‘If we can’t trust our vet, who can we trust?’

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Thoroughbred trainer Anthony Agilar, who had never been cited for any kind of medication violation since he began training in 1997, was none too happy to discover that two of his horses tested positive for the powerful Class 1 drug dermorphin in May of this year.

Agilar wasn’t expecting a three-year suspension, either, after the Louisiana State Racing Commission conducted two days of hearings involving eight different Thoroughbred and Quarter horse trainers whose horses tested positive for the same drug. Dermorphin, said to be about 40 times more powerful than morphine, is commonly frog juice because, in its natural form, it is derived from secretions of a South American tree frog.

“I didn’t think it was going to be that bad,” Agilar said about his suspension. “I told the truth.”


Agilar and two other Thoroughbred trainers, Lamont Keith Charles and Kyi Lormand, had a similar story.

All three said Lake Charles, La., veterinarian Kyle Hebert or associate vet Stephanie Fronning treated their horses on the day they raced. Hebert called it a “generic Equipoise,” Agilar told the racing commissioners, a reference to an injectable anabolic steroid.

Agilar noted, however, that despite the fact his horses were treated with the substance on race day (which is prohibited, since they are only permitted to receive approved bleeder medication the day they race), invoices for the treatment were always dated the previous day. “He covered himself up good,” Agilar said. “I think he knew what the hell he was doing.”

Agilar said Hebert charged $103 for each shot of the “herb” and had been “giving that same shot to all my horses” for a year and a half. When he called to tell his veterinarian about the positive test, Agilar testified, Fronning told him: “We ain’t going to the track today. We are going to meet Dr. Hebert and clean out the trucks.”

One of Agilar’s owners, Steve Isaac, told the commission, “Dr. Hebert was not honest with us.”

Yet while Agilar, Charles, and Lormand, along with Quarter horse trainers Gonzalo Gonzales, Michael Heath Taylor, Alvin Smith Jr., John Darrel Soileau, and Alonzo Loya have been suspended for a combined 42 years, no veterinarians have even been charged by the racing commission.

“I should have been a vet,” Agilar said when the commission announced his suspension. “(Hebert) made a bunch of money and he is still riding around the racetrack treating horses.”

State police, however, are investigating the veterinarians involved in these cases, said Charles Gardiner, executive director of the Louisiana State Racing Commission.

Lormand said Hebert was surprised his horse had a bad test. “After the test came back positive, I confronted him. He swore up and down it could not be traceable and it was an herb. He said there was no way it could be found in testing.”

Lormand said Hebert’s office never sent him an invoice on the horse. “If I woulda known this stuff was anything like that, I would never have let him use it. I would never do that to a horse,” he said. “I can’t say Dr. Hebert gave my horse dermorphin, but I know I didn’t do it.”

Charles, whose Cold Hearted Babe tested positive at Louisiana Downs in May after being treated by an associate at Hebert’s practice at Evangeline Downs earlier in the day, said he was given a syringe on a different occasion and told by the vet to give it to the horse before it raced. Charles said he had no experience injecting horses, so he didn’t administer the drug. He kept the syringe, then handed it over to state police when after learning of the dermorphin positive.

Neither Hebert nor Fronning testified. When the Paulick Report contacted Hebert by telephone, he said he was too busy to talk about the matter and would call back. He has not done so, and did not answer his phone on subsequent calls. Fronning could not be reached for comment.

Other veterinarians or their associates who were said to have treated horses that tested positive for dermoprhin were Ed Baronne II of Sunset, La., and Larry Findley of Vinton, La.

“If we can’t trust our vet, who can we trust?” asked Lormand.

UPDATE: Dr. Larry Findley, who operates the Delta Equine Center, said one of his practice’s associate veterinarians, Dr. Louis Perez, administered a Lasix shot and nothing else to Courvilles Buff, a horse listed on the track program as being trained by Alonzo Loya that subsequently tested positive for dermorphin on June 1 at Delta Downs. The horse was said to have been shipped to Loya from Oklahoma to race that day. “We have never had dermorphin in our practice,” Findley told the Paulick Report. “I’ve heard about this drug for about four or five years and whenever I’ve been asked about it by trainers, I told them ‘Don’t use it.’”

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  • http://twitter.com/jjandsamm its post time

    I’d wanna shoot the vet!  I’d think the trainer could bring suit….

    • Tbhorseman

      The trainer allowed the vet to give a medication besides lasix on raceday making him guilty..

  • http://twitter.com/jjandsamm its post time

    I’d wanna shoot the vet!  I’d think the trainer could bring suit….

  • Caroline

    I am curious and confused. What is the incentive for the vet to administer some substance other than that claimed? Is the cost of frog juice much lower than of generic equipoise? Is this vet’s relationship with these horses’ owners and trainers highly conditional on the horses’ performance, and in particular was this particular vet’s job at stake if the horses did not perform well? Did the horses verifiably perform better on frog juice than on generic equipoise, and in a manner that owners and trainers could verifiably link to the claimed administration of generic equipoise?   

    • RayPaulick

      I asked that question and was told by one of the Louisiana trainers that vets whose barns start winning pick up a lot of work. Most or all of the Louisiana horses that tested positive for dermorphin won or finished second. Also-rans are not tested, so there’s no way of knowing how many other horses may have been given this stuff.

      • Caroline

        Thanks Ray. So the claim is that the expected financial rewards to vets (supplied by owners and trainers seeking financial rewards via horses winning under administration of generic equipoise and other “herbs”) were sufficient to offset the expected costs of detection.  

