Doomed Mongolian Groom's vet cited again

Mongolian Groom. Sports Illustrated image.

It is amazing how horse racing keeps on going. Always, always the same repeat offenders.

It is time, well past time, for horse racing “American style” to go. They — not people like us who care about these horses — have brought them here.

Many more racehorse doping arrests will be made. What we have seen so far is merely the tip of a very, very large iceberg.

In case you are not familiar with Mongolian Groom’s breakdown that led to his death, here’s a video of it.

Fund for Horses Logo

The Sting that is so stinging to U.S. horse racing

The great Australian race mare who won the Cox Plate a record four times.

On Monday, March 9, 2020, Benjamin Weiser and Joe Drape, reporting for the New York Times, broke the story that federal prosecutors had taken action “against more than two dozen racehorse trainers, veterinarians and drug distributors in a wide-ranging series of indictments that laid out a corrupt scheme to secretly dope horses and cheat the betting public in what has become a $100 billion global industry”.

First Reactions

We visited the Paulick Report to read what their followers’ reactions are to the above news. Their comments were pretty predictable, including not surprisingly more and stronger calls to pass the the latest version of the Horseracing Integrity Act or H.R. 1754. The bill’s chief aim it seems is to bring all of American horse racing under one great big anti-doping umbrella. It currently has 244 cosponsors.

But let’s get to the good part. Barry Irwin. Mr. Irwin by the way is the owner of the Thoroughbred horse racing stable of Team Valor International in Lake Worth, Florida, and owner/breeder of the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom.

Barry Irwin

We quote liberally from Irwin’s May 10, 2020 article, “Irwin States That Nearly All Horse Racing Institutions Lack Will To Clean Up Sport“. To say they lack “will” may be the understatement of the century. Never mind. Keep reading.

In his opening paragraph, Irwin writes:

Open Quote

Monday’s initiative to go after cheaters in horse racing starkly portrays the dilemma our industry faces. The initiative taken by the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was a victory for jurisprudence and a failure of every state in America, its regulators, racing boards, investigators, Thoroughbred racetracks and rank-and-file members of racing who stood idly by and allowed cheating on a mass scale at the very highest level of the sport to go unchecked.

Racing’s institutions, save one, all failed in their mandates to ensure the integrity of our product because of a lack of will and skill.

The alphabet groups and Thoroughbred racetracks that support the status quo allowed this nonsense to be fostered, nurtured and come into fruition. The horsemen’s groups that protected their worst elements under the misguided notion that one bad egg would tarnish them all, should be hanging their heads in shame today.”

More about “will” by Irvin:

Open Quote

So why did the Feds achieve success where states had failed? The most obvious answer is that failure was a result of a lack of will. But there are at least a couple of racetracks that tried to catch the indicted pair and they failed.”

We conclude with the following remarks by Irwin, which brings us back to the Horseracing Integrity Act. He almost convinces us.

Caslon Quote Left Black

The biggest winner of all Monday was the Horseracing Integrity Act—the legislation that is currently working its way through Congress; because as racing has now shown itself to be completely incapable of policing itself, the proposed bill is the lone vehicle designed to correct the problem that was identified this week by the Justice Department.

And with the United States Anti-Doping Agency on board, using the correct tests and a dedicated investigatory task force, it is the only hope to cleanse our sport and ensure the future integrity of the product.”

Last thoughts

Even with an anti-doping agency looking over U.S. horse racing’s shoulder, it will not stop the doping of racehorses. The most it will do is rein it in, perhaps quite a bit comparatively speaking . . . at first.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at another horse racing nation who has an anti-doping program — Australia. Australian horse racing feels they are successful in — if not eliminating racehorse doping — then at least keeping it somewhat under control.

Look at the list of drugs Australian racehorses typically test positive for:

Anabolic steroids, narcotic analgesics, caffeine (now easily detected), beta blockers, butazolidin, “milkshakes” (bicarbs tubed into a horse’s stomach) and something called “blue magic”, just to name a few. Ring a bell?

The have their exotic drugs of course. How about Etorphine, or elephant juice. What? It’s a tranquiliser for large animals such as elephants, and reportedly can be a most powerful stimulant if applied correctly to horses.

Then there’s the legendary super mare Winx. Winx won a record 33rd races in a row, ending her career with a third successive Queen Elizabeth stakes and retiring with a four-year unbeaten streak.

She didn’t do it simply on water, hay and oats. One wouldn’t expect a superstar athlete of any kind to. But . . . .

Winx tested positive for cocaine just days after winning her 13th race in a row. Only four days after delivering a performance of sheer dominance to win first place at the 2016 Cox Plate, Winx is believed to have tested positive to “party drugs, for a second time“. “Party drugs” is likely a euphemistic term for cocaine. Similar reports, especially cocaine treatments, dogged her throughout her career.


In light of the above, perhaps testing racehorses for “doping” is better seen as a band aid instead of a cure. Perhaps there is no cure for racehorse doping, and we should not expect one.

Fund for Horses Logo

Horse Racing Integrity: The Owners


I don’t think it would be unfair to say that horse racing is in an ever increasing state of crisis. That means the horses are also.

Racehorses are bred, used and disposed of at an alarming rate. They are drugged, their bodies manipulated in grotesque ways from the moment they are foaled. They are run into the ground until they can no longer perform, breakdown and die on the track or shortly thereafter off of it. Racehorses are “retired” by the thousands via death in a slaughterhouse often as young as two and three years old.

