Some odds and ends…
Australian jockey is suspended two weeks for this:
BloodHorse reports that veterinarian Kyle James Hebert was found guilty this week for providing dermorphin to multiple trainers in Louisiana in 2012. Dermorphin, also known as “frog juice,” is roughly 40 times more potent than morphine (my original “Frog Juice” post). According to BloodHorse, Hebert “advised trainers that [the drug] would make the horses focus and run faster” and “that the substances [sic] was untraceable.” This, from a doctor. Ugly. Horseracing.
Raceday Lasix is one of the more controversial issues in American horseracing. The critics say that the drug is but a performance-enhancer: A diuretic, Lasix helps shed water weight prior to a race – lighter equals faster – and as a system flush may also aid in concealing some of the illegal stuff. Supporters, on the other hand, call Lasix “humane”: Rapidly moving racehorses, they say, naturally bleed – from their lungs – “exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.” Prominent trainer Dale Romans (Paulick Report, 9/13/12): “Racing causes [EIPH] in 100% of horses. …one of the worst abuses that can be done to the racing horse is to ban Lasix.” Adds colleague Rick Violette (DRF, 8/11/11): “Horses bleed. That is a fact. To force an animal to race without [Lasix] is premeditated, borderline animal abuse.”
That raceday Lasix – by the way, a uniquely North American thing – is primarily used to make horses faster is a pretty good bet. (While not all trainers particularly like it, practically all, so as not to cede any competitive ground, use it.) But what if the Romans/Violette crowd is also correct – that pulmonary bleeding is inherent in a racing-horse? Translated, this would mean that the “sport’s” fundamental physical action universally causes some level of pain or suffering. Of what other basic sporting motion can this be said? Throwing a baseball? Swinging a golf club? Kicking a soccer ball? If not for the deadly seriousness of it all, these people would be laughable.
A few odds and ends:
In a weku article (4/29/15) on Lasix, longtime (45 years) equine vet Mark Chaney offers his reason for supporting the raceday medication: “If you and I were in one of those stalls 22 hours a day, we’d have COPD so bad and emphysema. You know, you probably couldn’t even breathe.” How’s that for a (probably) unwitting condemnation of his entire industry?
In a Wall Street Journal article (5/25/15) on Victor Espinoza’s merciless whipping of American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby, former Vice Chair of the CHRB Bo Derek is referred to as an “animal-rights activist.” Sorry, racing director and animal rights activist are wholly incompatible terms.
From the Santa Anita “Stewards Minutes” for May 21: “Jockey JOSEPH TALAMO was in the office this morning to review the stretch run of the fourth race from May 17, during which he hit his mount over the left ear with his whip several times. After viewing the race, the rider said he did not realize that it was improper to hit a horse on the ear as he had seen old videos of Hall of Famer CHRIS MCCARRON doing the same thing.” The next day, a ruling was issued: $300 fine and a “warning” – because, you know, “a warning [is] sufficient for a first time offense.”
This is horseracing.