ALBANY — A Southern California trainer has been suspended for one year by Golden Gate Fields stewards after three horses in his care tested positive for a banned drug, the California Horse Racing Board announced Tuesday.
Owner/trainer John Martin of Marina del Rey had half of the suspension stayed as long as he does not commit any other serious medication violations, state racing officials said in a news release.
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, according to the horse racing board. State officials said the drug is thought to be used in racing as an anti-bleeding treatment.
We looked up ergoloid mysylates. See below. We still don’t what the heck it is. Is it really an anti-bleeder, or simply makes you feel happy, feel no pain type of happy that is. Not that we really need to know. The list of illicit drugs given to racehorses is seemingly bottomless. However, it’s interesting about Albert Hofmann, being the discoverer of LSD. Totally unrelated no doubt, except LSD has been given to racehorses. It was the 70s but you know . . . and, . . . never mind.
“Ergoloid mesylates (USAN), co-dergocrine mesilate (BAN) or dihydroergotoxine mesylate, trade name Hydergine, is a mixture of the methanesulfonate salts of three dihydrogenated ergot alkaloids (dihydroergocristine, dihydroergocornine, and alpha- and beta-dihydroergocryptine).
It was developed by Albert Hofmann (the discoverer of LSD) for Sandoz (now part of Novartis).”
“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” —Aristotle.
“She [Eight Belles] ran with the heart of a locomotive, on champagne-glass ankles.” Blaming the breeders and investors, sports writer Sally Jenkins claimed, “thoroughbred racing is in a moral crisis, and everyone now knows it.”
“Our horses are sick. Our thoroughbreds are thoroughly inbred. They are locomotives sitting atop toothpicks. They are fragile and friable, designed to run but not to recover from running. And each time they break down or wear out, we chalk it up to an individual horse’s shortcomings, rather than the decades-long decline of the entire breeding industry”. — Barry Pesky (Deadspin)
“Chemical horses produce chemical babies. Performance-enhancing drugs must be banned if we are going to survive as an industry and if thoroughbreds are going to survive as a robust breed.” — Arthur Hancock, Breeder of Three Kentucky Derby Winners
* * * *
AFTER SOME STUDY it seems pretty obvious that American horse racing has bred itself into a situation where racehorses will die and keep dying with no end in sight. We aren’t the only ones who see it, as the above quotes show.
Can it be fixed? Not in the short term. However, from where we sit, no one in horse racing seems very interested in fixing it in any kind of term, long or short — or they would fix it — right? They amazingly have no kind of plan. Just repeating themselves year after year, death after death, accompanied by the wringing of hands.
So on it goes.
BRED FOR RUIN
Here’s the bottom line. It begins in the shed.
The insidious doping of the American racehorse and continuous inbreeding have weakened their structural viability.
What can be done? Perhaps the following.
By banning the use of drugs proven to be debilitating to the soundness of the American racehorse’s gene pool.
“Reminiscent of the eugenics movement during the Hitler regime the development of perilously inbred pedigrees fatefully arose. The influx of vulnerable gene pools began predominantly with the immortal Native Dancer.
“By the time Native Dancer had reached age 4, when he started only three times through August, he had gotten so sore due to a chronic inflammation in his ankles . . . that his owner and breeder, Alfred G. Vanderbilt, was forced to retire him to Sagamore, Vanderbilt’s Maryland farm.
“It was here at Vanderbilt’s Sagamore farm that Native Dancer went on to even greater renown as a stud, emerging as one of the most influential sires in the history of the breed. In particular, his grandson, the Canadian born Northern Dancer, was the founding sire of the most fashionable and prolific sire line in the world.
“After Northern Dancer’s death another Native Dancer grandson called Mr. Prospector — extraordinarily fast but unsound — moved to the top of the commercial market to become the next superstar sire who would continue to infuse the bloodlines with speedy but compromised genes in terms of soundness.”
“As a result of commercialization, market forces and greed the entire global Thoroughbred population is now so inundated with the blood of Native Dancer that any counterbalances that would thwart the passage of these vulnerable genes has virtually been absorbed leading to an escalation in the amount of inbreeding currently present in the racing world.”
EIGHT BELLES — CASE IN POINT
Six generations back takes Eight Belles to Native Dancer (foaled March 1950), along with all 20 of the horses in her Derby, and many horses racing in the United States that same year.
Much opinion has been published in the press stating that there may be a connection between the fact of inbreeding stemming from Native Dancer, with the weak ankles seen in horses today, leading to Eight Belles’ demise.
The Los Angeles Times went so far as to headline its opinion piece that today’s horses are being “bred for death”. Hmmm, that has a familiar ring.
“Stop trying to figure out the differences between these horses. Start thinking about what all these horses have in common. Every competitor is a descendent of a horse named Native Dancer”, opined Jon Weinbach of the Wall Street Journal.
That was 2008. Look where we are now? Still treading the same old dangerous waters.
So where do we go from here?
INFLUX OF NEW BLOOD
• Other racing nations
How about consulting other countries around the world who are able to race sound horses, whose horses do not suffer catastrophic breakdowns as a matter of routine? How about finding out what they are doing. Aren’t they in the same proverbial boat, dealing with the legacies left by Northern Dancer, Native Dancer and Mr Prospector to the modern day racehorse?
Bear in mind, these self same countries do not administer a catalogue of illicit, performance enhancing, bone weakening, calcium leaching drugs as the US does. This means illegal racehorse drugging must be destroyed, as can be humanly possible, before American racing even begins to make any attempt to strengthening the breed.
• Original Origin
Before you go, consider this — the Thoroughbred’s original origin.