        • RayPaulick

          To answer the comment about the “expected costs of detection,” I can only refer back to what Kyi Lormand testified he was told by Dr. Kyle Hebert: “He swore up and down it could not be traceable and it was an herb. He said there was no way it could be found in testing.”

          • Tbhorseman

            Everyone knows you can’t give anything but lasix on raceday.  The trainers knew they were getting some help…

          • PWK

            Since they just started testing for demorphin recently, and it was on the down low that officials were going to start testing for it, the vets were obviously caught unawares that it was no longer untraceable. They must have had to change their knickers when they got that news…..

      • Randy

        I find it hard to believe that no one knew what was going on! The vets are just as guility!

      • http://twitter.com/jjandsamm its post time

        not to mention that they or someone they tell can wager on these horses!!

    • Larry Ensor

      I am not being snarky but ask yourself; when was the last time a race track Vet advertised their practice and or skills? Vets like just most in the business advance themselves by word of mouth. Be it real or perceived. Nothing goes unnoticed or talked about on the back side. Be it real or perceived.
      Generic Equipoise? I think I would have called it “organic equipoise”.

      • Caroline

        Yeah, not my terminology, maybe someone got confused; it must be difficult to perfectly recall the correct names of all of the herbs used to therapeutically treat racehorses. I was being no more snarky than you; the implications for the accountability of everyone involved with these horses seem very clear to me. 

      • Marc

        I have absolutely no doubt that the veterinarians providing the drug knew very well that dermorphin is an opiate, a narcotic, instead of an anabolic steroid like equipoise.  Because the powerful narcotic secretion from the skin of a tropical frog had only recently been discovered, it had not yet been classified as a controlled narcotic. A detection test had not yet been developed.  But vets know that narcotics are stimulants in horses.  This was not an innocent administration of a herbal medicine.

    • Peyton Lasiter

      Vets are betting.

      • Mlmartin

        wonder how many of them have on line accounts right there on their  
        laptops in their trucks. one shot for this horse. $20.00 to win.

    • Marc

      Dermorphin is not anything like equipoise which is an anabolic steroid used to build muscle.  Like other narcotics used illegally in racing, dermorphin is an opiate drug that acts as an extremely powerful stimulant in horses.  Other potent opiates like fentanyl, apomorphine and etorphine (elephant juice) were also used in racing for the same stimulant effect until racing chemists developed detection methods.

      Most folks assume that narcotics have a depressant or pain-killing effect as they do in humans.  But horses are very different.  Small doses of narcotics in horses make them very agitated and anxious.  As one veterinarian told me, “they act like they’re gonna jump out of their skins”.

    • Mlmartin

      frog juice and generic equipoise are two totally different meds. equipoise typically would take about a week to affect the horse, but it was known to increase the effectiveness of bute. unless this “generic” equipoise is really something else  then why give it pre race? frog juice is a pain killer similar to morphine. its not an anabolic steroid. by the way i thought theses steroids were  banned.

  • Caroline

    I am curious and confused. What is the incentive for the vet to administer some substance other than that claimed? Is the cost of frog juice much lower than of generic equipoise? Is this vet’s relationship with these horses’ owners and trainers highly conditional on the horses’ performance, and in particular was this particular vet’s job at stake if the horses did not perform well? Did the horses verifiably perform better on frog juice than on generic equipoise, and in a manner that owners and trainers could verifiably link to the claimed administration of generic equipoise?   

  • RayPaulick

    I asked that question and was told by one of the Louisiana trainers that vets whose barns start winning pick up a lot of work. Most or all of the Louisiana horses that tested positive for dermorphin won or finished second. Also-rans are not tested, so there’s no way of knowing how many other horses may have been given this stuff.

  • Caroline

    Thanks Ray. So the claim is that the expected financial rewards to vets (supplied by owners and trainers seeking financial rewards via horses winning under administration of generic equipoise and other “herbs”) were sufficient to offset the expected costs of detection.  

  • Bob Hope

    oh, so vets don’t bet ?????

    • Peyton Lasiter

      i think that’s the main reason they want the horse to pay. Betting.

      • Stanley inman

        Peyton,
        Gotta disagree my friend;
        I have worked over the years with vets ,
        Have a sample of about 20 vets; almost all male;
        Ultra-conservative politiically;
        Hard working;
        Betting almost never (derby, office pool, etc.)
        Highly moral
        Ethical minded individuals.
        How big is your sample?

  • Bob Hope

    oh, so vets don’t bet ?????

  • Randy

    I find it hard to believe that no one knew what was going on! The vets are just as guility!

  • RayPaulick

    To answer the comment about the “expected costs of detection,” I can only refer back to what Kyi Lormand testified he was told by Dr. Kyle Hebert: “He swore up and down it could not be traceable and it was an herb. He said there was no way it could be found in testing.”

  • Barry Irwin

    When vets make mistakes, trainers are held liable and the regulators or officials rarely, if ever, go after the vet. In these instances, if they are proven to be true, are a whole different kettle of fish. These vets not only have violated their the rules of racing, but their oath. No place in this game for people like this. They give honest, competent and hard-working trainers and vets a bad name.

    • Tbhorseman

      He was okay with giving an anabolic on steroid on raceday… surely you don’t believe he did not know what the horses were given??

