Advocates call for improved safety, reforms to Pennsylvania horse racing

Starting gate at Penn National racecourse. Photographer unknown.
Starting gate at Penn National racecourse. Photographer unknown.

Cross-posted from WPMT FOX 43

Advocates for improved safety in horse racing are calling for sweeping changes in Pennsylvania, a matter they say has been underscored by a recent criminal investigation at Penn National Race Course in Dauphin County.

Last November, a federal grand jury indicted three trainers and a track employee. The trainers, David Wells, Sam Webb and Patricia Rogers were accused of fraud after allegedly trying to dope horses with medications not permitted within 24 hours of a race.

Danny Robertson, who was employed at the track as a clocker, allegedly provided false workout times in exchange for cash.

All four pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

Penn National spokesman Fred Lipkin said the four were banned from the track and called them “a few bad apples.” Lipkin declined a request for an on-camera interview.

But, in interviews with industry insiders, elected officials and safety advocates, FOX43 learned the case highlights a larger plight within the horse racing industry.

“It won’t last 20 years. It really won’t. People can’t go on like this,” said Gretchen Jackson, who’s owned race horses since the 1970s.

“The overuse and abuse of medication is rampant at our thoroughbred racetracks and training centers,” said Dr. Kathryn Papp, a veterinarian based at Penn National, during an April 2012 Congressional hearing on safety in horse racing.

She added, “It is not uncommon for me to see on race day a practitioner enter a stall in one of the private barns or the detention barn with three to ten syringes full of medication to administer and not be questioned by anyone.” Continue reading; watch video report >>


Four at Penn National Face Federal Charges; by Frank Angst; The Blood-Horse; Nov. 22, 2013

3 thoughts on “Advocates call for improved safety, reforms to Pennsylvania horse racing”

  1. medications given to Race Horse have side effects just as the medications given to humans, When a race Horse is given Meds he is subject to the same side effects we are, he becomes a safety issue for himself his Jockey and every other human or horse in that race……………….If a horse is given meds, other then those that are vitamins………………… It is time for consideration for all involved !!!!!


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