Of milkshaking and men

This tidbit intrigued me so much I had to post it. From the San Diego Herald Tribune:

In horse racing lingo, it’s called “milkshaking.” Under cover of darkness or a blanket, a handler inserts a tube into a horse’s nostril, directs it to the stomach and feeds the animal a baking-soda solution in the hope of helping it run faster.

“There’s a lot of talk around the track and the perception that something strange is going on,” said Sherwood Chillingsworth, the executive vice president of Oak Tree. “We thought that in order to make everybody feel like they’re playing on a level playing field, that our testing should dispel any perceived or real problem. We can do that as a track because we can allocate stalls to whomever we want. We don’t need legislation to do that in order to get it in effect as soon as possible.”

Generally, in the hours before a race, only food, water and Lasix � a diuretic � can be administered to a horse. But unless horses are tested, the only way to enforce the rule is to catch someone in the act. In April 2000, an assistant trainer in California was caught with a syringe, a plastic tube and a milky substance. That trainer was suspended for 60 days, the state’s only milkshaking case in memory in which someone was caught in the act, according to state racing board spokesman Mike Marten.

Some believe a pre-race milkshake can allow a horse to run faster longer. The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is usually combined with other substances, including sugar or other drugs. It neutralizes the buildup of lactic acid, which is produced during exercise and is believed to cause fatigue.
“Hypothetically, it makes sense,” Sams said. “The administering of any alkalizing substance like sodium bicarbonate would delay the onset of fatigue.”

When a milkshake is given to a horse, a trainer usually inserts a tube through a nostril into the stomach. If incorrectly administered, the tube might go into the lungs instead and the horse would drown.

A rising problem for horse racing?

So they give horses diuretics? I always wondered where the expression, “I’ve gotta piss like a racehorse” came from. Now I know.

Also, I just like the sound of “milkshaking.” It sounds wholesome, but at the same time might be some kind of sexual terminology. And no, please don’t post any comments giving vivid descriptions of what you would consider “milkshaking.”

I think Bismarck said that politics was like sausage-making…the less you know about what goes into it, the better. I get the feeling that horseracing is the same way.

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