FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 24, 2012
Contact: Andy Belfiore
NYTHA Director of Communications
NEW YORK’S HORSEMEN RESPOND TO NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL
The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association represents the 5,000-plus owners and trainers competing at the New York Racing Association racetracks. NYTHA President Rick Violette Jr. today responded to the editorial on horse racing in the New York Times.
"The editorial on horse racing published in today’s New York Times contains statements that are blatantly false and unimaginably inflammatory, and it would be irresponsible for the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association to allow this unfounded attack on our sport and our industry to go unchallenged.
"If they would only take the time to do even the slightest research, the editorial board of the New York Times would know what it is our trainers and our crews are ‘up to’ in the barn area. We are working tirelessly, seven days a week, to ensure that our horses receive the highest quality care. You’d only need to spend a morning on the backstretch to witness the unflagging commitment we make to our horses. That commitment is not motivated by greed, but by a love of racing and a respect for the animals that provide us with our livelihoods.
"To say that racing is threatened by ‘the rampant doping scandal’ is to completely ignore the facts. More than 320,000 biological samples are taken each and every year in America, and each one of those samples is tested for more substances and at deeper levels than any other professional sport. Despite this intense scrutiny, 99.5% of the hundreds of thousands of samples tested each year are completely free of any medication. And just 0.015% of the samples tested contained illegal drugs that could in fact be defined as ‘doping.’
"Racing is not ‘cleaner and better policed’ in Europe. It would be difficult to laud the European testing protocol, which does not require post-race blood samples–a practice that is a matter of course in the U.S.
"The facts clearly demonstrate that our horses are not overmedicated and, as the average racehorse in America makes just six starts a year, you cannot with any trace of credibility say they are overraced.
"There is no ‘easy culture of doping’ in horse racing, and to make such a statement borders on slander. I’ll Have Another was not ‘heavily dosed with painkillers,’ as his veterinary records proved. It was unfortunate, but far from tragic, that I’ll Have Another had to be retired. He was injured, and his owner and trainer made a decision based on what was in the best interest of the horse. Every responsible horseman considers the horse’s welfare first and foremost. The therapeutic use of the medication Lasix is yet another example of a decision based on that principal. While a handful of owners have decided to hide their heads in the sand and ignore the fact that their horses suffer from exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage, the vast majority of owners recognize the scientific study that proved the prevalence of EIPH, and the efficacy of Lasix in treating it.
"The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association is firmly in support of research and testing to eliminate the use of performance-enhancing drugs in racing, and has utilized its resources to strengthen that initiative, most recently donating $100,000 to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board’s Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College. The funds will be used to study gene- and blood-doping substances, as well as snake toxins and protein-based drugs. We have cooperated fully with the Task Force looking into the fatalities that occurred at Aqueduct this winter. We have presented the New York State Racing and Wagering Board with a five-point plan for medication reform in our sport, a plan designed to address safety and integrity issues that it is hoped will serve as a blueprint for the industry.
"The Travers Stakes has been run with integrity for 142 years. It will be run with integrity again this year. New York’s horsemen are dedicated to preserving our tradition of showcasing the very best in racing. There was a time when the New York Times had a tradition of showcasing the very best in reporting. Sadly, as this editorial demonstrates, that tradition is long dead."