The Thoroughbred as it is known today was developed in 17th- and 18th- century England, when native mares were crossbred with imported Oriental stallions of Arabian, Barb, and Turkoman breeding.
This may hold the key to breeding racehorses who would — through good breeding practices and knocking destructive drugs on the head — eventually become sound and beat their brothers and sisters around the world. This would entice other racing nations to strengthen their gene pools as well.
Isn’t it about time American horse racing stopped cowering in the corner like a bunch of cowards and man up on behalf of these horses.
Is it time to think seriously about the appointment of a Racing Commissioner to hold sway over all of horse racing. This idea has been met with such vehemence and resistance in the past, one has to wonder why, but let me make a guess.
Without a chief Commissioner, horse racing venues can go about their daily, deadly drugging business with little to no interference from anyone.
It is clear the various organizations that oversee U.S. horse racing — if you can call it that — are not getting the job done. For all intents and purposes, they simply act as apologists.
California has done such a piss poor job it inspired a ballot initiative ridding the State of horse racing altogether. No. We can’t see any of them having what it takes to make a move and shaking it all up.
DENVER, Colorado. KDVR FOX31. Chris Halsne and Chris Koeberl reporting. (May 18, 2017) — Hidden cameras capture doping, gambling and abuse of horses as regulators, politicians, and law enforcement turn a blind eye. Go to full investigative report »
It’s Easter Sunday outside the Deer Trail Rodeo grounds.
Armed teams of private security in flak jackets set up a road block searching passengers and vehicles. What they are looking for is unclear, but alcohol and beer are allowed to pass. An Arapahoe Sheriff’s deputy drove by slowly on the street outside the stadium, but did not stop.
By early afternoon, approximately 500 spectators are lined up along metal railings near a long, manicured dirt track.
They were drawn here by an online advertising push from a company calling itself Parejeras Racing USA.
A Spanish language flyer promised 10 “match-races,” with prize money in the thousands of dollars.
At first glance, the horse races looked much like the legal, sanctioned ones held at Colorado’s only licensed horse race facility, Arapahoe Park in Aurora.
Jockeys, in colorful silk, mounted muscular Quarter horses draped with matching blankets embossed with large numbers. Handlers helped guide the horses and riders to a metal starting gate.
As the horses charged down the straight-away, it became apparent, there were few rules.
Whipping of the animals was harsh and nearly nonstop.
In one race, a jockey veered his horse into another competitor. The high-speed ramming pushed the thundering beasts toward spectators standing within inches of the track, including children.
In two other races, jockeys lost their balance and went tumbling among the hoofs of other race horses.
Problem Solvers, working with knowledgeable insiders, acquired hidden camera footage of not only the races, but all the activities happening just off the track.
The drugging of the horses is rampant and potentially lethal.
Hidden camera footage revealed a brown liquid being injected into a racehorse’s neck who moments later was entered into the starting gates and raced.
The liquid in the syringe was described as “ ‘typically a cocktail of stimulants’ to ramp up the horse’s heart – to get it to run faster”.
Equine veterinarian Bruce Connelly stated, “I’ve seen match-race horses run blind. Break themselves up because of stuff that was put in ‘em that shouldn’t have been.”
Local Law Enforcement
The problem is, the report points out, is that law enforcement and the Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees some 1,400 pages of racing regulations, can take action only in sanctioned horse races. Adding “it seemed impossible to FOX31 that such a large event, widely advertised and attended by so many people could go unnoticed by local politicians.”
Oh, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by local politicians or law enforcement. They have either turned a blind eye to it like that Arapahoe Sheriff’s deputy who drove slowly by and didn’t stop, or profited by it, or both.
What about the Mayor?
According to state records, Deer Trail mayor, Kent Vashus is the “registered agent” of the Deer Trail Jockey Club. The Jockey Club is one of the oldest non-profits in Colorado and owner of the Rodeo grounds where the unsanctioned Easter races were held.
Vashus admitted to the FOX31 Problem Solvers he had allowed Parejares Racing USA to use the Rodeo grounds for races in the past. Records show he approved at least fourteen “Mexican Horse Races” in Deer Trail since 2015.
Contact the Governor and register your concern using his online form. Ask him to take immediate action against unsanctioned horse racing and the horrific abuses of the horses used for it. Notwithstanding the horses, onlookers including children are put at risk of injury and even death. Share this shortened link to the full KDVR investigative report with him — https://goo.gl/ajkEFl.
(1) Contact your individual legislator stating this is an important issue to you and you wish to see it on the next Session’s agenda. Share this shortened link to the full KDVR investigative report — https://goo.gl/ajkEFl.
(2) Contact the following Colorado lawmakers urging them to place this issue on the next Session’s agenda and enact all laws necessary to make these unauthorized races illegal. Be sure to share the link to the full KDVR investigative report — https://goo.gl/ajkEFl.
• Speaker of the House, Cristanta Duran (firstname.lastname@example.org)
• House Majority Leader, K.C. Becker (email@example.com)
• House Minority Leader, Patrick Neville (firstname.lastname@example.org)
• President of the Senate, Kevin Grantham (email@example.com)
• Senate Majority Leader, Chris Holbert (firstname.lastname@example.org)
• Senate Minority Leader, Lucia Garcia (email@example.com)
Oh, and throw that unscrupulous Mayor of yours Kent Vashus out on his ear next election Deer Trail residents.
FEATURED IMAGE The image of the horse looking out from under the stands was taken at the Deer Trail Rodeo Grounds and is used here for illustrative purposes only. The image was not filed with the source report.