In a shocking video, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has captured one of the top trainers in the U.S. on video, engaging in practices such as electro-shocking horses, using "blistering" chemicals and undercover investigation alleging the use of superglue to hold together one racehorse Nehro's hooves together in order to continue racing him because they had holes in them, according to The New York Times on March 20th, 2014.
The video, available on YouTube,shows Stephen Asmussen and assistant trainer Scott Biasi engaging in the use of pain-masking drugs such as Lasix, also known as a drug to stop bleeding from the lungs of overrun race horses, and Thyroxine, a drug to speed up metabolism, in horses not medically deemed hypothyroid. The use of thyroxin is apparently used to increase the speed of the horses and get them to lose weight.
The use of electro-shock and the riders who use them, known as "buzzers" is a common practice in the industry, according to PETA.
CNN's coverage of the news documented the comments of Asmussen and Biasi's attorney, who said "the PETA piece is sensationalism".
However, the video shows appauling treatment of the horses at Asmussen's Louisville, Kentucky stable, home of The Kentucky Derby, and his Saratoga stable at Saratoga Racing Center in New York.
The PETA undercover investigator first started as an employee of Asmussen in April of 2013 and finished in August of 2013. Asmussen told the investigator that the racehorse Nehro, who came in 2nd in the 2011 Kentucky Derby suffered from chronic pain and injury to his hooves to the point where the hooves had holes in them. Nehro's hooves were allegedly held together by SuperGlue. The horse was run for years after trainers discovered the injuries, however, and the horse was ethanized on the day of The Kentucky Derby in 2013.
The cruel and plainly unacceptable practices of the horseracing industry in The United States came to the attnetion of the public in 2008 when Eight Belles, a racehorse in the Derby, was forced to run with 2 broken ankles, after the jockey knew it. The horse was euthanized on the track, although "breakdowns" are common occurences every week, according to NY ASPCA Cruelty Investigations Unit.
" Over 90% of races have breakdowns and horses are euthanized, but they're performed off the track right after the race, outside the gate so no one sees them. There is even a truck commonly present outside to take the euthanized horse away automatically, so no one will accidentally see it if they're wandering around off the track.", one investigator told The Examiner.
Romeo, great-great-great grandson of the famous racehorse Secretariat, was rescued from a slaughter yard, as was Galihad, great-great grandson of the famous Man O'War. Over 90% of racehorses are sent to slaughter, mostly in Mexico and Canada, where horse slaughter is legal, brutal and unregulated. This Examiner visited both horses at a rescue farm on the North Fork of Long Island, New York and was stunned to find out the famous Seattle Slew was also sent to slaughter.
Romeo, similar in appearance to Secreatiat, was sent to slaughter because he was no longer a winner, known in the horseracing industry as a "rat", and Galihad suffered the same fate. Galihad was known to protect a small foal who had also been sent to slaughter by staving off other horses terrified of the slaughter salesment, also known as "killer buyers". Unfortunately, the foal was sent to slaughter.
The HorseRacing Intengrity and Safety Act of 2013 , Senate Bill 973 and House Bill 2012, increases penalties and oversight for overusing drugs. Although many animal advocate groups. including the ASPCA, The New York Humane Society and The US Humane society are working to abolish horseracing, it's unlikely change will occur soon unless people stop attending the Kentucky Deby, The Belmont Stakes and The Preakness. The money and purses involved, including the high insurance policies placed on these animals encourage damaging the horses in the name of money or even burning stables and setting barns on fire to collect insurance, some of the horses being insured for millions.
The National Gaming Commission is conducting an investigation due to the PETA video, while The National Thoroughbred Horse Racing Association denies investigation allegations.