Racing Integrity’s Newest Threat: Human Designer Drugs?

by | 09.19.2017 | 4:48pm

It's no secret the challenge of post-race drug testing has always been keeping regulators one step ahead of those who use illegal drugs or illegally manipulate medication. But with the advent of Internet sales and bitcoin, one laboratory director fears his job, and that of racing commissions everywhere, is about to get a lot more difficult.

Earlier this year, Dr. Rick Sams, laboratory director at LGC Sport Science in Lexington, Ky., was asked to analyze the contents of a plastic baggie found somewhere on a backstretch in Kentucky. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's Equine Drug Research Council makes funding available for LGC to analyze substances seized by security personnel to help the commission learn what drugs they need to be looking out for. The baggie contained sugar cubes, slightly rounded about the edges, almost as if they had been partially dissolved.

Sams' analysis revealed the sugar cubes contained etizolam, a drug used in a handful of foreign countries for short-term treatment of insomnia and panic attacks. Etizolam has not been approved for use in the United States by the federal government, although it has been granted emergency controlled substance status in a handful of states due to problems with illegal use in humans. Etizolam is a GABA inhibitor, making its action similar to Carolina Gold, a sedation substance which has caused debate in the show horse world and in racing. Sams' quest to find out how it ended up in a baggie of sugar cubes took him down an Internet rabbit hole he hadn't expected.

Etizolam is one of hundreds of new psychoactive substances (or “designer drugs”) available online through illegal laboratories to anyone with a credit card or web-based payment system. Most of the drugs are cannabinoids (the largest group); others are opioids, benzodiazepines (sedatives), methamphetamines, or cathinones (known commonly as ‘bath salts') – newer, chemically-tweaked versions of street drugs which their makers hope will turn out to be more potent and commercially valuable than the last substance to hit the market. And there are hundreds of them.

In 2014 alone, global law enforcement seized 34 tons of new psychoactive substances. Some 644 new ones have been classified by the UN Office of Drugs and Crimes from 102 countries. In the course of one year, the office shut down 100 illegal labs in China churning out ketamine.

“That brings home the magnitude of the problem,” said Sams. “And ketamine is a legitimate substance that's still used in human and veterinary medicine and it's being made by these laboratories.”

Sams said these designer drugs escape regulatory detection by being touted as “research chemicals” and are commonly sold in vials with labels suggesting they are “not for human consumption.” This labeling often keeps them off the radar for the U.S. Postal Service, since transport of research materials isn't necessarily illegal. It's not hard to find dosing instructions online for the drugs, which often come in concentrate form and must be weighed into tiny quantities to get individual doses. Users then discuss doses, side effects, and length of symptoms openly in web forums.

These “research chemicals” are not buried in some corner of the dark web or limited to bitcoin users, either. Sams found websites selling legitimate psychoactive substances through a quick Google search as he was trying to learn more about the drugs themselves. Many retailers claimed to take mainstream payment methods.

“It blew me away,” said Sams. “I had no idea that this existed. I went on these websites where they're talking about these effects, they're talking about how they prepped the dose from a research chemical. On these websites, they'll learn what solvent is required to dissolve the chemical – not all of it is dissolvable in water – some of it is nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol.

“This whole thing has been so eye-opening for me.”

In the case of etizolam, users receive a vial of concentrated powder (Sams has analyzed these products and found that unlike many horse medications and supplements sold through sketchy online retailers, they do indeed contain the drug they're purported to). A reddit post directed users to dissolve the powder inside the original container (which is large enough to allow this). The solution can then be dried on blotting paper and divided into fractions based on the vial's concentration. Alternatively, it can be sucked, dose by dose, into small pipettes or insulin syringes. It is then dropped onto sugar cubes and allowed to dry, the crystals of the drug sitting more or less on the sugar cube and ready for oral consumption. It was this that investigators found on the backstretch in Kentucky.

New psychoactive substances are marketed to human abusers who have little concern for the way they were made; some are bought by addicts, others by athletes seeking an edge, usually with something that will act as an anabolic steroid. The drugs are on the radar for the World Anti-Doping Administration, which detected letrozole in mixed martial arts fighter Jon Jones in mid-2016. Letrozole was once used for treating breast cancer in humans by strangling the hormone supply to estrogen-dependent tumors. A side effect of its action was an androgenic effect.

What does all this have to do with horse racing? It's going to get much harder to figure out when a positive is really a positive.

Sams now has to quantify and analyze post-race samples for an exponentially-growing number of substances. At the time they discovered dermorphin could be chemically modified to escape detection, lab directors knew they would have problems finding all possible versions of certain drugs intended for horses. With hundreds of new substances out there intended for people, the challenge is far greater. Commission officials will now have a larger library of substances which could be found in horses as a result of accidental contamination, or as a result of cheating.

