This has been a strange week.
What started as enthusiasm when I heard that California was considering taking a more aggressive approach against medication ended with a chaotic situation where nobody really knew what was going on. While I admire the efforts to limit medicating race horses in California, the way it is being handled is quite disturbing, including investigations by the state attorney’s office into the trainers who had horses fatally injured on the track. The affiliation with PETA, an organization who have clearly stated that their ultimate goal is to eliminate horse racing, is equally as troubling. California’s problems are our problems and we all should be extremely concerned.
We constantly hurt ourselves as an industry not being well represented by a group spokesperson or, even better, a governing body who can guide us through these difficult situations and bring some kind of national stability to our industry.
While it is admirable that we are running for fantastic purses in most jurisdictions, little has changed with regards to the monitoring of horses that are entered to race and the veterinarians who are treating horses throughout the day. The sensitivity of the testing procedures continues to improve, a good thing, but not enough is done to improve the environment where our samples are handled and the stables that we ship our horses into on race day are often in less than desirable condition and by no means a sterile environment. Hopefully this will also be addressed by the powers that be in California and in turn give other jurisdictions an example to follow.
If we want to defend ourselves against the critics and justify our sport, we need to shape up and not turn a blind eye to today’s problems because the reins are slipping through our hands.