On the Record: Trainers speak candidly about PETA investigation
By Teresa Genaro

As was likely the case at backstretches across the country last week, conversations at Florida’s tracks and training centers continued to focus on the New York Times’ story on PETA’s undercover investigation at Steve Asmussen’s Churchill Downs and Saratoga barns last year.

Public commentary has been plentiful, abundant in insight, in stridency, in commitment, in sanctimony, in determination, in anger, in defensiveness, in desperation. It’s been written by fans, journalists, executives, and observers. People have talked about what needs to be learned from the incident, what needs to be done next.

In conversations last week, both on and off the record, trainers acknowledged the need to both enact reform and educate the public. They expressed dismay about the possibility of being recorded in both private and public moments, at having one’s worst moments broadcast out of context, at what they saw as both sensational and misleading in the video and the coverage, pointing specifically to the comment about the lack of a pulse in Nehro’s feet being portrayed as a sign of poor condition, when in fact it is, according to multiple commenters, a sign of health.

Five trainers agreed to speak on the record, offering their reactions to what they saw and their hopes for the good to come out of it. Trainers’ comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Mark Hennig
The video is a simple invasion of life that you hope isn’t happening at any point in your life, whether it’s at work or at home. You like to think you have a certain amount of privacy in your life. But I understand investigative journalism and that’s the way it goes. It’s probably a good wake-up call for people, not only in our business but in our private lives.

I think we’ve all been in those positions where you’ve been frustrated with a horse that has continual issues. You really aren’t trying to abuse them; you’re trying to help them through those issues. Whether it’s here at the track or somebody that has a pleasure horse that they want to ride on Saturdays, and they go out to the barn and he’s lame every Saturday, they work all week to get him sound and then he’s sore again the next Saturday. They’re livestock and they have issues and just like people, they have things that nag at them. Obviously [Nehro] had his feet. I think it’s a jump to call it animal cruelty from what I’ve seen.

I don’t know who could argue with having [more consistent regulations]. It would be much easier if we had some rules that cross the lines of states. I think the medications are definitely abused—[there’s a] “if it works, I should give more of it” kind of mentality, and that’s not the right way to think.

I’ve talked to vets that have said that some people think that if 5cc of Lasix is good, which is the normal dose, then 10 cc must be better. You have to think about what it’s doing to the horse when you do something like that.

It’s sad that we didn’t have a central voice to speak for our game, because there are so many good people in it and so many well-cared-for horses.

I don’t know how you go about instituting [a commissioner]. I was talking to one of my clients the other day, and it’s a little different, a commissioner representing 32 teams and a commissioner representing 48,000 owners. I don’t know if we need to appoint a commissioner as much as a ruling body that we all need to get licensed under, and abide by the rules and the disciplinary actions and what the courts say for owners, trainers, whoever.

In the last 10 or 15 years, it has been blatantly obvious that some owners are drawn to people that they perceive are doing the wrong things, which is sad. Some of them are the same people who get up and clamor for change.

Jimmy Toner
I think there’s got to be more clarification than what was in that video. A lot of that stuff was taken out of context. As they said, eight months wound up with eight minutes.

I think we have to have people understand that what we do is medication; it’s therapy. We’re doing it to help horses run at the best of their abilities, but the way it looked is like we just randomly drug horses and shock them and do this and do that and we don’t.

If any good can come of this, it’s clarifying the message, and if there’s any wrong doing, then people have to be punished more severely than what they’ve been.

The comments about Nehro and about losing a horse when you know he was bad—you just can’t have a mindset like that about what you’re doing. I know it’s a business, but we still have a responsibility. We have to be responsible for their well-being. You can’t just lead one over there and hope someone takes them and they break down and you go, ‘That’s great.'” I think that’s got to change.

And unfortunately, you can go through any barn and you would hear people say things. You’re back and forth for different things, you’re not aware what they’re doing if you see a horse being worked on, not aware that the horse isn’t running the next day.

