‘Real Sports’ Segment a Disturbing Look at Racing’s Drug Culture

by | 05.22.2014 | 8:53am
The PETA undercover video was part of the subject matter on 'Real Sports'

Whether you thought it was an agenda-driven “hit piece” or a sensationalized reflection of a troubled industry, the “HBO Real Sports” investigation of drugs and equine fatalities in Thoroughbred racing was painful to watch.

The horse racing segment on the 26-time Sports Emmy-winning cable program debuted on Tuesday and will be replayed multiple times throughout the next month. It focused, in part, on the PETA video charging the Steve Asmussen stable with animal cruelty, but also highlighted problems going back to the winter of 2012, when a spike in fatal breakdowns at Aqueduct led New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appoint a special task force that would make preventative recommendations, along with the California Horse Racing Board's investigation of the seven sudden deaths in trainer Bob Baffert's stable.

It was ugly, and not just because of the series of videos and photos (22 by my count during the 20-minute segment) showing serious breakdowns, multi-horse spills, flapping fetlocks, dead horses, and even a horse being euthanized.

“Welcome to ‘Real Sports,' where we begin tonight with an equine twist on a familiar topic of performance enhancing drugs,” said host Bryant Gumbel. “In sports like baseball, football and cycling, PEDs may be an annoyance to fans and officials, but in the world of horse racing they are causing widespread death. All across America these days in numbers that are far higher than the rest of the world, racehorses are dropping dead on the track. Behind that alarming trend, experts say, is a rampant drug culture, one governed by greed.”

Bernard Goldberg, who did the reporting and interviews, talked briefly about the pageantry of events like the Kentucky Derby that get so much attention this time of year.

“But there's another picture of horse racing in America,” said Goldberg, “a darker picture, one of a widespread drug culture that puts both horses and jockeys in danger.

“Just about everyone knows about the drug scandals in big time sports,” Goldberg added, “but they're nothing like what's happening in the so-called sport of kings, where trainers routinely drug healthy horses to make them run faster and injured horses so they can run through the pain. And the result is often disaster.”

Penn National racetrack veterinarian Dr. Kate Papp was introduced by Goldberg as being from the “part of an industry that often hides what's going on from the public, refusing to release accident rates and autopsy reports. And when a horse goes down, they cover it up…literally.”

Papp, who testified before a U.S. House Committee in 2012 about medication abuse in racing, talked about a horse named Prima Zip that she treated at Penn National last year. “X-rays showed a stress fracture of one hind leg,” she said. “I was sure Prima Zip needed rest.” When the City Zip colt's connections opted to run him in a $5,000 claiming race in November, Prima Zip was pulled up with a catastrophic injury and later euthanized.”

Goldberg then turned to the Aqueduct carnage, interviewing Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Equine Medical Director Dr. Mary Scollay, who was a member of the Cuomo task force. Scollay called the high death rate in the winter of 2012 “very disturbing” and cited the lucrative purse levels Aqueduct was offering. “When the purse is worth more than the horse, the horse becomes a commodity,” she said.

Goldberg picked up the story from there.

“The dead horses included one called Coronado Heights, which, it turns out, received 17 injections in the week before he died. The horse's trainer wasn't some low-level rookie. He was the leading money winner in all of America, Todd Pletcher.

“And Pletcher is not the only top trainer who's had medicated horses die. In 2013, Kentucky Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert was investigated after seven of his horses suddenly dropped dead in California, most from heart attacks. The racing board found that Baffert didn't break any rules or act improperly, but each of his horses had been on this: Thyroxine, a drug that increases heart rate. Baffert says he stopped using it.”

“Then,” Goldberg went on, “there's Steve Asmussen, who's among the sport's all-time leaders in career wins with over 6,000, but also has 28 drug violations. Asmussen says the reason he has so many drug positives is because each state has its own set of rules, which he says makes it easy to make a mistake.”

That led the segment into the PETA video, compiled by an operative of the radical animal rights group who gained employment in Asmussen's stable last year. Goldberg briefly interviewed Scott Blasi, Asmussen's longtime former assistant who is seen in much of the PETA video using profane language, discussing horse injuries, the illegal use by jockeys of electrical devices on horses and treatments such as pin- firing and shock-wave machines.

“You're calling these horses rats and (expletive) and then you say you really care about them,” Goldberg said to Blasi. “Who are you kidding?”

Blasi, in his first on-camera interview since Asmussen reportedly fired him days after the PETA video surfaced, stammered: “When you look at it, you're taken back, but I think if anybody could understand everything that we put into this, and how much care these animals get…”

Goldberg brought up a filly named Finesse, who died of an apparent heart attack at Oaklawn Park after finishing second in a March 21 race.

“Was that horse on drugs?” Goldberg asked.

“Lasix. That's it,” Blasi told him.

Goldberg said Arkansas authorities kept Finesse's autopsy secret but that a track veterinarian told “Real Sports” the filly was “on a cocktail of drugs: Lasix, clenbuterol and Thyroxine – the same drug found in the seven horses that died under trainer Bob Baffert.”

Goldberg asked Asmussen what drugs were given to Finesse.

“She did race on Lasix,” the trainer said.

“Just Lasix?” asked Goldberg.

“She was treated with, as you mentioned, legal limits of therapeutic medications. Clenbuterol. It's a bronchodilator. We do feed Thyroxine.”

Steve Asmussen talks to Real Sports reporter Bernard Goldberg

Steve Asmussen talks to Real Sports reporter Bernard Goldberg

Goldberg pointed out that Thyroxine “speeds up metabolism and heart rate” and tried to connect the thyroid drug to Finesse's heart attack.

“Feeding Thyro L (a brand of Thyroxine) is not to increase the heart rate,” said Asmussen.

“But it does,” Goldberg interjected.

“One of the side effects of it,” said Asmussen.

Goldberg then said of Asmussen. “He says he's done nothing wrong, that PETA's allegations are untrue and that the drugs given to Finesse were not only safe but legal in the industry and widely used. But others say that is precisely the problem: evidence of a pervasive drug culture that is dangerous to both horses and jockeys.”
Goldberg then visited South Florida jockey/exercise rider James Rivera, who was paralyzed and suffered brain damage one morning when Bill White-trained Flyfly Fly Delilah broke down while training in November 2008.

“Real Sports” got ahold of the 2-year-old filly's veterinary records and showed them to Dr. Papp, who said the combination of medications Flyfly Fly Delilah had received suggested some kind of “underlying painful or disease condition because this horse was being given anti-inflammatories and pain maskers…and then that combined with anabolic steroids, which is meant to bulk up a horse, can be quite deadly, and obviously it was in this case.”

James Rivera's wife, June, a former jockey, was distraught when she saw the vet records. “We have three kids,” she said. “It changed their lives.”

“But it's what hasn't changed in the last six years that angers June Rivera and other critics of the sport,” said Goldberg. “Across the industry, rules and enforcement against drug use, they say, remain as lax as ever.”

Goldberg spoke with Dr. Scollay again, asking her how many states outside of New York have adopted the recommendations of Gov. Cuomo's task force – recommendations, incidentally, that were widely credited for causing a significant reduction in horse deaths at Aqueduct.

She struggled to name a state.

“The answer is none, right?” said Goldberg.

“Perhaps other racetracks in other jurisdictions looked and said, ‘Well, that's not our problem and so we don't need to respond to it,'” Scollay said. “There's no excuse for us not doing better than we are doing.”

That wrapped up the segment, with Gumbel and Goldberg back in the studio to discuss it.

“Bernie, I hope I get these names right,” Gumbel said. “Pletcher, Baffert, Asmussen –trainers like them. Why aren't these guys being punished?”

“Because they're not breaking the rules, for the most part,” said Goldberg. “They all have drug violations, but they're not breaking the rules, and here's why: The drugs that they are administering are legal. Let me give you one example. Baffert had seven horses drop dead, most from heart attacks. Investigation in California and he's cleared. Why? Because the drugs are legal. But he was giving all of his horses drugs for a thyroid condition and he never tested to see if they had a thyroid problem, and he's cleared.”

“So who's responsible for speaking for the horses, for protecting the horses?” asked Gumbel.

“The trainers and the owners and vets would say, ‘We care about the horses,'” said Goldberg. “You heard somebody in this story say it – Blasi said, ‘I care about the horses.'

“They all say they care about the horses, but they are administering drugs to horses that don't need drugs for any therapeutic reason, only to get them to run faster or to mask an injury that may cause a breakdown and the horse's demise.”

To which Gumbel replied: “Very disturbing.”

That won't be the last word. On June 4, another investigative program, Showtime's “60 Minutes Sports,” will focus its attention on the subject of drugs and horseracing. It doesn't figure to be any prettier.

  • lawrence

    PED cause deaths in human sports…roid rage anyone ? so HBO go suck wind

  • Marlaine Meeker

    Thank you Paulick Report for keeping this disturbing and sad aspects of racing in the news. In this feel good CC story, I hope we don’t forget about the huge mess that is U.S. racing. I applaud you for not sweeping these issues under the rug! Please don’t give up, racing needs voices for change.

    • 52baby

      Difficult to read, much less watch. But the ugly part of horse racing needs to be out in the open if we are ever going to stop or change the horrific treatment of some of these creatures. Tears are running down my face as I write….

    • thoroughbred owner

      I agree. The HBO report and video was horrific. Nationwide rules on medication and independent oversight at each track are necessary right now. As a small thoroughbred owner who reads the vet bills I am more aware of the harmful Thyroxine than before the recent media attention.

      • betterthannothing

        And under the current system, there is no guarantee that vet bills reflect what horses get.

