Animal Law Review

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In May 2008, a horse named Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby, narrowly beating a filly named Eight Belles. Just as Eight Belles crossed the finish line, she collapsed and was put to her death in front of millions of viewers as a result of her two broken legs. As the world tried to make sense of the tragedy, the prominent trainer of Big Brown casually announced that he administered anabolic steroids before the race to enhance Big Brown’s performance and that he would continue to give steroids before every other race for the same reason. Thus, the issue of anabolic steroids in horse racing, which had previously been confined to discussions among those involved in the industry, was thrust onto the national spectrum. While the use of anabolic steroids is a relatively new issue, since the death of Eight Belles thirty-two of the thirty-six racing states have passed some regulation of the use of anabolic steroids in racing. This Article provides an overview of those anabolic steroid regulations in the context of the history of regulation in Thoroughbred horse racing. This Article concludes that while the current limitation on the effectiveness of anabolic steroid regulation is a lack of research and accurate laboratory testing, using a pervasive federal law might be the most effective way of ending the use of anabolic steroids in horse racing.

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