Canadian PMU farms’ losses are China’s gain

PMU Farm in Xinyuan County, China (2012).

EXCLUSIVE REPORT by JANE ALLIN

Canada braces for more cuts

By now, I’m sure that most who care about the abuse of horses for human gain are aware of the shrinking need for the PMU (Pregnant Mare’s Urine) farms in Manitoba (ya, I’m late in getting this out). Urine collected from these pregnant mares is used to provide the source of estrogen hormones used in the manufacture of the Premarin family of drugs that are prescribed primarily for the symptoms of menopause.

An article last month in the Manitoba Co-operator dated May 13, 2020; “Remaining PMU producers brace for more cuts”, signals that Pfizer will be implementing further production cuts for the 2020-2021 season despite signing a three year, 18-week contract with the company’s Canadian division in 2019.

Open quote

“It follows of the heels of last year’s cuts which resulted in production of PMU to cease at five ranches; three from southwestern Manitoba, one from the Interlake region and one from southeastern Saskatchewan, as well as a production cap on some of the larger contracts. That reduction reflected a 17 per cent cut in product equalling approximately 33,000 grams of estrogen for the 2019-20 contract year.

While no ranchers will be forced out of the industry in this round of cuts, Pfizer did give producers up until March 4, 2020 to voluntarily accept a full or partial buyout package aimed at reducing the number of grams of estrogen needed by the company.”


The cuts in 2019 left 19 producers actively involved in the production of PMU in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, with the highest concentration of ranches in southwestern Manitoba. With this new announcement, one producer in south-central Manitoba opted for the full buyout and another from southwestern Manitoba, a partial buyout, leaving a total of 17 farms remaining. Of those, 4 are in southeastern Saskatchewan and the rest in Manitoba.

Open quote

“For these 17 remaining ranchers involved in the network, some will see an approximate 17 to 18 per cent reduction in total contract overall for the 2020-21 season, with some of the smaller contracts less affected. Ranchers are paid per gram of estrogen and not on the volume of urine produced.”


This doesn’t include the fact that this past season was cut 2 to 3 weeks short when ranchers were told to cease production. So, in total, over two seasons the production quantity has been reduced by a margin of up to and above 35% when the shortened production season is taken into account. 

Why such a drastic cut?

Open quote

“Pfizer routinely conducts reviews of its businesses and overall manufacturing needs and capabilities. This includes our operations in Brandon, Manitoba. Pfizer has initiated a review of its inventory management. We are able to satisfy market demand by reducing the volume of PMU that is being collected.

“As part of its normal business analysis, Pfizer continually reviews PMU collection requirements. Decisions are informed by an evaluation of the hormone therapy market, prescribing trends and related raw material and inventory requirements.

“Pfizer values its network of ranchers and the decision to reduce our PMU volume collection was not made lightly. We are committed to treating ranchers fairly and reasonably as we make these changes to our collection operations.”


This seems like an unusual strategy given the expected increase in the projected HRT market over the next few years – both globally and in the US. In fact, the NA market dominated the overall hormone replacement therapy market in terms of revenue share in 2019. Moreover, the estrogen replacement therapy segment and the treatment of menopausal symptoms is likely to showcase the fastest growth rate over the forecast period (to 2027), as well as the majority of the market share. [1]

These are the drugs Pfizer exclusively markets – the Premarin family of drugs produced from estrogen extracted from pregnant mare’s urine, which in 2019 accounted for $734 million of their revenue most of which is based in NA (94%). 

In 2019, the global hormone replacement therapy market size was valued at USD 21.8 billion and is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.7% until 2027. This of course includes other hormone therapies (i.e. HGH, thyroid and testosterone hormone therapies), but the majority of these products will be related to estrogen HRT. [2]

On a global basis, the top five companies involved in the production of HRT formulations collectively account for a significant revenue share (35%) of the overall hormone replacement therapy market; Novo Nordisk, Pfizer Inc., Janssen NV (a Johnson & Johnson company), Novartis AG and Bayer AG. Why would Pfizer choose to lose a share of this revenue?

The simple truth is, they wouldn’t choose to do so. Facts are however, that Pfizer has seen decreasing revenues from its Premarin family of drugs over the last few years. According to their 2019 annual financial report, this decline is directly in consequence of the continued competitive pressures in the U.S., which is expected to continue. [3]

This is not really surprising given the stigma and awareness associated with estrogens derived from PMU that has developed over the years, accompanied by the advances other pharmaceutical companies have made with similar drugs not sourced from PMU. 

Nonetheless, Pfizer remains committed to these products and, in particular, have been heavily marketing the Premarin cream product. This may be in response to quell fears of the side effects the oral version carries with it in favor of “less-invasive” local dermal applications, where the overall dose can be lower and circulating blood levels of the hormone aren’t raised significantly.  Or potentially, the market for these creams is very large and easier to compete in.  

Another interesting point to make is the inflated cost of Premarin compared to most other HRT products as alternatives. As shown in the chart below, for a number of years, Pfizer’s revenue from the Premarin family of drugs remained relatively stable at or around $1 billion USD annually.  

At the same time, however, the cost to purchase these products was increasing steadily, meaning that sales must have been decreasing for a number of years to maintain annual profits with little change. Nonetheless, since 2016, there has been about a 28% decrease in profits. It seems from these observations then that these products have fallen out of favor in lieu of other “safer” or “cheaper” drugs? 

So, the downsizing in NA over the years appears to make perfect sense from two aspects – decrease in demand and declining return on investment. Hence, to further minimize expenditures and maximize revenue, cost-effective changes have to be made. 

One needs only look at Pfizer’s 3 key phrases they use to justify the reason for the decreased production volume required in NA; raw materials, inventory management and collection operations, all of which are related to operating costs.

Enter the solution: China

Who needs 2 supply chains, especially one in NA that is likely more costly to run, when you can have a single supply chain to maximize the cost-reduction? Moreover, how long can they continue to inflate the costs of these products and remain competitive in the market while running NA operations? 

I don’t think there is any question that Pfizer has been sourcing the raw materials from China for a number of years, despite their continued insistence that it is in an effort to match “supply and demand”.  And while demand for HRT produced from PMU seems to have declined to some extent, it’s hard to believe that it has dwindled to the point of no return as both this and last year’s announcement would have you wondering about. In 2019 when the round of cuts was made, they said the same thing and also offered (all of) the ranchers the decision of voluntarily opting to exit the sector, in exchange for a 75 per cent total contract payout for the following year to ease the transition – all of them, not just a few, just like this year. [4]

It must be clear by now that the NA PMU farms were doubtless supplying only a small percentage of the CEEs for Pfizer’s Premarin family of drugs over the last several years. I suspect the NA operation of PMU ranchers will be obsolete within 2-4 years, if not sooner.  At that point, Pfizer can no longer conceal the fact that their HRT drugs are born and bred in China. 

And what about the horses when all of the farms are shuttered– the mares and their foals? 

There was no mention of them in this year’s announcement, but in 2019 Pfizer did state they would provide compensation for the care of the mares and foals as the producers “transitioned out of the network.” Additionally, the affected ranchers would also be eligible for equine placement assistance, but no guarantee that the mares and their foals wouldn’t end up in the slaughter pipeline if those options fell through.  

No happy endings – Pfizer doesn’t care. 

Expansion in China

Coincidentally, and quite conveniently, a couple of other articles about PMU horses surfaced about the same time as this news broke in Manitoba, announcing further expansion of PMU farming in China.

This information comes out of Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is home to vast grasslands, the majority of China’s ethnic Kazakh population, and is experiencing its most propitious phase of development and prosperity. 

Introduction to Xinjiang | The Xinjiang Grassland

Xinjiang, roughly half the size of India, is a historic crossroads, sharing a border with Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, and Tajikistan. The region is also home to about 10 million Uighurs—making up roughly half of China’s 22 million Muslims. In the past, resource-rich Xinjiang had become a center of sporadic violent protests, but the region’s counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts have laid a solid foundation of stability in the district due to the repressive policies of the Chinese government against the Turkic Muslim peoples who reside there. Not a pleasant read, but here is the reason. [5]

Xinjiang is also one of China’s major habitats for horses, with those bred in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture standing out among the country’s sports horses. Plans are currently in place to grow its modern equine industry in 2020, with the whole industrial chain’s annual output topping 9.5 billion yuan (about 1.34 billion U.S. dollars). [6]

Now however, the proposal is to move beyond sport horses and expand its entire horse industrial chain in 2020 including large breeding bases for horse milk, meat, fat and pregnant mare urine (PMU) production. [7]

PMU farming has become a lucrative business for many of the herders in the region as well as providing a venue for a biopharmaceutical industrialization base.

