LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — Officials from Keeneland Association and Fasig-Tipton Company Inc. Thursday announced restrictions on the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids and bronchodilators, including Clenbuterol, for all horses sold at sales conducted by these two major Thoroughbred auction houses effective immediately.
These latest reforms are in addition to restrictions put in place earlier this year for 2-year-sales held at Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton, and follow action in 2009 to ban the use of anabolic steroids in sales horses and last year’s ban on the off-label use of bisphosphonates in horses younger than four years old.
Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason and Fasig-Tipton President Boyd T. Browning Jr. said in a joint statement: “We remain united in our advocacy to serve the best interest of the horse. The use of medication is the most critical issue facing the Thoroughbred industry, and one that threatens the confidence of both the marketplace and the public. These reforms continue to promote transparency and integrity, and in doing so, strengthen the entire auction process.”
The following changes in the medication rules will govern all future sales at Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton:
All horses except 2-year-olds and horses in training – No more than one NSAID administered within 24 hours prior to sale.
2-year-olds and horses in training – No NSAIDs administered within 24 hours prior to sale.
All horses except 2-year-olds and horses in training – No more than one corticosteroid administered within 14 days prior to sale.
2-year-olds and horses in training – No corticosteroid administered within 14 days prior to sale.
Bronchodilators (including Clenbuterol)
All horses with exception of broodmares, broodmare prospects, stallions and stallion prospects – Bronchodilators (including Clenbuterol) prohibited within 90 days of sale. The administration of a bronchodilator for valid, on-label purposes prior to July 1 of a horse’s yearling year is permitted, but must be disclosed in the Repository with a note of explanation from the treating veterinarian.
Buyers may now elect to have post-sale testing for anabolic steroids, bisphosphonates, bronchodilators and the use of NSAIDs and corticosteroids in violation of the Conditions of Sale.
JANE ALLIN, author of the widely heralded series of Special Reports on Thoroughbred horse racing, including The Chemical Horse, responds:
“We remain united in our advocacy to serve the best interest of the horse … blah, blah, blah… These reforms continue to promote transparency and integrity…blah, blah, blah…and in doing so, strengthen the entire auction process.”
I read this and just shook my head. Reform? More like some magnanimous PR stunt.
Drugs, drugs, and more drugs, minus a few hours (NSAIDs) or a few days (corticosteroids). But no worries, as long as the horse isn’t a 2-year old or in training – go right ahead and administer “a dose” right up until the sale without any restrictions as to when it is administered. And prior to this? Go for broke.
And what about the yearlings? Hell, dose them up as much as you want, no real restrictions there. Even Clenbuterol is permitted prior to July 1 of their yearling year. Why in God’s name are they even administering this drug to literally babies? Oh yeah, gotta’ plump them up and make them all sleek and muscular to move them out of that sales ring like hot cakes.
Then there is this:
“Buyers may now elect to have post-sale testing for anabolic steroids, bisphosphonates, bronchodilators and the use of NSAIDs and corticosteroids in violation of the Conditions of Sale.”
This is “new”? Seriously? You mean to say this wasn’t in place before?
Disappointing isn’t a strong enough word to describe this feeble attempt to provide “so-called” transparency and integrity to horse training. It’s pathetic.
This is NOT reform. No, not in the least.
The day of reckoning will come for this sordid “sport” – do or die. That day inches closer each time another horse is sacrificed on the track and the drugs continue to flow.
And they have no one but themselves to blame. They should have learned to say no years ago, but greed is a powerful drug – the ultimate addiction.
MARK CASSE wants the drug Clenbuterol out of horse racing. Casse, who’s been named Canada’s top thoroughbred trainer an unprecedented 11 times, called for the drug’s use to be stopped in an op/ed piece Monday in the Thoroughbred Daily News.
“It’s a problem, absolutely,” Casse said candidly Tuesday. “It’s been something that’s been going on and recently some of my owners have been extremely frustrated by what’s going on and that bothered me.
“So I did some research and the more I did the more upset it got me. After a while I said, ‘I don’t care, I’m going to say what I feel.”
Clenbuterol isn’t a steroid but has some of the properties of anabolic steroids. It was initially developed to treat asthma in horses.
“It started out as a good drug,” Casse said. “It was used for the right reasons.
“But those right reasons went away a long time ago and now it’s just being abused.”
Casse, 59, said Clenbuterol increases muscle mass in horses while decreasing the animal’s bone density.
“Say you take a filly who weighs 900 pounds when she’s running and that’s what God made her to be,” he said. “But you make this 900-pound filly weigh 950 pounds and at the same time you’re losing bone density.
