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Pletcher says regulating drugs for horses is "a balancing act"

This is the second year in a row that the Kentucky Derby is screening its participants for steroids, and while that certainly seems like the right thing to do in the eyes of many people outside the industry, not all the trainers think it's in the best interests of the horses.

The decision to screen for steroids was put in place after the 2008 Derby, when trainer Rick Dutrow admitted he had been giving Big Brown a regular, and then-legal, injection of stanozolol. The state of Kentucky banned the drug.

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And while there seems to be general agreement that getting rid of anabolic steroids was the right thing to, potentially regulating corticosteroids is a much bigger gray area for most trainers.

Todd Pletcher, who has four horses in this year's Derby and a degree from the University of Arizona in Animal Science, said he thinks the blanket statement that all drugs are bad, or an attempt to cheat, is misguided.

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"I think we have to look at every angle and everything we can do to make sure the horses stay healthier longer," Pletcher said. "It's a delicate balancing act. Some science is good. Some medications are good. I think there is a misconception that we're trying to create and edge or do something illegal. That's now what we're doing here. We're trying to keep the horse out there and performing at a high level over a long period of time. I think we have to be careful of classifying everything as a negative."


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