Trainers’s Tell All Book Lacks Foundation
Loyal HRI reader Kyle Newcomb, who lives in upstate New York with his partner, Terri, is a retired businessman who's been playing horses seriously for the past 25 years. This is his contribution to the HRI Readers Blog series
By Kyle Newcomb
Despite how he might see himself, Thoroughbred horse trainer Glenn Thompson is not racing’s version of Jose Canseco. However, this will not stop Congress from trying to turn him into horse racing’s version of the slugger.
Thompson is the author of the self-published book “The Tradition of Cheating at the Sport of Kings.” His work seems to be the reason he’s been cast into the whistleblower role at the upcoming Congressional hearings investigating drug use in Thoroughbred racing.
It has taken four years since the last Congressional hearing following the Eight Belles tragedy in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. The focus is expected to be the continued use of race-day medication.
Where Canseco was a star, an admitted cheater, and a less than sympathetic figure who became an accidental hero by helping to expose rampant steroid use in Major League Baseball in his candid, tell-all book “Juiced” that led to his Congressional testimony, Thompson is a trainer of modest accomplishment.
The trainer is proud of a 30 year-plus career without a drug positive. On the backstretch, he is defined as a caring family man and lover of horses.
Where Canseco actually set out to defend and justify steroid use by himself and peers, Thompson casts himself in the role of crusader, doing what no one else has the guts to do – expose what he considers widespread cheating involving race-day use of illegal substances.
Lasix, of course, is a legally recognized medication whose diuretic properties lower blood pressure in humans and helps to mollify the effects of exercised induced pulmonary hemorrhaging. It does not prevent bleeding.
In a chapter titled “Cheating,” Thomson writes, “I think in America that 75 to 85% of horses that race get treated with something other than Lasix on race-day.”
By “other than Lasix,” Thompson makes it clear he does not mean Phenylbutazone or Lasix adjuncts, presently legal and that much is clear.
What Thompson is saying, however, is less clear. He refers to a partial list of commonly abused illegal generic and brand name substances such as magnesium sulfate, Clotol, Kentucky Red, Bleeder RX and the corticosteroid, ACTH.
ACTH, short for adrenocorticotropic hormone, is a hormone that’s produced in and released from the pituitary gland. The principal action of ACTH is to stimulate the synthesis and release of steroidal hormones from the adrenal glands that lie on the surface of the kidneys.
As the principal modulator of cortisol, ACTH enhances performance by acting as an agent to artificially manage pain.
Thompson’s account of what he believes is commonplace is a disturbing assertion and sweeping indictment. The reader anxiously awaits Thompson to substantiate his charges and detail this “on-going tradition.” Disappointingly, we wait in vain.
All we get in the way of “proof” is a series of quotes from unnamed veterinarians. To take Thompson at his word in these instances is to believe that these vets are the ones aiding and abetting the “cheating” 85 percent.
If Thompson’s testimony has credibility, those vets are even more cavalier and amoral than they are corrupt. Otherwise, how else could they share their own venality with one of the honorable 15 percent that work the backstretch.
It will be interesting to see what takes place at next week’s hearings, Perhaps legislators can persuade Thompson to go on the record as having first-hand knowledge of who the cheaters are.
Until then, are fans to believe that almost any trainer they would encounter is a cheater? That not fair, and it’s not right.
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