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Watch: Why Are So Many Horses Dying? HBO’s ‘Real Sports’ Has the Answer

Written by Alisa Mullins | May 21, 2014

Thoroughbred trainer Steve Asmussen, whose stables at Churchill Downs and Saratoga Race Course were recently investigated by PETA, sat down for an extensive one-on-one interview with HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. He didn’t get off easy.

“You have two reputations,” Real Sports correspondent Bernard Goldberg told Asmussen. “I think one reputation is one of the very, very top trainers of all time. The other reputation is ‘Here’s a guy who’ll cut corners, who’ll give his horses drugs to get ‘em out on the track because they aren’t making any money unless they are out on the track.'”

Goldberg goes on to reveal that an average of 24 horses die every single week on racetracks across the country—and he lays the blame largely on the overuse of legal—and illegal—drugs.

Sedatives, muscle relaxants, painkillers, thyroid medication, and other so-called “therapeutic” drugs” (really “performance enhancers”) allow horses to run with injuries (something that is only encouraged by the Triple Crown’s tight schedule of just a few weeks between races), which can cause the injuries to become worse, leading to chronic lameness or fatal breakdowns. Real Sports cites repeated drug violations by Asmussen and other top trainers and numerous deaths of promising horses in their prime.

Check out the full feature on HBO, HBO2, or HBO On Demand, and share it with your family and friends.

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  • Vicky says:

    They all should go to jail.What is wrong with people.It is so money hungry that the horse are not even worth it.I hope they all go to jail for along time.

  • This is a disgusting display of greed. These cruel people should be barred from the “sport” for life after they are fined heavily for animal abuse.

  • Andrea E says:

    Amen Finally a voice for the voiceless, stunning, wonderful show and race horses!! Stop misuse of drugs. Behind the scence it’s a dirty rotten money fueled industry. Money talks is it worth a dead horse? Oh well they R all insured so make it dead or alive!! STOP NO MORE DRUGGING!!!

  • Jean Cervi says:

    All drugs and whips should be banned from racing. These people are disgusting parasites who suck the blood of horses for profit. Anyone caught using drugs should be banned for life.

  • yvonne maule says:

    Surely what they are doing is illegal not to mention highly immoral. It is supposed to be a sport. The full force of the law should be brought to bear on these insensitive people! Such beautiful innocent animals and so trusting!

  • Steffanie says:

    He should be put in jail! That is disgusting! All these horses are to him is a payday. You cannot say you love them, while he is drugging them up with drug enhancement drugs! What makes him any different than a the sick gang members that fight pit bulls. The ending is the same, the animal needs to be put down after great suffering. People like him make me sick, all animals are to him is profit!

  • Suzanne Cabral says:

    I had an inkling of the abuse linked to horse racing, but until I saw the Real Sports story I had no idea of the real horror. What is PETA doing to combat this cruelty?