Jockey Club Wants Ban on Drugging Horses on Race Day

Following a scathing report linking the over-medication of race horses to an increased risk of injury and death for them and for jockeys, the Jockey Club — one of racing’s most influential organizations — has called for a ban on drugging horses on race day. The Jockey Club is also demanding far harsher penalties for offenders, including a lifetime ban for those who are repeatedly caught giving horses pain medications including “bute,” the shortened name for phenylbutazone, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory.

In the US, horses are allowed to race with a certain amount of medication in their system. In Europe, in contrast, horses cannot race with any amount of medication; the fatality rate is, notably, much lower there.

An analysis of data from over 150,000 races by the New York Times found shockingly high rates of horses breaking down on the track. In many cases, the horses had pre-existing injuries and had been given drugs so they could still race, though too often with fatal results for the horses and the jockeys.

The drop-off in interest in racing in the US has led to many tracks adding casino gambling, in a last-ditch effort to increase revenues. This decision might be temporarily saving the tracks, but has made racing more dangerous. Casino gambling means that the purse at a track is higher, so horses are running for largest amounts of money. Trainers and owners are therefore motivated — tempted — to race horses who are truly not fit.

Other racing groups including the Breeders’ Cup are supporting the Jockey Club’s proposed rules.

The New York Times investigation also found that regulations about medicating horses, testing and penalties vary widely from state to state. The worst abuses were found in New Mexico. Gov. Susana Martinez is now requesting a “full report” about conditions and possible reforms while the state’s Senator Tom Udall, a Democrat, is calling on Congress to support the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act, a bill which he is co-sponsoring with Representative Edward Whitfield, Republican from Kentucky. In a statement, Udall said that the “consequence of inconsistent state-level regulation is an epidemic of animal doping that has led to countless euthanizations of helpless horses and the injury and death of their riders.”

Tell the Jockey Club that over-medicating race horses must stop!


Related Care2 Coverage

Drugged Up Horses Race To Their Deaths: Take Action

Atlantic City Diving Horse Act Revival Shut Down

Carriage Horse Drops Dead in New York

Photo by Robert Hensley


Carrie Anne Brown

signed already but thanks for sharing :)

Alex H.
Alex H5 years ago

There is something very rotten in the state of horseracing and I am amazed that the USA allows any sort of doping-what does that say about the USA??Not a good look! However,look at the drug companies that are making billions out of this deplorable treatment of horses!Vested interests are dictating the whole show,horses are being overbred and are consequently totally expendable to this cruel,ruthless "industry"! In Australia,there is a champion mare called "Black Caviar".She is five years old and has won every one of her nineteen races,winning a pile of money! But no,that's not enough,is it?Now this beautiful horse will be tranquilised and forced to endure a flight to England for yet more races!WHY??Hasn't she given enough of herself?Will she be run into the ground like thousands before her?These animals always come off a very bad last!If the harrowing travel and drugging(her trainer has already been in strife for positive swabs in other horses)ruins her form and she starts losing,then what? Dog meat or raped every year by a stallion to get an annual foal out of her?This "industry"stinks and anyone who goes to horse or dog races,is just contributing to untold animal misery and crooked profits.

Dresia Vaughn
Dresia Vaughn5 years ago

I agree with the minority. This is animal abuse to race dogs, horses, for the evil of money, then when they are all washed up, racers are ready to give them the needle. If I were president, I would ban all animal racing and if caught doing so, serve one year in jail, pay a hefty fine too and if caught the second time, 2 years in prison and double the hefty fine fee add more jail time each year they are caught with more money to pay out.

Darla G.
Darla G5 years ago

If there wasn't any horse racing in the first place, a ban on drugs wouldn't be needed. This is like putting a band-aid on a broken leg.

Waheeda Smith
Waheeda E5 years ago

Horse racing is disgusting and must end. Why do we also have to race animals for our own greed?

Deirdre B.
Deirdre Boyne5 years ago

I shall be writing a petition to aid this cause, please sign. I own an ex-racer myself, and he is the sweetest.

Audrey Tilley
Audrey Tilley5 years ago

Im glad that the jockey club agrees with no drugging of horses.

Cynthia Blais
cynthia l5 years ago

action taken Ban all racing and fighting of animals Kudos to the Jockey club for stepping up

Cynthia Blais
cynthia l5 years ago

action taken Ban all animal racing and fighting Kudos to the Jockey club for stepping up

Rosi Caswell

The jockey club is right to be tight on drugs, (as should all other fields/areas of drug abuse, in both animals and humans, but as I commented two weeks ago, a closer scrutiny into the ethics and a recalculating of the risks involved in racing needs immediate attention!! Maybe a complete "revamp"? Rosi Caswell Animal Whisperer Therapist