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Pennsylvania’s horse racing industry has much to be proud of.  Races at the six tracks across the Commonwealth, including Erie’s Presque Isle Downs, are conducted with the utmost of honesty and integrity. 

“We’re putting out a clean and respected athletic event,” says State of Pennsylvania veterinarian Dr. John Marshall, “as clean as any athletic event in the world.”   Dr. Marshall makes this statement, in part, thanks to the work taking place at PETRL, the University of Pennsylvania’s Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory, in West Chester, PA. 

“The testing is very specific,” says Dr. Mary Robinson, PETRL’s Acting Director.  We are doing everything possible to make sure racing is a clean sport.” 

She further seconds Dr. Marshall’s statement with some specific numbers.  “Out of the 35,000 samples that we test on a yearly basis,” says Dr. Robinson, “only about 0.4 percent have a finding, so that means that 99.6 percent of everything we’re testing comes out negative. And about 95 percent of that 0.4 percent are therapeutic medications.” 

Dr. Robinson states that racehorse testing is actually much more sophisticated than human testing. “We are now able to detect the equivalent of a single grain of table salt in an Olympic-sized swimming pool,” explains Dr. Robinson. 

She concludes, “these horses can’t speak for themselves, and so it is up to us to ensure their welfare, and to try to make sure the testing program we’re using is going to promote their welfare, above all else.”

To see more about the testing process, see the video below:

 

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