To some observers, the most damning element of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) video of trainer Steve Asmussen’s barns is that it reveals nothing that violates racing’s medication rules.
That video, released in March and covered by The New York Times, purported to show what really goes on behind the scenes of a top racing barn. Among other things, it showed horses treated with Lasix and for various ailments, along with numerous often profane discussion of them; and it includes a lengthy segment on the handling of one runner with injured feet.
Some racing leaders, including The Jockey Club and Frank Stronach, have seized on the video to support a call for medication reform and to threaten to seek federal oversight of Thoroughbred racing because, as a letter from The Jockey Club chairman Ogden Mills Phipps said, “inaction feeds the negative perceptions of our sport and lends credence to the charge that we are incapable of broad-based reform,” citing what he sees as slow progress in medication reform.
Those who challenge that perception — who say that racing has, in fact, made progress in restricting the use of medication — point to the National Uniform Medication Program (see box at right), which has been approved by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).
The core question, though, was raised last month by trainer Terri Pompay in Raceday 360: “Where is the point of abuse?”
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