This article was originally published on Northeastern Global News on May 11, 2023.
Drugging or “doping” thoroughbreds with medications that mask pain and enhance performance—sometimes beyond the breaking point—will no longer be allowed in horse races as of May 22.
The anti-doping regulations are a highlight of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act that marks a new era of federal racing regulation intended to protect race horses from injury and death.
But will the measures be enough to restore public confidence in a sport that saw seven thoroughbreds die at Churchill Downs in the lead up to this month’s Kentucky Derby?
Northeastern Global News spoke to a Northeastern philosophy professor who specializes in applied ethics and an official with the Humane Society of the United States about what it will take for the public to embrace the act’s reforms—or whether thoroughbred racing will peter out like dog racing.
“When people hear of an act like this, it sounds to them like something is being done” to protect thoroughbred race horses, says Mark Wells, an assistant teaching professor of philosophy at Northeastern.