You just never know. I think you’re supposed to be able to trust people. They’re having dinner, you’ve got Gary Stevens and Wayne Lukas sitting there talking about the old days, and right away your ears go up. “Wow, they said this,” but that was the old days.

Maybe now there will be more regulation, and maybe people will start worrying more about some of these designer drugs as opposed to worrying about stopping Lasix. It takes something like this to make everyone aware of what’s going on. They’ve had years to try to clamp down on things, and what have they done? I think absolutely we should have one national governing body, but it’s all political—no state wants to give up their own authority.

Hopefully this will get something done to clamp down on the abusers. We’re just always behind the curve with testing.

Most of the things shown were legal. We do inject horses’ hocks. But there’s a time frame, and the bottom line is that some horses need that kind of work. But if you’re showing those kind of things and people aren’t aware of it, aren’t aware that it’s a legal, proper treatment, they’re going to say, ‘”Oh my God, look what they’re doing, they’re sticking a needle in.” Those things have to be clarified.

It’s about trying to get people educated. You’re watching a football game, a guy walks off the field and goes to get a shot of lidocaine in his knee. Lidocaine? We can’t do that. You get ruled off for life for doing something like that.

I know that the horses can’t speak for themselves. But that’s our judgment: we’re supposed to be able to help them.

Hopefully, something positive comes out of this because it was really nasty. It’s a nightmare.

Francis “Tres” Abbott III
Good had better come out of this, though the only people that really did anything against the rules of racing were Wayne Lukas and Gary Stevens, and that’s all seemed to kind of blow over.

You take your horses away from Steve Asmussen and send them to Lukas, who was in the video? It just doesn’t make any sense.

I think we need one single governing body. I mean, you could literally spend months writing down what people do. I went into the tack shop down here, where jockeys shop, and I was looking at a pair of rain pants for a jockey, and there were zippers on them.

I was with a jockey, and she asked, “What’s that for?” They said, “They’re pockets. She said, “What do you need pockets for?” You don’t need a pocket when you’re race riding in the afternoon.

The Jockey Club needs to step forward, things like the NTRA needs to be absorbed into The Jockey Club. It’s so fragmented, and no one really does anything. Let’s be honest.

It’s great for Barry Irwin and Barry Weisbord to write things about what needs to be done, but no one’s said, “Hey, let’s do something.”

There are a whole lot of people saying, “This is the way it needs to be,” but they’re not in the barns every morning. It’s not as straightforward [as people think].

Ken McPeek
If people could access the sport and had a better understanding of it, then things like the Asmussen scandal or whatever you want it call it would be easier for them to understand. The sport’s got to change the way that fans access the video.

I’m concerned about it. We got to do something, do something big-time.

I think Lasix lowers the starts per horse per year. The Triple Crown hasn’t been won since the addition of Lasix to the sport because it dehydrates horses. You can’t run them back as quickly, and when you can’t run them back as quickly, it affects the racing office, and it affects the owners because the owners can’t run for purse money as much.

I’m not opposed to a sport without Lasix whatsoever.

As far as some of the other tools, as far as the injections and stuff like that, a lot of that’s positive. You inject a horse’s ankles, you’re trying to slow down degenerative join disease, which is a good thing.

If you’re not going to do it for therapeutic reasons, don’t do it at all. The AAEP [American Association of Equine Practitioners] could probably jump in on that one. They’d still get the work, but they’d be doing more for helping joints.

Terri Pompay
They were scoping horses to see if they had mucus, if they were sick. They were having horses in whirlpool tubs. They were injecting stifle joints and shoulder joints, and sometimes you need to do some of those things to help an athlete. You’re trying to help the horse. Gastrogard is an ulcer medication.

Where is the point of abuse? What do you consider abuse? What about putting a tongue tie on? If the horse doesn’t like it until he gets used to it, is that abusive?

We put glue-on shoes if a horse has a little bit of sore feet. Is that abuse, or is that trying to help the horse? It’s a fine line.