  • Furley

    We are talking about 1000 lb + animals running on knees and ankles comparable to the size of human beings.

    • tired of blowhards

      How about you take an anatomy course. The horse’s “ankle” joint is comparable to the joint between the palm of your hand and your middle finger or your foot and tyour middle toe. The horse’s “knee” joint is the same joint as your wrist. Learn a little befor you go spouting off about things you know nothing of. There is little comparable between a horse in race training’s skeleton and yours. Tensile, compression and torque resisting stregnth of a race horse in training are all significantly higher than a human when compared on a similar scale based on size.

      • Cindy

        Hey blowhard. You are wrong. The horses knee is the size of a humans ankle. Before you spout read up dude

        • tired of blowhards

          Cindy, you need to read up sweetheart. What we call the horse’s knee is the the carpus joint. It is the same joint as our wrist. It is much larger than a human ankle. Our ankle is the same joint as the hock joint or tarsus in the horse. Our knee is the stifle joint in the horse. Please look at an anotomy book and don’t embarass yourself anymore.

          • Furley

            Ok you still prove my point. 1000 + lbs plus animal running on joints comparable to human joints………Thanks for the clarification.

          • tired of blowhards

            But that is what their joints are designed to do. You compared size of the joints and implied that they shouldn’t be running on little joints for their overall size. I compared anatomical features and said that horses have larger joints of comparable anatomic design. You guys are only showing your ignorance. Please discuss facts as facts don’t give your impression/perception as fact. You only decrease the validity of your argument.

          • Furley

            Of course that is what their joints are designed to do……In reality anytime 1000 lbs running on legs that size you are going to have pain and discomfort. That’s my argument. Quit decreasing your ability to understand reality…….

      • Peyton Charles Lasiter

        You cant have it both ways. “There is little comparable between a horse, etc.” AND “are all significantly higher than a human when compared on a similar scale, etc.” In other words if you want to back up your opinion by comparing horses to humans its ok, but if someone else tries to compare its not ok?

  • Albany

    Since most of the drugs used are provided by vets, it would be nice for these segments to focus on the names of which vets the mentioned trainers use; and not just focus on the trainers. Putting the spotlight on a few horse doctors might help connect the dots on who is pushing a particular course of treatment. I doubt that the trainers take the time to become skilled enough in particular medicines and pharmacology to figure out what the next secret medicinal trick should be to stay ahead of the regulators and the testing labs.

  • Leonard powell

    I really thought this documentary showed on HBO was even more disturbing than the PETA video. The PETA had used their more meaningful footage from an undercover agent to attack the enemy, so you could doubt some of the context those comments were taken from… In the HBO, there is no doubt. On a piece that is supposed to be objective, everybody seems to think it is normal that horses die under the influence of many inflammatories, because none of them are illegal. Doesn’t show that anyone in the industry is making any efforts to change things. Anybody outside of racing watching this documentary will rightfully ask what’s the point of racing horses?

    • ASL

      It reflects a numbness to the situtation which is utterly appalling unto itself. Just because something is not illegal does not make it right. Wake up, industry. What you’re doing is not right.

    • takethat

      “But an hour later, after the horse had a wash-down, we found a bit of blood coming out of her near-side nostril”

      What would a backstretch ‘horseman’ do here under the same circumstances?

      I suspect they would get hold of their ‘veterinary professional, give the horse a cocktail of ‘therapeutic medications’ and run her.

      Clive Brittain’s filly is denied a run in the Irish Classic after she suffered a setback at her Newmarket home on Thursday morning.

      Brittain said: “It’s heartbreaking, but it’s what the game is all about. You have your good days, and you have your bad days.

      “She’d done all her major work six days ago, and was only having a blow-out. The girl who looks after her was very happy with her, as always.

      “But an hour later, after the horse had a wash-down, we found a bit of blood coming out of her near-side nostril.

      “It was only a trickle, but if there is in any doubt, we always take them out.

      “It could be something over nothing, but you can’t take any risks.

      “The filly is still bright-eyed and alert. I don’t think we’ve a sick animal on our hands.”

      Rizeena won the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes on her last visit to the Curragh, but only finished seventh behind Miss France on her seasonal bow in the Newmarket Guineas.

      • Tonto

        A ‘bit of blood’ is not a bleeder- just an excuse for medication -you probably get the same when you blow your nose a bit hard. A lung hemorrhage is not hard to diagnosis

    • renee

      Leo, I wouldn’t worry too much about anyone outside of racing watching the HBO documentary. Those who have yet to form an opinion were watching the finals of “The Voice”, and those who have expressed a desire to kill racing were watching “Frontline” on PBS.
      The extent of viewership is probably limited to Paulick Report internet hacks!
      Does the old saying “Preaching to the Choir” ring a bell?

      • Vudu

        People who want to end racing – watch Frontline?
        I don’t understand what you are saying in that sentence.

      • Jerilyn1006

        It will make it to Dateline and 60 Minutes…give it a few months. Their days are numbered.

  • Gina Powell

    Thank you Ray for good reporting on such a critical issue. I’m bewildered over the SILENCE of the racing industries most prominent owners. Who’s silent? Top owners and trainers. Is this complacency? One thing is for sure they are top trainers and owners because they have a history of medication abuse. Any other trainer would have their license suspended so WHY are these trainers continually excused? Also, there should be a STRICT protocol immediately implemented for the use of Throxin. In fact, it should be banned from racing. One thing I learned from years as a trainer? Running honest with honest owners that back you is a recipe for failure when these cheaters are still training!

  • Needles

    …yet the industry stakeholders, trainers and owners continue to think medications are okay. It’s time for a 3 week withdrawl on all medications before a race.

  • Tres Abagados Stupidos

    First understand that I currently have a three horses in training, I have been involved in the racing business since I was in my early teens and though I do not work on the backside now I did work on the backside for many, many years.
    There are two things that would help solve these issues. One is already being done in some areas and that is race tracks denying stalls to those that have a history of drug violations and or mistreatment of their animals. This takes the “I’ve done nothing illegal” factor out of the issue. It is basically a we don’t want your kind around our racetrack so get out. This could also go as far as if program training is ever proven then the owners would also be banned from racing at that track forever. There is no way an owner would not know about programming training so that would make that owner just as guilty as the trainer.
    The second and more effective step would be for OWNERS to stop giving these guys horses. I know that is a pipe-dream as successful trainers (whether cheaters or not) will always get horses. But after watching the HBO story and seeing the WTF attitude of Assmussen it makes me wonder how the hell any owner would still send horses to this guy. Sure he has not been currently convicted of anything but the answer he gave about Thyroxin having a side affect of increased heart race was an arrogant WTF response. I wonder how this guy can look himself in the mirror in the morning. He damn sure could not look at the camera.

    • Beach

      It wouldn’t be ethical, but I wish he could understand how he would feel if some doctor made him hyperthyroid with medication. I don’t know what it is like to “feel” it, but I have SEEN it and people like that are utterly uncomfortable and usually bonkers. Just take a look at one person with what is called “Thyroid Storm”…one lady I knew was completely psychotic and didn’t even know where she was. In her case it was not meds; her thyroid freaked out. And to do that to some poor animal who has no choice? Jeez…

      Well, I thank Ray for the reporting and I guess I’ll go watch the whole program on demand, as opposed to just the excerpts. Glad I haven’t had breakfast yet and my coffee was decaf. :/

    • Figless

      Excellent comment, but I disagree with one statement you make, calling these guys “successful trainers”.
      Their win % is higher than norm because A) they cheat and B) they have better talent in their barns than the ordinary trainer.They do less with more talent than the everyday local horseman.
      This sport is desperately in need of sabermetricians who can calculate ROI for horses provided to trainers, which measures the true value of a trainer.
      With the talent they are provided these guys are failures. They are salesman, not trainers, and allegedly hurting horses in the process by forcing each one into their “program”.

      • ginger2000

        You are very right!!!

      • Janet delcastillo

        One wonders how many of their horses make it to race…many are broken down along the way…and unlike small trainers, they keep an eye on statistics…and won’t run unless they think they’re ready to win.

  • Barbara Bowen

    Racing is rusting away at the seams underneath the chrome.

    • Marlaine Meeker

      Well put. Perfect for this time.

    • ginger2000

      Well said.

  • Voice of Reason

    Every race track is competing for runners. # of starters dicates handle. The advent of slot fueled purses, large breeder awards at the state level, all are cause and effect for horses running that are hurting. The only silver bullet is federal intervention, with a no tolerance policy. No drugs 48 hours prior to race day. This includes lasix. If a horse is that bad of a bleeder, then the horse should not race. Retire it. Any arguments with any of this is becasue of greed. Imagine if we raced humans instead of the horses. You have to take your children, inject them with numerous drugs to hide the pain so they can race to get you money. Would you do it?

  • Lina_TX

    What we need is a list of permissible drugs (and under what circumstances/to what extent they are permissible) rather than a list of forbidden drugs where anything that isn’t specifically forbidden can be used. Which would also serve to stop all these “innovative” feeding regimens that include thyroid supplement for horses that don’t medically need it.

    Sadly, horse racing would benefit from taking a far closer look at probably every single one of the leading trainers. Uncommon success doesn’t always just come from having better stock to work with.

