Thoughts and experiences of a small Thoroughbred race horse owner.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Rood & Riddle Press Release via Richard Eng
This is the content of PR issued by Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and featuring Dr. Larry Bramlage, one of the most respected equine practitioners in the world. This was received by Richard Eng, racing columnist for the Las Vegas Review Journal and originally posted via his Facebook page.
It speaks for itself.
Reports on Racehorse Injury Rates, Medications Misleading
The Times alleges that “powerful painkillers” were given to the horse,
and that x-rays taken of the colt’s joints prior to his withdrawal
indicate a much more severe problem. The author also alleges that the
practice of running horses with high doses of drugs to overcome painful
injuries is common practice in Thoroughbred racing.
As a member of the Jockey Club, and past president of the American
Association of Equine Practitioners and the American College of
Veterinary Surgeons, renowned Thoroughbred health expert Dr. Larry
Bramlage gave an interview to NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams in an
attempt to more accurately inform the public about health and safety
practices in racing. That video can be found here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/48155033#48155033.
As the AAEP’s on-call veterinarian for Triple Crown races and chief
orthopedic surgeon at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, Dr. Bramlage
became concerned following the release of that segment that the public
did not have all the facts regarding the issues presented by the Times
“In my opinion, The New York Times piece
published on July 11 titled ‘I’ll Have Another had history of ailments,
records show’ was closer to tabloid journalism than in-depth reporting,
as was the selective editing demonstrated on the July 11 edition of
NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams.
statistics given by the Times that 24 horses break down each week on
American racetracks was calculated based on a number of questionable
assumptions including, the inclusion of “eased” designations and equine
ambulance pick-ups after a race as indications of injury, a procedure
that is often, in fact, precautionary. Our increased awareness of equine
injuries has increased the number of times that we help the horse off
the track, but those are not necessarily indications that the horse has
had a serious problem. In fact, statistics indicate the number of
Thoroughbred injuries has trended downward with the increased caution
The misinterpretation of the medical terminology ‘osteoarthritis’, and
the substitution of ‘major painkillers’ for anti-inflammatory
medications is unfair to the uninformed general public. It’s useful only
to sell newspapers, not to allow the public to understand what actually
happened for the horse. The phenylbutazone given to I’ll Have Another
is from the same drug group as aspirin and ibuprofen in humans, can’t be
given to a horse within 24 hours of a race, and is tested for with
blood and urine samples at all levels of the sport. Dexamethasone is a
corticosteroid used as an anti-inflammatory as well.
There have been 11 horses that have won two of the three legs of the
Triple Crown in the last 33 years. I would guess that almost all of
those horses had x-rays after winning the second leg as a monitoring,
precautionary measure. That’s routine veterinary care, and would be akin
to the kind of examinations that human Olympic athletes who just
qualified in the U.S. championships will undergo prior to competing in
the Olympics at the end of July.
ethics preclude us from speculating on I’ll Have Another’s case
specifically as we were not the attending veterinarian, the records
provided to New York State Racing and Wagering Board do not indicate
anything inappropriate. No illegal, unprofessional, or medically
unwarranted medication was given to this horse. We totally agree with
the approach that Dr. Jim Hunt, attending veterinarian, took to get this
horse ready for a possible Triple Crown run.”