N.Y. Times: Records show I’ll Have Another had history of ailments

by | 07.11.2012 | 7:02am

According to an article in today's New York Times, I'll Have Another had various physical ailments that his connections were dealing with well before he was withdrawn from the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) on the eve of the race. He was being treated with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs even as excitement built for his bid at racing history.

Times' writers Joe Drape and Walt Bogdanich were able to obtain veterinary records from the New York State racing authorities, which showed I'll Have Another's front ankles and knees were X-rayed only four days after his triumph May 19 in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the second leg of the Triple Crown. Those X-rays revealed that he had osteoarthritis.

Then, just two days before the Belmont, the colt was injected with what the Times writers described as two powerful painkillers as well as a synthetic joint fluid.

New York authorities had access to the records only because they insisted that O'Neill, who has had repeated drug violations, provide them if they were going to license him in New York for the race.

Foster Northrop, a racetrack practitioner who also serves as a member of the Kentukcy Horse Racing Commission and is vice chairman of the American Association of Equine Practitioners Racing Committee, called osteoarthritis a very common condition in both horses and people. “It simply means inflammation of the joints,” he said. “It could be bony changes or soft tissue or just the synovial lining. It's a word that sounds horrific but in reality, it's something we all deal with every day.”

Northrop specifically took issue with the term “powerful painkillers” used in the New York Times story. The Times did not name the drugs that were used.

“Powerful painkillers are not legal two days out in New York or Kentucky or Louisiana or Florida,” Northrop told the Paulick Report. “i can't speak for states i don't work in. That is a gross misrepresentation of the word. They were probably anti-inflammatories like Bute or Banamine. The joint fluid was most likely Legend, produced by Bayer. It's a hyaluronic acid, completely safe, and it's been proven there is no downside to its use. It's been documented that it makes the joints healthier and it will not mask pain.

“The science is incredible,” said Northrop. “The liver acts to store certain products that are bennficial to joints, and when joints need something it signals the liver and and the liver delivers it. Sometimes the liver can't keep up, which is why we give a synthetic hyaluronic flud.

“If f there is an uneasiness over the use of these types of beneficial products, it's because of misuse of inflammatory labels by some media people that misreprenet what the drug is.”

  • Stanley inman

    “… Misuse of inflammatory labels
    by some media people
    that misrepresent what the drug is…”

    Dr. Northrop makes a living dispensing these drugs on a daily basis.
    Which they have conveniently labeled
    “therapeutic medications”
    Their lame distortion to save face.
    No shame with this crowd,
    (Just trying to pay for college tuition for his kids.)

  • Caroline

    Could have simply pre-empted the usual barrage of criticism by simply stating by scientific and brand name the anti-inflammatory and/or painkilling drugs and synthetic joint substance used and the method of administration of the latter. Is this a case of a horse with really quite common (in racehorses) joint wear issues being administered a rather typical cocktail of treatments (not that I believe that is a non-issue in racing), or something less common and typical? Stunned that a vet would go on record as saying OA  is unusual in young horses; show me a set of joint rads on an ex racehorse of any age that are completely clean and I’ll…       

  • Lwsfla


    You probably have never cared for or trained a horse. The medications that Dr. Northrop was discussing is the equivalent to naproxin and in doses less than an athlete would take going into a ball game.

    A few nights ago, I was watching a Yankee game. The team trainer gave a player who had been hit by a pitch some anti-inflamatories, rolled on a pain freeze and the ball player returned to the game.

    That’s ok but doing something that is preventative for a horse isn’t……makes a lot of sense to me.

  • FlyFilly

     The authors could also have provided this information. Seems like that would be a requirement of full and accurate reporting.

  • Caroline

    That was my point exactly: if they have the vet records – yes they could have and I think for multiple reasons they should have.  

  • Sampan

    The New York Times did not name the drugs that were used.
    That tells me there is no substance in fact to back up their inflammatory claims that powerful pain killers were used in their stories.
    Always look for what wasn’t said that should have been stated.
    Then ask yourself why was it not stated.
    I personally never read the New York Times because they spin a lot.
    Just look at how they never brought the problems of Wall Street to the fore.   

  • Ida Lee

    Good Lord!! Will the I’ll Have Another fiasco never end. Next thing we’re going to find out IHA is really a filly.

  • Amgm1431

    This is highly consistent with the events leading up to the breakdown of my horse, Milltown Road. (Yes, it was the same barn; just know that many others are similar.)  I requested and was told that sonograms were taken, but they never materialized.  I saw pain killers being given.  I did not know then that vets are required to honor a written request from even the smallest percent owner of a horse, but not from an owner’s personal vet.  If any readers own any share of any race horse and suspect an injury, they can request a vet exam or past vet reports.   A vet who does not comply (now) will be in a lot of trouble.  Even the smallest owner has the power to stop a horse from racing  if they have  a negative vet report in hand.

    If experienced riders look at the videos of IHA’s gallops at Belmont and then look at older videos of the horse’s works, I think they’ll see that the horse was straining to get through the gallops at Belmont.  At that point though, it would only be human for the trainer and owner not to really see it.

    Ironically, I think that O Neill is a good enough trainer that he could win without all the alleged additives.  More ironically,  it’s bizarre that the racing public was angry when he did the right thing at Belmont.   Whether or not such a public deserves the truth– the horses do. 

  • Hossracergp

    I wonder if they can ask Joe Drape to give back his two Eclipse awards? That is a pathetic article. Next time write some facts, provide some proof, and leave the fictitious sensationalism for your newest novel.

  • Stanley inman

    because you heard a comment I made that you disagree with you assume i dont know what i’m talkin about; that I have no experience.
    Mind closed
    end of story;
    Enjoy your privilege of using a pen name,
    Attack the messenger.

  • Barbara

    Interesting. Great move by New York SRWB to expose the horse as just like all the other horses in the race, yet to have paper trail to tar and feather his connections if anything went awry with the horse in the race. So Reddam went one better and canceled the TC attempt. Bet the other Belmont trainers are all thinking, “whoo, glad I’m not Doug, and these idiots don’t have my vet records.” #teflontrainers #pileon

    Anyway, NYT proves that journalism as we knew it is as dead as the sport they are trying to bury.