Designer drugs have already cropped up in racehorses, although the reason for their presence isn't often known. In 2011, MDPV (“bath salts”) were detected in horses in Oklahoma. JWH-250, a synthetic cannabinoid, was detected in Standardbreds in 2016. AH-7921 was found in a Thoroughbred in New York (though in that case, the trainer admitted he thought he had dosed the horse with a different illegal drug). And this year, nomifensine (which is no longer produced legally in the U.S.) has resulted in the suspension of the reigning American Quarter Horse Association champion trainer. All of these were designer drugs, likely cooked up in an illegal lab somewhere.

“We can't tell here from the analysis of the sample, whether it came from environmental contamination or the tail end of intentional administration. There are no tags that tell us one way or another,” said Sams.

This month, officials in Maryland held trainer Dale Capuano blameless after they determined a cocaine positive in one of his runners was caused by exposure to a groom who was in possession of the substance. In that case, the groom admitted his role in the positive, making it clear there was no intentional administration.

If you think people won't give a human drug of abuse to horses just to see if it helps, history says otherwise. Sams recalls as little as 30 to 40 years ago, trainers were known to administer methamphetamine to horses for the purpose of performance enhancement.

So what's the solution? Perhaps surprisingly, given his position, Sams doesn't think it lies in more testing. Currently, labs cannot detect a drug unless they have analyzed it and added it to their library. Hair testing is more appropriate for chronic drug administrations and unlikely to catch single uses of drugs in small quantities. He does think federal legislation placing the United States Anti-Doping Agency at the head of drug testing for racing could better disseminate new information about drugs across its network.

“I think [track surveillance] is really the answer,” he said. “I think longer than four hours from race time is needed. Maybe it comes down to out-of-competition and essentially lockdown at the racetrack before race time, maybe for as long as two or three days.”

Newer substances of human abuse may already be making their way into the horse world. In the course of his research Sams found one other item related to etizolam – a classified advertisement on a website geared toward Western pleasure riders.

  • smitty

    Allowing veterinary trucks to be searched is a start and thus a deterrent,and having more commission investigators visible around the tracks.You might need a licence to get into these tracks,supposedly,but once in its “free for all”

    • Blue Larkspur

      Let’s just go with the Hong Kong format – no private vets allowed.

    • Danielle

      They do need to tighten things up with the vets but I can assure you as someone who use to work for a private vet the drugs these guys are using are not coming from their vets

      • kim

        Hong kong

      • Doc

        You are correct,

    • kim

      Bingo

    • Trainers have circumvented legitimate vets and get the illegal substances on their own. They use legit vets as cover for their cheating.

      • Ray Bushholz

        Yeah. Like Pletcher and Baffert. You can kill 6 horses with Cobalt and Thyroid meds and the press like Steve Haskin holds this cheating bastard high on a pedestal

    • Lisa Johnson

      You can’t simply base it all on being in the hands of licensed veterinarians….as stated, you don’t NEED A veterinarian or a prescription to buy and use the chemicals!!

  • Bobbie Irish

    So would someone want to sedate a racehorse during a race? To what, make a sure winner lose? For betting purposes, or?

    • Erin Casseday

      Given small doses, it can take the edge off of a highly strung, nervous horse and stop them from washing out in the paddock and post parade. As the saying goes, so they don’t run their race before the race.

    • kim

      You are way behind what’s going on ,

    • Some human seditives have the opesit effect in horses.

    • Annette Kingerski

      You don’t want a horse to leave the race in the paddock — washing out from nervousness causes an electrolite imbalance among other vital nutrients a horse needs in the stretch so it doesn’t hit the wall – sedatives can also help a charging horse calm during the race when the horse losing so much energy fighting the rider

  • tom

    Tracks need cameras and surveillance in barns and around the grounds. They need to watch everything going on and question suspicious activity. Security walking around unannounced wouldn’t hurt either.

  • El Espresso

    Want to see these drugs in action ?? Just watch the upcoming Texas Classic Trials…serious again folks !!

    • kim

      Sooo why don’t they get on your case like they do me? 😏You are exactly right , no more nofensimine on to three since that ol drug

      • El Espresso

        They can get on my case…I don’t care I’m speaking the truth, I would love to be able to say things have been cleaned up, but they haven’t…you’re right no more nomifensine….but there are three barns in particular that are running on something they haven’t found yet. Clenbuterol is still the main ingredient (as the idiotic TRC allows it), but the horses coming out of those barns run way beyond their capabilities and clenbuterol. Anyone watching will be able to tell, it’s a shame the inspectors or the infamous “Task Force” can’t do something about it, but that would mean cracking down on the barns their bosses horses are in. I would suspect big things from the Judd Kearl Barn…errr I mean Padgett barn …

        • Notaracingfananymore

          I Love how you always speak the truth. They are always waiting with another drug and a program trainer to take over. Motto of quarter horse racing…”If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying”.

