“From the clinical examination of the horses it appears both suffered cervical fractures and both were dead on the racetrack,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, a veterinary with the California Racing Board.
What we know for sure is that they are dead — and by all appearances the deaths were “accidental”, or in other words they didn’t “break down (as in a leg) and die”, as racehorses typically do these days as a matter of routine. This time they broke their necks.
How about this quote by Kathy Guillermo in a statement made by PeTA following the announcement of the death of these horses:
“Saying that deaths are inevitable in racing is like saying a swim team can’t compete without drowning.”
Normally the public would have heard nothing about these deaths. Most tracks don’t even report or record training kills. However, all eyes are on California horse racing following Santa Anita’s recent disastrous season of kills.
What’s not mentioned is the pain and mental suffering these two young horses endured as they died. Yes, mental suffering. These are sentient beings.
“The Jockey Club Wednesday sent out an email alerting the public that the Coalition for Horse Race Integrity put on a full-court press in its lobbying efforts in Washington D.C., pushing for the passage of the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019, aka Barr-Tonko.
The Jockey Club. The Coalition for Horse Race Integrity. Two rats, of the largest kind.
Where it gets interesting is what follows that nonsense, which is the analysis of the Barr-Tonko bill by Dr. Sheila Lyons, DVM. Dr. Lyons is the founder and director of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Dr. Lyons opens her analysis of H.R. 1754 with:
“After careful review of the House bill titled the “Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019” I would like to offer my thoughts and opinion regarding its proposed structure for anti-doping and medication control in horseracing. I offer this opinion based upon more than thirty years in clinical practice as an equine veterinarian in private sports medicine practice attending to racehorses and other equine athletes. I also provided testimony at the 2012 (Senate) and 2013 (House) hearings on the Pitts/Udall horseracing integrity and safety bills.”
Dr. Lyon’s analysis is in two parts. An Overview section, which I post in full; a discussion section where I am posting only her introductory points.
The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 seems to directly accomplish only two things: 1) It will create uniform rules and regulations regarding the use of drugs in racehorses amongst the states through the creation of a national regulatory structure imposed through a newly created nonprofit entity; and, 2) It will eliminate the administration of drugs on race day. Unfortunately, neither of these changes will directly impact the common abuse of drugs used to mask injury and or enhance performance. This proposed legislation ultimately leaves the details of drug regulation in the control of members of the horseracing industry despite the reality that following decades of promises to regulate drugs effectively, it has failed to do so.
My greatest concerns about the proposed structure for the new regulatory agency (“Authority”) that will be created through this legislation are as follows:
USADA will not have independent authority to create and implement drug regulations;
A committee of six horseracing industry representatives will have the ability to block any change in regulation proposed by the USADA committee;
Only one veterinarian is included in the combined USADA and industry committees which means that discussions and decisions about drugs that will be officially deemed “permitted” and “therapeutic” medications will be made largely by individuals who have no expertise or authority on this subject and whose self-interests may be in conflict with the strict regulation of such drugs;
USADA can leave the Authority after five years;
When USADA leaves the Authority, regulation will be exclusively in the hands of industry representatives who will nominate their own successors;
While the health and well-being of the horse is stated as the guiding factor for all regulation, there are no animal welfare representatives on the six member industry based committee;
The Authority must publish and solicit industry and public comment prior to making any changes in regulation;
There is no stated requirement that all state veterinary board statutes will be upheld and monitored for the practice of veterinary medicine on racehorses. The bill also fails to mandate the review of veterinary records as a means to ascertain that all veterinary services are ethical and put the health of the horse first.
Please Note: Introductory points only.
1) USADA will not have independent authority to create and implement drug regulations
2) A committee of six horseracing industry representatives will have the ability to block any change in regulation proposed by the USADA committee
3) Only one veterinarian is included in the combined USADA and industry committees which means that discussions and decisions about drugs that will be officially deemed “permitted” and “therapeutic” medications will be made largely by individuals who have no expertise or authority on this subject and whose self-interests may be in conflict with the strict regulation of such drugs;
4) USADA can leave the Authority after five years
I will quote Dr. Lyons from this section:
I find this to be revealing of the ultimate intention of this bill, which is to ensure that the sport of horseracing remains fully controlled by the industry itself, not by federally legislated mandate.
[No 5); jumps to 6) in the source]
6) While the health and well-being of the horse is stated as the guiding factor for all regulation, there are no animal welfare representatives on the six member industry based committee
7) The Authority must publish and solicit industry and public comment prior to making any changes in regulation
8) There is no stated requirement that all state veterinary board statutes will be upheld and monitored for the practice of veterinary medicine on racehorses
I must include this from Section 8:
“The bill also states that the Authority will create a list of “permitted” “therapeutic” medications. The concept of “permitted” medication is what led to the reckless and nontherapeutic use of drugs at the trainer’s request or by the veterinarian’s recommendation, in order to help the horse to race better than it naturally could through injury masking or performance enhancement.
