Many fans over the years have called into question the use of medication in racing. When a group with mega-clout, such as The Jockey Club, steps up to mic and supports race day medication elimination, the winds of change are at gale-force and rising.
In Europe, the runners have hay, oats, and water. The efforts of a solid trainer and good old time to cure many ailments. Once upon a time, trainers used to have to stop any and all medications a week prior to running. What do you think the public would say?? – I think they would be glad to know that the x number of horses in the gate are sound. This would make for wagering opportunities.
According to Willie Koester, Chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission: “Today, over 99% of Thoroughbreds, and 70% of Standardbreds, rely on the needle hours before a race.” This was found in the blog Equisearch.com, and got me to thinking.
What if we started going back slowly to the old ways? Would it give the fans and punters more confidence? For me it would make a difference. A slow adoption program of uniform laws and regulations may make the game safer. It would be just another way of demonstrating to the players that this is a clean sport, and that we want to offer the best product out there.
For trainers, I would gently phase in the new rules. It would take years, but for each medication change, the tracks could find the best minds in racing to help trainers find a natural cure, or another option for the horse population. I wouldn’t want to see an all-or-nothing swing overnight. It would be too sudden, and the industry would suffer. I would love to see some type of financial reward for barns that not only adhere to the rules, but champion the effort and get out in front of the ball. This is our time to revitalize racing, and lets leave it a better place when we pass it on to the next generation.