          • Del

            That isn’t limited to quarter horse racing. There is plenty of cheating happening in thoroughbred racing too including at the very highest levels.

          • Notaracingfananymore

            I’m sure you’re right. People lose their integrity when it comes to money and prestige. I see in the quarter horse industry that some prominent breeders have flocked to the above mentioned cheating trainer. These are people who claim to be “true horsemen”. There is nothing more fulfilling to me to watch than a truly great horse. How disheartening it is to not know if you’re seeing greatness or just a drugged up replica of greatness.

        • kim

          Next week should be interesting ,,, stay tuned

  • perks

    it will never end. Write it down. That’s why were all getting out. The cheaters can have it all.

    • Donnie Johnson

      I agree with you, I love the sport and ran horses off & on for 29 years and I’ve now given it up because of drugs & politics. Had a 3 year old currently winning & placing in stakes races and just said to hell with it.

      • Big G

        dear donnie,, why should you let the cheaters win ,,, dont give up brother , dont let them take away the enjoyment you and your family receive from racing,,

        • Donnie Johnson

          I’ve just had it. My horse placed 2nd in a stakes race beaten by a horse that was drugged but because the trainer hadn’t been caught before the horse kept the winner’s purse. Another race my horse came in 2nd in a big New Mexico stakes race and won $44,000 for 2nd. My horse veered but never interfered or slowed any other horse and the stewards agreed. However big time New Mexico trainers ran the 3rd & 4th place horses so they filed a complaint with the New Mexico racing commission which overturned the stewards and placed my horse 6th. One of the owners which I believe was the 3rd place finisher was setting on the board that ruled against me. How corrupt is that? I had to get a lawyer to take this to court and it looks like I am going to win. However it has been several months waiting on a court date and I am out the lawyer fees. It unfortunately is a corrupt business with the drugs & politics. If it was on the up & up and even for everyone I would still be doing it.

          • Jon

            Thank you for sharing.

          • Big G

            dear donnie ,, thats just horrible,, when you win your case slap a major lawsuit against the track , for collusion and look into rules regarding weather or not you are able to file a lawsuit regarding when the test samples were taken and tested by the new mexico racing commission,, and how was the purses distributed before the samples were deemed ok and not positive ,,, this is easy to prove in court if the samples are tested and show no positives , purse money is than disbursed 3 days later ,,, but if the purse has been distributed after a test comes back positive ,, you still as a owner can sue the racing commission for redistribution of purses earned by positive sample from first place finisher ,,, good luck donnie ,,, big g.

    • Manefan

      That result would be so sad on many levels. I love to watch the races. If you, and those like you, leave, horse racing may go the way of dog fighting and bird fighting. (My message will be blocked if I write the real word) Racing will still happen, just illegally and without the protections for the horse that we, to this point, have achieved. All that aside, I am empathetic to your struggle. I doubt I could withstand the daily onslaught of unsavory news with cheating eating in to my revenues.

  • Condor

    What a shame people have to cheat, look at the cost to racing that cheating causes. I also pity people whos minds must be so sick that they feel the need to take these drugs ,and i detest the sicko’s that give them to our majestic racehorses.

  • Big G

    The saddest part of this whole mess,, is this lovely and beautiful creature that was created by the hand of GOD is being used for ill gotten gains,,, may that very same hand that our lord and creator used to give us this great animal that has bought us all the enjoyment and memories of racing ,, the power to correct this horrible drug inflicted pandemic that is Ruining the sport of thoroughbred racing,, if only these beautiful animals could talk I know what they would say ,, hey cheater go poke and inject those illegal drugs into your own body,, and go run down to the employment office and find a new line of work,,, big g.

    • Matthew Hood

      Everything is under god’s control right? So have to assume he’s perfectly OK with this.

      • Big G

        you must never question the motives of our creator my lord Jesus Christ ,,, the son of God,, who gave his son to die for those sins cast by those he loves ,, one day our mighty GOD will send a deliverer to punish those that bring harm to all living beings ,, My God hears the cries of his livestock and those that not heed his beliefs will be bought before him ,,,, go in peace Matthew and Remember never to judge God’s way of life ,,

  • Michael Banis

    As long as people drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, take oxycontin (even by prescription) and a host of other prescribed and unprescribed drugs and baseball, football and hockey players take drugs for performance, horses will also get drugs.

    • Patricia Coughlin

      Humans have choice. Horses do not.

    • Blue Larkspur

      there is no connection between the two

  • Mark Howard

    It seems the only testing solution, if it could be implemented, is some sort of biological passport for horses. The human sports world seems to be heading in this direction, I wonder if it could be applied to animals? Pity it’s come down to this.