Open quote

“For Erbosun Abuduhan, a herdsman in Ili’s Xinyuan County, pregnant mare urine (PMU) is a new source of income.

One kg of PMU can sell for 4.3 yuan to 7.8 yuan, and Erbosun raked in over 20,000 yuan from last December to March, the prime season for collecting PMU.

This unusual product is collected for estrogen that can be used as a hormone replacement for treating women experiencing menopause, said Xu Zhiyong, general manager of Xinjiang Nuziline Bio-pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., a local company focusing on PMU drugs.

The company collects PMU from about 400 households, with nearly half of them previously poor families. “We have strict management rules and a fixed daily collection quota to ensure that the PMU is collected in a humane way,” Xu added.

Xu’s company is also making a foray into developing horse milk and horse fat products, as they boast huge potential in the healthcare and cosmetics markets.” [8]


20,000 yuan for the 4-month PMU collection season works out to about 2,800 USD or 700 USD/month. That’s likely considerably cheaper than what the PMU ranchers in NA collect from their operations, but no doubt a king’s ransom for these rural-dwelling people.  I’m sure Pfizer didn’t need a detailed cost-benefit analysis to figure that one out. In fact, the Chinese are doing all of it for them. More on that later. 

The PMU industry in China has been recognized to exist for a number of years, so this is not new per se. The Fund for Horses first reported this in 2012 and in 2016 reported on the Chinese company, Xinjiang Xinziyuan Biological Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Moreover, an abstract from a 2015 paper in the Chinese CKNI database from the journal China Rural Finance also refers to how the lucrative PMU industry has developed in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region: 

Open quote

“The pregnant horse urine industry arouses herders “money bags” Xinyuan County Rural Credit Cooperative issued a total of nearly 100 million yuan of loan from pregnant urine industry, so that the pockets of more than 1,000 herdsmen swelled up in the hinterland of Gongnais grassland in the east end of the Ili River Valley in Xinjiang……

The Fertile soil and high-quality forage grass provide unique conditions for the country to develop horse farming. Today the number of horses in Xinyuan County has reached 110,000.” [9]


This was in 2015, so no doubt there are far more PMU horses than 110,000 by now. So, this news out of China is yet another bit of information providing details of an ever-growing PMU industry in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. 

With the establishment of the Xinjiang Xinziyuan Biological Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. In the autonomous region in 2005, the breeding of PMU mares and sales of pregnant mare’s urine has since become the “sunrise industry” for the regional rural farm economy, providing a significant increase in income for the farmers and incentive to expand production and number of horses.

Pfizer is stated to be the reason for establishing Xinjiang Xinziyuan Biological, but the relationship described between the two companies is inconsistent – at least until now. 

Whatever the true circumstances are concerning Pfizer, the magnitude of gross cruelty to horses resulting from the creation of a domestic market in China for equine estrogen projects is in itself unthinkable.

And with this comes the news that not only are they “harvesting” the urine for the production of Premarin products but also ostensibly the milk, meat and fat of the spent mares and the foals – the now “convenient” and profitable “by-products” of the industry.

Horse milk, meat and fat have long been staples in Asia, and since then these ancient traditional remedies have been extended to many European countries in particular, and even in NA. Pregnant mare’s milk is touted for its ability to combat inflammatory diseases, diabetes, tuberculosis, blood pressure, and even certain types of cancer (ya right – eye roll). 

Horse fats? Turned into oils for its inflammatory properties and used in topical ointments for mild skin complaints (e.g. burns, cuts, eczema), due to its higher linoleic acid (fatty acid) content, than found in cows and sheep.

Horse meat is self-explanatory. 

But it’s all “humane” so they claim. 


“We have strict management rules and a fixed daily collection quota to ensure that the PMU is collected in a humane way”.


No, it’s horrific and oppressive. 

It’s a “horse mecca”. Let’s not waste a thing, let’s exploit them for every last bit of flesh and fluids in their bodies. When the mares are beyond their productive years, and when the by-product foals have no economic use, they can be turned into meat and their milk and fat used in “health care” products and cosmetics.

Vile. 

The main players — N. America and China

Pfizer’s international market for Premarin has been open game for competitors without the U. S. Food & Drug Administration’s protection of the company’s monopoly trade secret and the Chinese industry has grown considerably as a result of it over the years. In fact, it has evolved to be the largest in the world for conjugated equine estrogen collection and derived HRT products (Premarin). 

The number of middle-age women in China presently within the target demography for estrogen products exceeds the total population of the rest of world. Furthermore, the corresponding number of horses required to meet China’s domestic demand annually is greater than the total number of horses used for Premarin production during the 75 years since FDA approval in 1942.

Just as the collective HRT market is expected to grow over the next few years, the Premarin-API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) market is also expected to witness growth acceleration during the five-year period from 2020-2025.  

An active pharmaceutical ingredient is defined as “any substance or mixture of substances (usually in powder form) intended to be used in the manufacture of a drug product and that, when used in the production of a drug, becomes an active ingredient in the drug product – this would be the CEE’s extracted from the pregnant mare’s urine in the case of Premarin. 

According to a Premarin-API Market 2020 report, the key companies operating in the global Premarin industry include:

  • Pfizer 
  • Xinjiang Tefeng (Henan Huaxing)
  • Anhui Tiger
  • Zhejiang Garden Biochemical High-tech

Taizhou Hisound Pharmaceutical.  [10, 11]

The “vendor base” is made up of Pfizer and Xinjiang Tefeng who manufacture and sell the finished products while the remaining three produce the key ingredient (CEEs) in bulk, typically in powder form, for the production of the “Premarin” in its various formulas (tablet and cream). 

Currently however, some companies that produce the bulk CEEs for the industry are looking to expand their portfolios to finished products to capture some of the market share with the predicted growth over time. 

Both Xinjiang Xinziyuan Biological Pharmaceutical and Xinjiang Nuziline Bio-pharmaceutical mentioned above, appear to be part of the Xinjiang Tefeng pharmaceutical company, or subsidiaries, as both of their websites are linked directly to the “parent” company (http://www.tefeng.com). If not, they are working in close affiliation to supply the bulk CEEs for the different versions of “Premarin” products manufactured by Xinjiang Tefeng.

Open quote

“Tefeng Pharmaceutical has formed a complete pharmaceutical quality management and security system. It has three production bases that have passed the national GMP standard certification and has a variety of dosage forms such as tablets, hard capsules, soft capsules, ointments, dripping pills, oral liquid, granules, etc. The production capacity of estrogen raw materials combined with pregnant horses.” [12]


In 2011, Tefeng announced the construction of a modern biomedical park in the high-tech development zone of Urumqi. The project was developed to contain a Premarin production base, a Xinjiang local biological drugs extracting base, a post-doctoral workstation and pharmaceutical technological center, a comprehensive preparations production base and a health food (horse milk?) production base. 

Its purpose was to take advantage of the agriculture and animal husbandry industry in Xinjiang, stimulate the economy of the pastoral area, help farmers reduce deficiencies and promote the industrialization of Xinjiang. 

Open quote

“It will strive to pass international authentication of the production bases and push the Premarin products and Xinjiang biomedical resources to European and American markets.” [13]


The other three companies have no clear information pertaining to conjugated equine estrogens, at least from what is available on their websites; all three appear to be largely associated with lipid (fat) technology and the manufacture of various vitamins (e.g. Vit D3, Biotin), cholesterol and lanolin products. Nevertheless, they also supply “other” pharmaceuticals, presumably the API (conjugated equine estrogens) for the manufacture of Premarin.


Are the “fats” of the mares and foals considered as “by-products” used in their “lipid technology” applications?


Seemingly, they are involved in the collection of pregnant mare’s urine from farms and/or constitute a large source for extraction and production for the bulk conjugated equine estrogens. How this ties into their main products derived from lipids is unknown, if in fact it does. Are the “fats” of the mares and foals considered as “by-products” used in their “lipid technology” applications?

  • Anhui Tiger Biotech Co, Ltd., a holding subsidiary of China BBCA Group Corporation (see bbcagroup.com )
  • Taizhou Hisound Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., founded in 2000, a subsidiary company of Xianju Pharmaceutical Co. (see hisoundpharma.com)
  • Zhejiang Garden Biochemical High-tech Co. Ltd., together with the subsidiary companies of Hangzhou XIASHA Biotech Co., Ltd and Hangzhou ROSSEN Lipids Technology Co., Ltd. is the world’s famous manufacture of Vitamin D3, Cholesterol and lanolin products (see http://en.hybiotech.com/)

Growth of the PMU industry in China

All of these developments have occurred over the last several years, so chances are that Pfizer is, and has been, sourcing a portion of its bulk CEEs from China if not some of the finished products from this organization, effectively allowing them to reduce the PMU footprint in North America. Eventually, China will be the primary, if not the single, source of all Premarin products. 