    • Concerned Observer

      When I first started spending time on the backside, I was surprised that there were quite a few rather questionable characters working as vets for race horses. As you know there are some very high quality, very respectable and very high ethics vets there too. But it really surprised me that after 4 or 5 years of vet school some of these characters would choose the low road. Money makes some people do very strange things.

      Fact is: We have to rely on the vets. They alone know what is in the syringe, and they should especially know what is or is not legal.

      Somehow we tend to worship medical people. Where do we think all those perscriptions come from that fuel the pain killer pill mills that are springing up nationwide….for people…thats right MD’s.

      • Larry Ensor

        Over the years I have found that people are only as honest as they can afford to be. I have been guilty of the same in my younger days. But I would like to believe it was venial in nature and I learned from instead of “paid for” its repercussions.

        • Concerned Observer

          Lots of thesse guys are far removed from “younger days”. Sad but true. Unless the authorities hold them accountable, they never will be. They only respect “no compromise” authority.

    • racehorse lover

       All though we don’t agree on all issues, I totally agree with you on this one Barry..  Vets are far to often overlooked in these issues, and it is a shame that is the case.  I don’t know of too many trainers capable of getting any illegal drugs without having assistance from a vet in one form or another.  Of course these trainers are guilty, and should be held accountable, but so should the vets….
      In my opinion, a vet with an illegal drug found in their possession should be treated no different than a jockey found carrying a machine…  It should be automatic lifetime ban from racing…

      • Marc

        Agreed.  Except I’d go one further.  We need national licensing for racetrack veterinarians and trainers.  A suspension or license revocation in one jurisdiction should be immediately effective in all racing jurisdictions.

    • Marc

      In this instance, involving Dr. Hebert at the very least, there is ample evidence to compel an investigation by the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Board and a possible hearing to determine whether Hebert’s license to practice veterinary medicine in the state should be suspended or revoked.
      I would suggest that the state police involve the federal DEA and FBI in the criminal investigation. State and federal drug trafficking and racketeering charges may apply.  The sales records of known dermorphin retailers should be subpoenaed.  Such action could reveal quite a number of veterinarians and non-veterinarians obtaining synthetic dermorphin among other substances illegal in racing.  Basic criminal investigation techniques seem too often overlooked or ignored when racing is concerned.

      The dermorphin positives were shocking, but hardly unprecedented. The direct involvement of one or more veterinarians seems to have been an eye-openers for racing fans.  

      But the complicity between veterinarians and trainers runs a deeper than the administration of a single illegal drug.  The entire problem of pre-race medication abuse is a moral indictment of far too many racetrack practitioners.  They absolutely KNOW it is improper and inhumane to enable sore and injured horses to race on pre-existing injuries.  They know the health and safety of horse and rider hang in the balance.  Simply put, if a horse is unable to pass a pre-race soundness exam without potent painkillers and joint injections, it should be scratched. Collusion on the part of the veterinarian to get an unsound horse to the starting gate is a violation of the state veterinary practices act.

      It is unfortunate that we cannot now rely on the American Association of Equine Practitioners to provide ethical guidance in this matter.  They have long been dominated by those who are apologists for permissive medication rules in racing.  Perhaps, however, there is a glimmer of hope for the future.

      What may eventually resolve the issue is when the family of a jockey killed as a result of a catastrophic breakdown files a “wrongful death” case against the attending veterinarian, the trainer and the state regulatory authority.  This was done in the case of Roberto Pineda who died at Pimlico some 30 years when a lame and over-medicated horse named Easy Edith caused a fatal pile-up.  The case resulted in an undisclosed out-of-court settlement followed by an immediate strengthening of medication rules and enforcement — for a while.

      We need more such cases.  To clean up racing, we must take horse doping and medication abuse cases out of the exclusive and ineffective hands of politically appointed racing commissioners.  Let’s bring a few cases to alternate venues like state veterinary boards or civil and criminal courts and see what happens.

  • Barry Irwin

    When vets make mistakes, trainers are held liable and the regulators or officials rarely, if ever, go after the vet. In these instances, if they are proven to be true, are a whole different kettle of fish. These vets not only have violated their the rules of racing, but their oath. No place in this game for people like this. They give honest, competent and hard-working trainers and vets a bad name.

  • Tbhorseman

    He was okay with giving an anabolic on steroid on raceday… surely you don’t believe he did not know what the horses were given??

  • Tbhorseman

    Everyone knows you can’t give anything but lasix on raceday.  The trainers knew they were getting some help…

  • Tbhorseman

    The trainer allowed the vet to give a medication besides lasix on raceday making him guilty..

  • Stanley inman

    It would all be so much simpler if
    All of these people pointing fingers
    Were not in the sport.
    We should be more discriminating in who we let play.
    (don’t want these clowns in my shedrow.)

    • Stanley inman

      “Pointing fingers” (those in story )

  • Stanley inman

    It would all be so much simpler if
    All of these people pointing fingers
    Were not in the sport.
    We should be more discriminating in who we let play.
    (don’t want these clowns in my shedrow.)

  • Stanley inman

    “Pointing fingers” (those in story )

  • Concerned Observer

    When I first started spending time on the backside, I was surprised that there were quite a few rather questionable characters working as vets for race horses. As you know there are some very high quality, very respectable and very high ethics vets there too. But it really surprised me that after 4 or 5 years of vet school some of these characters would choose the low road. Money makes some people do very strange things.

    Fact is: We have to rely on the vets. They alone know what is in the syringe, and they should especially know what is or is not legal.

