The Water Hay Oats Alliance is a grassroots movement made up of like-minded individuals.  All WHOA members are invited to share their thoughts here

  • Janet delcastillo
    Trainer, Author, BACKYARD RACE HORSE

    Having been in racing for the last 35 years, I have seen the change in this industry. I used to be able to buy two year olds in training and turn them out for month and then continue training. In the last few years when I have purchased them, I have had to wait as long as six months before I can continue training as they turn out to have problems that would become major if I "treated" them with anti inflammatories and joint injections to get the illusion of soundness.

    This happens to many of the two year old purchases. The legal meds can keep them going but eventually the "medical therapeutic support" catches up with them.  With that in mind I went to the yearling sales, thinking I might have more luck even though it means more than a year of carrying and feeding before beginning training. I had a little more luck but one filly, from a large breeding farm, even after time to grow, would have problems being trained. I had a very knowledgeable vet check her and she said that the filly had ovaries that were the size of walnuts and very hard. She surmised that the filly had been given anabolic steroids to grow for the yearling sale. (Did you know that there is a pellet given to cattle when weaned to have them grow faster it has been used to push the growth of young horses also.)  I had the filly monitored and when the ovaries were soft and normal sized, a year later, she then became trainable. The point of this is to remind owners that the "therapeutic" meds given along the way in the training, do build up and the ultimate result is breakdown. While I understand the plight of trainers with owners wanting quick results, what has happened is a complete ruination of our business.

    We are looked upon as evil as we "run the horses to break down and death." There are many caring and competent trainers out there but it is hard to win playing by the rules. In the old days a good horse could run for years. Now it is get in, run a few times, and on to the next horse.
    I am unable to see these animals as "disposable" and strive to find them another life after racing. There is hope, that as we control the medication issues, perhaps following the guidelines in other countries and eliminate the cheaters, racing will survive. Right now the bill would help with the testing of the horses and put teeth into the punishment of those cheating.

    It is a long way to go but if we don't change the ways of racing, it will cease to be. It is really easy to train without drugs, you just train when horse is sound and give time for minor problems when he is not right. You can't know how your horse feels if he is constantly on medications. The majority of the anti inflammatories will cause other problems such as ulcers, etc 

    Owners! Read your Vet bills; ask your trainer why a horse needs tons of medicines in order to run. You pay the bills. You can learn cause and effect of what goes on.

  • Jason Reed

    As a diabetic, I test my blood a few times a day. I was reading up on natural blood thinners and found that Celery does this. I bought some bulk Celery seed and sprinkled about 1,000mg on my salad. After two days of this, my blood was noticeably thinner. Instead of a dark bubble, I had a lighter colored pool. Lasix thins the blood to stop bleeding. Can someone experiment on the race horse to see if this is a viable substitute? I'm 99% sure it is. Know that it isn't instant. It may take 2-3 days of consumption. 

  • David Juffet
    ex yearling scout

     Jason Read is a humble man. He's worked around horses for many years and his opinion must be respected. Glad he joined our alliance.

  • Jason Reed
    professional scout w/42 yrs. experience

    What's eating away at the thoroughbred industry?   Licensing! We license some of the worst people possible. They have no desire to become horsemen. They know very little about the horse and how to train one. Read the form. It's all right there. 

    The test is ridiculous when you think about what is at stake. Horsemen are becoming a thing of the past. Any of us probably can point to less than a dozen. So very few trainers know that when horses reach 5 years old, they go through a mental change. They become adults, if you will. How many times have you seen an older horse get a freshening and expected to need one, romp with top speed numbers? Only to be run back in 21-28 days and watch the numbers digress, race after race. Now, the horse is mentally ruined because he told his trainer, the only way he knows how to communicate and got ignored. Now he starts a pattern of cheating. He gave up. Why? Because his trainer has no desire to become a horseman.

