As I write this, I am in New York preparing Dullahan for the prestigious Belmont stakes, the biggest race of his young career.
In prior years, I would spend maybe a week or less away from my home and family in Kentucky, but it is different now. I'm learning to adjust to life in New York. I live in a flat about the size of the living room of my home in Kentucky.
Oh sure, I am fortunate and thankful for the success I have achieved in my chosen profession as a Thoroughbred horse trainer. At the same time, I miss my family.
I believed Gov. Steve Beshear's promise while he campaigned that he would deliver on his plan to save Kentucky's signature industry with legislation that would legalize gaming in Kentucky. I encouraged friends, family and my associates in the racing industry to support him in his quest to serve a second term.
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Based on his assurances, my horse training operation in Kentucky was expanded, a training center was purchased in Oldham County in order to prepare young horses I purchased at Keene-land and Fasig Tipton sales companies. I employ many fellow Kentuckians at both of my farms along with my continued training operation, but to a lesser degree, at Churchill Downs.
Without competitive purses, we continue to lose horses and horsemen to other states like New York and adjoining states to Kentucky. In addition, the loss of horses results in diminished racing schedules, forcing many of us to leave the state with some of our most promising equine athletes.
While I still support Kentucky racing and remain near the top of the trainer standings, it seems a bit hollow since I cannot share the success with my family, clients and friends.
Now, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission appears poised to put the final nail in the coffin of what once was considered the "Horse Capital of the World."
On Wednesday, it is prepared to vote to ban the beneficial therapeutic medication, Lasix, on our finest Thoroughbreds. In so doing, they will end racing for all intents and purposes in Kentucky. This action will result in an overwhelming exodus of our Thoroughbred industry to other states, such as Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York.
The initiative, orchestrated by the Jockey Club, has ignored the science that has proven Lasix to be effective in treating episodes of bleeding in race horses. In fact, even an unbiased South African study, commissioned by the Jockey Club, proved that Lasix is the most-effective treatment for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.
The Jockey Club's reasoning is suspect and the argument that racing has a perception problem has been debunked by Ed Martin, president of the Racing Commissioners International when he reported: "With few exceptions, race horses tested for drugs are found to be clean, a fact that undermines the credibility of those who peddle the perception that racing has an out of control drug problem."
Churchill Downs' chairman Bob Evans and vice president Kevin Flannery have issued this warning: "If Kentucky is an island and no one else implements the Lasix ban, it could prove detrimental to the future of racing in Kentucky."
The science, the data and the testimony of the very experts and professionals we would normally respect, listen to and follow substantiates that Lasix on race day benefits the horse by controlling the bleeding occurrences.
These facts have not been refuted. However, they have been ignored.
The Jockey Club, through misinformation and confusion, has equated bad drugs to the beneficial and therapeutic properties of race-day Lasix. In addition, certain members of the Jockey Club, serving on the Racing Commission, have threatened other commission members with expulsion if they vote against the ban.
These underhanded tactics must end. We respectfully request that Beshear assure commissioners that their Kentucky Racing Commission seats are not in jeopardy if they decide to follow the science and vote against a ban of race-day Lasix.