The New York Times this past week ran another story about reacing; this time concerning how Veterinarians treat racehorses differently from non-competitive horses; basically looking at a horse as a cash machine for selling and administering prescription drugs. The article goes into how some vets allow trainers to tell them what drugs to use and how some attempt to keep medical records away from racing officials. The story deals with thoroughbred racing but one would have to be incredibly naive to think this doesn't happen in standardbred racing. Trainers and vets overriding the rare owner who prefers to use rest instead of drugs, owners going to the trainers who seem to be using 'the juice' is a universal problem.
Several things should be changed. First of all, owners should be able to set the parameters regarding what kind of treatments should or shouldn't be used for ailing horses. Do they prefer rest to drugs when treating horses, or do they want more aggressive treatments? Trainers and vets should have to abide by these wishes when an owner decides they rather use conservative treatments unless it is a question of a true emergency which threatens the life of a horse and then, the vet and/or trainer should have to report this to the owner within 72 hours after treatment is given. Trainers and vets who fail to adhere to the owner's requests should be subject to penalties. I must admit, I suspect there will be some trainers, who when told by a potential owner they want the horse's interests to come first, telling the owner to find another trainer.
In addition, it should be a requirement vet bills itemizing treatments and the drugs being used are sent to the owner monthly even if the trainer is responsible for paying the vet bill and then recovering the expense from the owner. Lastly, if a veterinarian is suspended or fined by the state racing commission, there should be an automatic suspension of the vet's general veterinary license. Perhaps when faced with the prospect of earning no income, a vet may start thinking of practicing the way they are supposed to.
The harness racing community is mourning the passing of John A Cashman Jr., a member of the Hambletonian Society and the wearer of many other hats in the standardbred industry. It was John Cashman who along with a few others, brought the Breeders Crown into existence. A more detailed story on his contributions to the sport may be read here.
Mike Newlin is leaving the Meadowlands. I suspect some people will try coming up with conspiracy theories as to why he is leaving, but the truth it is just a case of a better offer coming to his attention and he has decided to avail himself of it. Sometimes it is not just financial considerations which come into play; quality of life factors in as well.
Standardbred Rescue Foundation was profiled this weekend on the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia. You can see the story below.