Belmont Stakes 2012 Part I – I’ll Have Another Retired

June 12th, 2012 by Greg Beroza

Behind the scenes live coverage of the 2012-144th Belmont Stakes; unexpected retirement of I’ll Another.  Press Announcement at Belmont barn, including statements from owner Paul Reddam, trainer Doug O’Neill, and Dullahan’s trainer Dale Romans.  Presentation of I’ll Have Another to the press.

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I’ll Have Another & Trainer Doug O’Neill in pursuit of Triple Crown

June 4th, 2012 by Greg Beroza

Interviews with trainer Doug O’Neill discussing I’ll Have Another’s Chances for the 2012 Belmont Stakes and capturing thoroughbred racing’s coveted Triple Crown. Live footage of I’ll Have Another in a morning gallop preparing for next Saturday. Additional live video interviews with Billy Turner, trainer of 1977 Triple Crown Champion Seattle Slew; Allen Jerkens, Hall of Fame trainer who beat the great Secretariat twice; and Dale Romans, trainer of this year’s spoiler Dullahan and last year’s Preakness Stakes winner and current super-star Shackleford.

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MANNY’S LEGACY Part 1 of 2: Tribute to NYRA’s Preeminent Regulatory Veterinarian

February 21st, 2012 by Greg Beroza

            When he passed away on November 25, 2011 at age 91, Dr. Manuel Alan (Manny) Gilman left an exceptional legacy of ingenuity, integrity and dedication that has been of far-reaching benefit to Thoroughbred racing and veterinary regulatory medicine. 

Dr. Manny Gilman 1979 NYRA

            Dr. Gilman was credited with developing the system of identifying individual horses by photographing and examining the chestnuts on the inside of their legs, which have been compared in unique similarity to human fingerprints. In a Nov. 26, 2011 Gilman obituary, The Blood-Horsereported: “Gilman realized that the horny growths on the insides of a horse’s legs (vestiges of the toes of prehistoric horses), called chestnuts or ‘night eyes’ by native Americans, served as the homologue of the human fingerprint, and he developed the Universal Horse Identification System now used throughout Thoroughbred racing to prevent ‘ringers’ and assure that the horses on which the public was betting were in fact the same horses running in the race.”

1971 Chestnut ID System JGilman

             There seems to be some discrepancy as to who actually discovered the initial method. At the 1953 annual convention of the New York State Racing Commission, Dr. James J. Manning was cited as the originator of this identification system. Dr. Gilman began working in the New York Racing Association’s horse identification department in 1945. An article in the Daily Racing Form (June 30, 1972) mentions that the system was introduced in 1945, so it is highly possible that Dr. Gilman had a major role in its discovery and application. The timing was right. Most certainly, he was one of the first to implement it and advance its use.

            The lip tattoo system, another means of identification, began in 1947. The use of a distinctive “parallel cluster” lip-tattoo brand, designed and patented by the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, provided what Dr. Theodore Hill, who went to work for Dr. Gilman in 1977 and is presently a Jockey Club steward for the New York Racing Association, described as “an effective, practical and economical method of horse identification available today.” Again, Dr. Gilman was on the scene in 1947 and may have had a hand in implementing this system. Dr. Gilman served in the U.S. Army during World War II where the lip tattoo system was first utilized for identifying horses. He was very close friends with the late Marshall Cassidy, Sr. who is credited with introducing the lip tattoo system to NYRA. Initially the Pinkerton security people oversaw the identification process. The lip tattoo was originally an additional, rather than a primary, means of identification. Its use is now standard protocol for all horses actively racing. 

11969 Dr.Gilman examines lip tattoo NYRA

            However, one noteworthy horse escaped identification when, in 1977, trainer Mark Gerard switched the identities of two horses before importing them from Uruguay: Cinzano, a four-year-old Uruguayan champion, and Lebon, a mediocre five-year-old. When “Lebon” won a grass race atBelmontParkat odds of 57-1, Gerard collected $80,440 on his bet. The fraud was uncovered when NYRA received an anonymous phone call from someone who recognized Cinzano in the winner’s circle. The findings were verified through dental examination. Gerard was found guilty of “fraudulent entries and practices in contests of speed” and sentenced to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Dr. Gilman testified at Gerard’s trial. Gerard’s sentence was later reduced on appeal.