    Somehow we tend to worship medical people. Where do we think all those perscriptions come from that fuel the pain killer pill mills that are springing up nationwide….for people…thats right MD’s.

  • in for a nickel

    To answer his  question: no one – except yourself.

  • in for a nickel

    To answer his  question: no one – except yourself.

  • Larry Ensor

    I am not being snarky but ask yourself; when was the last time a race track Vet advertised their practice and or skills? Vets like just most in the business advance themselves by word of mouth. Be it real or perceived. Nothing goes unnoticed or talked about on the back side. Be it real or perceived.
    Generic Equipoise? I think I would have called it “organic equipoise”.

  • Larry Ensor

    Over the years I have found that people are only as honest as they can afford to be. I have been guilty of the same in my younger days. But I would like to believe it was venial in nature and I learned from instead of “paid for” its repercussions.

  • Tbhorseman

    The vets have to get paid so they are not going to give a horse anything without knowing they will get paid.  So they ask the trainer for approval he told him that it would not test not that it was legal….

    • Sevencentstable

      Therein lies the whole story in one sentence -”It won’t test” as opposed to “It’s legal”. Anyone who thinkthistuff appeared in the last 12, or 6, or 8 months is delusional. It had to have been in play for quite a few years for it to be so widespread. Guys looking for an edge found one for quite awhile because “It didnt test”. Until it did.

      • Lynda Tanner

        A guy in Phoenix was bragging to me in the track kitchen in about 2003-4? About using this. Telling how much and when to give it.

  • Tbhorseman

    The vets have to get paid so they are not going to give a horse anything without knowing they will get paid.  So they ask the trainer for approval he told him that it would not test not that it was legal….

  • Caroline

    Yeah, not my terminology, maybe someone got confused; it must be difficult to perfectly recall the correct names of all of the herbs used to therapeutically treat racehorses. I was being no more snarky than you; the implications for the accountability of everyone involved with these horses seem very clear to me. 

  • Concerned Observer

    Lots of thesse guys are far removed from “younger days”. Sad but true. Unless the authorities hold them accountable, they never will be. They only respect “no compromise” authority.

  • David

    Hard to absolve there trainers here, in my opinion. They knew there were giving their horses a ‘generic’ steroid on race day, which they knew was against the rules. The fact that the vet injected a different substance is irrelevent. The rules aren’t broken by degrees - the trainers opened themselves up for that possibility. You can’t call yourself a passive victim when you allowed the vet to treat the horses in the first place.

    • Sandra

      Are you saying the vets should be completely off the hook?

      • David

        No, I’m saying that when you’re engage in illegal practices it’s hard to bitch that a co-conspirator wronged you. What’s that saying about laying down with dogs…? 

      • Tbhorseman

        The trainers and the vets are guilty

  • David

    Hard to absolve there trainers here, in my opinion. They knew there were giving their horses a ‘generic’ steroid on race day, which they knew was against the rules. The fact that the vet injected a different substance is irrelevent. The rules aren’t broken by degrees - the trainers opened themselves up for that possibility. You can’t call yourself a passive victim when you allowed the vet to treat the horses in the first place.

  • Peyton Lasiter

    i think that’s the main reason they want the horse to pay. Betting.

  • Peyton Lasiter

    Vets are betting.

  • Sandra

    Are you saying the vets should be completely off the hook?

  • David

    No, I’m saying that when you’re engage in illegal practices it’s hard to bitch that a co-conspirator wronged you. What’s that saying about laying down with dogs…? 

  • Tbhorseman

    The trainers and the vets are guilty

  • Howard Stevens

    You can’t seriously believe the trainers weren’t complicit.  The veterinarian is not going to give the horse anything without the trainer’s approval.  These guys are trying to save their own skin.  Of course the vet is guilty too, but for any of these trainers to say they didn’t know is ridiculous.

    • Stanley inman

      Howard,
      Thank you for pointing out
      Reality.
      Why does this sport wrestle with kicking out cheaters?
      Please explain that logic to me.
      The perception must be that so many cheat that to expel those that due
      Would decimate ( trainer-owner,vet) ranks.
      My experience at the track(daily)
      Tells me that’s not true.
      Why does the sport perpetuate the myth that we all cheat?

      • Highgunner

        “Why does this sport wrestle with kicking out cheaters?
        Please explain that logic to me.”Great statement Stanley. My experience on the backside is that there are many who want the sport cleaned up. In order to attract and keep good people, we must have a culture that removes cheaters and thus rewards trainers, owners, veterinarians etc. that do the right thing.Ken Lian, DVM President Thoroughbred Education Foundation, Inc.@Highgunner:twitter

      • Howard Stevens

        Stanley,
        I have no explanation
        why the tracks in this nation
        when faced with facts that are true
        do not give the cheaters their due
        showing the cheaters to the door
        so we don’t have to see them any more.

        • Stanley inman

          Howard,
          Bravo, bravo!

    • Mlmartin

      i have questioned my trainer in the past about “stuff” that has shown up on my vet bill, and have told him that certain things are unaccetable. my new bill has 
      a drug with a different name then the one i’m used to seeing. i had to look it up to find out what it was. trainer or vet calling the shots, you make the call.

  • Howard Stevens

    You can’t seriously believe the trainers weren’t complicit.  The veterinarian is not going to give the horse anything without the trainer’s approval.  These guys are trying to save their own skin.  Of course the vet is guilty too, but for any of these trainers to say they didn’t know is ridiculous.

