Dr. Rick Sams, laboratory director at LGC Sports Science, the official testing laboratory for Kentucky, Virginia and Maine racing commissions based in Lexington, says that designer drugs administered to horses simply cannot be detected by laboratories.

Sams, it should be noted, also is a member of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium's Scientific Practices Committee and consultant to the Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

On the other hand, Martin Panza, senior vice president of racing operations at the New York Racing Association, said nobody is using drugs that we don’t know about. Both cannot be correct.

“Both right, both wrong,” said Dr. Steven Barker, the veterinarian whose laboratory at Louisiana State University was the first to discover dermorphin, aka ‘frog juice’. “The answer is somewhere in the middle.”

“Testing is far superior to what it was just five years ago due to advances in analytical technology. However, the new stuff is coming through purchases on the internet,” Barker added.

The largest supply of drugs comes from China and India. Fentanyl is flooding the ‘black market’ and it contributes greatly to the opioid epidemic in the U.S. Barker is surprised that fentanyl and its derivatives are not found more often in racehorses.

These drugs have proven easy to get and easy to alter. A simple Google search for designer drugs for sale yielded 666,000 results. Another for legal research chemicals for sale in US yielded 1,580,000 results.

Barker said that altering a research chemical makes it harder to detect and does not necessarily change its effectiveness and that the altered substance could yield a weaker drug, or one that is 1,000 times stronger.

Chemicals for research escape regulations by the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the US Food and Drug Administration because they are not sold for use in food, drugs, devices, cosmetics, or dietary supplements for humans or animals.

Though not intended for sale as such, research chemicals and their derivatives are used by humans and in racehorses. If the US government cannot stop it, how can the authorities that govern racing?

Multiple layers of security, intensive backstretch investigations, better monitoring of veterinarians, and more money for testing labs is the consensus opinion of Barker and an expert in the field of racing security, who requested anonymity.

"In Louisiana, the best method was to have the state police setup backstretch stings," Barker said. When asked how far the chemists are ahead of the testing labs, Barker’s droll response was "give them a couple of miles."

When trainer Jorge Navarro, infamous for his YouTube ‘Juiceman’ video, runs horses in New York, they are under surveillance 24 hours a day for 72 hours before they race. They are tested thrice; upon arrival via out-of-competition testing, then pre- and post-race, as well.

Navarro’s reputation as such resulted in one trainer, Phil Serpe, telling Daily Racing Form that he was reluctant to enter his horse in a race in which Navarro also had an entrant. Panza said that’s a rare occurrence.

A horseman saying it out loud is, anyway.

Bettors as Monmouth Park must think Navarro’s presence matters as handle was down 10 percent there in races with Navarro starters. Navarro had about 10 percent of the horses stabled Monmouth, and they needed him to fill races.

Craig Milkowski, who clocks horses and makes speed figures for TimeformUS, said the majority of races this summer at Monmouth that were exceedingly fast [in which horses improved up to 30 points] were won by a Navarro trainee.

However, professional gambler Paul Cornman made a good point about the converse being true; that not as many horses explode with huge wins anymore and that more simply just don’t show up on race day.

Panza said all horses that perform exceptionally well are tested but did not say the same about horses that run exceptionally poor, beaten favorites notwithstanding.

Out of competition testing in New York is the job of the regulating body, the New York State Gaming Commission. However, it only performs those tests for NYRA’s biggest races.

NYRA tests all horses that run in graded stakes with monetary assistance from the Jockey Club, which has a fund that never has been exhausted for such. NYRA picks up the tab for approximately 1,000 out-of-competition tests each year.

Surveillance cameras should be made mandatory inside the barn area of racetracks. Cameras are everywhere one turns these days, but not on the backstretch of racetracks, including NYRA’s.

And, unfortunately, among the multi-million dollar projects NYRA has already completed and plans for its future, absent is one that addresses the issue of total security.

Panza believes that cameras would protect trainers. In fact, some horsemen have installed cameras at their own expense. When asked about access control via badge swipe or Radio Frequency Identification cards, Panza said that would be logistically difficult.

There are and will be logistical challenges, of course, but enhanced security is urgently needed. Thousands of people have legitimate business in the barn area but once admitted to the grounds with proper credentials, their movements go unchecked.

According to one security expert involved in horseracing, cameras at all three NYRA tracks would be a reasonably priced investment.

The cost to install high definition, all weather, activity-based intelligence cameras for each stall, shedrow and breezeway, as well as outside cameras with Wi-Fi and recording equipment is approximately $3 million. The yearly expense to monitor, maintain and upgrade the equipment would add another $1.5 million.

Integrity should be paramount not only in New York but at all venues, especially the major ones that can afford to install security equipment. In NYRA’s case, the expense associated with thorough video surveillance is a drop in bucket.

As Dr. Barker wondered: “How can they afford not to, and why haven’t they done it already?”