    The fix: Anyone applying for a trainers license must take a horsemanship course, designed to teach about speed horses and stayers and the vast difference in training. Training the horses mind. Knowing how to get a horse ready for 2 turns without it being a big surprise. A course that also sets them on a path to horsemanship. I mark really nice horses to stable mail and watch 80% of them go right down hill due to shear ignorance. I'm SICK of it. Back in 1972, I remember full fields, all day. I also remember no shortage of true horsemen. As they died off, they left us with pretenders. They inturn turned out more pretenders. It's time to stop this destructive snowball and teach trainers how to train. Make testing far more intensive. Employ real horsemen to put together a course that works.

  • Holly Hoffman, Good Cheer Stable LLC

    The druggers don't have a high level of horsemanship because they have abandoned it under a pile of drugs.  WHOA members, give your drug-free horses the extra care and horsemanship to be champions for the cause of getting other horses off drugs by winning against every single drugged horse they meet! 

  • Rob Henie, East Coast Handicapping Report and West Coast Handicapping Report

    My name is Rob Henie. I write both the ECHR (East Coast Handicapping Report) and WCHR (West Coast Handicapping Report), both very popular reports for winners with solid information. I try to provide transparency with regard to "super feed" trainers, those of which are not on a level playing field with others. Understanding who these "characters" are, and calling them out, is so important I believe. These are barns ruining our sport, yet, are so easy to spot, instantly improving runners upon a claim, sending out horses who "re-break" at the top of the lane, suddenly finding a miraculous extra gear, spotting their horses so brazenly.

    Let's make a concerted effort to clean up the sport we love so much! I invite you to check out our handicapping reports, email for a free report and

  • Hal Handel, former Executive Director NJ Racing Commission and Racing Executive in NJ, PA and NY

    The ongoing saga of Pennsylvania regulators and trainer Ramon Preciado simply and eloquently underscores the compelling need for uniform standards and a firm hand at the wheel to avoid sideshows eroding the public's confidence and interest in our sport

  • Carol Ahearn, Rebah Farm

    We must, as an industry, adopt a drug free racing stance.  Our continuing use of medication in our horses not only compromises their safety and the safety of our jockeys, it compromises our pedigrees long term and leaves our industry with no integrity whatsoever.  There is no more important goal for insuring the long term success of our sport than to assure our patrons that we run a sport that is above board and that we value our horses and want to assure what's best for their long term safety and welfare.

  • Patrick Sheperd, Run Aweigh Stable

    My wife lost her great grey jumper in a pasture accident. She looked for a year for a replacement. Since she had always bred her own horses, one at a time from her 2 horse brood mare band, and stayed  with them until they found a home after their competitive careers were over. The horse she found was running at a race track and she claimed him, another first. The horse was under the care of a trainer, we subsequently learned, had lost his license for multiple drug violations. The withdrawal period for the animal was slow and frustrating but with an excellent horseman, as his trainer, and plenty of hay and grain he became a willing athlete. He became a steeplechase horse which requires stamina and courage over miles of turf. He has been entered twice this spring and won his maiden race and an allowance race and we look forward to the rest of this fine animals drug free racing. At the premier race in Virginia this spring over 50 horses competed, all but 13 on Lasix, but the good news was winners in 2 of the races ran without drugs so progress is being made. Many of the non-Lasix horses were horses imported from Europe.

    Having competed in various jurisdictions  and watched over many years as each of these separate organizations attempted to control the influx of drugs and administer the uneven and timid punishments of offenders it has become obvious that it simply is not working. Something must be done before we loose any opportunity to salvage racing as a sport of in this country or to stabilize the loss of the fan base. I believe the bill currently being prepared in Congress is the best last hope.

  • Tod Adamson, Tod Adamson Racing Stable
    Did you read the comments about the two horses that died at the Preakness yesterday? Thousands of derogatory comments about horse racing, as well as questioning the morals of owners and trainers that participate in horse racing. When NBC drops their coverage of the Triple Crown races, that will be the last nail in the coffin. The Jockey Club, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, HBPA,........they can only agree to medication withdrawal timing. Not to the complete elimination of drugs. It's been an out-of-control, downward spiral for a couple of decades. It is hard to believe the race horse industry leadership can't see what is happening.
  • Jeffrey Begg, Windways Farm Limited

    Our industry needs consistent and uniform drug and medication rules. Elimination of race day medication is an essential part of these needed rules. Horsemanship has taken a back seat to veterinary and medication use and abuse. It seems that our sport has taken a wrong turn and it will take drastic measures to get back on track. 