Obviously there are people who abuse in the business; they do inject illegal drugs. But what about all the good things? I’ve never been in Asmussen’s barn, but I’ve people say they do massages on horses, and they do acupuncture. There are so many things we do to try to help a horse, and none of that was on the video.

When you have a vet working over a period of time on many different horses and then you combine them all together, it just looks really bad.

Look at these horses. Look at the feed programs we have them on. You go out in the field and look at horses that sit in people’s backyard. They don’t look like these horses look.

I think we need to educate people. I just don’t know how we go about doing it.

52 comments

  • Interesting how wealthy people are so easily susceptible to ever more greed and cynicism, the richer they get. When you filter out all the noise, the reality you are left with is rich people trying to get richer by using horses, trainers and their staffs. And drugs.

    • Another blow-hard comment from a mis-informed person spouting off on a topic with no real knowledge. Most race horse owners are not rich.

    • I think Francis Abbott III doesnt know that jockeys have pockets on rainy days for the plastic wrap that goes around their goggles in the post parade and is discarded before entering the gate. Wrong answer…time to move on to Francis Abbott IV

  • Justin J. Nixon

    Racing had a chance to move forward by banning Lasix at the Breeders Cup, with a phased in approach. What happened? Lasix for ALL participants in 2014. Industry “leaders”, owners and trainers at the highest level, fought the ban and threatened not to participate. The best way to lead is by example.

  • Kevin, your comment really shows a complete lack of understanding of the horses, the racing, and the people. Its an industry that needs to educate the general public about Helping vs. Hurting animals, most people entered into this industry for the love of the animal not just the love of the sport. Ignorance really is bliss.

    • the racing industry needs to regulate the use of drugs so that horses aren’t ‘HELPED’ to run when they need rest to heal – that attitude is backwards – that means everyone involved ; Kevin is not ignorant but jaded yes

  • I agree with all the above. It is unfortunate for the Asmusen stable that they were the target. The question is what can be done to have an all around drug policy. Instead of state to state.my opinion on Lasic I’ve had a horse bleed I’ve seen them bleed. I do believe in it if needed. Limit the amount of races for horses that are on it

  • There are some very honest owners/trainers, and a lot of them have posted on here. PETA surely doesn’t have the good of horseracing on it’s agenda, but it certainly did bring to light some very disturbing things that need to be dealt with. It isn’t only the Asmussen barn. I wish they had been able to bring forth the other trainers breaking the rules, rather then one bearing the brunt of it. I hope Lasix is banned forever. If your horse needs Lasix to run, he/she should not even be racing. There are a few other barns that need to be cleaned up badly…and they know who they are.

    • Assmussen broke no rules, scoping and injecting are diagnostic and theraputic tools

      • Seriously? After seeing that video how can you say something so stupid? And this isn’t the first time for these two either. Think you better do some more research.

  • Calvin Borrell might want to cut ties with Leonard Blach, owner of Mine That Bird. They are touring with the Cast of “50-1” the movie. They will end the Tour at Churchill Downs with a premiere of the movie. Blach was recently Expert Witness for Valley Meat, a slaughter Plant with-in walking distance of Mine That Bird’s paddock. They hope to slaughter 121 horse PER DAY there for human consumption. “Doc” Blach testified that the same clearance times used for Equine Drugs are equivalent to the times used to clear the horsemeat. In the movie Blach is portrayed as a good ol country Vet. NOT.

    • Let me clarify… i meant to say that Blach testified that the clearance times for equine Drugs used AT THE TRACK, are the same clearane times for the Drugs in horsemeat for human consumption. He seemed to have no idea that Bute carries the warning label “not for use in food animals.”