  • PWK

    Since they just started testing for demorphin recently, and it was on the down low that officials were going to start testing for it, the vets were obviously caught unawares that it was no longer untraceable. They must have had to change their knickers when they got that news…..

  • Tired

    You think this story is any diiferent than the Lance Armstrong story of cheating. Everbody has a reason for cheating.

  • Tired

    You think this story is any diiferent than the Lance Armstrong story of cheating. Everbody has a reason for cheating.

  • Tired

    Is there a degree to cheating? A little is acceptable and alot is not. This story is no different than other story of cheating.

  • Tired

    Is there a degree to cheating? A little is acceptable and alot is not. This story is no different than other story of cheating.

  • Stanley inman

    Howard,
    Thank you for pointing out
    Reality.
    Why does this sport wrestle with kicking out cheaters?
    Please explain that logic to me.
    The perception must be that so many cheat that to expel those that due
    Would decimate ( trainer-owner,vet) ranks.
    My experience at the track(daily)
    Tells me that’s not true.
    Why does the sport perpetuate the myth that we all cheat?

  • Stanley inman

    Peyton,
    Gotta disagree my friend;
    I have worked over the years with vets ,
    Have a sample of about 20 vets; almost all male;
    Ultra-conservative politiically;
    Hard working;
    Betting almost never (derby, office pool, etc.)
    Highly moral
    Ethical minded individuals.
    How big is your sample?

  • Mlmartin

    i have questioned my trainer in the past about “stuff” that has shown up on my vet bill, and have told him that certain things are unaccetable. my new bill has 
    a drug with a different name then the one i’m used to seeing. i had to look it up to find out what it was. trainer or vet calling the shots, you make the call.

  • Mlmartin

    wonder how many of them have on line accounts right there on their  
    laptops in their trucks. one shot for this horse. $20.00 to win.

  • Francis Bush

    There needs to be more regulation imposed on vets by the racing industry. The industry’s regulatory body should standarize how horses are treated with medications and why these medications are used in some cases and not others. One of my horses was prescribed vitamins by a vet that cost me $70. When did horses require vitamins to race? Such silly, and likely, over treatment is just one example of poor and deceptive management by the industry.

  • Francis Bush

    There needs to be more regulation imposed on vets by the racing industry. The industry’s regulatory body should standarize how horses are treated with medications and why these medications are used in some cases and not others. One of my horses was prescribed vitamins by a vet that cost me $70. When did horses require vitamins to race? Such silly, and likely, over treatment is just one example of poor and deceptive management by the industry.

  • Sean Kerr

    It’s my understanding from some of the old school trainers in NY that one of the side-effects of ‘equipoise’ is excessive bleeding in the lungs. I wonder if there is a similar effect due to the demorphen? So Lasix is clearly used to mask the effects of other drugs, and Dr. Lawrence Soma has testified before congress to that effect. On a side note: the Hinchcliffe study missed an opportunity in South Africa: the excess urine eliminated during the test could have been analyzed to see how many vitamins and minerals crucial to healthy bone marrow occurred, or any other issues that could actually increase the probability of EIPH. Just a thought, but could it be that by eliminating Lasix we could make it even more difficult to get away with the use of drugs like frog juice and etc.?

  • Sean Kerr

    It’s my understanding from some of the old school trainers in NY that one of the side-effects of ‘equipoise’ is excessive bleeding in the lungs. I wonder if there is a similar effect due to the demorphen? So Lasix is clearly used to mask the effects of other drugs, and Dr. Lawrence Soma has testified before congress to that effect. On a side note: the Hinchcliffe study missed an opportunity in South Africa: the excess urine eliminated during the test could have been analyzed to see how many vitamins and minerals crucial to healthy bone marrow occurred, or any other issues that could actually increase the probability of EIPH. Just a thought, but could it be that by eliminating Lasix we could make it even more difficult to get away with the use of drugs like frog juice and etc.?

  • snazzygirl

    It would be naive to think that trainers would not ‘contribute’ to a vet’s pocketbook out of the trainer’s 10% of the purse if the vet helped the horse win by substances either legal or illegal.  There are hand-in-hand relationships between vets and trainers.  All owners need to read vet bills carefully and inquire about substances they don’t know about.  I did.  Whether I got a correct answer from the vet is difficult to determine, but at least I asked the question.

  • snazzygirl

    It would be naive to think that trainers would not ‘contribute’ to a vet’s pocketbook out of the trainer’s 10% of the purse if the vet helped the horse win by substances either legal or illegal.  There are hand-in-hand relationships between vets and trainers.  All owners need to read vet bills carefully and inquire about substances they don’t know about.  I did.  Whether I got a correct answer from the vet is difficult to determine, but at least I asked the question.

  • Highgunner

    “Why does this sport wrestle with kicking out cheaters?
    Please explain that logic to me.”Great statement Stanley. My experience on the backside is that there are many who want the sport cleaned up. In order to attract and keep good people, we must have a culture that removes cheaters and thus rewards trainers, owners, veterinarians etc. that do the right thing.Ken Lian, DVM President Thoroughbred Education Foundation, Inc.Highgunner

  • Voiceofreason

    So cute when we discuss this like everyone reading is bunch of children. OK. Enough. Let’s discuss this as it is, simple fact that we all know… and WE don’t need to dance around it:

    Trainers and vets are the “team” that oversee the welfare of the horses in their charge, AND the businesses they run. That’s plain and simple fact. It’s good BUSINESS for vets to give medications, it’s good BUSINESS for trainers to use them. Owners want trainers that win. It trickles down from there. Trainers want owners. Vets want to sell their wares.