  • Beach

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–if a doctor for humans were to make a euthyroid woman(ie, normal) hyperthyroid with medication, for either performing-enhancing reasons or, more commonly, so it is easier for the women to lose weight or keep weight off, he/she, once found out and also in the absence of labwork documenting the need for treatment, would have his/her license yanked so quick that his/her head would spin. Just think, or translate this, e.g., to a human endocrinology practice–“Well, they’re all on extra thyroxine so they can run faster and keep weight off.” Except for that serious cardiac risk-thingy…IT MAKES NO SENSE AND IS APPALLING–unless you like living in Unethical Land. HELLO Veterinary Boards–are you awake? Do you have a pulse? Are you alive? Do you have eyes and ears? I know there are illegal channels, unfortunately, but most of these things are not available without PRESCRIPTIONS. “First do no harm”–unless there are big purses in the picture? YOU DISGUST ME…and it’s sick that some of these people call themselves “doctor”. How about “Dealer”?

    I don’t blame HBO or 60 Minutes for their investigative reporting. But if journalists or anyone else wants to tarnish the Triple Crown, they don’t have to work very hard, do they?

    Prayers for all the horses–and I wouldn’t let Baffert, Pletcher, or Asmussen train my flea circus in those drug-addled meat markets.

    • Tres Abagados Stupidos

      “But if journalists or anyone else wants to tarnish the Triple Crown, they don’t have to work very hard, do they?” – a truer statement has never been said on Paulick Report

      • Beach

        And TAS, thank you so much for the insight and info YOU have also posted here. <3

      • Beach

        I LITERALLY DID once see a female patient ask her endocrinologist(who was one of my professors) to keep her “a little hyperthyroid” with meds(she was hypothyroid) so she could keep off “those extra 5-10 pounds”. God is it hard to keep a poker face in situations like these as a health care professional. But, I could have kissed my prof because he literally told her to “Dream on”. I just cannot get across to everyone here how wrong this is, and/or utterly medically unsound.

    • Tromper

      Thank you, Beach, for the straight talk. To your last line I would add the name LUKAS, (in CAPS) for he was a top abuser & taught the others — especially Pletcher. I know, I was there and no one would listen to me.

      • Beach

        I hope all of you that know keep spilling the names. If owners are reading here they need to know who to send their horses to–or not. Many thanks. <3

        • Vudu

          The names [allegedly] involved are revelatory.

      • betterthannothing

        Tromper I agree with you. Although racing has never been clean or kind, I blame Lukas for infecting Thoroughbred racing with a new disease starting in the late 70’s.

  • biggar

    Why, with all the investigation do we so often end up with statements about widespread death and breakdowns such as “that are far higher than the rest of the world,”. It seems that it would be possible to fairly accurately compare the number of each incident per start, and that would be a lot more informative.

    • G, Rarick

      I posted this below, as well, but this is from Wikipedia, which is a doubtful source but the numbers confirm those from the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities: Current estimates indicate that there are 1.5 career-ending breakdowns
      for every 1,000 horses starting a race in the United States, an average
      of two horses per day. The State of California reported a particularly
      high rate of injury, 3.5 per 1000 starts.[120]
      Other countries report lower rates of injury, with the United Kingdom
      having 0.9 injuries/1,000 starts (1990–1999) and the courses in Victoria, Australia, producing a rate of 0.44 injuries/1,000 starts (1989–2004)

  • Hamish

    Why TJC is waiting until the Round Table in August to jump in with both feet concerns me? Maybe TJC moves up the timeline and breaths some confidence back into the sport during the Triple Crown season. So what if some states adopt thresholds and withdraw times for alleged “therapeutic” drugs, what solution to horse racing’s overall ills is this when we know the only answer is to stop using drugs as a training device, period. If overuse of therapeutics is getting horses back out on the track when they should be resting, who are we really fooling into believing that we really care for the horse? After shows like HBO, we are no longer fooling the public, along with those from within the industry that have chosen to keep their eyes and ears wide open.

  • Jay Stone

    The death of the filly Finesse at Oaklawn is particularly disturbing. The necropsy results were never released and Asmussen and Blasi contend she only raced on Lasix. They later added a few drugs when Mr. Goldberg told them he knew the results of the drug tests. They did their homework and presented the examples the way they wanted to get the most shock effect. Most of these examples we have seen before but now they are going into prime time.

    • ASL

      It also goes to show that Asmussen and Blasi lack credibility since they were not forthcoming with the information. Folks, these are college-educated, high-level investigative journalists. They know how to do their homework. Playing dumb only makes you look dishonest.

    • betterthannothing

      Oaklawn didn’t even perform pre-race exams until recently and why butchers have loved to spend the winter down there.

      • renee

        Of all the hacks that comment on here, I am sure that you are the one in the most need of therapy!

        • betterthannothing

          Welcome back, renee! You seem more calm, you must have had therapy, you are not accusing me of killing thousands of horses, at least not yet!

  • Slim

    Steve A., Stay away from cameras. You are not doing yourself any good.

  • James Fix

    I watched this program tonight and was not too suprised at the typical media slant on it,though it was a little more objective than the similar 60 Minutes program in the late 70s. As a former athlete/competitive powerlifter and a former horse track veterinarian(worked on Triple Crown contenders) I disagree with some of the statements and videos made.

    The video showing a horse euthansia has to be one of the worse ones I have witnessed. As an equine veterinarian for a number of years I have witnessed and performed a number of horses put down and none had the severe thrashing noted in the one broadcast, most are much smoother.Perhaps that veterinarian should consider a different medication if all her euthansias are that rough.

    The program continued the myth that a painkiller “bute” given to horses will allow a horse with a severe injury to race at optimum speed. This drug “bute” is an anti-inflammatory like aspirin or advil. Anyone who has taken those drugs with a moderate to severe orthopedic injury knows it does not make you back to normal function magically. A football player or track athlete with a torn ACL taking Advil would not be able to run at full speed or performance, it would probably barely take the edge off the pain. Try preventing all human athletes especially at the higher performance levels from taking any of these non steroidal anti inflammatories for inflammation and discomfort from their typical athletic injuries and I doubt you could field an entire team in any sport, even weekend warrior athletes. I was treated with the human equivalent in college for a shoulder injury and aspirin was much more effective.

    The drug lasix was mentioned as a non necessary drug and used to only make the horse loose weight to go faster. Yes some human athletes like wrestlers and weight lifters having to make a specific weight class limit take it to loose weight, but it used for a different reason in horses not mentioned in the program. It is used to treat exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhaging in horses. Even in the 1980s studies by Dr. Pasco from UC Davis showed up to 50% of race horses have some bleeding in their lungs when endoscoped after racing and even non race sport horses in strenuous exercise can experience it. Horses that race in Europe and other countries also have been shown to have this condition so it is not just a US race horse issue. Lasix prevents this from happening when used. It has a definite therapeutic use.

    There are a couple of other drugs mentioned that may have questionable usage. Clenbuterol was mentioned as being used as a bronchodialtor. It also has some anabolic muscle building properties which is the main reason it is used, and why even in most livestock shows it is illegal. Treating with thyroid medication for undiagnosed thyroid disease is also questionable in all species of animals. Some horses are truly low thyroid but generally not young fit horses that we see at the track.

    A more complete picture of some of these drugs by veterinary pharmacologists that are used therapeutically might have given a more complete picture. Then the story might not be as sensational in the media. A “pit bull attack” makes much better press than a Lab retriever attack-even if they are the same dog.

    James Fix DVM

    • Tinky

      “It is used to treat exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhaging in horses.”

      C’mon, doc. You know full well that it has, for decades, also been used promiscuously on horses that had no bleeding issues, and for the very reason that was presented by Real Sports.

      • Tromper

        Tinky, you are absolutely CORRECT.

      • Lexington 4

        Why your aversion to listening to trainers and vets, Tinky?

        • Tinky

          I have listened to plenty of both. Note that the vast majority of American trainers have never saddled horses without using the Lasix crutch, and they are afraid of what they don’t know. Also, note that two-thirds of the trainers and vets around the world deal every day with runners that were not treated with Lasix, and there has never been any grass-roots effort to change the rules. Do you know why that is the case? Because sensitive handling of racehorses allows the vast majority to compete successfully without race day Lasix use, and helps them to stay healthier to boot.

          • Lexington 4

            You are quite the example of the “internet expert”, Tinky. You do not come across as knowing very much about actual horses, though.

            I am a trainer and I give Lasix as a preventative. I make no apologies for that whatsoever. I do so on the advice of the vet(s) I trust with all medical aspects of the horses under my care. Internal medicine, sports injuries, all of it. I trust their experience, knowledge and education about the equine body.

            My horses (and their owners) deserve nothing less.

            Convince the AAEP that Lasix is not an inexpensive, beneficial drug against EIPH and you will have a better chance convincing me.

          • Tinky

            Lasix has short-term benefits and LONG-TERM COSTS. Any serious, sensitive horseman should be aware of that, and of course I am not referring to the actual cost of the injection.

            45 years ago, before Lasix began to be administered promiscuously, the average Thoroughbred racing in the U.S. started roughly 30 times in its career. Today, that number is close to 10. TEN. Now, I am not suggesting that Lasix is solely, or even primarily responsible for that stunning decline in soundness, but it would be naïve to the extreme to imagine that there isn’t any connection.

            You, and every other Lasix apologist, are at a loss for words when I point out repeatedly that two-thirds of the racehorses in the world compete successfully without race day Lasix, and that their trainers and vets have never banded together and pushed to change the rules. Why do you suppose that a big majority of trainers and vets around the world can see the light, yet you and your vets can’t?

          • Lexington 4

            I understand your points, Tinky. But I do not make daily decisions on behalf of the bodies of the horses under my care based on what may or may not happen in the rest of the world with other people’s horses. That does not matter to me. Hell, I don’t even make my decisions based on what other people in my SAME BARN do. I never look into another guy’s horses.

            I make medical/health decisions based on the counsel of my vets and my own experiences. That’s about it.

