The Tradition of Cheating at the Sport of Kings
on Nov. 28, 2011
The Tradition of Cheating at the Sport of Kings, Thompson, Glenn
In his heartfelt description of the horse racing industry, Mr. Thompson compares the quality of racing today with the sport as it was years ago and the emergence of drugging as a mainstay in providing an edge in competition. Thoroughbred horses have evolved in the United States and elsewhere to provide appreciating performance, often resulting in bodies more fragile in limb and lung, especially through gross respiratory hemorrhaging during stress.
In the interim drugs have become more available to mask physical discomfort which enables sick or injured horses to run competitively when they should be recuperating. The unsound horse is more at risk for breaking a leg and having to be destroyed. Financial consideration is a great motivator forcing both trainers and veterinarians to use drugs on race day. If the horse is pulled from a race, an overly competitive owner can make life difficult for the trainer. If a vet refuses to provide a performance-enhancing drug, a determined owner or trainer will find one who will; the first vet loses the business. While drugging is illegal in most states, the turning a blind eye toward the practice by many otherwise upstanding professionals represents a great weakness in the system.
Through his descriptions of personal experience in his own training business over the past 30 years, Mr. Thompson writes about the emotional and financial stress involved in racing as well as euphoria when things go well. Horses are both powerful and fragile and at the best of times can injure themselves and their handlers. This is accepted among horsemen; but the un-level playing field created by the use of drugs is potentially dangerous for the horses and unfair to the trainers and owners who obey the law.
Mr. Thompson refuses to drug his own horses and maintains that the culture of accepting the use of performance enhancing medication should be evaluated and changed primarily for the well-being of the horses but also as a means of restoring the sportsman-like atmosphere perceived in past years. Bucking the tide of convention is sometimes dangerous and well as difficult, especially when a lot of money is involved,; but in doing so, Mr. Thompson puts forth in The Tradition of Cheating at the Sport of Kings a very compelling argument.