On October 12, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board acted like heroes for all of us worried about the drugging of racehorses. Richard Dutrow Jr. was finally barred from New York’s racetracks for 10 years. His name is well known in racing circles for almost 70 violations at 15 racetracks in 9 states. Consider this: Dutrow hid illegal workouts of his horses, used strong painkillers including butorphanol found in winnning horse Fastus Cactus, kept 3 syringes in his desk loaded with xyzaline, a muscle-relaxant. John Sabini, chairman of the Board, said: “His [Dutrow] repeated violations and disregard of the rules of racing has eroded confidence in the betting pubic and caused an embarrassment throughout the industry.” It is hoped that Dutrow will not be licensed in other states to race. Those who drug horses to win are not only guilty of greed. Veterinarians believe that using both legal and illegal drugs on race horses is account partly for the fact that the United States has the world’s highest rate of thoroughbred mortality.
But Dutrow has the right to counsel, and they managed a win when at a hearing, Judge Richard Giardino upheld the stay. If he hadn’t, Dutrow would have been refused entrance to all New York tracks right away. One wonders how much the judge knows about the years on end of drugging horses and how many people have tried to get rid of this widespread horse abuse. With this stay, Dutrow can go on training horses until his appeal is heard; lawyers can delay this process easily. Dutrow said of Giardino’s ruling, “I’m glad I still get to go to the barn. I got a very positive attitude here, no negativism at all. It’s easy for me to get up in the morning and go to the barn. Everything else comes so naturally for me there.” Unfortunately we all know what comes naturally. We congratulate the Board, and wish that Dutrow had been barred for life.