“While this bill states that the health of the horse will be the over-riding goal of all medication use and that the principles of veterinary ethics will be a basis for all veterinary treatments, there is no provision that veterinary practices and veterinary records will be reviewed or monitored to be sure that drugs are strictly used in a therapeutic context and that no drug of any kind will be in any effect on the day the horse races.
“There is also no language that states that the Authority will refer cases of possible violation of state veterinary board statutes to the proper state agency for review and potential action against licensee veterinarians. This is essential for clean sport enforcement and the protection of health and safety for horses and riders.”
At the end Dr. Lyons adds, “By contrast, I find the more recently developed Racehorse Doping Ban Act of 2019, aka Udall/Wyden, simple and straightforward. It defines the structure for regulatory oversight that will effectively control the flow of drugs in racing.”
There is another reason that this piece of legislative malarky is just that — malarky. It was something that hit me when reading about a racehorse doping episode in another country. I was already prepared to change our neutral position based on that, before I came across the above.
I will give you a rest first though, and post it about it later this week. Or so. There’s so much to digest here.
It would never have occurred to us we would ever be writing about sea snail venom. But then we never thought we would be writing about frog juice. That’s horse racing! Full of cheaters, dopers and liars.
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, with authorities scrambling to organise testing for the powerful painkiller.
Racing NSW and Racing Victoria integrity officials on Monday 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.
Racing stewards have received intelligence that a form of sea snail venom has been imported into Australia and used to manage pain in horses suspected to have raced in both the thoroughbred and harness codes.”
Who knows what else they will find when they investigate this.
Now you see why we have no confidence in the Horse Racing Integrity Act pending before U.S. Congress. The cheaters will continue to cheat. Outwitting “the man” and not getting caught is all part of the game to them. How do you stop that? You stop horse racing.
When we started The Horse Fund the first and foremost issue we tackled was horse slaughter. One of the recurring arguments against banning horse slaughter especially from people within the horse industry was, where would all the horses go? They are still it asking now.
On the home page of our original website we featured John Hettinger and his White Paper, “Where Would All the Horses Go?”, published June 28, 2003. It had a huge impact everywhere it was read, from advocates to politicians to the horse racing industry where he was widely revered.
When Mr. Hettinger passed away in 2010, Ray Paulick, of the horse racing site The Paulick Report, wrote how Mr. Hettinger had influenced his thought about the slaughter of horses.
No one fought harder to end the slaughter of horses in the United States than John Hettinger.
He was tireless and passionate about ending slaughter. He talked about it, wrote about it, did something about it. He was a man of words and of action. And he put his money where his mouth was.
Of all the things John Hettinger ever said or wrote about horse slaughter, there is one paragraph that has stayed with me. It came from an article he wrote in 2003 and asked me to publish in the Bloodhorse.
“How do we as an industry feel about our horses?” he wrote. “Are we horse lovers? Are these animals, who work for us in one way or another throughout their entire lives, sensitive and capable of trust, courage and generosity of spirit? Or are they fast cows without horns?”
Fast cows without horns? That line got me. Until then, I was ambivalent about slaughter, because I considered horses “livestock,” which, technically, they are. But that simple but brilliant observation taught me there are different kinds of livestock – the kind that are bred and raised for human consumption, and the kind that are bred and raised for sport, but end up in the food chain by unfortunate circumstances.
Thank you, Mr. Hettinger, for helping me finally understand what was so clear to you.
Through his numerous positions within the industry which include membership in the Jockey Club, Director of America’s oldest Thoroughbred Auction House—Fasig-Tipton, Inc., Trustee of New York Racing Association, Chairman of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and the owner of Akindale Farm, Mr. Hettinger has made the well-being of the horse his guiding principle.
With the assistance of his auction house, Mr. Hettinger founded Blue Horse Charities, which in its first three years of operation, has awarded over $200,000 for the retirement of Thoroughbreds. He has also donated one of his farms, Excellor, in New York to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, and fights tirelessly to end horse slaughter.
Asked how to explain his compassion, Mr. Hettinger is fond of reminding people that, “all of my best friends have four legs!”
John Hettinger — a true Hero for Horses.
PLEASE READ THIS PAPER!
If you are a horse lover or advocate of any kind, please read Mr. Hettinger’s paper, “Where Will All the Horses Go?” The same rhetoric — questioning what will we do with all the horses if horse slaughter is banned — is re-emerging yet again as it looks like the bills pending before Congress have a good chance of being successful and ending horse slaughter and the export for slaughter.
You will never find better answers to this question than in Mr. Hettinger’s paper.
Please contact your U.S. Representative re H.R. 961 and your two U.S. Senators re S.2006 today and ask them to please cosponsors these bills.