    It’s not the owners who know, or can regulate, or watch over the “team” enough to regulate fair usage. Oh and by the way… WHY SHOULD THEY? the industry tells owners every single day “you better use whatever is available to you, or you will be at a distinct and institutionalized disadvantage”. Period.

    Winning trainers get owners. Winning trainers use vets who charge a LOT of money to stay “current”. The trainers and vets can joke about how little the owner knows, the industry can try and paint the picture that owners can somehow clean up the game, but that type of change can only happen from the inside.

    Good news: The industry is right: Owners CAN make change and clean up the game. By leaving the sport in droves, it has left the dim-witted industry rubbing their head saying “why”? Over time it’s become obvious that those in charge are vision-less and greedy. More of that type of transparency is a good start.

    Owners… vote with your wallets. Leave the sport. Eventually, either the greedy takers will die off, or change will be forced upon them.

  • Voiceofreason

    So cute when we discuss this like everyone reading is bunch of children. OK. Enough. Let’s discuss this as it is, simple fact that we all know… and WE don’t need to dance around it:

    Trainers and vets are the “team” that oversee the welfare of the horses in their charge, AND the businesses they run. That’s plain and simple fact. It’s good BUSINESS for vets to give medications, it’s good BUSINESS for trainers to use them. Owners want trainers that win. It trickles down from there. Trainers want owners. Vets want to sell their wares.

    It’s not the owners who know, or can regulate, or watch over the “team” enough to regulate fair usage. Oh and by the way… WHY SHOULD THEY? the industry tells owners every single day “you better use whatever is available to you, or you will be at a distinct and institutionalized disadvantage”. Period.

    Winning trainers get owners. Winning trainers use vets who charge a LOT of money to stay “current”. The trainers and vets can joke about how little the owner knows, the industry can try and paint the picture that owners can somehow clean up the game, but that type of change can only happen from the inside.

    Good news: The industry is right: Owners CAN make change and clean up the game. By leaving the sport in droves, it has left the dim-witted industry rubbing their head saying “why”? Over time it’s become obvious that those in charge are vision-less and greedy. More of that type of transparency is a good start.

    Owners… vote with your wallets. Leave the sport. Eventually, either the greedy takers will die off, or change will be forced upon them.

  • Turflinda9

    and we all stand around wondering why our sport is going in the toilet……geez!

  • Turflinda9

    and we all stand around wondering why our sport is going in the toilet……geez!

  • kmlman

    Conceptually, what exactly is the incentive for a vet to inject an illegal substance if the trainer doesn’t know about it?  The vet charges for the injection and/or his service, and it should not, in theory, matter how the horse does in a race–UNLESS the trainer is aware of what the vet is doing and consults with him or her about the service.  Sure, an unscrupulous vet can try and run up his bill on a trainer (really, the owner, since the cost accrues to the owner), but why inject an illegal substance that he thinks won’t be found in post-race testing?  If the vet intends to just run up a bill, he could just inject nothing and then bill out the injection.  It makes very little conceptual sense for a vet to do this without a trainer’s knowledge.  At least in my state, the vet doesn’t get a cut of a winner’s share of a purse, unlike a trainer.

    • kmlman

       I suppose they could inject a horse with frog juice, unbeknownst to the trainer, and then bet him, that is true.  But that seems a little far-fetched.

    • Jayne

       why is a vet injecting a horse with anything on race day?  other than lasix

      • Tbhorseman

        very common practice

    • Tbhorseman

      He knew what the horse was given period.  No vet is going to give a shot and not get paid period.

  • kmlman

    Conceptually, what exactly is the incentive for a vet to inject an illegal substance if the trainer doesn’t know about it?  The vet charges for the injection and/or his service, and it should not, in theory, matter how the horse does in a race–UNLESS the trainer is aware of what the vet is doing and consults with him or her about the service.  Sure, an unscrupulous vet can try and run up his bill on a trainer (really, the owner, since the cost accrues to the owner), but why inject an illegal substance that he thinks won’t be found in post-race testing?  If the vet intends to just run up a bill, he could just inject nothing and then bill out the injection.  It makes very little conceptual sense for a vet to do this without a trainer’s knowledge.  At least in my state, the vet doesn’t get a cut of a winner’s share of a purse, unlike a trainer.

  • kmlman

     I suppose they could inject a horse with frog juice, unbeknownst to the trainer, and then bet him, that is true.  But that seems a little far-fetched.

  • Willy Bellmare

    Vets are not what you tink they should be, especially when hard cash is involved. I had a track in my barn andd figured him for a straight guy. Boy was I wrong. I really got left holding a empty wallet. Pt five horses in my barn and took them out when no one was home. Never paid a buck to me.

  • Willy Bellmare

    Vets are not what you tink they should be, especially when hard cash is involved. I had a track in my barn andd figured him for a straight guy. Boy was I wrong. I really got left holding a empty wallet. Pt five horses in my barn and took them out when no one was home. Never paid a buck to me.

  • nathan

    these guys must be relate to o’neill and dutrow.

  • nathan

    these guys must be relate to o’neill and dutrow.

  • Sevencentstable

    Therein lies the whole story in one sentence -”It won’t test” as opposed to “It’s legal”. Anyone who thinkthistuff appeared in the last 12, or 6, or 8 months is delusional. It had to have been in play for quite a few years for it to be so widespread. Guys looking for an edge found one for quite awhile because “It didnt test”. Until it did.

