The ongoing and often heated debate within the American horse-racing industry over the race-day use of the diuretic furosemide to inhibit bleeding finds well-meaning people on both sides of the issue. However, whenever articles appear on the subject, the online comments usually contain some passionate and belligerent invectives that cross the line of civility.
A recent article in the well-respected sport-horse magazine Chronicle of the Horse demonstrates that such ill will is nothing new and is not confined to horse racing. A revelation in the article by a current member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is truly stunning.
Edward S. “Ned” Bonnie is an attorney, an equestrian, a member of the Jockey Club, and a long-time activist for enacting meaningful drug rules in all kinds of equestrian sports. Author Sara Lieser profiled Mr. Bonnie in the Chronicle of the Horse (February 10, 2014 issue). The Chronicle correctly referred to him as a “horse-welfare trailblazer.”
Mr. Bonnie told Ms. Lieser about the physical threat made to his horses in the late 1970s when he was campaigning against the use of reserpine in show horses:
“They [some unnamed proponents of reserpine] threatened to kill our horses at a show in St. Louis. The people in Chicago who were a rough bunch, I knew them, so I called them up and said: ‘I understand you all are going to either hurt or kill our horses when my wife shows in St. Louis.’ This guy said, ‘Oh, Ned, you know we wouldn’t do that.’ I said, ‘Let me tell you, if it happens, you’re going to be the first stop. I’m coming after you.’ As you might imagine nothing happened.”
Mr. Bonnie added about his crusade to rid horse sports of illicit drugs: “It wasn’t an easy road…I’m kind of a stubborn SOB. The only reason I haven’t been killed is that I’m a little too high profile.”
Let that last sentence soak in.
Horse racing in general and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in particular is fortunate that Mr. Bonnie obviously has had the courage to pursue his convictions. The octogenarian is still working intrepidly to rid horse racing of unsavory characters and practices that damage the image of the great sport. Whether you agree with him or not, there is no question that he has the best interests of the sport at heart…and he certainly is not intimidated.
Carry on, Sir.
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