Hall of Fame conditioner Jonathan Sheppard has joined the Water Hay and Oats Alliance in support of federal legislation to ban race day drugs. Sheppard released the following statement in regards to this decision:
“After much thought and not a little procrastination, I have finally decided that it is important for me to become a member of WHOA and to show my support for its mission.
I was at first reluctant to join because I didn’t want to give the impression to my peers that I considered myself superior or in some way more honest than them. I was also worried that inviting federal intervention could have adverse consequences by taking over the control of our sport by people who probably had little knowledge or understanding of it.
I have now begun to realize that we have reached a point where we really no longer have a choice. We need more sophisticated drug testing, we need stiffer penalties for major offenses, and we need uniform testing and medication policies. As a trainer who races in many different states, it has become almost impossible to keep up with all the permissible dosages and withdrawal times.
Although a lot of good work has been done to simplify these rules, I believe that the time has come for horse racing to follow the lead of human athletes and to appoint an independent body to police our sport. There is just too much money and too much self interest at stake to expect a level playing field if this is done internally.
Hopefully, if WHOA achieves it objectives, it will show the world in general and our own betting public in particular that American racing is serious about cleaning up our sport and presenting a better image. This will not only increase the value of our bloodstock and increase our revenues from wagering but also restore our position as a leader on the international racing stage.”