            Dr. Gilman, who was NYRA’s chief examining veterinarian from 1950 to 1982,   believed that every horse should be given a standard pre-race examination. Prior to the 1980 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, an assistant trainer refused to allow Dr. Gilman to examine Spectacular Bid. Spectacular Bid is believed to have injured his left foreleg earlier that year in the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita Park, and again there now was heat in that same leg. While trainer Bud Delp was napping, an assistant trainer iced the leg in cold water and refused to let Gilman examine the horse. An hour later, Dr. Gilman was told he could not remove the horse from its stall or flex either of its forelegs. He subsequently informed the NYRA officials that he would not allow the horse to run, a decision that did not sit well with the trainer or the crowd. Finally, at 4 p.m. – less than 2 hours from post-time, Delp scratched the horse from the race and revealed that he had injured his left front ankle and would be retired. Had Spectacular Bid been allowed to compete, it is possible that he would have broken down in what was supposed to be his final race. As it was, he survived to become a breeding stallion. 

1966 Dr. Gilman pre-race exam @ Aqueduct NYRA

            The Spectacular Bid incident was more recently recalled when Life At Ten ran in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. The mare, then five years old, was listless in the paddock, and jockey John Velazquez told commentator Jerry Bailey on camera that she was not warming up normally; but neither he nor trainer Todd Pletcher reported it to any of the veterinarians on the scene. She finished last in a field of 11. Chief steward John Veitch overheard Velazquez’s comments and was criticized for not taking action. Veitch was subsequently declared “grossly negligent” for not checking further, both before and immediately after the race. Days later the mare reportedly ran a fever and had a high white blood cell count, suggesting infection. Velazquez was cited for several rule violations and agreed to pay a $10,000 fine. Both individuals were investigated for their actions, which may not have been intentional, but rather a breakdown in communications. John Veitch, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s Chief Steward was declared guilty and issued a one year suspension; which he is appealing. No inquiry or action was taken against trainer Todd Pletcher. New policies were subsequently introduced in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup to improve pre-race communications and protocol.

            Dr. Gilman saw many horses euthanized following racing injuries, and he fought hard to institute preventative measures by checking the horses’ legs, joints, temperature, respiration and soundness in moving before they went to the starting gate. In his early years at the track, some trainers were reluctant to remove the bandages from their horses’ legs or to jog them in front of him. He was gutsy, persistent, and often unpopular in his decisions involving powerfully influential trainers, owners and treating veterinarians. However, Manny’s main concerns were always for the horses, jockeys, betting public and integrity of racing. Dr. Ted Hill noted that in the 1960s and 1970s, Gilman was one of very few veterinarians personally conducting pre-race examinations. They are now a standard regulatory practice. 

1975-07.06 Dr. Gilman assists Ruffian after break down CGilman

            One of Gilman’s worst memories was the very public and newsworthy death of the great racing filly Ruffian, who fractured her right front leg in two places during her July 6, 1975 match race with Foolish Pleasure. He told Sports Illustrated that she was “so full of herself” and kept running and grinding the bones. Dr. Gilman was the first veterinarian to reach the filly after she broke down. Following surgery at Belmont Park, she struggled so hard coming out of the anesthesia that she re-injured herself and had to be humanely put down.

            Gilman was well aware of the fact that a horse’s breakdown often also has tragic consequences for its rider. On Oct. 13, 1988, Mike Venezia, 43, jumped off his horse’s left side when his mount, Mr. Walter K, broke his right front leg on the inner turf backstretch during a race atBelmontPark. Unfortunately, Venezia rolled right into the path of Drums in the Night, ridden by Robbie Davis, and that horse’s hooves shattered Venezia’s skull and killed him instantly. While incidents like this cannot always be foreseen or prevented, a proper pre-race examination is essential and can be instrumental in uncovering a potential problem to prevent an unsound horse from even starting. 

1971 Dr. Gilman logs ID exam findings NYRA

            Dr. Gilman was interested in all forms of medicine, both human and animal. His good friend Shirley Day Smith, who worked in the NYRA press office for over 50 years, recalls that he always had his nose in a medical book or journal. Because of a self-imposed personal dedication and interest, he kept copious notes on all breakdowns, including prevailing weather conditions and track surfaces, and followed them up with notes on his personally obligatory post-mortem examinations. Manny generously shared the findings of his “veterinary log” and his personal impressions regarding race track safety issues with his colleagues; including his presentation ‘The State of Racing in America’ at the Conference of Veterinary Research on Race Horses, held on December 7, 1992 in Tokyo, Japan. He was ahead of his time in paving the way for future computerized record-keeping.  Unfortunately, Gilman’s voluminous files disappeared when his house in Garden City, New York was sold.

