Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Big Brown and Anabolic Steroids

With the Belmont Stakes coming up this weekend and a chance for the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years there will be more attention focused on Big Brown. The New York Times published an article about the use of anabolic steroids in the horse racing industry and specifically in Big Brown.
It should be noted that there are a lot of uses for anabolic steroids and many horses need them, primarily geldings ( no do-dads....no testosterone). They are also useful in treating muscle injury and anemia. Unlike humans there is no scientific evidence that anabolic steroids improve racing performance. (Fillies do show improved performance since they have little testosterone). This is most likely due to the fact that horses are already running at near peak anatomical and physical performance. Simply put, they just might not be capable of running any faster than they are right now. Unfortunately, the racing industry, trainers and owners like many of the general public are convinced that it these drugs greatly improve performance. Veterinarians need to be at the forefront of this debate and provide proper information instead of sitting back and letting the industry decide how best to deal with it. When I was working in Australia many of the horses coming back to the farm had been treated excessively with steroids . One of our big problems was trying to get the mares to cycle after being on the track.... and the juice for extended periods of time. It was frequently a year off before they would cycle. I think there should be drug testing on performance horses and have a set withdrawal time for anabolic steroids like performance enhancing drugs. This will help remove the cloud of suspicion that is forming over the horse racing industry. Many have wondered if Eight Bells was using steroids prior to her tragic accident. The trainer adamantly denied giving her steroids and the necropsy report confirmed that he was correct. Hopefully the Belmont will go well and Big Brown can pull it off. Perhaps if we work hard to make the appropriate changes then the specter of cheating,abuse and drugs will be something that is no longer even considered. Well.....it's a nice thought.


Anonymous said...

I am very much concerned about the racing industry. Personally, I have expressed my concerns many times in many different forums. I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and spent a great deal of time at the track. I have seen this industry become a shameful example of animal cruelty and a business fueled by greed, cheating, and abuse. The veteranarians who should be the "watchdogs" at the track are being pressured not to scratch a horse even if that horse is not 100%. Who do we trust? I would love to see racing banned altogether, however, I am a realist and I know what those chances are. I pray for Big Brown on Saturday. Let's hope we see no ambulances speeding out to the track for any of these beautiful creatures. The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi

Anonymous said...

Published a comment early today. Haven't seen it.