  • racehorse lover

     All though we don’t agree on all issues, I totally agree with you on this one Barry..  Vets are far to often overlooked in these issues, and it is a shame that is the case.  I don’t know of too many trainers capable of getting any illegal drugs without having assistance from a vet in one form or another.  Of course these trainers are guilty, and should be held accountable, but so should the vets….
    In my opinion, a vet with an illegal drug found in their possession should be treated no different than a jockey found carrying a machine…  It should be automatic lifetime ban from racing…

  • Mlmartin

    i have seen several references to “herbs” being used. anybody out there know what these herbs are? and what about a product called dvm’s choice perform?

  • Mlmartin

    i have seen several references to “herbs” being used. anybody out there know what these herbs are? and what about a product called dvm’s choice perform?

  • Jayne

     why is a vet injecting a horse with anything on race day?  other than lasix

  • Marc

    In this instance, involving Dr. Hebert at the very least, there is ample evidence to compel an investigation by the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Board and a possible hearing to determine whether Hebert’s license to practice veterinary medicine in the state should be suspended or revoked.
    I would suggest that the state police involve the federal DEA and FBI in the criminal investigation. State and federal drug trafficking and racketeering charges may apply.  The sales records of known dermorphin retailers should be subpoenaed.  Such action could reveal quite a number of veterinarians and non-veterinarians obtaining synthetic dermorphin among other substances illegal in racing.  Basic criminal investigation techniques seem too often overlooked or ignored when racing is concerned.

    The dermorphin positives were shocking, but hardly unprecedented. The direct involvement of one or more veterinarians seems to have been an eye-openers for racing fans.  

    But the complicity between veterinarians and trainers runs a deeper than the administration of a single illegal drug.  The entire problem of pre-race medication abuse is a moral indictment of far too many racetrack practitioners.  They absolutely KNOW it is improper and inhumane to enable sore and injured horses to race on pre-existing injuries.  They know the health and safety of horse and rider hang in the balance.  Simply put, if a horse is unable to pass a pre-race soundness exam without potent painkillers and joint injections, it should be scratched. Collusion on the part of the veterinarian to get an unsound horse to the starting gate is a violation of the state veterinary practices act.

    It is unfortunate that we cannot now rely on the American Association of Equine Practitioners to provide ethical guidance in this matter.  They have long been dominated by those who are apologists for permissive medication rules in racing.  Perhaps, however, there is a glimmer of hope for the future.

    What may eventually resolve the issue is when the family of a jockey killed as a result of a catastrophic breakdown files a “wrongful death” case against the attending veterinarian, the trainer and the state regulatory authority.  This was done in the case of Roberto Pineda who died at Pimlico some 30 years when a lame and over-medicated horse named Easy Edith caused a fatal pile-up.  The case resulted in an undisclosed out-of-court settlement followed by an immediate strengthening of medication rules and enforcement — for a while.

    We need more such cases.  To clean up racing, we must take horse doping and medication abuse cases out of the exclusive and ineffective hands of politically appointed racing commissioners.  Let’s bring a few cases to alternate venues like state veterinary boards or civil and criminal courts and see what happens.

  • Marc

    Dermorphin is not anything like equipoise which is an anabolic steroid used to build muscle.  Like other narcotics used illegally in racing, dermorphin is an opiate drug that acts as an extremely powerful stimulant in horses.  Other potent opiates like fentanyl, apomorphine and etorphine (elephant juice) were also used in racing for the same stimulant effect until racing chemists developed detection methods.

    Most folks assume that narcotics have a depressant or pain-killing effect as they do in humans.  But horses are very different.  Small doses of narcotics in horses make them very agitated and anxious.  As one veterinarian told me, “they act like they’re gonna jump out of their skins”.

  • Marc

    I have absolutely no doubt that the veterinarians providing the drug knew very well that dermorphin is an opiate, a narcotic, instead of an anabolic steroid like equipoise.  Because the powerful narcotic secretion from the skin of a tropical frog had only recently been discovered, it had not yet been classified as a controlled narcotic. A detection test had not yet been developed.  But vets know that narcotics are stimulants in horses.  This was not an innocent administration of a herbal medicine.

  • Tbhorseman

    He knew what the horse was given period.  No vet is going to give a shot and not get paid period.

  • Tbhorseman

    very common practice

  • Howard Stevens

    Stanley,
    I have no explanation
    why the tracks in this nation
    when faced with facts that are true
    do not give the cheaters their due
    showing the cheaters to the door
    so we don’t have to see them any more.

  • Thelibrarian

    Please! NOBODY can prove who gave what. ALL they can prove is the horse came up positive. THAT’S why rules need to change & hold ALL of the connections involved accountable. Now EVERYBODY who gets caught lies & blames the other guy or they just can’t imagine how this could happen?

    • Marc

      In the Louisiana cases, you have a syringe containing dermorphin turned over to authorities, first-hand testimony from witnesses and co-defendants, and the ability to build a criminal case with veterinary records, purchase records and other circumstantial evidence.  It can be done. I believe a criminal case should be made.  I’ve investigated and prosecuted dozens of criminal cases so I have some credentials here. 

      And, in my opinion, there is plenty of evidence for the LA Board of Veterinary Medicine to act upon.

      The question is not whether racing officials can do more.  But will they?  

