A recent Daily Racing Form article (9/20/13) suggests that the pervasive doping in horseracing has a silver lining. Well, sort of. First, the bad news: trainers, of course, are dumping illegal junk into their horses, and because labs are always playing catch-up, much of it is hard to detect. But the good news, at least for a publication most concerned with the integrity of the bet, is that some of the drugs – or drug knock-offs – “are nothing more than the equine equivalent of snake oil.”
The California Horse Racing Board’s Dr. Rick Arthur: “A lot of this stuff is bull—-. There are probably trainers out there who think they are using ITPP [an illegal performance-enhancer], and they aren’t. It says ITPP on the label, but it’s just a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work and isn’t even illegal.”
The “stuff” – legal and otherwise, effective and otherwise – can be easily found at sites like horseprerace.com. But the products – “Green Speed,” “Lightning Injection,” “Blast Off Ice” – and ridiculously low prices should prompt caveat emptor. Arthur: “The RMTC recently got sent what was supposed to be cone-snail venom [a painkiller], and it was just a bunch of amino acids. And yet the guy who was using it said that it was the best cone-snail venom he’d ever used.” Pity the gullible cheating trainer, for he is being cheated himself.
So now racing officials must decide whether or not to expend tight resources developing tests for drugs that don’t enhance performance. Dr. Dionne Benson of the RMTC: “That’s the big question. What they are doing is illegal, and we feel like we should have an ability to crack down on it. But that means we might not be able to do something else.” In other words, we know you’re trying to cheat, but no edge no foul. Not surprisingly, the DRF has nothing to say on how this dummy dope may affect a horse’s long-term health. In racing, what passes for ethics is cracking down on the drugs that make horses run faster. For that would be unfair.