  • I am a trainer in northern California and It sickens me to have one group target our industry as if we all are horrible people who are only in it for the money etc. The average horseman DOES NOT make money at this. We do it because we LOVE the horses, the sport, the UNBELEIVABLE feeling we get when we have watched a horse win a race after watching it progress from the very beginning; There is NOT a better feeling for us than that. It is truly an unfair story, picking out only the negatives and NEVER expressing all the positives that we share amoungst us all in the sport. I am a smaller barn , do alot of my own work, spending from 8 to 14 hours EVERYDAY with my horses, I LOVE THEM ALL, and I always put their health and well being before anything or anyone else as do MANY of the people who work in our sport. We are not a bunch of EVIL people as this story who lead the general public to believe. There is good and bad people in all sports, in life, and to portray it as if that’s all we are is VERY WRONG! I invite anyone to come to visit my barn anytime, I love informing new people on what really goes into our sport.

  • Patricia Hershey

    Still trying to figure out what Steve did that was illegal or “breaking the rules”. We can debate all day whether certain substances should or should not be banned, what is therapeutic and what is performance enhancing. I think a governing body would be good, but keep in mind PETA’s agenda.

  • Well, I have been in the asmussen barn and I’ve been a trainer for 35 +years. I worked for them and I wish everyone would have the chance to go see Steve s barns! Not only are they spotless but the feeding program is unbelievable (they eat a whole lot better than we do!). Every vitamin they need 4 to 5 hours of cooked oats in their dinner, hay bags constantly full of very nutrious hay and alfalfa, all four legs done up everyday, feet picked and painted, bathed, groomed, c’mon people use your heads! Do you think those horses look fabulous just because? No the look and feel fabulous because they get the best care possible! As far as injections and etc, they aid the animal!,, they are professional athletes and were born to run! Why shouldn’t they be treated as well as a human pro? Well, asmussen treats them like royalty! That’s why he s so successful! What a great trainer and human being! And he will hold his head high I’m sure because he knows how he cares for his horses , the rest of you are merely seeing a mess that PETA put together!

    • Asmussen is holding his head up high. I saw him at Fair Grounds on Saturday with his two young boys. He was not hiding. He was right on the apron, right in the middle of the crowd watch his fillie run. Looked like he had lost 20 pounds in the last two weeks since I had seen him at Oaklawn…tough times for a seemingly good guy.

  • Dee, you are an idiot. 90+ percent of horses bleed into their lungs when they run. Lasix is a very good thing to prevent their lungs filling up with blood. Now I do not agree with using Kentucky Red, carbazacrome, to stop bleeding, but lasix is a great thing. I’ve seen numerous horses ruined because they bleed first out and dread ever running again

    • u are 100 percent right about what u said.u didn’t have to use the word idiot .some people are just not aware of how an why horse’s bleed.an ithink if thay seen a horse bleed in a race with blood all over his face an the jockey’s they would say cant they give them something for that.an as horseman we know that but people are not idiot’s there just less informed.an it’s people like that that make racing look bad.thing’s should be posted on how lasix help’s an why horse’s bleed.to help them understand.

    • to the people who think lasix should be stopped. tell me what u would do if your son get’s a bloody nose when he play’s baseball .an the docter said u can give him this an he can play. or just not let him play.or let his nose bleed while he is playing.i think the answer is simple.let the boy play.

  • the problem with all of this, which exists all over the horse world, not just in racing but at show barns and even pleasure barns, is that the use of drugs is so accepted it is considered routine and beneficial to the horse. I have a 23 yr old OTTB which has never had joint injections, foot injections, shock wave, he gets maybe one bute a week and he doesn’t even need that, and he has jumped, shown in dressage, now he does Western pleasure and still gets ridden several times a week. The vets say this is routine and beneficial and so everyone thinks it is OK and it is at the point no one even knows how to manage a sport horse or race horse or any horse without drugs. If they are injured or have medical issues they should not be performing. Why does every horse in a racing barn need Thyroid medication. It is just what is accepted and that doesn’t make it right.