            Ogden Mills Phipps, chairman of the Jockey Club, defined Gilman as a man who made a difference. Dr. Gilman adamantly believed that an unsound horse did not belong on the racetrack. His medical knowledge was an asset when he served as Jockey Club steward from 1986 to 1991 (he received the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Medal for his contributions to the racing industry). His efforts are now poignantly reflected in the 21st century as racing strives to overcome fraud and bad decisions, and to promote honesty and integrity to best protect the welfare of the horses, jockeys and betting public.

To be continued…..

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‘WAR HORSE’ Movie in Review

December 26th, 2011 by Greg Beroza

War Horsein Review  12/26/11

War Horse Screen Title

Director Steven Spielberg has done it again; creating another cinematographic masterpiece which should be enjoyed by all family members.  It is impossible to conceive of any horse loversnot welling up with tears by movie’s end.  After the last scene, the opening day movie audience broke into spontaneous applause.

Jeremy & Joey

‘War Horse’ is based on the 1982 Michael Morpurgo children’s book, turned Lincoln Center play, and now made into a successful big screen production.  An aging English tenant farmer named Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan), down on his health and luck, comes home with a beautiful horse that he couldn’t pass up buying.  He would have been better served coming home with a big strong draft-type horse for plowing his family’s virgin fields.

Ted’s son Albert (Jeremy Irvine) falls in love with their new horse, now named Joey.  To gain his father’s respect and save the family farm, Albert swears to train Joey to plow their fields.  The boy and horse develop an inseparably strong bond until The Great War (World War 1) breaks out and Joey is sold to the military both to serve and to help Ted from losing the farm.

Joey is a magnificently special horse that touches the lives of everyone he comes in contact with.  He affects the British and German soldiers, a kindly French farmer and his impressionable granddaughter.  Joey sustains his share of war tragedies and injuries, but is a trooper until the end.  The war causes all involved sustaining bloody conflicts and Joey finds himself struggling to survive.  By movies’ end there was hardly a dry eye in the theater.

War Horse in Battle

Over the last 30 years, I’ve watched a great number of television and big screen horse movies including Secretariat, Seabiscuit, and Dreamer. However, War Horsestands uniquely apart in its depth of emotion and inspirational message of good deeds and good turns amidst a world filled with disappointing realities.  I rate this movie 5 out of 5 HorseDoc hooves!

Link to: Movie Preview 30 seconds

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November 22nd, 2011 by Greg Beroza

            “The Good, the Bad and the Controversial” was the subject matter discussed by Dr. Gregory A. Beroza at a Nassau-Suffolk Horsemen’s Association meeting Nov. 2, 2011 at Old Bethpage Village. Dr. Beroza, founder and Director of the Long Island Equine Medical Center in Huntington Station, N.Y., set aside medical topics in favor of discussing current issues that affect horse lovers both on Long Island and nationwide. His views reflected the goals of the N.S.H.A., a 501C charitable, educational and service organization dedicated to addressing the concerns of local horsemen since 1967.

2011-11.02 NSHA President Denise Speizio and Dr. G. Beroza

             The “Good” is the fact that horses are now living longer and healthier lives. The “Bad” elements are the lack of mutual support amongst members of local equestrian communities and the subsequent disservice often done by well-meaning horse owners, such as taking their horses to the veterinarian too late; a problem that Dr. Beroza has sadly experienced in his practice.

             The “Controversial” centered on topics recently addressed by Dr. Beroza in articles and blogs co-authored with Paula Rodenas, a well respected equestrian journalist, and including the Carriage Horses of New York City and the disposition of unwanted or aging horses. As there are no longer slaughter houses in the United States, horses are subsequently being shipped to Mexico and Canada, often under terrible conditions. With retirement facilities overflowing and philanthropic funds becoming scarce, Dr. Beroza noted that humane euthanasia is more often becoming the best solution and is the responsibility of the owner.

             Although Mayor Bloomberg is in favor of keeping carriage horses inManhattan, many animal activists have launched protests. TV personality Bob Barker recently went to Washington, D.C. to argue for abolishing the use of all exotic animals in traveling circuses. Rodeo has also been criticized; yet carriage and rodeo horses provide income for their owners in keeping with the horse’s long history as a working animal.

