I can't believe it has been almost 6 and a half years since I wrote the blog piece "Drugs In Horse Racing 101." Time certainly flies, but the sordid stuff in horse is like a moon rock, it can stay in the same exact place for 3 billion years, it seems.
Meanwhile, handle continues to fall, especially when you factor in inflation and population increases. Competition is increasing as Fantasy Sports continues to gain momentum and can be played in many jurisdictions where internet horse race betting is illegal (I still can't figure that one out).
Threats are getting louder though as grandstanding politicians are now lobbying to get rid of the Interstate Horse Racing Act (which will all but finish off horse racing), if horse racing doesn't do a complete 180 on drug reform (180 means less studying and more implementing).
Right now, Ohio is taking on a major study regarding cobalt, while continuing to allow cobalt. Why is it in horse racing everything seems to be ass backwards from bet pricing all the way to drugs? I'm pretty sure that the FDA tests drugs first, then legalizes them if they are deemed safe. In horse racing, a substance or procedure usually is allowed (by allowed, many are untested and therefore do not show up in tests), as there is a list of banned substances, but not a list of substance one can only use.
Horse racing needs a universal "ALLOWED SUBSTANCE AND PROCEDURE LIST," and anything used not on the approved list has to be dealt with severely. If caught, horsemen need to lose their license for at least a year on first offense, and a third offense should be a harsh lifetime sentence. And I don't see why prison sentences for defrauding the public and other horsemen shouldn't be on the table too. And I really would limit the list to very few procedures, drugs and supplements.
Why doesn't this happen? The answer is simple, those with the loudest clout have the biggest stables and the largest success. They don't want chance, either would I, if I were them. They don't want an equal playing field or anything close.
Meanwhile, I'm tired of watching races where super trainer horses rebrake (or is it rebreak, who cares?) in the stretch. Before horsemen became junior chemists, there was very little rebraking in the stretch. It is almost like the jockey turns on an oxygen valve. It might have to do with "legal" use of hyperbaric oxygen chamber use or it could be as insidious as EPO or DPO or offshoots of these two drugs which don't show up as positives in post race analysis.
Where do we draw the line? I still contend that all procedures should be documented on the racing form, there is no reason in today's day and age to hide this type of info from either the Horseplayer or other horsemen. It isn't condoned in the stock market, it shouldn't be condoned in horse racing, to hide info like that.
In a perfect world, it would be hay and oats. Who knows, the breed might improve, as horses will be bred for durability and endurance. And maybe a horse will actually be able to pull off a sub 2:01 in the Kentucky Derby once more.
Supplements also need to be addressed. That is tricky, because it means that there has to be an allowable feed list as well. Why? There seems to be a grey market where anything goes:
No worries yet high percentage horsemen, horse racing industry leaders and horsemen groups bow down to you guys/gals while they focus on the more pressing issue of implementing laws and actions geared towards getting a bigger piece of a shrinking pie at the expense of the Horseplayer, causing the pie to shrink even more. So experiment away, while the industry still exists.