Horse Health

Santa Anita bans race day drugs after another horse dies

By and Nathan Fenno as published on The LA Times

“The move, believed to be without precedent in North American racing, came hours after the 22nd horse died at Santa Anita since Dec. 26…”

In response to a baffling surge of horse deaths at Santa Anita that has roiled the sport, the track’s owners Thursday banned the all race day medication and limited the use of whips.

The move, believed to be without precedent in North American racing, came hours after the 22nd horse died at Santa Anita since Dec. 26.

“We have arrived at a watershed moment,” Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of track owner The Stronach Group, wrote in an open letter.

Princess Lili B broke both front legs at the conclusion of a half-mile workout and was euthanized.

Santa Anita suspended racing last week in response to the previous deaths. Training resumed Wednesday and the track hoped to start racing again next week.

The new rules will also be used at Stronach-owned Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, Calif.

“There are some who will take a stand and tell you that it cannot be done,” Stronach wrote. “To them we say ‘the health and welfare of the horses will always come first.’ … The time to discuss ‘why’ these advancements must take place is over. The only thing left to discuss is ‘how.’”

Virtually every country outside North America bans the use of medication on race day. That includes furosemide, more commonly known as Lasix, that is supposed to lessen the risk of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. The drug is so common at U.S. tracks that results sheets note which horses were injected.

According to data compiled by The Jockey Club, only 3.6% of the 279,774 starts in the U.S. last year were made by horses without Lasix.

The drug is a potent diuretic that causes a horse to urinate 15 to 20 liters in the hours before a race…(CONTINUED)

5 replies »

  1. To you Breeders of these horses, You are Horrible, An Abuser of Animals, I detest YOu, you are a terrible men. To cause the PAIN & Suffering of these animals, to break legs, to cause a horse to go nuts, you should take some of their drugs!!! I wish you nothing but misery in your life and the life of all you touch, you do not deserve to have animals, forgiving, loving, trusting SOULS that are bred for YOUR GREED!!!!


    • From that link, attributed to Stronach: ”The sport of horse racing is the last great sporting legacy platform to be modernized,” she said. ”If we expect our sport to grow for future generations, we must raise our standards.”

      Such changes would make the two Stronach-owned tracks the first in North America to follow the strict International Federation of Horseracing Authorities standards.”

      Changing rules on meds or whips would not have saved Princess Lilli B, who was not racing and was only being exercised over a half mile of groomed track. She had not had any lameness prior, according to her owner. Think about that a bit.

      The core issue seems to be these horses are too fragile and being ridden too young. Consider they are still growing fast, and learning to balance their own bodies at different speeds, then are asked to carry and balance various riders. They’ve carried quite a few before they even reach a racetrack, at even younger ages.

      To clean up horse racing the rules should shift to prohibiting racing horses so young, along with all the best accommodations to making the racing surface up to the highest standards — and as I wrote elsewhere, in a straight line would probably help too.

      Banning medications on race day makes sense, but this isn’t a “ban on medications” for the rest of the time. Some are needed, like liniments, vitamins, etc. and some are feed additives that aid growing horses (perhaps too quickly). Of course there is a lot of corruption, too, and the horses are the ones who suffer for this. But horses by nature want to move and run, and broken legs happen in plain old pasture pets, too. One example: a fine middle aged adopted former wild horse gelding, with many many mountain miles to his credit under saddle. He was a fine and sensible riding horse on a variety of difficult trails. One day he was found in his (not perfectly groomed) pasture with a broken radius (upper forearm) with no explanation, and had to be put down. I still miss him.

      I would just add here a request for folks reading this to consider their abhorrence of “use” of horses, as this reveals a substantial ignorance of the partnerships horses and people commonly share. A horse left ignored in a stall for years (seen this myself) looks pampered but is suffering, too. Our society considers animals “property” but most horse owners have a much deeper connection with them. If having horses in your life constitutes some evil “use” then we will soon enough have no horses walking this earth with us at all, or some few left caged in zoos or holding pens to remind us of our grand alliance, one that brought humans the civilization we inherited. They are so much more than property, and each has an independent mind, heart, and spirit. Let’s not forget that as we try to improve our shared world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems that racing has become a Roman Blood Sport, catering to the blood thirsty masses.
    These horses are most definitely ‘used’ in every sense of the word. They are sentient creatures who have never known caring or love since leaving their mother’s sides in all probability. Just ‘product’ to be exploited like machines in an even larger and more corrupt industry with every year.
    This is one small step by Stronach to restore some sanity, but the commonly used Lasix as a “performance enhancer” is just a minor player in this drug-riddled world of corrupt racing; the other illegal drugs like morphine and meth-type (speed) are big culprits in the game as well.
    There is an oversight committee that is a third party, independent group, the USADA…..

    United States Anti-Doping Agency

    The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity… which supports: The Horseracing Integrity Act

    WHY there is not better monitoring or enforcement of law by these agencies is the question everyone should be asking.
    And indeed the Thoroughbreds are started much too young! As IcySpots suggested, they should be kept back until they are around five years old (or at the least four) to be somewhat mature enough to handle the stress… what a major difference that would be and needs to be finally addressed by these authorities.

    This needs to be recognized by the Standardbred and Quarter horse and Arabian racing worlds too, but hopefully Santa Anita is going to get a big clue soon… before half of their ‘”product” is DOA in every race.
    Stupid idiots.

    Liked by 1 person

Care to make a comment?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.