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ETpro's avatar

With the doping levels used today, will there ever be another Triple Crown Winner?

Asked by ETpro (34584points) June 9th, 2012

I’ll Have Another won’t have another. After so brilliantly winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the horse has been scratched from the Belmont Stakes due to tendonitis in the left front leg, ending hopes he might win the Triple Crown of US Thoroughbred Racing. Such an injury may well be the end of the colt’s racing career. Of course, from the horse’s viewpoint, that may not be so bad. Retirement for a winning race horse means hanging out in lush green pastures with pretty fillies from fine lineages, and fathering lots of colts in hopes of breeding the next generation champion.

There have been 11 winners of the US Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, the last being Affirmed in 1978. Triple Crowns used to occur rather regularly, with back to back wins in 1977 by Seattle Slew and 1978 with Affirmed. The famous Secretariat had won in 1973. There were 11 winners from 1919 to 1978, a space of just 59 years. So on average, there was a Triple Crown winner every 5.36 years.

But since that Affirmed’s win 34 years ago, the use of performance enhancing drugs in thoroughbred racing has become routine. Are we pushing the animals so far today that no body of flesh and bone can withstand the demands? Should the use of steroids and performance enhancing drugs by outlawed in horse racing just as it has been in human sporting competitions?

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9 Answers

josie's avatar

I am sure there will be.
But answering your question in the description.
I think the principle is different with animals, issues of cruelty to creatures notwithstanding.
My objection to doping of humans is not what it does to the sport or what it does to the adult athlete who takes the chemical, fully aware of the the consequences and making a choice accordingly.
My objection is that the practice begins to trickle into athletics involving children, who may or may not be rational enough to make an informed choice, but only want to emulate their adult heroes and or aspire to wealth and fame in athletics.
Since animals do not make such choices, the moral principle of protecting children is absent, and at that point it becomes a political debate about how we should treat animals.
Animals do not possess rights, in the moral sense that humans do, but IMHO they definitely deserve more respect and empathy than they frequently get. On that basis, I wish they did not dope horses.
What if one day all athletic sports split into two “divisions”. The dope division, and the clean division. It would be interesting to compare and contrast the scores, the times, the personalities involved, the entertainment factor etc. of the respective games or events.
Speaking of harmful chemicals and sports, I am on my way to the golf course where I will play 18, maybe have a couple of beers and smoke one cigar. See Ya.

bewailknot's avatar

I believe there eventually will be another Triple Crown winner, maybe when they get the right genetic combination to withstand the stresses of current competition.

As foe the use of performance enhancing drugs, I tend toward protecting animals like we would children. I am not the type to put animals before humans like some people I know, but the animals cannot choose, and we know the drugs are harmful. If the skill of the person selecting and administering these drugs becomes of primary importance, are the winners of major races really going to be the best genetic material for producing future winners?

serenade's avatar

Jim Rome, who also owns a horse and is invested in the sport, has covered this extensively and doesn’t believe it will happen until the racing calendar changes or something else gives. His take is that horses are no longer bred for the longer Belmont race, and that the races are clustered too closely together to give a Triple Crown contender (and jockey) an adequate recovery and retraining period. The critical path, though, seems to be that most horses are bred for the shorter races.

Coloma's avatar

The main issue, drugs aside, is that it takes 4–5 years for a horses bones to be be fully developed. Training and running 2–3 yr. olds is a recipe for breakdown. Toss in the Bute, which masks injuries, relieves pain and allows a horse to run again before adequate recovery has been regained is an immoral practice.

I’m a life long horse person and have had horses come up lame from something as simple as slipping on pine needles on a mountain trail. The slightest injuries take a minimum of 8–12 weeks of recovery time, with NO riding, light exercise and proper medications/treatments.
Running 2–3 year old colts and fillies into the ground is barbaric.

jazmina88's avatar

Doping is bad and is being considered by the NTRA. I know of trainers that still try to race cleanly at a disadvantage. I dont think lasix is the cause of not having a triple crown winner.

The Triple Crown is hard #1) KY Derby with a crowded field, is actually a good trip through traffic. The other races are within 5 weeks, which is a grueling schedule, so many things can happen to these atheletes during this time, with or without lasix.

ETpro's avatar

@josie One problem with doping, whether adult humans, or animals, is that the performances of past athletes who did it the old fashioned way get swept aside and minimized by better living through chemistry. I don’t want to see horse racing where the winner is determined by what trainer can master the most awesome drug cocktail and the animal is washed up after just two runs. Treating such majestic animals like that strikes me as similar to doping children. Neither are able to give informed consent.

For adult humans, the straight league and dope league is a straight-up idea.

Enjoy your golf game, my friend.

@bewailknot Good point. Evolution grinds exceedinlly slowly, but it grinds exceedingly fine. Selective breeding, on the other hand, has its fits and starts; but it moves at a rapid pace.

@serenade That was my thought. Thanks.

@Coloma We even mask pain and put human athletes back out before they are healed. What can we expect of horses. I agree is’t barbaric.

@jazmina88 The unduly long hiatus speaks for itself. I hope they modify the schedule so there is far less likelihood of serious injury.

rooeytoo's avatar

We have a mare in Australia (she is actually in the UK right now, going to run at Ascot on June 23). She has won every race she has been in, 21 straight so far, Ascot will be 22. Black Caviar is her name and she is amazing. Wiki says this about her. So yes, I think there is always hope. And she is a girl! Guess her dam and sire never told her girls can’t run as fast as boys!

ETpro's avatar

@rooeytoo Very impressive mare. Good luck in the Ascot.

rooeytoo's avatar

@ETpro – all hooves are crossed!

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