“Is that not a recipe for disaster? To me, that (horse’s safety) is the most important thing. Look, we all want to win but what you’re saying is, ‘I’m willing to put my horse in danger just so I can be more competitive or win.’ I don’t think that belongs in our game and if you’re going to do that then you should be penalized. But the best way to do it is just ban it.”
When a trainer claims, buys or receives a new horse, Casse wrote often he’ll give the animal a high dosage of Clenbuterol.
“After less than two weeks, this horse will start having more muscle mass, his lung capacity will increase, his stamina and endurance levels will also increase.” Casse said in Monday’s piece. “This treatment will go on for another two to four weeks.
“Then comes the withdrawal time.”
Trouble is, Casse, a native of Indianapolis, says the rules and withdrawal times vary from state to state as well as in Canada.
“I’ve been extremely frustrated in Toronto, as have many, because we’ve seen in the last four or five years the form reversals and we know why,” Casse said. “Woodbine Racetack knows why it’s there, (CEO) Jim Lawson knows why it’s there but for some reason there’s been such push-back that they (Canadian government agencies) don’t do anything about it.”
Lawson took to social media to agree with Casse.
“We are supportive of Mark’s views on the abuse of Clenbuterol in the industry and we have been working to address and we are scheduled to meet with our regulators again this week,” Lawson tweeted Tuesday.
Casse has enjoyed extensive success on both sides of the border.
He’s won all three legs of Canada’s Triple Crown and is enshrined in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Casse has also captured two-thirds of the American Triple Crown and five Breeders’ Cup races and Monday was named a finalist for induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in the U.S.
“A claimed runner’s new trainer runs his bigger, stronger horse, and guess what,” Casse wrote. “It runs a Beyer number that is 10, 15 maybe 20 points higher than it did for the previous trainer.
“The other big surprise is that he or she has not broken any rules because he or she has met the withdrawal times.”
Often after the race, Casse continued Monday, the horse will go back on the drug and “start going into depression and melting away.”
“There have been many thoughts and discussions why horses do not run as often as they used to, and you can see by the process being employed by the Clenbuterol trainers, a horse can only run every six weeks to two months.” Casse wrote, “The problem with this system is the trainers and owners that do not want to subject their horses to this type of treatment compete at a huge disadvantage.”
But Casse said the problem doesn’t stop there. Young horses, he adds, are being given the drug so they can look more muscular at sales.
“That’s what people buy, strength and athleticism,” he said.
However, Casse said some action has been taken.
“I commend the recent move by Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland and OBS in the last few months to ban the drug completely in juveniles being sold,” he wrote. “I now am begging those same companies to ban it in any horse no matter the age.
“I cannot tell you how many times I have bought a yearling or a two-year-old, brought them home, and watched them wilt away to nothing. It is very sad and disheartening.”
Casse also cautioned owners.
“If you are receiving extremely high vet bills each month, you are more than likely paying for Clenbuterol,” he wrote. “Hint: it may not show up on your bill in that name, but I promise you, you are paying for it.”
Should the drug be banned, Casse said a simple test could expose cheaters.
“You can actually see in the hair follicles if it’s been used up to six months,” Casse said. “I just think we should just ban it completely.”
“(3) equines raised in the United States are frequently treated with drugs, including phenybutazone, acepromazine, boldenone undecylenate, omeprazole, ketoprofen, xyalzine, hyaluronic acid, nitrofurazone, polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, clenbuterol, tolazoline, and ponazuril, which are not approved for use in horses intended for human consumption and equine parts are therefore unsafe within the meaning of section 512 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act;”
After looking at the drugs cited, I began to wonder how many of them are commonly used in horse racing since racehorses are given a laundry list of drugs while training and racing. Here are the drugs mentioned in H.R. 961 in order of reference. The ones with checkmarks are used in racehorses. You will be seeing a lot of checkmarks.
• phenybutazone (analygesic, painkiller) ✓
• acepromazine (tranquilizer, phenothiazine derivative, decreases dopamine levels and depresses some portions of the reticular activating system) ✓
“In horses, the drug depresses the central nervous system and slows the respiratory rate; it is also a partial heart block,” Paulick Report, February 12, 2019
• hyaluronic acid (used to treat equine inflammation; helps delay onset of osteoarthritis in racehorses) ✓
• nitrofurazone (antibiotic treatment for surface bacterial infections of wounds, burns, and cutaneous ulcers for use on large animals such as horses; has been linked to cancer in humans) ✓
“Backstreet Bully was unloaded from a trailer after dawn and led by his halter into an abattoir in rural Quebec. Once owned and raced by Magna’s Frank Stronach, the chestnut thoroughbred was to be slaughtered then packaged for human food.”
• polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, marketed as Adequan (used for the intramuscular treatment of non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic joint dysfunction and associated lameness of the carpal and hock joints in horses) ✓
• clenbuterol (a bronchodilator that is helpful for horses with heaves, an inflammatory condition that causes the airways to constrict) ✓
Banned in Quarter Horse racing in 2017; last year, the CHRB determined that “It can still be used for health reasons. However, it cannot be administered so close to a race that it can be detected in samples. [Arthur]* said the normal clearance time is three weeks to a month. See “CHRB Moves To Ban Presence Of Clenbuterol On Race Day”, Paulick Report, Oct. 26, 2018
• tolazoline (A vasodilator that apparently has direct actions on blood vessels and also increases cardiac output) ✓
• ponazuril (used for the treatment of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), a debilitating neurological disease) — all horses
* * * * *
Meat derived from horses treated with any of the drugs mentioned bars them from entering the human food chain. It is immoral and unethical to continue slaughtering American horses for human consumption, including the racehorse.
Since the sudden deaths of the seven horses there has been much speculation with regard to the root cause of these deaths, more so now that the results, in effect, have been reported to be inconclusive thereby absolving Baffert of any wrong-doing.
It is a well known fact that Baffert has personal relationships with several individuals on the CHRB — such as Commissioner Bo Derek and departing Chairman David Israel — which has many believing the entire investigation has been compromised by lack of objectivity and a failure to report the truth.
At the very least there is conjecture that some critical details have been omitted to protect Baffert’s character and status in the racing circuit. After all, Baffert is crucial in preserving the vitality of North American racing — at least according to Dwyre (Part 1).
In any case, there are many questions that will now and forever go unanswered. That said there are a number of different theories, which apart from the rat poison, are linked directly with the redundant and fanatical prostitution of the so-called legal therapeutics.
Diphacinone is a multiple feeding toxicant that kills rodents through anticoagulant activity.
Diphacinone works by inhibition of liver-synthesized coagulation proteins leading to internal hemorrhaging and if ingested in sufficient amounts death. This drug was once used in humans as an anticoagulant to treat and prevent blood clots and if taken in the recommended dosages no permanent or life threatening effects occur.
“The effects due to chronic exposure are similar to those expected from an acute exposure, but animal studies and human use experience suggest that there is a level of chronic exposure at which no adverse effects may occur.”
Therefore, as long as the dosage is controlled, it can be taken without any outward signs of damage.
But why would anyone administer an anticoagulant to a horse, particularly since it is a highly toxic compound in EPA Toxicity Class I?
Enter EPO or Erythropoietin.
Although there is typically no medical reason to use EPO in the horse it has been widely used as a performance-enhancing drug despite being an illicit drug in horse racing. EPO increases the number of red cells circulating in the blood.
Red blood cells shuttle oxygen through the blood and increase the amount of oxygen carried to the muscles which in turn increases aerobic capacity and hence endurance.
However increasing the number of red blood cells causes the blood to become much more viscous particularly during strenuous exercise where body temperature increases and dehydration is more prevalent. As a result, the misuse of EPO carries a clear risk for cardiac failure.
Logically, yet sinister in nature from a doping perspective, the administration of an anticoagulant such as Diphacinone will counterbalance the effect of thicken blood. Human athletes routinely use Heparin in combination with EPO-doping. EPO doping in the racing world has been around for years.
EPO is produced naturally in the kidneys and liver and therefore its presence in test samples at the track is not necessarily suspect. Moreover because EPO breaks down rapidly it is often difficult to detect an elevated level in horses. See http://www.new.com/au at http://goo.gl/bLxGak (with the interesting headline How Lance Armstrong’s drug of choice has turned horse racing into a sport for cheats — and what must be done to fix it”).
“Partly it’s because detecting EPO can be notoriously tricky. To be most effective, it is thought by some, EPO needs to be given well before a race–say, 8 to 10 days out, or even longer. But the detection period for EPO can be very short, as little as two days after its been administered. So a horse could be given EPO on a Monday, and by Wednesday or Thursday, it will test clean. That drives suspicion that EPO is still being used. But regulators simply aren’t finding it.”
