Drugging Racehorses: Peggy Chenery Speaks

Courtesy The Atlantic

I’ve often spoken here of my disgust for those trainers who inject their horses with illegal drugs. Now Peggy Chenery has spoken out against owners who allow their horses to be tampered with in this way. Mrs. Chenery was the brave, principled owner of the great Triple Crown winner, Secretariat. Perhaps you’ve read the book or seen the movie. The Atlantic online issue of May 28, 2012, has an interview with Mrs. Chenery before I’ll Have Another, who had a good chance to win a Triple Crown, was scratched from the Belmont Stakes because of a swollen tendon. Interviewer Andrew Cohen asked if horse owners should be responsible for making sure that horse racing is clean. Her answer is unequivocal: “I think owners should be held responsible for their choice of trainers….If they tend to send their horses to ‘dirty’ trainers this should be a suspension of their right to ownership.”

What are her thoughts about horse doping? She says, ” Drugging horses is so far from my frame of reference that it is hard for me to identify. But I am sure there are owners who say ‘Do what it is you got to do.’ I think the saddest thing is to see a horse that is drugged up. The owner and trainer make their score. And then the horse is claimed and breaks down. And we know this is true.”

And what does she think of the “connections of I’ll Have Another, including owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill…?” (According to USA Today of May 30, 2012, O’Neill has been fined four times and faces a 45-day suspension because one of his horses had an “elevated level of carbon dioxide after a race, frequently a sign of an illegal practice known as milkshaking.”

Mrs. Chenery replied with devastating candor, “I think it is regrettable. And it isn’t the horse’s fault and this is probably a very good horse. I don’t know Mr. Reddam personally but I think he should be embarrassed that the trainer he has chosen does not have a clean record.”

If all owners had her integrity.

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