    • Always Curious

      I just read about Gene blood doping. Now in horses & humans. Let’s be Frankensteins and mess with their DNA by artificial means. This is done to a living horse to increase their ability to get that extra blood oxygen. This is not a high tech breeding strategy.

      • Blue Larkspur

        CRISPR
        …Lack of tests to detect gene doping is associated with the fact that the protein produced by the foreign gene or genetically manipulated cells will be structurally and functionally very similar to the endogenous proteins. Most transgenic proteins, especially those that enhance muscle strength, are produced locally in the injected muscle and may be undetectable in blood or urine. The only reliable method would require a muscle biopsy, but such an approach is virtually impossible to use in sport. Furthermore, gene expression can be modulated as desired using the appropriate pharmacotherapy. At present, according to the opinion of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), it is not possible to detect gene doping with current technology…”

        “…The EPO gene encodes a glycoprotein hormone that increases the number of red blood cells and the amount of oxygen in the blood, thereby increasing the oxygen supply to the muscles. The expected effect of the physiological expression of the EPO gene would be increased endurance. For gene doping, an additional copy of the EPO gene may be introduced into the athlete’s body using a viral vector, thus leading to the overexpression of EPO, increased production of red blood cells in the liver and kidneys, and to increased oxygen binding capacity of the blood. Physiologically dangerous side effects of doping with EPO transfer are primarily an increase in haematocrit, which may enhance the likelihood of stroke, myocardial infarction, thrombosis and an increase in total peripheral vascular resistance…”

        • perks

          very interesting post, but side effects sound terrible.

  • Jon

    Simple solution, caught and found guilty onetime, banned for life…. but then their only be 5% of trainers left…when you can get in hall of fame and have multiple violations on record and a triple crown winner sitting on outside tells you what kind of integrity the sport has. Hell, second, third, twenty fifth chance. Never will change…

  • Sinking Ship

    I’ll bet some of this designer stuff is floating around the Parx backstretch.

    • Gate To Wire

      and Del Mar, Santa Anita, Belmont, Churchhill, Keeneland.
      Watch the races. This problem is widespread and affects Graded Stakes as much as cheaper claimers

      • Del

        You are absolutely correct! In fact I would wager the graded stakes may be more afflicted with blood doping and the more expensive ways to hop a horse up. They are able to have the long gaps between races that is needed to properly blood dope whereas the cheaper claimers run on average every 2 to 3 weeks and for purses that don’t support the cost of blood doping.

    • Nybred13

      I really would love to know what they use..Look at some of the new miracle trainers- Joe Taylor is one that comes to mind, all of sudden his horses are winning off the claim and not just winning, but very impressively..Here is a guy who never won a race in his life before..Its a mockery to the game.. You just shake your head as the Vazquez’s, Navarros, Milians, Guerreros, etc..keep getting the free passes for the positives they do have, and the others everyone knows they are as Navarro says “Juicing” the horses, but it is undetectable… Makes a true horseman shake his head…

      • Sinking Ship

        Yes I was just noticing Taylor’s miraculous career resurgence … and he could be considered one of the true fringe players on that backstretch. “Fringe” meaning he was always one horse away from being out of business. It is truly sickening.

      • Hamish

        Wonder if the owners that have horses with this new phenom Taylor were the same folks that were with him when he wasn’t winning races at a high percentage or impressively by so many lengths? Do all the trainers that are big winners at a given racetrack use the same vet or are the vets all different? How about feed, vitamin and supplement suppliers, different or the same distributor/salesman?

        • Nybred13

          I agree with you. The thing is most of these phenom trainers are not getting the “meds” from the vets at the track. They have outside sources that supply whatever it is that they are using and the in house vet normally handles the normal stuff. That’s the problem, like the article states. These many times, aren’t provided by the vets on the track, these unscrupulous trainers and the owners who flock to them are able to get it outside of the track. Either by website, contacts in pharma world or even friends with a contact… Its Bull…Everyone knows they are doping the horses in one way or another, but the tracks turn a blind eye.

          Parx doesn’t want racing or horses, so the more black eyes and bad press they get, it all feeds into their hands on why they should do away with racing… Its Sooo Sad but true :(

  • Very little if any of this is new or news. Doc Harthill using human meds (i. e., Lasix) and Victor Conte using designer drugs (i. e., tetrahydrogestrinone, a synthetic steroid) on athletes are well recorded. And reliance on police work (surveillance) has long been known to be the answer. There are plenty of trainers importing drugs from foreign countries after buying them on line. But what has not yet happened to any significant extent is a group of dedicated individuals with standing that have generated the will to mount an effective initiative against cheaters. Racing commissions pay only lip service to the notion of clean racing. The HBPA has a policy that says they are against cheaters, yet we all know what they did in Pennsylvania. The only initiative to rein in the cheaters is the one promoting Federal legislation and they have been unable to move the ball to the red zone because too many entrenched groups including Churchill Downs have blocked their way. There is a morbid fear that catching a high profile trainer for cheating will somehow send the game into a death spiral, when in fact if properly handled by good PR it might be the best that ever happened. Catching cheaters requires the will, the organization and the funding. It also requires owners that use trainers who cheat to stop doing so. The crap that takes place in the U. S. does not take place in the top European venues. They have a sport. We have a corrupt game. When will we wise up?

