Calhoun suspended after horse tests positive for cannabidiol

HORSE RACING NATION (Apr 14, 2020) — In a ruling posted Tuesday, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission suspended trainer Bret Calhoun for 30 days and fined him $500 stemming from a positive test for cannabidiol in a winning filly last July at Ellis Park.

Calhoun will serve 10 days of the suspension through April 23. Citing “mitigating circumstances,” the term’s remaining 20 days are stayed on the condition that no Class A or Class B medication violation occur in the next year. The use of cannabidiol, often referred to as CBD, is a Class B medication violation.

Calhoun waived his right to a hearing before stewards, according to the ruling. He also declined comment when contacted Tuesday by Horse Racing Nation.

As a 3-year-old filly, Touch Blue broke her maiden July 6, 2019, in a 5 1/2-furlong claiming race over Ellis Park’s turf. She has been disqualified, and owner Chester Thomas, who runs horses under the Allied Racing banner, will forfeit purse money from the victory.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International categorizes cannabidiol — derived from hemp, and increasingly popular for human use with advertised health benefits — as a Class 2 substance.

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Cannabidiol is a chemical in the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana or hemp. Over 80 chemicals, known as cannabinoids, have been identified in the Cannabis sativa plant. Cannabidiol has effects on the brain. The exact cause for these effects is not clear. However, cannabidiol seems to prevent the breakdown of a chemical in the brain that affects pain, mood, and mental function. Read more »

CBD and horses

CBD is commonly used now among regular horse owners. Before you run out and snap some up for your nervous equine, please read the following article carefully, “What you need to know about CBD and horses“; Equine Wellness Magazine; April 16 2020.

Horseracing Integrity Act Subcommittee Hearing and video

Horses jump out the gate at Del Mar racetrack in California. Unattributed Google search result.


We hope you got to watch or listen to the Subcommittee Hearing just conducted on the Horseracing Integrity Act (H.R.1754), chaired by Congresswoman Janice D. Schakowsky.

The Hearing began at 10:30 a.m. and concluded at 12:45 p.m.

It was riveting, demonstrating how far apart most of racing is regarding the state of its industry. This is how racehorses continue to be compromised and killed on U.S. racetracks, competing and in training.


The Hearing is already available on YouTube.

Begins at approximately 10:45 into the recording.

Witness Statements

Here are the written statements from each of the witnesses which were read into the record at the start of the Hearing in pdf format.

Dr. Kathleen M. Anderson
Equine Veterinarian


Joseph A. De Francis
National Horseracing Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States


Dennis A. Drazin
Chairman and CEO
Darby Development
Monmouth Park Racetrack


Marty Irby
Executive Director
Animal Wellness Action


William M. Lear, Jr.
Vice Chairman
The Jockey Club


Edward J. Martin
President and CEO
Association of Racing Commissioners International, Inc.


Christopher J. McCarron
Hall of Fame Jockey, Retired


Most of the discussion was focused on and by Thoroughbred racing, but this legislation includes Quarter Horse and Standardbred racing.

What are your thoughts? Too little too late? Can it be reformed and the industry saved? Or should it all just go away?

A recurring theme is how the industry’s handle (the amount bet) has declined and continues to decline. In other words they are losing betting customers. You see, gambling is the backbone of the industry; what feeds it — keeps it alive.

FEATURED IMAGE: Horses jump out the gate at Del Mar racetrack in California. Unattributed Google search result.

US racing official argues Thoroughbreds are cleaner than athletes in Olympics

Salix. Photo: Anne M Eberhardt

Say what?

Greg Hall, who covers Thoroughbred racing for the Louisville Courier-Journal, reports:

“Trying to make a point that horse racing is cleaner than the Olympics, an association for state racing commissions wants Olympic drug testers to release the names of athletes who are allowed to use performance enhancing drugs.

“The head of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which proposes rules for individual racing commissions, said Tuesday that horses are not given any exemptions, but the perceptions are that Olympic sports are clean and horse racing is tainted.

    “When you look at the facts, the perception that (the Olympic) games will be drug free and horse racing is drug ridden is an Olympic-sized deception,” ARCI President Ed Martin said in a statement. “The challenge is real for both, but horse racing’s transparency and hard line against virtually all performance enhancing therapeutics may explain why some think racing’s problem is bigger than it is.”

“The call for disclosure in the London Summer Olympics that start Friday was made as the racing industry conducts a bitter debate over whether race day medication should be banned from thoroughbred racing on the day of a race.”

Hang on.

Olympic Games drug free? Doubtful. US horse racing drug ridden? Definitely. But so what?

Say every single Olympic athlete, equine or otherwise, tested positive for some sort of banned medicationn, how does that cancel out the fact that US horse racing is absolutely infested with drugs.

And then this.

Horse racing’s “transparency”, “hard line against virtually all performance enhancing therapeutics”, and “some think racing’s problem is bigger than it is” — implying it is not.

Am I going mad, or on the way back?

I challenge even one Olympic athlete to test positive for a drug 40 times more powerful than morphine made from the excretions of an exotic frog.

Salix. Photo: Anne M Eberhardt
A bright, shiny bottle of Salix, a drug given to virtually every single racehorse who starts a race in the US. In case you are wondering, Salix = Lasix = Furosemide. Photo: Anne M Eberhardt

The rest of the article covers the tedious debate over the use of the anti-bleeder drug Salix (enough already) that every single racehorse in America absolutely must have on race day (or blood will spurt from their noses in front of the punters) that no other horse racing nation seems to find mandatory. In most if not all of these countries, in the rare instances a horse turns out to be a “bleeder” they simply are not allowed to race again, full stop.

Easy, right?

Now the powers that be in American horse racing are arguing over whether or not all American Thoroughbreds now have the genetic proclivity to be a bleeder. That would certainly solve the anti-bleeder issue for the pro-Lasix folks if they could prove it, or perhaps hire a ghostwriter to prove it for them. But if they did that, then no one outside the US would buy their horses. . .

Pass the Bute.

Read more here >>

NM Racing Commission discusses safety rules changes

Teller All Gone euthanized. Jakob Schiller for NYT.

Teller All Gone euthanized. Jakob Schiller for NYT.
A 2-year-old quarter horse named Teller All Gone broke a front leg in a race on Sept. 3 and was euthanized. New York Times. Photo by Jakob Schiller.

The Associated Press Reports:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – The New Mexico Racing Commission is holding a public hearing Wednesday on a proposal to adopt stricter standards for horse racing.

The commission will take testimony at its Albuquerque headquarters on model regulations developed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

The move comes after a New York Times story described New Mexico as having the worst horse safety record in the United States.

More of the story and video at >>


— CBS NEWS: Horse racing industry backs New Mexico reforms >>

— NEW MEXICO WATCHDOG: Stricter standards, tougher enforcement on the horizon in NM horse racing >>