    • Hmmmmm…… You give bute weekly, even though you admit he doesn’t need it…. You too, are an abuser by your own definition and over medicate for no reason. I can assure you, that the same reason you give bute, is exactly the same reason that professional trainers are administering their medication programs. First and foremost, race horse trainers are licensed professionals and know how to care for a horse better than most. I doubt your judgement and horsemanship is as good as Steve’s,

  • Mary Adkins-Matthews

    The PETA video was made to destroy racing, not to help the horses in the racing industry. Can anyone name just ONE thoroughbred that PETA has helped? Just ONE! As far as a ban on Lasix, that would also be a disaster for thoroughbreds. It is far too easy to say that horses that bleed should not be racing but we live in a country where we already have about 14,000 thoroughbreds going to slaughter each year. Ban lasix and we will add another 10,000 to that number per year. We already have no where for the numbers that we have NOW to go.. where will about 10,000 more go? My feelings on the video stand… it makes me physically ill and the athletes in this sport deserve more respect.

    • People like you fascinate me with your declaritive all knowing statements “10,000” horses will be slaughtered without lasix. Answer this question Mary, were they running horses and horse races before lasix, and how was that possible with all those horses being slaughtered. Please lasix and all forms of drugs should be banned from racing. The cheaters need to get out the game if they can’t compete without drugs.

  • Maybe a simple rule change in regards to ‘Lasix’ use might ease the controversy. Restrict the days between races if your horse is on the Lasix program. Example, ‘horse who races on Lasix may not be re-entered into another race until 30 clear days since last race ran’. This may just help horses recover from dehydration/fatigue from last race on Lasix and will stop horses running back quickly. If an Owner/trainer feels the rule is too restrictive then they might just take the horse off the Lasix program. Rule may also make owner/trainer think twice before putting horse on the program! But of course you will need a National Rules Committee to make sure rule is followed Industry wide.

    • If you supplement with fluids (electrolyte, magnesium vits etc IV jug) post pee & pre race, generally aleviate the dehydration issue & most IV “jug” with same/similar post race & post work; horses who run with lasix generally breeze with it too, & of course within that ’30 days’ there would be breezes. If horses are not properly supplemented with fluids(as above) THEN dehydration becomes a problem, but BLEEDING is a more significant problem. Understand too it is NOT the blood that stops a horse it is the pain from the rupturing vessel; its a stab like a heart attack. As a horses stride is dictated by every breath he takes(1 breath = 1stride, unlike humans) clear open & unubstructed lungs are paramount to HEALTH

  • PETA kills 95-98% of the animals they acquire. They have proven they don’t care about animals, but want to make sure the use of all animals ends. They published lies, distortions and take everything out of context (could something you say be taken out of context to make you look bad? You betcha). I wouldn’t believe anything that PETA produced anywhere, anytime about anything.

  • Medication is not necessarily “therapy”. It can be something that gets the horse past the vet check so it can run. Whether or not it is good for the horse long term (or even relatively short time beyond the race) is a whole ‘nuther ball of wax. And joint injections with DepoMedrol (prenisone) are NOT good for the joints, the sad truth is that although it is strongly anti-inflammatory, it actually degrades the joint over time.

    Although I agree that much of the PETA video is not based on facts (ex: it’s good when a hoof does NOT have a digital pulse), there is plenty in there to be alarmed about – and although overmedication is not a “news flash”, if this video gets this information out, then it falls in the industry’s lap that they didn’t clean up their act themselves previously, it’s not like they haven’t had plenty of time and warning.

  • I have been fighting to get rules changed amazing how everyone on here agrees with what i have been saying for years. There is abuse with medications It has to stop we dont need federal involvement in the sport we need federal rules added to the Intertrack wagering act. We dont need the anti doping agency involved, someone would have to pay that bill and it will trickle down to the horse player. I have been in this game for over 30 years and never seen the abuse that PETA tries to put forward, I have seen allowable drugs over used in the system.

    The jockey clubs involvement is questionable they should stick to what they know and not get involved so much in matters. The jockey club isnt the example of racing. they have not caught up with the times. There leadership is questionable at best. We need a changing of the guard throughout racing. We need more educated commissioners. We cant just pull someone off the street and give them the seat. Racing lacks the education at the top. So you can understand why we are in trouble. People at the top need to be open about them. Its interesting when you look for injured horses in some of the databases like NY these jockey clubs leadership doesnt show up there. You have to wonder who is really cheating.

