H.R. 961 – Drugs, racing and toxic horse meat

Backstreet Bully. Toronto Star image.
Backstreet Bully. Toronto Star image.


H.R. 961, the “Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2019, stipulates:

“(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) ✓

• boldenone undecylenate (anabolic steroid) ✓

• omeprazole (treatment for ulcers) ✓

• ketoprofen (potent pain reliever, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory medication) ✓

• xyalzine (sedative, analgesic and anesthetic) ✓

“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.”

SeeStar investigation: Ottawa refuses to say whether drug-tainted horse meat entered food chain”, Mar. 31, 2013, Tuesday’s Horse.

• 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. Photo: Benjamin Norman / New York Times.
A bottle of the drug Clenbuterol, also know by the brand name Ventipulmin.

• 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.

Please contact your U.S. Representative today to cosponsor H.R. 961. It will take you about 10 minutes. Go to step by step guideline »

And Thousands Like Him

*   *   *

* California Horse Racing Board Equine Medical Director Dr. Rick Arthur, DVM

Boycott Santa Anita — Bet Elsewhere

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Winx’s brother among Australian racehorses killed for meat in S Korea

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

Wherever in the world you go, it seems that horse racing and horse slaughter go hand in hand.

This in from Australia, where we know racehorses are slaughtered as a matter of routine. Now they’ve added a gruesome partner in the butchery of their horses.

The Guardian reports:

The brother of the Australian racing legend Winx is one of thousands of exported thoroughbreds killed for meat in Korea under conditions the RSPCA has called “very distressing”.

Footage filmed secretly at the Nonghyup abattoir in South Korea last year shows horses being repeatedly beaten on the head with lengths of black polyethylene pipe in an attempt to herd them into the facility.

That treatment would be in breach both of Australian animal welfare laws and of the requirements imposed on abattoirs that process live export animals if it was part of a formal Australian supply chain, the RSPCA said.

But because the horses were exported to race or breed, rather than for slaughter, and because horses are not classified as livestock in Australia, they are outside the protection of laws that govern the live export industry.

As if that is not nauseating enough, listen to this:

The Greens and animal welfare group have called on Australian racing authorities to halt exports until conditions in the slaughterhouse meet Australian standards.

My question to Australian horse racing is this. Why don’t you halt exports until they stop slaughtering your horses? And what sort of animal welfare group condones horse slaughter? “Very distressing,” the RSCPA calls it. You think?

What takes place in a slaughterhouse is the same around the world. No matter where it takes place, it is a brutal and terrifying death. You can never under any circumstances make slaughter humane.

Don’t take our word for it. Merriam Webster defines slaughter as:

1 : to kill (animals) for food : butcher. 2a : to kill in a bloody or violent manner : slay.

Additionally, it is the considered opinion of medical and psychological experts we have interviewed that it is similar, if not worse, than lining up human beings and putting them through the slaughter process.

My father, who was a doctor and also raised horses, told me, “When a horse dies that is when he is most like a human”.

In the meantime, my question for Australian horse racing is this. Why didn’t you decide to stop sending your racehorses to S. Korea the moment you heard they were slaughtering them? Because you send them to slaughter at home.

I will leave you with this quote by Cynthia D’Errico from her book, “Ground Matters“,

“What he liked about horse racing was the minimal investment and the high returns. He didn’t mind horses at all; they were easy on the eyes and exciting to watch.”

“The horse industry in general was a zero-waste proposition: this was one animal you could take from birth, exploit all its qualities — speed, strength, tractability — through breeding, racing, eventing, caléche or companion service, and then profit from its flesh when it had outlived its usefulness.”

Related Reading

The slaughter of Ace King »

LAist names the 30 horses who died at Santa Anita since December

A lone horse canters on the dirt track at Santa Anita. USAToday.
A lonely young horse canters on the dirt track at Santa Anita. USAToday.

Cross-posted from LAist. Go here to see full story.

LAist writes:

To help you stay up to date, we’ve collected a list of all the horses that have died in the past four-and-a-half months at Santa Anita, and we’ve added any available information about the circumstances of those deaths.

  • Psychedelicat – Died on December 30, 2018 after racing on a dirt track.
  • Tank Team – Two-year-old, died on January 4, 2019 on a downhill turf course.
  • Unusual Angel – Two-year-old, died on January 4, 2019 on a downhill turf course.
  • Secret Street – Died on January 8, 2019 after training on a dirt track.
  • Derby Treasure – Three-year-old, died on January 11, 2019 after racing on a dirt track.
  • Noise Mandate – Died on January 18, 2019 after racing on a dirt track.
  • Amboseli – Six-year-old, died on January 20, 2019 after racing on a downhill turf course.
  • Last Promise Kept – Four-year-old, died on January 21, 2019 after racing on the turf.
  • Like Really Smart – Two-year-old, died on January 21, 2019 after racing on the dirt.
  • Dancing Harbor – Died on January 23, 2019 after training on the dirt.
  • Spitfire – Died on January 25, 2019 after training on a dirt track.
  • Kid Cantina – Three-year-old, fatally injured on her third birthday, February 2, 2019 after racing on the dirt.
  • Comegowithme – Died on February 6, 2019 after racing on the dirt.
  • Jager Time – Died on February 17, 2019 after training on the dirt.
  • Unusual Rider – Died on February 18, 2019 after training on the dirt.
  • Hot American – Three-year-old, died on February 22, 2019 after racing on a turf track.
  • Just Forget It – Four-year-old male, died on February 23, 2019 after training on the dirt.
  • Battle of Midway – Died on February 23, 2019 after suffering a fracture in his hind leg while training on the dirt.
  • Charmer John – Died on February 25, 2019 after training on the dirt.
  • Eskenforadrink – Two-year-old, died on March 3, 2019 after racing on a dirt track.
  • Lets Light the Way – Four-year-old filly, died on March 5, 2019 after suffering a shattered sesamoid, or a bone in the knee or the foot, while training on the dirt.
  • Princess Lili B – Died on March 14, 2019 after breaking both front legs while training on the dirt.
  • Arms Runner – Five-year-old, died on March 31, 2019 after suffering an injury to his right front leg and colliding with another horse while racing on turf.
  • Commander Coil – Three-year-old male, died on May 17, 2019 after suffering a shoulder injury while training on the dirt.
  • Spectacular Music – Three-year-old, died on May 19, 2019 after racing on the dirt.
  • Kochees – Nine-year-old, died on May 25, 2019 after racing on the dirt
  • Derby River – Two-year-old, died on June 5, 2019 after sustaining a fractured shoulderduring training.
  • Formal Dude – Four-year-old died June 8, 2019 after he fractured his pelvis during a race on the dirt track and was euthanized.
  • Truffalino – Three-year-old filly collapsed and died June 9, 2019, near the finish line of a race.
  • American Currency – Four-year-old gelding died June 22, 2019, euthanized after suffering a leg injury on the training track


Princess Lili B dying on March 14, 2019 after breaking both front legs in the dirt at Santa Anita reminds us Eight Belles dying May 3, 2008 after breaking both front legs in the dirt at Churchill. Chilling. Heartbreaking. Unnecessary. Preventable.

May they rest in peace.


Updated June 24, 2019

Related Reading

The slow and merciless death of American horse racing, by Vivian Farrell, Tuesday’s Horse, May 28, 2019  »