  • Garrett Redmond
    Ballycapple Paris, KY

    No other major Thoroughbred racing country permits horses to be given drugs on raceday. We, these United States and Canada, are the only notable exceptions. Many countries have bans on some drugs for a day or longer before raceday.  The anti-medication rules are sternly enforced.  Penalties for breaking the rules are severe and are applied regardless of the identity of the offender.  A ban for life may be imposed. Read more...

  • William Robert Cook, Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. BitlessBridle Inc., Research Veterinarian

    Science, safety and ethics render it essential.


  • Marion Seidel, Former Apprentice Jockey, Exercise Rider

    After learning and working in the sport of racing over 15 years in Germany, I moved to the US and experienced the differences between drug free racing and racing and training with all kind of medications or drugs. I left the sport I loved so much after only 3 years of working as exercise rider in Florida.

    The support of so many well known and respected insiders of the sport WHOA is getting now, is literally my last hope to bring about some changes to the industry. Our horses and riders deserve better than risking their lives due to over medication, over work and exploitation of the animals, without whom the sport wouldn't even exist anymore!

    Just let them run drug free and give them time to heal if they are in need of medication due to illness or injury! It would be only of benefit to the whole industry if the US would get in tune with some rules of other countries who are very successful at racing drug free and spend more time on actual training of our great thoroughbred athletes!

  • Bill Reepmeyer, Harness Horse Owner

    I have been an owner of harness race horses for 25 years and love the sport and the horses. The decline in the industry saddens me and I fear may get worse. I believe a significant factor is the use of performance enhancing drugs. It seems that side of the business is increasing and the number of honest trainers and owners is decreasing.. The industry appears incapable of dealing with the issue and state regulation and testing is not equal to the task. If a positive is found penalties are small fines and or short suspensions are imposed which are overcome by merely listing a "beard" trainer and doing business as usual.  People in the industry at all levels know this and who many of the violators are but it has become tolerated as part of a poor culture.

    Horses are being harmed and in my opinion money is being stolen. Remember Michael Vick was sent to prison for participating in dog fighting. Where is the enforcement in horse racing?

  • Craig Minten, Le Beau Cheval TB Partners LLC

    My goal when I got into breeding was to breed the finest thoroughbreds. I didn't look at drugs for an advantage but rather into solid, old bloodlines that produced the strong, athletic and durable horse. As I began racing and searching for trainers I noticed that my vet bills were filled with all sorts of medications. When I asked about this the common response was that they didn't want to find out that they needed it, better safe than sorry. Well I'm not interested in that. 

    I recently opened Le Beau Cheval TB Partners LLC. The purpose for this is to invite people into thoroughbred racing to race clean and win clean. With research, development, proper diet, excellent conditioning and patience I know that we can not only breed a superior, healthy strong thoroughbred but we can win as well and not only win but win for a long time. With the recent addition of Le Beau Cheval Farm where we retrain our athletes for second careers, having a healthy horse with a clear mind is a huge plus. 

    I am very proud of WHOA's efforts and you have our support. We will do our part to breed, train, race and retrain horses the way nature intended and furthermore to prove that a clean athlete can and will outperform the others. We invite others to help fix today so our tomorrow is focused on training athletes with soul, not drugs. We at Le Beau Cheval Partners LLC are committed to breeding, buying, and training the right way that produces a solid, clean foundation to race longer and strong.

  • Sid Gustafson, DVM, Veterinarian, Equine Behaviorist, Educator

    Here is a link to an article I wrote regarding progressive medication reform.