    This sport is a good sport the horses by the majority are well taken care of. In the assmussen video it shows normal everyday thing., It does also show how the manipulation of legal drugs in the system is done. Do 100 horses in 1 barn all need the same medication NO everyone is looking for the edge.

    The good ole boy network needs to be done away with and racing must enter into a new era. Nascar did the same thing and look how that sport has done.
    We need regulations on the federal level. We need to have a more fair system and we dont need the involvement of organizations like the ARCI. they have no merit in that there membership is not made of people who know the business.

    Lasix needs to be regulated no more than 5 cc per horse if you need more talk to the stewards if you a horse bleeds after receiving 7 ccs guess what he needs time off and that need to be in the regulations. All horse people must understand something Horses are not housed in a lush green pastures at the track. There house in old barns. Many years ago people thought global warming was a myth now we are living with it. We have to understand the environment we are keeping the horses in. IF you have all new barns with proper dust prevention systems or better ventilation i guarantee you wont see so many bleeders. The facts are there. There are more asthma sufferers in the cities than in the country . most racetracks are in the middle of the city or close by.

    Regulators in the business need to stop looking out for there buddies . We need to stop looking to people to make them scapegoats in order to further our cause. We need to stop banning or setting up people to get them out of the business and focus and have a more strict system to get the people out who go way over the line. 90 day suspension for someone caught in the barn blocking a horses leg on race day is a joke. This person is a cheater and needs to be gone. The regulators empower people to cross the lines cause they know there is nobody there to stop them.

    The Models rules of the ARCI are a joke made for something that doesnt exist. They need to be made for horsemen to make sure the proper care is part of there law. No more bedding horses down with nothing and then wondering why we have so much needs for the vets

    Racing needs better regulators not drunken idiots who couldnt get a job in mcdonalds but since there daddys friend is in racing lets give him a job there.
    When we get people in positions of authority in Racing they think they own the sport and make life harder for others.

    Well if anyone one wants my model rules find me on twitter@ Aggadancool We need to take back racing from the idiots at the top

  • I practiced as a veterinarian for a long time on TB racetracks in Illinois. The things that occurred in the video occur everyday in many of the barns. I don’t think it is a problem unique to horse racing. I think it is a problem with the way not only veterinary medicine works, but human medicine also. The question “why is that” is not addressed. Instead, medicines, treatments are thrown at symptoms. The symptoms are temporarily assuaged, but not cured. For instance, horses experience EIPH. Salix is used to control the bleeding. Is it bad? Humans take furosemide daily to control BP and other symptoms of high blood pressure and are not “depleted”. Instead of focusing on how bad furosemide is for horses (debatable), why not focus on why they bleed in the first place. I could go on but in short, the Assmussen video depicts what is wrong with racing. How about presenting what is right about racing. The beauty of the horse and it’s competitive spirit. How they love their jobs. How proud they are when victorious. How well they are taken care of. How the majority of trainers train not for the money, but for the love of the sport. We need to be proactive and market a positive view of horse racing rather than let the detractors have the microphone.

    • Of course, most of those humans on salix are not competing at extremely taxing physical endeavors.

      And yes, there are “good eggs” in racing, but to turn one’s back on the abuses is not necessarily condemnation of the sport, simply the people that abuse the sport. Unfortunately, people who are willing to ignore the badness because their livelihood is threatened by these people are taking the short view and are complicit.