“The 26-page report said that Baffert acknowledged directing his veterinarians to use thyroxine on all his horses. Baffert, however, was the one who asked his veterinarians to prescribe it, which is in conflict with the policy of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the industry’s most influential veterinary group, which says treatments “should be based upon a specific diagnosis and administered in the context of a valid and transparent owner-trainer-veterinarian relationship.”
Thyro-L is a thyroid hormone (T4) used to treat hypothyroidism, a condition where the body fails to produce a sufficient amount of thyroxine; the human equivalent is Synthroid. The intended result of the medication is to restore “normal” metabolic activity.
Thyroxine should only be prescribed for horses with evidence of low circulating thyroid hormone and then only on the order of a licensed veterinarian.
Dosages should be individualized and horses should be monitored daily for clinical signs of hyperthyroidism or hypersensitivity and response to the medication should be evaluated clinically every week until an adequate maintenance dose is established. See http://www.drugs.net/ at http://goo.gl/JxKI8w.
Levothyroxine has adrenaline-like effects including increased heart rate, palpitations, hypertension, tachycardia, nervousness and increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias. See http://doublecheckmd.com at http://goo.gl/bkwIKx.
Risks of over-medication of horses with normal thyroid function (euthyroid) clearly include adverse cardiovascular indications and symptoms of hyperthyroidism which can be life threatening when combined with other medications — in particular Clenbuterol and Ketamine. When used in conjunction with Clenbuterol it is an extremely powerful fat burner while Ketamine may increase risk of cardiac failure. See http://24hoursppc.org; http://www.rxlist.com/.
Both of these drugs have been and are used on horses to enhance performance, the former legally so. Ketamine, a NMDA receptor antagonist that functions similarly to an opioid/anesthetic, was once allowed at certain thresholds limits in horse racing however it is now a banned substance with Class 2 status (i.e. high potential to affect performance). That is not to say no one uses it anymore — nothing is a given in horse racing, anything goes.
Warfarin is in the same anticoagulant family as diphacinone the so-called first-generation anticoagulants which are characterized as chronic in their action and take several feedings over time to cause death. Recall that diphacinone was implicated in two of the deaths.
When the thyroid function is too high (hyperthyroidism), the anticoagulant effects will be magnified and a “normal” dose of it will therefore cause the blood to be too thin and may result in dangerous bleeding. See http://www.worstpills.org at http://goo.gl/sAlSBv.
It doesn’t take much to put two and two together.
And one last fact about levothyroxine effects to take away with you.
“Levothyroxine can alter the results of many laboratory tests. Tell your veterinarian your horse is on levothyroxine before any tests are performed.”
The ultimate weapon in the war against getting caught.
Some facts that came out of the CHRB investigation clearly demonstrate the negligence on the part of Baffert with respect to the administration of levothyroxine. See http://goo.gl/SlmxAF.
Baffert administered Thyro-L to “ALL” of his horses regardless of their thyroid function using it as a supplement rather than medication. Thyro-L was so routinely prescribed it was dispensed to one of the sudden death victims a week after he had died.
The thyroxine was requested by Baffert and not prescribed by a veterinarian.
It is unclear if the recommended dosage of 12 mg was followed. Barn staff, including grooms, were involved in its administration mixed with feed (i.e. was it metered out? etc.)
There were no tests conducted on any of the horses before or during the time they were receiving levothyroxine to determine whether the horses were hypothyroid or hyperthyroid therefore difficult to know whether any of the horses were put at risk of becoming hyperthyroid. To reiterate – hyperthyroidism is consistently associated with cardiac abnormalities.
What is also lacking in sensibility is Baffert’s alleged reason for administering thyroxine to his horses.
“Arthur added that Baffert said he used the hormone to ‘build up’ his horses, but the thyroid hormone is used for the opposite, to assist weight loss, Arthur said. He called Baffert’s comment “surprising’.”
Who does he think he is kidding? And what is wrong with the CHRB and medication rules in North American racing overall?
This is clearly doping. The fact that a drug is administered when there is no apparent underlying condition present is simply seeking to achieve a surrogate benefit; in this case enhanced performance (speed) due to weight loss.
Of course Baffert gave it to all of his horses. He was legally cheating to win.
There is something perilously wrong when a performance-enhancing drug is legal and considered therapeutic yet poses increased risk of cardiac failure. The abuse of legal medications in NA racing is abhorrent. It is pure and simple doping. To think otherwise is utter denial.
But the CHRB simply dismissed the evidence and used the excuse that because Baffert uses levothyroxine on all his horses this couldn’t possibly be the source of the sudden deaths — blatant favoritism and protectionism for their golden boy Baffert. The facts undeniably expose the flagrant negligence surrounding the use of this drug.
