Wins Often Followed 2016 Steroid Treatments in California

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While it’s a small sample size, horses reported to receive steroid administrations in 2016 in California who have come back to race fared very well in their first starts after those treatments, winning at about three times the normal rate.

Looking at the reported anabolic steroid administrations in 2016 in California, 16 times horses have raced after receiving one of those treatments (through Dec. 29). In the first start after one of those treatments those horses won six times, a 37.5% win rate. For 2015—the most recent full year available—the average win rate  for all horses in California was 13.5%.

Three other times in those initial starts after a steroid treatment, horses earned placings. Combined with the wins, that’s a 56.2% placing rate, also well above the norm of 40.5%. (The 56.2% counts Masochistic’s runner-up finish in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), although he has since been disqualified to last.)

While it’s a small sample size, the 37.5% win rate and 56.2% placing rate are particularly impressive considering that steroid administrations are called for when a horse is debilitated, anorexic, or anemic.

The average number of days between these 16 administrations and the first start after a treatment was 99 days. Horses who receive a reported steroid administration in California must wait at least 60 days before returning to racing.

In California in 2016 there were 44 reported anabolic steroid administrations to 35 Thoroughbreds by 15 trainers. All were placed on the vet's list. Anabolic steroid administrations can be identified as they are the only treatments for Thoroughbreds listed as: “medication-60 days.”

Of those 35 horses who received at least one steroid administration reported to the California Horse Racing Board, 16 have come back to race, 14 are eligible to return but have not yet started, and five received the steroid administration in the past 60 days (through Dec. 29) and are currently ineligible to race.

Of course the interest in the administrations was sparked by Masochistic’s positive for the synthetic anabolic steroid stanozolol following his runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The race came 68 days after a reported Aug. 29 stanozolol treatment. It was the third time in 2016 that Masochistic received a steroid treatment.

The California Horse Racing Board publicly reports its vet’s list, but interestingly enough, none of the three times Masochistic was placed on the vet’s list in 2016 for anabolic steroid treatments is listed on the publicly posted information at the CHRB’s web site. Masochistic is the most accomplished horse in 2016 to have a reported anabolic steroid treatment in California and his three reported treatments are tied for most in the state.

Observing this inconsistency on Dec. 30 I requested access to the full list of reported anabolic steroid treatments in 2016 in California and CHRB spokesman Mike Marten quickly responded with access to an InCompass program to generate the full list. Marten said the publicly available vet’s list on the CHRB site is not as advanced as the InCompass program he provided.

I should note that Andy Asaro, an advocate for horseplayers, made the same information request Dec. 30. Asaro and other horseplayers active on social media have since called for such information to be listed in the racing program or in past performances.

Masochistic is trained by Ron Ellis, who accounted for seven of the 44 reported steroid administrations in California in 2016 through Dec. 29. For the full list of 2016 anabolic steroid treatments reported to the CHRB, click here.

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