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Illinois Racing Board finds 26 corticosteroid positives
By Marcus Hersh
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Twenty-six horses tested positive for prednisone, a corticosteroid, during late spring and early summer in Chicago. All the positive tests revealed minute traces of a drug permitted to be used therapeutically but forbidden on race day, and trainers whose horses tested positive said they followed the same procedures for administering prednisone that they’ve used for years. The sheer number of rulings issued by Arlington Park stewards on Sept. 2, however, figures to draw attention.
Trainer Wayne Catalano received rulings for overages in 10 horses. Trainer Ingrid Mason had three positives, Frank Springer, Eric Reed, and Scott Becker two positives. Danny Miller, Mike Stidham, Tony Mitchell, Jim McMullen, Richie Scherer, Helen Pitts, and Jim Gulick each had a single positive.
All but one of the horses won, but not because prednisone enhances performance. Rather, Arlington Park in 2010 began paying to have so-called super tests performed on the winners of all its races, a practice that ended (as scheduled months before) July 1. Regular testing procedures would not have triggered positive tests because the level of prednisone detected in all instances was so low. Several positives were called on horses with less than 10 nanograms of prednisone per milliliter of urine. The highest level recorded was 214 nanograms. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. More widely used tests typically measure drug levels using millionths of a gram.
The only non-winning positive was called on Distorted Love after a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails on April 21 at Hawthorne. Super tests were performed on the top three finishers there because of protocols associated with graded stakes. Distorted Love’s positive was the first called. The others came between May 5 and June 30.
Prednisone is a commonly used synthetic corticosteroid (not to be confused with outlawed anabolic steroids). It helps horses experiencing chronic mucus in their respiratory system and has anti-inflammatory properties. The Association of Racing Commissioners International, whose model rules Illinois follows, classifies prednisone as Class 4, the second-lowest on its five-level system. The ARCI has not established a threshold level for prednisone, leaving the Illinois Racing Board and stewards no choice but to call the positives. No horses were disqualified nor purse money redistributed. Trainers were fined from $250 to $1,500, depending on the amount of prednisone detected. Catalano received $6,500 in fines. He said Monday that he had not yet decided whether to appeal.
“If they’d let me know after the first one, we could’ve avoided the rest of them,” Catalano said.
Catalano and other horsemen said they had administered prednisone in the same manner this summer as they had for years.
“We gave it 48 hours out, just like every year that I’ve been in Chicago,” trainer Mike Stidham said.
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium doesn’t list a recommended withdrawal time for prednisone in Illinois. Its website, however, does recommend 48-hour withdrawal in California, Kentucky, and New York.
this is really just a distraction from the real medication problems and doping.when top trainers test positive for something serious i bet they cover it up.all this is is an excuse to say that this is harmless and allowed if given within the right withdrawl period.that its a 48 hour vrs 24 hour mistake by trainers.give them a slap on the wrist, and say see theres nothing wrong here.the truth his proper testing is expensive and tracks dont want the cost of doing it,so it gets sent out to some university somewhere to be done on the cheap by a students.they are always two or three steps behind the cheats.for all this to work well the point of collection has to be secure and done by honest people,then the samples have to be delivered through secure protocols and a split sample taken,then it has to go to a reputable facility and the results made public.also random surprise testing should be conducted at any time at the stables or even at training facilitys or farms like with the olimpics or soccer . but most important kick out the bad apples permenantly,thats actually the best way.
A couple of these posters, Szulc and Deckert, are two of biggest idiot posters I've ever seen. They obviously have a vested interest in the sport, probably drug pushing vets, who feel it necessary to belittle several of the posters who are most likely gamblers. These idiots clearly don't understand who really keeps this sport going. In addition, they really don't know much about their meds. While Prednisone can be helpful in a few instances, the use of Prednisone can actually be very detrimental to animals as it has many severe and unwanted side effects. Clearly all these horses using it did not need it. Also, just because the RCI says something is only "therapeutic" and doesn't "enhance performance" doesn't make it true. This is a group that has conflicting goals and much of what they decide is based on information that is biased (i.e., comes from pharmaceutical companies that want to sell product). Clearly Prednisone enhances performance as the list of names of trainers whose horses tested positive include several "super trainers." If Szulc and Deckert really care about the welfare of the horses, like they claim, then they would only recommend using Prednisone when it is warranted...instead of being used to enhance performance as it now is.