Is horse racing’s modern day conduct and its glaring lack of integrity any worse now than during its earlier days? The short answer is we don’t know. What we do know is that in this day and age you can hide very little of what goes on because of the advent of social media. That means many of horse racing’s many sins are glaringly made public to the masses now as a matter of routine. They do not like what they see. Fans and bettors are abandoning horse racing more and more every day.

Owner Integrity

During our coverage of US horse racing and its many sins we have looked at the trainers more than just about anyone else in the industry. Integrity it seems is hard if nigh impossible to find among racehorse trainers. In a culture entrenched in cheating, everybody “is doing it” to stay competitive, or so they say.

It may very well be (and we wouldn’t bet against it), that there it not a single trainer left in the US with even a fraction of integrity, especially when it comes to doping. As trainers and their assistants routinely point out, “you have to dope just ‘to stay in the game'”. What about the “boss”? The owner? The ones who employ these trainers? Where are they in all of this?

The late, great Penny Chenery, owner of the heralded and haloed Triple Crown winning hero Secretariat, makes the following observations in an interview with Andrew Cohen for The Atlantic, May 28, 2012.

The title of the article is “Secretariat’s Owner on the Triple Crown and Racing Integrity“. The subtitle is fittingly, “On the eve of Triple Crown drama, Penny Chenery, the grand dame of horse racing, calls out I’ll Have Another’s owner and implores the industry to do better.”

I quote liberally from that article.

A conversation with Chenery begins with the concept of integrity (which in racing is often like morning-line odds — long on speculation, short on specifics). “Our own integrity,” Chenery told me, “is not restricted to horse ownership. If you value yourself as a trustworthy person, then you protect your integrity in whatever you do.” Owning a race horse, she says however, creates the special and specific obligation to behave “in the cleanest possible manner” at all times. This is important, she says, because:

I think people like to believe that horse racing is fixed. I think there’s a little something that’s naughty, that if you know someone you can find out if the fix is in, and I don’t think we should fall for that. Or let that image be true.

From image to reality. I asked Chenery, the greatest Thoroughbred owner of the past half century, whether all horse owners should take more of a role, and therefore absorb more legal and financial responsibility, for ensuring that horse racing is clean, fair, honest, and transparent. Her response was emphatic.

I think owners should be held responsible for their choice of trainers, Chenery says. If they tend to send their horses to ‘dirty’ trainers this should be be a suspension of their right to ownership.

And from the general to the specific. I asked Chenery what she thinks of the connections of I’ll Have Another, including owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill, who last week was given a 45-day suspension in California (conveniently tolled to begin July 1st) for a 2010 doping violation in the Golden State. Her response was so pointed that she felt the need to reiterate immediately afterward that she wanted to be publicly quoted saying this:

I think it is regrettable. And it isn’t the horse’s fault and this is probably a very good horse. I don’t know Mr. Reddam personally but I think he should be embarrassed that the trainer he has chosen does not have a clean record.

Those words of wisdom from the Grand Dame of Thoroughbred horse racing in America shifts the focus where it also should be. These dirty trainers would not be in business if racehorse owners did not employ them.

Andrew Cohen, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, concludes:

The truth is that horse racing isn’t fighting nearly hard enough to achieve the success it says it wants on integrity issues. Penny Chenery knows it. The connections of I’ll Have Another surely know it. And deep down inside the rest of us do, too.

Yes, we do.

Fund for Horses Logo

FEATURED IMAGE: Secretariat in Retirement. Blood-Horse Library.

Source article »

Drug Test Results, Conflict of Interest Issues, on Agenda of 2020 Racing Investigators Conference

Closeup Racehorse.

Many of the world’s top racing investigators will meet in New Mexico Feb. 23-26 for the annual meeting of the Organization of Racing Investigators, presented by 1/ST Safety.

The meetings will take place at The Downs at Albuquerque.

Presentations at the conference will include:

● Keynote presentation case study: Kwan Wolsey, Queensland Racing Integrity Commission

● Developing Open Source intelligence – Tyler Durand, Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario

● “Trackman” Safety issues for the equine, related to track conditions – Glen Kozak, NYRA

● What to do if you have an “Active Shooter” at your racetrack – Tim McLaughlin, Parx Racing

● USTA Discussion on Standardbred racing – TC Lane, United States Trotting Association

● Discussion on Conflict of Interest between Horsemen and Officials – Don Ahrens, Sam Houston Race Pack and Juan Estrada, Arizona Department of Gaming

● Shenanigans in the racing office and what an Investigator should look for – Ismael (Izzy) Trejo, New Mexico Racing Commission

● What can’t the testing Lab detect it? – Petra Hartman, Industrial Laboratories

● Investigator role in catastrophic Injuries – Jim Blodgett, Texas Racing Commission

● What an Investigator needs to know to enforce TCO2 and Shockwave regulations: Alan Chastain, DVM

● Update on digital tattoos – Teena Appleby, TRPB

● Identifying human signs on drug impairment – Jason Klouser, Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission

● Case Study-Jockey Performance – Leasa Johnson, New Mexico Racing Commission

● Discussion of what makes the case for prosecution/appeal – Mark Swanson, NMAAG

● Demonstration of Equine Drug Dog – Luis Alvarez, Ruidoso Downs Racetrack

Source: Paulick Report Press Release

Fund for Horses Logo