And for good reason. Over the last several years, there has been a wealth of research that has been conducted in China with respect to PMU and CEEs.

Cost-benefit analyses have taken place to determined the optimum breeding protocols to produce the maximum estrogen quantities based on cost and production optimization.

A US patent has been filed that solves the problems of low adsorptive capacity and high cost existed in the conventional methods, and is suitable for large-scale production. (Method for obtaining conjugated estrogen mixtures from pregnant mare’s urine and use of a macroporous resin in the method). [14]

Scientific studies on factors affecting the estrogen content in pregnant horses and the pharmacological effect of combinations of various components within the PMU (e.g. estrogens, progestogens, acids and their salts, androgens) have been carried out to determine the most effective formulations to maximize their effect on menopausal symptoms. Different and more efficient quantitative measurement (QAMS) of estrogenic components in PMU based on mass spectrometry have been developed, and so on. 

What Pfizer couldn’t be bothered to invest their money in the Chinese have.

So, in effect, Pfizer has let the Chinese do all of the work and are reaping the benefits from their technology at no cost to them apart from the purchase of their product, while maintaining their position as the leading supplier outside of China. A definite win for them. But for how long?

Will the Chinese products, as Tefeng claims, “push the Premarin products and Xinjiang biomedical resources to European and American markets”? No doubt it will. 

The biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, known as “Big Pharma”, are American and European, but rely on global supply chains. And China and India play key roles in the supply of both ingredients and finished drugs.

And so, just as Wyeth/Pfizer cornered the market on CEEs for almost 80 years, so it seems the torch will be handed over to China. 

Do we need these drugs? The resounding answer is no.

But the exploitation will continue, now at the hands of a country with a sordid history of extreme animal abuse. That is not to say that animal abuse does not occur throughout the world — it most certainly does. NA and other democratic nations are guilty as well.

We cannot give up hope

But we cannot give up hope. There has been a movement in China over the last several years; the rise of the voice for the voiceless, the tireless, equally compassionate, advocates and activists in China who should be lauded for their efforts against an unforgiving regime. We can hope that things will change over time, but the Chinese animal protection movement faces many challenges. 

Yet, China is at a historical crossroads, and these people are charting a new roadmap for China’s future.

Hope.


Fund for Horses Logo

Will the Teflon effect keep Bob bobbing along?

Bob Baffert, U.S. Thoroughbred racehorse trainer.

by JANE ALLIN

The Triple Crown races are upon us again, albeit postponed, and Baffert is back in the news.

Two of his horses, one a top contender for the Belmont Stakes, tested positive for Lidocaine. Not one but two — Charlatan and stable mate Gamine — both of whom won on the race card at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas on May 2, 2020. See Two Bob Baffert horses test positive for banned substances at Oaklawn.

Lidocaine is a Class 2 drug, and is considered to have a high potential to affect performance in racehorses. But, and this is a big but, and has the ability to exonerate trainers guilty of using it as a PED, it is often considered by some to be an overage instead of doping.

“Lidocaine can be used legitimately for suturing wounds or as a diagnostic tool to determine whether horses are sound enough to compete. The drug may also be present in ointments or creams used on cuts or abrasions. It is regulated because of its potential to mask lameness in an unsound horse.”

How flawlessly convenient. What an easy out for Teflon Bob (if required).

And what kind of message does this send the public during this unprecedented chaotic time in racing, when your golden boy of the racing circuit continues to have horses prepping for the Derby and other prestigious races, testing positive for drugs, then attributing all of them to innocuous reasons, accidental contamination or whatever.

Or alternatively, simply having them swept them under the rug like the 7 dead horses who mysteriously died in Baffert’s stable a few years back, despite having been administered thyroxine and the presence of rat poison detected in the necropsies.

How about this? Does anyone know of a horse, or horses who have a thyroid condition? Baffert did. But they are dead now. After exonerating him, the California Horse Racing Board banned its usage. Speaks volumes, but no one was listening.

No different with Justify’s tarnished Triple Crown victory in 2018.

Trained by Baffert, Justify failed a drug test after winning the Santa Anita Derby. Rather than clear this up immediately given the upcoming Kentucky Derby and other Triple Crown races, California racing officials investigated the failed test for 4 months, allowing Justify to go on to win both the Preakness and the Belmont and “stealing” (emphasis required) the much-sought after Triple Crown.

Then, in August after the dust had settled, and after Justify’s breeding rights had been sold for $60 million, the California Horse Racing Board — whose chairman at the time, Chuck Winner, had employed Baffert to train his horses — disposed of the inquiry altogether during an unusual closed-door session.

The verdict? The banned drug scopolamine was the result of “environmental contamination,” not intentional doping. Baffert vehemently denied any wrongdoing but the quantity of the drug found was no where near suggestive of innocence.

This was, and remains, a huge embarrassment to the industry. Shameful, in fact.

Here you have the legendary trainer — Bob Baffert — a man who has cheated his way through his career and now has pulled off the biggest horse racing coup in history — the Triple Crown — while doping his horse.

I hope the horse racing industry is dutifully proud.

Showcasing him as the face of honest, hard working trainers is beyond preposterous. But the end always justifies (pun intended) the means, and these people seem to let nothing stand in their way, human nor animal, while hiding behind their names and big stables.

And let’s not forget this announcement from racing’s own Lance Armstrong.


“It is time for the horse-racing industry to unite in support of a national anti-doping regulatory system” — Bob Baffert


No problem Bob, as long as you’re part of the clean-up. This is the pinnacle of hypocrisy — a hollow, meaningless statement. Not only a Hall-of-Fame trainer, but now pursuing an induction into the Irony Hall of Fame as well. It’s the pot calling the kettle black. Saying something and doing something are two different things.

Baffert supporting the Horseracing Integrity Act (HIA) was not only disingenuous but also the timing was decidedly convenient given the federal indictments handed down to more than 2 dozen trainers, including Jason Servis the trainer of Maximum Security, one of the leading racehorses in the world and one who benefited from a doping regimen, according to one of the indictments.

And the irony just keeps getting better. Maximum Security has been handed off by the Wests to Baffert to train. Seriously? From the frying pan into the fire for this poor horse. This is adding insult to injury. It might be a good time for the implementation of the Hall of Shame.

But I digress. Getting back to the current issue . . . .

Baffert has requested his right to have a second test run on the samples for Charlatan and Gamine, and while we don’t have those test results available yet, what are the odds they’ll catch and release him as always?

I’m not holding my breath for any kind of movement on horse racing’s ability to crack down on the golden face of America’s racing. No, this would make things worse, according to the racing industry’s absurd guarded assurance that protecting this “face” will keep the sport alive. Or would it?

In the past, and up until the last year or two in particular, the general public has been fooled by the praise awarded to these high-profile dopers. That façade seems to be fading however.

Baffert and most high-percentage trainers are corrupt — cheating and doping is just as contagious as doing the right thing. And the public is finally becoming cognizant of it.

This guy has been given too many passes, but the business loves “a winner” and money talks. However, victories by those not being totally honest, whether by their own account or at the whim of the racing authorities, are hollow, meaningless wins. Many recognize this, more than ever before.

Whether the 2nd test is positive or not, I will have serious issues giving Baffert the benefit of the doubt considering his past and the leniency racing authorities have afforded him at the expense of their reputations. In the end, Baffert’s misdeeds will not go unpunished.

And if the tests are positive?

What could be more fitting than a horse called Charlatan? “Charlatan was a fraud” . . . . they will all be shouting. Don’t get me wrong, the horse has no blame, but how fitting the name — the joke writes itself.

In the end, money is the top priority, you might even say the only priority. The business model is built on sentient beings manipulated as inanimate objects who are secondary to profits and once unprofitable, disposed of.

All of these ostentatious gestures about caring for these remarkable souls is artificial and the dishonesty is an attempt to lure people into the game. This kind of business model clearly establishes that horse racing in the U.S. has descended into hell. Truth be told, it’s been there for a long time.

The media and the public have been led to believe that track surfaces are killing horses. The truth is, trainers, veterinarians, and their penchant for drugs — illicit or not — are killing these horses, while horse racing’s administrative authorities are enabling it by supporting this carnage.

Is rehabilitation in the cards for this “industry”? The current strategy of “damage control” is not effective reform, nor is it working — that is blatantly clear.

The horses – the saddest victims of them all.

Sleep well Bob. I’m sure the racing gods will rule in your favor.


Fund for Horses Logo

FEATURED IMAGE: JAMIE RHODES/USA TODAY SPORTS.