            During a lively discussion period, education, conservation and promotion were emphasized, as well as the need for horsemen of multiple disciplinary interests to work together. “We should all bond together to help each other stay in business and support the horse industry,” said Dr. Beroza. Among the people in the audience were Denise Speizio (NSHA President); Frank Bradford (NSHA Past-President & Troop Commander of the Rough Rider Calvary Mounted Unit); Kathleen Kleinman, President of the Muttontown Horsemen’s Association; Jerry Trapani, President of the Paumonak Driving Club; Susan Harvey, District Commissioner of the Meadowbrook Hounds Pony Club; and, many other enthusiastic horse and stable owners, and NSHA committee members.

             To learn more about some of the “Controversial” issues in Dr. Beroza’s lecture and see other related articles and YouTube videos, please visit the Blogsite of the website or contact Dr. Beroza via Email or call 631/427-2213. For information about the Nassau Suffolk Horsemen’s Association, visit For information about the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, call 516-572-8400.

 -see accompanying photo of Denise Speizio, NSHA President & Dr. Gregory Beroza

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September 5th, 2011 by Greg Beroza

By Dr. Gregory Beroza & Paula Rodenas.

August 7, 2011

What could be more romantic than a carriage ride through Central Park? The colorful carriages that help make Manhattan and its park special are threatened with extinction if Senator Tony Avella of Queens gets his way. According to a report by Patricia Saffran in the June 2011 “Horse Directory”, Avella is proposing a bill that would declare them illegal. During recent demonstrations, Avella and animal rights groups claimed that the horses are not humanely treated and expressed safety concerns, even though accident rates have been low. Meanwhile, pro-carriage citizens point to the close connection between the horses and their drivers, and assert that the horses are well cared for and appear to be content and quiet in the heart of the city.

On April 15, 2011 it was announced that the New York City Council voted on measures to form a “benefits package” for the horses. This package includes five weeks off a year, a lower retirement age, the requirement of waterproof blankets in wet weather and heavy blankets in cold weather, larger stalls, reflective material and emergency brakes for the vehicles; and additional training and mandatory licensing for all new drivers. In 2006 it was estimated that there are more than 200 horses and approximately 350 drivers on the city streets. The horses are housed in five different locations.

Carriage horses are removed from the streets when the temperature rises above 90 degrees in summer and drops below 18 degrees in winter. The A.S.P.C.A. provides a water truck for the hot weather and a horse ambulance if needed. Carriage operations may be suspended during inclement weather, such as high winds, tornado watches, thunderstorms, icy roads and snowfall.

Ironically, the proposed Bill (8.5013A/7748) to eliminate carriages supports the return of horseback riding in Central Park, which has been non-existent since the closing of the Claremont Riding Academy in 2007. Despite overwhelming changes in the 20th and 21st centuries, horses have been an important element of the New York City scene since the early 20th century, when their transportation role was replaced by the automobile and they became part of the leisure world. In fact, the ‘Big Apple’ got its nickname from the apples that were fed to horses on the streets in days of yore.

Jerry Trapani, President of the Paumanok Driving Club on Long Island and a respected professional farrier, said, “The horses and carriages are an important part of the tourist trade in New York City. They are well cared for in all aspects of shoeing, health, feeding, housing and rest periods. The largest danger to the horses is unsafe car drivers. Most accidents are caused by reckless drivers hitting a carriage and scaring the horses. The [carriage] drivers are trained, and they care about their horses’ welfare. The life of a carriage horse in New York City is much better than in most other cities, and definitely better than some of their counterparts on many farms.”

A carriage was struck by a taxi on July 25th, injuring three tourists and the driver, Salvatore Terranova, 70, who was hospitalized in critical condition with a head injury. The horse sustained cuts to its body. This accident called further attention to the carriage horse issue. Mayor Michael Bloomberg could not be reached for comment.

