12 runners.
The effort to put horse racing's drug testing under the agency that coordinates testing for Olympic athletes is sure to draw objections from usual sources; but what will be most interesting is where a Louisville-based industry behemoth stands. And that, of course, refers to Churchill Downs Inc.
In the last six months, the horse racing industry made significant progress toward the uniform adoption of a national medication program, as regulators in a number of additional jurisdictions adopted reforms developed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and enacted as model rules by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI).
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on June 29 delayed taking a vote on proposed rules on medication testing, withdrawal guidelines, and disciplinary measures and penalties that included rules on the mineral cobalt.
The announcement last month that the Jockey Club and Breeders’ Cup would join forces with the Humane Society of the United States to back a federal anti-doping bill was a surprise to some in the Thoroughbred world.
Beginning July 1, the anti-bleeding medication furosemide – commonly known as Salix or Lasix – will be the only therapeutic agent that can be administered on race days at Florida Thoroughbred tracks, including Tampa Bay Downs.
Seeing the video of the fourth race held the day of the Belmont Stakes, when a horse named Helwan broke his leg and was euthanized, reminded me of the very first time I saw a horse break down during a race. It was many years ago, and I thought it would be the only time. I thought that a death on the track was as rare as a Triple Crown winner.
In a recent commentary for DVM 360, Dr. Ed Kane wrote that the anabolic steroid positives detected in Maryland at the end of 2014 and 2015 raise a number of questions about the responsibilities of veterinarians on the backstretch. Although experts agree that there are appropriate applications of anabolic steroids in the treatment of certain ailments, the hormones should not be used as performance enhancers.
Administering race-day medications to racehorses would be banned a under proposed bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week. The legislation would also put an independent anti-doping agency in charge of enforcing rules and penalties for violators.
The two-day Pan American Conference, co-hosted by The Jockey Club, the breed registry for Thoroughbreds in North America, and the Latin American Racing Channel (LARC), concluded Friday afternoon at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City with presentations from prominent individuals from inside and outside the Thoroughbred racing industry focusing on anti-doping, globalization and marketing.
A week after New York congressman Paul Tonko introduced federal legislation to establish uniform drug and medication standards in Thoroughbred racing, three other representatives introduced similar legislation Thursday.
In the run-up to the Belmont Stakes tomorrow, I participated in a discussion yesterday on public radio about the rampant doping of racehorses and the need for reform within an industry that has failed to take responsibility for its problems and runs through its athletes as if they are expendable commodities.
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 239 relating to Medication and Testing of Racing Animals today, June 2, 2015. Effective July 1, 2015, the bill will dramatically change Chapter 550.2415, Florida Statutes, which has governed the use of Florida Thoroughbred race-day medication for more than 25 years.
At its meeting on May 28, 2015, the Board of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) approved a General Directive ordering that all horses that have been selected to provide an Official Sample (blood) as defined by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) will also be tested for cobalt. Once the CPMA has completed the official testing, the ORC will subject the samples to enhanced testing for the presence of cobalt.
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 239 relating to Medication and Testing of Racing Animals today, June 2, 2015. Effective July 1, 2015, the bill will dramatically change Chapter 550.2415, Florida Statutes, which has governed the use of Florida Thoroughbred race-day medication for more than 25 years.
More than 300 representatives from over 27 countries will converge on New York City this week for the two days of business presentations focusing on the sport of Thoroughbred racing as part of the Pan American Conference.
The West Virginia Racing Commission June 2 authorized creation of a committee that will be charged with providing information to a legislative select committee that will undertake a comprehensive study of the state's racing and gaming industries.
The Breeders' Cup announced today a series of safety and security initiatives extending through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. A prominent element of the program, developed in consultation with tracks participating in the Challenge Series, will focus on extending the Breeders’ Cup out-of-competition testing program throughout the Series.
The President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued Federal Law No. 7 of 2015 to combat the trade or use of banned substances in horse racing and equestrian sports events in the UAE. The Cabinet has also issued the Implementing Regulations of the new law.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council voted to advance threshold recommendations for cobalt and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid, also known as Carolina Gold) for consideration by the state’s racing commission.
It was announced at the monthly meeting of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) Thursday that $1.2 million had been added to the budget for drug testing and research at the U.C. Davis Maddy Laboratory.
Officials at Truesdail Laboratories in Irvine, Calif., said they plan to contest a May 12 decision by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission to terminate the company’s equine drug testing contract after Truesdail failed to detect high levels of commonly used corticosteroids in three samples taken from harness horses competing at Hoosier Park in late March and early April.
Horse racing in Colorado is in the midst of a renaissance. With Colorado’s live horse racing season in 2015 scheduled to begin on May 22, Arapahoe Park is launching the theme of “Where Horses Come First” to reflect the growth of the Aurora, Colorado track.