            I trust my vets, and think it a sound and responsible business practice to do so. Consistently. Like I said, I also feel that is the best practice on behalf of my owners.

            It is not any more complicated… or SINISTER… than that.

            Again, convince the AAEP (who will be coming out with much, much more on the Lasix issue before year’s end) of your arguments and you will find me to be much more amenable. I have nothing against change, and this is not anywhere close to the biggest issue in the world to me.

          • Michael Castellano

            Excellent non-answer. Admit it, it’s really used as a performance enhancer, why else would it have to be given to almost every horse racing in America?

          • Vudu

            Sounds magical.

          • Vudu

            Sounds reasonable. The system is always right.
            No need to look further.

          • ginger2000

            “In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health
            and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths
            of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year.

            In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health
            and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths
            of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year.”

            That is HUMAN medicine. What do you think the rate would be for veterinary medicine?

            It’s time to admit that medicine is not God, Vets and doctors are not super human and certainly not always right. Of course you defend the status quo. People never want to admit what they’re doing might not be right. Of course it’s right – they learned it in school, right?

          • ginger2000

            Oops, pasted the same info twice. Second paragraph should have bee this.

            Now comes a of the Journal of Patient Safety that says the numbers may be much higher — between each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death.

            That would make medical errors the , behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second.

        • ginger2000

          Why not? They are guilty of abusing horses and rationalizing it. They have not earned respect, they have earned our suspicion and in some cases, disgust. Dr. Fix’s points are the party line and show the problem is not considered a problem.

          • Lexington 4

            The entire vet community, Ginger?


          • betterthannothing

            It’s too tough for most to leave the ultimate veterinary gold mine, however unprofessional, cruel, immoral and potentially lethal those hidden practices can be.

          • ginger2000

            No, not the entire community, but a large portion. I blame their education as it is mostly about drugs. Human medicine is little better. This period of history will eventually be seen for what it is, the era when drug companies ran healthcare. I seldom call a vet unless I know I need one to do what I can’t. Most only seem to believe what they read in the books during vet school – or med school. People and animals are not machines. Drugs are not about health – human doctors are beginning to swing the other way to some extent. Vets are a little behind, frankly, because they want to make money. 30 years ago I loved vets, I wished often that I could find a human doctor half as good. Now I can’t stand either. I do credit my good health to avoiding them like the plague.

      • Vudu

        Sensationalism, maybe.
        But can we say that its not wrong, or prevalent?

        50% bleed a little. How many bleed enough to benefit and what percentage are actually given Lasix?

        Its easier & cheaper to treat a horse as though there is a condition, than monitor it carefully & administer it in only cases that warrant it. The horses can always report adverse symptoms later.

      • Joan Hinken

        The source of hemorrhage in the equine lung originates in the capillaries. After the vessel ruptures, the body heals the damaged vessel. The scar tissue lacks the elasticity of the original tissue. Thus the area where the scar tissue meets healthy tissue is weaker and is a source of new hemorrhage when stressed. The use of Lasix reduces the increased pulmonary vascular pressures incurred by the equine lung when exercising at peak levels. By preventing hemorrhage the lung remains healthier. Another contributing factor to the is the chronic inflammation of the airways from poor quality air the horses are exposed to by being stabled. The more inflamed the tissues, the more apt they are to become damaged. That being said, many horses are placed on Lasix because the trainers feel they will one day bleed and for the added benefit of increased speed.

        • Tinky

          Joan –

          I’m well aware of the dubious claims that you have repeated. The problem is that if EIPH were actually such a terrible, progressive disease, there would have been mountains of circumstantial evidence accumulated over decades of racing without Lasix in Europe, Australia, etc. In fact, if it were the case, how can you possibly explain how the average AMERICAN Thoroughbred raced 30 times in its career WITHOUT Lasix around 1970, yet now averages 10 starts after many years of “preventive” Lasix use?

    • Beach

      Had they clarified some things or gone further, it would have looked worse, not better. This was not the shock and awe it could have been, but it was bad enough.

      Ok, bute–but let’s take a quick peek at Coronado Heights’ chart, which I can pull out of the TDN 5/10/13 article “War on Drugs”.

      “Coronado Heights’ career spanned just six weeks and three races, but during the last 25 days of his life, he received *24*(emphasis mine) separate intravenous, intra-muscular, or intra-articular(joints, for the non-medical reading here) injections, of NINE different drugs, plus vitamins and electrolytes post-race, presumably to counteract the effects of Lasix. He was given that regimen of medications despite the fact that his veterinarian(Hunt) said he had no history of lameness, and his trainer(Pletcher) said the breakdown was a complete shock to him.”

      Bute alone? Nope–try also banamine, estrone, adequan, depo-medrol, etc.

      I wonder if they’ve even checked what electrolytes have been dumped by Lasix before supplementing–because you don’t want to supplement if the level is still perhaps normal. Electrolytes are a titration issue–you also don’t want overkill on potassium or calcium, e.g., because that can result in arrhythmias, too–at least in humans. I’d bet horses are no different.

      I would have loved to see the look on Assmussen’s face if Goldberg had asked him, “Well, are you using the clenbuterol(bronchodilators are also notorious for elevating heart rate) for bronchodilation for some reason, or to build muscle mass? And at what doses?”

      Not to mention there is the school of thought that heavy bleeders shouldn’t be racing in the first place.

      I’d bet that Coronado Heights is just a small example of the widespread goings-on. If they ever make a ~ 2-hour “lab attack” documentary out of this stuff, I’d be interested to see it–if only for the interviewee’s gobsmacked expressions and stuttering. “But it’s ‘legal’…” Puh-leeze…

      Again, prayers for the horses…

      • betterthannothing

        Dr. Hunt did all that to Coronado Heights and yet he has a good reputation. Did Dr. Allday treat Coronado Heights too? Wasn’t Allday Frankel and Dutrow’s “exclusive” vet when these two were winning everything then didn’t Allday move to Pletcher and Asmussen in late 2005 or early 2006?

    • fair play

      I have put horses down as well and that looked FAR from normal. Leave it to Dr. Papp to make it dramatic, It would not be surprised if it is at all possible she added something to get that reaction during euthanasia when she knew she was being recorded. She is a LOOSE CANNON and has had COUNTLESS run ins with stewards,racing commission, other vets,trainers, and owners at Penn National. Her reputation is frightening AT BEST and her mental state is questioned by many from horsemen to officials. A trainer who shall remain nameless told me firsthand about her attempt to physically assault him in his shedrow when she misdiagnosed his horses injuries and he had TWO state vets exam and xray the horse after she tried preventing him from running. Two state vets confirmed that Dr. Papp’s diagnosis was incorrect months earlier but there was NEVER a preexisting injury or current injury. Her temper and violent reaction is noteworthy after she was arrested on the Penn National backside for assaulting her former boyfriend and vandalizing his car while the police where on there way. To see it first hand was quite a sight to see about how violent she was. As completely control as a human could be was what I witnessed. There are very few if any people who have complimentary things about Dr. Papp’s mental state, medical opinion, or fitness as a vet in general this also included the gate grew and horses ambulance staff. She was WELL AWARE that having an assistant film euthanizing a horse was completely illegal to do at Penn but imaging that it was a horrible euthanasia at that so there either she has no clue what she is doing or did it for affect. She can stand on her soap box all she wants and I applaud anyone who is steadfast in cleaning up horse racing but I have to respect them as a vet and not be included in 100+ fellow horsemen who question her general mental sanity. I have no respect for a vet that has gotten suspended for a number of days on more than one occasion for her outbursts and antics. When not ONE other vet on the backside of Penn Naional will have ANYTHING to do with her and two are in the midst of filing lawsuits against her, Dr. Papp probably should not of been the poster child for HBO apparently they did not do there “due diligence” where Dr. Papp and her fitness as a vet or mentally stable human where concerned.

    • mdwalk

      James, please don’t dare speak the truth you are not allowed to speak up to the PETA types and anti racing faction you are only allowed to wring your hands and moan. At the senate hearing a few years ago only one racing advocate dared not agree with the parade of horse industry experts about how bad racing was, when asked about steroids he was the only who tried to explain that the majority of racing stock was altered males that may actually need Testosterone treatment to have normal levels.

      • James Fix

        Years ago I “vetted” an endurance race. For those unfamiliar with an endurance race(various length races 10,25 ,50 miles) they have mutliple vet checkpoints where the horses are checked to be allowed to continue (imagine the Belmont having a stop at the 1/2 mile and 1 mile poles ) for lameness and to be sure their heart rate and respiratory rate recover showing they are fit enough to continue. The PETA/SPCA folks there kept harping on how “skinny” those horses were asn wasn’t that “abuse”. I simply asked if they saw any human 10K or marathon runners that were competitive and fat!
        And contrary to what soem of those folks think most trainers, vets and owners do care about the long term welfare of the horses.

  • Furley

    FYI Bayer Aspirin, Aleve, Motrin are all drugs.

  • betterthannothing

    Thank you HBO, Bryant Gumbel, Bernard Goldberg for producing such documentary and Ray for your excellent review.

    Race horses are voiceless and continue to fall through the crack$ because no one with authority is there to solely protect their welfare, safety and life.

    Race horses cannot count of those who “care” for them to protect them or anyone who stands to make money off them. Money rules over horses. No racing organization exists to protect race horses.

    Race horses need an independent, nationwide authority created solely to protect those horses on and off track, sales and farms, without any pressure and corruption from and conflicts of interest with the racing industry and its people.

    • ginger2000

      I agree – I am so glad to see this issue getting the attention it deserves.