  • 2yo’s racing in Amercia needs to be STOPPED…gotta give them more time to DEVELOP those magnificent bodies and brains…its ANIMAL ABUSE folks…pure and simple…the ny times shoots a lot of BS in order to sell the BS…they did jump on Doug & his connections like a CHEAP SUIT…his crowd had to know it was coming when they got to ny city having all the positives Doug has collected…CHANGE is on its way to Amercia in more ways than one can ever imagine…HORSE RACE N INCLUDED!!!…that train is comming!!!….

  • love that last sentence…ty…

  • This guy Drape talks like a man with a paper as###e….As DR. Northrop says a lot of this type of treatment HELPS a racehorse and is used by everybody who has ever won any races myself included…Changing out the synovial fluid in joints is just like changing the oil in your car……Every day in this country and around the world people with arthritic knees and other joints have those joints injected with drugs designed to reduce levels of discomfort and to keep a good range of motion… They are marketed under brand names such as Synvis,etc…..Don’t know who this guy Drape is but if they’re now giving out awards for drama instead of the objective truth then i guess it’s a clean sweep….There was a line in the movie The Man who Shot Liberty Valance spoken by the reporter who was telling the story….  I guess this guy Drape believes it to….”NEVER LET THE TRUTH GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD STORY”….

  • Chip Wiley


    You are a jerkoff.  There is no reason to be nice about it.  Foster northrup is as upstanding and honest as they come.  All you do is mouth off about nonsense that has no basis in fact, and you are wrong on a daily basis. You, Joe Drape, and Barry Irwin are three imbeciles that are an absolute embarassment to the Thoroughbred business.  If the three of you hate it so much, go do something else. 

  • Barry Irwin

    I wish that I could have been the editor of this piece. I like and respect Joe Drape, but when it comes to a story that involves technical issues such as these, he needs some guidance. If the editor of the NY Times that called for this story to be written really wanted to do a professional piece, he would have brought in some additional outside assistance so that a thorough job was accomplished. 

    I read where four veterinarians reviewed the evidence obtained by The Times. I wonder, however, if any of them had a chance to read what was written in its entirety. I would say no. Somebody with knowledge of the daily workings of veterinary practices and training methods needed to read this piece before it ever saw the light of day because it reads like it was written by somebody other than a beat writer.But it is obvious to me that this piece was hastily put together so that it’s publication timing coincided with tomorrow’s Senate hearing.If they wanted to do this piece correctly, they would have focused on the tendon issue, not all of the other stuff.The real story very well may have been the thorough job done by New York racing authorities.Publishing a piece like this appears to have been designed to put racing in a bad light.To a certain extent, it may have succeeded. But people inside the game of horse racing that read this story will come away with the idea that Joe Drape has no clue and the NY Times is out to get racing.Joe and The Times have done a great service to horse racing by raising and spotlighting the issues currently plaguing the sport. And for this they are to be commended.But this particular piece is not something we expect to see from either Jo or The Times.

  • tomfool

    It’s too easy to just dump on the New York Times.  The fact is IHA entered Belmont Stakes week stewed to the gills with all sorts of performance enhancing drugs.  He was the equine equivalent of Barry Bonds.  And it won’t do to simply say all the other horses running in the Belmont were similarly drugged.  Thoroughbred racing must join the other major sports and try to get performance enhancing drugs out of the game.  We can begin by giving control of the backstretch to authentic horsemen and hardboots and banishing the vets back to their pill mills and pain clinics. 

  • Tinky

    I don’t share Barry’s broad respect for Drape, but he is correct in his assessment of this piece. It’s hack journalism, and the authors should be embarrassed by it.

  • Stanley inman

    New York has regulations
    allowing them to request every vets reports on any horse.
    That is the new way this game will be played.
    Like it or not
    more transparency will free us from the tyranny
    of those who abuse the game.

  • SteveG

    Agree & I’m all for reform of our current practices…  

    Using the singular case of I’ll Have Another as a springboard to reiterate the general points the NYT already made in previous articles (o/a higher fatality rates than elsewhere & a correlation to overuse of meds, etc) is opportunistic & underscores the paucity of thought (and editorial assistance, as you point out) that informed this piece.

    Very short on concise, factual information & long on suggestion and innuendo.

    Grade – “F”

  • SteveG

    Hack journalism, indeed.  If you can bite your lip long enough to read the Times readers’ comments, you’ll see how many took the bait, hook, line & sinker, though.

  • Dc

    Mark this on my calender, I agree with Tinky.

  • Citation1012

    Next thing we will read is that Cashcall interest rate was dropped to 10% and D.O. is running for Gov. in California.

  • Dc

    Your name says it all, Barry Bonds indeed.

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    Well…I’m pretty sure Joe and Walt read these blogs and read the stories on this site. So come on fellas…in the interest of true and unbiased reporting where integrity of the information is the most important thing….what were these drugs that were used? 

  • Nucky Thompson

    I believe the injury was caused by the non stop tweeting of I’ll Have Another. He had the equine equivalent of carpal tunnel syndrome , hence the need for painkilling medications.

  • Stanley inman

    Simmer down my friend,
    I must have hit a raw nerve,
    It’s what I do best;
    I’m about reforming the sport,
    If you think I sound like a broken record,
    It’s because you probably support the status quo
    (and there’s nothing wring with that, Seinfeld would say)
    Paulick is about the free exchang of ideas,
    We all have the podium,
    Just make good use of it.
    Nobody here gives a flying *uck
    What you think of me,(sorry).

    I’m sure Foster is a great American,
    I cite him as an example of one aspect of the sport that is harmful-
    How those with status often say and do things and how th eir privileged status can be an obvious conflict of interest.
    I’ve yet to here a vet who gives drugs substantiate their claim that drugs are an insignificant part of their income.
    As a trainer and horsemen I find their statements self-seving.
    Foster, and myself are irrelevant to the issue I raise.

  • FlyFilly

    I’m pretty sure he also confused “arthritic changes” with “arthritis”, and it sounds like the vets were questioned about them as if they were interchangeable. Arthritic changes are common in any performance horse at a high level, just as they are with many human athletes. Full-blown arthritis at age three would be less common.

