Old story, but somehow the New York Times was able to get a copy of the veterinary bill for this fantastic equine specimen during last April, the month before his unfortunate scratch the morning of the Kentucky Derby, here is a portion:
The colt was x-rayed 04/10/09 and remained in training for the KY Derby.
Colt underwent ultrasound on 04/14/09 and remained in training for the Derby.
Colt had tendon sheath injected 04/15/09.
Colt had both front fetlock joints injected with HA on 04/29/09.
During the previous month the colt also received:
60 cc DMSO IV jug,
IV baytril X 6,
IV liquamycin X 4,
IM adequan X 2,
gastroguard paste ($280 worth),
injected “enzymes” and “vitamins” X 5,
lasix X 3,
dormosedan X 2,
IV bute X 5,
L-arginine (animo acid),
robinul (decreases stomach acid),
and anedotal evidence suggests more was involved but left off the invoice in question.
Noted vet Dr. Larry Bramlage was quoted as saying this was a typical prescription for all Derby horses.
I include this info because I have many foreign readers who perhaps don’t allow medications in the countries in which they race. Also, because when we discuss conditioning practices in terms of how far, how fast, and how frequently horses are exercised – we need to realize that there are many factors of which we have zero knowledge about.
My critics will state: “So what, he was scratched – the vets did their job.” But he wasn’t scratched until the morning of the Derby when he was unable to jog sound – even though he threw a bullet 4F work just 3 days earlier – a work he could have never attempted without multiple injections. We are all lucky he wasn’t allowed to run 10F on Saturday.
As trainer Jeff Mullins stated so eloquently: “People who bet on horses are suckers.” I’ll give the man this, he’s a honest guy.
How can you bet off of info from Ragozin and DRF when neither of them will give you the vet bills on the horse you back with your money? We spend all of this time and effort handicapping and arguing about surfaces when performances often result from good or bad drug practices.
I, and my clients, WILL prove that you can win in the US without drugs. I am not anti-drug by nature, if all of this stuff added up to horses running Derby times under 2:00 I would be a big advocate for Lasix, Bute, and others.
But, we breed the equine Michael Jordans and Marion Jones(track) a million times (80 years X 12,000 times a year) conservatively, and we still cannot run Classic races any faster than we did in 1930. What is wrong with this picture?
How about we stop the drug use, employ old time training regimens with speedwork twice a week starting at age 2, and use 21st century technology such as interval training, massage, chiropractic, hyperbaric chambers, etc. on horses BEFORE they go lame, in an effort to product the next Secretariat?
The alternative is to do the same stuff and waste another 80 years of potential development so we can watch the 2094 Derby winner come across the line in a pedestrian 2:03, what a waste of a fantastic animal.
EDIT again: Corticosteroids can be injected into joints and have therapeutic value. They also are prevalent at American tracks, and often given within days of a race, especially in the sport’s lower levels where sore horses must make it to the starting gate.
Still, there is a consensus among equine researchers and surgeons that legal medications and cortisone shots, over time, leave a horse vulnerable to a catastrophic breakdown.
In America, racehorse fatalities have occurred at the rate of 1.47 per 1,000 starts for synthetic surfaces, and 2.03 per 1,000 starts for dirt tracks, said Mary Scollay, the equine medical director for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, who conducts research for the Jockey Club.
In England, the average risk of fatality is much lower, from 0.8 to 0.9 per 1,000 starts. In Victoria, Australia, studies have reported the risk of fatality from 1989 to 2004 at 0.44 per 1,000 starts.