  • wants answers

    Dr. Pepp has some explaining to do, IMHO. If she had xray proof of a fracture, then saw that horse entered to race, why didn’t she alert the official veterinarian? She could have prevented the breakdown, and also protected an unknowing jockey from danger. Xray information empowers us to make the right decisions, by taking no action in this case she made the wrong choice.

    • Peter J Townsend

      Finally, someone else was watching & THINKING, THANK YOU

  • abber


  • wants_answers

    Dr. Pepp has some explaining to do IMHO. If she knew of a fracture, why didn’t she alert an official veterinarian and have the horse scratched? The breakdown could have been prevented, and a jockey not put in danger. Xrays empower trainers and veterinarians to make informed decisions, by choosing not to act she made the wrong choice.

    • RayPaulick

      Dr. Papp has informed me that she did, indeed, report the fracture on Prima Zip prior to the horse running in the race that proved fatal, even though they are not under any obligation to report diagnostic work to the racing commission in Pennsylvania (only treatments). She did the same on a horse named Diced n Sliced, who she said had eroded bone. According to Dr. Papp, the official vet said nothing could be done and Papp got into trouble with authorities for “fighting to get that horse off the race track.”

      • Guest

        I suggest you ask the official veterinarian, because that is not the story I heard.

  • Pbchi

    great timing to see 100’s of NFL players suing the league for doing similar things to them as players as some trainers do to horses. Who is the lawyer for the horses though?

    • betterthannothing

      “Who is the lawyer for the horses though?”

      That is THE PROBLEM. No one is. Horses have no voice, much less one with serious authority over those who exploit them. Horses and racing loose.

      • nu-fan

        No voice. And, that is one of the truly disheartening aspect to this. The public isn’t as ignorant as some in the horseracing industry may think and it may be the pressure of the public–to get these horses protected–that will that will provide that voice.

        • betterthannothing

          As you must know nu-fan, protecting horses would solve so many problems but racing has dug a very deep hole for itself and major reforms would disrupt racing in big ways but it must happen and the sooner, the better!

  • jttf

    just look at the horrible injury rate exist with the combination of short rest in between triple crown races and the use of lasix.
    2013. itsmyluckyday has long layoff after preakness do to injury
    2012. i’ll have another, bodemeister, creative cause were all retired after finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in preakness. did this ever happen without lasix ? went the day well is also hurt and takes a long layoff.
    2011. derby favorite, dialed takes a long layoff after preakness injury. animal kingdom takes a long layoff aftr belmont injury.
    2010. no horse started in all three triple crown races.
    2009. pioneer of the nile is retired from injury after preakness.
    2006. barbaro is hurt in preakness. matz always rested him at least 5 weeks in between races. if there was a month in between races, would that have saved his life ?
    2005. after huge margin victories in the preakness and belmont, afleet alex is hurt and retired. closing argument is also retired after preakness.
    2004. smarty jones is hurt and retired after belmont.
    2002. proud citizen has long layoff and isnt the same after he returns.
    2001. monarchos has long layoff after belmont do to injury.
    1999. chris antley jumps off charismatic shortly after belmont’s finish line, two broken bones in ankle.

    our top six two year old stars from 2013 could not make 2014 derby do to injuries.
    why do traditionalists want to end our stars careers with the use of lasix and short rest in between triple crown races ? our two year old star colts are totally effected by the bad side effects of lasix use.

    • Tinky

      You’re missing the primary variable: breeding unsound horses. Short rest is not the issue.

      • nu-fan

        Just curious for your thoughts…. Is there also a possibility that some of these horses are not trained for stamina?

        • Tinky

          Yes, it could be argued that some horses are undertrained for long races. However, the degradation of stamina in contemporary American dirt pedigrees over the past few decades is, in my view, the greater problem with the TC races.

          • nu-fan

            Thanks, Tinky. I guess what prompted my question was in the reports that I have been hearing about the way Art Sherman has been training this horse. While so many horses in these big races have just a few races behind them, California Chrome has been regularly raced (maybe a dozen) over the past year or so. I wondered whether the horse developed more stamina because of this or whether it is primarily that he was just lucky in his breeding. (Is this a chicken or the egg kind of a question, I don’t know. But, this has been on my mind.)

          • Tinky

            CC is an interesting case. There is no question that he has already “outrun” his pedigree, given that there is only one true (male) stamina influence in his first three generations (A.P. Indy). He is bred to be a miler, but obviously stays at least 10 furlongs.

            It’s not really possible to “develop” stamina in the sense that you mean. Thoroughbreds all have optimal distance ranges, and, for example, no matter how a sprinter might be trained, it will never “stay” in a truly run race well beyond its natural limit.

            Having said all of that, while it was understandable that Sherman would train CC lightly between the Derby and Preakness, there are questions about his proposed schedule (one half-mile breeze) leading up to the Belmont. Even though he may be enough of a freak to win the Belmont, it is unlikely that he will prove to be as well-suited to 12 furlongs as he is to around nine, and the way that he is trained into the race could have an impact.

          • kyle

            Ahh, but what actually constitutes staying? On the one hand it’s completely relative. Did CC stay the 10 furlongs of The Derby? Relative to his opponents? Obviously. But in real terms? I suggest NuFan pull up The 1981 Jockey Club Gold Cup for a terrific example of what it looks like when a field of horses “stays” 12 furlongs. What he’ll see there bears little resemblance to what he’ll see in two weeks.

          • Tinky

            Yes, I agree, it is relative. CC “stayed” well enough to beat a modest field of mostly non-stayers. Were he to race against, say, Risen Star in the Belmont, he’d probably finish nearer last than first.

          • betterthannothing

            Pace, pressure from other riders to move sooner than ideal like in the Preakness and how deep Belmont Park is that day will be crucial to CC’s success. At least he is easy to rate.

          • betterthannothing

            You just answered my question regarding pedigree vs. training, I should have read down before posting.

            I agree with “there are questions about Sherman proposed schedule” between Preakness and Belmont (one 1/2 mile breeze). I was stunned when I heard it!

          • Stuart H.

            I agree, Tinky. I was not thrilled with the 2 four furlong works the colt had coming into the Derby, either. But he won that race pretty easily. If they gallop him 2 miles a day perhaps the 4 furlong work will do but I was expecting a little more. Sherman is walking a fine line trying to keep this horse fresh while not over working the horse. But I thought it was a bit too little when I heard it. On the flip side, perhaps the horse is a freak that has the foundation to pull this off? Plenty of 8-9 furlong types have won this race with the right ride and training…I just hope Sherman is not going to let this horse go into the Belmont a bit too keen.

          • betterthannothing

            Tinky, I respect your opinion. How important is breeding vs. training to race at 10 furlongs and over?

    • togahombre

      20 horse fields, some owners that really don’t care if the horse ever runs again; they just buy another to pamper their egos, continually keeping these horses in training as long as they can take it( no late fall early winter let down), businesslike management of young prospects to produce revenue, unrealistic expectation coupled with overbearing attitudes and deep pockets; all these things have much more to do with these horses not going on than running on 2 weeks then 3 weeks rest, the commercial breeders are calling the shots but the homebreds still have alot of impact over the long haul

      • jttf

        the 20 horse derby fields are unacceptable as a championship and double the risk of injury. thank the churchill committee for reducing the derby points for the derby trial and lexington stakes. two weeks rest is a huge error in judgement for young colts. colts seem to do better with at least 11 weeks off over the winter. 2 races without lasix at two would make sense. only two preps before the derby is ideal..

  • betterthannothing

    Have any of the owners and trainers who pledged to disclose 14 days of(unverified) medical records to TJC for all stakes participants, sent their records to TJC yet? Will these records be disclosed to the public like Will Take Charge’s records before his last race?

  • Michael Castellano

    Racing will one day be banned if something is not done about the levels of drugs being given to horses. It can only be stopped when people from outside the industry enforce the rules and ban most drugs. You know that trainers are really giving most of the drugs to enhance performance, masked as medical treatment. The worst ones must be banned and draconian punishments handed out to restore the betting public’s confidence in the Sport. I love racing and love horses, but they should be competing as safely as possible, for both their benefit and for the benefit of the jockeys, not one of whom I am aware that’s been riding for at least five years that has not suffered a serious injury. NATIONAL RULES AND REGULATIONS ARE IMPERATIVE TO AVOID DISASTER!!

    • Beach

      Thank you for saying this. I also love hearing, “Well, that’s a therapeutic medication”. Please. Morphine is therapeutic, too–but when you take too much of it when you don’t need it, you either become addicted to it, die, or both.

      Just because it is not crack does not mean that the horses need it, it is right to give it, etc. And you may as well spit in the wind if you are giving medications like these without rest–when it is obvious that it is REST that’s needed, or even needed MORE.

  • Michael Castellano

    I would also add that I go to the track regularly, and it’s all too common to see accident’s and death on the track, and horses also regularly come back after a race bleeding from a nostril. I see this with my own eyes and don’t need a PETA to tell me.

    • Tinky

      “…horses also regularly come back after a race bleeding from a nostril”

      Oh well, so much for your credibility.

      • Michael Castellano

        I have photographic evidence of this, although it might prove controversial to supply a link to it here. So much for your credibility.

        • Tinky

          You have photographic evidence? Wow, I and everyone I know must be remarkably unobservant, given that we have witnessed many thousands of races in person and have found visible bleeding to be exceedingly rare.

          • Michael Castellano

            A picture is worth a thousand words. We see horses with blood on their mouths and nostrils all the time. Can’t say if they’ve bled in the classic sense, that requires scoping. But inflamed nostrils are quite common. Post your email and I’ll send it to you.

