Horse racing has been known as the “Sport of Kings,” and, similar to royalty, racing has a scandal-filled historical past. Some misconduct has been about manipulating races, whether or not by influencing jockeys or the recurring phenomenon of horse switching. Whereas consideration has additionally fallen on the remedy of racehorses, together with the usage of performance-enhancing and pain-masking medication. Listed below are 10 horse racing scandals that made headlines in recent times:
1968: The Kentucky Derby winner exams optimistic for phenylbutazone
On Could 4, 1968, Dancer’s Picture had an exhilarating win on the Kentucky Derby, surging from final to first throughout the end line. Quickly afterward, the stallion examined optimistic for phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory. The drug was not allowed to be current on race day on the Derby, although use was permitted at different occasions for pain-alleviation, so Dancer’s Picture’s win was erased. Proprietor Peter Fuller contested the disqualification in courtroom for years, spending more than the $122,000 prize cash, however was finally unsuccessful.
Fuller was left with a idea about what had occurred. A supporter of civil rights, he’d given $60,000 in winnings from one other race to Coretta Scott King within the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.‘s assassination. This grew to become public data, resulting in threats, however Fuller’s request for enhanced safety earlier than the race had been turned down. Somebody could have approached Dancer’s Picture and drugged him.
Nineteen Seventies: ‘Massive Tony’ fixes a whole lot of races
Within the early Nineteen Seventies, Anthony Ciulla, generally known as “Massive Tony,” bribed jockeys in hundreds of races. They’d often be instructed to gradual their horses in order that they did not end within the prime three, thus guaranteeing that much less favored horses received and delivered large payouts. Ciulla as soon as declared he’d been a fixer in all states with horse racing besides California.
In a race at Atlantic Metropolis in 1975, the jockey Ciulla had influenced was too apparent about reining in his horse. When requested why, he revealed Ciulla’s involvement. Whereas Ciulla was behind bars, the FBI offered a deal: His sentence can be shortened if he helped with an ongoing federal investigation into horse racing. Ciulla ended up testifying against the jockeys and trainers who’d fastened races for him earlier than being granted entry into the Witness Safety Program.
1974: A millionaire makes an attempt to swap horses
In 1974, Tony Murphy, an Irish millionaire with a ardour for horse racing, tried to drag off a horse racing bait and change. He organized for an unknown horse, who he known as successful horse Homosexual Future, to be educated by Antony Collins in the UK. In actuality, the horse was really a similar-looking imposter to the actual Homosexual Future. As a result of the horse didn’t appear promising and it decreased the chances of him successful an upcoming August 26 race in Cartmel. Nonetheless, earlier than the race, the actual Homosexual Future was delivered to England from Eire to be swapped in secret. And in an try not to alert bookmakers, Murphy entered two different Collins-trained horses, although he by no means deliberate on really having them race.
On race day, conveniently the identical day as 9 different bigger races, the 2 different horses have been formally pulled from competitors, leaving Homosexual Future and one different horse left. To discourage these on the racecourse from betting on Homosexual Future and due to this fact growing his successful odds, his legs have been coated with cleaning soap to make him seem sweaty. After all, Homosexual Future received. Nonetheless, the scheme fell aside when a reporter learned that the opposite horses hadn’t even traveled to their racecourses. Murphy and Collins have been convicted of tried fraud however didn’t go to jail.
1977: A health care provider fakes a horse’s demise
Dr. Mark Gerard, a veterinarian who’d taken care of Secretariat when that horse received the Triple Crown in 1973, served as the agent to import two horses—Cinzano and Lebon—from Uruguay to the US in June 1977. Cinzano had been Uruguay’s Horse of the Year in 1976, whereas Lebon was nowhere close to that degree. After the horses’ arrival at Gerard’s farm, Cinzano’s unintentional demise was recorded.
At New York’s Belmont Park on September 23, 1977, Lebon defied the chances to win his race, incomes Gerard $80,000. However quickly an Uruguayan journalist notified the New York Jockey Membership that the successful Lebon was really Cinzano—the 2 horses appeared related, however the white stars on their foreheads have been different. Their identities had been switched, and Gerard served time behind bars for the scheme.
1983: Successful racehorse Shergar is kidnapped
Shergar was a well-known racehorse who received the Epsom Derby by the largest margin in race historical past. He received different races, together with the Irish Derby, earlier than his retirement in 1981 to work as a stud in Eire. On February 8, 1983, masked gunmen got here to Shergar’s farm, pressured a groom to load up the horse, and drove away. It took time for the police to be contacted, lowering the chances of tracing Shergar.
