The Friday Show Presented By Woodbine: A Gaping Hole In Drug Testing?

by | 09.09.2016 | 8:40am

There are several areas in which the Thoroughbred racing industry has made progress in recent years. Random, out-of-competition drug testing isn't one of them.

In this edition of The Friday Show, Scott Jagow and Ray Paulick discuss why out-of-competition testing is vital to racing and why it's been such a struggle to put it in place in many jurisdictions.

Plus, a look back at the stars of Del Mar and Saratoga and some thoughts on the Horse of the Year race.

Watch this week's edition of The Friday Show presented by Woodbine below.

  • Jack Frazier

    Until veterinarians are penalized when horses test positive for anything, nothing will happen. In my opinion the is complicity as well as collusion on the part of high profile cheaters, who everyone knows is cheating, with racing officials and veterinarians. Every horse, trainer or veterinarian involved in a bad test should receive an automatic sixty day suspension for the first offense and incrementally increase the penalty so that they are hurt in the pocketbook. The shame of racing is that the big boys receive a pass but the small folks are nailed.
    If the rules that are in place are followed, and they are not, a lot of the cheating might wane but knowing how the culture of racing revolves around drugs, nothing will happen. I retired in 2009 to pursue a training career with moderate success because I would not give my horses drugs some vets said I needed to give to be competitive. I quit training for this very same reason. There are no morals or ethics among many in racing and the only way to eradicate cheating is to have a policy that is so harsh people will think twice. It is easier to drug and run than actually training. Drugs do enhance performance in humans and animals. That is a fact but the drug culture is so ingrained it will be almost impossible to stop. I think monitoring the veterinarians who are present from opening to closing in certain trainers barns would be a start. But again, the veterinarians who are on the record as those trainers vet’s should be looked at hard and long. They are the reason because if you look on the backside, they are the ones driving new cars or trucks, usually high end ones as well.
    There should be random drug testing, unannounced, every day of the week, 24/7. I know when I was training we were warned that CHRB was coming so any illegal substances needed to be gotten rid of. What kind of policing force announces beforehand they are coming to shakedown your tack room? Insane and it won’t change.

    • Mr. Moo

      Could not agree more
      I have had face to face Chats With the vets/trainer various tracks “you don’t give my horses this that and anything I don’t know about” despite having this chat they do what they want. Showed up early on morning to see them taping a knee (Saunderd to the office and scratched) I now have a signed action against both to not be within 50 feet. Causes a bit of an issue when the vet is one of the “official vets” one would think it would be the vets responsibility to advise the owner his horses knees where full of mice. The chips had floated around enough that there was no cartilage left to heal… They are lucky they didn’t meet the 22250

      • shar

        You have a lot of heart, Mr. Moo. You are my kind of horseman. Bless you. Your actions are exemplary! They horse couldn’t tell you about the pain. I wish all owners were like you.

        • Mr. Moo

          I think there are plenty of owners that would do the same IF they knew. My days on the back side taught most all the tricks some use and how it’s not disclosed and billed to the unsuspecting new owner. It would surprise many if they showed up randomly and pulled some Blood (I know of no track that would disallow that. trainers refusal would be cause to suspect )

    • shar

      Thanks for the expose! You have a lot of heart (mostly broken for the horses’ sake). You are my kind of horseman. Bless you. Your suggestions are excellent!!!
      I keep praying there’s some horseman somewhere in a position to HELP THE HORSES and will do the right thing by them. So far, not much in the way of RESULTS.

    • Guest

      No, the trainer is the ultimate insurer. The vets frequently advise and the trainers don’t listen. They order drugs online and treat on their own. I do bookkeeping and clerical work for a large practice and some of the trainers are freakin’ idiots. They have an emergency situation with a horse and call the office in a panic, “I gave her a little Drug X a couple hours ago and now she’s down thrashing around” and want a vet to come out and fix their backyard chemistry project. I also track drug inventory and know where every single bottle goes. A horse gets a dex positive and I can look up the treatment records and the drug records and account for every gram. That horse was not treated with dex and that trainer was not sold any powdered dex. Gee, wonder what happened there. It’s an online drug free for all and to suspend the vets when a trainer gets a positive is not right. Believe me, the vet is not going to treat the horse without billing for it.

