‘It’s Time We Start Protecting The Sport We Love’: Gorajec Joins Water Hay Oats Alliance

by | 01.30.2016 | 9:52am
Gorajec: The continued decline in equine fatalities and support for the Horse Racing Integrity Act are two positive developments from 2017

Joe Gorajec, previously the executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission for 25 years, has announced that he has joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance. 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. Gorajec released the following statement:

“I am proud to count myself among the supporters of the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA). I applaud its principle stance on drugs in racing and its effort to create a path toward national uniformity by embracing the Barr/Tonko legislation.

“Having been a regulator in Indiana for 25 years has given me an insider's view of racing's regulatory apparatus. This has convinced me that national uniform drug regulations are simply unachievable under our current fragmented regulatory structure. More important than mere uniformity, in my view, is having the highest of standards which would then translate to a racing product that has the greatest level of integrity.

“Along those lines, I believe that the results of recent Daily Racing Form survey of fans are quite telling.

“When asked – ‘Do you believe that states are currently effective in catching trainers or veterinarians who are using illicit drugs?' – 78% responded ‘no' while only 16% responded ‘yes'.

“By a similar margin – 64% to 22% – respondents favor the passage of the proposed Barr/Tonko bill.

“As we look to the future, it's time we start protecting the sport we love – and not just our turf.”


  • Steve

    This man is not good for the sport of horse racing. Unless you have bred a race horse, owned a race horse or trained a race horse you have no business trying to make the rules for the race horse. Decisions about what is right/good for the horse should be made in the barn, and not in an executive’s office 5 floors above the track. Please let HORSEMAN rule/control this great sport of horse racing.

    • Tinky

      Hoo Boy. Let horsemen rule/control the sport? Talk about a recipe for disaster. Lasix, Bute, and a dozen other raceday “medications” would be legal, takeout would be sky high in order to fund bloated purses, and the downward trajectory of the game would be even more pronounced.

      No thanks.


      • Steve

        Spoken like a non-horseman. Lasix & Bute both help the horse, and if everyone has the same guidelines then what’s the problem. If you remove the use of drugs like these then you will quickly see the death of this great sport.

        • Jocke Muth

          “If you remove the use of drugs like these then you will quickly see the death of this great sport.”

          Like in Japan, Hong Kong, France, England, Dubai, Australia, South Africa who all banned drugs, if that is a dead sport then the USA needs a double dose.

        • Tinky

          Really, Steve, it’s hard to see how you expect to be taken seriously with a response like that.

          As JM pointed out, two-thirds of the world’s Thoroughbreds have been racing completely drug free from many decades, and hundreds of years, in the case of the UK, where the great sport was born.

          Furthermore, as I have pointed out countless times on this very blog, American horses raced without Lasix for the big majority of the 20th Century, and hey, guess what? Horses were averaging 30+ lifetime starts without it, and now average less than half of that.

          • Steve

            Let me ask you, what is your connection with horse racing? Breeder, owner, trainer, groom, vet. ? Your answer will say a lot about your knowledge of this debate.

          • Tinky

            I’ve been a professional within the industry for over 30 years. I have played a variety of roles, have owned horses, and worked closely with both trainers and vets throughout my career. I also have experience both in the U.S. and Europe, so my understanding of the medication issue is not one-dimensional.

            Perhaps you are new to this site, but my knowledge of the topic has been well-documented over the past few years. I have repeatedly posted inconvenient facts for which you, and other Lasix apologists, including high-profile trainers and vets, have no answer.

          • Steve

            So then what is your solution for bleeders?

          • Steve

            January 31, 2016
            Gulfstream Park: 107 runner, 4-no Lasix (3%)
            Oaklawn: 95 runners, 6-no Lasix (6%)
            So how do you fill racing with 3% & 6% eligible runner?

          • Neigh Sayer

            That is beyond ridiculous. Of course almost all horses are on lasix. That doesn’t mean they are bleeders or that they need it. Before you ask my credentials, I was a breeder and owner and spend a lot of time on the backside and worked closely with my trainers.
            No one wants to the be guy that doesn’t put his horse on lasix and I didn’t want to be that guy either, as we all know it moves a horse up a bit. If you’re in the business then you know how easy it is to get a horse on lasix and it’s a joke. Call the vet in, scope him, he finds a micro spec of blood, or even maybe not, and yep, he’s a bleeder. I’m against it. What should we do with true bleeders which is about 5% of all horses? How about what Australia does which makes a lot of sense.

          • Larry Ensor

            No disrespect intended but these numbers are meaningless.

            The majority of horses are run with Lasix because they can. The belief being that it is a “preventive” but more importantly it is perceived and I believe it is, as a performance enhancer.

            AS one trainer said to me, “I would rather run without. The majority of horses don’t need it. The seem to recover much quicker. I ran a horse that didn’t need it and finished a very close second. Scoped clean. The owner blasted me for not using Lasix. felt it cost him the race and moved the horse to another trainer. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

          • Tinky

            My solution is the same that is tried and true elsewhere around then world: thoughtful management, and cull the bad bleeders (roughly 5%).

          • Roark

            Look up the training/conditioning regimen of ‘clean’ Eclipse winner Runhappy. There’s your solution. Simply mimic what every Hall of Fame horse and Hall of Fame trainer did before about 1970. You need Bute after a particularly tough race? Cool. You need it a week before an upcoming race? Nope, not if you are training future breeding stock.

        • Larry Ensor

          I don’t agree. Going on 60 have been working with horses in one way or another my whole. From the ground and on their backs. IMO and experience only horses with “issues” “needs” the above. IMO the majority if raised, trained, conditioned correctly and with thought they are perfectly capable of being competitive at the highest level of their “god given ability”

          To each their own on this.

      • Ashley Elliott

        That’s what has been going on for DECADES. It’s time to try something else because the self-regulation things ISN’T working.

    • we’re watching

      Baloney Steve. Horsemen share some of the blame for the demise of Colonial Downs and their failure to compromise. The bettors have seen how some, SOME, horsemen cheat their ways into our pocketbooks. You provide the horses, we provide the purse money, let’s get some regulation into this sport to even the field and throw out cheaters.

      • steve

        I’m afraid your going to kill my sport, my 20 years plus of breeding and thousands of dollars of of investment. What you ruin on the track has a chain reaction. We want our horse to be safe and productive.

  • Lee Jenkins

    There is nothing “grassroots” about WHOA that I can see. When the rich and powerful lobby Congress for legislation that treats themselves favorably at the expense of others, that ain’t grassroots.

    • Ashley Elliott

      You can see from the membership roster on WHOA’s website there are MANY “regular folk” – myself included – that work and advocate for reform.,

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