Dr. Edward Allred, owner of Los Alamitos, has written an open letter to Quarter horse owners, trainers and nominators to races at his Orange County, Calif., racetrack about the hair follicle testing program he has implemented for some high-profile races to stop abuse of performance enhancing drugs like clenbuterol, albuterol and zilpaterol, including off-label varieties.
F and F Stable's Best Play failed drug tests in back-to-back starts for trainer Luis Miranda in late 2014 and early 2015 at Aqueduct Racetrack, a circumstance New York's state steward said he can't recall ever previously happening.
The most egregious abusers of performance-enhancing equine drugs and those who load up on supposedly therapeutic medication regimens might soon face more intense scrutiny and the threat of drastic penalization based on a new rule modeled on whole-horse health that is being drafted by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI).
The Association of Racing Commissioners International Board of Directors, which voted last week to make it illegal to administer cobalt to a racehorse, is now formally notifying regulators and their testing labs of its new policy, according to a release from the organization.
The RCI Board of Directors last week voted to sanction trainers of horses that were found to have a cobalt level of 50 parts per billion (ppb) or greater of blood plasma or serum with a “B” penalty, which calls for a minimum 15-day suspension, a minimum $500 fine, and 4 points on the trainers Multiple Medication Violation record.
And what will make his presence so special - particularly to the members of the emerging anti-medication group WHOA (Water Hay Oats Alliance) - is that Mubtaahij will run clean of any raceday treatment but, specifically, the anti-bleeding medication furosemide. It is legally permitted across the US but banned in every other jurisdiction on the planet.
The American public has been hoping for a Triple Crown winner for thirty-seven years now. According to some, it hasn’t been won in a long time because it is simply harder to win. These knowledgeable people say that with bigger and fresher fields, it’s harder to win all three races, and that the limited amount of time between the races (five weeks) is not enough. However, it has been enough time for eleven horses, and nearly enough time for forty-seven more. The reason we haven’t seen a Triple Crown in decades? No one knows for sure, but two leading reasons may be the use of drugs on race day and the breeding of American racehorses.
Mubtaahij has never raced on the anti-bleeding medication furosemide (Salix, commonly called Lasix) and the U.A.E. Derby winner will run without it in the May 2 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, the first horse in 10 years to do so. "He's never run on it, he doesn't bleed, and I'm not prepared to take my chances running him on a substance he's never run on before," de Kock said. "He's good enough without it."
When the state of Maryland released a call for proposals from laboratories interested in taking on the state’s post-race testing, Dr. Rick Sams, director of the HFL Sport Science Lab in central Kentucky, read over the rules carefully. The request had a number of requirements regarding the ideal candidate’s certifications but left the actual description of the testing to be done fairly open.
I don’t know if it has to begin with breeders or trainers or a national racing board or what. But it has to start somewhere or the breed will just continue passing on the genes of less durable horses that have their performances based on the right medication rather than talent.
The majority of regulatory agencies that govern the sport are the tortoise: conservative, slow moving, carrying too much of a burden to be nimble, ambling along while seemingly oblivious to the world around them. The cheaters in horse racing, those willing to bend or break the rules to win, represent the hare: amoral and arrogant risk-takers but quick on their feet.
It’s one of the great anomalies of modern racing - the bare figures tell you the German breeding industry is in decline, yet the horses being produced year-in, year-out tell a story of a flourishing and increasingly influential system envied more and more around the world.
Each defendant is charged with allegedly administering drugs to thoroughbred race horses within 24 hours of when the horse was entered to race. This conduct was in violation of the state criminal law prohibiting the rigging of publicly exhibited contests. The alleged activity took place at various times beginning as early as 1986 and continuing up to August 2014.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Monday approved a rule that will allow Kentucky tracks to offer races in which horses will not be allowed to be administered the anti-bleeding medication furosemide on race day.
A controversial proposal to allow Kentucky racetracks to schedule races where horses can't receive race-day injections of an anti-bleeding drug received approval Monday from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
A committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is scheduled to consider a rule next week that would allow tracks to write races that prohibit the use of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide within 24 hours of post time, according to material distributed by Kentucky horsemen’s groups.
It has been a year since the New York Times published its article and the PETA video which painted then-Hall of Fame nominee Steve Asmussen and his assistant, Scott Blasi, as allegedly abusive operatives in the seedy world of horse racing. ...
In response to the Times article, many people wrote heart-felt, impassioned pleas to the industry's "leadership" (whoever they are) to effectuate serious change for the long-term benefit of the sport. I jumped on Barry Weisbord's platform in response to his call to arms, as did Bill Casner and all of the other well- known, and not-so-well-known, members of the Water Hay Oats Alliance, calling for federal legislation requiring independent drug testing and a total ban on raceday medications.
The controversial question of whether horses should not receive medication on days they race — as is the rule in most of the world except North America — is about to be a battle again for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
The United States Attorney’s Office has charged three thoroughbred horse trainers and an employee of Penn National Racetrack in Grantville with fraud in connection with horse races at the track and doping.
