When I’ll Have Another was getting ready to race for the Triple Crown in this year’s Belmont Stakes, he suddenly suffered a “breakdown” injury and was pulled from the race. Trained by the somewhat infamous Doug O’Neill, it was later discovered the thoroughbred had been heavily doped with painkillers to treat chronic tendonitis. Perhaps the announced freakish injury wasn’t all that freakish.
It’s hard to believe, but of America’s top 20 horse trainers, only two have never been sanctioned for abusing racing’s hodge-podge rules. Interestingly, across the country the average rate of euthanasia is 24 horses per week! Little doubt that America leads the world in doping horses in one way or another.
Now, under frontal attack, the practice of forcing furosemide, a drug that sheds 20 or 30 pounds of water — plus other sensible prohibitions — is being pushed by a group of 40 important United States horse owners.
Steps taken by the New York State Wagering and Racing Board prior to the recent, important Travers Stakes are starting to show the way. The board decided to disclose, on the web, every medication given to the horses in the days prior to the race.
Also, horses were placed on 24-hour surveillance to ensure all the ponies got off on the right foot. Perhaps near the top for racing reformers should be banning repeat violators for life. That’s done without fanfare in Europe.
It truly is time to clean up America’s horse racing world so that the so-called “boat race” is eliminated.