    • ben

      I do not think that will be any time soon. Look what happend with the Masochistic case, still in the hearing fase. There is no will to end cheating definitely in the US.

      • Hamish

        As mentioned above, one real “juicy” bust of a prominent owner/trainer/vet combination could go a long way in kick-starting true reform measures.

        • David Juffet

          When, the hour is getting late.

      • David Juffet

        That was a legal medication no comparison.

      • MR.DR.

        maybe educate yourself…………that had NOTHING to do with cheating………ZERO

      • Blue Larkspur

        The Masochistic “case” was not what Barry is referring to: Ron Ellis was TRANSPARENT about the steroid usage and FOLLOWED CHRB GUIDELINES, even discussing the case with Rick Arthur BEFORE the BC.
        Please confine your comments to the people who do NOT disclose what they are giving their horses. Thanks.

        • Matthew Hood

          C’mon, Ellis is not an angel here. He was giving steroids to a horse in training and trying to hide it by putting the horse on the vet list each time.

          • Blue Larkspur

            He followed the rules and was TRANSPARENT.
            Do you grasp what that means? He was NOT hiding anything. The CHRB knew.
            That is a HUGE difference from those who do hide giving horses substances.

          • Olebobbowers

            His excuse about the horse needing that crap that he got DQ’d for not eating well , don’t fly with this life long horseman. He kept working him faster than many races are run, and wondered why he wasn’t eating so well. If he knew a basic fact that is merely horse sense, QUIT WORKING HIM SO HARD, duh. He violated the rules, got the horse DQ’d from a $250,000 share of the purse! Apparently you’ve never heard of the Trainer’s Responsibility Rule. It is his violation, and he deserves a heavy penalty, on behalf of the owners, jockey, and just as seriously, the bettors that got screwed! Racing suffered that day, and this no horseman jerk deserves to pay. Duh.

          • Blue Larkspur

            Then Rick Arthur deserves as much of your venom. He was informed prior to the race.

        • David Juffet

          Im so sick of people not understanding the Ellis situation.

        • Olebobbowers

          Ok, apparently you missed the most important point. I’ll repeat it for you..”Apparently you’ve never heard of the Trainer’s Responsibility Rule.” …Trainers, and only trainers, are responsible for the condition of any horse under their care. Amen.

    • David Juffet

      We both know who the high profile trainers are Barry. God forbid we mention a name or two. It’s simple just look at a few freak performances.

      • MR.DR.

        you don’t know what you are talking about

      • Blue Larkspur

        It would be the BEST thing for racing; prosecuting the biggest cheaters, so that they could honestly say ” we are doing out due diligence”. That is, if you want to attract new fans. Unfortunately, the “winners” help the sales auctions and the pin hookers and the breeders so much, they really aren’t inclined to stop the gravy train just to save the sport …

        • And the media enthusiastically joins this circus to the fullest extent, while privately bemoaning their fate in having to prop us gangsters.

    • MR.DR.

      You are absolutely “BAD” for the sport!…..you constantly talk about cheating……talk about drugs……….you are totally wrong about lasix…….it is not a big deal……..and you always talk about how trainers are “cheating”…..
      Why don’t you NAME THE DRUGS?……tell us what you THINK makes a horse WIN……….
      Giving things to make a horses system work better is NOT cheating…….
      Cheating is PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      stop spreading BAD INFO!!!!!!!!!!!

    • McGov

      Thank you for speaking so plainly.
      I often wonder why we can’t make this simple with the biological measuring devices that are available or existing technologies that could be tweaked to meet this purpose.
      For example, why can’t we use a device …that is impossible to remove or interfere with from the horse without detection ….and measures ALL biological changes and data logs etc etc. If we include a time period to establish a “background” on the horse, then we know normal, and we can compare any changes against normal, etc etc. This could be made a condition of entering a race…submission of vet stamped report with biological background etc.
      Perhaps if this kind of ‘real time” technology was in place we could evaluate whether a horse has received any PED ..PRIOR TO THE RACE.. and therefore cut off the betting profits that are the ROOT of this issue.
      Always follow the money. The corrupt do not profit in purses ….they profit through betting. If there is a hint of something abnormal then scratch the horse and watch the corrupt hold their breath longer….the longer they hold their breath the easier it will be to find them.
      At least make it more difficult because as I type this.. this is like shooting fish in a barrel……between the endless variables of possible chemical changes staying many steps ahead of laboratories and the endless potential digital betting entanglements the corrupt enjoy according to their budget……just a tad exhausting.
      Let’s cut to the chase…..bio-measure the background and force a justification regarding any changes in “normal” or scratch. Period, end of story. Any change is not good whether natural or otherwise so it’s not a bad position from many perspectives. Horse is sick or not normal in any way it is better safe than sorry….win win really to scratch.
      Five minutes on Google and I found “Bruker”. Wonder what else is out there or near available technology if I spent say…30 minutes? lol Nuff said.

