Written by PETA
In a landmark move for thoroughbreds' safety, the American Graded Stakes Committee announced that it is banning performance-enhancing drugs for 2-year-olds on race days.
Graded stakes races are significant for two reasons: They offer large purses, and their results are used in determining which horses will qualify to run in the Kentucky Derby. Since most owners and trainers want to improve a horse's speed in these top tier races more than any others, banning drugs in the graded stakes is a huge step toward getting drugs out of racing altogether.
The committee's decision comes on the heels of a similar ban by the Breeders' Cup World Championship, which announced three weeks ago that drugs would be prohibited during the multiple-race event in 2013 and for 2-year-olds beginning next year at the 2012 Breeders' Cup.
The drug bans focus on Lasix, a diuretic that is already banned in most countries. Lasix enables trainers and jockeys to force horses to run harder and more often than they should by reducing bleeding in the horses' lungs and nose, and it can also mask the use of painkillers, which can lead to catastrophic breakdowns when horses run while injured.
A bill has been introduced in Congress that would ban race-day performance-enhancing drugs from all thoroughbred races. You can help by urging your congressional representatives to support H.R. 1733, introduced by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and S. 886, introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
Written by Michelle Sherrow
In the latest installment of "Yeah, What PETA Said," the Jockey Club has released the findings of a study that concluded that horses used for racing are dying on U.S. and Canadian tracks at twice the rate—at least—of any other country, probably for the very reasons that PETA has stated (over and over again): drugs and dirt tracks.
Horses forced to race in the U.S. and Canada, where they commonly race on dirt tracks and where the use of many drugs that mask the pain of injuries is still legal, die at the rate of 2.04 per 1,000 starts (or races). By contrast, in England—where horses are raced less frequently and mainly on turf and where the use of performance-enhancing drugs is much more strictly regulated—horses die at a rate of 0.8 to 0.9 per 1,000 starts. In Victoria, Australia, the risk of fatality drops even further to 0.44 per 1,000 starts.
Running on dirt tracks is rough on every joint in a horse's body. It causes their leg bones, knees, and ankles to sustain significant trauma, but regardless of their injuries, these animals are often still forced to race when they should be recovering. They are pumped full of drugs that are used to mask the pain, which can lead to tragic, and oftentimes deadly, breakdowns on race tracks.
In California, where dirt tracks have been replaced by synthetic surfaces, the number of horses suffering catastrophic injuries during races has plummeted 40 percent.
So our question to the Jockey Club and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is: What are you waiting for? Let's get busy adopting PETA's recommendations to make tracks safer already, shall we?
Written by Alisa Mullins
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