Drowning in Their Own Blood

Finding material for this blog is never difficult. Besides the obvious – naughty trainers, routine breakdowns, slaughtered retirees – practically every time a racing insider opens his mouth, gifts (for me) fly out. On 8/26/13, the Paulick Report relayed the story of a husband and wife training team in a bit of trouble with Pennsylvania racing officials for a Lasix violation. (Although not a vet, the wife was preparing to administer Lasix to one of their horses, and too close to race-time, at that.) While admitting the error, Mike Rogers insists his wife was just “trying to help the horse.” But unable to leave it at that, Rogers goes on to unwittingly indict his entire profession:

“[Strong Resolve] had bled tremendously before. This BS that horses don’t bleed is insane. They actually bleed so much, they’re drowning.”

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Lasix is controversial. There are some who argue that because running horses bleed, “naturally,” it is inhumane to withhold therapeutic furosemide. Others, though, see it solely as a diuretic performance-enhancer, one so entrenched in American racing that attempts to ban it on raceday invariably meet stiff resistance. Either way, racing looks bad: If primarily used to make horses run faster, it’s a superfluous medication, meaning all dispensing veterinarians are breaching ethical standards and should have their licences revoked. But if, on the other hand, what Rogers says even approaches the truth, each and every Thoroughbred owner and trainer in the U.S. should be arrested for animal cruelty.

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  1. Perfectly said …. Inside the racing world, drugging unsound horses to race is “standard practice” — anywhere else it is a crime with jail time; as it should be. Furthermore, lasix is a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Sports medicine expert Dr Paul Wright said, “Athletes can be use lasix to remove drugs that are banned. In other words, you can use Lasix to flush the body and remove all traces of a banned substance that was present.” Perhaps that is why seemingly all American thoroughbreds race on lasix whether they bleed or not.

  2. Susan, I agree. Some like the drug because they believe it is a performance enhancer and others because it helps to “flush” banned substances. The prevention or reduction of EIPH seems secondary at this stage. Not all horses bleed to the extent of needing Lasix and the drug is not always effective for known bleeders. Horses that are bleeders to the level of 3 and above, even with Lasix on board, should not race, period. And as is well known, Lasix depletes all important electrolytes and also upsets important minerals needed for healthy bones. So how is all this “good for the horse” !

  3. I have been a trainer for over 30 years and have written a book “The Tradition of Cheating in the Sport of Kings” I talk about the drug abuse and changes that need to be made for our sport to survive. The book along with the speech I did before congress can be found at http://www.sportofkingsbook.com We need all the help we can get to have these changes made. The people that are in charge of the integrity of our great sport have no feeling for the horses or the sport and seem to all have the common sense of a rock!!!

    • Glenn, I have read your book and, although I already knew about the rampant use of drugs in horse racing, I enjoyed your book, nevertheless. However, I find it incredibly sad that drugs are still considered “business as usual” in the world of racing. I have been involved with TB’s for over 50 years and galloped racehorses for a friend of my mom’s back in the 1960’s. I tolerated the “sport” for many years but now I find it horrific and I continue to try to shine a light on the “dirty secrets” of this industry. I applaud this blog in its attempt to show people that there has to be a better way to treat these athletes. If there isn’t, then the sport needs to go away permanently.

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