Friday, August 5, 2011

Hyperbaric Chambers

A hot topic over the last year is the use of hyperbaric chambers in horse racing. Most of the chatter we hear in the sport publicly, talks about how they help heal maladies, like a sore tendon or a hairline, quicker than conventional. In the backstretch it's different - a lot of people are talking about how they boost red blood cell counts (like EPO does) and this gives trainers an edge because with a boost, the horse gets less tired.

In this week's edition of Harness Racing Weekend Preview at Harnessracing.com, trainer Noel Daley tells how he uses the chamber on one of his charges, and he does not avoid the RBC angle (of course, this is 100% legal, so I want to be clear he is doing nothing wrong):

“It simulates high-altitude training,” said Daley. “It’s like what some people said worked for Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby, when he trained in New Mexico and then shipped down to near sea level and won. Some people think that helped. It helps the body naturally increase red blood cells, which are infused with oxygen.”

“He spends about six hours a day in there. It’s got to keep him healthier. He’s at about the equivalent of 17,000 feet in a nice cool 72-degree stall during the hottest part of the day. It certainly isn’t hurting him. It’s not going to make him faster, but hopefully he’ll be able to carry his speed a little farther.”

With training costs through the roof costing owners a chance, with this practice coming in about $150 per hour; with red blood cell boosting such a hot topic in racing..... I wonder if this is a good thing, or a bad thing.

NYRA currently bans the use of them seven days out, and I am pretty sure others are looking at this. I wonder what some trainers who read the blog think, and what bettors think (e.g. is this something that should be regulated and placed on the racing form/program, would you like it outlawed outright, or is this simply technology and sharp training at work).

Any thoughts?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

If ppl are spending $2000 a month on these things.... it's a bad thing. It's one of the reasons why crazy California raised takeout (to try and pay more in purses to pay for things like this.)

Anonymous said...

Does it even matter anymore? There are so many "training methods" in use these days, may as well add this to the list.

Cangamble said...

Whether it is determined this is legal or not in the long run, it definitely needs to be printed in the program/past performances.
It can replace the useless Lasix info (since almost every horse runs on Lasix, putting that in the form is as redundant as stating a horse has four legs).
The fact that HC's cost so much, I would imagine it work and it leads to the type of insider info that hurts the game by making it just more difficult for the every day gambler to beat the takeout.
At least if a horse ships in from New Mexico, it is public knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I agree with #2 - I dont know what is going on any more in training. It's almost like I dont want to know!

Pacingguy said...

Putting a horse in a chamber for six hours can't be fun, but that's not for debate here.

I like the NYRA rule of it has to be used seven days out. However, if it is going to be used closer to the race, it should be in the program.

Horse trainer said...

It doesnt actually simulate altitude training, it simply pours a great deal of oxygen into a horses system. They are valuable, if expensive tools for healing injuries and if used consistently should keep a horse healthier but there is no performance advantage from hyperbaric oxygen.

doc equine said...

noel daley used an altitude stall not hyperbaric chamber ! hypobaric low oxergen next generation of training methods altitude training for horses indeed induces rbc production hyper for healing hypo for performance