A Florida Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would require the state’s racing commission to adopt a suite of new medication regulations that is being pushed nationally by groups seeking uniform rules among racing states.
I can’t say that anything we're trying to do to clean up the sport is bad. But the National Uniform Medication Program is an ever-changing landscape that will not resolve the problems of drug cheating or public perception of the sport, which are what I still see as the most serious problems when it comes to drug regulation.
Through the first 10 months of 2014, U.S. horse racing appeared on pace to register its fewest positive drug tests for anabolic steroids since the industry moved to outlaw the drugs from racing in 2008-09. But six positives for the anabolic steroid stanozolol from Nov. 19 to Dec. 19 at Laurel Park ended all that, revealing that at least some trainers are still willing to chance administering the substances to horses in training.
The role veterinarians play in drug positives is one important issue raised by the Maryland case.
While trainers can be suspended and fined, what sanctions does the veterinarian prescribing and administering the drugs face? Under our current penalty system, none, because racetrack veterinarians are outside the jurisdiction of state racing commissions.
Three trainers have received suspensions and fines in Maryland in conjunction with positive tests for stanozolol, a synthetic steroid formerly known as Winstrol that is now available only through drug compounders.
This week’s horse racing claims speak to an age-old paradox. Sporting cheats trace back to the Romans and the pre-race drugging of chariot horses. Cheats will always wriggle into elite sports. The more horse racing reveals and examines any evidence of wrongdoing, the stronger horse racing will be. Other sports should bow to its lead.
Just a day after it was announced that top Australian trainer Peter Moody was the subject of an investigation after one of his horses tested positive for the prohibited drug Cobalt, came the news that two additional trainers are also being investigated for the same thing.
The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame notified members of its voting panel on Tuesday that trainer Steve Asmussen will not be allowed to appear on 2015 Hall of Fame ballots… “Our executive committee felt it didn’t send the right message for somebody who’s being investigated for animal cruelty and drug abuse violations to be eligible for the sport’s highest honor,” HOF communications coordinator Brien Bouyea told TDN.
Citing unresolved investigations in New York and Kentucky of Steve Asmussen following a video last year from an animal rights group alleging horse abuse and other violations, the trainer will not be allowed to be considered in 2015 for the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.
The racing industry’s Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) plans to reorganize its own Scientific Advisory Committee but does not plan to merge with the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI).
Imagine a run-up to the Triple Crown that didn’t include the Florida Derby or the Fountain of Youth or the Louisiana Derby. Such an upheaval to so traditional a road is unlikely, of course, but if it did happen, if an imperative forced the highway to take a dramatic detour, then after a few shocking moments and a few more aftershocks it would probably be good for racing.
The Association of Racing Commissioners International board has selected five initial members for its new Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee, a group that could eliminate or significantly reduce the current role of the industry’s Racing Medication and Testing Consortium in shaping medication and testing policies.
While some horsemen’s groups, including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, have drawn their swords in the fight against a race-day drug ban, Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Co., is sweetening the pot to entice trainers to race medication-free horses.
The Association of Racing Commissioners International, an umbrella group for state racing commissions, has voted to ask an embattled independent medication research and advisory group to merge with it, the organization announced Tuesday.
Read more from the Paulick Report, including this comment:
“I just can’t take the RMTC seriously. Any organization that promulgates or suggests permissible drug use and then allows its Vice Chairman to act as counsel for horsemen that violate the rules/thresholds advocated by the RMTC is not the appropriate organization to be at the forefront of the raceday meds discussion. I can only hope that the WHOA folks and USADA supporters document this and other seeming conflicts of interest when promoting their agenda.
The sport of kings can’t seem to get things right when it comes to serious issues. … [The sport is] having yet another rife-with-acrimony-and-innuendo discussion about furosemide, the bleeding medication that’s allowed, while regulated, on race-day. But should it be allowed? Whether you think it’s important or not, and if only because some people won’t let it go, that’s the question that has knocked the sport into a morass of misunderstanding and negativity.
New York regulators on Nov. 24 enacted the most sweeping set of equine drug rules in more than 30 years in the state, providing a more certain threshold for allowable amounts of medication from two dozen different drugs in Thoroughbreds prior to running in a race.
Today Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2015 to regulate/prohibit substances, drugs, medications, and treatments that may be used in racing. The legislation is basically the same as the bill they introduced in the last Congress.
One comment that keeps appearing in the debate is that Europeans do use the same drugs just not on race day, writes Rarick.
“This is completely, 100 percent false,” said Christiane “Criquette” Head, president of the European Trainers Association and a top name in French racing for years. “I don't use Lasix in training and no one I know uses Lasix in training.”
Head continued: “Racing is about natural selection. In the United States, there are stallions that shouldn't be stallions, but you never know because the performance was achieved with medication. It is seriously affecting the breed.”
