Drugs, Whips … Who Has the Handcuffs?
The recent scandals surrounding the horseracing industry sound more like a page out of a seedy novel than practices in what is wrongly identified as a national sport. Recent events have drawn mass attention to the practices of drugging horses to mask pain and unnaturally boost performance and whipping them to compel them to run and should result in handcuffs for the morally questionable trainers and jockeys involved. And two of those people, Rick Dutrow and Jeremy Rose, have recently come under fire.
Rick Dutrow is Big Brown’s trainer, who was M.I.A. during the congressional hearings. It seems the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority found one of his horses, Salute the Count, with the highest level of clenbuterol (a bronchial dialator that also functions as a steroid) that the chief steward had seen in four years—more than twice the allowable level.
Dutrow is being suspended for a mere 15 days and will have to return the $20,000 that he made off drugging and racing Salute the Count at the race where he was tested. In his defense, he was quoted as saying that he uses this on many of his horses and has only once had a problem with it.
If that wasn’t enough, jockey Jeremy Rose was recently suspended for “engag[ing] in extreme misuse of the whip” on his horse, Appeal to the City, according to this Blood-Horse article. I was not aware that there were proper and acceptable uses for whips on animals—only on humans.
Rose has been suspended (in Delaware only) for six months and will have to pay veterinary bills for the animal, which include treatment for hemorrhaging around his eye from being whipped in the face. Even though it’s not as good as being permanently banned from contact with horses, Rose’s relatively stiff sentence—virtually unheard of in the history of horseracing—shows that outside pressure is seriously having an effect on state regulatory bodies.
However, in the absence of an overarching federal body to oversee horseracing, the suspensions of Rose and Dutrow will only be effective in Delaware and Kentucky, respectively. They can still train, mount, drug, or whip horses elsewhere.
Posted by Sean Conner