Thoroughbred racehorse Nehro. By Rob Carr, Getty Images.

Federal anti racehorse doping legislation on its way

This article shows what a bunch of comedians we have in the American horse racing industry.

The Paulick Report states:

Rep. Paul Tonko. Google image.
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY). Google image.
    Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), who serves as co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Horse Caucus and represents New York’s 20th Congressional District, today announced plans to introduce the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Anti-Doping Act of 2015 to establish uniform standards for drugs and medication in the American Thoroughbred industry.

    “While the nation’s sporting spotlight will be on American Pharoah and Belmont Park in the coming days, the Thoroughbred industry is a year-round enterprise – responsible for a large number of quality jobs and economic growth not only in New York’s Capital Region, but throughout the country,” Tonko said.

    “The racing industry has taken significant steps toward medication reform in the past several years, and this legislation will build on that progress by providing a uniform, national solution that sets the highest standards of independence, fairness and integrity – ensuring the future health of the sport and protecting thousands of jobs across the country.”

The Congressional Horse Caucus. Best to say nothing about that group really, but impossible for me to resist.

First of all this caucus is organized by the American Horse Council in Washington DC who is notoriously pro horse slaughter and other errant thinking.

Here’s what this not so nifty bunch is about, in their own words:

The Congressional Horse Caucus is a bipartisan group of Members of the House of Representatives formed to educate Congress and their staffs about the importance of the horse industry in the economic, agricultural, sporting, gaming and recreational life of the nation.

So you see. It’s all about how much they can get out of horses until the horses are no longer usuable, or they have killed them. Not a damn thing about the horses themselves. It’s all about them.

And how about this? Are these people serious? I thought Rep. Tonka might be alright and have some sort of clue until he uttered these words:

“. . . has taken significant steps toward medication reform in the past several years . . .”

What the [insert word of choice]?

Rep. Tonko is probably a very nice man, a good legislator and the reasons they picked him to work on this and no doubt mouthing what he was told to.

At the same time, I feel totally justified in ridiculing the lame efforts of these folks after witnessing the continued egregious acts of cruelty and treacherous behaviors in the horseracing industry in America over the past couple of decades.

There are other key points to make here.

Say they get this group — U.S. Anti‑Doping Agency — to come in and conduct some testing. Suppose they clean it up a bit. What do you bet that the racehorse injury and mortality rates decline some, but just a little? Which is probably all they want anyway, right?

Even a slight decline will be heralded a great success with much back slapping and the puffing out of chests, claiming vindication with phrases like “we knew we could do it”, “you see, we really do care”. Whatever.

But I can tell you right now why this bunch are even bothering with this idea. Bear in mind nothing has actually happened yet.

You could see at this year’s grand industry meeting held at Kentucky Derby time, that the industry’s members are clearly overwhelmed at all the serious problems they have, and by the sorry depths to which the industry has plummeted. And they are desperate. Very desperate. At least the smart ones are.

I have listened to them, I have talked with them and they are willing to consider just about anything to get out from under the huge rock of distrust and derision they find themselves buried under, except one — doing what is right for the horses. Because they are terrified they’ll never win another race if they “get clean”.

Additionally, many feel American horse racing has gone way past the point of ever getting back to the way things were before the age of the Chemical Horse.

The other and very important point is that spot testing here and there — and that’s all they can reasonably do — will not accomplish what horse racing ultimately needs. What about all the days in between which are just about every day of an active racehorse’s life?

Racehorses in America are given huge, debilitating amounts of pharmaceuticals throughout their lives, from the time they are foals until they run their last race or die trying.

Injury-masking drugs are a huge contributing factor to the breakdown and deaths of racehorses during training and while racing.

But guess what? There are all sorts of therapies difficult to impossible to detect other than pharmaceuticals that will hide racehorse injuries and the pain they are suffereing.

Nehro jogs at Belmont Park, June 10, 2011. Nehro was gearing up for his five-year-old campaign when he came down with colic and died on Derby Day (Lauren Pomeroy / Horsephotos.com).
Nehro jogs at Belmont Park, June 10, 2011. Nehro was gearing up for his five-year-old campaign when he came down with colic and died on Derby Day 2013 (Lauren Pomeroy / Horsephotos.com).

Can the testing that the USADA proposes possibly save a racehorse who is being savagely treated the way the late Nehro was — a horse whose only way out of his horrific, mortal dilemma seems to have been to die from colic (if you even believe that part of the story), and by the way with no punishment whatsoever for his abusers.

It does beg the question. What if USADA catches someone?

There’s a laundry list every year of repeat offenders with numerous racehorse doping violations that go either unpunished or who appeal and subsequently get away with it. Not only that. Some of the trainers on these lists are in horse racing’s Hall of Fame while still getting fists full of violations.

There is a lot more I could write, but I doubt you have the patience to read it if I had the patience to write it. You get the drift.

I have given up trying to come up with solutions for the horse racing industry in America. There are no solutions for people with the current popular mindset.

What is so troubling and puzzling is the total lack of compassion for the horses, and by people with the unmitigated gall to call themselves horsemen. That is a major part of the problem. Solve that and you basically solve everything.

There is nnow what appears to be an entrenched, pervasive fear by those in the horse racing industry that they can never win any other way than how they are doing it right now.

The American horseracing industry is addicted, thoroughly addicted, to the status quo.

I can easily imagine the reactions of the current doping violators concerning the news about this bill on racehorse drug testing. No doubt they are already working out a way to get around it.
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Photo at top of page: Nehro passes the post in second place in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. By Rob Carr / Getty Images.

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Updated 8:40 p.m. My assistant is a worse proofreader than I am a writer. Thanks!