‘We Lack Reciprocity’: Chenery Joins Water Hay Oats Alliance

by | 02.27.2016 | 9:11am
Penny Chenery

Penny Chenery has joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA). WHOA is a grassroots movement of like-minded individuals who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing. The organization released the following statement from Chenery:

It took me a long time to fully appreciate one of the benefits of owning a Triple Crown winner. All at once, you become a public figure and inherit a platform from which you can make your voice heard.

When Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes on June 9, 1973, to become thoroughbred racing's first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, I had no idea of the opportunities it would provide for the ensuing 42 years. I have spoken up on various issues in thoroughbred racing, always with the best interest of the sport in mind. This is one of those times.

Our sport recently received a healthy dose of positive publicity, thanks to the exceptionally talented American Pharoah. (And, yes, I was rooting for him to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.)

But we have practices that compromise equine welfare and the integrity of the sport. Rules can vary greatly from state to state, and drug-testing labs in one state find substances that drug labs in other states do not. We lack reciprocity. When a trainer is penalized in one state, he is still free to race horses in another state. And importantly, penalties in many states amount to the proverbial slap on the wrist. They are looked upon in some quarters as just the cost of doing business and not a deterrent.

The abuse of therapeutic drugs and the use of illegal drugs are not new issues for horse racing. In May 1982, I was invited to speak at a U.S. Senate hearing on a proposed piece of legislation, The Corrupt Horseracing Practices Act, calling for pre-race testing of all horses and a ban on all race day drugs, and I used that platform, over 30 years ago, to explain, “What I am for – what every thoroughbred breeder in America is striving to do since Bull Rock was imported in 1730 – is to breed sound horses that race on courage.”

At that time, some states were taking steps to reform their medication policies; others lagged behind in their commitment to medication- free racing. I felt we were moving in the right direction. Sadly, time has proved me wrong. The National Uniform Medication Program – a voluntary protocol featuring a list of controlled therapeutic medications, standardized drug testing labs and uniform penalties – has been fully adopted by only nine of 38 jurisdictions. Breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys and horses should be competing on a level playing field if we hope to attract new fans and retain current fans.

Today, I firmly believe that the time for federal legislation of our sport has come. And I am glad to know that a recently proposed piece of legislation would not require additional taxes or be paid for by those who wager on our sport. The horse racing industry would absorb the cost, as it must. The Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 (HR 3084), introduced by Reps. Andy Barr, R-Ky., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., would encourage the adoption of a national uniform standard for drugs and medication in American thoroughbred racing and grant rule-making, testing and enforcement oversight to an entity created by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Every competitor and everyone betting on a race would be getting a fair shake if this legislation becomes law. It would undoubtedly enhance the welfare of our equine athletes and the integrity of our sport. I am not alone in my support for this bill. Several racing organizations have formed an advocacy group known as the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, or CHRI, to encourage the adoption of this legislation.

The 1970s are often referred to as “the glory days” in horse racing because Seattle Slew and Affirmed followed in Secretariat's footsteps by winning the Triple Crown in 1977 and 1978. But even another succession of Triple Crown winners would not return this sport to the glory days. We need to reform our medication policies. We need uniformity. We need passage of HR 3084.

Penny Chenery campaigned the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Additional information is available at secretariat.com.

  • Bourbon Man

    Thanks for stepping up, Ms. Chenery. There would certainly be visible change if out of competition testing and uniform rules were applied to the sport … very visible

    • Rosemary Homeister

      Our horses are suffering because of these changes whoa is not in the best interest of the racing horses

      • Marilyn Shively

        please explain

        • Rosemary Homeister

          We now have many new medication rules. Class 4 drugs have always been illegal every trainer has known which medications are allowed and therapeutic to the horse and which are not. If a trainer choose to

          • So, how do the rest of the racehorses around the world “handle the stress of competition” if they can’t take these drugs?

