Report: Illegal Horse Racing ‘Flourishing’ In Colorado

by | 05.18.2017 | 4:32pm

On Easter Sunday, several hundred people of all ages gathered at the Deer Trail Rodeo grounds in Arapahoe County, Colorado. Instead of a rodeo, however, the crowd packed the stands for a ‘day at the races.'  Held that afternoon were 10 quarter horse races, run on a dirt track.

Denver's KDVR-Fox 31 reports that unsanctioned horse racing appears to be booming in Colorado, with little being done to stop it. The station's investigative reporters recently acquired hidden-camera footage of the races held at the rodeo grounds, and the illegal gambling that went along with it.

Also caught on tape were instances of horses being injected with an unknown substance prior to racing. A used needle and syringe, with a trace of a brown liquid still remaining, were recovered by spectators and given to the station, which then sent it out for testing.

The lab discovered three separate drugs, and was able to identify two of them – “a combination of caffeine and an equine anti-inflammatory/painkiller Flunixin.” According to the lab results, the third compound “could not be verified in any mass spectral data base.”


  • Jack Frazier

    With the current mess horse racing is in, people who don’t want to be under the thumb of folks who really don’t know about racing, will race on these bush tracks. It is a lot more fun, it is a social occasion with families, yea families, enjoying racing their own backyard horses at giving the finger to management.

    The concept of my horse can beat your horse is the heart and soul of horse racing but it has become a sideshow of cheap trinkets, a voucher and other bogus things racing does. I salute these folks and their families for taking a refreshing step back to the future of racing if the nitwits running it quite thinking about money, money, money and start appreciating the people who own the horses. Not much money but it is still fun.

    • MNJustin

      Seriously? Did you actually read the article or watch the footage? You applaud a bunch of red necks openly shooting up horses right before they load them in the starting gate? This is not an old fashioned family event and there is nothing refreshing about it.

      • Noval

        And do you seriously think the fancy people with fancy horses don’t race horses that are injected with things “that can’t be identified through a mass/spectral database”? They are generally more discreet about it, but that’s all.

        Mahmood al-Zarooni, Godolphin trainer, got busted a few years ago with syringes in his luggage. Of course, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum knew nothing about it. Hah.

        • Lehane

          Where did MNJustin state that the drugging doesn’t take place in legalised racing?
          Are you serious, the whole world knows that racehorses are drugged.
          Anything goes with these illegal races with no official governing oversight whatsoever.
          Hate to think of the unethical vets these bush meets have, if in fact they do.
          Oh what fun, taking your children along to watch horses being injected with drugs before they race, getting injured/dying before your very eyes. Disgusting!

        • MNJustin

          Never said that…what I said is this isn’t the family friendly environment like Walter claims it is. I realize there are bad people who do bad things at every racetrack.

      • Jack Frazier

        Seriously. Horsemen don’t need the big shots to have fun racing. A handful of trainers, in tight with management, get the majority of stalls. Those folks have pissed a lot of people off as well. If you think those big trainers don’t use drugs on their horses, you lack oxygen to your brain.

        One time when I was sitting on my pony at a great track, Hollywood Park, one of their assistant’s was also there. I was sitting next to a HOY Trainer and asked how much they spent on each horse, each month with the vet. He said, “You don’t want to know.” I did. He said it averaged $1500 a month per horse. If that isn’t drug use I don’t know what it is, and then on race day their vet makes sure they get their boost before racing. That sir, is a fact. Small trainers cannot compete with those who spend that much because you cannot make a living running up the track and in this atmosphere racing has embraced that is the way it is.

        Better to have fun

        • MNJustin

          Since when do trainers pay the vet bills? I pay all my vet bills which have never exceeded an average of $250 per horse per month. Over the last 4 years my horses have won at over a 30% rate and finished in the money over 80%. I claim good horses, give them time between races and place them where they can win. It’s not that hard. Or maybe my trainer is secretly footing the bill for all kinds of illegal drugs and juicing my horses to make them win…doubt it!

