I'll Have Another. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan).

Congressional Committees seek information on drugging and shock waving racehorses

WALT BOGDANICH, writing for the The Rail of the New York Times reports:

(June 9, 2012) Members of two Congressional committees investigating the drugging of racehorses have sent letters to racing regulators in 39 states seeking information on how trainers with multiple drug violations are disciplined and how often certain performance-enhancing treatments are used.

The letter asks about the use of so-called milkshakes, alkalizing agents that help horses combat fatigue, as well as the use of shock-wave therapy, which supposedly promotes healing but also deadens pain.

continuing:

Only a few states require trainers to disclose when shock-wave therapy is administered on horses and forbid the horses to race soon after receiving it. Regulators currently have no way to detect whether a horse has received shock-wave therapy shortly before a race.

It is up to the ethics of those that have the machines, and that is the problem,” Kenneth H. McKeever, associate director of research at Rutgers Equine Science Center, said.

Read full report here >>

FROM THE EDITOR

I'll Have Another. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan).
I’ll Have Another walks in the barn with groom Benjamin Perez after a morning workout at Belmont Park, Friday, June 8, 2012 in Elmont, N.Y. The Triple Crown hopeful was set to run Saturday in the Belmont Stakes, but was later scratched reportedly due to tendonitis. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan)

This is encouraging news and hopefully the US Congress will be able to address the alarms we raised about the use of shock wave therapy of racehorses, chief among them the fact that the treatment has an analgesic effect that could mask the pain of injury and go undetected because it leaves no chemical residues the way pharmaceuticals do.

The use of shock wave therapy on Thoroughbred racehorses came to national attention as it was reportedly used on Triple Crown contender I’ll Have Another. His connections sent out shock waves of a different kind when they scratched and immediately retired I’ll Have Another the day before the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown.

The champion who surprised and thrilled race fans was diagnosed with the onset of tendinitis according to media reports. This type of injury is not typically career threatening, plus the O’Neill brothers had stated earlier that they intended to keep I’ll Have Another in training and race him as a 4-year old, possibly even longer.

I’ll Have Another was set to lead the post parade for the Belmont Stakes but that idea was as quickly scratched as the horse was retired. While we welcome this change of thought, Dr. Larry Bramlage, who is renown for his career-saving surgeries of catastrophically injured Thoroughbreds, is quoted in a tweet by @belmontstakes prior to the change of plan:

Dr. Larry Bramlage: “I’ll Have Another’s ability to lead post parade … an illustration of the character of his injury.”

It is all so confusing. But as they say, that’s American horse racing.

For more information, read Jane Allin’s groundbreaking report on shock wave therapy:

I’ll Have Another . . . shock wave therapy treatment please, Tuesday’s Horse, May 14, 2012.

See also:

The O’Neill brothers, the meaning of milkshakes and fixing of horse races, Tuesday’s Horse, May 23, 2012.

A lust to win, an incentive to cheat: The stain on American Thoroughbred racing, Tuesday’s Horse, May 24, 2012.

All Tuesday’s Horse posts on horse racing.

9 thoughts on “Congressional Committees seek information on drugging and shock waving racehorses”

  1. It’s a house of cards made up of a morass of lies. As for Romans’ complaint: you are known, sir, by the company you keep. Interesting that IHA’s owner, Reddam, stated a tad petulantly during the televised Belmont that he had “no interest at all in breeding…never had.” Yet, they are “retiring” IHA to breed him (not that the life of a breeding stallion is any better). With Reddam’s attitude, I greatly fear that IHA will one day end up like Ferdinand because why would an owner who dislikes breeding keep a horse whom they intend only for breeding? Also, because of all the suspicion surrounding the drugging of IHA, his stud fees will probably not be what Reddam et al think they will be since his wins (incl over Creative Cause) will be questionable…all of which may lead to IHA being quietly sold and passed around like day-old bread (which is the lot of TBs generally whether great, potentially great, or otherwise).

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    1. Hello Cynthia, and thank you.

      The path this horse is on upsets me greatly. A group of cheaters were gifted with this tremendous, gutsy horse and they have been most ungrateful. Why do humans think they need to improve what God has already so magnificently designed? Because they have no faith in their abilities is my answer. The O’Neill camp is hardly alone in this; they are the picture of modern US horse racing, and yes there are exceptions.

      I saw this depressing and probably accurate comment on the Paulick Report about IHA:

      “nyra made the detention barn decision. this forced the scratch. o’neil would have iced it. shot it up. and run for the crown. everyone knows that. ignorance is bliss… and their is alot of bliss in this chat. i am sure anyone that thinks racing will disappear if you try to clean it up… also believes that WWF is a sport”.

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  2. Jane, I find this so strange re I’ll Have Another:

    1. Scott McClure DVM explained that some of the most common uses of shock wave therapies involve healing tendon and ligament injuries. http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=18033

    2. In an article by Thoroughbred Times entitled :Will shockwave help tendon injuries heal faster?” they state that “shockwave is a potent analgesic (pain reliever)”. Not a mild pain reliever that lasts over several days, but a potent pain reliever.

    Considering that IHA has been receiving shock wave therapy (allegedly on his back), why would they not use it now — it’s legal in California (as everything else seems to be) — to bring him back to health and race fit for, say the Breeders’ Cup?

    It doesn’t seem to me to be potential impact on stud fees should he be beaten. That would surely have to be minimal. And should he win there and named HOY too, they would skyrocket!

    Whatever is really happening with this horse, I hope it is exposed. Even though he is being rushed off to the breeding shed I don’t think the matter should be dropped.

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    1. Tainted, like everything else. Explains it all as far as I am concerned. The detention barn tied the hands of Team O’Neill.

      Just look at the chain of events, they are incriminating.

      And don’t get me wrong. I love IHA, Too bad about his connections…I hope this will make the corrupt racing world think otherwise……

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      1. And that other drugster Dale Romans had the audacity to complain about the detention barn, that they were being treated like they are criminals. Yes, … and … what do these cheaters expect? To get away with it is what they don’t just expect but demand, and for racing to continue to cover up for them. And we just see the [fill in the blank] that floats to the surface. Can you imagine the atrocities going on that we haven’t a clue about?

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        1. Romans’ complaints point directly to his guilt.

          They have gotten away with cheating for so long, its like they feel it is their right.

          “Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity” ~G.B. Shaw

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