  • FlyFilly

     Don’t forget they also seem fuzzy on what amounts of drugs are used for what purpose…it still makes me mad that in that first article a couple months back, they were talking about test results in relative nanograms (which, did you know, is 1/10,000th of a gram? Of course you didn’t, because it wasn’t mentioned), without discussing in what amounts low-level doses vs high-level doses would show up within so many hours of administration. This was particularly distressing when they’d mentioned flunixin “a powerful pain killer”, which is a common remedy for colic–without context, how do we know the horse didn’t just have a bit of belly pain a few days before the race, and the trainer mistakenly thought his entirely appropriate treatment would have cleared the system by then? Unless you’re a vet or lab tech, the numbers he gave could be harmless or egregious, and I wondered why, if it was obviously the latter, we weren’t given context.

  • Scott Ramsay

    Where is the outcry demanding to see the vet and treatment records of UNION RAGS?!

    C’mon Joe Drape — and friends — the agenda of The New York Times is clear enough already, so you might as well go all the way.

    What passes for “journalism” these days is pitiful.  And Barry Irwin should have realized long before now how he’s been used and manipulated.  But now he’s probably worried that Animal Kingdom’s vet records will be published!  Then his hypocrisy-quotient will go through the roof.

  • Chip Wiley

    Why don’t you give your friend Joe Drape Animal Kingdom’s vet records, let him write about his history of ailments and let there be a public referendum on whether he shoud still be racing ?  Ask Your friend Joe Drape if he condones that Went The Day Well raced on not one but two anti-bleeder medications in The Kentucky Derby after racing medication free in Europe prior to his purchase.  These would be appropriate subjects of an article on the eve of your testimony before congress about the use of medication in racing.  

  • Frank_Reardon

    Pretty clear the times is out to get racing. This article is idiotic.

  • Frank_Reardon

    In short these guys are about as qualified to write about racing as they are to restaurant reviews. Not.

  • Tres Abagados Stupidos

    Larry Bird had a bad back,  Magic Johnson had bad knees, Roger Federer has back issues, Earl Campbell has a bad hip as does A-Rod….etc….etc….etc…..  If you are an athelete you are going to have issues. 

    If you are a reporter who sits at a desk typing up rediculous, exciteful, over-blown stories then I guess you probably don’t understand that.

  • Convene

     I couldn’t find the place where it said anyone changed out the synovial fluid. Maybe I need glasses. As for hyaluronic acid, we all produce it – humans too. It’s needed for the smooth, durable formation of the structures of the joints. I don’t have an issue with that any more than I have an issue with people taking calcium to avoid bone loss/osteoporosis. I do wish the article had mentioned the meds used but, as far as the non-racing people, I’m not sure they would understand what they were anyway. Many members of the public dunning racing for NSAID use rush for a Tylenol when they get sore muscley-poos from doing to vigorous a workout while the rest of us just let gentle exercise and a day or two cure the problem. I just wish the NY Times would give all the relevant info as this limited reporting does seem to cast racing in a worse light than it actually is, which is destructive, not helpful.

  • McGov

    I agree.  Why stop with Union Rags, why not write a piece that at least includes what every horse in the Belmont was treated with before being so critical. At least the reader might get a little perspective on how a trainer approaches a race like the Belmont. I doubt that there was a horse in the field that day that ran without some help.

  • McGov

    It seems that most people equate the treatment of human athletes to the equine athlete.  Until horses start talking, I don’t see the value.

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    I don’t think you need to stop racing 2YO’s all together…but I do think changes need to be made.  I can’t remember completely right off hand…but I am pretty sure Dr. Bramlage was part of a study, or referenced a study that showed racing at 2YO, when done properly, actually helps bone structure.  Again…the key there is doing it PROPERLY.  I would like to see these under tack shows abolished completely as putting a 2YO through that type of stress for the purpose of running an eigth of a mile is pointless and I can’t think of any actual good it would do.  I also think maybe you either mandate that a 2YO has to be that (an actual 2YO and not a late foal who still might be running at a year and half)….or say that 2YO races cannot be carded until June or July at the earliest.

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    I would slightly disagree with that statement just based on what I have seen as a vet.  I have seen animals obviously brighten up and be more mobile and agile with the addition of supplements like glucosamine and some joint injections of a drug called Adequan.  Has no side effects and makes them feel better.  True animals can’t talk, but when you treat one this way and the owner comes back saying how much like a puppy or kitten their dog has become again….then there has to be some benefit.  You are not masking a condition in that case, you are treating it without the risk of further injury..


  • Mlmartin

    if that’s the case the japanese will get a real surprise.

  • hope U really don’t believe that BS about the rest of the planets Race Horses never using DRUGS…Please…

  • Agenda journalism is as transparent as it is unprofessional.  We who love racing and know the facts must condemn the Times for their campaign to influence the Senate and bury racing.  Seems obvious that someone at the Times is making a boatload of cash for promoting the “concerns” of legislators who know nothing about the sport–but who, in turn, will benefit by jumping on the race-trashing bandwagon.  Makes me wonder if someone at the Times is sleeping with PETA–another storehouse of intentional misinformation.  It’s the Barbaro Effect all over again:  irresponsible journalism + attention-getting headlines = more papers sold to genuinely good-hearted, average citizens who probably don’t know a thing about racing.  But those people are the ones who storm Washington with calls and emails, demanding that the “inhumane sport” of horse racing be ended.  It’s a given that we who love racing, love horses.  It is NOT a given that the New York Times has the welfare of the horses at heart.  The editor who assigned this piece of trash writing can’t hear a horse nicker over the swishing of money rolling in.  Someone at the Times is in bed with D.C.

  • FE Davidson

    What a crock! So, joint injections are “completely safe, and it’s been proven there is no downside to its use.”  Either Northrup is lying or incredibly naive.  Anytime the bursa is compromised there can be complications.  And, history has shown that later in life horses that have been exposed to injection regimens are more likely to exhibit acute joint deterioration.  Then again, most in the racing industry could care less about horses after the age of 4.  Of course, joint injections serve as a source of excellent revenue to the vets that promote the approach.  How many of you have had vets suggest injections as a first approach, as opposed to a non-invasive treatment, or the novel approach of rest?

