Trainers and veterinarians keep injured horses racing by giving them
a variety of legal drugs to mask pain and control inflammation. This leads to
breakdowns because the drugs enable the horses to run when they should be
controversy surrounding the sweeping use of Lasix in horses is indicative of
the deadly and pervasive nature of drug use in the industry. When pushed to
gallop at racing speeds, virtually all horses experience some degree of
exercise-induced pulmonary bleeding as the
capillaries in their lungs begin to rupture. More
than half of all thoroughbreds used for racing will have traces of blood in
their airways following a race. The drug furosemide, commonly referred to as
Lasix, restricts excessive bleeding in a horse's airways by directing the blood
to the kidneys. However, there is
evidence that the drug artificially enhances performance and conceals the
presence of other drugs.
is a powerful diuretic—horses given the drug will lose about 2 percent of their
bodyweight in water, resulting in a weight advantage of roughly 20 pounds (in comparison,
weight handicaps typically vary between 5 and 10 pounds). Because it increases urine production, Lasix
has the ability to mask the presence of other—often illegal—drugs by
"flushing out" a horse's system. While most countries ban the use of
Lasix on race days because of its performance-enhancing qualities, more than 90
percent of thoroughbreds in the U.S. are given the drug just hours before they race.
The racing industry is finally beginning to acknowledge the
dangers that Lasix and other drugs pose. The Breeders' Cup recently banned race-day
medications for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (2-year-olds) 2012 race and will
extend this ban to include all older horses in following years.
drugs are also rife in the industry, and there's a long list of trainers who have
been charged with multiple violations: Steve
Asmussen's horses have tested positive for illegal drugs more than 20 times in his career; Todd
Pletcher (currently the leading trainer in
the U.S. and the trainer of the 2010 Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver) has been suspended several times, including for a positive test in a Breeders'
Cup race; D. Wayne Lukas was caught with cocaine and administered drugs to a filly who later broke her leg; Jeff Mullins has been suspended multiple
times in his career; Darrel
Delahoussaye has used snake venom and milkshakes on horses; and in 2007, Patrick Biancone was suspended for one year for numerous drug violations, including possession
of cobra venom, possession of medications without proper labeling, possession
of injectables, and failure to report violations.
Dutrow, who trained Big Brown (the steroid-enhanced horse who won the Kentucky Derby
the day that Eight Belles fatally broke down), is perhaps the poster child for
racing industry corruption. Dutrow has been sanctioned more than 60 times for
various rule violations in nine states. He was suspended for 60 days when the Class
3 drug Butorphanol was found in the post-race test of Fastus Cactus. Dutrow was
suspended for an additional 30 days when syringes allegedly filled with the
sedative xylazine were found in
his barn at a racetrack. He has been suspended or imprisoned multiple times for
clenbuterol violations. Finally, in October 2011, after years of drug
violations, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board banned Dutrow from all
New York tracks for a precedent-setting 10 years! PETA is encouraging other states
that sponsor horse racing to follow suit.
U.S. is the only country that still allows such routine and extensive use of
drugs in horse racing, despite the overwhelming evidence that drugs are deadly
for horses. And because "retired" racehorses are routinely shipped to
slaughter, these powerful drugs—most of which are banned for use in humans and
in animals raised for human consumption—wind up in the human food supply in
Europe, where consumption of horse flesh is common.
to pressure from PETA, other animal advocate groups, and Congress, the Breeders'
Cup recently banned race-day medications in juvenile races, and a bill currently
before Congress would ban the use of all performance-enhancing drugs in the
Please contact your representative
today to voice your support for this critically needed
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.