Source for Baffert Quote: See https://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/baffert-federal-indictments-have-convinced-me-industry-needs-horseracing-integrity-act/

Premarin 2019 Year in Review

Mutli image Premarin artwork for Tuesday's Horse.

JANUARY 2019

FDA denies Pfizer Petition asking for new method of assessing Premarin generics

The FDA has denied a citizen petition from Pfizer calling on the agency to use the company’s method for assessing sameness in generics for its estrogen drug Premarin (conjugated “equine” estrogens).

Pfizer had appealed to the FDA to force sponsors of generics for Premarin to use the “Pfizer method” for assessing sameness rather than the method recommended in FDA draft guidance.

Pfizer claimed that the FDA’s December 2014 draft guidance for establishing sameness is “fundamentally flawed”. Additionally claiming that not only does it lack a critical level of sensitivity on API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) steroidal composition, but also it does not account for all classes of components in the API or the non-steroidal components.

They maintained that guidance should instead use the “Pfizer Method” that the company developed at the FDA’s request and with their input, which permits a determination of sameness between a proposed generic for the company’s drug Premarin and the reference drug based upon the mixture as a whole, while allowing a comparison across all categories of components making up the API.

APRIL 2019

Bijuva launched for moderate to severe hot flashes in menopause

TherapeuticsMD announced the launch of Bijuva (estradiol and progesterone) capsules for use in women with a uterus for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes) due to menopause. It initially received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2018.

Bijuva is the first bio-identical hormone therapy that combines estradiol and progesterone in a single capsule. Compared with synthetic hormone products, the estradiol and progesterone found in Bijuva are structurally identical to the hormones naturally circulating in the woman’s body.

Bijvua carries a Boxed Warning regarding cardiovascular disorders, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and probable dementia. Breast tenderness, headache, vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, and pelvic pain were the most common adverse reactions associated with Bijuva.

JUNE 2019

PMU Ranchers feel pinch as cuts announced

Pfizer Canada’s cuts to pregnant mares’ urine production will force four Manitoba ranches and one Saskatchewan ranch out of the industry.

The reduction affects three ranches in southwestern Manitoba, one in the Interlake region of Manitoba, and one in Saskatchewan. Of those five, three producers raised registered Quarter horses, one bred purebred Percherons, and one raised sport horses.

Pfizer has initiated a review of its inventory management and determined they are able to satisfy market demand by working with fewer ranchers.

The latest reduction leaves 19 producers still involved in PMU production in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, with most ranches located in southwestern Manitoba, four each in south-central Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan and one in the Interlake.

JULY 2019

Pfizer’s Wyeth loses bid to duck hormone-therapy lawsuit

Pfizer Inc’s Wyeth unit must face a class action alleging that the drugmaker misled California women by downplaying risks including breast cancer associated with its hormone-replacement therapy products, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge John Houston in San Diego on Monday ruled the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence for a jury to decide whether Wyeth’s alleged misrepresentations caused women to buy Prempro, Premarin and Premphase.

To read the full story on Westlaw Practitioner Insights, click here: bit.ly/2FOpbRU »

New Book — Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life, by Darcy Steinke

“What orcas can teach humans about menopause and matriarchs” — A new book argues for a sea change in the way our culture views older women

Her research unearthed a long history of dubious “cures,” from transfusions of dog’s blood to vinegar sponge baths to putting a magnet in your underpants. All of which, she says, seem a little less strange once you realize that the most popular hormone replacement treatment, Premarin, is made from the urine of pregnant horses. Source: Crosscut »

AUGUST 2019

Hormone therapy during menopause raises breast cancer risk for years, study finds

New analysis adds to the evidence that many women who take hormone therapy during menopause are more likely to develop breast cancer — and remain at higher risk of cancer for more than a decade after they stop taking the drugs. 

The study, in the Lancet, looked at data from dozens of studies, including long-term data on more than 100,000 women who developed breast cancer after menopause. The longer women took the medicine, the more likely they were to develop breast cancer. Experts say the findings could shape how women and their health care providers decide how to manage symptoms of menopause.

For years, research has suggested a potential link between MHT (Menopausal Hormone Therapy) and an increased risk of breast cancer.  But there wasn’t much information on whether that risk persisted, or how it differed based on the type of MHT a woman took. So, an international group of researchers pulled together data from dozens of studies — published and unpublished — to examine the issue more closely. 

The researchers found that compared with women who never used MHT, women who did had a significantly higher risk of developing invasive breast cancer. Also, the longer women used MHT, the greater their risk of breast cancer. 

OCTOBER 2019

Premarin sales figures continue to deline

The Premarin family of hormone replacement products was the 11th best seller in 2018 at $832 million, a decline of 14.8 percent. Sales in the first six months of 2019 were $361 million, 10 percent less than in same period of 2018.

Third quarter sales of Premarin (conjugated estrogens tablets, USP) family — $182 million, down 11%.

Data as of 12.27.19


About Horses and Premarin

THE HORSES

Premarin®, Prempro®, Premphase® and Duavee® are examples of the Premarin® family of drugs which are made with the the estrogen rich urine of pregnant mares.

In the ‘pregnant mare urine’ (PMU) industry, horses are repeatedly impregnated so their urine can be collected and made into hormone replacement products. Some of the foals are rescued , but most are simply slaughtered and seen as a byproduct (much like male calves are in the dairy industry).

THE DRUGS

Premarin is used to treat menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal changes, and to prevent osteoporosis (bone loss) in menopausal women. Premarin is also used to replace estrogen in women with ovarian failure or other conditions that cause a lack of natural estrogen in the body.

There are many alternatives.

Talk to your doctor. Visit your local pharmacy. There are prescription free over-the-counter treatments for hot flashes, vaginal dryness and other menopausal symptoms. Thank you.

by JANE ALLIN

Horse Racing 2019 Year in Review

Mongolian Groom. Sports Illustrated image.

JANUARY

With 10 horses suffering catastrophic injuries in January 2019 at celebrated Santa Anita Park in California, horse racing got off to an unusually bad start. Over the course of the year, horse deaths became the prevailing national horse racing story, culminating with the death of Mongolian Groom in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 3.

This led to public outcry, urgent calls for major racing reform and even suggestions that horse racing in North America should come to an end.

February

19th Racehorse dies at Santa Anita

February 24, 2019

National media have widely reported the death of the 19th racehorse since the winter/spring racing season opened in December 2018 at Santa Anita. Of the 19 horse fatalities, six were on dirt, five on turf, and eight in training. 

This prompted Santa Anita Park, in conjunction with the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to close its main track for training for 2 days to fully evaluate sub-surface conditions such as moisture content and soil consistency.  Experts will look at whether the heavy rainfall which has fallen across the region over the past few months has factored into the death toll. 

The main track re-opened on February 28 after Mick Peterson, director of the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Programs who evaluates soil samples from Santa Anita Park every month, deemed the main track “one-hundred percent ready” for both training and racing. 

March

Santa Anita Racetrack Closes

March 16, 2019

The Santa Anita racetrack is closed indefinitely, after 21 horses died in the last few months. Questions have been raised about the racing industry across the U.S. since 26 December, when the current winter-spring meet began. 21 horses have died during racing or training at Santa Anita, a number much higher than in comparable periods over the last three years. 

The dirt track is blamed by many, and is undergoing extensive testing. Meanwhile, some Santa Anita trainers have claimed that they have been pressured to run horses even when they are uncomfortable doing so.

The deaths have drawn outrage from PETA, which has called for a criminal investigation into the matter.

Santa Anita implements Lasix ban, increased restrictions following 22nd fatal breakdown

March 14, 2019

The Stronach Group declared a zero tolerance for race day medication at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields. These Thoroughbred racetracks will be the first in North America to follow the strict International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) standards. These revisions comprise best practices currently employed at racetracks around the world:

  • Banning the use of Lasix.
  • Increasing the ban on legal therapeutic NSAIDS, joint injections, shockwave therapy, and anabolic steroids.
  • Complete transparency of all veterinary records.
  • Significantly increasing out-of-competition testing.
  • Increasing the time required for horses to be on-site prior to a race.
  • A substantial investment by The Stronach Group in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.
  • Horses in training are only allowed therapeutic medication with a qualified veterinary diagnosis.

Horseracing Integrity Act Re-Introduced in the U.S. House

March 14, 2019

Today, U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Andy Barr (R-KY), who represent two of the meccas of American Thoroughbred racing – Saratoga Springs and Lexington – introduced the Horseracing Integrity Act to create a uniform national standard for drug testing that would be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

S. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), and Andy Barr (R-Ky.), congressmen representing Saratoga Springs and Lexington, respectively, introduced the Horseracing Integrity Act March 14 to create a uniform national standard for drug testing in racehorses that would be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

The Horseracing Integrity Act is backed by the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, a diverse group of 18 members that includes racing organizations, racetracks, owner and breeder associations, and animal welfare groups that support adoption of a national uniform standard for drug and medication rules in horse racing.

