Perception is reality. Over and over we hear this phrase as it relates to politics, business, and even Thoroughbred racing. These three words are used so often because the concept is real and powerful.
Unfortunately, horse racing is dealing with its own shady perceptions. At the forefront is a belief that North American horses need race-day medication to compete. Race-day medication means allowing a horse to run on the anti-bleeding drug Salix.
Having horses running on drugs is not sitting well with people in this country; heck, it’s not even sitting well with our fans.
The "Driving sustainable growth for Thoroughbred racing and breeding" study done this year by the international management and consulting firm McKinsey & Co. indicated only 46% of racing fans would recommend horse racing to other people. By comparison, 82% of baseball fans, 81% of football fans, and 55% of poker players are evangelists for their sport of choice. Then when McKinsey asked how many racing fans considered themselves "proud to be a fan," only 35% said yes compared with 66% for other sports.
Can we blame Salix for the bad perception? We can blame a big part of it. In the same study 78% of horse racing fans said medication was an issue negatively affecting the sport, and 36% said it was among the top-three issues facing the industry.
Part of the perception problem is the general public does not distinguish among Salix or cocaine or anabolic steroids. Drugs are drugs.
Salix does help horses with exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging (the