As a Thoroughbred owner for many years and having not raced at Jeffrey Gural’s racetrack, but certainly would hope to, I want to compliment his forthright and honest approach to improving both the integrity and cleanliness of our great sport. (Stricter racehorse doping regulations are key to maintaining integrity of sport. NJ.com). Jeffrey Gural is a true leader!
In 2002, The Jockey Club President, Dinny Phipps, asked me to address the Round Table, the topic being medication from an owner’s perspective. Mr. Phipps never asked to see or address what I was going to say. My address laid out quite simply what had happened to our sport since Lasix was accepted and the definition of “therapeutic” was rewritten by the veterinary community. Webster had it correct; “to heal an injury or illness.” Very simple, but precise. Rewriting the definition so horses could race on many “therapeutic” drugs was not what Webster intended. I suspect Webster thought that if you used therapeutic medication properly to heal an injury or cure an illness, that you could then enter the horse when they were clean of drugs–longer withdrawal standards but more rest before training resumed. Can you imagine how much money owners have spent on suggested or unnecessary race day medications in the past 13 years? Most agendas are motivated by money, and drug use in racehorses is no exception. Therapeutic drugs should always be available for their intended purpose, but not available to run on. Achieving an edge on race day is not a level playing field, particularly for those trainers who know much of the medications are not needed.
The Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 definitely is what a vast majority of owners seek. Often we forget that owners are the investors in the sport that provides jobs for many and an exciting sport for fans to enjoy. Clean and fair racing for everyone should be the goal.
The H.B.P.A. organization, trainers, and veterinarians who oppose stricter control of drugs need to rethink, cooperate, and begin to participate in creating the level playing field, free of drugs on race day. Creating an edge, making more money, should not be a goal of trainers and vets. The horse comes first and racing sound and clean should be #1.
We can turn the needle around; create more fan and sponsor approval when they know “drugs” are not part of our sport.
The job is to figure out how to make the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 work for the betterment of our great sport. We have no bigger challenge.
Gary E. Biszantz, Cobra Farm