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Protecting Horses from the Starting Gate to the Finish Line

Friday, June 6, 2014 - 2:30pm
Protecting Horses from the Starting Gate to the Finish Line

Tomorrow is a big day in the world of horse racing: The Belmont Stakes, the final leg in the Triple Crown, will run and California Chrome has a chance to be the first horse in decades to win all three races. However, despite the fervor over a horse with potential to be only the twelfth Triple Crown victor in history, a dark cloud overshadows the event. The widespread and dangerous practice of horse doping continues to sully the sport of horse racing.

The New York Times recently published the latest article in its series about the pervasive doping of horses at U.S. racetracks. Drugs are regularly used to give horses a performance-enhancing edge in racing—enabling them to run through pain and creating the risk of serious harm to both horse and jockey.

Illegal drugs such as cobra venom, Viagra, cancer medications, and dermorphin (a substance extracted from tree frogs that acts as a pain killer 40 times more powerful than morphine) are used to push racehorses past their physical limits, but drugs that are currently legal are problematic, too. Drugs that are banned in every racing jurisdiction other than North America are legal at American racetracks—it is hardly surprising that twice as many racehorses die in the U.S. as in other countries with horse racing (numbers calculated by the Jockey Club). A 2012 New York Times exposé revealed that an average of 24 thoroughbred racehorses die at U.S. tracks every week. That number doesn’t even include Quarter Horse racing or Standardbred racing fatalities.

It’s time to clean up the U.S. horse racing industry by passing the federal Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act (HISA), H.R. 2012/S. 973. Introduced by Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in the House and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) in the Senate, this bill will ban performance-enhancing drugs in U.S. horse racing and designate the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as the governing body to create and oversee the implementation of uniform medication rules to protect horse welfare. The Jockey Club recently acknowledged the importance of this bill and agreed that the USADA “has the experience, the knowledge and the credibility to bring much-needed integrity to our sport.”

You can help move this life-saving legislation over the finish line. Please contact your members of Congress today and urge them to cosponsor the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act, H.R. 2012/S. 973.

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Randy Janssen

Typical ASPCA propaganda. If you read the times report, it is long on conjecture short on evidence. They point to three bells, but nobody has shown that horse was doped. If you read the reaction of three bells owners, they were devastated. Rather then doping, you might want to look at the breeding practices of TB owners. Start looking for inbreeding. See if the stud and mare had at least one common grandparent. Also realize the breed is being bread for maximum muscle strength. When you get too much of one thing, something is going to give.

Laura

Do you mean Eight Bells?

Jennifer

The best breeding in the world cannot protect horses from sustaining life-threatening injuries when forced to run at break neck speeds on toothpick legs that are no where near mature and strong enough to endure that abuse. Thoroughbred race horses are viewed as disposable. It's all for greed and profit.

Marc Covitz

Jennifer: I couldn't agree with you more.

Randy Janssen

What do we do with all the pretty horses? Let them run free so they can starve and be eaten by predators. Horses do better with human contact, then when left to their own devices. Go out in the wild and see how many thirty year old horses you find. We could put them all in stables and go and admire them. Of course that is financially impossible. There is only so much grass and grain in this world. The problem is, groups like the ASPCA, HSUA and PETA, are totally impractical. They are here asking for another federal law, when we can't take care of our veterans. Every time you pass a law, it cost money to enforce that law. So you don't want to pass laws that are not necessary, because it takes money away from things that are necessary. So don't pass a ;aw against doping base on the pure supposition in the times report. You might cause a veteran to die.

Randy Janssen

What do we do with all the pretty horses? Let them run free so they can starve and be eaten by predators. Horses do better with human contact, then when left to their own devices. Go out in the wild and see how many thirty year old horses you find. We could put them all in stables and go and admire them. Of course that is financially impossible. There is only so much grass and grain in this world. The problem is, groups like the ASPCA, HSUA and PETA, are totally impractical. They are here asking for another federal law, when we can't take care of our veterans. Every time you pass a law, it cost money to enforce that law. So you don't want to pass laws that are not necessary, because it takes money away from things that are necessary. So don't pass a law against doping base on the pure supposition in the times report. You might cause a veteran to die.