The ubiquitous Clenbuterol — a widely abused bronchodilator medication in the racing industry for respiratory problems regularly used to build muscle by mimicking anabolic steroids even when administered in therapeutic doses.
Clenbuterol increases lean weight, so there is more muscle while decreasing non-lean weight, so there is less fat. This is yet another legal performance enhancer, one that Baffert and others use religiously regardless of whether the horse suffers from respiratory distress or not. Unlike phenylbutazone and lasix there is a mandatory withdrawal time prior to a race. However, clenbuterol has a long half life and its effects will linger for some time.
Also known as ventipulmin, chronic administration of clenbuterol has been shown to negatively alter cardiac function by “altering the internal diameter, thickening the septal wall and increasing aortic root dimensions.” See http://goo.gl/Hgf9oe.
Moreover chronic administration of clenbuterol diminishes its efficacy and worsens the breathing function of the horse.
While clenbuterol used as directed for an underlying air obstruction problem is a good therapeutic drug its use as a performance-enhancing medication is precarious. Particularly in light of the non-FDA approved compounded clenbuterol which resulted in horse deaths including six in Louisiana in November 2006. Unregulated clenbuterol products are illegal and contain varied and unknown concentrations of the drug with unknown and varied effects. This is not to say that Baffert used any of the illegal compounded product but merely a reminder of the risks posed by the use of clenbuterol particularly at elevated doses.
The list of side effects of clenbuterol abuse over an extended duration such as would be typical in the barns of many a trainer, Baffert included, is long and perilous. Clenbuterol increases the size of heart muscle cells due to the increased production of collagen, an inelastic material that reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood and can potentially lead to cardiac arrest. See http://goo.gl/7MhN9l.
Collagen also interferes with the electric signals sent through the heart muscle cells to keep it pumping regularly and may produce arrhythmias (irregular heart beat). This in turn increases the risk of strokes. Further studies in rodents also found that clenbuterol induced heart cell degeneration. Animal studies also indicate that clenbuterol adversely affects the hearts structural dimensions and may cause aortic enlargement after exercise, which increases the risk of aortic rupture and sudden death.
Furthermore, the use of clenbuterol may exacerbate any pre-existing heart condition or blood pressure problems. It is also thought that left-sided cardiac atrophy (wasting away of the left side of the heart) can occur very quickly (perhaps as little as four weeks when taken in high doses).” See http://goo.gl/Kwnyaj.
It is incomprehensible why two drugs administered together — levothyroxine and clenbuterol — each with significant risk of cardiac failure when used inappropriately are not regulated apart from the drug threshold limits imposed on race day.
And this only takes into account two drugs of the countless others that are administered on a regular basis — legal or otherwise. And what other synergystic effects of race medications like lasix and phenylbutazone might exist? One could write a book on the nefarious drug culture of North American racing.
This is the quintessential case of denial from a system so shattered that repairing it seems unattainable.
“When your prime argument boils down to the seemingly rampant drugging of racehorses being OK because the drugs are legal therapeutic medications – without addressing whether a particular horse needs the medication – you are missing the essential point of the case made by those opposing the racing’ industry use of drugs. I doubt there is a sensible person who would oppose medications for an animal who needs it. But when the nation’s two leading trainers are administering drugs – albeit legal ones – without regard for the medical needs of a particular horse, we are no longer talking about therapeutic drugs, but rather drugs they hope will be performance-enhancing.”
See “Time for racing leaders to get their heads out of the sand”, by Tom Noonan at http://goo.gl/Zyxxja.
The two trainers of course are Baffert who fervently administered all of his horses’ levothyroxine while feigning ignorance about its mechanism of action and Todd Pletcher whose zeal to win ended in the death of 4YO Coronado Heights.
Diagnosed with early degenerative disease Coronado Heights should have been sidelined or retired but instead was administered ten different drugs over the period of a week, often in multiple doses to quell his unsoundness. The only reason for this — that his ethically challenged owner and trainer could not bear the thought of losing out on the prospect of winning. http://goo.gl/DR6vGn.
Reflecting back on the musings of Dwyre the absurdity and naivety of his statements should be an embarrassment to anyone with a modicum of intelligence.
“If Baffert is guilty of purposely doing something to harm animals, he needs to be ousted from the sport. But the only sanctioning body that can say that, the CHRB, already has said he is not. So it is time to move on.
Racing needs Baffert.”
In the CHRB we trust. Snicker.
And their golden boy Bob Baffert — the Lance Armstrong of horse racing.