  • Jef

    The sports reporter on the NYC NBC affiliate last evening reported on IHA heading to Japan. He knows nothing about racing, so it was interesting to detect a (perhaps unintentional) sentiment that the owner knew what he was doing (as in: securing the maximum sale price) when he scratched him from the Belmont.

  • Tinky

    Let’s meet for coffee!

  • Herb Leliwa

    NEWS FLASH: New York Times reporter shows a history of ailments.  A close source stated that the writer once got a hangnail and recently had been treated for an abcessed tooth.  Documents obtained from medical sources further showed that the writer had a history of colitis and was previously treated for the flu.  “Yes,” said his editor, “we probably should have retired him a long time ago, but he just loved to see his name in print, so we decided to let him continue to write for as long as he could.”    

  • Guest

    It’s time for Drape and Bogdanich to do something else.  Every time they write a story they lose more credibility.  At a minimum, their stories prove that neither one could tell you the difference between a ring bit and haughton bit !

    What journalist prints this story without printing the medication that was used by O’Neil?  I’m guessing it was probably either Bute or Dexamethosone and the “synthetic joint drug” was probably (Hylartin) Hyaluronic Acid which helps horses regenerate cartilage.  If it was vetalog instead of Hyaluronic Acid, Drape and Bogdanoich would be saying O’Neil was a butcher for trying to block the pain.  It’s SOP to give Bute after injecting a joint to prevent unwanted inflammation.  

    “Powerful” is such a loosely interpreted word and it’s irresponsible to O’Neil and everyone named in this story to use that term without stating the medication.   Journalism 101.

  • Equisponse

    Bute “A very powerful pain medication.”  The reason it wasn’t used is it would be laughable to call it a powerful pain medication.  It’s a kin to you or I taking an Advil before going out for a run or swinging a golf club.  The only difference is we get to use it prior to our works…horses can’t as it has to be withdrawn from their system prior to racing as to not give a horse an unfair advantage. 

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    Yeah…I know…thats what I am talking about.  I want to hear what the so called “reporters” of this article have to say and why they won’t mention the drugs specifically…

  • Anne

    Thank god someone with half a brain finally gets interviewed!!!!

  • Nucky Thompson

    “It’s a given that we who love racing, love horses”
    Sorry but that’s a load of baloney.  Look no further than Ray’s story today on Keith Asmussen for evidence to the contrary.

  • Anne

    You’re a crock.  Joint injections with hyaluronic acid are extremely safe and keep the horses running at their best, without compromising the joint.  Horses injected with cortisone will exhibit acute joint deterioration.  Learn what is being injected, instead of being ignorant.

  • Maribel

    It’s over folks …you can stop the character assassination of Mr. O’Neill and Mr Reddam.You people need to get a life but mostly you need some factual reporting here .This is wishy washy journalism!!! Why is it ??Because if you actually told the truth in perspective nobody would want to read it .The horse is sold and it is a truly great horse worthy of all the honors it earned. The Japanese got the deal of the century and all of you are left crying in your proverbial soup. The horse is gone ! I loved this horse and nothing you can say will change that and you are only making the racing public angry with this classless behavior . Go shoot yourself in the foot why dont you !!!This behavior isnt helping ..its killing the industry !!! 

  • Sampan


    The horses were in the security barn long before the Belmont
    Stakes was run and no horse that was going to run received any prohibitive
    drugs of any kind.

    All entrants into the security barn are monitored and all
    treatments and feedings of the horses are logged. So it’s not possible for
    illegal or prohibitive drugs to be administered.

  • Thelibrarian

    No context….as usual.

  • KLH

    I can’t help but think that all the negative (and exaggerated) NY Times reporting on racing has something to do with slot machine revenue.  Turn public opinion agaist racing sufficiently, and NY could be another Ontario.  I think someone has their eye on the money.

  • Barry Irwin


  • Barry Irwin

    Anne, with all due respect, any time a vet sticks a needle into a joint there is risk. I had a horse that was favored for a Grade 1 race on Derby Day that was “touched up” with an injection of HA, the needle introduced a staph infection into the joint and 40 hyperbaric chamber treatments and several antibiotic treatments later it survived to become a broodmare. This is not an isolated story.

  • FE Davidson

    Anne,  Barry’s right on with the story he’s related.  It happens over and over.  Additionally, to your point, oft times the vets inject more than just HA.  Many times vets will inject a pain killer in the same injection.  That’s part of the problem.  The “additives” are available like a buffet and they’re overused with the concern only being what will aid the horse’s performance; not what may be incured during the horse’s later life.  Frankly, if the horse needs the injection, the real problem is not being addressed….merely a symptomatic band-aid.

  • Barry Irwin

    Bute is powerful enough to mask lameness. Why do you think that the caring and progressive vets fought so hard to change the threshold levels and the HBPA fought so hard to keep them where they were?

  • Barry Irwin

    Stanley, while it may be accurate to that vets make money by selling and dispensing drugs, it is not an accurate depiction of what they do. In America, in all but a few instances, racetrack vets make their money by selling drugs, because they require compensation, as they do not charge for services rendered. The occasional vet, like Dr. Steve Allday, charges a fee for diagnosis. But most vets opt instead to receive their compensation by giving shots, dispensing medicine, scoping horses and taking x rays.

    Frankly, a better system would be for vets to charge a fee like Dr. Allday and have all drugs in an on-track pharmacy that that sells the drugs to vets at no cost. This would be good for owners’ bottom line and would take away a huge conflict of interest from vets.

    Also, Dr. Foster Northrup is a first-class human being and a first class vet and should not be the target of anybody. He has his own opinions, some people might disagree with them, but nobody can argue that he is not passionate in a good way about his patients or this game.

  • Anne

    Barry, any time a vet sticks a needle in a horse anywhere theres risk of infection.  The HA didnt cause your issues, it was a staph infection introduced.  Hyaluronic injections are to restore the viscosity of the fluid, which has been compromised.  It helps the joint, not hurts it.  Many trainers go the cheap route, and inject cortisone, which will indeed destroy a joint.  Tho none of this is news to you, I know.

  • Melneey

    Or even worse, a gelding.  YIKES!