Although fans and horsemen can take issue with the length of the suspension, the true mockery of the sport is that Mr. Ness’s wife, Mandy, has been allowed to serve as trainer for her husband at Tampa Bay Downs while he is under suspension. To add insult to this mockery, the horses that Mr. Ness had been racing at Laurel Race Course in Maryland have been transferred to his assistant, Cory Jensen, for the period of his 100-day suspension.
Last month the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI), the trade association for racing regulators in North America and the Caribbean, announced the formation of an Integrity Compliance Committee.
The announcement came amid survey results of patrons and industry participants that indicate an extremely negative perception of the integrity of horse racing in the United States.
The results from a Daily Racing Form survey published in October 2015 should be an industry-wide call to action. When asked, “Do you believe states are currently effectively catching trainers or veterinarians who are using illicit drugs,” 78 percent said No......
As disturbing as it is, the greatest threat to racing's integrity does not lie in the widespread cheating that occurs in those states that have chosen to turn a blind eye to these corrupting influences.
It is the trainers' ability to cheat in even the most conscientiously regulated states that is a greater threat. That's because in these states, where many of the Graded stakes are contested, horsemen still have an opportunity to cheat despite the best efforts of regulators.
The main impediment to addressing this issue is the current patchwork system of regulation. The system has failed to provide the protection and tools to the most diligent and proactive racing commissions.
Understanding these threats requires a better understanding of the limitations facing drug testing laboratories.
Speaking to RTÉ, Tygart again outlined his views on anti-doping regulations.
“We don’t believe you can effectively promote and police your sport...The situation in Russia has shown the world that you can’t,” he said
“We want to remove sport from regulating sport and allow clean athletes to prevail on the playing field.”
Hopefully that tragedy [Russia] and the lives that were negatively affected, all the individual athletes who were essentially robbed, motivates sport to finally say, ‘We’re out of this game. We’re going to turn it over to independent experts’”.
The Meadowlands Racetrack has sent a formal request to the New Jersey Racing Commission asking to have both Breeders Crown horses trained by Chris Oakes to be scratched from this weekend's Finals for failing to cooperate with an agreed-upon surveillance and out-of-competition testing program.
The two Oakes horses are Luck Be Withyou, owned by John H. Craig, and Split The House, owned by Crawford Farms Racing. Both were entered in the $421,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace.
“Mr. Oakes had originally agreed to relocate his horses to White Birch Farm in New Jersey,” explained Meadowlands Chairman Jeffrey Gural. “The horses did not arrive by the Sunday deadline. I then compromised and gave them until Monday and then Tuesday. I even offered to allow the horses to continue to be stabled and trained at Mr. Oakes's farm in Pennsylvania provided I could have 24-hour surveillance on the horses at my own expense. Mr. Oakes and his lawyer Howard Taylor have refused to respond to these requests.”
Retired Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron is a vocal proponent of federal legislation to establish national medication rules and to certify an organization to uniformly enforce those rules in American horse racing. In a speech to the Thoroughbred Club of America, he cited several examples to illustrate his conviction. A trainer is still licensed in spite of having 46 medication violations in Florida in 23 years. It is permissible in Oklahoma to race a horse on the anti-inflammatory drugs Banamine and Phenylbutazone. A horse can run in a race in Arizona even though the animal is on the vets’ list in California.
Hall of Famer Chris McCarron became just the second jockey recognized as an Honored Guest by the Thoroughbred Club of America, and used his platform at Sunday night’s 85th annual Testimonial Dinner to urge the adoption of a federal bill to establish a Thoroughbred Horseracing Anti-Doping Authority.
“The status quo is not working, folks,” said McCarron. “Uniform medication rules across the country is a must. I know most people in this room don’t want the federal government to get involved. But we don’t have another avenue. Every other effort has been exhausted and pushed aside.”
To borrow and amend a slogan: ‘Drugs don't kill horses. People kill horses.'”
There's a multitude of reasons why this is happening, but the number one reason is discretion: what to do with a horse that's infirm, what to do with a horse that needs rest instead of therapy,” he said. “There's a lot of horses out there running who shouldn't be running, and authorities in this business need to grab hold of those horns and do something about it, and soon. I don't want to see any more of my brethren hitting the deck. It's already dangerous enough riding sound horses in tight fields, and it's already difficult enough.
So, as I see it, we have a simple choice: keep testing for drugs without the regulators knowing exactly what they are testing for, or hire somebody like USADA to conduct police investigations in order to uncover designer drugs and root evil out of the game that so many profess to love.
Are we ever going to get serious in America? The entire world is watching.
Uniform medication rules across the country is a must. I’ve been to Washington, D.C., six times walking the halls of Congress in support of HR 3084 which would give the government the right to assign USADA to be the governing body over all of the medication in this country. This bill is supported by Keeneland; it’s supported by the Breeders’ Cup; of course The Jockey Club is all over it. It’s supported by WHOA and supported by the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity.