      • MR.DR.

        really?

    • Matthew Hood

      It’s a good sentiment and agree with your overall opinion, but at the same time, you have gone back to trainers who have been popped for doping. So how much do you believe your own words?

      • MR.DR.

        excuse me……….name trainers “popped” for DOPING

      • Jeff Spicolli

        No way!… Holier than thou Irwin…say it isn’t so..

      • Noval

        “Do as I say, not as I do.”

      • Yes, I am a terrible hypocrite. You found me out. I have zero credibility. Thanks for pointing it out, I had temporarily forgotten.

      • Exactly who are these trainers and what dope did they use?

  • oldrancher

    They will never catch all the cheaters, but stiffer penalties including jail time for federal drug violation for involved trainers and removing horses with a “bad test” from racing eligibility for an extended period would deter a bunch of violators.

  • Larry sterne

    Where is the hope for racing when there hasn’t even been an accounting and sunlight shed on the 6 horses that died under Bafferts care? We go from topic to topic without any laser focus. As serious as all the topics are we must demand answers regardless who is involved before we go to next topic.

    • Gate To Wire

      It was actually 7 horses who died, but who is counting?

      • Always Curious

        Have you seen the advertisement for a drug to reboot a horse’s system more quickly from race day meds? I was shocked. He can’t possibly need the money. It looks bad. It has to be denial or blindness for the elite to think it is ok to do this.

      • Del

        Apparently nobody due to the fact that this trainer remains a darling of the industry. I guess in his mind though those 7 horses did not die in vain since their deaths may have been part of the experimenting and “perfecting” process of a regiment that led to a triple crown winer among other things.

    • Always Curious

      I don’t think there can be any re-do on the heart attack scandal. While it is useful not to forget it in the doping argument, there will be no accountability for past deeds. It leaves a big question beside the trainer’s career and worse all those magnificent champions trained by them. I always wonder now.

    • Blue Larkspur

      Seven horses

    • Edgar Frose

      The good news is they went from dying to winning Grade 1’s like it was nothing.

  • Mankind is and becoming more dependent on a plethira of drugs. With that atitude no wonder its given to anamals of all kinds. Young chidren given all sorts of things so the parents down have to deal with it instead of being parents.

    What a mess we have created for ourselfs

    • Manefan

      Pharma has something for our every need, even those we didn’t know we needed until that blue-sky, sunflowers ad came on the TV screen. Pharma advertises, goes to MD offices to promote with big buffets and free samples. I remember the days when Pharma did not advertise. In retrospect, and in my opinion, a huge change in our culture has happened since then.

    • whirlaway

      So true America loves drugs from adults, teens, children and even with their pets.if a dog is too hyper usually based on lack of exercise along with training and keeping the dogs intelligence being used owners give drugs to calm them supposedly. Once it begins hard to go back. I still believe it is most tracks some just more sophisticated and slick about drugs. We certainly have created a monumental mess.

  • Always Curious

    Thank you Natalie Voss for another illuminating article on doping. I encourage everyone to join WHOA. It does not cost anything & you do not need to be in the racing industry. Go to their web site and look at the page of supporters in the industry. Click on their face and you can read their personal reasons for joining based on their experiences and observations. It is very enlightening and shows how pervasive and damaging race day meds are to the horses & the sport (hoping we can truthfully call it that). We are teetering on the edge. “The Love of money is the root of all evil.” Money is the blood of the sport and therefore accountability is the only way for it to be honest.

    • Manefan

      I have not checked the site in a while and will do so now. I hope that there are more CURRENT trainers on the list than were there when I last checked.

  • Gate To Wire

    Racing does not really care about this problem.
    They rely on Post race testing that is never going to catch anyone.
    No one in racing is willing to do the significant overhaul needed via OOCT, surveillance etc.

    When 72 hr security began it really hindered several high profile trainers but over time they were able to use meds that were administered long before the horse went under security.
    It has been documented that new forms of EPO given in micro doses have a very, very small window of detection after being administered between 7 and 15 days from racing.

    As I have said before, all of this is a direct result of what happened in California 2011 and 2012.
    Multiple horse deaths from PED’s, multiple trainers involved and everyone skated away.