      I agree with NM – suspend the horse for 60 days if it fails OOC Testing. Pull blood on every claimed horse, give the results to the new owner and trainer. They can return the horse under certain conditions. Every horse that has a positive test should be suspended for 60 days and automatic DQ and redistribution of purse money.

      • Jack Frazier

        True to an extent. Some trainers do as you stated but here in Ca., some vets, not all, are complicit. You are giving trainers too much credence on their ability to know and use drugs. Some are Einstein’s, but most as far as drugs, most are Barney Fifes. I have trained for well over thirty years and have a Masters Degree and I couldn’t tell you what drugs interact positively with other drugs. Start with the horse, trainer and vet. See what happens. Nothing else has worked and in New Mexico, which you cited, drug use is still rampant the only ones with the knowledge are those who went to school to learn their trade. Argue me that one.

      • Mr. Moo

        You may know what truck is was dispensed to but not what horse got it and how much how often. All you know is that your person wrote on the invoice a horse and owners name. Your practice could very well be straight up and honest some are not. Having said that it would be the attending vet that should have record in his notebook to exonerate him self. Both the trainer and attending are jointly culpable. And yes some of the things lay people give there horsed defies logic alot of them are on the schedule … So where did they come from?.. IMI if I have a script it becomes “by and on the order of” who I give it to is another question at one time if one had a script you cold have it in your fridge on track. Case in point ventapulman, do you send your guy out a couple times a day to dispense a few CC in some feed buckets? Or do you sale a whole bottle and who gets the bill the barn or some owner?

  • Gate To Wire

    #Unnatural

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    The racing jurisdictions have to realize that they have to get over this “I’m scared of what might happen if we catch a big name” thing. You catch them…you prosecute them…and if found guilty you get them out!! Simple as that. Scared that they will pull all their horses from your circuit?? Well…#1 Call their bluff on it. #2 Even if they do…trust me…you will have a flood of honest trainers come back into the game to fill those spots. It just takes a commission and jurisdiction with the balls to do it, like Gural has in the standardbreds, to lead the way.

    • ben

      The big ones are not gooiing anywhere, just vocally, Why them high purses are preventing them for dooiing what the mouth is saying.

    • Guest

      I agree – I was disappointed in the Friday Show Comments about “what a shame” it would be if a big trainer got caught. Play by the rules or go home. There are good honest horsemen out there who will step up to the plate and fill those shoes.

  • Michael Castellano

    The failure to have OOCT could be a nail in the coffin of racing, to be carved on its tombstone. I also agree with Jack Frazier that the vets need to be included in any steps towards OOCT. From what I understand about racing in a place like Hong Kong, they are quite rigorous in trying to keep drugs and lasix out of the picture. They are also known for having people make huge bets on races sometimes in the millions. If gambling is the financial basis of racing, and there is no trust in the integrity of the sport, money will definitely go elsewhere. One of the problems may be that any jurisdiction that begins such testing policies, will find an absence of trainers and horses in the short run.

    • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

      I really don’t think that will be the case. I think there are honest trainers out there who would love to get back in the game in a jurisdiction that respects the fact of keeping the cheaters out. I think it will just take one large racing jurisdiction to stand up to them and kick them out when they are found guilty.

      • Michael Castellano

        Hope you are right.

    • shar

      I support your position. Knowing the animals are clean and healthy does foster higher and more betting and a better overall espri d’corps. I personally feel crummy knowing about all the probably horrible things the horses are enduring on a regular basis, and wonder with heavy heart about how each and every US horse race is going to turn out. I wonder if all the horses will come back to the barn and stay alive after that. I pray for them.

