Letter To The Editor: Soundness

by Janet del Castillo

When you train with the vet, you’ll notice horses can’t run every two weeks, like they did for years. They get pumped up with various meds–legal if given in a particular time frame–but which can be detrimental long term. Horses that run clean can take care of themselves. The trainer knows how his horse comes out of the race because he’s not masking anything. For years, horses ran in all three Triple Crown races–not so much today.

Here’s a thought! HISA is supposed to stop the “doping” of horses and getting rid of drugs in racing. Right now, it is permissible under HISA to inject all the joints of horses, just as long as you do it two weeks from race day. I read that many, if not all, of the Kentucky Derby entrants were on the vet’s list for that reason. Of course, the theory being, “just in case.” Can any rational person understand that you may be injecting a sound horse or you may be interfering with the pain process that allows the horse to know there is a problem cooking?

I don’t think HISA is eliminating drugs in racing at all. They’re just making you record the treatments. I’m very uncomfortable knowing that animals go into a race with no way of sensing a problem. So much can happen before the meds wear off and you’ll see the results with devastating damage. I know tons of money is at stake, but it seems to be cheating to do that with all the entrants.

I can hear trainers starting to respond as to how doing this is kind. Sorry, I don’t agree. If a horse is not sound on his own, he doesn’t belong in the Derby.

Janet del Castillo has trained racehorses for over 30 years, and is the author of Backyard Racehorse, where she details her methods of training horses on her farm and racing them without medication.


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