that is rife with drug abuse, injuries, and death."
Drugged to the End
“Finding an American racehorse trained on the traditional hay, oats, and water probably would be impossible,” commented one reporter.
The New York Sun explained that because “thoroughbreds are bred for flashy speed and to look good in the sales ring … the animal itself has become more fragile” and that “to keep the horses going,” they’re all given Lasix (which controls bleeding in the lungs), phenylbutazone (an anti-inflammatory), and cortiscosteroids (for pain and inflammation).
Morphine, which can keep a horse from feeling any pain from an injury, was suspected in the case of Be My Royal, who won a race while limping.
Big Brown’s veterinarian concedes that “without steroids, they’d lose some horses that can’t keep up the pace and race every three weeks or every month."
Even the most beloved horse in America next to Barbaro, the prolific winning super mare Zenyatta who benefited from sensitive treatment by her connections raced on both Lasix and Bute according to racing programs.
For the fortunate racehorses who escape the slaughter pipeline, and accepted by an off the track Thoroughbred rehabilitation center, staff report that weening them off the medications routine to racing can take months.
In cases where horses are also recuperating from sidelining injuries, it is difficult to watch them struggling through withdrawal symptoms from the vicious drugs they were given when they were racing to keep them on the track.
Bred to Death
Thousands of Thoroughbreds are bred for racing every year. Depending on the country, only 5% to 10% ever see a racecourse. What happens to the others? Unless they are lucky enough to find another career, they are disposed of, typically at a slaughterhouse.
Dying to Race
Horses begin training or already racing when their skeletal systems are still growing and unprepared to handle the pressures of running on a hard track at high speeds.