  • Melneey

    “Snort” !  Toooooo funny!!!!!!!  Back in the days when I could run a mini marathon I used to be really thankful that I wouldn’t be tested for drugs (painkillers) afterwards.

  • Barry Irwin

    NBC national evening news just did a couple of minutes on the NY Times story.

  • Barbara

    Was the Polyglycan given as an IV supplement or as a direct joint injection?  Regardless, IHA didn’t receive much more and probably less than any of the other runners in the Belmont Stakes. 

    Drape and the NYT are verging on irresponsible libel, and certainly have promoted an agenda based vendetta, and I wish Reddam would use some of the 10 million to sue them even if he would lose, just to give them something else to write about.

    Racing will never recover from the final blow of the continuous vicious misinformation attack of the NYT, it is not a sport that is strong enough nor coordinated enough to fight back or even reform itself.  But I would pay a small sum to see a real journalist uncover  the true master of this smear campaign via the NYT.

  • Susie Byrd

    I feel so sorry for Doug O’neill   poor guy is being so verbally abused over something trainers  have to deal with 24/7.  This is a 3yo race horse with exceptional talent…A horse doesn’t reach maturity until age 5 and these horses are being asked for the max every time they run….problems are going to surface…Doug handled it to the best of his ability but in no way would anyone make me believe he purposely did anything to cripple this horse…look at the horse he claimed for $50,000 and made over $5,000,000 with…does this sound like a bad guy?  He is at the mercy of the general public who have not a clue as to what entails the everyday management of a race horse.  They are sub-ject to gossip mongers only are bearers of bad tidings.  My hat is off to you, Mr. O’neill
                                                                                        Susie Byrd

  • Cubs Stink

    The meds NBC news put on the screen were phenylbutazone, vitamins, albuterol, dexamethssone and polyglycan. Oh no, stop the presses ! I’ll have another had the same meds as 99.9% of racehorses in America !!!

  • Cubs Stink

    I agree regarding this story, but give me a break. Doug O’neil has more baggage than anyone should and the cause of it can be found every morning when Doug looks in the mirror.

  • Barbara

    Read the vet report for yourself. 


  • Tony

    NBC and NYT’s have the same agenda.

  • Tinky

    What’s most interesting about the report is that it clearly exposes the dishonesty of anyone who claimed at the time that IHA’s career-ending injury was “new”. That’s not to say that it wasn’t aggravated leading up to the Belmont, but according to this report, he had known soft tissue issues that were detected as far back as February of this year, and likely July of 2011!

    On other words, they were held for a long time, but couldn’t quite make the most important dance.

  • ktq1

    What exactly is the truth?  No one knows, because the sport has no controls.  NYRA is to be commended, as they had good reason to be concerned and took efforts to control the unthinkable.

  • Sampan

    I thought the NYSWB was fair to all licensees.
    I just learned Doug O’Neil was the “only” trainer in the Belmont Stakes who had to give his vet log for I’ll Have Another. I have serious doubts about the integrity of the NYSWB when they don’t treat all trainers equally. This is very bad rule enforcement to say the least.

  • ktq1

    I second this.  No comparison.

  • LongTimeEconomist

    Maybe it’s just sensationalism designed to increase their declining circulation.

  • CK70

     Joint injections are safe if done properly….and frequent injections of certain substances can lead to joint deterioration, but HA is not one of them.

  • Canarse

    In my experience this type of article is not uncommon in the New York Times.  They did a piece on another industry that I am involved and refused to publish information given to them that would call in to question salacious claims.  They would only print, “the company denies these accusations.”

    The New York Times is in the business of selling newspapers and boring articles don’t sell newspapers.

  • Barbara

    I noticed that. Couldn’t decipher state race day vet check notes as well as Hunt’s recent treating vet notes, and bet 90% of horses read with similar notations on race day. Which is kind of the point here. There is nothing unusual about I’ll Have Another as a racehorse, other than his not entirely popular connections and serving as NYT/Drape target practice.

  • Hossracergp

    You must be doing a lot of reading between the lines here to make that statement.

  • Tinky

    “Profile”, “thick”, “mushy”, “tendons”…

    …on the contrary, anyone with any familiarity of vet vernacular would see the same.

  • Ron Crookham

    The New York Times puts out another hack story about horse racing and is picked up by NBC news ? Ya, big suprise. I was reading a story in the World Weekly News about a B-17 on the moon, a better written piece with more fact checking than the NYT ;)

  • maggi moss

    Is there sometype of conspiracy going on in racing?    Legally, no racing jurisdiction has the power to make a trainer/owner turn over vet reports;    How on earth does reporting get so distorted and so inaccurate?   Anyone that has been in racing has got to realize this language is inaccurate and not truthful.   This story is a politically timed story; 

    BARRY-    you didnt time this or help Joe , did you ????

      facts do not matter in racing anymore-      now, its all politics.   Everyone is entitled to their views, but could it please be based on accuracy,  reality,  facts, and science?       Anyone want to follow me to some private island where we can pretend to have our own private WOODSTOCK-            

  • Barbara

    Race day vet reports are intended to track the changes in a horse’s inherently imperfect health and soundness, so that a comparison can be made and any increase in an issue duly noted. Perhaps you want to take a dose of reality about ALL racehorses in training before you trash IHA along with Drape? (Then again, probably not…)

  • ktq1

    You should look into Burna Dette, see if you still feel the same about coming to O’Neill’s defense.

  • pinky

    I’ve never been a big fan of Doug O’Neill, but the more of this crap I read, the more the guy’s starting to grow on me…… If this keeps up, I may have to get myself one of those cheesy straw fedoras…. Mission accomplished Mr. Drape – well done!

  • Tinky

    I am not “trashing” any horse. In fact, the only people I was critical of were those who claimed that IHA’s injury was “new” just prior to the Belmont.

    I’m also well aware of what race day vet reports are about, and when repeated mentions are made of soft tissue issues, such as in this case, it is clear that his career-ending injury didn’t come out of the blue.

  •  Ask Burna Dette what she thinks about O’Neill. Never mind, he saved himself the trouble of sending her to auction, he sent her to Los Alamitos (which makes Ruidoso look like an amusement park) to die during a race – no fuss, no muss, and he thought no PR, but he was wrong. There were too many people who knew that horse and knew what he did. Never mind the milk shakes and medication positives and …. You’re right, completely defensible, just business as usual in horse racing.

