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).