The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (A.S.P.C.A.) is responsible for the welfare of animals, and its role with regard to horses is complex. A spokesperson explained that the A.S.P.C.A.’s Humane Law Enforcement department is composed of 17 New York State peace officers, who are authorized to enforce state and city animal cruelty laws. The cruelty laws are written by the Agriculture and Markets Department, which deals with misdemeanor and felony animal cruelty and laws pertaining to the transportation of horses. Administrative code regulations pertaining to rental horses, and specifically to carriage horses, are found in the following 3 areas: Department of Health, Department of Consumer Affairs and Department of Transportation.  The NYC-DOHMH (Department of Health and Mental Hygiene}, which has a veterinary service within, regulates horses in the five boroughs. Veterinary Services licenses rental horses and requires that a private veterinarian completes a licensing form stating that the horse is sound and suitable for work. Consumer Affairs licenses the carriages and their drivers. There are only 68 medallions available, which can be traded or sold, but no new ones are issued. The carriages are inspected, and hearings are held for violations, such as no lights on the carriage and overloading it with too many passengers. Complaints are investigated. Working a horse with an obvious injury would not only violate city rules, but would be considered animal cruelty. Carriage drivers are trained and undergo an exam and an apprenticeship under the sponsorship of a licensed driver.

Although the A.S.P.C.A. is nowadays associated primarily with the concerns of dogs and cats, it began with those of horses. In 1863 an American, Henry Bergh, was working as secretary of the American Legation in St. Petersburg, Russia when he saw a carriage driver viciously beating his own horse. When Bergh tried to stop him, the man shouted angrily, “It’s my horse. I can do as I wish with it!” Bergh began to think about the rights of helpless animals, and when he returned to New York, he waged a one-man battle against cruelty. At first he was labeled “the great meddler,” but he enlisted support and by 1866 his actions led to the formation of the nation’s first anti-cruelty law and the foundation of the A.S.P.C.A.

The horse’s relationship with humans differs from that of household pets. The horse has been a valuable working animal since man first realized, thousands of years ago, that it could be more than just a good meal. Horses were partners in warfare, exploration and transportation, and in the age of mechanization they became partners in sport. The horse is a working partner, whether he is pulling a carriage, herding cattle or jumping obstacles. Because they are expensive to maintain, most horses must earn their keep. Activist extremists have only an idealistic vision of horses running free in large grass covered pastures, shoeless, unencumbered by saddles, bridles and harnesses; but that is impractical in view of the horse’s history and development as a domesticated animal.

“The horse has been domesticated for over 5,000 years,” said Linda Kramer, President of the Carriage Operators of North America. “The horses in Central Park are probably more cared for than any other horses in the world.” Hundreds of American cities have carriage horses; there are more than 1,000 carriage companies; and many cities around the world offer commercial carriage rides, such as London, Paris and Seville, to name a few.

The Carriage Operators of North America (CONA) belongs to both the Animal Welfare Council and the American Horse Council, which recognizes the carriage industry as a place for otherwise unwanted horses. Ms. Kramer pointed out that many carriage horses are sturdy draft breeds or draft crosses, weighing 1,600 to 2,200 pounds; and others are often retired standardbred ex-race horses. Carriage horses are mainly driven at the walk, which does not stress the joints. They can often work soundly into their teens or early twenties. It is not logical for a carriage owner to mistreat his horse, because that horse represents his livelihood, says Kramer, who has 23 horses in Philadelphia. She said she would not hesitate to stable any of them in New York. She also noted that after the closing of Claremont, New York City’s last remaining riding academy, Chateau (carriage) Stable, assumed the responsibility of Claremont’s handicapped riding program.

According to Anita Gerami, whose family has owned Chateau Stable for over 40 years, the equestrian program for the disabled is held on Saturdays and will be expanded to four times a week. “We are very aware of (Senator) Avella looking to ban the horses and carriages, along with other political people who tried to do the same,” she said. “As far as I am aware, nobody has been cited or convicted of animal cruelty (owner or driver), though this business is regularly accused of such by our opponents. All of the stables have 24-hour stable staff and sprinkler systems. In our stable we have automatic waterers, skylights, fans, a certified dental tech on call and two vets on call. We own a farm in Pennsylvania, where we transport our horses back and forth. It’s very heartbreaking to dedicate your life like my family and myself have; and then to be labeled as an ‘abusive business’ because we choose and use our horses as our income.”

One of Senator Avella’s proposals involves replacing carriages with antique-style electric cars. “I don’t think he will be successful,” said Linda Kramer. “He failed at a city level [to eliminate horses and carriages] and now he is trying to do it on a state level.”