  • Barbara

    Most injuries aren’t out of the blue, Tinky, but diagnosis of the specific injury might be. Once the injury or issue is aggravated or develops to a point of obvious increased risk to the horse, the connections make a call in their (and sometimes even the horse’s) best interest.

    What I am asking you is this: do you really think his race day reports were that out of the ordinary for any race horse, including the horses he raced against?

  • James D. Jimenez

    “Profile”, “thick”, “mushy”, “tendons”…
    Please tell everyone where you see these words used! They do not appear in either article or in the Vet report. 

    Seems you’re up to your same old garbage of spreading misinformation!

  • James D. Jimenez

    And please don’t tell me you’re going back to his first race almost one year ago as a two year old and foreseeing a tendon injury after the way he ran his four races this year. I’m talking about info leading up to the Belmont! 

  • Hopefieldstables

    This horse seemed to get a lot of IV “vitamins”

  • So why are 24 horses a week dying at US racetracks? This is not acceptable.

  • Barry do something disingenuous or self serving?  No….never!

  • In honor of you Tinky, I would like to state that Drape’s articles are an example of hack journalsim ad nauseam (not sure if this meets your grammatical checker but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to use it in a response about something we agree on!).

  • wallyhorse

    Given the board was at the time dealing with Lou Pena, a Harness trainer who had over 1,700 violations, the NYSRWB probably would have been slammed by a number of outlets had they not done what they did with O’Neill.  The NYSRWB to me would have had to implement the barn regardless of whether or not we had the issues with O’Neill because of the violations that were about to become official against Pena at the time.

  • Chip Wiley

    Now I have read it all, experts like “Barbara” and “Tinky”  interpreting and spouting off their veterinary opinions…..as if either one of them are remotely qualified to even read the reports.  This is both hysterical and sad at the same time.  Neophyte readers of this forum beware, neither of these two self professed all knowing experts is offering any commentary of value, and as such should be read at your own intellectual risk.

    There is absolutely nothing untoward on Dr. Hunts report, and the horse had recieved nothing so over the top to warrant such a pathetic attempt by Joe Drape to state otherwise.  If you have even the most basic knowledge of veterinary medicine you would understand that. 

    There isn’t a professional atlete, human or equine that gives 100% during competition and training, that from time to time doesn’t have some aches and pains that need to be addressed.  Polyglycam, Bute, and Azium are the smoking guns that Drape based this whole ludicrous attack on ?  He is even stupider than I ever gave him credit for being.

  • Staceyjgw

    I agree with most all of the comments, this is hack journalism at best, filled with inaccuracies and misleading information. The real culprits of this smear campaign in my opinion is The Jockey Club. Along with the long time bed fellows of the Times, radical, ” shock-jock like” Senators that need exposure. It is bullying at its best. Its no secret that the best way to beat the bully head on is through words. Maggi Moss said it best, “Where is everybody?” I commend Dr. Northrup for speaking out against this article and others should follow! We should be posting our views on the very sites that print such slanderous articles. These are the articles and opinions that will land on the desk of Senate Committee members appointed to oversee the hearings and that is a fact. The staff of these appointees spend countless hours researching the articles and most importantly the viewpoints of the general public A.K.A. “The People”. Because as we all know, general perception is 99% of how the government votes. Please, let’s all not take this fight sitting down!

  • Staceyjgw

    Let’s not forget also that NYRWB also went as far as busting O’Neill’s chops for wanting to “cook” IHA’s night feed! A practice by which you simply add hot water to the feed to help mix all of the ingredients harmoniously as well as aiding in digestion. EVERY horsemen does or has done this and that is a fact. Heck, I’m surprised no one has suggested a breathalyzer be administered to the horses that get a pint of Guiness! RWI (Racing While Intoxicated)

  • McGov

    There is no doubt that drugs can make any species feel like a spring chicken.  My point is that the human athlete is aware of the choice.

  • Tinky

    Of course they were out of the ordinary. I’m not suggesting that he shouldn’t have been racing, but only a small subset of runners have suspicious tendons.

    Now, if you mean to say that most race day reports will include notes of some issue, and in some cases they are chronic, then I don’t disagree. But I found these to be interesting in that they confirm that there was a history of concern about tendons.

  • Tinky

    James –

    They are indeed in the vet reports that were released, so next time, try to read a bit more carefully before going off half-cocked.

  • Stanley inman

    You know as well as I do the system is rotten,
    the light of day is goin to speed up it’s demise.
    Just because there are “good people workin in this system does not excuse
    The everyday practices that perpetuate it.

    The classic defense is to highlight “exceptions” ;
    the “good” people who make up the system.
    Just read all these responses here where apologists ignore reality where most defend whAt are daily abominations in our sport.
    the sport can not afford to coddle these “good” people nor their indefensible actions; just because they are embarrassed, their participAtion no longer hidden from view;
    Hopefully it will give them pause so they can consider how they are part of the problem, and will become part of the solution.

  • Tinky

    Chip –

    Let me tell you what is really sad: your first paragraph is a pure ad hominem attack. 

    If you want to dispute my interpretation of the pre-race vet reports, then feel free to do so. Otherwise, you’d be much better off if you refrained from making totally unsubstantiated remarks.

  • James D. Jimenez

    Like I added, you are referencing the July 2011 entry of Dr. Jill Bailey to something that happened almost 1 YEAR later. Just a hint to you who knows all: Doug like many trainers paints his two year olds shins with a Ball’s type paint. This paint is a counter irritant that can cause surrounding tissue to appear “mushy”. Believe me, if there there was ANY issue Dr. Bailey would have scratched the horse! Not only wasn’t he scratched, he went out and won his first race. 

    Tinky, you have a great second career working for The New York Times when you’re done here!

  • Stanley inman

    So true,
    They love to perpetuate this myth about comparing it to aspirin;
    Then why is it given with a needle in the jugular 24 hrs. Before every race by virtually every trainer.
    If it was just therapytic, the horse would not need it immediately before competing, right?
    The assumption being he is sound.

    So the fact that horse men all use it close to every race should be evidence enough that while it can be therapeutic, it’s normal use is to produce competitive advantage.
    Mask unsoundness to keep the horse running his guts out.