  • John Koenig, Two Rivers Racing Stable, Owner/Farm Owner

    I think we are at a tipping point. The time for arguing "therapeutic" medications and permissible drugs is over. Regardless of our opinions, the public will never believe running horses on drugs is humane. Further, as we all know, it truly is "chemical warfare" at the racetrack. This has created a crazy arms race that no one can win - expensive in both owners dollars and horses health. At the same time, the industry is dying. This is due to many reasons, but a drug-riddled image is certainly among them. We currently use many legal medications in our stable. Real change would effect us and the way we operate, forcing us to possibly retire or rest horses more frequently. I say good. If outfits like ours are forced to change or disappear because they cannot, so be it. I believe it is the only way racing will survive.


  • Tod Adamson, Tod Adamson Racing Stable

    I don’t understand why race track stewards can’t draw up a race card so only “clean” horses run in a specific race. I think you will see more trainers willing to enter horses in these kinds of races since the playing field is even. It is a small step but a good one IMO.

    No, I do not support the HPBA on their position on Lasix administration to race horses. Administration of any kind of drug to a horse for the purpose winning a race, is immoral.


  • Robert Corey

    The article about Doug ONeill is further testimony to my previous statements concerning the "look the other way" attitude of the racing officials at both harness and thoroughbred tracks. It has gotten way out of hand. I have been a harness racing official for 8 yrs and trained and drove for 40+ yrs, it disgusts me to see my peers take this attitude, they blame the commission for not backing them , I am not working full time, they are ! 

    Our racing regulatory system needs revamping NOW. We are in such a rapid demise , if something is not done now, Racing will never be what it was! Stewards and Judges must not be intimidated by attorneys and their clients or racetrack management.
    The rules are in place , some need enhanced penalties, but 95% just need to be enforced consistently.


  • Gary S. Broad, Oakmont Ranch, Owner

    The battle against pre race drug use, is the moral battle for the soul of racing. LET THEM RACE DRUG FREE.

    I have been a horse owner for about 9 years and a fan of racing for about 40. When I became involved with owning horses I just thought that you buy a horse and then turn it over to a trainer and then enjoy watching your horse either workout in the morning or race in the afternoon. Now 9 years later, I have learned that acceptable levels of 27 drugs, that injecting joints, both knees and ankles is not just accepted, but part of a trainers program. I thought about getting out of this dirty drug infested sport. I have come to the conclusion that if you really want to make a change in this sport that it has to come from within the sport.

    Owners of the horses and the horse playing public are the lifeblood of this sport, what would happen if all concerned WHOA owners pulled there horses from competition? A national strike for a week or a month, maybe track owners may take owners seriously for a change. Right now the inmates (trainers) are running this asylum. It is insane to give horses drugs prior to a race, it endangers the lives of both jockey and horse. Why are we putting up with this? Why are we accepting our horses being abused by drugs? I don't know about any other owners but I care about the well being of my horses, I am responsible for their well being. I have found that most horse owners also have dogs, would you give your dogs thyroid medications that they don't need? How about bute or lasix? If you really care about your horse, tell your trainer NO DRUGS for racing, drugs are for recovering. 


  • Andrew Kessler, Slingshot Solutions LLC, Substance Abuse Expert

    As an advocate working in Washington, D.C. on the subject of substance abuse treatment and prevention, I see every day the damage that drugs can do to a life, to a family, and to a business. As a lifelong racing fan, I am witnessing a collision of my professional expertise and one of my greatest passions. While the policy I work on pertains to human health, I have developed an expertise on what damage unregulated drugs can to do a body. Whether we are human or equine, we deserve to live a life that is free from the destruction caused by illegal drugs, or even legal drugs administered in unsafe dosages.

    Substance abuse does not damage only those who ingest drugs and narcotics. Amongst people, drug use causes severe economic damage, stemming from increased health care costs, lost economic productivity, and a plethora of other problems. The difference between humans and equines in this regard is negligible. Drugging of horses leads not only to bodily damage, but to economic damage as well, in the form of increased medical costs, and shortened careers.

    Nothing should be more paramount to the Sport of Kings than the safety of its participants. Every other sport- football, hockey, baseball, etc- are taking part in a movement to place participant safety at a level never before seen. Thoroughbred racing must join in this movement.