      • Yes there are good honest people and then there are those like on this video and more. These two should be ruled off for life and anyone else that breaks the rules like these two have more than once should get the same. I totally disagree treating an animal like this and then acting so cocky when leading horses over to run in the big races. What they did is so wrong, think maybe they should be treated like that and see how they like it. I’m all for the owners taking their horses away from them! They also need to take a english class there are other words to use than their f-bomb that came out every other word. Classless

  • I’m a small budget buyer of mares. I have had a race horse or two in my life (66 yo) it is very expensive. Therefore I’m in the breeding business, also very expensive, but more controalable. The Assmusen tape was an eye opener, I had guessed that all trainers were not attending Sunday morning services nor practicing what is taught there. NFL, NBA, MLB all have drug peoblems, but they also have standard rules inside the USA. I am very much in favor of rules that are applied in New York to be the same rules in Arkansas. I also think the Federal Govermet should not be invloved (health care???) Owners should take the lead “I will not race in any state that does not belong to a consistent rule book in any state that my horses race in”. Somewhere some one has got to take a stand, let start looking in the mirror when we ask “Who will be the first, second or third to declare, I’m mad as hell and I WILL NOT put up with this any longer”??

  • All extremeties must have a faintly discernible pulse, not NO PULSE. Due to the damage, you would expect a bounding pulse, but the absence of such a pulse suggests that drugs were used to reduce pain and inflammation and mask symptoms.

    • Heather, when a farrier, or vet, or horseman is trying to figure out if a horse’s feet are bothering them, they would first determine if he has no pulse, meaning no abnormal pulse. Of course, the normal pulse is there.

  • As an owner, breeding and farm owner of 30+ years I can tell you this is rampant, the cheaters own the game. There’s way too much to detail in this space, but we absolutely need either a governing body on a national level with teeth, or Federal regulation, or both. There are many good, honest people in the game but how do you compete with cheaters and still win the share of races you need to? The PETA video may have been mis-used in some ways and poorly explained, but overall they did us a huge favor by shedding light on the problem we all share responsibility for.

  • i have bought horses from steve and even trained some for him and his family, been to his barn, not a better run barn, peta are like democrats dummer than pet snake

    • This response was dragged out of me by the imbecilic statement u made about PETA being as dumb as Democrats. Seriously you think an issue about the treatment of horses needs explained through one’s political affiliation. Wow how long before we descend into anarchy if you can’t have a reasonable debate about the proper treatment of horses without somehow ascribing it to politics. By the way I am Republican which I am not too proud to say because I guess from your statement you are one too.

  • Dolly MACFARLANE

    As a fan I love horse racing. As in anything, there are good and bad. 99% of the time! medications are to help the horse. You can’t deny that when you look at those gleaming coats, clear eyes you can see how healthy these animals are. There is too much money invested in them not to take care of them. It is hard to believe as Asmussen is guilty of all they are saying. I believe much was taken out of context for sensationalism.

  • I wrote the book “The Tradition of Cheating in the Sport of Kings” in November of 2011. I decided to write it after taking a horse up to Saratoga to run in the With Anticipation Stakes. They had my horse Two Notch Road, in a tent that was made into a barn and the tent was surrounded by a 12 foot security fence. My wife and I walked back to have lunch with Two Notch and my assistant and security came and threw her out even though she had a day pass. It reminded me more of a prison than it did of Saratoga. I wrote the book from a strong position, having more than 30 years as a trainer and never having a positive drug test. I was invited and did speak before Congress about the issues. The racing press ignored the book and painted me as out of line. I still fight very hard to get things turned around for the horses and the sport and am surprised at the walls I still run into. There were a few damning things on that video. I feel the death of Nehro was the most troubling! Blazi described him as being in severe pain and then to hear him describe how the horse died is a tragedy. I feel if he were taken out of training that he would still be with us and He Did Deserve That ! The next was Asmussen using thyroid meds on everything in the barn. This is the drug culture that I tried to explain in my book and my testimony. This is Wrong and should not be allowed!! Bob Baffert has seven die in a year and a half and he was using it on everything in the barn and now Asmussen?? Something has to change. The final thing I will say about the video is pertaining to soap. Blasi’s parents should have been putting in his mouth when he was growing up as a child!!

