JC / Railbird

All the Prescriptions

The New York Times is out with its latest piece in an investigative series on American racetracks, and this time, it’s veterinarians under scrutiny:

… in the shed rows of America’s racetracks and at private training centers, racehorse veterinarians often live by a different code — unique in the veterinary community — one that emphasizes drugs to keep horses racing and winning rather than treating soreness or injury through rest or other less aggressive means, according to dozens of interviews and a review of medical and regulatory records.

“It’s a simple equation,” tweeted turf writer Nick Kling on the story. “Either you favor the drug culture which props up US racing, or you oppose it.”

This could be the bright side of industry contraction: With fewer racehorses and fewer racedays, the economic pressure to run horses year-round could be reduced, meaning more rest and less reliance on drugs.


It’s not a surprise that the drug culture is uniquely American, just watch an hour of television and count how many ads are for prescription drugs. Americans like to fix problems with pills (or in this case shots, etc).

Posted by dana on September 22, 2012 @ 9:46 am

Definitely. It also fits the uniquely American cult of productivity — every horse, like every human, must work, work, work. No time off!

Posted by Jessica on September 22, 2012 @ 9:51 am

What baffles me is how myopic many in racing are to a simple concept — horse racing will cease when those not involved in the game decide we are abusing the animals.

We in the game can argue how and when to medicate animals ad infinitum, but we will never convince the non-racing public that it is right to load up Thoroughbreds with powerful drugs.

Posted by Nick Kling on September 22, 2012 @ 9:56 am

I was at a football game yesterday, and a wedding three weeks ago, and at both I had conversations with acquaintances I’ve known for years about racing. They’re not racing people. They watch the Kentucky Derby, if they watch racing at all. They read the New York Times. And they have absorbed the message that horse racing is callous and — as someone said to me yesterday — “totally corrupt.” There is a real urgency to changing perceptions — by actually changing practices.

Posted by Jessica on September 23, 2012 @ 8:43 am