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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Dana Parham — I think it’s fair to say that anyone who loves our sport had to be sickened reading the FBI wiretaps on how cavalier veterinarians, trainers and caretakers mistreated and abused horses under their care. After reading the transcripts, I wanted to do something to counter the negative implications for our sport.

I also wanted something in place before racing resumed. I had some loose thoughts, and after consulting with Tony Alagna, Richard Arnold, Eric Cherry, and Robin Schadt, the result was the following integrity pledge.

I am pleased to report that all of the trainers that I employ, happily signed the integrity pledge. They include Tony Alagna, Ross Croghan, Scott Di Domenico, Virgil Morgan, Jeff Webster and Melanie Wrenn.

My next objective is to have all of the veterinarians associated with my horses sign a similar pledge. Also, any driver who abuses my horses by excessive whipping, slashing, kicking, etc., will be given one warning and after that, will not be asked to drive my horses for a period of one year.

I did not ask trainers who train only a single horse of mine to sign the integrity pledge. I’m not going to pretend this solves our problems, it is just a hopeful start. Any other owners who would like to utilize this integrity pledge are welcome to do so.


Standardbred Race Horses are loved, pampered and maintained from birth to the racetrack by the breeders and caretakers who have chosen to have relationships with these magnificent creatures.

Once these horses are placed in training and competition the vast majority of owners, trainers and caretakers continue the loving care of these great athletes.

I, Dana Parham, am committed to insuring that our beloved racehorses are not subjected to inappropriate, unethical, illegal or inhumane treatment while fulfilling their inherent desire to compete on the racetrack.  In that regard, I am asking that all trainers that are in my services make the following Integrity Pledge:

As a participant in the Harness Racing Industry, I have the honor of having racehorses as part of my life. With that honor, comes the moral obligation to stand up for humane treatment of these great athletes while they are in training and competition.

To further those values, I pledge the following:

• To make it clear to all participants in our sport that I will not tolerate any mistreatment of our horses.

• To make it clear that the use of illegal drugs or treatments or substances on a racehorse not only undermines the integrity of the sport, it constitutes, in my opinion, inhumane treatment of the racehorse.

• To make it clear to the whole industry that I will not do business with those who undermine the integrity of our sport by abusing our racehorses with illegal drugs and substances.

• To support the efforts of and to urge appropriate racing and law enforcement authorities to eliminate cheaters and abusers from our sport.

This is my solemn pledge and I understand this is a requirement for services to Dana Parham.

Courtesy of U.S. Trotting Association, June 6

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5 Responses

  1. Dana, I so admire your efforts to restore integrity in the standard bred world, and would love to witness the same mindset of honesty encompass the thoroughbred industry. The sharks will always be in search of easy prey, but at a minimum, they will be tempered somewhat by the thought that so many honest individuals watching. Shame the stewards and overseers would not accept their responsibilities in years past.

    We now live in a time where the lie becomes the truth, as after it is so often repeated, it becomes the fact. That’s just the way it is. We collectively are beaten into submission indeed. Thankfully, I suspect efforts like yours indicate a groundswell of positive change is now arriving. A setting sun or a rising sun was Franklin’s question at the founding of our country. Seems equally valid now for the industries of thoroughbred and standardbred. Sure hope we are rising to the challenges.

  2. McD, appropriate acknowledgment of Mr. Parham’s effort. Am told that his message was very well received same day at the U.S. Trotting Association website, a good thing.
    Like me, as a horseplayer we are hopeful that if what has happened on a federal level in both our sport and in the country can prove a catalyst for positive change, that would be a great thing.
    Thinking Springsteen at the moment, in the “Land of Hopes and Dreams.”

  3. I am certain the objective of dana Parham’s pledge is admirable. however, I can say that as a licensed practicing veterinarian I would be insulted if I were approached to sign such a document and would never do it. you see, from the first day I earned the right to my degree, I, as all other veterinarian’s did, took an oath. that should suffice to dana Parham and any one else interested in my or any other veterinarian’s services.

  4. Mr. Marino,

    I do not know Mr. Parham, or the individuals involved, but illegal drugs are at the heart of the perceptions the sporting public has about racing, thoroughbred or harness.
    I see no harm in calling attention to this issue in Mr. Parham’s attempt to make his sport better. All veterinarians take an oath, yes, but clearly there are some who would violate that oath.

    You, and your colleagues, have a right not to sign any agreements and withhold your services.

  5. TTT

    What is “legal” does not make something “moral.” It is immoral to stick a needle in a horses’s neck with Lasix, and anybody who does that does not care about the animal.

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