          • Tinky

            On their mouths? Nothing whatsoever to do with EIPH. Again, I have carefully observed thousands of races both in the U.S. and Europe, and the incidence of visible bleeding is – contrary to your spurious claim – exceedingly rare.

          • Michael Castellano

            Blood is often seen in the nostrils after a race. Period. I can’t speak for European races.

          • Tinky

            I suspect – seriously – that you are confusing dilated blood vessels and the pink inner lining of horses’ nostrils with blood. Again, any racetrack vet at any major track will set you, or anyone straight who believes that visible bleeding happens anything remotely like “often”.

          • Michael Castellano

            The dilated blood vessels after a race are so common these days that they are ignored. But this is a form of bleeding which can be aggravated by certain drugs and would be worse without Lasix. If this is so “normal” why is it seen only in some horses. To my mind it’s a sign of a juiced horse.

    • nu-fan

      Last year, at one of the tracks, a horse broke down on the track. The van pulled up and the tarp (to screen the view from those in the grandstand) went up. As the winning horse made it to the winners circle, I took a second to scan the crowd in front of me. Everyone’s gaze was turned to that van, not the winning horse. That is what the public sees and, in today’s society, this is one very major reason that some never go back to the track. The culture of our society has changed and those who do not understand that, are living in another era and in denial.

      • Tromper

        Your comments always seem spot-on to me. After a lifetime of loving horses, owning them & working in the racing industry, my inner conflicts are now emerging in the reality of media scrutiny…..finally, what I’ve absolutely wanted. My experiences have been 90% positive but it’s the 10% heartbreak that grows with every media disclosure. I’m close to a “thank you” to PETA & HBO for the awful “news” — but I know racing MUST answer and own it.

        • nu-fan

          And, that is, unfortunately, what may bring changes: those from outside the horseracing industry. Keep concentrating on that 90% of what is good and use the rest of what is left to do some part, however small, to get those that contribute to the remaining 10% banished!

      • Michael Castellano

        I went to a Belmont race in the 1980s. They had a preliminary three year old race on a Saturday in which a horse broke down in the stretch with one foot hanging on by a thread, screaming in pain. The curtain was set up right in front of the stands, right in front of me almost, and the horse was euthanized. It was so bad I had to flee inside to not hear the screams. I am not sure if it was on a Belmont Stakes day, but there was a large crowd, that I remember. Didn’t want to ever watch a race again. So I know what you mean.

        • nu-fan

          I’m “speechless” but pained to have imagined what you witnessed. And, the meantime, the horseracing industry keeps wondering why the fans are disappearing…..

          • Michael Castellano

            And if over the years I visited tracks a hundred times, perhaps 20 of the times I saw a horse break down or an accident. I’ve personally witnessed 6 fatal breakdowns, and perhaps three or four times as many if I count races watched on TV over the years. Many famous horses have also died on the track, it’s not that uncommon despite the remarks of some of the posters in this forum that seem to come from the ranks of trainers or their friends. Sound horses should not be dying on the track at the numbers we are seeing. Especially from “heart attacks.”

  • Richard C

    Wearing blinkers when seeing the truth has been part of the insider’s game for decades and decades — the curtain is now being ripped open and those who could not get them off fast enough need to answer some very tough questions — right now.

  • tired of blowhards

    No evidence of bleeding in the nostril. Brick-red mucosa related to exertion. The capillaries of the nostril are doing their job in this horse – cooling the blood and warming the air entering the lungs. The horse may have some blood along its lips. It wears a figure 8 dropped noseband and because it can’t open its mouth fully may have bitten its cheek or tongue during the race. The oral cavity and nasal cavity do not communicate in the horse when it functions normally.

    Again people, use facts as they are. Don’t imply things the facts do not say or embellish them. This only takes away from your message.

    • Michael Castellano

      Flaming red nostrils in a horse are a sign which has more than one meaning. It can be a sign of exhaustion and is not usually apparent in most horses. When the nostrils and also the eyes, bulge out and are extra red, it can mean the juice may have been applied. You can evoke all the names you wish, but I’ve been at the track since the 60’s and have seen this from horses and then not seen it the next time from the same horse.

      • DeniseSteffanus

        “Flaming red nostrils” in a photo can also be the product of the photographer enhancing the colors via photoshop. But you know that, Michael, because you’re a professional photographer who has that software at his fingertips.

        • Michael Castellano

          Didn’t need any Photoshop to show blood around a horse’s mouth and nose. Sounds like you work for a trainer, one who would never, of course, hype their horse up on meds for a non-existent thyroid condition. And that would never make a horse have excessively dilated nostrils or blood coughed up from the mouth. Or have their eyes bugging out of their sockets.

  • togahombre

    This behavior is what the the owners are paying for, mlb owners don’t pay the players for sportsmanship they pay for results, its the same, surprising though, you’d of thought once sabini got dutrow out of the game all this would’ve ended

  • tired of blowhards

    This comment is to jtff and the rant about lack of time between races is the reason for all injury to horses running in the Triple Crown races. See his comment below.

    Why do people use facts to make an argument without understanding the facts? Barbaro sustained an injury that all the experts involved say was related to trauma due to an inadvertent step, probably related to interaction with another horse, and then continuing to run despite Prado trying to pull him up. So one injury alone that would likely have been bad but easily survivable turns into three devastating injuries. He survives the surgery and the bones begin to heal but he develops laminitis in the opposite hind limb from over use then eventually in the two fore limbs which necessitate his humane destruction. How does increased time between races and administration of Lasix change any of this? Your comment “would that have saved his life?” shows your lack of understanding of the situation and makes your total argument less valid. If you want to change racing for the better, whatever you perceive that to be, don’t diminish your arguments with unfounded facts and hyperbole.

    • tired of blowhards

      I posted as a separate comment becasue my reply keeps disappearing.

    • DeniseSteffanus

      A galloping horse’s hoof hits the ground at 14,000 pounds per square inch. That’s why horses with no pre-existing cracks in their bones can take a bad step and fracture. Having a horse break down does not mean something nefarious has gone on to cause it.

    • Stuart H.

      Why do people use facts to make an argument without understanding the facts?

      Good question. I guess that is what makes these forums like fly ointment for all sorts of claptrap and blowhards, huh?

  • Tommy

    rats, chickens rabbits, plugs, donkey, mule , goat and many more terms used by many trainers i have come across . not one of them does not love horses. you make such accusation’s in the real world you end up the judged and not the judge

    • ginger2000

      If you love something you do not call it derogatory names. They love WINNING horses. Not all horses. Just because a horse is not fast enough to win does not mean it is not trying. If your IQ is not 150, should we call you derogatory names? If you cannot run like an elite athlete, should we insult you? No.

  • James Page Esq.

    Instead of naming the trainers (can be 100’s at each racetrack), look at the vet practices (there are 5 – 8 at each track). EVERYONE knows which vets are the most AGGRESSIVE! It is more than a coincidence the same trainers who have positives are using the same vet practices.

    Take an example from the DEA, you want to stop the drugs – go after the supplier

  • Sal Carcia

    When the players want see an end to raceday medications, the trainers accuse us of cruelty. When the news reporters challenge them it’s: “aba aba aba aba aaaa.”

  • brian

    Yes, the disturbing and sad aspects of racing. Do not forget the harness horses! Yonkers horse distanced in race and leaves track with foam pouring out of its nostrils/mouth. One of the “new” greats that had a form reversal when he came from California behind Lou Pena–Gilbert Garcia Herrera. Hopefully a racing official took samples and pictures…….

  • Peter J Townsend

    Instead of naming the trainers (can be 100’s at each racetrack), look at
    the vet practices (there are 5 – 8 at each track). EVERYONE knows which
    vets are the most AGGRESSIVE! It is more than a coincidence the same
    trainers who have positives are using the same vet practices.

    Take an example from the DEA, you want to stop the drugs – go after the supplier

  • G, Rarick

    You are misinformed on the breakdown rates of horses in other countries. As a former journalist, I shudder to use Wikipedia as a source, but since you have, here’s what I found on Wikipedia, which actually does square with my own research:

    “Current estimates indicate that there are 1.5 career-ending breakdowns
    for every 1,000 horses starting a race in the United States, an average
    of two horses per day. The State of California reported a particularly
    high rate of injury, 3.5 per 1000 starts.[120]
    Other countries report lower rates of injury, with the United Kingdom
    having 0.9 injuries/1,000 starts (1990–1999) and the courses in Victoria, Australia, producing a rate of 0.44 injuries/1,000 starts (1989–2004)”

    And you haven’t addressed other concerns, such as the stacking of medications with different side-effects, most of which would contribute to an increase in exercise-induced pulmonary bleeding. Also, just an aside, but have you actually spoken with a human athlete who has used lasix? It’s not the benign aid you present it as being.

    • Beach

      Thank you for saying some of what I would have said. I have said NOTHING re: outlawing therapeutic medication. My issues are stacking NSAIDs, steroids, and other arthritis drugs to either mask pain when the animals should actually be resting; AND/OR the stacking of meds to the point of deleterious side effects like bleeding, either GI or EIPH, etc. And also using things like L-thyroxine when they are unnecessary and simply being used for PE when the side effects can be deadly and/or not worth it. It is not normal for any animal to be hyperthyroid, especially if subjected to significant exercise. And for Assmussen to say that he “feeds Thyro-L” as if he’s flicking lint off his sleeve–well, IMHO, that’s heinous.

    • James Fix

      If you look at the above study I mentioned from Victoria you will see they saw less evidence of bleeding in using lasix-yet they also have less breakdowns-so how are they then lasix related? Not all horses on lasix are on bute.