Dr. Pam Corey - ASPCA Veterinary Director

The A.S.P.C.A. supports the phasing out of carriage horses, explained Dr. Pamela Corey, Director of Equine Veterinary Services for that organization, because it would give the horses a better life. Carriage drivers would be offered a new vocation. As the primary enforcer of New York City’s carriage horse laws, with firsthand knowledge of ongoing problems and violations, the A.S.P.C.A. concluded that it can no longer support the status quo.

New Yorkers for Clean, Livable & Safe Streets (NY-CLASS), an organization dedicated to improving the city’s quality of life through education and advocacy, believes that viable alternatives to carriage horses will relieve the city government of its financial burden and avoid the safety and quality issues caused by the horse carriages.

“As an equine veterinarian, I am concerned about the health, welfare and safety of all working horses,” said Dr. Pamela Corey. “I’m naturally troubled by abusive training and working practices and issues of neglect or substandard care. The carriage horses in New York City work in extreme conditions, and I believe the industry requires constant monitoring to ensure their compliance with city regulations. I also believe the regulations could be strengthened to benefit the horses (even though they are some of the strictest in the nation). The health concerns that I have for this particular group of urban horses relate to their lack of access to emergency veterinary care and the general state of their hoof and farrier care. I also feel that some individual horses fare better than others with the lack of daily access to grass pasture and turnout, in terms of their nutrition and behavioral needs.”

What will become of the horses if carriages are eliminated? The state senate bill proposes that the horses be sold or donated and cared for humanely for the rest of their lives and that the information about their disposal be forwarded within five days of such sale or donation. But since most of the horses are the personal property of their individual owners (and some are already living on farms), this may be difficult to enforce.

Of even greater concern is the fact that most of the present equine retirement facilities are already over-subscribed and under-funded; meaning that premature euthanasia or slaughter are looming new problems. The majority of carriage horse owners and drivers are decent, hard working, horse loving caregivers.  As in any industry, there are only a few bad apples; however, should that mean the end of an otherwise beneficial industry. Furthermore, what are to eventually become of other presently acceptable equestrian activities in New York and other cities?

Chateau Stables 'Otis' in NYC

It seems that the most rational focus of this debate should be to best supervise and regulate any and all humane equestrian use issues; rather than to ban entire industries, complete with all the individuals financially and emotionally tied into these well recognized forms of equine use. Perhaps government regulators are attempting to take too strong a role in limiting individual liberties! Work horses help build the ‘Big Apple’ and now they may be forced to leave it.

Adding individuals knowledgeable about the healthcare and well-being of horses to a volunteer civilian review board composed of individuals without any financial conflicts of interest in New York City’s carriage horse matter might be a good start. Their goal would be to help government officials in best regulating, humanely maintaining and protecting the public interests in the proper servicing of the New York City equine livery system.

The carriage horse issue is clearly a controversial double-edged sword with a multitude of industry-wide repercussions which impact New York City ambiance and its tourism.  Its outcome will ultimately affect the face of the city and the fate of its horses in the new millennium. In similar terms, how would a safer Times Square look without all those distracting and potentially dangerous lights look?  How do readers feel about all this?  Email your comments to

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2011 Hambletonian @ Meadownlands Race Track ‘Behind the Scenes Live Coverage’

August 10th, 2011 by Greg Beroza

2011 Hambletonian Trophy Presentation

Check out our latest video of the 2011-30th Hambletonian with behind the scenes coverage and stunning interviews.

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July 26th, 2011 by Greg Beroza

by Dr. Gregory Beroza & Paula Rodenas

Race Day Medication Summit at Belmont Park - Program Cover

A first ever international summit on race day medications, exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage also known as ‘bleeding’ (EIPH) and the racehorse was held June 13-14, 2011 at Belmont Park. It was hosted just days after the Belmont Stakes by the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and co-sponsored by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC). The goal was to be informative and exchange views on the management of EIPH that will hopefully help the United States in making appropriate future decisions about the controversial use of race day medications.

Dr. Robert Lewis - AAEP's Past President

Of all the available medications for EIPH or ‘bleeding’, the best results have been obtained from the medication Furosemide, also generically known as either Lasix or Salix. This diuretic was first used in the 1960s to control high blood pressure in humans, but it was later found to have a beneficial effect on heart-lung function. Despite years of resistance to incorporate its national use, in 1995 New York State became the last state to allow the use of Lasix in Thoroughbred racing. Prior to that era, a horse that might have won an out-of-town Grade 1 Stakes race such as the Kentucky Derby and/or the Preakness Stakes on Lasix would be forced to run in New York without it in the Belmont Stakes, giving that horse a perceived distinct disadvantage.

