Gas Gangrene in Thoroughbred racehorses

The label reads, "Banamine Injectable Solution in as anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Used in horses for the alleviation of inflammation and pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders and for the alleviation of visceral pain associated with colic. Each ml of Banamine Injectable Solution contains flunixin meglumine equivalent to 50 mg flunixin.

We had a post in the pipeline regarding gas gangrene in racehorses. It just so happens the Ray Paulick Report has written about it too.

One drug that causes gas gangrene and regularly given to racehorses is the drug Banamine®.

The Paulick Report post entitled ‘Gas Gangrene’ An Equine Emergency, begins the article describing this serious, life threatening side effects of this type of drug.

Caslon Quote Left BlackA rare-but-serious bacterial infection, clostridial myositis, causes inflammation, muscle death and the release of toxins into a horse’s bloodstream. Prompt intervention with aggressive antibiotic treatment and wound debridement is key to a horse’s survival.

Also called gas gangrene, myonecrosis or malignant edema, it occurs most often in horses that have received an injection in their muscle. Affected horses will have swelling, heat and pain surrounding the injection site within 6 to 72 hours; the disease progresses swiftly and a horse’s condition may decline rapidly. Death may occur.”

andCaslon Quote Left Black[Gas gangrene] has been reported following IM injections of vaccines, phenylbutazone, ivermectin, antihistamines, vitamins, prostaglandins, and most commonly, flunixin meglumine (Banamine). It is not fully understood how the spores penetrate the muscle, whether they arrive at the time of injection or if the bacteria are present in the intestine and brought to the muscle via the bloodstream.”


What the article describes but doesn’t show you is an image of what the treatment for gas gangrene looks like, such as this one.

The Paulick Report continues:

Caslon Quote Left Black

Treatment involves creating large incisions into the muscle and fascia to expose the bacteria to oxygen and removing dead tissue. Horses should receive supportive care and are typically treated with high doses of penicillin and fluids.

Horses that survive the initial stages of the disease have a good prognosis, though the wounds that are made by the veterinarians to expose the bacteria to air may take months to heal completely.”


“Horses that survive .  .  .  .”

This is just what American racehorse owners and trainers and their apologists are running around the country defending and asserting it is their every right to do. And how dare we, the bleeding heart public and animal rights extremists protest this and call them into question.

The most sickening quote of all from horse racing is constantly saying how much they love their horses. Totally. Nauseating.

This condition is drug induced. They know that this can happen. Yet they ask us to trust them — who support situations like this as “business as usual” and “their right to do” to an innocent animal totally dependent on them for their health, safety and welfare.

We can’t see American horseracing ever doing right by the racehorse.

How can we possibly accept there will ever be reform when it looks such a no hoper? What would that reform actually look like, how long would it last and how can we have even a glimmer of expectation it would actually be implemented?

It’s alright for us to fight, debate, report, and expose horse racing in an effort to make them clean up their act — or better yet simply go away — no matter how long it takes. We aren’t the ones being drugged, tortured and run to death on a racetrack. Whatever we decide, we need to do it quickly and comprehensively.

In the meantime, you the gambler is ultimately responsible. It’s all about “the handle”. That is what keeps horse racing alive. But you wring your hands and bemoan the fate of racehorses, like you really care. It looks to us that what you are truly worried about is that horse racing itself might actually come to an end. Why not admit it? How tragic it all is for the racehorse. It’s not like there is nothing else to bet on.


The Chemical Horse


You can find Banamine® in Part 4.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Introduction | Part 2: Historical Aspects | Part 3: The Inception of Drug Testing | Part 4: Drugs and Their Actions | Part 5: Policies and Tactics | Part 6: Class 3 Drugs — Performance Enhancing or Not? | Part 7: Class 4 Drugs — Harmless Therapeutics? | Part 8: The Unclassifieds | Part 9: The Call for Reform | Part 10: Who Rules?