      • RayPaulick

        Marc…I don’t believe it has been established publicly (though I could be wrong) that the syringe contained dermorphin. I reported that a syringe left with a trainer (by one of the veterinarians that treated a horse subsequently tested positive for dermorphin) was turned over to the state police, according to testimony before the Louisiana State Racing Commission.

  • Thelibrarian

    Please! NOBODY can prove who gave what. ALL they can prove is the horse came up positive. THAT’S why rules need to change & hold ALL of the connections involved accountable. Now EVERYBODY who gets caught lies & blames the other guy or they just can’t imagine how this could happen?

  • Marc

    In the Louisiana cases, you have a syringe containing dermorphin turned over to authorities, first-hand testimony from witnesses and co-defendants, and the ability to build a criminal case with veterinary records, purchase records and other circumstantial evidence.  It can be done. I believe a criminal case should be made.  I’ve investigated and prosecuted dozens of criminal cases so I have some credentials here. 

    And, in my opinion, there is plenty of evidence for the LA Board of Veterinary Medicine to act upon.

    The question is not whether racing officials can do more.  But will they?  

  • http://twitter.com/jjandsamm its post time

    not to mention that they or someone they tell can wager on these horses!!

  • RayPaulick

    Marc…I don’t believe it has been established publicly (though I could be wrong) that the syringe contained dermorphin. I reported that a syringe left with a trainer (by one of the veterinarians that treated a horse subsequently tested positive for dermorphin) was turned over to the state police, according to testimony before the Louisiana State Racing Commission.

  • Mlmartin

    frog juice and generic equipoise are two totally different meds. equipoise typically would take about a week to affect the horse, but it was known to increase the effectiveness of bute. unless this “generic” equipoise is really something else  then why give it pre race? frog juice is a pain killer similar to morphine. its not an anabolic steroid. by the way i thought theses steroids were  banned.

  • s/s

    The Vets are like catering trucks for drugs on the backside. The industry ignores it, the worst abusers get bobble heads and horses are disposed of across the border, and you wonder why the sport is dying. 
    BTW I hear they are having another symposium on drugs, another hearing on safety, another……
    Gamblers could give a dam about the horses as well. Just listen to them. The horses are the 1, 4, 5, trifecta…….no names involved. 
    Lets substitute cockroaches instead, the gamblers will still bet, and we can get rid of a pest at the same time… the cockroach that is.

  • s/s

    The Vets are like catering trucks for drugs on the backside. The industry ignores it, the worst abusers get bobble heads and horses are disposed of across the border, and you wonder why the sport is dying. 
    BTW I hear they are having another symposium on drugs, another hearing on safety, another……
    Gamblers could give a dam about the horses as well. Just listen to them. The horses are the 1, 4, 5, trifecta…….no names involved. 
    Lets substitute cockroaches instead, the gamblers will still bet, and we can get rid of a pest at the same time… the cockroach that is.

  • Marc

    Agreed.  Except I’d go one further.  We need national licensing for racetrack veterinarians and trainers.  A suspension or license revocation in one jurisdiction should be immediately effective in all racing jurisdictions.

  • B

    These trainers across the country are the main reason good owners have gotten out of the business.
    How many of the wealthiest people in America got out of the game when they found out trainers were padding sales prices on private sales, scamming with the pinhookers and 
    billing day rates for horses that needed to be turned out or retired?

    Just because these people have billions it does not mean they can overlook being cheated by 99.5% of these lowlife degenerate trainers.

  • B

    These trainers across the country are the main reason good owners have gotten out of the business.
    How many of the wealthiest people in America got out of the game when they found out trainers were padding sales prices on private sales, scamming with the pinhookers and 
    billing day rates for horses that needed to be turned out or retired?

    Just because these people have billions it does not mean they can overlook being cheated by 99.5% of these lowlife degenerate trainers.

  • Stanley inman

    Howard,
    Bravo, bravo!

  • Don Reed

    “”Who…”

    Well, having eliminated the rogue bvets (whomever they may be), I wouldn’t start with TVG’s latest offer (whatever it is), which has the less-visible catch, “on selected wagers,” etc., below their large type AD.

    *****

    SHOCKING! The Disqus edit button is actually displayed and can be used.

    Not quite the New York Daily News all-time record for technical print/etc. glitches (@ 1980-2012) going unattended, but this site’s difficulties in this respect might have concluded.

    Now, if we could add a SpellCheck function & a Cancel Posting button, we’d be doin’ OK.

  • Don Reed

    “”Who…”

    Well, having eliminated the rogue bvets (whomever they may be), I wouldn’t start with TVG’s latest offer (whatever it is), which has the less-visible catch, “on selected wagers,” etc., below their large type AD.

  • Don Reed

    Test message.

  • Don Reed

    Test message.

  • Don Reed

    Vegas Derby Future Book News Bulletin!

    2013 Favorite is now a horse called “Lance Armstrong.”

  • Don Reed

    Vegas Derby Future Book News Bulletin!

    2013 Favorite is now a horse called “Lance Armstrong.”

  • Lynda Tanner

    A guy in Phoenix was bragging to me in the track kitchen in about 2003-4? About using this. Telling how much and when to give it.

  • Barney Door

    Birds of a feather flock together.

  • Barney Door

    Birds of a feather flock together.

  • Love my horse

    Larry Findley DVM and his associates know exactly what is going on and if they were to be indicted by the dea or FBI it would be a strong message to all the other “vets” to stop with the drug dealing.

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