HBPA ‘zero tolerance’: Too good to be true?
It was a tough and clear-cut statement the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association put out in June in the wake of the dozens of positive tests in Thoroughbred and Quarter horse racing for the Class 1 drug dermorphin, also known as frog juice.
“The National HBPA and its Affiliates have zero tolerance for trainers who use drugs like Dermorphin, which have no legitimate use in horses,” the statement begins. “According to Phil Hanrahan, CEO of the National HBPA, ‘Dermorphin is doping. Those who use Dermorphin should be severely punished.'”
(For the full text of the statement, click here.)
But now we come to find out that the brother of the president of one of those Affiliates that endorsed the statement – the Nebraska HBPA – is an alleged frog-juicer. Kim Veerhusen, who was listed as co-owner and trainer of Cheatin Cowboy when he tested positive for dermorphin after finishing second at Horseman's Park in Omaha, Neb., on July 15, is the brother of Nebraska HBPA president Todd Veerhusen.
Not surprisingly Kim also trains for his brother (at least he did until receiving a six-week suspension from the stewards for the Class 1 violation following an Aug. 3 hearing). Horses owned by Todd Veerhusen and previously trained by his brother Kim were recently saddled by Megan Miller.
The question is whether the Nebraska HBPA will use any resources to help defend Kim Veerhusen when his dermorphin case is referred to the Nebraska Racing Commission for possible further action. He faces a potential license suspension of one to five years from the commission.
I called the Nebraska HBPA and reached the association's executive director, Lynne McNally-Schuller, who said she wasn't going to answer any questions about the Veerhusen matter.
McNally-Schuller did say the Nebraska HBPA does “represent people who want representation at stewards hearings. We have a horsemen's bill of rights law in Nebraska.”
I don't know if that extended to the Veerhusen dermorphin case, but I thought that press release about the HBPA having a “zero tolerance” policy sounded too good to be true.