“Here is a Hall of Fame trainer who obviously knows how to be successful in training a horse to win important races but is also dedicated to the welfare of the horse. Jonathan is focused on the aftercare and future career for retired Thoroughbreds. He also has been in the forefront in the industry effort to eliminate drugs in racing. Jonathan Sheppard is a very respected and important voice in any industry effort.”
Q The book ends on something of a hopeful note. that "the ranks of those insisting on integrity of competition, continues to grow." Do you honestly believe we will see the day when - as you first proposed - we will have an independent agency like USADA governing the drug regulations in all racing states?
A Yes I do. I only hope that it does not come too late because once we lose our fans we will have nothing left except for a couple of rich guys getting together in a big field in Kentucky or Texas and racing one horse against another to find out which one is best, which is basically how it all started anyway.
Yes I do believe Lasix should be banned for race-day use as it is a performance enhancer. I fully agree that almost all trainers in the States use it in order for their horses to be competitive.
The paradox of Lasix is that it enables horses with a defect to outrun horses that don't have the defect, and therefore horses that do not have the defect have to have the medication as well in order to keep up.
Last week, US Triple Crown winner and track legend, Secretariat’s owner-breeder Penny Chenery joined WHOA – the Water Hay Oats Alliance. The Water Hay Oats Alliance was founded in 2012 and is a grassroots movement of like-minded individuals (including our adopted American son, Barry Irwin) who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing in the USA.
Penny Chenery has joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA). WHOA is a grassroots movement of like-minded individuals who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing.
Penny Chenery, owner of 1973 Triple Crown hero Secretariat, is the latest member of the racing industry to join the Water Hay Oats Alliance. She released the following statement: “It took me a long time to fully appreciate one of the benefits of owning a Triple Crown winner. All at once, you become a public figure and inherit a platform from which you can make your voice heard..."
... Based on my revelation that even if cheating is exposed to racing officials that nothing will happen, I have come to one conclusion—and it is not a new one. I now more firmly than ever believe that only USADA can make a difference in restoring the credibility of racing.
Today, I firmly believe that the time for federal legislation of our sport has come... The Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 (HR 3084), introduced by Reps. Andy Barr, R-Ky., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., in June, would encourage the adoption of a national uniform standard for drugs and medication in American thoroughbred racing and grant rule-making, testing and enforcement oversight to an entity created by the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency, headquartered in Colorado Springs.
Relatively few jockeys are fortunate enough to have a career in thoroughbred horse racing as long as mine. I spent 28 years as a professional jockey and have been able to experience the horse racing industry from a number of other perspectives: as the general manager at Santa Anita Park, as a racing analyst for NBC, ABC, and the horse racing network TVG, and, most recently, as an instructor at the North American Racing Academy (NARA) in Lexington, Ky., which I founded in 2006.
This week the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program hosts its annual Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming, with racing industry leaders from all corners of the world in attendance. I take great interest in that program and symposium for two reasons: I received both my undergraduate and law degrees from the UA and I have owned Thoroughbred racehorses for many years.
Pointing to an apparent lack of will and dwindling budgets from state racing commissions, harness track owner Jeff Gural called on his peers on the Thoroughbred side of American horse racing to take the initiative to combat the use of illicit drugs as he has done.
In 2002, The Jockey Club President, Dinny Phipps, asked me to address the Round Table, the topic being medication from an owner’s perspective. Mr. Phipps never asked to see or address what I was going to say. My address laid out quite simply what had happened to our sport since Lasix was accepted and the definition of “therapeutic” was rewritten by the veterinary community.
The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity (CHRI) announced today that six additional members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed on in support of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 (THIA). They are Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), David Joyce (R-OH), Jerold Nadler (D-NY), and Joe Wilson (R-SC).
In an opinion piece for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, racetrack operator Jeff Gural offers his “wholehearted support” for the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act introduced by congressmen Andy Barr and Paul Tonko in July.
Ever since I was kid sneaking away to Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island, I have loved everything about horse racing. I loved the outdoor pavilion packed with a crowd of spectators, the lines of hungry risk-takers at the betting windows and, of course, the thrill of the race itself. I was hooked early.
In a year that our industry and all of our participants are enjoying incredible excitement in racing, medication issues continue to dominate discussions. It is evident that a collective resolution to medication issues is essential for racing to continue the momentum we are experiencing in this historic year.
The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity announced today that the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) has joined the Coalition, expressing its support for the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015.
The IFHA strives to coordinate and harmonize the rules of its 62 member countries regarding breeding, racing and wagering in a manner that ensures the quality and fairness of racing and protects the welfare of horses and jockeys.
Racing’s world coordinating body has added its support to the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, which is leading the fight for clean racing in the US.
Louis Romanet, chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), said creating a uniform system for the regulation of medications in American horse racing is of “critical importance”.
Earlier today, the Keeneland Association released the following statement. In doing so, they pledged their support of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act (THIA) and the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity (CHRI). WHOA, and our many members who buy, sell and race their horses at Keeneland, applauds them for their leadership and vision.