            If a horse can’t handle that stress, it shouldn’t be racing. Eventually, breeders will have to stop breeding horses that aren’t fit to race. This bullsh** of breeding a horse with the sole purpose of being able to win a Grade 1 at 2 years old so he can retire to the breeding shed to make more horses that can’t stay sound until the “first Saturday in May” is doing nothing but hurting the sport.

            Lasix has serious side effects and long-term consequences. As a pharmacist, I would never support using it in humans for the same reason we use it in horses. As Ms. Chenery put it, it is abuse of a therapeutic substance. If a horse’s underlying physical response to racing is bleeding so severe that it requires a drug, but the horse is perfectly A-ok doing anything else that a horse does in life, it is nothing but ABUSE to mask that horse’s physical response to racing by drugging it with a substance that has well-known short-and long-term adverse effects. It’s not only substance abuse, but it’s animal abuse as well.

          • Rosemary Homeister

            I guess we should do away with all sports then. Equine and human. The reason I comment here is to defend horseracing. all the comments I’m reading are to destroy it and end it. I wish more insiders would comment. They must think it’s a waste of time

          • ben

            Rosemary, there are international guidelines. IFHA rules, but the USA ( the States) have decided to turn , extremely important parts,
            down.

            Instead of the IFHA list ( there are some eight teen therapeutic medications approved) the ARCI has grown the list to 28.

            Raceday medications are prohibited any time around the whole wide world. Except the USA and Canada.

            What is making racing so much tougher compared to the rest of the world.

            Racing in Meydan is without raceday medications, but some top horses from the USA will compete over there without the stuff.

            I just like to have a science respondence.

          • Jocke Muth

            Racing in South Florida is very special , it’s hot (never mind that Meydan is in a desert country), horses sweat a lot (never mind that Meydan is in a desert country), horses in the USA train and race on dirt (never mind that Meydan is using dirt track).
            US horses race at a diffrent pace, flatt out from the gate for as far as they can then they crawl over the finish line.
            Perhaps this is where the problem is, US horses exhaust them self’s early in the races and are forced to continue running, could this be the reason so many horses in the US bleed?
            Is it the very core of US racing (early speed) that is wrong and not rest of the world?

          • Rosemary Homeister

            You didn’t enjoy racing at Gulfstream Saturday ? They had a record crowd and record handle of 24.113 million many owners were there watching their horses run and win. Seemed like everyone was enjoying the day next will be the fla derby then onto Kentucky for the Kentucky oaks ( of which my daughter rode in last year) and then the Kentucky derby ( of which jr rode in 10 yrs ago) so we have a lot to look forward to here in the USA

          • Jocke Muth

            No Rosie, I’m no longer living in Florida, but I did enjoy watching Mohaymen run his race over the internet.
            But that’s beside the point, I was just reciting some of the arguments I have heard So.Florida trainers come up with as to why med’s are sooooo necessary in Florida racing.

            Yes, I know Rosie jr. rode in both the Oak’s and the Derby ( I have followed her carrier since I first meet her back in -97, I even exercised some horses for you at Calder 2004-2006).

          • Rosemary Homeister

            Oh wow glad to know that. If you’re on Facebook pm me. Yes the trainers are the ones who really know the facts. We are in the trenches and get a daily dose of what’s going on as well as know what makes a horse tick inside and out. We are dedicated (as you know what it takes) and love our sport and I am willing to fight for it I for one can’t help but speak up when I hear all the negative comments from people here. I have to laugh sometimes (not often) but I know they’re serious.

          • Jocke Muth

            I’m sorry Rosie but we are in total opposition on this subject, I walked away from Calder because I was disgusted with the rampant Medication abuse I saw.
            Soar horses medicated with Bute instead of finding out whats wrong, when the horses acted up trying to tell the trainers something was wrong they got more medication (ACE), I guess it’s easier to medicate than actually try and find out whats bothering the horse.
            I was happy when I heard Calder was being closed and hoped that it would put some of these “med happy” trainers out of business and make room for real horsemen.