Alexander Waldrop- NTRA 69KB President & CEO

Critics of Lasix see it as a performance-enhancing substance and believe it can also mask the presence of other medications. Those who favor the use of Lasix believe it is humane and therapeutic and enables a horse to achieve its natural maximum potential by minimizing bleeding.

Robert D. Manfred, Jr.- Exec VP Major League Baseball

Performance-enhancing drugs have long been an issue in American sports. Robert D. Manfred, Jr., Executive Vice-President of major league baseball, started the summit by speaking of such drugs’ perceived impact on the integrity of the sport and noted that the best that can be done is to wage a strong battle against their use. He pointed out that performance-enhancing drugs are effective, and the subsequent pay-off is huge.

Dr. N.E.Robinson - Prof MSU College Vet Med & Eq Pulmonary Lab

Dr. N. E. Robinson, a well recognized veterinary authority on bleeding and a Professor at the Michigan State College of Veterinary Medicine and Director of their Equine Pulmonary Laboratory, explained the pathology of bleeding. As athletes, Thoroughbred racehorses, as well as other sport horses, are prone to injuries and other health-related problems. A large percentage of equine athletes have some presence of blood in their windpipes. This may increase with age, speed, distance, footing, cold weather and other factors. Blood is pushed through the lungs, particularly to the back of the lungs (the dorso-caudal area under the saddle), creating damaged areas formally referred to as ‘lesions’. The veins in those areas become thicker, capillaries rupture and bleed, and scarring occurs; sometimes permanently. Pulmonary arterial blood pressure increases with speed. During exercise, blood flow pumped from the right side of the horse’s heart may equal more than 75 gallons per minute. Eventually a narrowing of the blood vessels, or venoclusive remodeling, occurs. A horse that visibly bleeds from the nostrils after a race is called a “bleeder.” There are four grades of bleeders, Grades 1 and 2 being the mildest categories and Grades 3 and 4 deemed as substantial.

Race Day Medication Panel & Attendees

The summit’s panel discussants were comprised of prominent veterinarians, trainers and racing officials from many parts of the globe, including Hong Kong, England, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and France, and the attendees came from 13 countries. Many of the panelists critically considered Lasix as America’s best answer to EIPH. In fact, an Irish representative half-joked that Ireland’s solution to bleeders was ‘to retire them or send them to America’. Outside America, many other countries take a more conservative approach to dealing with EIPH; and many alternative medications and therapeutic approaches were discussed in detail, including medications such as Carbazochrome or “Kentucky red,” Premarin and others; a regimen of scoping and observation; lavage; improved diet and stable management; and giving the horse sufficient periods of non-competitive rest.

Bill Nader - Exec Director Hong Kong Jockey Club

Bill Nader, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and former Senior Vice-President of the New York Racing Association, encountered a whole new world when he moved to Hong Kong four years ago. No Lasix is allowed there in training or racing, and a horse that bleeds is given a mandatory three months off. If the bleeding returns a second or third time, the horse then faces compulsory retirement. Local racing fans are kept well informed with all such bleeding incidences being reported, and the racetrack has a hi-tech laboratory on its premises. Dr. Brian Stewart of Hong Kong said that a horse showing any amount of blood of pulmonary origin at the nostrils after exercise is considered an official bleeder. Post-race exams are mandatorily conducted on approximately 10% of runners at the request of the stewards, and any findings are reported. However, it is very difficult and controversial to compare the racing scene in Hong Kong to that of the United States, as Hong Kong is a small area, races are only held a few days a week, racing is controlled exclusively by the country, and horse racing is China’s only form of legalized gambling.

Dr. Larry Bramlage- AAEP On Call & Dr. Steven Reed- Rood & Riddle Equine Speaker

In Ireland, Lasix is regarded as a therapeutic substance only and cannot be used on race day. Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Irish Turf Club, attributed EIPH to several possible causes: genetics, stress, environment, poor stable management, allergies, frequent shipping and overwork. Irish bettors are also well informed and can obtain information on their web sites, and generally they won’t bet on a horse known to bleed.

Dr. Anthony Stirk of the British Jockey Club said that as there is no official definition of EIPH in the British rule book, medication may be given during training and is not checked, but the horse must be drug-free on race day. He noted a significant improvement in horses that are turned out in a field as opposed to those kept in a more contained conventional stabling environment.