The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity announced today that the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) has joined the Coalition, expressing its support for the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015. The IFHA strives to coordinate and harmonize the rules of its 62 member countries regarding breeding, racing and wagering in a manner that ensures the quality and fairness of racing and protects the welfare of horses and jockeys.
The connections of Runhappy, winner of the G3 Phoenix Stakes Friday and one of the leading contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, have joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance. Also known as WHOA, the organization advocates for medication reform in horse racing, including the elimination of furosemide, better known as Lasix, a drug developed to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage but now administered to more than 90% of all North American starters. Runhappy races Lasix-free.
With those four words, James E. “Ted” Bassett III–past Keeneland President and Trustee Emeritus, and former President of the Breeders’ Cup, Ltd.–signed on as a member to the Water Hay Oats Alliance in support of federal legislation.
Illinois owner, lawyer and racing board member Kathy Byrne has joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA).
Byrne issued the following statement regarding her decision to join: On August 27th, 2015, while most of the racing world was watching American Pharoah prepare for the Travers, the Illinois Racing Board quietly entered a death sentence for 150 healthy, working racehorses. Euphemisms like ‘sold to the Amish or otherwise removed’ were used to describe what would happen but the reality is that when Maywood Park shutters next month- without a placement plan or any regulatory supervision–the majority of horses racing there will not survive...
Marie D. Jones, along with her late husband Aaron, is one of the highest profile owner/breeders in the past 40 years. Together, the Joneses enjoyed the heights of success on the racetrack, in breeding horses and in the sales ring. They bred or campaigned multiple champions, including Ashado, Speightstown, Riboletta, Lemhi Gold and Tiffany Lass.
Another major difference between Australian racing and racing in the U.S. is the use of race-day medication. The Lasix issue is a hot potato at this point but the use of drugs in racing generally is cause for international concern. I was asked to be involved with WHOA (Water Hay Oats Alliance) by Staci Hancock and I immediately jumped at the chance because I fully support them in their endeavor to prohibit the use of performance enhancing drugs in horse racing. As a trainer of racehorses, I must stress how detrimental this practice is to the industry as a whole.
Australian Hall of Fame racehorse trainer Gai Waterhouse is the latest high-profile figure to join the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA), a group support federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in US racing.
When an American trainer, with some notable exceptions, wins a Triple Crown race, peers, fans and writers invariably shake their heads and question whether the triumph was accomplished on the up and up. This has been going on with increasing frequency for the last several years.
Who owns the racing game? The answer to that question should be the deciding factor when it comes to who makes the critical decisions on how the sport is managed – and that includes whether the sport should seek federal help to set up a national test lab and establish federal guidelines for all states that conduct Thoroughbred racing if those states want their tracks to be able to simulcast races across state lines.
Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) Supporting Member, Jeff Gural announced today that three of the leading Standardbred racetracks he owns and operates - the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., Tioga Downs in Nichols, N.Y. and Vernon Downs in Vernon, N.Y. - have joined as members to the Coalition for Horseracing Integrity. These newest members add to the growing support for federal legislation to appoint the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to create and oversee a national program for horseracing in the United States.
The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity announced today that three of the leading horse racing tracks owned and operated by Jeff Gural – the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., Tioga Downs in Nichols, N.Y. and Vernon Downs in Vernon, N.Y. – have joined as members, adding to the growing support for national oversight of uniform medication standards in American horse racing.
Jeff Gural, the owner of three harness tracks, has signed on with a group lobbying for support of a bill that would grant control of Thoroughbred racing’s medication policies and drug-testing programs to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the group said.
John Amerman has joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance in support of federal legislation that would appoint an independent, non-governmental agency like the United States Anti-Doping Agency to regulate horse racing’s medication rules on a national basis.
Unfortunately for competitors in the U.S., we can never be sure whether our horses are racing on a level playing field. That's probably why more than two-thirds, 68 percent, of all horseracing fans want to see drug and medications policies in our industry reformed.
A day-long forum in Saratoga Tuesday was designed to shed some light on the policies and practices of furosemide (branded as Lasix or Salix) usage and the management of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging (EIPH) in racehorses.
USADA has a proven track record of protecting the integrity of competition from athletes who abuse performance-altering medication, as in the Olympics and Tour de France. The truth is, no matter how well-intentioned, state commissions and industry participants cannot solve the issue of drug testing and enforcement on our own.
As one who has been involved in the industry for more than half a century, I wholeheartedly endorse the efforts of so many to provide more integrity to the wonderful but wounded sport of horse racing. The Barr-Tonko bill is an important step in the right direction.
Champion trainer, leading breeder and classic-winning owner of the Haras du Quesnay stable, Alec Head is joined by Criquette, Europe’s leading female trainer to support WHOA’s efforts in the US. The group which supports the passage federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in US racing.