      I agree Wikipedia is not a completely reliable source for all information, but the article does give a good look at all the multifacted factors that have been looked at in racetrack injuries. And to assume it is strictly a US problem related to drug use is very simplistic. As a journalist I am sure in your research you know that most subjects there can be quite convincing data shown that “prove” both sides of issues. When we start throwing in a living animal(human or non human) there is a whole lot more unknowns.

      As a compeitive weightlifter for over 10 years, andf had numeroud wrestler friends I was around numerous human athletes that took lasix to make weight. They had few side effects other than hitting the bathroom more frequently. Lasix has a very short duration, why human and animal cardiac patients take it 2-3 times daily. A single administration is going to have very few side efects.

      Since we have seen “bleeders” before there were any of the many medications we are talking about were even dreamed about it is hard to say a cause and effect relationship, please provide a source for data on EPIH suggesting it is medication related.

      If you look at my response above you will see I did say using medications that have shown therapeutic usage and no harm to the horse, and outlawing using those that do not. Unfortunately double blind drug studies on the veterinary side showing true therapeutic results are even fewer than on the human side as they cost $$ and drug companies will not fund them if there is little maket(ie profit) for themselves. I doubt there will be any stacking medication studies. I agree much of the pre racing polypharmacy is excessive(and the same on the human pro athlete side).Whether NSADs like bute cause more bleeding is something even veterinary surgeons disagree on when used pre op. Stacking multiple NSADs and steroids probably has no basis proven in studies, and in many species is a way to get stomach ulcers.

      One thing the public does not get data on is catastrophic injuries in non raced horses. Any one who has owned even a “pet horse” knows they are accident prone, and catastrophic leg injuries happen to pasture horses. A poor “design” by their “engineer”. Their cannon bones to support 1000lbs of muscle are only as big as our shin bone(why surgical implants often fail), they get shocky and want to die with a gassy belly ache. My wife’s pleasure horse got kicked by another mare at feeding time and cracked her tibia, luckily it was non displaced and healed with stall rest for 4 months. Add stenuous exercise in the formula and you will get more frequent severe injuries as we do in human athletes.

      • ginger2000

        You do realize you are justifying abuse of therapeutic medication while at the same time saying how fragile horses are. Perhaps since horses ARE fragile, they should not be so drugged.

  • Andy in the desert

    Time for standardization of all “jurisdictions”. Perhaps the Hong Kong jockey club has it right. Google them and find their “prohibited substances” rules section 136-143.

  • Tinky

    Sadler’s Wells and Danehill are by American sires that stood 30-40 years ago, and both came from European top-lines, rendering your point meaningless.

    Lasix is a separate issue, although it does impair the ability of breeders to breed carefully.

    • jttf

      are you rendering yourself meaningless if your familytree goes back to europe ?

      • Tinky

        Be sure to rejoin the discussion when you have something meaningful to add.

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    Unfortunately it all comes down to…and always will come down to money. What any racing jurisdiction appears unwilling to accept or go through is a natural contraction of the sport that would happen if better medication rules were in effect. A good number of the horses that make up the majority of the races run today would not be able to run anymore without these meds on board. That would lead to shorter fields, less races per day, and less race dates. Naturally that will have all the lobbyists screaming to legislatures that this can’t happen because it will cripple the agricultural industry. I think the industry, both racing and agriculture, will take a hit, but only a temporary one. Once the contraction is over and the infirm horses are weeded out of the system, the sport will rebound with more robust and healthier horses and the fans, and most importantly gamblers, will come back to it. The sport does need a centralized body…but more importantly a centralized body who will basically stand up to anyone who threatens legal action or complains about changes in the rules with. “Tough…deal with it”. and not cower to them because they happen to be bigger names in the game.
    I think most racing entities today are trying to shift focus to the Triple Crown try of California Chrome and not wanting to deal with this stuff. That is really sad and at least some in the media are keeping the issue out there (sensationalized or not). I’m wondering how long it will be till Asmussen and Blasi appear with Oprah ala Lance to try and explain things.
    FInally, what the heck (for lack of a much stronger word I can’t use here) is going on with these so called investigations into the PETA allegations by NY and KY. That is really what should be out in the media every day. Where does the investigation stand and why is it not resolved yet. I heard someone from KY say that PETA was dragging their feet on releasing any info to the investigators. If that is the case…lets haul PETA in front of the media and say…what’s up…why are you not cooperating like you should?
    Ok…I’m going to go be a hypocrite and take a xanax now :)

    • betterthannothing

      Well said Bryan.

      “I think most racing entities today are trying to shift focus to the
      Triple Crown try of California Chrome and not wanting to deal with this

      That’s what a physically and mentally dysfunctional and heartless industry does as long as it can get away with it. And it did get away with it for a long time.

      NY and KY racing commissions got caught with their pants down after PETA delivered damning evidences to the world giving them no choice but to investigate. Now the commissions blame PETA for not delivering to them additional materials fast enough? What about those commissions doing their job without relying on the much maligned PETA?

    • Janet delcastillo

      Right now there are very small fields even at ChurchillDowns…I fear for our industry. I love racing but unless there is a huge shift in the respect of the horses and humans involved, we are doomed.

  • jttf

    you only had one problem out of that long list ? well that makes me feel good. how come europe’s star two year olds are awesome at older ages ?
    2012. two year old champ was dawn approach
    2011. camelot
    2010 frankel
    2009 st nicholas abbey and sea the stars
    2008. mastercraftsman
    2007. new approach.

    america’s two year olds dryup like raisons. this totally embarrassing. just like in the 2008 breeders cup classic when two 3 year old sprinters came over to zenyatta’s backyard and trounced all of america’s stars. lasix lasix lasick

    • jttf

      the kentucky derby winners from 1972 to 1980 were very good at the age of two. riva ridge, secretariat, foolish pleasure, bold forbes, seattle slew, affirmed, spectacular bid. they were really awesome after the triple crown also. no lasix to hurt these great horses back then.
      just show me the facts. because hot air balloons never find their destination.

  • Beach

    I also replied to you through G. Rarick’s comment below. Human athletes also have the right to self-determine, and can embrace their own foolishness if they so choose. If they take meds and mask their pain and still exercise and hurt themselves worse, they’re most likely not going to get euthanized if things break. I have said nothing re: banning medication; I would instead like to see it JUDICIOUSLY used and the animals rested when needed. With animals like this, the “mask the pain” attitude needs to go.

    Lasix is a sticky wicket. According to people like Seth Hancock it has hurt the thoroughbred and he would know. I don’t expect fortune tellers to let me know who will bleed and who will not, but I believe that trainers and vet knows who bleeds and who doesn’t once horses have at least exercised, if not raced. And I’d bet money that there’s plenty of non-bleeders out there who are racing on Lasix, not for bleeding but to dump fluid so they are made lighter, like Asmussen’s vet said. And that’s not what Lasix is for, that’s what unethical cheats are using it for.

  • Tinky

    Jim –

    Two-thirds of the world’s Thoroughbreds race without Lasix, and have done for decades (and even centuries in the U.K.). It is abundantly clear that a high percentage of racehorses are able to compete safely and successfully without the need for race day Lasix, and that only a small subset – which I call bad bleeders – cannot.

    The fact that a high percentage of racehorses bleed to some extent does not in any support the notion that race day Lasix is necessary.

    • jttf

      tinky, you told me that sadlers wells and danehill were sires about 30 to 40 years ago. sadlers was a sire from 1990 to 2004. that is only ten years ago. danehill was a sire from 1995 to 2007. that was only 7 years ago… please just state the correct facts. your hot air is meaningless.

      • Stuart H.


        You are confused. I just read Tinky’s post. He said Sadler’s Wells and Danehill were SIRED 30 to 40 years ago, not that they were siring horses back then. Their sires were Northern Dancer (SW), and his son Danzig (Danehill).

    • James Fix

      Look at the controlled scientific studies-not party line.Lasix pre raced decreased EPIH. That is why they do controls and treated populations,double blind means no one knows which is which.They show lasix pre race does decrease EPIH. Do you really think profit on 3cc of lasix(now available in generic) makes enough money for drug companies to influence results? I guarantee it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the human side.
      You know years ago I had a Hall of Fame trainer (lots of big race wins-some Triple Crown races, “a great horseman”) when the assistant trainer and I were treating a laceration on one of his horses with antibiotics he came by and said “we didn’t have those in the old days stop it”. And what a shock it got infected. Just sent it back to the farm and a new one came in it’s place. Equine dentist said his horse had poorly cared for mouths-but hey he was a “good horseman” and didn’t use things the didn’t have in the old days.
      We humans are kind of frail also,most rider injuries in racing and pleasure horses the horse walks away but the human does not. Maybe outlawing helmets for riders as that extra weight must hurt the horse, outlawing Ace bandages,tape and braces in all human sporting events because those aids should not be used! Just because horses have an inherent frailty doesn’t mean they should not compete. How many kids get injured in soccer,Little league and Pop Warner football? I would bet it is close to the injury level of racing.
      If drugs helped pain and inflammation so much why do pitcher’s then have to go for surgery to keep throwing that 90 mph fast ball? You can bet if a steroid shot in the joint and an NSAD would keep him competing he wouldn’t go to surgery.
      My relation to horse racing for the last 20 years has just been as a fan, no income to me at all, but I get tired of non medical folks spouting “facts” that do not agree with the actual science on usage or effects of drugs. We have better medications for us humans and our animal patients that can be safely used as shown in scientific studies. Heaven forbid we humans couldn’t use antibiotics for an infection because “they didn’t have it in the old days” or in other countries now.
      Judicious use of proven medications, having vets list the medications given to horses at the track(in FL we had to way back in the 70s and only vets legally can give injections at the track). Possible random testing to insure what is being used during training might be some reasonable steps to look at.

