Crusade fatigue

I don’t know why, but something about the latest Paulick Report post that turned (again) into a debate on the merits of drugging horses on race day has left me feeling defeated and fatigued. I can’t understand how an issue that seems so clear to me can be at best misunderstood and at worst defended by people who handle horses for a living. I realize that the racing industry in the United States has a multitude of problems (and yes, every racing jurisdiction has issues, including France), but I believe that banning all race-day medication in thoroughbreds would be a big step toward solving many of them. I realize that most people involved in American racing disagree with me. Usually, I don’t care, because I happily race in a country where medication is banned (and our breakdown rates are half of what they are in America).  But one of the comments in the latest debate made me lose all hope. Somebody said, basically, well, fine, you have no drugs in France, but where’s the proof that your system could work for American-style dirt racing? This smacks of so much ignorance and disrespect for the horse that I couldn’t even reply. Rather than considering changing the system to preserve the horse, this guy apparently wants trainers to inject whatever is necessary to adapt the animal to the system. And by the way, get rid of those stupid synthetic racing surfaces, too, that interfere with my timed workouts and Beyer speed figures. Who cares if a longshot breaks a leg? I just want to get my bet in.

Then there’s the veterinarian (yes, apparently a licensed vet) singing the praises of lasix. Really, it’s all too depressing. I’m actually going to America next week, where I plan to spend a day or two at Tampa Bay Downs. I’m a little afraid to go. I’m not sure what I will do when I encounter this mentality face-to-face.

Anyway, just had to vent. I’ve gone native tonight, with snails and a good Bordeaux for dinner. Somehow makes me feel more at home than the thought of a cheeseburger and a beer. Oh, and by the way, forgot to mention Chantal Sutherland. Apparently the mere mention of the sexy Santa Anita jockey will make your blog hits go through the roof. I don’t have the semi-nude photos that you can find on the Handride and Cangamble blogs, though, so you’ll have to go there next….

0 Replies to “Crusade fatigue”

  1. Gina:

    I’m blessed/cursed to be on the Board of Directors of the NY Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which represents owners and trainers at NYRA tracks. At every one of our meetings — the most recent was just last night — the trainers go on ad infinitum about why we need race-day lasix, and why horses aren’t really healthier in Europe; see, in France they average only six-and-a-fraction starts per horse per year, while in the US it’s over seven. I’m not sure what this proves, since we have intense, year-round racing schedules here, compared to the somewhat more relaxed, seasonal schedules on the Continent, but, anyway, that’s the argument.

    Anyway, it IS depressing. It’ll take much tougher testing, and a few trainers who have the financial backing to train good horses in a European way before there’s any chance of changing the predominant attititude here. So where can we find you an owner with the resources to give you good horses and an off-track training center that can do thigs the right way?

  2. The problem is that the excuses are not rooted in fact. If you look at the numbers from the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, you will see that in 2007, the most recent year figures there are available, the average number of starts in the United States was 6.2 and in France was 5.9. So already, it sounds like some trainers are talking out of their ass. We have year-round racing, too. We have owners that need to make money too. I find that most U.S. trainers making those kinds of arguments have no idea what they’re talking about.

  3. Hay Oats and Water. Fuss on them.

    I am anti race day medication and for a mandatory waiting period for after drugs are administered before racing again. I’m also pro saddle cloth timing chips and more controls over workout results. Silly me.

  4. Anthony, I was a little harsh on the numbers-happy handicappers, and I know we need you guys. For what it’s worth, I think chips in saddle cloths are way cool. We had them in Deauville this winter and I thought it was a fantastic tool. Timed workouts are alien to me; maybe if the chip technology gets cheap enough and good enough, we will end up timing things here. I can’t see it happening any time soon, though, since many trainers were not happy with the Deauville system.

  5. I don’t know how the chips are considered so expensive? It is RFID with a GPS tracker put in. If Walmart can have an RFID tag on a .99c loufa sponge, then the bloody NTRA can damn well put a tracking chip in each horse and spend the money for the track system.

    It is not that complicated.

    These trainers that swear lasix is good for horses must be the same ones who think the Earth is flat, 6000 years old and the center of the universe. The fact the NTRA has not convened a panel of physiology experts and debunked this absurd dogma, is telling.

    Snails and Bordeaux…I’m in.

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