AURORA, Colo. — Following an exclusive FOX31 Problem Solvers investigation this past year into illegal gambling, animal abuse, and drugging of horses at unregulated “match-races” throughout Colorado, our viewers repeatedly asked us to look behind-the-scenes into the only licensed horse track in this state; Mile High Racing at Arapahoe Park.
HORSE DEATHS REMAIN HIGH DESPITE SAFETY MEASURES
It’s hard to imagine trainers thinking they can shoot a horse up with painkillers, attempt to fix a match, or enter a jockey high on methamphetamines, but according to state records, those things all occurred over the past few seasons the Arapahoe Park horse race track.
Colorado Racing Division enforcement documents, reviewed by FOX31, show a pattern of attempted cheating by dozens of horse trainers and owners, although it’s difficult to understand how some of the violators thought they would get away with the infractions.
According to Shannon Rushton, Executive Director of the Colorado Horseracing Association, state regulators and at least two certified veterinarians conduct inspections not only on race days, but prior to events in barn areas. Postrace, horses and jockeys are also drug tested.
“We are zero tolerance,” Rushton told FOX31. “We don’t want ’em doped up. We don’t want them abused in the barn. Not abused on race day. We want everything to be fair when it comes to medication to how the track is maintained.”
Even though participants know they’re constantly being monitored, the FOX31 Problem Solvers discovered at least 44 cases of cheaters getting caught over a three-year time period.
Previously undisclosed state records show dozens of horses at Arapahoe Park tested positive for an overabundance of therapeutic medications: Phenylbutazone, Methyl prednisone, Clenbuterol to name a few.
These kinds of infractions are more common because racing rules allow horses to be prescribed certain therapeutic medications during training. The level of therapeutic medications, however, needs to have diminished prior to race day. Rushton tells FOX31, it’s also a violation to have trace-amounts of two therapeutic medications in a post-race test.
“We don’t want any cheating. We go over and above when it comes to testing in this state. We are zero tolerance,” said Rushton.