How it should be

Over on the Paulick Report, there’s a story about trainer Doug O’Niell’s latest troubles – this time it’s another milk-shaking violation in California. This is the same trainer who dropped a filly into a $2,000 claimer (that’s not a typo – $2,000 claimers exist in America, which is just wrong, but anyway…) in which she broke down and had to be killed not long after leaving the starting gate. These incidents raise a lot of hue and cry, but nothing ever happens to change the rules. Vets and trainers always seem to convince the public that they’re just acting for the welfare of the horse – better living through chemistry. They insist it has to be this way, and of course it doesn’t.

Timing being everything, I had just read the latest outcry before going over to feed my horses breakfast yesterday morning, to find a car parked in front of the gate waiting for me. Vets from France Galop were here for a control. They came with a list of horses to test, and they would also be verifying the identity of all the horses in the yard, plus taking a look at my pharmaceutical stock and checking on prescriptions. That’s the way it works in France. If you have horses declared in training, they can be tested at any time. And that’s the way it should be. The vets spent the morning doing their work – they were courteous and did not interfere in any way with the work that needed to be done. I needed to give them copies of prescriptions for any horse that had undergone treatment in the past three months, plus they checked to make sure all the vaccinations were up to date. They made sure I didn’t have anything locked away I wasn’t supposed to have. It all went very well, and it really wasn’t a big deal.

Drug testing – in and out of competition – needn’t be a big deal in America, either, except that so many things are allowed, I don’t know how it would be possible to have a decent testing program. All you can do is what they do – issue slaps on the wrist for various overages of bute, lasix and the rest. Until all race-day medication is banned, it will be impossible to test for anything.

7 Replies to “How it should be”

  1. Bravo! Your last sentence bears repeating: “Until all race-day medication is banned, it will be impossible to test for anything.”

  2. Anyone reading my articles in the Thoroughbred Times or the Bloodhorse knows that I am against legal raceday drugs because they have proven to anyone with half a brain that they destroy racehorses and they keep our American humane animal loving general public from developing any interest in horseracing. I have an extensive email address data base of disgruntled and ex Thoroughbred race horse owners who have been negatively affected by legal race day drugs. A racing commission study showed that over 98% of American Thoroughbred Owners quit racing every two years because they end up with broken down racehorses resulting in excessive veterinary bills.
    Earl Abraham Ola

  3. I am another American Thoroughbred owner who is quitting American racing. I still have shares in two partnerships here and when they are through, that is it for me. You would not believe the list of medications that are shown on my monthly bills. I don’t believe in putting a lot of medications into my body and definitely do not believe horses should be pumped up with drugs. If horses need all that medication, then they shouldn’t be racing.

  4. I agree with all of you. I just want to say though, that there are a few, albeit maybe a handful, of us American trainers who race without drugs or medication. I am one of them and I have just recently retired my 9 yr old gelding perfectly sound and sane, with 69 starts. His last race was May 2 of this year at Tampa. He finished 2nd…just missing the win. He brought me 5 paychecks this last meet. He has a long story….Gina knows….he was claimed from me, put on lasix and who knows what else; and they never improved his form. I got him back 18 months later with a bowed tendon. After all that, the old boy came back and ran great for me. Time is the answer folks, not drugs and meds that mask the problems. Just had to put in my 2 cents.

  5. Unfortunately the sheer cost of training a racehorse, sows the seeds for unscrupulous activity amongst some people, especially when prize money at the lower end is weak. and your horse is not a crack.
    Britain being a prime example , with prize money at lower grade tracks in the region of not much more than 2 thousand pounds a race, it’s created the climate for gambling by those connected with a horse, to become more important than the actual prize money.
    So betting at the right moment, not necessarily on your horse, being the only opportunity to recoup costs.
    The ideal situation to bet in, generally being where only two or three horses have a chance of winning and one is yours.
    This opens up a can of worms,

  6. Ellie raises a good point: There ARE some decent trainers out there, trying to do what’s right for the horse. Good old Major is a beautiful illustration of that! Keep fighting the good fight…and Mr. Ola – send your disgruntled owners to me! I’m looking for a few to fill up my yard!

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