      • ginger2000

        It’s a good thing you’re not a lawyer. Once again you disprove your own point. Yes, the pitcher gets injections and pain meds, and he keeps on pitching until his shoulder falls apart and he needs surgery. Lucky for him humans do well with surgery. Unfortunately horses are not so lucky when their legs fall apart. They break down and die or are euthanized or are sent to slaughter. The few lucky ones will get homes.

      • Tinky


        You just wrote several paragraphs, yet, remarkably, failed utterly to respond to my main point. If Lasix is so badly needed as a race day treatment for Thoroughbreds, how on earth do two-thirds of them compete successfully WITHOUT IT?

        • James Fix

          Japan has lasix illegal and has a higher breakdown rate than the US so how does that correlate with Lasix causing breakdowns? Tinky I guess they race “successfully” depends on if you still scope them and they have blood from lung damage in 50% how “successful that is. Often other countries they bleed twice they are retired-where do you think those larger numbers of retired horses end up in countries where horse meat is eaten like France, Japan? I’d bet they all are placed in a pasture for life.
          Ginger do you think pleasure horses do not have leg problems, break down and need to be euthanized? Do a search for “founder” or “laminitis” which we see in all breeds of horses, even more prevalent in ponies. It is frequently a fatal problem and fairly common even in pasture horses. Pull up “navicular disease”- more common in quarter horses-often prgressing to “nerving” to reduce the pain or euthanasia. All leg problems. Ride a month with even a “country practice” not even a performance sport horse practice and see how much of equine practice is related to legs and severe problems-often ignored long term by the owner. But they spent $200/mo on joint supplements and electrolytes!

          • ginger2000

            I never said pleasure horses don’t have problems. I believe I agreed with you that horses are fragile. I can’t help it if people – racetrack people or anyone else – use their horses when they need rest, do not condition them properly, etc. I fail to see your point. My point is that therapeutic medications are used as duct tape for racehorses. DRUGS DO NOT HELP HORSES REGAIN SOUNDNESS UNLESS REST IS INCLUDED.

          • ginger2000

            It would give me great pleasure to have a trainer or vet with perhaps a sprained ankle or a torn ligament in their knee, doped up like horse, injected like a horse would be and then forced to run 100 yards with someone whipping the hell out of them if they slacked off. AFTER having had their Lasix shot.

          • Tinky

            You’re flailing now, JIm. I made it very clear that I don’t believe Lasix to be a primary cause of the greatly reduced durability of American Thoroughbreds, but for you to suggest that there is no connection is shocking, given your profession. Anytime drugs are used promiscuously there are consequences.

            Secondly, there is ample evidence that only a very small percentage of Thoroughbreds racing in Europe, Australia and the Far East are bad bleeders, and unable to compete as a result. It is also a GOOD thing that they are quickly retired, and a good percentage are kept out of the gene pool, which of course helps to explain why the bleeding weakness is more prevalent in American bred runners.

          • Vudu

            I don’t know what to conclude in this, though I do see you resorting to hyperbole as well. And quite extensively.

            A horse bleeds repeatedly & is retired – doesn’t that improve the quality of raced animals, so that the hardier ones are left to race & those who perhaps shouldn’t – are removed from racing?

            Now you want people to be guilty of what happens when they are removed from racing!

            Ostensibly because their fate would be the fast food menu in Japan & France?

            Hyperbole is fun, isn’t it?
            That’s hardly a balanced discussion, however.

  • real fan

    It is unquestionable that the abuse of therapeutic medication in racing has undermined horsemanship. The reality is owners perceive a trainer’s acumen to be based on their percentage of winners! The higher the percentage, well, the better the trainer must be. If a trainer is enabled with a 100 plus horses, places them on a “program,” ie clenbuterol, thyroxine, lasix , and whatever else is legal and deemed beneficial, the “details” are covered. Process of elimination will yield the progressive types and the beat goes on…In essence it is about one thing, money! Eliminate medication, limit the number of horses per trainer, educate owners , celebrate the courage of horses and jockeys, provide safe racing surfaces… a central organization to provide guidance,uniform rules, structure, precision marketing,

    and maybe, just maybe there is a chance…

    • Rhett Fincher

      Undermining actual horsemanship. That’s why horses are getting a raw deal. Owners shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the sport of kings if they are making decisions based on financial basis or the best interest of the horse.

      Very well said

  • Kris

    The bottom line: If this sport didn’t have a “drug culture” then no one would ever be able to prove the accusation. Clean-up the sport or close down shop. Personally, I’m tired of the folks in this sport that are addicted to drugging their horses and believe there is no other way to operate.

  • Lexington 4

    No it doesn’t.

    • betterthannothing

      Diuretics are classified as doping agents in European sports and thus banned from competition.

      • Lexington 4

        It does not shave “a full second off a 5 furlong time”. Or make “the difference between an claimer and an allowance horse, or the difference between 500 k or nothing.” That is what Ben van den Brink said.

        For a simple example, did any of you watch the Breeders’ Cup?

        I don’t get how so many are willing to believe ANYTHING and yet so rarely even randomly stumble upon something that is accurate. You would think even the law of the broken clock being right twice a day would kick in sometimes.

        • Ben van den Brink

          It has been proven in studies done in australia. The weight difference after a shot of lasix is about 29 pds. The lasix is purely to get them horses lighter on their feet.
          It,s plain and simple race enhacing, as lasix will not ever prevent or influence the ailment itself. When horses are treated with lasix, the heart rate will be lower because of the lighter weight.

          Us racing is all about speed and clocked times but it derails totally the welfare from the horses.

          • Lexington 4

            Your statements about “a full second off a 5 furlong time” and “the difference between an claimer and an allowance horse, or the difference between 500 k or nothing” are absolute rubbish.

            You are absolutely clueless, Ben.

          • Ben van den Brink

            Lexington, I,ve been an breeder an owner trainer, part owner in syndicates. And I have had more than enough experience with bad bleeders that I gave away as pasture ornaments.
            Most trainers in the US are hooked on fractional and speed figures, start to train them properly instead of rushing them over and over again. Bleeding is an inherited ailment, the use of lasix is not differing it.

          • Lexington 4

            Hey Ben, this is the first thing that you have typed that I can agree with. Pretty much all of it.

            Why not just stick to statements like these that make sense and leave the hyperbole about “a full second off a 5 furlong time” and ” the difference between 500 k or nothing” behind? It would be a lot more credible.

          • Ben van den Brink

            I will search for that study, as it is an proven fact. The study has not been compiled in the US, as owners and trainers groups does not like to get their candiys asway.

  • ginger2000

    I don’t see blood from the nostril – I see blood from the mouth.

  • ginger2000

    I often see blood in the mouth, I am assuming it’s from tongue ties, nosebands that are too tight, and bits rubbing on teeth. Not a pretty sight.

  • Hamish

    Where are the statements from TJC, TOBA, RCI, RMTC, NTRA, HBPA, THA, TRA, and the others? Rome is burning and our alleged industry leadership is honkering down in some fox hole hopefully waiting for its enemy, the truth, to go away.

    • betterthannothing

      Alphabet soup “leaders” are too busy collecting fat checks, enjoying lavish perks, traveling around the world and scratching each other’s back, hoping it never ends.

    • Matthew Martini

      Good point, but I’m not sure if we need more statements from organizations with no teeth to bite into the core issues or who are unable/unwilling to affect meaningful change.

      I’m still waiting for when the vet records of horses trained by those who signed the pledge at The Jockey Club will be available to the public. Many trainers said that they would. What’s the hangup?

  • Lexington 4

    So what were the names of all of the vets this video gave airtime to?

  • Michael Castellano

    Sure it make them faster. If not that, why give it to horses that do not
    bleed as well as established bleeders?

  • Tonto

    Trainer/ owner at recent meeting says it cost from $400. -$700. per start per race vet bill. He was also the leading money winning owner .

    • ginger2000

      I have heard that from other owners, and even higher. So really, are we expected to believe the horse is only getting Lasix?

  • vinceNYC

    Most disturbing was the info on Baffert..7 heart attacks , drug for thyroid issue given to horses with no thyroid issues

    • ginger2000

      What’s truly disturbing is that he was cleared of wrong doing. Beau Derek must be an idiot. A 10 in both looks and IQ

  • gus stewart

    All of us who have been attending races for over 20 years have seen and known that the top trainers have had an advantage because of big money owners and performance enhancing products. Now how did they get their big owners when they started in the biz. Won a ton of races using whatever it took to win. Then the big owners switched away from the Mcnallys Van Bergs Headleys etc. I will never forget when one of the top trainers mentioned above, ran a horse at Hollywood Park. The horse was sent hard out of gate pushed and ridden the entire 6f, My horse who ran second ran his eyes out, who was trained by Bruce H. I said then this soon to become leading trainer, is using whatever thats making horses run beyond their normal abilities. So whats it gonna take more made publicity in a year of a potential triple crown winner? All of these trainers mentioned above, may seem to be nice guys, But that’s easy when you get the money and do what they did to get to the top!!!!

  • Vudu

    Meanwhile, people were up in arms over nasal strips?

  • Vudu

    “It is not a problem” – escapes me. What is not a problem?
    (Have not read the articles yet and expect that few will).

    What does it cost in time & money to scope a horse?

  • Vudu

    Do they put horses down in the middle of a trail ride?

  • Sara B.

    about time to STOP all drugs in horse racing! what are they waiting for?

  • Tonto

    Leading money winning owner/train at recent meeting claims it cost between $400./$700. per start vet bill. May we all ask why they need that much ‘treatment” to compete ???

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