While most of the debate on drugs in horse racing is currently focused on Lasix / Salix, the anti-bleeder medication given to every single horse who races in the US with very few exceptions, little is being said about Bute. Bute is the drug most identified when discussing injury-masking drugs and racehorses.
In a previous post, we highlighted a Sports Illustrated article from 1978 where jockeys were ridiculed by members of the racing establishment for warning about about the dangers of Bute to horse and rider. At that time, only a handful of States authorized its use. Today, I believe I am correct in saying that every single racing jurisdiction in the US allows horses to run on Bute, although guidelines vary.
Going back a decade earlier, in another Sports Illustrated article dated May 20, 1968, Kentucky Derby winner Dancer’s Image was “disqualified” (actually the horse kept his win but the prize money was forfeited) because he had been administered Bute, at the time a banned substance on racedays.
While the article is mostly about the mystery surrounding about how Dancer’s Image got the drug and why, the quote that jumped out to me is this one. It holds up equally today just as it did then.
In 1960 Calumet Farm’s Jimmy Jones told SPORTS ILLUSTRATED he was against Butazolidin for several reasons. “First, no matter what you call a medication, in the public mind it’s dope. Well, it has taken horse racing a long time to buildup the public’s confidence, and it shouldn’t do anything to lose that confidence. The second reason is that Butazolidin is going to encourage many trainers to run horses which are definitely hurting and should be laid up for repairs instead of running. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned and maybe I’m wrong, but I believe that if horses can’t run good enough on oats and hay then they shouldn’t be running at all.”
This may be a bitter pill to swallow for today’s horse racing to take, but swallow it they must, if they are going to protect racehorses and jockeys from catastrophic injuries and death and start healing public opinion about the sport.
4 thoughts on “Horse racing quote from days gone by about Bute holds up equally today”
GREAT aticle, thats the way it should be, no drugs.
Wise words that hold true today more than ever. Oats and hay. Good strong bones and the will to win….without drugs.
Great article. Very telltale about the disparities between racing then and now.
It is sad that racing has descended into what it has become today where bute is a legal race day medication in some North American jurisdictions and many horses do i fact race on it.
It obviously has been well known for decades that phenylbutazone is a powerful NSAID that has the ability to mask pain and permits otherwise lame horses to run on potentially compromised limbs.
One can only wonder how many horses have succumbed to this drug as a result of underlying musculoskeletal issues. It’s all about money and so little about the horse it seems.
What an amazing quote:Maybe I’m just old-fashioned and maybe I’m wrong, but I believe that if horses can’t run good enough on oats and hay then they shouldn’t be running at all.” AMEN.