    If it’s just therapeutic ask horsemen not to use it within week of running.
    The horsemen have squandered all their credibility- the Internet and information has exposed their myth making.

  • Tinky

    James _

    Your “analyses” continue to be a joke.

    What part of “I’m not suggesting that he shouldn’t have been racing” did you fail to comprehend?

    Also, did the painting of the shins in July of his 2yo season account for the “profile” noted in February, or the subsequent notation in April? Do all of his 2yos have “thick”, “mushy” tendons as a result of such painting?

    Those are rhetorical questions, by the way.

  • James D. Jimenez

    You demonstrate perfectly how a little bit of information can be dangerous. You’re always looking for something negative to post and will hang your hat wherever that can be found!

  • Hossracergp

    And this discovery was made in a prerace exam and still the horse received the thumbs up to run that day? Were these visual exams or ultrasounds? Does DO have the obligation to inform you about the condition of his horse as long as it is racing sound and fit to perform?

  • Tinky

    No trainer is “obliged” to inform the public about details, and I have never suggested otherwise.

    My only quibble with O’Neill, as any close reading of my comments would reveal, is that when the horse was retired, he acted as though the problem had come out of the blue (e.g. “He had the start of the tendon and we stopped on him”, and it was a “freakish thing”, etc.), when the reports suggest otherwise.

  • cepatton28

    Mrs. Moss as a trainer I have to say that politics has always been the downfall of horse racing.   In 1999 at Delta I had a QH that was part of an entry I had in got loose from the groom on the way to the paddock and arrived at 14 mins to post and the other horse was on time.   I was given a small fine the next day which I paid without any argument.  The same night my horse got loose which was witnessed by security running loose on the backside one of the leading trainers whose name I will not mention arrived at 11 minutes to post and nothing was done.   BTW it was a claiming race in which the horse was 7/5.    I would have to say that was politics wouldn’t you?

  • cepatton28

    That was the only infraction I have ever had as a trainer.   I am not a politician just a horseman.   I am not a salesman and am honest with my clients.   That is probably why my stable stays small

  • Chip Wiley

    Someone that hides behind a faux “screen name” while rebutting any criticism with the phrase “ad hominem attack” deserves to be laughed at even more and is simply unworthy of credibility or respect.

    Apparently you are neither a veterinarian, nor a trainer, so you have no expert experience and therefore are in no position to offer the “expert” opinion you try to sell to the uninitiated readers here.  Your act is tiresome, give up the charade already, no one is buying it.  You are entited to your opinion, but just like the all knowing Barry Irwin, that’s all they are, your opinions, and to claim them as facts are laughable.  You are no expert, much as you obviously wish you were.

  • Tinky

    So, you follow up an ad hominem attack with yet another one, and fail completely to offer any challenge to the substance of my posts.

    That’s all that any intelligent readers need to know.

  • John McEvoy

    Who would have thought that “The Great Gray Lady” would morph into yellow journalism story after story about horse racin?. They continue their disgustingly slanted approach.

  • Chip Wiley

    Your posts have no substance.  You are neither a veterinarian nor a trainer and have no standing to make any comment as an expert on such matters.  That is as true a criticism of your babbling drivel as it gets.  Keep hiding behind that faux “screen name”.

    THAT is all any intelligent reader needs to know.

  • Tinky

    To top it off, you apparently fail to detect the irony of saying that I am “hiding” behind a screen name (which is completely irrelevant) while you re-affirm, post after post, that you don’t have the guts to argue the actual points that I have made.

    Simultaneously sad and amusing.

  • Maureen

     Really?  Bute and Banamine ARE powerful pain killers.

  • Maureen

    I agree there is nothing unusual in a racehorse having arthritis show up on x-rays.  I would be surprised if a horse who had raced 10 times could be produced without arthritis.  But I don’t believe it hurts the horses to have racing under scrutiny, so I am in favor of the article.  I have TB’s, and I plan to race them this year.  And I am a trainer.  But my horses will race drug free, or not at all.  Period.  And that’s how it should be.  If the horses need drugs, they shouldn’t race.  And they might be a lot healthier if they got rest and not pharmacological treatment. 

    But then racing has become all about the money.  It’s no longer about whose horse is faster.

  • Barbara

    Jesus Chip. WHO the hell are you? I didn’t do any such thing. Read again. If I made it too difficult for you, I AGREED and meant to convey there is nothing in Dr. Hunt’s report that is terribly different or interesting for ANY performance horse. I am the ONE who pointed out it was IV Polyglycan for god’s sake, and not listed as a joint injection.

    Tinky was hanging his hat on the career race day vet reports for the horse that were written by several different vets in their specific notation patterns. I was DEFENDING that information too, but noted that I did not decipher (for one thing, you can’t entirely discern the notes on the pdf copy of the handwritten raceday reports) the specific notes that concerned Tinky. Take that up with him in your sad and hysterical manner, or even calmly, in a normal tone of discussion.You apparently aren’t qualified to read, much less inject your opinion here. Back up. Otherwise I AGREE (read carefully Chip) with your premise is your last two paragraphs.

  • Maureen

    I challenge any owner or trainer to live in (ONLY) their bathroom for a month, get 30 minutes of exercise a day (period!), have to live on food that gives you ulcers – and then with the ulcers – have no human contact, then get shot up with pain killers, have your joints injected, and then 4 hours after having a Lasix shot, go out and run the 100 yard dash.  Good luck with that.  Why do we subject horses to what is clearly ludicrous?

    One final comment.  If people went to the backside and saw all the stall fronts covered in mesh, and inside each stall was a tiger (a solitary animal by the way) there would be massive outrage at the cruelty inflicted on those tigers – by having them live in small dark cages. 

    So what makes it different when it’s horses and not tigers?  People have learned to respect wildlife, we still treat horses as nothing but property.

  • Maureen

     Since when do people in racing deal with facts?  They should, I totally agree.

    Fact: corticosteroids destroy joints
    Fact: Bute causes demineralization of bone
    Fact: Ditto Lasix

    Fact:Things that trainers consider common and harmless today were illegal in earlier times.  Racing needs people who understand conditioning and could train horses to race 3 4 mile heats separated by 20 minute breaks -as they did originally.  People who knew what horses are and how to train them.  Today horses are run shorter and shorter distances to make up the inadequacies of modern day trainers.