    That was a signal to every trainer that they needed to up their alchemy game because the amount of $$$$$ involved was far greater than any penalty if they ever got caught.

    • In California the problems predated 2011-2012 by a long way.

      • Gate To Wire

        Yes, the problems were around before 2011-2012 Barry…..but that was the first time that a group of high profile people got really caught…..and they all skated away.
        That sent a message to many in the business that it was open season on alchemy. IMO

        • I understand your point, but in an earlier era plenty of trainers were caught, but the administrative head of the CHRB worked out ill-conceived private concessions for them and created the climate that thrives today.

        • ted

          Sorry to show up late for the party but just to remind you I believe it was 1996 when a group of high profile trainers were caught in DelMar using clenbuterol and they all skated then too.

    • Scoot

      If drugs like demorphin can be chemically engineered to be undetectable in blood and urine testing, is that true of hair testing as well?

    • Blue Larkspur

      Boom!
      I sure wish the BLIND people or those who “look the other way” would own up

  • Don Martello

    How about the human element who get’s on these magnificent animals, independent contractors who have families to support. Just like first responders who don’t know if their going home after work. Cut all the BS and do something to clean this sport up or it will end at some future date. I raced one horse in ’87 and I couldn’t wait to get him off the track, he lived to twenty-seven.

  • Always Curious

    So if a horse is given a human or other non equine approved medicine in order to enhance their ability and the drug is not yet tested for or is a specifically outlawed medication, it is OK or legal to use them. Immoral & unethical, yes.

    • Blue Larkspur

      Like Thyroid meds, back in the day; exonerate those who publicly admitted to using them and then ban them after the fact

  • Always Curious

    A friend: I think drugs are used by the low level rank trainer’s because they are trying to keep I jured horses at the track. They can’t possibly be used at the graded stakes level because horses would be breaking track and world records all over the place. I had some news for him.

    • Michael Castellano

      That’s not the case. I can think of several races that were run last year at the grade I level that were much too good to be “unassisted.”

      • Noval

        Which races?

        • Michael Castellano

          Best example was last year’s Traver’s, a race only a horse of Secretariat’s abilities could have run. Either you believe Arrogate is that good, or you believe he had “help”. Everything about that race stretches credibility. I’ve been following racing since the 60’s, and the only other race as good as that that I saw was Secretariat’s Belmont and Fager’s world mile record race.

          • Noval

            Interesting perspective. Any other races?

          • Always Curious

            Dubai 2017. I have been suspicious for a while of Arrogate. I was reluctant to call him the 2nd coming of Secretariat from the start. A trainer who gets 2 “freaks” in 2 yrs. made me suspicious given Bob’s med. problems in the past, thyroid medication as a “preventative” measure for horses at the track. I still admire his horse abilities but now I question the results. I hate to think this way. I would rather have heroes.

      • Always Curious

        I agree with what you are saying. Cheating at high levels definitely exists. My friend was displaying his ignorant argument. I probably would have agreed w him a few years ago. It takes information like shared on the Paulick Report to break through the denial. I wanted to attribute allegations of cheating to those outsiders who want to destroy racing. Now I think the Horseracing Integrity Act is the only way to save it.

  • disgusted

    If you think that this is only done in the horse racing industry you are stupid. And, some of these illegal drugs need to be administered as a needed humane treatment of these athletes. When you have an aching back a little pain killer not only relieves the pain but relieves inflammation that is causing the pain for our equine athletes as well, to not allow it’s use is abuse.

    • Always Curious

      I was not aware that Bute when used regularly has a steroid effect on the horse. It does more than provide needed pain relief.

    • Nybred13

      But a person is making the choice to dope… A horse cannot object.

    • Blue Larkspur

      So, in your convoluted mind, allowing a horse with a catastrophic injury just waiting to happen to run on a pain deadener is not abusive.

  • Barry

    Are sedatives illegal? Its been my understanding a horse in the paddock or track exhibiting excessive drooling has lost control of its swallow reflex due to sedation.

    • Always Curious

      Sedatives are legal and needed if used for medical procedures, traveling for example, but Never Ever on race day. I don’t know about the drooling. I guess it is another thing to look for in a horse’s post parade condition. Gulfstream Park’s top trainer had positives for them last year but it was thrown out. Imagine that.

      • Leland

        Yes there was a story here on PR earlier this week about diodoro getting busted for 3 positives for doping his horses with a “sedative”. 2 of the 3 horses in question won their races so I guess a 66% win rate for horses identified to have been run on a sedative shows they might help a horse racing quite a bit.

        • Always Curious

          And one of the sedatives was given to his heavy favorite, who lost. A tidy sum bet by the trainer against his own horse is my guess. I will add the top elite trainer, Pletcher, is who had those drug positives I was referring to.

