The connections of Runhappy, winner of the G3 Phoenix Stakes Friday and one of the leading contenders for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, have joined the Water Hay Oats Alliance. Also known as WHOA, the organization advocates for medication reform in horse racing, including the elimination of furosemide, better known as Lasix, a drug developed to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage but now administered to more than 90% of all North American starters.
Runhappy races Lasix-free.
“The use of illegal drugs nearly destroyed cycling and it almost ruined track and field,” said James McIngvale, whose Gallery Racing owns Runhappy, a Super Saver colt who scored his first stakes victory running Lasix-free in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 29. “It has already done irreparable damage to the image of horse racing. Running these magnificent animals on illicit drugs is not only unfair to the animals but to the great fans who support the game.
“The horse with the best talent should win, not the horse with the best pharmacy,” McIngvale added. “The 21st century is all about being ‘organic, transparent, genuine, authentic and real.' Let's apply these words to horse racing in the United States and take our game into the 21st century.”
“For me, drug free racing is a simple and logical paradigm,” said Maria Borell, trainer of Runhappy. “Why would we put something into a racehorse's body that we would not put into our own bodies?”
“It's about more than just leveling the playing field in racing,” Borell added. “It's about doing what is right for these animals and their well being. It's about producing better, stronger Thoroughbreds for our future and ensuring the integrity of the sport and the breed.”
Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, who has ridden Runhappy in both stakes victories, added: “I'm very happy there is a group of people willing to step up to the plate and look out for the best interests of the horses. It will make this game safer for everybody, riders and horses. It will be good for the integrity of the sport. It has to be a national group, with one law for every state.”
McIngvale, Borell and Prado join a growing list of WHOA supporters, including trainers, owners, breeders, consignors, veterinarians, racetrack owners and executives, regulators and journalists.
The Water Hay Oats Alliance is a member of The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity (CHRI) – whose membership also includes the Breeders' Cup Ltd., the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Veterinary Medicine Association, The Jockey Club, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders, the Meadowlands Racetrack, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Centaur Gaming, and Arapahoe Park.
The CHRI supports The Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015. This bill, introduced in July 2015 to the House of Representatives by Congressmen Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), will direct the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to create an independent, racing-specific, non-governmental and non-profit organization to bring uniformity and clean sport to horse racing.
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