    Fact: Just because we do something and it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.  Years ago wife beating was legal, as long as the stick used wasn’t any bigger around than a man’s thumb.

    Someday, the things done today at the racetrack, and accepted as okay, will be right up there with the “rule of thumb” – a sign of man’s barbarity.

  • Romans

    Mr. Irwin, in all due respect, the use of a combustable, proven fatal hyperbaric chamber is far more the ”risk” than the  simple maintance of a joint with HA. I have never seen an injection of HA create fatality. I pity this sport when it comes down to a trainer ”shoveling” pressurized oxygen into an innocent animal. Such unnatural ”administering” should be banned and those who employ it should be removed from our sport.

  • Chip Wiley

    Keep hiding behind that screen name.  Neophyte posters beware, this person is no expert, no matter how much he/she pretends to be one.

  • NY Owner

    Bute and Banamine are NSAIDS.  Would you call Ibuprofin a powerful painkiller?  There’s enough truly bad stuff going on without exaggerating procedures that are mundane and harmless. 

  • Maureen Tierney

    No, I wouldn’t call Ibuprofen a powerful painkiller. But Bute is NOT ibuprofen.  Nor is it what vets love to call it on TV – just like aspirin.  They do make horse aspirin.

    I started with racehorses when I was 15.  I am now 61.  Though I have not been in the racing industry even the majority of that time, I have had horses.  I have raced horses, I operate a horse rescue, and have horses in training now to run in the fall.  I have SEEN how powerful Bute is.  In 2002, I rescued a horse at auction.  I knew there was something wrong with his stifle, as a note was on his pen stating so.  He was however “racing sound”, in that he as eating well, walked and trotted well, etc.  For 3 days.  Until his Bute wore off.  I took him to CSU (Colorado State University) to find out what the issue actually was.  They anesthetized him and x-rayed the stifle while he was out.  Because of the condition of that stifle, they wanted his body for research, so they charged me only for the drugs they had used.  The condition of the stifle?  No cartilage left whatsoever.  Bone on bone.

    That is not the only horse I’ve seen with issues that Bute completely masks.  There is a reason Bute is in use, and it’s not because it’s “just like aspirin”.  So yes, I think a drug that can make a horse go sound with a bone on bone stifle with no cartilage left, is a powerful pain killer.

    As a country we are gullible.  Marketers use the words “All Natural” and we think something is safe.  Arsenic is all natural, curare is all natural, blow fish are all natural.  Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe.  And just because we have become accustomed to hearing about NSAID’s, doesn’t mean they are all created equal.  Notice Ibuprofen is not a prescription drug.  Bute is.

    Also, many horses have knee problems, and treated with Bute, they race. However, the equine knee is the equivalent (anatomically) of the human wrist.  Imagine balancing on your wrist with all your weight.  Then imagine you have a twinge of pain, or your balance shifts.  Boom.  Collapse.  If you’re a racehorse, death.

    If you were to talk to any honest vet or any truly honest trainer they would tell you that Bute IS a powerful pain med.  If it wasn’t it wouldn’t be in use.

  • Romans

    Normally the proper antibiotic is injected simultaneously by a knowledgeable veterinarian. Hopefully Barry isn’t utilizing ”un professionals” or ”students….

  • Anne

    So if 24 horse are dying a week at US racetracks, how many horses are running each week at race tracks.  Is it 100?  500?  5000?  Isnt that a pertinant figure?  I wonder how many horses die on farms each week from the same number of horses that are running?  I dont know myself, but I know horses die from colic and accidents on farms every day.  So unless you have a control to compare it to, I think it unfair to pull a number out of the air with no comparison and just say its not acceptable.

  • Anne

    I went to Equibase and started counting each start per horse per racetrack for the week, since last Saturday.  I didnt even get finished and I was up to 7000 starters last week.

  • Maureen Tierney

    It’s not the number – it’s the reason.  Racing is inherently dangerous.  We knowingly accept that risk, and make the decision for our horses.

    It’s increasing that risk by the use of drugs that is wrong.  If even one horse a week dies because he/she shouldn’t have been racing, that is one too many.

    I won’t do it.  The public doesn’t want it.  And weak rationalizations regarding “therapeutic” medication will eventually not be needed, because the public will demand racing be outlawed if something isn’t done about it.

  • Maureen Tierney

    What few in racing seem to understand is that for every racing fan there are thousands of people who are NOT racing fans.  There are millions of animal lovers in this country who are tired of animals suffering for human gain.  People don’t think 2-year olds should be raced (I am of that camp).  People don’t think horses should be whipped.   But people really don’t like the idea of horses being killed.  The slaughter houses found that out.  Racing needs to wake up.

    Barbaro and Eight Belles deaths were a warning to racing – based on public response to them.  One more death on TV of a famous racehorse, and the outcry will be beyond belief.

    Make no mistake.  Racing is facing it’s death knell.  Years ago it was not enough money, so there was OTB.  Now it’s casinos.  But abuse of horses is something the public does not want.  Racing needs to change or it faces being outlawed.  The foolish bickering over semantics that goes on with the likes of Dr. Bramlage and his “it’s just like aspirin” is pointless.  It only convinces those who want to be convinced.

  • FE Davidson

    In a perfect world that plays by a high level of ethics, you may be right.  However, in the racing world, I would have to take a contrary position.  The multitude of substances that are injected by the vets to gain an edge on the competition are not solely limited to HA and antibiotic.  And, that’s without considering the extent to which the vets have a personal stake in the game.  Is it plausible that a vet could be paid off to sabotage a horse competing against the vet’s better client?  You betcha!  But who will ever know?  The losing horse will most likely not be tested.  You can call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’d prefer realist.

    Additionally, visit the NY Times interview with Dr. McIllwraith and his assessment of the regimen for the horse following the joint injection.  His suggestion: 3-5 days of walking, followed by a re-entry into training.  I don’t hear, “race the horse in a day or two.”  There’s a reason for this and it’s obviated by the pain killers, etc., included with the injection.  For the horse’s good? I don’t think so.

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