          • Jack Frazier

            Good for you. I did the same but many over use vets. In Calif. you can’t compete unless you spend three or four hundred a race. I used bute and Lasix. I also did use vitamins either in the feed, used a device to squirt them in their mouths or gave vitamins regularly to keep the red blood cells up. I don’t understand how people can give perfectly sound horses anything other than vitamin buildups. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I did not do well as a trainer and gave it up. I did well when I raced Arabians and had three Ca. Horse of the Years but when Los Al ran them off, I tried to switch and it did not work. You want to see an example of my training. look up Bound For Eden, a Tapit mare I got when everyone gave up on her. She won three allowance races out of six starts and never ran on anything but vitamins, bute and Lasix. Go to YouTube and search for Eagle One, Arabian Race Horse and you will see a few of his videos. I won 13 races with him over a seven year career and he retired sound after 80 starts, and is now my riding horse. I also RWMaganatarySmoky, who was a HOY. I found the Tapits are absolute race horses, and she was the best I TB I ever had. Other than that, not much and I admit that I was only in it for the sport because not too many people make money. Breaking even was like making money and most don’t.

          • MNJustin

            Impressive! What doesn’t make sense to me is how someone who seems to be concerned about the welfare of horses and the integrity of the sport applauds these kind of backwoods events where clearly nobody cares about the horses. Is it that you are just so bitter with the racing venues that ran you out, so you see this as an F you to them? I don’t see how anyone who cares about horses could “applaud these folks” and see these events as “refreshing”. That’s like describing the kill pen at the local horse auction as a great place to take your kids so they can meet real cowboys and pet lots of pretty horses.

          • Jack Frazier

            What I wrote was tongue in cheek. I grew up riding match races in Oklahoma. Texas and Kansas. Perhaps my remarks were not good because I don’t know who or what is going on but I remember as a kid seeing horse trailers with the name of the owners best horse emblazoned on it. People would meet, goad each other and a race was set up. Everyone wanted the advantage and we ran for purses of $100 most of the time and bigger purse once in awhile. It was fun. Families gathered, had picnics, kids played and everyone enjoyed the races. It was a family affair.

            I don’t applaud them either and I hold no hatred for anyone. Bound For Eden was blacklisted, along with myself, from any track or training center Santa Anita controlled. We, she and I, were blacklisted because her owner wanted to get Black Type on her and Golden Gate was the easiest track to try to get it. She had beaten all the contenders but got hit, shuffled back and never got into the race.

            I was called the night before the race, threatened and told not to take her back to the training center. My wife heard the conversation because I had it on speaker phone. So I didn’t. I took her to my ranch. I do have a sour attitude about certain people, especially the racing secretary. I had seen all the top trainers ship to Golden Gate for stake races and I was just emulating them, but I was wrong to think I would be treated the same way.

            There are two sets of rules there. He didn’t like her owner, an African-American ex-football star who had played at Dallas and Miami, and who by the way, had invested over $10 million dollars buying horses, and to my knowledge was the only African-American I know of who was able to have a stable of over 25 horses financed with his his own money, and he was not liked by management at all. I won’t tell his name unless he says I can, and if he does I will. He quit the business as well.

            What I don’t understand about the blacklist is that I only had three or four
            violations, one for a horse being shod wrong and the other when the groom I hired for the race wanted to wash the horses mouth out and used a discarded pre-race syringe, washed it out and used it. The CHRB man saw him, I scratched the horse and paid the fine. I also wonder why many folks such as myself, are treated unequally by Santa Anita as other trainers as far as stall allocation when their are empty stalls at Santa Anita and the training tracks that supply the horses. I don’t know the answer to that one..

            I have a problem with that respect. I am a disabled Vietnam Combat Veteran who is 80% disabled. I retired as a European and American History teacher after almost 23 years and have a Masters Degree in Multicultural Education and Secondary Language Acquisition.
            I don’t need racing at all. I have a good pension from CalStrs and a disability compensation for the many things I brought home with me from the war.

            I love horse racing but my point, which was missed was that match racing is far more enjoyable than the racing I was involved with. That is it. At this point I don’t really care if they succeed or fail. They have made their own bed and will have to sleep in it. As the song once said, “Nothin’s Cold as Ashes, After the Fire is Gone and my fire for racing is extinguished.

          • MNJustin

            Sounds like you got a raw deal and it’s unfortunate that you’ve lost your love of the game. I know that there are a lot of bad things that go on but I still love the game and try to surround myself with people that do things right so I can have a positive impact. For the time that any horse is in my possession you can be sure that it will get the best treatment and only race when it is healthy and ready for a good effort. What scares me is the thought of one of my horses getting claimed and ending up at a place like this.

            I do realize that match racing is a big part of American history and many of the top riders got their start there but I think those times have passed.

            I wish you the best. Thank you for your service to our country.

      • Lehane

        You are absolutely correct. I read the report/video and have a friend in Colorado who says it’s absolutely horrendous with what’s going on with these horses.
        Absolutely sickening and doesn’t compare with legalised racing and that’s saying something!

