The Horse

DEC 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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Page 36 of 51 | The Horse December 2018 37 There was widespread use of performance-altering drugs, Hemingway explained, but identifying the doped horses in the paddock before a race was difficult. Some— the ones that reacted badly to the drugs—were easy to pick out, but the writer often had to rely on tips from insiders. A rudimentary saliva test to detect a few prohibited drugs already was in use in France by the early 1920s, but hardly ever at the tracks Hemingway frequented. It would be another decade before a modified saliva test made its way across the Atlantic to Hialeah Park race track, in Florida. By the early decades of the 20th century, horse racing's drug problem had become the sport's most poorly kept se- cret. The Jockey Club, the breed registry for Thoroughbred horses in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, had approved a rule against doping in 1897 but, without a reliable test for illegal drugs, enforcement was problematic and relied on either a witness or a confession. Newspapers railed against the practice, but public indignation was rare. It took the work of a displaced G-man to change things. The war on illegal drugs in U.S. racing began in earnest during the early 1930s. Leading the campaign was Harry J. Anslinger, who had moved from the soon-to-be-obsolete Commission of Prohibition to head the Treasury Depart- ment's new Bureau of Narcotics. The Bureau was estab- lished to stem the tide of illegal drugs sweeping into the U.S., but Anslinger also was concerned about what he saw as the proliferation of drug use among backstretch work- ers and the doping of horses at the country's racetracks. By 1933 Anslinger's investigators reportedly had gathered evidence—through witness statements or confessions—of more than 200 horse doping incidents, some at major tracks involving prominent horsemen. Act- ing on that evidence, federal narcotics agents conducted a series of well-publicized raids at tracks up and down the Atlantic Coast and in the Midwest that resulted in indict- ments and arrests of owners, trainers, jockeys, and stable workers. The charges generally were based on possession of illegal drugs, however, rather than attempts to influ- ence race outcomes. Without a test for illegal drugs, there still was no way to prove a horse actually had raced with prohibited substances in its system. An editorial in Blood-Horse magazine following the raids called out everyone in racing—starting with owners, train- ers, and jockeys and moving on to regulatory officials—to stop the rampant doping. The next year Hialeah president ANNE M. EBERHARDT/THE HORSE THE Medication Conundrum E rnest Hemingway traveled with his new bride to Paris for the Christmas holiday in 1921 and wound up staying there for five years. It was the best place to be during the early 1920s and hosted a rich community of prominent writers. Hemingway filled one blue notebook after another with his writ- ing, and when he had spare time he went to the races. An astute handicapper could make decent money betting, he wrote in A Moveable Feast, especially if a person paid close atten- tion to the "boosted horses." Current drug regulation challenges race and sport horse industries face MILTON C. TOBY, JD

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