The abuse and death that is American horse racing

Racehorse dead in the dirt at NM racetrack. Photo: Jakob Schiller.
Racehorse dead in the dirt in New Mexico


I am not posting the followup I talked about yesterday. I will publish it next Tuesday. Today’s post, however, is still about U.S. horse racing.


Why the suffering and death of one particular racehorse has haunted me since I read about it I am unsure. I read reports like these almost daily. They are all horrific, stomach churning, heartbreaking.

At Horse Racing Wrongs, in a post entitled, “Hidden Casualties”, Patrick Battuello writes:

It is established fact that a significant number of just-off-the-track horses require euthanasia shortly after landing at a rescue. They do because their beaten-down bodies make a pain-free life all but impossible. Unfortunately, however, these horses are mostly out of my reach, dying in anonymity to all but their final caretakers. Still, every once in a while, I learn of one.

Catchumdenae was a 6-year-old mare who was raced 36 times, the final six for Rodney Moyers. Her last race – in which she was “For Sale” at the bargain-basement price of $4,000 prior to – was March 2 at Mahoning. She finished second-to-last, some 22 lengths back (“stayed back throughout”).

Shortly thereafter, she was simply given to someone who intended to retire her. Sweet relief appeared at hand. But, it wasn’t to be. Turns out, this poor animal had a slab fracture in her right knee and a broken splint bone in her left leg; she was euthanized Tuesday. Says the attending vet: “She must have had a lot of heart running with those injuries.”

A lot of heart. 

Overwhelming Problems

The problems with U.S. horse racing are huge, overwhelmingly huge.

The crimes perpetrated against the racehorse is exhaustive, a catalogue of abuses resulting in egregious suffering and death — from the two-year old who breaks down and dies while training to the claiming horse who has been raced 51 times until he literally drops dead.

Or the racehorse they can’t squeeze anything else out of, or is too expensive to ‘fix’ and loaded up on the slaughter truck.

Then there are the racehorses who escape and find sanctuary only to be put down,  an estimated 30% according to Mr. Battuello’s article.

And what about the rash of racehorse deaths at Santa Anita? That are still happening?

‘That’s racing’, they say. ‘It’s a real shame’, they say. ‘We feel pretty bad about it’, they say. And so on and so forth.

In actuality, no one in American horse racing — no matter who it is — could care less about the racehorse. No one. If they did, they couldn’t stomach to be in it. Harsh? Unfair? Volatility for volatility’s sake? Perhaps.

So answer me this. Why hasn’t there been a movement within U.S. horse racing to do something, anything? And I don’t mean things like useless meetings before the Kentucky Derby where the spotlight of the world is on their ‘sport’ and all they do is wring their hands and moan.

The harsh reality is there is no one to stand up for the racehorse but the horse advocate. But who do we appeal to? And therein lies the rub.

No Governing Body

Where human athletes are concerned, they have representation, protection. They all have a voice within their own profession, individually or collectively.

American horse racing has no central governing body like other ‘sports’.

U.S. horse racing is a law unto itself and can do anything it likes with absolutely no accountability whatsoever. It is that total lack of accountability that attracts and supports abuse because perpetrators know nothing will ever be done. Nothing.

Business as Usual

So who do we appeal to stop the daily mayhem perpetrated upon the American racehorse?

We, and many others, have exposed a laundry list of cruelties and death connected with horse racing, yet not a single, solitary measure with even a lingering hope in hell of doing any good has been put forward, let alone done to protect the racehorse by the people who use them. It continues to be ‘business as usual’. The usual business of dealing out abuse and death.

End It

The only answer we see is this, and it is has taken us way too long to get here. So we beg the forgiveness of the already broken and dead, and those suffering right now and about to die somewhere on a track today.

We must end American horse racing on behalf of the tortured, broken bodies and souls of the horses it so callously destroys. It cannot be reformed. It must go away. We will and can find a way.

Already Doomed

Say American horse racing miraculously rallied together and seriously began trying the fix it? It’s too late.

Horse racing in America is already doomed. But it will take too long to self destruct. See you on Tuesday for the reason why.