  • I used to train thoughrobreds and you would not see a horse treated any better anywhere. As many people have stated, there is good and bad in everything. I think it would be ridiculous to ban lasix because there are quite a few horses that bleed that really need it. From what I have observed, the medication problems got out of control when the pencil pushers took over and started telling the trainers for example:every horse can only have 1 Bute 24 hours before the race or every horse can only run on 5cc of lasix. How can every horse that are different sizes ranging in about 300 lb difference all require the same medication? And how does every horse with so many different kinds of problems all require 1 bute? Are you kidding me? And wait 24 hours before. So that means if I am going to go to the gym tomorrow I can take 1 advil 24 hours before? Gee thanks. And you guys wonder why everybody is cheating come on lets make some reasonable medication rules that everyone can live with and the horses don’t have to be cortisoned every 2 weeks.

    • Thank I Leslie. Lasix is not nor will it ever be. As for Hennigs comment on no tripple crown horse ever ran on Lasix. How would he know. There was no test to pick it up or any of the many illegal drugs they did use which were many. As we all know Affirmed was trains by one of the biggest cheat the sporting world has ever know. We all know this horse ran on Elephant Juice. So why do a bunch of people who no nothing worry about Lasix would u rather see a horse coming down the lane pouring blood out his nose. (I think not) and we surly can’t afford for no horse to have a job and b a pasture pet. For those who don’t participate in the sport u should educate yourselves for the next few years before u pass so much judgement.

  • I have known the Assmussen family since the early 1960’s and Steve since he was born.I have trained horses in the barn next to them at the El Primero training center in Laredo ,Texas. . We would gallop hprses together every morning and I never saw a horse abused or one that did not shine with the picture of health. I think P E T A should clean it’s own house before pointing fingers at others

  • Interesting that the trainers say injecting joints is a good thing for horses. Really? Every vet I ever worked with told me that injecting a joint was the beginning of the end and that it was an invasive procedure that should not be considered a long term solution to the problem. What bothers me even more is how often many of these joints are injected. Especially with claiming horses…..many trainers will inject a joint five or six days before the race, do very little with them until the race, and than hope they get claimed. If they do get claimed, the next trainer has no information as to when the horse was last injected and will probably inject the same joint again which does far more harm than good. All these trainers said racing needs to educate the public but not one of them could even be candid enough to explain the problem with constant/frequent joint injections……maybe the industry as a whole is a lot like politicians, only tell the public what you think they should know………..

  • Great follow up article to this difficult and important discussion. Hopefully it will lead to a central commissioner and governing body soon. Very happy to see other trainers coming forward and going on record. Nice work, Teresa.

  • I respect the opinion of all the trainers. It is understandable that their main concern is on keeping their horses running with all the tools available to them. Obviously, they know infinitely more than I’ll ever know. The only thing I ask of them is to keep in mind what it is the customer of the game is thinking. It is so easy in this game for the trainers (and everybody else) to ignore the customer. Some trainers as we know actually dislike the customers. It is not that trainers are without power in the game. They control simulcast rights. Ken McPeek has written about the importance of the customer. I personally think that ignoring the customer has hurt the game. Customers are not in synch here about the way drugs are used or even abused in the game. Something has to be done to correct this perception. Once again, I ask all of the trainers keep us horseplayers in mind in any decision process.

  • http://www.horsedeathwatch.com/ England… http://horseracingwrongs.com/dead-or-likely-dead-2014/ & the slaughter pipeline full of thoroughbreds…there is a lot wrong with horse racing today…the welfare of the horse must be put forward if you want respect…the jockey fare no better with so many eating disorders ..time to clean up this sport once & for all…

  • It’s all about selling advertising; the truth and facts are of no interest. NY Times + PETA = low information heaven. Everything can be improved, including horse racing but very few animals on the face of the earth are as well cared for as thoroughbred racehorses.

  • Technology has so far outpaced our constitutional rights and is such an invasion of our personal life’s that it’s not even funny. The only way privacy will ever hit the board again is you have all your communications under a tree, under a cone in a thunderstorm and you pass notes, don’t say a word!!!

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