      How nice it would be, alternatively, if horsemen took great pride in our sport and followed all the CC&Rs; if our sport was stringently policed, the horses’ wellbeing tightly protected, what effect that would have on the pride level of all involved in horseracing for meeting such high standards, knowing the horses are all clean and the race will be fair and square. Jockey’s would not suffer as many injuries, horses would live longer, wouldn’t get hurt as much, could be followed through a longer career, and much more money could be wagered on them, and parents wouldn’t have to explain to a crying child why that horse fell down. The sport would be held in high regard by the public, and its future would be secure. It could be televised regularly without concern. How NICE THAT WOULD BE! What a breath of fresh air!

      Currently, the scumbags rule. But I will not leave my precious sport without a fight for its healing and better future. None of us who care can afford to walk away or turn a blind eye.

      • Hamish

        Turning a blind eye seems common practice in our sport. The scumbags that you speak of are often quite mean and capable of serious retaliation against whistleblowers. For this reason, among many others, I think regulators are afraid to pursue certain nefarious persons or horse gangs. It is literally destroying the game as we speak.

      • Bobbie Irish

        You know, I hate to tell all you people, horses get hurt all the time, break legs and die horrible deaths. Not in racing. In the wild. In Wyoming we have lots of feral horses. I have seen at least a dozen in the wild, over the past 30 years, stumbling along with a totally useless limb. Some, you could tell, were broken. Others, who knows? Got kicked, bit by a rattlesnake, attacked by a predator, God only knows. It is also true that horses here in the west, running out “naturally” as could be, on thousands of acres, seem to spend most of their lives trying to commit suicide. I have lost two wonderful geldings to shattered front legs. One on a 60 acre irrigated pasture. With his buddies. Fine the night before. Broken leg in the morning. Quarter Horse. Twenty years later my best Foxtrotter gelding. Same deal. 500 acre natural enclosure. With the his buddies. None were kickers. No holes that we know of either place, we checked. Terrible time for me. There is no safe place for a horse in a natural environment, any more than there is at the race track. Eliminate all drugs, which would be great. But don’t expect not to have injured and broke down horses, because they are ultimately, all horses. And horses are fragile creatures.

  • David Worley

    Scott’s articulation of the importance of out-of-competition testing is spot on. But, I will also add that more mundane issues fall into this same category of ‘animals have no choice’: wide-spread lasix use, whip use, and breakdowns.

    • Bobbie Irish

      Horses are animals. Horses are by nature, fragile animals. There are and will always be “breakdowns” with horses. I am pretty sure that Zenyatta’s weanling filly wasn’t being drugged to race, and didn’t she die in a “paddock incident”? Drugging should be stopped. I believe the new individual DNA profiles as suggested in California should make a huge impact on secret doping of individual horses. At least I understand now why race horses spend most of their time standing around in a stall, with 2-3 “works” per month. They need that time to build up their “blood” from micro doping. Racing every 2-4 months seems normal nowadays, where they used to run far more often. So doping is the reason , according to what I’ve read. No wonder they break down and have heart attacks. Too many red blood cells, too much sludge for some horses, too much, period for others.

  • shar

    Great Friday Show! Thanks for talking about Clenbuterol (sp?) what it was designed to do, how it is actually being used by trainers, and what the abuse of it does to the horse. In light of all the drugs regularly used on racehorses today, I am frankly amazed any racehorse can survive their “racehorse” days. I applaud your courage to bring the subject out in the open from the horse’s position. You are so right. They have no control, must endure what is many times criminally done to them, and (you didn’t say this but), many times give their lives as a result of all this drug manipulation. All the while, unscrupulous trainers will do anything to impress owners at the horse’s expense. So wrong. Thanks for having the courage to shine a light on this. I truly respect you and enjoy your efforts to educate and improve the sport for every participant. I think trainers who hurt horses should absolutely endure a stiff and swift penalty any wrongdoing. Without healthy horses and law-abiding connections, we have no sport of horseracing.