IFHA Chairman: “In complete support” of Stronach Group Moves, asks others to join

March 18, 2019

International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), which comprises racing authorities and race organizers from all major racing jurisdictions across more than 50 countries, says it is in complete support of the actions and decisions made by The Stronach Group to bring its medication policies in line with international standards. 

It also calls on other jurisdictions and race organizers in the U.S. to follow suit. These measures, in addition to the guidelines outlined in the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019, would employ internationally accepted measures that protect horses, jockeys, and all stakeholders.

Jockey Club calls for major drug reform, says fatality spikes will continue without it

March 28, 2019

The Jockey Club released a major white paper calling for comprehensive reform of the U.S. horse racing industry including a major overhaul of drug use and uniform out-of-competition drug testing, citing the need for “transparency into the medical treatment, injuries, and health of all racehorses.”

The paper’s release follows the death of 22 racehorses at California’s Santa Anita Park in less than three months.

APRIL

ARCI proposes to significantly increase trainer, owner penalties for doping

April 11, 2019

The Drug Testing Standards and Practices (DTSP) Committee of the Association of Racing Commissions International (ARCI) is considering a major change to the recommended penalties for violations of the association’s drug rules to dramatically increase sanctions on those violations that can be considered “doping” or “equine endangerment”.

Penalties would be effectively doubled from the existing Class A penalties, with a first violation requiring a two to five-year suspension of the trainer and a minimum $50,000 fine which could be increased to $100,000 with aggravating circumstances. A second violation in any jurisdiction would trigger a license revocation.

The proposal would also impose a $25,000 fine on an owner if there is a second lifetime offense in the owner’s stable in any jurisdiction. A third offense would suspend the owner for a minimum of thirty days to as much as a year and impose a minimum fine of $50,000 which could be increased to $100,000.

Coalition representing major U.S. tracks announces Lasix ban for 2-year-old races, then Stakes races

April 18, 2019

A coalition of leading Thoroughbred racing associations and organizations announced a new horse racing initiative committed to phasing out the use of the medication Furosemide (Lasix) beginning in 2020 and eliminating the use of Lasix in stakes races held at their racetracks beginning in 2021. 

Coalition racetracks that have signed on to this initiative include all tracks owned or operated by Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI), the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) and The Stronach Group as well as Del Mar, Keeneland, Lone Star Park and Remington Park, Los Alamitos Racecourse (Thoroughbred), Oaklawn Park and Tampa Bay Downs.

Taken together these tracks represent 86% of the stakes races assigned graded or listed status in the United States in 2018.

WHOA: Recent horse racing reform proposals just a bandaid

April 19, 2019

WHOA Supporter and past Chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission (ORC) and the ARCI, William Koester points out that the ARCI establishes Model Rules as a guideline but there is no enforcement for jurisdictions that refuse to comply by these rules. While a press release by the ARCI advocates stiffer penalties, what does it matter if many state racing commissions do not enforce them. 

It changes nothing and the industry will continue to operate with a total lack of uniformity. Koester sated that what is needed is an outside independent agency to set the agenda so that it favors no one group. Other industry groups like the AQHAHBPA and the AAEP out and out oppose the new push for reform and a ban on race-day medication. 

ARCI: “Dramatic Drop” in horse racing doping cases in 2018

April 30, 2019

“The 2018 Anti-Doping and Drug Testing Program conducted by U.S. racing regulatory bodies found continued substantial compliance with racing’s medication and anti-doping rules and little support for claims that the use of drugs to mask pain when horses race is rampant.”

Class 1 or Class 2 substance violations are considered instances of “doping” while violations involving substances of a lesser classes are usually overages of medications deemed therapeutic or authorized by U.S. federal law for veterinary use.

There was a dramatic drop in doping instances from 2017 to 2018 and violations involving Class 3 substances and the Class 4 and 5, last likely to affect performance were slightly increased.

Sure, if you say so. The transparency in this industry is questionable, at best. 

MAY

ARCI: Lasix ban may lead to inhumane practices such as injecting formaldehyde

May 5, 2019

The Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI or RCI) put all racing regulatory commissions on notice that the banning of race day Lasix administrations by some U.S. racetracks or governments may lead to the practice of substituting intravenous administration of formaldehyde to combat incidences of bleeding – a cruel, inhumane and potentially dangerous practice to the health and welfare of a horse.

The advisory noted that formaldehyde use is already being investigated in at least one U.S. jurisdiction, and the RCI investigatory intelligence network is reporting that if furosemide is banned in the US, illegal formaldehyde use as an alternative may become common.

Maximum Security is walked off the track after being disqualified Saturday at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. (Charlie Riedel/AP)
Maximum Security is walked off the track after being disqualified Saturday at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Kentucky Derby 1st place horse, Maximum Security, disqualified

May 6, 2019

Maximum Security, the first horse to cross the finish line at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, was soon after was disqualified due to an objection raised by team members of second-place finisher Country House. After an unbearable half-hour wait, the verdict dropped: Maximum Security was disqualified, the first-ever ostensible winner to be disqualified, and 65-to-1 long-shot Country House was officially named the “winner”.

Maximum Security led for most of the race. But on video replay, he was determined to have violated interference rules, altering the paths of War of Will, Long Range Toddy, and Country House with a stumble to his right. The former two horses faded to the back of the pack in the final stretch, but Country House — one of two teams to lodge the complaint that overturned the race — came in second.

Shortly thereafter, Maximum Security’s owners,  Gary and Mary West, filed a lawsuit to restore their horse’s win, saying the process that disqualified him is “unconstitutional.” They also requested the purse money to be redistributed in accordance with the original order of finish; the winner’s share for the race was $1.86 million, while the jockey and trainer were denied $186,000 each.

Jockey Club Survey: Drugs, fatalities top list of public concerns about horse racing

May 10, 2019

According to a new, national and Kentucky-based poll commissioned by The Jockey Club, horse fatalities are the single most important factor facing the horse racing industry with nearly seven in 10 likely voters (69 percent) saying that it is a “very important” issue. The misuse of drugs was almost equally significant with 65 percent saying it was “very important.” Integrity and corruption also scored highly at 63 percent.

“This survey is further proof that the horse racing industry has reached a tipping point,” said Jim Gagliano, The Jockey Club president and COO. “The health of horses is of concern to both horse racing fans and the general public, and it’s time we make some real changes.”

The slaughter of Ace King

May 15, 2019

A harrowing story, tragic and shameful, about the fate of racehorses in Korea when they fail to meet expectations. A must read, not only because it is in Korea, but because this brutal practice exists globally — an article that is befitting to the realities of what happens to racehorses at the hands of the unscrupulous when these majestic creatures can no longer run for their lives. 

See https://deadspin.com/why-are-good-young-racehorses-ending-up-as-meat-7-000-m-1834225917 

Gary West issues $20 million challenge to four Derby runners

May 17, 2019

Maximum Security owner Gary West, still furious over his horse’s disqualification from the race, issued a challenge to the owners of Country House, War of Will, Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress: race Maximum Security and get $5 million if you finish in front of the West colt; pay $5 million if Maximum Security finishes ahead. (The horses did not face each other again.) 

Ultimately, a lawsuit from West against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission over the disqualification was dismissed by a federal judge in November. West vowed to appeal.

Meanwhile, discussion over the incident focused not just on whether Maximum Security should have been disqualified but whether the rules the stewards followed were fair, prompting a broader discussion about how interference rules in the U.S. compare with those in other racing jurisdictions.

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Race to Death (HBO)

May 21, 2019

The HBO special “Raced to Death” investigated the harrowing rise in horse racing deaths in the U.S. 

Following the closure of the renowned Santa Anita Park due to an increase in racehorse deaths, REAL SPORTS reveals that more than two thousand horses die racing in the United States every year, and thousands more are slaughtered after their racing days are over. Correspondent Bernard Goldberg reports on the combination of drugs and overuse that is contributing to the death toll.

After 84 years Suffolk Downs says goodbye to live horse racing

May 22, 2019

Suffolk Downs is retiring horse racing, which is slated to be turned into apartments and retail shops.

Suffolk Downs has before faced shutdowns, changes in ownership, and a casino bid that ended in failure. [CEO Chip] Tuttle says this time, it’s for real.

And in the meantime, the races will continue through June, preparing for the final goodbye.

