Medication In Horse Racing

November 15, 2019

I’ve been trying to stay away from this topic because it is so misunderstood. With the recent break downs that have happened at Santa Anita and some other tracks, it has certainly brought medication in horse racing to the forefront as it should. 

Times and horses have changed and so we, as an industry, have to do better; however, to think you are going to cut out medication in horse racing, it’s just not going to happen. Certainly we can do better and that begins with some of the breeders, sale preppers and the sales companies. You might say I’m an old school trainer, let horses grow at their own rate and keep medication to promote growth on an all natural basis.  
I personally wish we would stop 2 year old racing until late in their 2 year old year. In order to get young horses ready for the sales, they start training them way before they’re 2 years old. 2 year olds are asked to breeze in 10 seconds or faster for an eighth of a mile. Makes absolutely no sense to ask a young horse to do that except the quicker they work, the more money they bring at the sales. 

Like humans, some are gifted with skills at a very young age and that holds true for horses. You cannot expect some big heavy horse or human to perform like a smaller one. But greed is going to force them to try and get them to do what they can’t now. Not saying down the road they can’t and maybe even faster. 

Think about your kids growing up, would you ask them to do something that’s going to hurt them big time down the road?  I don’t think so!

Let’s get back to the topic of medication. It’s here, it’s not going away. Can we change? Yes and we will change, but it’s going to take time and working together, something this sport hasn’t done since the beginning of horse racing. Medication, used like it is intended to be used, is safe and effective. It’s not the everyday meds that are causing these problems. It’s the designer drugs that we can’t test for that are causing the majority of the problem. Bute is not going to make a sore horse breakdown, lasix is not going to make a horse break down. Anyone who tells you that simply has been misled. It’s the blocking and shock waving that’s the issue. I’ve never been an advocate of either. I have never shockwaved a horse and never will. Have I blocked a horse, yes. I did it with a veterinarian to try and narrow down what was bothering the horse, strictly for diagnosing, nothing else. 

To take away medication is only going to hurt the sport more than it’s going to help. Horses are going to break down. I don’t care what you do, it is the nature of the sport. All sports have their break downs. Yet it seems horse racing is the can they want to kick down the road. I don’t mean to sound cruel, it is what it is. Are we pushing the envelope with medication? Yes we are and it needs to stop. But it starts with a lot of things not just medication and I touched on a few.

Remember these statements are just mine and no one else’s. 
I wish we could wake up and realize that horse racing is heading in the wrong direction. If we as an industry don’t do the right things, it’s going away and fast. Such a pity to see a sport take hits that can be fixed! The Cheaters have to go!

See you at the races. 

Contributing Authors

JJ Graci

RIP JJ was born in Philadelphia, Pa.  and attended Villanova University. He has vast experience in horse racing and broadcasting. JJ has been a fixture...

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