David Switzer, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders’ Association, is the latest industry leader to support changes in medication policies.
In a statement released April 29, Switzer said:
“The past and current chairmen of the RCI (Association of Racing Commissioners International) got the industry’s attention recently on their recommendation to ban race-day medication.
"I fail to see the wisdom in the opposition’s side to maintain the current medication platform while the industry holds meetings and contemplates more scientific studies. Have I missed something over the past few years while reading the Equibase reports or clear messages contained in the letters from Congress to our industry?
"When was the last time we received a quarterly or annual report indicating an increase in attendance, wagering or purses (not generated by alternative gaming)? Wagering had a +0.90 in the third quarter of 2007.
"To me this medication issue is not about science. It is about a philosophy and a perception. The philosophy is that the industry thinks it knows what’s best for our sport. The perception from our customers, both current and potential, is that we are a drug-infested sport. True or false, there is no amount of money that can be raised to promote a public relations effort to convince our customers otherwise. They read about the trainers that have abused our current medication rules, and while it may be a minority, the perception is that everyone is abusing. Yes, one bad apple does spoil the barrel.
"Why do we allow the inmates to run the asylum? It is insane to continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome. Break tradition, try something new. It might change that perception and bring some customers back.
"The first thing you have to do to get out of a hole is to quit digging,’ is the ‘Cowboy’ philosophy,” Switzer concluded.