In it he describes the 1970's, where lasix was being used, even though you were not supposed to. Gosh knows what other brown bottle backstretch pre-race was being used at that time as well. Some people today long for the old days of "hay and oats" but those days simply did not exist. When you add money at the end of a rainbow, there are always going to be some people who bend the rules to take advantage of that.
I was a little amazed at the brazen way this was conducted (the track knew what was going on, so did the vets and trainers), but I guess I should not be. Bettors - in the dark about these practices - were not given any respect. This was the only gambling game in town, they would keep coming.
Flashing forward to today, these practices and issues are here and they are not going anywhere. The clear difference of course, is they are not as acceptable as they once were.
Dovetailing on Sid's interesting look back, was this article from the Irish Field, (h/t to @horsemanlawyer).
In this article, the author looks at the difference between more rural Ireland, with the urban-centric English outlook on things with regards to horse safety and racetrack horse deaths. It's a great read.
- Four equine deaths at a race meeting is a very big number, yet it barely warranted a mention in the Irish press. This marks a major contrast to the furore that tends to play out in Britain on issues of equine welfare in racing, with various animals rights and animal welfare organisations quick to seize upon any such incidents.
- For anyone involved [in Ireland] in or connected to farming, dealing with the death of animals is a given. After all, much of farming involves the raising and nurturing of animals for inevitable slaughter for human consumption and this reality conditions country people to better deal with the death of animals.
- In Britain, on the other hand, as society began to become more urban-focused many generations ago, horses became less of a day-to-day part of British life and began to serve more of a recreational purpose, often being considered more as pets or companions. That is why the reactions from the general public there when horses lose their lives tend to be more emotional.
I grew up rural, where before grade three you learned how to shoot, clean and store safely a gun. Hunting and fishing was what you did. Farming was big, as was the agrarian life. When I noted that my family had a "piece of a racehorse" the answer was always "that's neat, have you seen him race"
Moving south to Toronto at 17, when I mentioned I had a piece of a racehorse at a party or hanging around the dorm, some people would invariably ask me how I could be involved in a "bloodsport."
As Sid noted in his piece, things have come full circle - the same complaints and issues are there - but with one difference: Today they are looked at through a completely different lens. That makes sense, because it is a completely different world.
Enjoy Thanksgiving weekend everyone, and good luck at the windows.