Father and daughter, Alec and Criquette Head, hailing from a dynasty of internationally successful trainers of champions and classic winners for three generations, have joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance in support of horse racing medication reform in the United States.
The Triple Crown win has had a stupendous impact, here and throughout the racing world. But horse racing in America must have more than a Triple Crown winner. A real turnaround can’t take place until we credibly tackle the issue of drug testing and enforcement. Most horsemen, trainers, owners, and veterinarians play by the rules. But because we lack uniform, national testing and enforcement standards, we all get painted with a negative brush.
I suggest, in the coming weeks as the fight heats up, that participants in our industry ask themselves what the true motivation is behind the push by the anti-USADA folks to prevent their being named to oversee drugs in our sport. The answer to this question should be obvious to anybody that thinks about it.
It took 37 years and a singular horse named American Pharoah to deliver horse racing its 12th Triple Crown winner at Belmont Park in June. On Thursday, a coalition of horse breeders, owners and animal lovers turned to Congress with the hope of ending another long-running drama in thoroughbred racing: its drug problem.
Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), the co-chairmen of the Congressional Horse Caucus, today introduced the bipartisan Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015. Under existing law, the American thoroughbred horseracing industry labors under a diverse patchwork of conflicting and inconsistent rules governing medication policies and practices across 38 different racing jurisdictions. This lack of uniformity in the rules of horseracing has impaired interstate commerce and undermined public confidence in the sport.
The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity announced today its support of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015, a new bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Andy Barr (R-Ky.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.). This legislation will grant authority for rulemaking, testing and enforcement of drug and medication use in Thoroughbred racing to an entity created by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
The agency that oversees drug testing of American Olympians would be in charge of creating a testing program for thoroughbred racing if a push for federal legislation succeeds — something proponents say would standardize medication and testing rules and improve the sport's image.
The American Thoroughbred industry is at the proverbial crossroads. The choice is ours: which direction will we choose? One path maintains the status quo with 38 dysfunctional jurisdictions that are underfunded, politically appointed, and lack the expertise to challenge the cheaters. The other road offers the choice of appointing a USADA-type organization having the mission, funding and expertise to meet that challenge. The pending House bill that will be introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko (NY) offers the opportunity to have that ultimate drug organization.
"The Thoroughbred horse breeding and racing industry is a major part of Kentucky's economy and rich history, and we believe consistent medication administration and enforcement regulations are necessary to preserve this tradition," Chauncey Morris, executive director of KTA, said in a release from CHRI.
In the Olympic annals of Track and Field, for every Jesse Owens and Babe Didrikson there has been a Ben Johnson and FloJo. Every hero seemingly can be counterbalanced by a villain who tested positive for a banned substance.
His win has arrived in the midst of positive and profound political change within the industry’s governing bodies. Through gradual implantation of the National Uniform Medication Program and the efforts of such organizations as the Water Hay Oats Alliance, drug use and abuse in the sport is gradually and inexorably being whittled away. At a time when horse racing in the US has lost its shine, the events of Saturday gave the sport a much needed boost.
National Basketball Association commissioner emeritus David Stern prefaced his candid remarks about Thoroughbred racing’s hot-button issues by joking Friday morning that Pan American Conference attendees might throw things at him. But he wasn’t kidding about what the sport needs to do to raise the industry’s profile, both within the United States and globally, like Stern did with the NBA during his three-decade tenure.
The two-day Pan American Conference, co-hosted by The Jockey Club, the breed registry for Thoroughbreds in North America, and the Latin American Racing Channel (LARC), concluded Friday afternoon at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City with presentations from prominent individuals from inside and outside the Thoroughbred racing industry focusing on anti-doping, globalization and marketing.
A group of horse racing and animal welfare organizations have announced the launch of a coalition to support uniform medication standards for Thoroughbred racing and the formal introduction of proposed bipartisan legislation that would grant independent authority over rule-making, testing and enforcement oversight to an entity created by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
In view of recent legislative efforts advanced by the “Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity,” which is supported by several industry groups, TSG reaffirms the following list of foundation principles it deems necessary for the continued growth and development of Thoroughbred racing on a national and international scale...
Medication has been at the forefront of discussions in our industry for some time. Our collective response to these issues must be to pledge that we provide for the health and welfare of our athletes and assure the wagering public and all of our fans that every facet of our sport is conducted with the highest level of integrity and is subject to a heightened level of scrutiny.
Along with his wife, Marylou Whitney, John Hendrickson has raced thoroughbreds at Saratoga Race Course and across the country for years. He's one of a growing group of owners who believe the sport is at a crossroads. "We risk losing fans,” Hendrickson said. “We need to show that we are clean, transparent and we do crack down on the people that abuse the system."
A New York congressman plans to introduce a federal bill establishing uniform drug and medication standards in thoroughbred racing that would be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and begin in 2017.
Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), who serves as co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Horse Caucus and represents New York’s 20th Congressional District, today announced plans to introduce the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Anti-Doping Act of 2015 to establish uniform standards for drugs and medication in the American Thoroughbred industry.
The bill, called the Thoroughbred Horse Anti-Doping Act of 2015, would put USADA in charge of rule-making, testing, enforcement, and oversight. USADA apparently would determine which medications, if any, can be used in racehorses on race day, including the commonly used anti-bleeding drug furosemide, also called Salix or Lasix. Horsemen's groups across the country vehemently oppose any efforts to ban furosemide on race day.
A New York congressman plans to introduce a federal bill establishing uniform drug and medication standards in thoroughbred racing that would be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and begin in 2017.
A diverse group of horse racing and animal welfare organizations today announced the launch of a coalition to support uniform medication standards for Thoroughbred racing and the formal introduction of proposed bipartisan legislation that would grant independent authority over rule‑making, testing and enforcement oversight to an entity created by the U.S. Anti‑Doping Agency (USADA).
The Thoroughbred Horse Racing Anti-Doping Act of 2015, which would establish uniform standards for drugs and medication in the Thoroughbred racing industry and turn regulation over to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), will be introduced in the next few weeks, according to Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY). The news was released in a press release on Friday morning.
In response to Ed Martin's false accusations published in May 23 issue of Blood-Horse and later on BloodHorse.com that the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) is "trying to burn down the house," let's be perfectly clear: WHOA is trying to save it.
Owner and breeder William Koester, past Chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission, has joined Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard and former Keeneland President William C Greely in support of the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA), a movement supporting the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in racing.
Although Divining Rod will join the rest of the field in running on Lasix, Roy Jackson said all race-day medications such as Lasix should be banned, as they are overseas. He said he wanted more to be done in the United States to combat performance-enhancing drugs, including out-of-competition testing.
This feature story ran in the April 18, 2015 issue of Blood-Horse magazine.
In contrast to North American racing's notable recent starts and stops on the race-day medication issue, owner Bill Casner hasn't wavered since his 2011 decision to race his Thoroughbreds without the widely used diuretic furosemide, or Salix (Lasix).
Kentucky veterinarian Dr. Gary T. Priest is the latest high profile equine identity to speak out about drugs in the racing industry, saying that Lasix has to be “the most abused drug” available to a racetrack veterinarian.
USA: Legendary trainer Michael Dickinson has added his name to the list of supporters of the 'Water Hay Oats Alliance' (WHOA), a body of influential US industry figures campaigning for federal legislation to prohibit raceday drugs in American racing.
Within the past few years, a grassroots coalition of thoroughbred breeders and owners joined to seek the passage of federal legislation to ban the practice of race-day medication, and formed the Water Hay and Oats Alliance (the befuddling name is explained by its clever acronym: WHOA).
Racing industry officials in late March and early April said they again expect to see federal legislation filed this year that would authorize the United States Anti-Doping Agency to oversee equine medication and drug testing procedures.
Karen M. Johnson interviews Barry Irwin of Team Valor International... He’s a passionate and outspoken advocate for the elimination of race-day medication in this country, and is one of the founders of the Water Hay Oats Alliance.
Racing needs to wean itself off race-day medication. Various reasons have been proffered for the elimination of drugs on race day, but there is one rarely mentioned that encompasses another major problem hurting the well-being of our industry–a lack of owners willing to play to game... Few prospects for racehorse ownership want to be involved in a sport that is perceived by the public to have cooties.
I trained in America for 11 years and am conversant with the use of bute and Lasix. However, I now believe that medication administered on race-day, as happens in the States, is a problem. If you allow it, you degrade the breed in the end.
Recently completed research regarding the use, or non-use, of Lasix in Thoroughbred racehorses adds some pertinent new facts to the discussion... The results of both investigations should cause the U.S. racing industry to re-evaluate its position on the use of all bleeder medications.
The Water, Hay, and Oats Alliance welcomes oversight from USADA, viewing it as the only way to right racing’s badly listing ship. Founded in 2010 by a grassroots movement of like minded individuals, WHOA supports the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance enhancing drugs in horse racing.
Barry Irwin will receive the Ellen and Herbert Moelis Equine Savior Award for his work to ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs in racehorses on race day. He has been one of the most outspoken and eloquent voices in the nation calling for the end of this practice in horse racing.
I applaud the TDN Publisher Barry Weisbord for his proposal for racing as a response to the ugly PETA expose on our sport of Thoroughbred racing. I know many of my respected colleagues, such as Arthur Hancock, George Strawbridge, Bill Casner, Barry Irwin and many other owners share Barry’s thoughtful response.
In interviews with industry insiders, elected officials and safety advocates, FOX43 learned the case highlights a larger plight within the horse racing industry. ”It won’t last 20 years. It really won’t. People can’t go on like this,” said Gretchen Jackson, who’s owned race horses since the 1970s.