Wow, I didn't know that chronic mucus problems was such a rampant problem in horse racing. What the "it is a such a small amount that it couldn't possibly enhance performance" camp fails to understand is this: if the horse doesn't have a condition why give him even a little bit of the medication? It is like taking Advair every day even if you don't have asthma because it allows you to climb up 10 flights of stairs without feeling shortness of breath. How would any of you like to receive chemotherapy everyday just because you might get skin cancer from walking outdoors during a sunny day? Prednisone is not preventive medication, neither is albuterol, clenbuterol, lasix or any of the thousands of other medications that are given indiscriminately to horses that do not have any afflictions. Go to www.cleanhorseracing.org and learn more.
The vet get's a free ride.When they start to fine the vet's and take away their license they might think twice.The owner's and trainer's pay for these shot's why would they pay for something unless it will help'
It's interesting that the writer points out that prednisone does not enhance performance. Yet out of 26 positives the race record is 25 wins and 1 second. I'm sure this has to do with many factors, however if it didn't help a horse perform, they all wouldn't be using it.
Like the one guy said earlier. Its wrong and its cheating -- the information is not public and the bettor has no clue. Forget the fact (as I dont) that its not good for the horses especially the pain, steriod and performance enhancing drugs. I'm an old school horseplayer that will probably bet until I die or the sport does -- however, to keep racing going, the young people will not look past this because of the information age -- it will ruin the sport unless the rules and infrastructures (breeding, etc.) are changed.
It still amounts to testing for drugs that are posted on the stable kitchen wall. The trainers and vets read the list and THAT IS WHY "Several positives were called on horses with less than 10 nanograms of prednisone per milliliter of urine" Lets bring in the feds and give them a small % of handle and then drugs that are not on the list in the track kitchen will come back positive and with a much higher presents. the super lab is paid by the track. Keep the contract by not finding anything.
I am wondering how long will this dirty buisiness gooiing on. The trainers and owners are poisening their own feed. Government should take over, and the IFHA racing rules should be in effect as soon as possible. IfHA= International Federation for Horseracing Authorities. Say the worldwide racing ruler
This is trainer Glenn Thompson the author of the "The Tradition of Cheating in the Sport of Kings" In the book I describe the rampant drug use on the backside of the racetracks across America and have been trying to bring back Horsemanship and Sportsmanship to the great sport of Racing. What these trainers are going thru in Chicago is wrong! If this has been legal to give for years and then the Racing Commision in Chicago decided to change the rules, they should have let the trainers know. Until we come up with some universal rules concerning drugs, the sport of racing is going to suffer. Prednisone and Dexamethasone are legal to give in New Jersey right now and if they started testing tomorrow and did not let the vets and trainers know, we would have a lot more than 26 positives. Universal Rules are needed for our sport to survive and it is a shame that the Government is going to have to get involved to get it done.
As long as any type of medications-- whether legal or not, such as Lasix, buterol or prednisone--are being permitted for usage for any kind of purpose, the problems will exist and magnify to epic proportion, no matter what kind of guidelines or control measures are implemented. Medications' long term effect to horse genetic will evolve and builds up man-made chromosomes to pass on to their future generation and thus weaken its ability to be durable and staying healthy. How about the horse racing industry wakes up and starts doing something for the future instead of appeasing to the greedy owners/trainers/breeders by nibbling around their heels. Every time some racing jurisdictions start to put some kinds of drug guidelines or measures, owners/trainers/breeders come out in drove to oppose them, saying they will out of business if the measures are implemented. If this kind of attitude persists and strong measures are not implemented--guest what? Those same people would be out of the business--maybe not right away, but long term wise, their family--their sons, daughters, grand kids won't enjoy the same kind of success they're enjoying now. Other countries--Australia, the European and the Asian countries--don't allow these stinking drugs, LASIX and Bute to name a couple, and their horses don't seem to have the kinds of problems we're having. So we should take their model and just burn the stinking LASIX, Bute, Prednisone,, etc, out its misery and put the pharmaceutical industry out of business. Oh also, put the vets out of the business. That's is the right thing to do to same the horse racing industry.
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