      • Blue Larkspur

        Perhaps the drooling came from the lip chain …

    • Is there any way you can change your name or add your last name so nobody confuses you with me? I am deadly serious. Of course sedatives are not allowed. As for your “understand” you need to stop listen to morons that dispense this kind of crap and start doing your own independent research.

      • Barry

        I come to Paulick report to learn as much as I can from experts like you.

        • Always Curious

          Me too! I have asked many ignorant (not stupid IMO) questions and learned so much. Barry Irwin’s comments over the years on medication cheating was instrumental in breaking my own denial & caused me to do my own research to see if others backed up his statements. Sometimes ignorance is confused with trolling on here.

      • Matthew Hood

        This guy is trying to learn. No need for you to be your usual douchey self all the time.

        • Jeff Spicolli

          Come on Irwin…are you really that uptight that…God forbid somebody else has the same name as you.

      • Ray Bushholz

        AC Avilia sedated Machocistic in his first start in Ca to the point the horse was drugged worse than Garret Gomez. The jockey got called in by the stewards after the race for lack of effort and 1 month later they shipped the horse to Churchill on derby day and Avilia bet over 100k to win on the horse and he won by open lengths. Did he get arrested? No. He got suspended for 6 months . A total joke

  • Scoot

    Thank you to the Paulick Report for this story. When a trainer is caught with an illegal substance and gets suspended and a program trainer takes over his barn, people wonder why his horses continue win. This article explains it…they always have the next drug waiting…

    • Nybred13

      Yeah.. Look at Ney Pessanha at Parx.. Carlos Guerrero just got a 15 day suspension, moved all his horses to Ney’s name and he won at least 3 the past couple days… Carlos Milian for Juan Vazquez, etc..

      • Notaracingfananymore

        This is what racing has become. The ruled off trainers are hanging on the fence still training their horses with a program trainer in the barn. And wealthy owners don’t care as long as they end up in the winners circle. No one has any shame for what they do to these horses.

  • gus stewart

    Look, its just a crock of shite, if u wanted to stop drugs with horses just like dealing with the rocket man u could do it. It would stop right at the gate entering any backside if u got serious, but racing wants to make excuses and say this wont work or test for this or that,, its a stroke job by the heirarchy to continue to keep some owners in game.

    • Hamish

      Horse racing’s own “Dark State.”

    • Big G

      come on gus ,,,just think of all the new Potential owners racing would get if they knew that illegal drugs and doping were not allowed,,, ( H.O.W.) hay , oats, and water..

      • gus stewart

        I wish that were true, but racing currently with purse structures and lack of advertising dollars make it a bad investment, and people would see this within 6 months of ownership, and that is why racings leaders continue dealing with meds the way they are. dont want to lose what they have.

  • HorsePower Racing

    More Fantastic Reporting by TPR……no else couargeous enough to tackle these “prickly” pears. So a good start is a 24 HR Retention Barn with surveilannce and security. For tracks with facilities that can accomodate such, it should be a no brainer and initiated asap. I am well aware of the argument that NO – my horse has to sleep in’t is own bed or is will be too nervous to run well. For me , it is absolutely necccessary for us to start fixing this RIGHT NOW. The chocies now are either GAS UP or GO BROKE.

    • Manefan

      It’s “all hands on deck” time.

  • Lisa Johnson

    …”Dr. Rick Sams, laboratory director at LGC Sport Science in Lexington, Ky., was asked to analyze the contents of a plastic baggie found somewhere on a backstretch in Kentucky.”……would love to know where THIS was truly found….crooks always seem to be more than one step ahead of the game, no matter what the game is. Unfortunately the horses take the physical ‘fall’ and it’s truly sickening to me.

  • skvescovo

    Rick is Brilliant! We are very lucky to have someone with his vast knowledge trying to help clean up racing.
    Susan K Vescovo

  • The biggest problem for a small breeder is finding a trainer that is a real horseman/woman who not only can condition properly while not using drugs that is not so full no more horses will fit in his stable. There are small ones out there but how to find them?

  • Always Curious

    There is a very good letter to the editor in the September 19th edition of the TDN. International bloodstock agent James Delahooke lays out why he chose to publicly call out US use of drugs & support of the WHOA (found the article link there). Two things compelled him to finally speak out: an elite trainer (Baffert) hawking a product “especially designed to speed recovery from pre-race medication”. I couldn’t believe my eyes either. Number 2 reason was the “juice” Jorge Navarro. Delahooke went on to say he has purchased yearlings at the last 39 Keeneland September sales to race in England. He used to purchase 15-20 a year, bought 1 last yr. and none this yr. Said no one wants our horses anymore to run or breed because of the drugs. They don’t trust our black type, stakes winners anymore. My observation: China is a big buyer now & bigger in the future. Imagine that.

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