      • Digug

        This was a Mexican redeo so called, no red necks involved. Did you read the article MNJustin. The town of Deer Trail makes no money from these events and the population here does not want this in their town. The people who run the track are the only ones making money off this event. I say good riddance to this event.

  • Ruben Flores Diaz

    Ohh my!!!!! These people are using stimulants for performance enhacenment?
    Sound like a normal day in a legal track to me.
    The only difference is the amount of money involved. The drugs they used is caffeine and a pain killer, in the big tracks they use the newest anabolic steroids, levothyroxine, clenbuterol and meds that you have not even heard of because the small time guys can’t afford these drugs.
    I have seen articles in the PR on bush tracks back in the day that make it seem like it’s fun to attend these races, and also served as a springboard for a lot of jockeys and horsemen to make the jump to official racing (Borel,Desormeaux ,Paco Lopez).
    As long as two persons have a horse and on says mine is faster than yours theres is always going to be a race, and a whole bunch of other people will want to see the race and put a few dollars on one of the horses, the way I look at it is county’s shoul be more involved in the preparation ans supervision of these events, some places are too far away from an official race track and make some money fron it instead of trying to stop something that has been going on since the begining of time.

  • Fred and Joan Booth

    This type of racing is rampant throughout the west.This is one of many reasons that many young people in there 20`s and 30`s that we are familiar with, dislike and are uninterested in racing. We became disgusted ourselves with bush league type racing after seeing horses wired up to a series of auto batteries many years ago. Still don`t know what the trainers purpose was for doing that. We unknowingly participated in illegal unsanctioned races ourselves! We had taught all of the horses involved to gallop and they were all taught to be dependable riding horses who at times we had to ride the several miles to his owners house so as to pickup our paycheck.At the time we were going out of the starting gate with those horses, we thought we just accustoming them for the upcoming meets at sanctioned tracks later in the year.Several years later at another job at a marina we discovered that every Sunday at that county track, THOUSANDS were being gambled on us each time we “practice raced”. The boat owner who came to launch his boat recognized us and said he had lost tons of money on us as it took us awhile to figure out which horse was actually the best runner in a racing environment. We were just enjoying the speed / strength of the horses we were riding! We still ride our own, but more carefully, as our farm stallion is a son of a stakes winning sire who was trained by D. Wayne Lucas.One does not need to go 40+ mph to enjoy a horses physical presence.

  • ofmyownaccord

    Hmm, we got Walter Frazier who complained about not getting stalls at Santa Anita and being blacklisted by the racing secretary……openly supporting and applauding illegal bushtrack racing.

    Maybe he can get some more Square Eddie rejects from Reddam and snap their legs in Colorado like he’s done at training centers in CA.

    • Jack Frazier

      Why don’t you ask Cherie Lankford who your boss refuses to give two stalls too about how Santa Anita treats people. He would not give her stalls here so went to GG and won a Maiden Special and he, your boss, still refuses to give her stalls and instead is causing a hardship on her family. There is a long list of folks who are contemplating contacting the ACLU for discrimination against women and African-Americans. How many women trainers has he given stalls? Only a handful. How about African-Americans? You go pull up the stall list of how many women or how many African-Americans have more than a few stalls.

      I think an investigation into the stall allocation practices as well as the discrimination, ridicule, condescending attitude toward people he doesn’t now, Little people, such as yourself, attack what they believe a weakness. Mr. Reddam gave me two fillies. Neither broke down. I gave both away. To say such a crappy thing, to attack my character and my opinions is just childish. You must be one of the snowflake liberals who when they cannot win an argument or have a discussion on their merits, hurls insults.

      I feel sorry for you. You are a pathetic example of why racing is dying in California. Got to love those 5, 6 and 7 horse races. He can’t fill full fields on more than a couple of times a month.

      My posting on the “illegal” racing was an opinion. There is no fun at Santa Anita, except for the pets he caters to.

    • Jack Frazier

      I suggest you read the rules on commenting. You are attacking me personally and it violates the rules you should have read, assuming you can.

  • flahorsedentist

    Way back in the last century, I had a blast racing in the bushes, in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. There were match races, and gate full of all kinds of horses, paints, quarters, Appaloosas, and thoroughbreds. Most were on harness tracks at fairgrounds. Most of the “hop” was vitamins. There were some memorable match racers, and a plethora of colorful characters. A lot of farmers, families, and laughter

  • Will Styles

    I love private match races. So much better then the organized races at the track. It’s less uptight and way more fun.

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