The track opened in 1935 after being built by Joseph A. Tomasello for a cost of $2 million. A number of famous horses raced at the track, including Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Funny Cide, and Cigar.

NTRAs unbelievable response to HBOs report on horse racing

May 28, 2019

Surprisingly, NTRA responded to HBO’s report on horse racing, in a manner of speaking, via Alex Waldrop. This was unexpected, but the appalling spin on it was anything but:

“Once again, HBO’s Real Sports presents a slanted, sensational and inaccurate view of horse racing by failing to learn about or acknowledge the important progress our entire industry is making with respect to safety, welfare and aftercare. While we understand the media’s right to cover a significant story, we will not tolerate the painting of our sport and our participants with inaccurate broad-brush strokes.”

Read the rest of Waldrop’s statement here. https://www.latimes.com/sports/more/la-sp-horse-racing-newsletter-20190525-htmlstory.html

26th horse death at Santa Anita prompts calls for a halt to racing

May 29, 2019

“Tracks in the United States have significantly higher rates of death than tracks overseas. We need to determine what we’re doing wrong in this country and fix it. If we can’t, we need to consider whether horseracing has a future here.” — Sen. Dianne Feinstein

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called for the famed Santa Anita Park outside of Los Angeles to be temporarily shut down after the 26th thoroughbred fatality there since Christmas.

California’s senior senator urged the drastic action after Kochees, a 9-year-old gelding, was euthanized Sunday, marking the third horse death in just nine days.

“How many more horses must die before concrete steps are taken to address what is clearly an acute problem?” a statement from Feinstein said.

She said track conditions and the history of each of the horses’ medications have to be carefully scrutinized.

California Governor steps in to protect racehorses

May 31, 2019

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his support for SB 469, which would authorize the California Horse Racing Board to suspend horse racing licenses to protect the health and safety of horses.  

Additionally, the Governor announced his administration has taken substantive regulatory actions through the horse racing board in response to the recent horse deaths in the state. See https://www.pasadenastarnews.com/2019/05/01/santa-anita-invests-500000-in-new-scan-technology-to-detect-horse-injuries-earlier/

JUNE

Winx’s brother among Australian racehorses killed for meat in S Korea

June 4, 2019

The brother of the Australian racing legend Winx is one of thousands of exported thoroughbreds killed for meat in Korea under conditions the RSPCA has called “very distressing”.

Footage filmed secretly at the Nonghyup abattoir in South Korea last year shows horses being repeatedly beaten on the head with lengths of black polyethylene pipe in an attempt to herd them into the facility.

That treatment would be in breach both of Australian animal welfare laws and of the requirements imposed on abattoirs that process live export animals if it was part of a formal Australian supply chain, the RSPCA said.

But because the horses were exported to race or breed, rather than for slaughter, and because horses are not classified as livestock in Australia, they are outside the protection of laws that govern the live export industry.

Review team will decide if horses fit to race at Santa Anita

June 14, 2109

Santa Anita put together a five-member team to review horses’ medical, training and racing history for the final six racing days at the Southern California track where 29 horses have died since December.

Led by the California Horse Racing Board’s equine medical director, Dr. Rick Arthur, and chief steward, Darrel McHargue, the review team includes independent CHRB vets and stewards, who supervise the outcome of horse races.

The review team will decide if individual horses are at elevated risk of injury before racing. They will look at any history of a horse on the veterinarian’s list and steward’s list as well as medical and race history and physical observations of the horse.

Gillibrand, McSally introduce Horseracing Integrity Act in U.S. Senate

June 12 2019

The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 — S.1820 — was introduced in the U.S. by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Martha McSally (R-AZ).

The bill would create a private, independent horse racing anti-doping authority, the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority (HADA), responsible for developing and administering a nationwide anti-doping and medication control program for horse racing. 

The Bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

S. 1820 has 24 cosponsors as of this writing including Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Susan Collins.

NTRA will support a law banning horse slaughter

June 14, 2019

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced that it will support the passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 961) that would prevent the horse slaughter industry from re-establishing operations in the United States and prohibit the export of American horses abroad for slaughter. 

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is something the NTRA has opposed for many years,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “In the last decade alone, thousands of retired U.S. racehorses have been adopted and transitioned to second careers. The development and growth of quality racehorse aftercare programs continue to be a high priority for the industry.”

HBPA opposes Senate version of Horseracing Integrity Act, the legislation is “misguided”

June 17, 2019

The National Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) announced its opposition to the Senate version of the Horseracing Integrity Act (S. 1820), introduced last by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Martha McSally (R-AZ). The HBPA has been steadfast in its opposition to the House companion measure introduced earlier this year by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY-20) and Andy Barr (R-KY-06) (H.R. 1754).

Eric Hamelback, CEO of the HBPA claims that banning race day Lasix will cause more equine deaths, and additional regulations will cause jobs to be lost. Hamelback also believes the introduction of this legislation is a misguided attempt to address the recent equine deaths in California: “S. 1820 would not have prevented one single death. 

The problem is that Hamelback, or other supporters of Lasix on race day, have never addressed several questions which include the facts that NA horses competed successfully for many decades without Lasix, 2/3 of the world’s horses also race without it successfully, the fact that EIH has a genetic component and by masking it via the use of Lasix it is reintroduced back into the breeding pool and that Lasix is a PED (performance enhancing drug) and the public is aware of this. The industry needs to address these concerns.

Hall of Fame trainer Hollendorfer told to vacate stalls at Santa Anita, Golden Gate

June 22, 2019

Jerry Hollendorfer was told by The Stronach Group he would no longer be granted stalls or entries at the company’s racetracks after the death of American Currency following a workout in June. 

The horse was Hollendorfer’s fourth to suffer a fatal injury during the now-infamous spike of equine fatalities at Santa Anita in 2019. Del Mar would later adopt the same policy, and Hollendorfer brought legal action against both racetracks. A San Diego judge granted an injunction requested by Hollendorfer at Del Mar, but his legal case against Santa Anita has not gone as well for him so far. The trainer plans to spend the winter at Oaklawn Park.

Track veterinarians believed Hollendorfer to have demonstrated negligence, and that he asked a veterinarian to sign a form to work a horse off the vet’s list and threatened the veterinarian if the person didn’t cooperate.

One day after being notified by The Stronach Group that he was no longer welcome to stable or race at any of the company’s racetracks (Santa Anita and Golden Gate in California, Laurel and Pimlico in Maryland and Gulfstream Park in Florida) Hollendorfer got the green light from the New York Racing Association to stable and participate at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga.

JULY

Milkshaking at Santa Anita

July 5, 2019

On March 9, when Santa Anita Park was re-opening after 3 weeks shutdown following the deaths of almost 2 dozen horses, California regulators watched a live surveillance feed of a trainer’s assistant carrying a bucket into the stall of a horse named Tick Tock. Moments after the assistant left, a white foam was visible on the horse’s lips, a telltale sign of performance-enhancing drugs.

Investigators later found syringes in the bucket, along with a fatigue-fighting agent known in racing as a milkshake.

The news that investigators believed Tick Tock had received such a concoction — before the first race on the first day of the track’s return to racing, no less — is indicative of the dysfunction that has enveloped Santa Anita the past six months, a period when horses had to be euthanized after suffering fractures at an alarming rate. Thirty horses have suffered this fate since Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.

Suspected sea snail venom used on racehorse in Oz

July 10, 2019

A deadly venom found in sea snails which can paralyse fish within a second has emerged as the latest chemical suspected to have infiltrated horse racing. Racing NSW and Racing Victoria officials confirmed they had started screening for the mystery drug, which has subtypes known to be infinitely stronger than morphine. It can also be extracted to be used for therapeutic purposes on humans in the form of the conotoxin-based Prialt.

Apparently, the sea snail venom was imported into Australia and used to manage pain in horses suspected to have raced in both the thoroughbred and harness codes.

Gorajec: RCI medication penalty structure needs overhaul

July 10 2019

Gorajec, the former executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, points out that common medication overages are placed in the RCI penalty classification C. Those “points” accrued by trainer violations are erased every year, so technically a trainer could have eight or nine annual medication violations and not face any additional punishment — meaning he or she can repeat the same behavior year after year.

For those that don’t understand the power of some of these so called “therapeutic” drugs, such as Bute, most of these class 4 drugs only carry a half a point. Additional penalties begin when a trainer reaches five points. So, a trainer could have nine positive tests in a year for these common drugs (4.5 points) and serve no additional time.  Change is overdue. 

Del Mar starts its summer meet with two kills

July 18, 2019

Two horses suffered fatal injuries Thursday morning after colliding in an accident during training hours at Del Mar racetrack in California, which just opened its Summer Season of racing on July 17.