Trainers-Christophe Clemente, John Size, Graham Motion & Richard Mandella

Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella from California believes that EIPH is the result of stress, not necessarily from racing, but even from the pressure of just going to the gate. The trainer of recent Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, H. Graham Motion, said of the use of Lasix in two-year-olds, “Prevention is better than the cure.” Motion, who trains in several different countries, stated that Lasix is controllable. Interestingly, several of the foreign trainers said they would use Lasix if they could. Veterinarians were mostly concerned about greater long-term complications such as inflamed airways and pleuropneumonia due to bleeding. There is also an economic consideration, as Europeans and Asians are reluctant to buy or breed to American Thoroughbreds that race on Lasix. “My worry for American racing is that you are becoming isolated,” said Dr. Stirk. “We want to see more (drug free) international racing.”

Attendees-Jockey Guild Director Terry Meyocks & Jockey John Velazquez

In England and Ireland, horses are stabled away from the racetrack and able to enjoy long, easy gallops in the countryside. By contrast however, the American racehorse spends most of its time isolated to a stall and is exercised only during its daily gallop on the track, which creates an unnatural environment. This contributes to many of its problems, and efforts to overcome these by use of bleeder medication, steroids and other substances have resulted in negative publicity for the sport. Legislators are now calling for serious federal regulation of performance-enhancing drugs and medication.

Although no formal recommendations were announced at the summit, many issues were discussed, such as options for the administration of Lasix, barn security, more stringent medication abuse penalties, education and research. The RMTC (Racing Medication and Testing Consortium), which consists of 25 racing industry stakeholders and organizations representing Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing, is currently holding its own separate sub-committee meetings. According to Chris Scherf of the RMTC, these sub-committees will report to the governing board Aug. 4-5. If their recommendations are adopted, they will be sent to the racing commission and, hopefully, implemented as quickly as practically possible.

Dr. Pam Corey-ASPCA Veterinary Director-Attendee

With present hopes of a much needed renewed financial racing vigor due to the current addition of increasing gaming dollars, there is also a significant threat of preserving racing’s integrity by more stringent monitoring of its medication protocols and testing. It appears that future regulatory developments will determine the allowance or exclusion of Lasix in Thoroughbred racing in America, and the rules will be enforced on a national basis rather than managed state by state. Presently racehorses in New York may be given 100-250 mg. of Lasix by a NYRA veterinarian four hours prior to a race. Under national regulatory pressure, New York State exhausted its jurisdictional last standing non-medication position in 1995. It is amazing that now, some 16 years later, a return to non-medication standards are even being considered.
For an even playing field, Lasix must either be permitted and controlled uniformly in all states and potentially all countries or be completely banned, with stiff penalties for noncompliance. Several European trainers agreed that they would not like to race their non-medicated horses against a field of American horses on Lasix, because they believe it gives those medicated horses an edge. There appears to be a dichotomous political standoff between American breeders and trainers who feel that Lasix is necessary and European purists who don’t want to compete against their American counterparts. The long-term effect of Lasix use in the future equine breeding stock has also been questioned, again on a partisan basis.

Thoroughbred Times Senior Staff Writer-Frank Angst

One suggestion offered by a seminar attendee was to first eliminate the use of Lasix in all American Graded Stakes races, which are the races most often entered by European race horses. The Graded Stakes winners are also the most probable horses to go to the breeding shed and most heavily contribute to the future genetic pool of race horses. Americans appear more prone to first consider eliminating Lasix use in the lower tiered claiming races of less talented race horses.
It was pointed out at the summit that if Lasix is eliminated in American racing, additional security issues will become problematic, training methods will change, and – worst case scenario – something else, including more exotic medications, will come along! Ultimately, the welfare of the horse should be the primary concern.

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June 30th, 2011 by Greg Beroza

See a few photos from the 2011-143rd Belmont Stakes Day and be directed to a unique up close You tube video of the day’s events.

2011-143rd BELMONT STAKES PHOTOS 6/11/11

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2011-143rd BELMONT STAKES Live Coverage

June 25th, 2011 by Greg Beroza

HorseDoc ‘Talking Horses’ presents unique up-close live coverage of premier race day events including interviews and video of horses, trainers, jockeys, owners, etc.  Actual on-track race coverage.

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