The 2008 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale marked the first sale in which the auction company offered buyers the opportunity to have their horses tested for exogenous anabolic steroids.
Boyd Browning, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Fasig-Tipton, said buyers of 22 horses out of the 305 sold during the two-day sale, held July 14-15 at the sale company’s Newtown Paddocks near Lexington, requested to have their purchases tested. The cost of each test was $500.
“Going into the sale, we really didn’t have any idea of how many people would request the test,” Browning said. “There was very little discussion or fanfare about the testing (around the sale grounds before and during the sale). The topic of steroids is on a lot of people’s minds at the moment, but some people chose to utilize the option and the others did not.”
The blood for the tests was pulled by Dr. Stuart Brown of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, and the testing is being done at the Ken Maddy Laboratory at the University of California-Davis.
Browning said test results are expected by July 18, or no later than July 21. If a test is positive, the seller of the horse is charged for the cost of the test and the horse can be returned.
“Anytime you pay over $100,000 for a horse, I think it is a good idea to have them tested,” said California-based buyer Gary Broad, who requested to have one horse tested. “It never hurts to check things out."
Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable didn't request steroids testing on any of the horses she purchased during the sale, but she believes giving buyers the option of having the test completed is a good idea.
“I would hope that people going into the yearling sales do not use it as much as they do in racing,” Siegel said. “I think somehow with the yearlings, you can spot it easily. I think if a buyer suspects that someone is using something, I think they are more likely to stay away from the horse than buy it, test it, and turn it back unless they really want to make a public case about who is doing it.
"I would think with the option that buyers have that the sellers would not do it. You hope that people would do things the way you would.”
Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds passed on having his yearling purchases tested for steroids, but said if he suspected a purchase of being given the substances, he would exercise his right to have them tested.
“We did test horses from the 2-year-old sales and did not have a positive,” Finley said. “I think the message is out to the industry, and I think these people are being on the conservative side. I think it is very positive and I think it is going to help overall. You always hear about these 2-year-old consignors who get these horses down to them in October and they are 100 pounds lighter than they were in August and September. “