Charge a Bunch, an unraced 2-year-old colt trained by Carla Gaines, threw rider Giovanni Franco and ran the wrong way down the track. Charge a Bunch then collided with Carson Valley, an unraced 3-year-old gelding trained by Bob Baffert who was working in the opposite direction.

Del Mar claimed that the horses were euthanized shortly after the accident but later clarified that the horses were killed in the collision, as verified by Dr. Rick Arthur, a veterinarian with the California Racing Board. Arthur stated that the clinical examination of the horses showed that both suffered cervical fractures and were both dead on the racetrack.

AUGUST

Ready for Change: Top Thoroughbred trainers voice support for Horseracing Integrity Act

August 29, 2010

The events at venerable Santa Anita Park have led to calls from the public and government authorities for major reform. Sixteen top Thoroughbred trainers voiced their support for the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 (HIA), introduced on a bipartisan basis in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Not only do they support medication reform but also support initiatives to standardize and improve the quality and consistency of racing surfaces. The trainers can be found here: (https://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/we-are-ready-for-change-top-thoroughbred-trainers-voice-support-for-horseracing-integrity-act/)

That said, of the top 20 trainers by purse earnings in North America in 2019, 17 of them are in effect opposed to improving testing integrity. Here they are, some of the usual suspects, shame them: Chad C. Brown, Steve Asmussen, Mark Casse, Brad Cox, Bill Mott, Jason Servis, Bob Baffert, Karl Broberg, Mike Maker, Mike McCarthy, Doug O’Neill, Linda Rice, Richard Baltas, Jorge Navarro, Robertino Diodoro, Jerry Hollendorfer, and Tom Amoss.  You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.

4th horse killed at Del Mar

August 18, 2019

A 3-year-old racehorse was euthanized after a training injury in Del Mar. The 3-year-old filly, Bri Bri, suffered a serious pelvis injury, but they did not immediately clarify when the injury occurred.

She was the 4th horse killed in during Del Mar’s summer season.

Two horses were killed July 18 in what was termed a freak accident by the track when a two-year old threw his rider and collided head-on with a three-year old, also during a morning workout. On July 29, a three-year old filly broke down during training after a leg injury and subsequently euthanized.

september

Bob Baffert, Justify and the Triple Crown

September 12, 2019

Having spent the first six months of the year under intense media scrutiny as 30 horses died either racing or training at Santa Anita, U.S. racing suffered another immense blow to its reputation when it emerged that Justify, last year’s Triple Crown winner, tested positive for a banned substance after winning the Santa Anita Derby, the race in which he qualified to run in the Kentucky Derby.

The horse tested positive for a potentially performance-enhancing drug after winning the Santa Anita Derby. Justify went on to win the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and The Belmont to become Bob Baffert’s second Triple Crown winner in four seasons. 

But without the win at Santa Anita, there would have been no Kentucky Derby for Justify, and thus no Triple Crown. Baffert knew this, as others did, but “mums the word” so to say.

Accidental contamination is a possible explanation for Justify’s positive, however the level of scopolamine in his system was well above the threshold level and, according to a vet quoted by the NYT, suggestive of “intentional intervention”. 

Baffert requested a second test to confirm, but results came back after the Derby, again showing the high level of scopolamine. At this point, the CHRB’s disciplinary system should have stepped in. But no charge was ever laid against Baffert. 

Only a few people knew the secret that Baffert carried with him into the winner’s circle the day he won the Belmont – Justify had failed a drug test weeks before the first race in the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby. That meant Justify should not have run in the Derby, if the sport’s rules were followed.”

“. . . . if the sport’s rules were followed.” But they don’t follow the rules, do they? And in the case of Justify’s doping prior to the Derby, documents reviewed by The New York Times show they did not enforce the rules in the case of Baffert and his horse.

Instead, a month after Justify became the first Triple Crown winner to retire undefeated, a closed meeting of the CHRB committee – chaired by Chuck Winner, who has shares in Baffert-trained horses – effectively voted to simply forget it ever happened.

The CHRB decision was both cowardly and reckless – caught in an apparent cover-up. And look whose horse it was – speaks volumes. 

Racehorse found dumped at landfill

September 27, 2019

After receiving disturbing information and photographs from a concerned whistleblower, PETA is calling for an immediate criminal investigation into the death of a horse whose body was found dumped atop a heap of trash at Brooke County Landfill in West Virginia on September 27.

PeTA image.
Image courtesy of PETA.

PETA suspects that the horse is an 8-year-old Thoroughbred mare named Bridget Moloney. Markings on the dead horse as well as the racing leg wraps on her body match those worn by Bridget Moloney during her last race at the nearby Mountaineer Casino Racetrack.

Bridget Moloney was “vanned off” during a race on the Mountaineer track on September 25, according to notes from Equibase, a racing industry website. Removal from the track via a transport van usually means that the horse was seriously injured.

A Mountaineer representative told the whistleblower that prior to her death, the horse dumped at the landfill was severely agitated and acted erratically and that she had slammed her head against the stall walls, sustaining a fatal head injury. A PETA staff member called the track to confirm this but was not given any additional information.

OCTOBER

CHRB suspends trainer John Martin after 3 horses test positive

October 2, 2019

Southern California owner/trainer John Martin of Marina del Ray was suspended by the CHRB for one year by Golden Gate Fields stewards after three horses in his care tested positive for a banned drug. Half of the suspension was stayed as long as no other serious medication violations are committed by Martin.

Martin, who has 1,941 victories in 7,631 starts, according to Equibase, also was fined $20,000.

Three horses Martin ran at Golden Gate Fields in Albany and the Big Fresno Fair tested positive for ergoloid mesylates, state officials said. Ergoloid mesylates are used to treat Alzheimer’s and certain mood disorders in humans, and are thought to be used in racing as an anti-bleeding treatment.

Illegal horse racing track busted in Parker County, Texas

October 9, 2019

Ten people were arrested at an illegal horse-racing track in Parker County. The Texas Department of Public Safety, Parker County Sheriff’s Department and several other agencies took part in the operation where they found drugs, large syringes, drug paraphernalia and shocking devices.

The large syringes were being tested for illegal performance-enhancing substances that allow horses to be pushed to their limits, but also cause serious health conditions and often death. 

The bust followed several weeks of investigation.

Australian racehorse slaughter allegations prompt investigation

October 18, 2019

Australian authorities have launched an investigation into suspected animal cruelty after a TV report revealed the alleged mass slaughter of racehorses. Footage of horses allegedly being mistreated at an abattoir in Queensland caused widespread anger when it was aired on broadcaster ABC.

Queensland authorities sent inspectors to one of the abattoirs named by ABC’s 7.30 programme. The report alleged that 300 racehorses were killed there over a 22-day period. It also broadcast covertly taken footage which appeared to show horses being beaten and mistreated in other ways.

NOVEMBER

Breeders Cup Classic: Mongolian Groom the 37th racehorse to die at Santa Anita since last December

November 2, 2019

Mongolian Groom — a heavily raced 4-year old gelding — is the 37th horse to die at the Santa Anita racecourse since December amid mounting outrage and concern over horse safety at the track.

After breaking down in the stretch of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and suffering a catastrophic injury to his left hind leg, Mongolian Groom was vanned off and euthanized shortly thereafter at the equine hospital at Santa Anita Park.

During their evaluation at the equine hospital at Santa Anita, they observed a serious fracture to his left hind limb. Radiographs were taken and a complete evaluation was performed.

“Given the extent of the injury, Dr. Carpenter, in consultation with Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, veterinary surgeon and professor emeritus at Colorado State University; Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director of the California Horse Racing Board; and attending veterinarian Dr. Vince Baker, recommended humane euthanasia of Mongolian Groom.”

California trainers struggle with what lies ahead

November 3, 2019

In the aftermath of the death of Mongolian Groom after the Breeders’ Cup Classic, anxieties within the racing community deepened — especially in Southern California, where Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued a challenge to the sport before the Breeders’ Cup to keep the races fatality free. On the Sunday after the Breeders’ Cup, the trainers who call Santa Anita home voiced concern and determination for the sport’s future.

Since then, trainer Anna Meah has moved her horses out of the state, rider Kent Desormeaux has chosen to winter in Louisiana, Peter Miller has begun basing part of this stable in Kentucky, and trainer Doug O’Neill has sent a greater number of runners to Dubai. 

Feinstein renews call for racing to be suspended at Santa Anita Park

November 4, 2019

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement after Mongolian Groom was euthanized due to injuries sustained while racing in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.