            Just look at the “Ace” positivs at Calder compared to the rest of the USA.

          • Rosemary Homeister

            Ace does not hurt a horse it helps. Look up the explanation given a few days ago between tranquillizers and sedatives. Their are short acting (ace) and long acting (reserpine) please research before commenting.

          • Jocke Muth

            FACEPALM

          • Rosemary Homeister

            It’s ‘forest for the trees’

          • Jocke Muth

            The sport is thriving in the rest of the world without medication and in the US it’s going downhill fast with medication, so please explain how your defending a flawed concept that apparently do not work.

          • Rosemary Homeister

            Sorry for u. we do not use lasix on a a daily basis as a human might for a heart condition we use a small amount for a breeze 2 cc) and 5 for a race. They don’t breeze every day or race every day. Only 2-3 weeks or more between a breeze and /or a race. Inbetween we make sure they have plenty of water electrolyte supplements vitamins and good feed and hay. Being with the horses 24/7, a trainer is fully aware of the consequences of drug abuse. You have to give the majority of trainers more credit than what’s being given. Most of us love our horses, take gd care of them and keep up with all the latest information and rulings A group of vets in south fla, headed by dr Selway, recently tested all 2 yr olds after a race that were either on or off Lasix they concluded that all on lasix didn’t bleed while most without it did. In Europe scoping is rarely done they only record or notice a bleeder when the blood comes gushing out of their noses. Did u ever notice there’s only one winner in a race? Ck ( scope) the rest of the horses. I’m defending my sport to preserve it. it’s a fight to the finish (line)!

          • Convene

            Ever see someone with a heart condition go out and race hammer-and-tongs, medicated or not? If (s)he does, it’s voluntary choice taking personal responsibility for any ill results. Could it be that some horses really – speed and talent notwithstanding – would be better served in careers more in keeping with their physical limitations?

          • Rosemary Homeister

            Please don’t knock the first Saturday in May omg we’re stooping to an all time low here

    • Rosemary Homeister

      We already have many medication changes. Cutting out anything that helps the horse, such as lasix or soludelta, which is a natural occurring substance in the horse, hurts the betting public also, who actually could care less about all this.

      • I believe you mean to say the betting public “couldn’t” care less about this.

        Also, there are plenty of substances that are naturally occurring in humans and/or horses, but that doesn’t mean that giving more of that substance to the person/horse is good. In fact, it can be very, very bad. I think you should do more research before supporting the use of drugs in horses just because the horse may already produce that substance naturally.

        Testosterone supplementation in humans is a timely example.

      • Bourbon Man

        Which has absolutely nothing to do with out of competition testing.
        The betting public does give a rat’s patootie about reading the form, betting based on PPs and then having their head handed to them by some horse that fires once and is never heard from again. Oh, yes, they do.

      • Wrong again.

      • Jocke Muth

        “Cutting out anything that helps the horse,”

        Let me correct that for you Rosie.

        Cutting out anything that helps the trainers,

  • Kathryn R Wilt

    Good organization WHOs .A couple of questions and I am sincere in asking this:
    -Whom would enact the legislation and whom would police it ?
    -Is it just the masking agents and the speed junk (that list is really creative)? Or does it include Lasix ,the steroids et al ?
    -How about cosmetic surgery on the babies, should that be a consideration ?
    I always appreciate informed opinions ! Thanks !
    Classy lady ,that Miss Penny.

  • Thanks Penny! Welcome aboard.

  • pearl

    With all due respect to the great horses that are in history etc, my question is one of what did they race on? I am not sure all the great horses that have run in the past were hay oats and water. And..the public will never know either, trainers oath….shhh, shhh. Mum is the word…..

    • Rosemary Homeister

      And what do you do for a headache? Or arthritis or a cold? Maybe call or see the dr to get some relief

  • carate

    It took a long time to join, but better now than never. We all loved Penny in the movie.

  • Convene

    Well said, Penny. Thank you.

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