A $3 million demand for ransom got here, however Shergar’s homeowners—the Aga Khan and different shareholders—determined to not pay, leery of future abductions. There have been suggestions the crime was dedicated by the mafia or Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, however essentially the most accepted idea is that the stallion was taken and killed by the IRA in a botched try and fund the group. Shergar’s stays have by no means been found.
1984: Daring Character is spray painted to seem like Dashing Solitaire
Fantastic Cotton was not a successful Australian racehorse when he was bought by bloodstock agent John Gillespie. Gillespie additionally acquired Dashing Solitaire, a greater racer who resembled Fantastic Cotton. The plan was easy: run Dashing Solitaire in Fantastic Cotton’s place at a race on August 18, 1984. The scheme went off the rails when Dashing Solitaire was injured in a kangaroo-related incident and left unable to run.
As an alternative of giving up, Gillespie and conspirators determined to run one other horse, Daring Character, whose shade and markings have been nothing like Dashing Solitaire and Fantastic Cotton. To handle this, Gillespie’s gang used hair dye, which turned the horse orange. The dye was rinsed off, then spray paint was utilized to imitate Fantastic Cotton’s white socks. The horse ran, and received—however the subterfuge was rapidly found, partly as a result of paint was dripping down the horse’s legs. Gillespie and his coach ended up serving time.
2002: Three fraternity brothers rig the betting system on the Breeders’ Cup
After the Breeders’ Cup race on October 26, 2002, Derrick Davis had successful Decide Six tickets—during which bettors attempt to choose the winners in six consecutive races—and received greater than $3 million. But the circumstances of his success seemed suspicious: Davis was the one individual with successful Decide Six tickets, had chosen two long-shot winners and had made the weird selection to choose winners within the first 4 races whereas choosing all horses to win within the final two races.
An investigation found that Chris Harn, certainly one of Davis’ fraternity brothers, was a senior laptop programmer at Autotote, which dealt with the phone betting service that Davis used. Harn had been in a position to make modifications in Autotote’s system after the primary 4 races had been run, which let him select the winners for Davis’ tickets. Harn had additionally rigged bets with one other fraternity brother, Glen DaSilva. DaSilva, Davis and Harn all acquired jail sentences starting from one yr to 37 months.
2019: 30 horses die inside a six-month interval at a California racetrack
Throughout California racetrack Santa Anita Park’s December 2018 to June 2019 season, 30 horses died, with 23 of those deaths occurring by the tip of March. The losses resulted in public outcry, elevated consideration on the circumstances and remedy of racehorses and official inquiries. The monitor quickly shut down, then determined to part in a ban of Lasix, which is used to stop bleeding in horses’ lungs. As a diuretic, it additionally makes horses shed pounds earlier than a race.
There was speculation that the grime monitor’s circumstances, maybe affected by heavy rains, had triggered the deaths, however tests confirmed nothing was amiss. Although the California Horse Racing Board’s inquiry discovered problems, reminiscent of trainers feeling pressured to have horses run and poor record-keeping, illegal drugs and procedures weren’t discovered chargeable for the deaths.
2020: Twenty-seven individuals are indicted for horse doping
In March 2020, U.S. federal prosecutors indicted 27 trainers, veterinarians and drug distributors. The costs alleged the usage of “medication designed to secretly and dangerously improve the racing efficiency of horses past their pure skill, a dishonest follow that locations the lives of affected animals in danger.” A few of the medication used have been referred to as “pink acid,” “bleeder” and “frozen ache.” A veterinarian was accused of distributing cobra venom as a painkiller.
Among the many indictees have been top-level trainers. These included Jason Servis, who educated Most Safety. Most Safety had crossed the end line first on the Kentucky Derby in 2019, however was disqualified for interference, and had received $10 million within the Saudi Cup on February 29, 2020. Jorge Navarro, coach for XY Jet, was additionally indicted. XY Jet acquired $1.5 million on the Dubai Golden Shaheen in 2019 however supposedly died from a coronary heart assault in January 2020.
2021: Kentucky Derby winner fails drug check
On Could 1, 2021, Medina Spirit received the Kentucky Derby. He then made headlines for failing a drug check after the race; the extent of betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory, in his system violated Kentucky’s medicine protocols. The failed check additionally introduced detrimental consideration to Medina Spirit’s coach, Bob Baffert. Baffert’s horses have failed 30 drug tests over 40 years, with Medina Spirit turning into the fifth horse to take action previously yr.
The state of affairs highlights the importance of the Horseracing Integrity and Security Act, which can institute nationwide requirements for medication and drugs, together with testing and enforcement measures, when it takes effect on July 1, 2022.