“It breaks my heart to hear that another horse died because of injuries sustained during the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Racetrack. This year, 37 horses have died at Santa Anita, seven of those since racing resumed in September. That’s simply unacceptable. This problem is not unique to Santa Anita. More than 3,000 horses have died at California racetracks in the past two decades, and thousands more at racetracks throughout the country. Unfortunately, most states lack sufficient reporting requirements, so we may never know the exact numbers of horses that die nation-wide as part of the horse racing industry. This is a gap that should be closed.” Read more: https://tuesdayshorse.wordpress.com/tag/horse-deaths/

Citing the death of Mongolian Groom at the Breeders Cup, she renewed her call for horse racing to be suspended at Santa Anita.

“With continued racetrack deaths, it’s clear that not enough has changed, so I renew that call.’’ 

Veterinarian Allday: Breeders’ Cup made a mistake with Mongolian Groom

November 13, 2019

By the time Dr. Steve Allday was interviewed by radio host Steve Byk, concerns had already surfaced about the condition of Breeders’ Cup Classic contestant Mongolian Groom before the race

Mongolian Groom pulled up with multiple fractures in his left hind leg at the top of the Santa Anita stretch. He was later euthanized after veterinarians determined those injuries could not be repaired. 

In the hours and days after the race, videos on social media and XBTV attracted attention, as they appeared to show the horse taking uneven steps off the left hind during morning training throughout the week. 

The Breeders’ Cup, which had a team of 30 veterinarians on site to augment the pre-race exam process, has declined to provide details on the horse’s exam history or specify whether he had been flagged by veterinarians. The California Horse Racing Board also declined to comment.

RMTC approves new restrictions on non-steroidal anti-inflammatories

November 20, 2019

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) board approved further regulations and stacking prohibitions, as well as corresponding threshold and penalty recommendations, for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and intra-articular (IA) injections. 

The RMTC board has recommend a 48-hour Restricted Administration Time policy for all NSAIDs. Currently, the administration of one NSAID is permitted between 24 and 48 hours prior to a race, with all others discontinued by 48 hours. The board also voted that the detection of more than one NSAID would constitute a “stacking” violation, in addition to the violation associated with the detection of each additional NSAID.

California Chrome is off to Japan

November 22, 2019

The California Chrome Syndicate reached an agreement with the JS Company of Japan to purchase California Chrome.

The two-time Horse of the Year and 8-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit will stand at Arrow Stud on Hokkaido. Arrow Stud also stands U.S. champion Shanghai Bobby and U.S. classic-placed group 2 winner Lani.

As part of the agreement, the California Chrome Syndicate has the first right of refusal if the stallion is ever sold. Upon retirement from breeding, he can live out the remainder of his life at Taylor Made. Owners Perry and Denise Martin plan to continue to participate in California Chrome’s breeding career in Japan.

Grayson Project: Lasix 24 hours out shows ‘great promise’ to replace race-day medication

November 24, 2019

The debate of race-day furosemide is once again in the news. Trainers always say how inhumane it would be to not allow a horse that has experienced exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) to receive furosemide (Lasix). The public does not understand why we tell them that horses love to run on their own, yet we give more than 95% of horses a drug on race day that certain groups claim that horses need to be able to run.

Earlier this year the second of two projects funded by Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation that examined furosemide administration at 24 hours prior to a race was published in the Journal of Veterinarian Internal Medicine, and Grayson believes there is a way forward.

Results from the simulated races show that for horses that are known bleeders, the low-dose furosemide administered at 24 hours prior to post with maintenance water has great promise as a replacement to the current four-hour administration of furosemide.
These findings are encouraging and indicate that Lasix is capable of attenuating EIPH for a longer duration than traditionally believed.

Former British Trainer: Too many things in U.S. racing ‘seemingly designed to harm the horse’

November 26, 2019

At a Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, former British racehorse trainer Patrick Gilligan took a dim view of the current approach in U.S. racing. First and foremost, Gilligan notes that nearly everything that’s done in U.S. racing is “seemingly designed to harm the horse in some way”.

He sites the strict left-hand galloping, day after day, after day given that horses are designed to run in straight lines and are likely to be harmed by the repetitive, galloping left-handed on a daily basis that paces more torsional stress on the pastern and cannon bone. 

He also criticizes dirt tracks and is in favor of synthetic surfaces and claims that if a horse bleeds to an extent it negatively impacts performance, that the animal is not fit for purpose. “Retire it, find it another life. Do not breed from it. The old adage is breed the best to the best and hope for the best — not breed the unsound bleeder to the unsound bleeder and find some stronger meds.”

December

RSPCA NSW admits it sends racehorses to slaughter

December 6, 2019

The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – AU) has admitted for the first time it sends broken-down racehorses to slaughterhouses in New South Wales where their carcasses are processed into pet food.

The animal welfare body has been one of the strongest critics of thoroughbreds being sent to abattoirs and knackeries once they are retired from the racing industry.

RSPCA New South Wales told Daily Mail Australia it sometimes sent stock including thoroughbreds for commercial slaughter if no other option was available.

Kentucky horse racing passes raceday Lasix ban and more

December 10, 2019

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) passed a ban on the race-day administration of Lasix. Calls for the ban come after more than three dozen horses perished at Santa Anita over a 10-month span.

The ban takes effect in 2020 for all 2-year-old horses and in 2021 any horse in a stakes race cannot receive the drug the day of the competition. The newly approved medication reforms were backed by a number of industry stakeholders nationwide with the prospect of improving safety in the sport.

More illegal horse racing discovered in Texas

December 19, 2019

Nine people were indicted on Dec. 19 by a Parker County grand jury for operating an illegal horse racing meet in Springtown, Texas, located 30 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

The Parker County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division, Texas Racing Commission and other agencies discovered the illegal horse racing in October. 

Dozens of horses were involved, some racing more than twice during the same weekend. Police confiscated an unspecified amount of cash and also recovered a number of syringes, drug paraphernalia and electrical shocking devices used to stimulate horses to run faster.

California prosecutor finds no crime in Santa Anita horse racing deaths

December 21, 2019

A California prosecutor found no evidence of animal cruelty or other crimes during an investigation into a spike in horse deaths at Santa Anita Park racetrack over the past year. There was no evidence that owners, trainers or jockeys intentionally made an injured horse race or that the track had pressured jockeys or trainers to race when there were concerns about weather or the track condition. However, eight drugs were found in several of the horses that died, but none was illegal and quantities didn’t exceed legal limits.

A task force formed by the Los Angeles district attorney looked at a decade’s worth of data and found that 49 horses died at Santa Anita Park during the 12-month period ending in June, fewer than the 71 who perished in 2011-12 but more than the 37 who died in 2010-11. 

The investigation was one of several actions taken after 23 horse deaths at the California track during the winter-spring season from Dec. 30 to March 31 caused an outcry that included calls to shut down horse racing in the state, regulatory changes and proposed legislation.

Many however, are not satisfied by the state of racing in the U.S. and the pervasive use of drugs, whether they be therapeutic or not. 

“Political action committee Animal Wellness Action said it was encouraged no criminal wrongdoing was found and applauded Lacey’s recommendations.

“But doping remains legal in California, and across the U.S., and American horse racing is addicted to drugs,” said executive director Marty Irby. “It’s time for an intervention, and Congress must soon pass the Horseracing Integrity Act to reform the industry or the public sentiment will continue to shift away from merely eliminating doping in horse racing to eliminating horse racing itself.”

62% of Americans think less favorably of racing after 2019

December 26, 2019

After a tumulutuous year in NA racing, a survey conducted by Ispos, a leading market research firm, concluded that widely publicized rachorse deaths left 62% of respondents with at least a “somewhat less favorable” impression of horse racing in 2019.  

The survey “found that when horses die from race-related injuries,” 34% of respondents were left with “a lot less favorable” view of the sport, while 28% had a “somewhat less favorable” impression.” Another 37% indicated the deaths did not change their opinion of racing.

Also polled about government involvement in racing, more than 53% of respondents said they support federal legislation to regulate drugs, with that a positive for the Horseracing Integrity Act that has gained bi-partisan backing in the U.S. House of Representatives. 31% of respondents said they weren’t sure about federal legislation, while 16% opposed it.

Peter Moody proposes industry ‘knackery’ for Ozs racehorses

December 31, 2019

Victoria’s former top trainer Peter Moody believes the racing industry should consider operating its own facility to humanely manage the end of life process for retired racehorses that cannot be rehomed.

“Let’s be realistic. Not all horses can be rehomed or train to different disciplines. Why not have an industry knackery for want of a better description to manage and handle horse’s welfare as humanly as possible. RSPCA puts down thousands of animals each year.”

Why not have an industry knackery? Humane and knackery in the same sentence? This is racing. Enough said. 


Written and Researched by JANE ALLIN

FEATURED IMAGE: Mongolian Groom. Sports Illustrated.