HBO's "Real Sports" interview w/ Asmussen, 5/20

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second_glance
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Mon May 19, 2014 8:55 pm

From the press release:

"Hidden amidst the beauty and pageantry of the Triple Crown lies a darker picture of the thoroughbred racing industry – one of a widespread and dangerous drug culture that’s killing dozens of horses at tracks every week. The issue has gained notice over the last two months as shocking undercover video filmed by PETA exposed the team of highly accomplished trainer Steve Asmussen allegedly drugging and mistreating their horses. Asmussen sits down with Real Sports’ Bernard Goldberg for his first extensive one-on-one interview to answer the charges.

Goldberg, who won the Sports Emmy Award for “Outstanding Sports Journalism” for HBO’s 2008 exposé on the hidden world of horse slaughter, also interviews Asmussen’s former assistant, Scott Blasi, as well as veterinarians Dr. Kate Papp and Dr. Mary Scollay to find out what the racing industry is doing to protect the well-being of the horses."

Air time: Tuesday, May 20, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT & 9:00 p.m. CT
BlindLucky
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Wed May 21, 2014 8:30 am

Don't watch it if you don't want to be sick. We all know breakdowns occur, but they showed extremely graphic replays again and again that would never be shown again anywhere else.

Yes, Asmussen was interviewed, but he wasn't the focus. They did talk to Blasi, too, but the segment pointed fingers at everyone.
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dustino140
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Wed May 21, 2014 8:50 am

I thought it was a very poorly done 'shock piece' from a group that I've come to expect much better of.
BlindLucky
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Wed May 21, 2014 8:52 am

dustino140 wrote:I thought it was a very poorly done 'shock piece' from a group that I've come to expect much better of.
This was exactly my thought.
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MR-W
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Wed May 21, 2014 12:51 pm

I thought it was a shock piece alright and took my eyes off as much of the breakdowns that I could. It was horrible to see. With that said, unless numbers were fictitious, I thought the segment was fair. Yes, it was ugly but there is definitely an ugly side of the sport of kings. That's what makes Real Sports so successful. I watch it every month and they are not afraid to tell it like it is on either side. Some of their segments are very negative in nature and some are very positive. As long as they are accurate in their portrayals then I'm okay with it.
BaroqueAgain1
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Wed May 21, 2014 2:06 pm

I haven't watched the episode (have it DVR'd for later), but I've always found their stuff to be well-done. The program does investigative reporting, often on the behind-the-scenes stuff that a sport really doesn't want to be publicized.
I'm a fan of the PBR (rooting for the bulls, of course) and I found the segment that HBO did on that sport to be quite accurate. It addressed some of the very problems that have worried me for a while.
BlindLucky
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Wed May 21, 2014 3:49 pm

MR-W wrote:I watch it every month and they are not afraid to tell it like it is on either side. Some of their segments are very negative in nature and some are very positive. As long as they are accurate in their portrayals then I'm okay with it.
I agree with this to a point, but there was only one side portrayed in this particular segment. If I didn't know anything about racing, I would come away from it thinking that every trainer in racing is an evil, evil person.
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horsefan
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Wed May 21, 2014 10:11 pm

Here's an excellent comment by a vet on HBO's website.

http://talk.hbo.com/t5/Real-Sports-with ... 44#U373744

I watched this program tonight and was not too suprised at the typical media slant on it,though it was a little more objective than the similar 60 Minutes program in the late 70s. As a former athlete/competitive powerlifter and a former horse track veterinarian I disagree with some of the statements and videos made.

The video showing a horse euthansia has to be one of the worse ones I have witnessed. As an equine veterinarian for a number of years I have witnessed and performed a number of horses put down and none had the severe thrashing noted in the one broadcast, most are much smoother.Perhaps that veterinarian should consider a different medication if all her euthansias are that rough.

The program continued the myth that a painkiller "bute" given to horses will allow a horse with a severe injury to race at optimum speed. This drug "bute" is an anti-inflammatory like aspirin or advil. Anyone who has taken those drugs with a moderate to severe orthopedic injury knows it does not make you back to normal function magically. A football player or track athlete with a torn ACL taking Advil would not be able to run at full speed or performance, it would probably barely take the edge off the pain. Try preventing all human athletes especially at the higher performance levels from taking any of these non steroidal anti inflammatories for inflammation and discomfort from their typical athletic injuries and I doubt you could field an entire team in any sport, even weekend warrior athletes. I was treated with the human equivalent in college for a shoulder injury and aspirin was much more effective.

The drug lasix was mentioned as a non necessary drug and used to only make the horse loose weight to go faster. Yes some human athletes like wrestlers and weight lifters having to make a specific weight class limit take it to loose weight, but it used for a different reason in horses not mentioned in the program. It is used to treat exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhaging in horses. Even in the 1980s studies by Dr. Pasco from UC Davis showed up to 50% of race horses have some bleeding in their lungs when endoscoped after racing and even non race horses in strenuous exercise can experieince it. Horses that race in Europe and other countries also have been shown to have this condition so it is not just a US race horse issue. Lasix prevents this from happening when used. It has a definite therapeutic use.

There are a couple of other drugs mentioned that may have questionable usage. Clenbuterol was mentioned as being used as a bronchodialtor. It also has some anabolic muscle building properties which is the main reason it is used, and why even in most livestock shows it is illegal. Treating with thyroid medication for undiagnosed thyroid disease is also questionable in all species of animals. Some horses are truly low thyroid but generally not young fit horses that we see at the track.

A more complete picture of some of these drugs that are used therapeutically might have given a more complete picture.

James Fix DVM
second_glance
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Thu May 22, 2014 9:30 am

At the end of Paulick's synopsis of the Real Sports segment, he writes:

"On June 4, another investigative program, Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports,” will focus its attention on the subject of drugs and horseracing."

http://www.paulickreport.com/news/ray-s ... g-culture/
Catalina
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Thu May 22, 2014 10:25 am

Missed the 5/20 broadcast. Do let me know if it looks to do a rerun.
Barnfour
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Thu May 22, 2014 11:51 am

11:15pm tonight HBO2....215am tomorrow HBO2.....12:15,3:15pm,430pm, tomorrow HBO
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perfectsoul
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Thu May 22, 2014 12:03 pm

I thought it was a great piece. Drug rules need to change and the practice of drugging crippled horses and racing them needs to end. Not every trainer is evil or an abuser, but too many of them (especially at the lower levels) are. These practices are cheating the bettors, fans and horses, not to mention putting jockeys' lives on the line. I was happy to see Pletcher and Baffert outed as well. Kudos to HBO.
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Le Beau Bai
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Thu May 22, 2014 5:35 pm

Does anyone have a link so I could watch this? I don't have HBO, I'm in the wrong country!
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