    • Tinky

      Clenbuterol, when properly used, is a highly effective agent to help treat and clear respiratory infections. Unfortunately, it is also a powerful bronchodilator (when used close to an event), and has steroidal properties (when used regularly over longer periods of time).

      • Guest

        Agree, when used as intended, it’s wonderful. I have a pre-COPD on it and he will thankfully have a long and useful and comfortable life due to Clenbuterol.

        • Bobbie Irish

          I have a mare who has been on Clenbuterol when she is ridden only. She is a serious riding horse, not a race horse. She has a problem with dust, and allergies, mostly on the trails. Clenbuterol eliminates the problem. She is now 18 years old and still climbing up to 10,000 feet in the mountains, always ahead of everyone else. She has had this drug for 15 years and is in superior health. If it made her any hotter, I would have a heck of a time staying with her!

  • Jack Frazier

    It would be very simple to end the drug abuse if the following criteria were used;
    1. Any horse with an overage of any drug, legal or otherwise, would be suspended for three months for the first time and thereafter banned for one year.
    2. Any trainer with more than three overages of any drug legal or otherwise, would be suspended for three months, and the next overage he/she would be banned for one year and all their horses would have to be transferred to a trainer not working for them.
    3. Any veterinarian who administered any drug overage, legal or otherwise would be suspended for three months for the first violation and banned for life the next one. Any veterinarian who repeatedly has horses with overages would lose their right to work on the track for life.
    4. All veterinarians should be listed along with the trainer of record on every horse in every race to find the pattern of drug abuse.
    5. All trainers, owners, grooms, exercise riders and veterinarians would have to sign a disclosure statement that they know the penalties and will abide by them.
    6. Hire professional law enforcement officers from the DEA to monitor all activities on the racetrack.
    7. Any horse entered into a race could have no drugs, legal or otherwise, ten days prior to their starting in a race and all horses would have to be on the grounds in a secure, monitored holding barn three days prior to their race and security camera’s would be in every stall.
    8. Security video cameras in all stalls on the grounds. Period.
    Won’t happen though because the drug culture is too ingrained.

    • Guest

      Lots of holes there. I suspect that a low level claimer who got suspended for a year would be on a slaughter truck lickety split. You need to look out for them most of all.

      How do you know that the vet administered the drug? Unless it’s in the vet’s records or the vet admits it, you don’t know. It’s too easy to get drugs online and that is done too frequently to blame the vets.

      When you apply for your license you already agree to abide by the rules. No need to sign again.

      The DEA can’t monitor what it’s already supposed to be monitoring. How you going to convince them to play at horse racing???

      Some tracks don’t have enough room to hold the horses stabled there plus an additional 200-300 horses in a secure monitored holding barn. Plus it’s additionally stressful on a horse to have to move from it’s home barn and stay somewhere else temporarily. Plus you are dealing with the spread of diseases due to so many horses coming from different places and being housed together. Disease is kept in check by quarantine.

      So if a trainer had to send off ever horse to a secure, monitored barn for 3 days before every race, he needs to increase staffing to cover the staff that is traveling for several days with each horse. So what happens on the east coast where you have so many tracks running and so many trainers shipping to different tracks? The bigger outfits may have horses running at 3 tracks on weekends. So now they have 3 grooms traveling, leaving the barn shorthanded. And where do the traveling grooms sleep? Are the tracks going to build nice bunkhouses for them or put them in hotel rooms, or are the owners supposed to pick up those bills??

      • Jack Frazier

        You sound like a vet or a trainer. Which is it? Do you want to stop it or let it alone? Just asking. As for vet records, many falsify them or just don’t write down everything they give. I’ve been around awhile and guest, I use my own name. I never hide behind anonymity.

  • Will Styles

    We don’t need drug testing on horses not stabled at the track. That is a blatant over reach of power. Horses are property like it or not. If I train my horses on my farm or at a training center I’m paying stall rent. No state agency has a write to neb in my business, those horses are my property not theirs. As long as the horses run clean at the track, that’s all that should matter.

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