Winning Racehorse Tests Positive for Meth, So PETA Moves to Have the Trainer Punished

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Feb 04, 2024

A racehorse by the name of Gardy’s Legacy won a harness racing event at the MGM Northfield Park in Ohio in September 2023. 

But after taking home the trophy, officials tested Gardy’s Legacy’s blood and found that the horse had been given methamphetamines before the race. The owner has since been punished, but animal activist group PETA believes the penalty wasn’t nearly enough. 

Gardy’s Legacy Had an Incredible Race

On Sept. 3, 2023, Gardy’s Legacy won a race at the MGM Northfield Park in Ohio with such speed that it brought up concerns among the authorities.

Harness horse racer speeds past the camera

Source: Mark Sandten/Bogarts/Getty Images

Although it is illegal, there have been several cases of trainers doping their horses with drugs in order to make them run faster. And while they hoped it wasn’t true, the Ohio State Racing Commission decided they needed to check. 

The Proper Authorities Decided to Test the Horse’s Blood

Shortly after the race, Gardy’s Legacy’s blood was drawn and tested by the authorities for performance-enhancing drugs. 

Scientist in a lab testing blood

Source: Freepik

And what they found shocked not only those in the horse racing industry but people all over the world. 

Samuel Schillaci Injected His Horse with Meth

It became clear that trainer Samuel Schillaci injected his horse, Gardy’s Legacy, with D-methamphetamine, or meth, as it’s most commonly known.

Police officer holding a large pile of crystal meth in his gloved hands

Source: Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

Meth is not only an illegal and extremely dangerous drug for humans, but it’s also a Class 1 Category A offense in horse racing, according to the U.S. Trotting Association.

The Ohio State Racing Commission Punished Schillaci for Drugging His Horse

Once the Ohio State Racing Commission learned what Schillaci had done, he was immediately punished for breaking the law. 

Harness horse racing through pools of water on the track

Source: Lutz Bongarts/Getty Images

Of course, Gardy’s Legacy was disqualified and stripped of its first-place title. The $4,500 Schillaci received for winning was returned, and the trainer was forced to pay an additional $1,000 fine and was suspended from racing for one year. 

Members of PETA Are Arguing the Punishment Wasn’t Nearly Enough

However, since the incident, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has spoken out against the trainer, as well as the Ohio State Racing Commission.

Promotional photograph for PETA that reads “Every Animal Is Someone”

Source: @official.peta/Facebook

The organization, which fights for the rights of animals all over the world, is arguing that Schillaci’s small fine and one-year suspension was far from appropriate. They believe he needs a much harsher sentencing for what he did. 


What the PETA Senior VP Had to Say

Kathy Gulliermo, the Senior Vice President at PETA, said in a recent statement, “Evidence shows this trainer administered a dangerous street drug to a horse and got a slap on the wrist for it” (via Men’s Journal).

Profile picture of Kathy Guillermo, Senior VP at PETA

Source: @Kathy Guillermo/LinkedIn

She continued, “There should be no place in Ohio racing — which receives subsidies that could be going to the state — for someone who risks a horse’s life with meth.”


Endangering a Horse’s Life Is a Serious Crime

Guillermo also said, “This small administrative fine and suspension aren’t commensurate with such a serious violation.”

Two horse in a stall in an outdoor barn

Source: Freepik

“Administering meth endangers a horse’s life, and trainers who treat a horse so callously will do the same to others too. The commission should consider not only the safety of Gardy’s Legacy but also that of all the other horses in Schillaci’s barn.”


The Dangers of Drugs Are the Same in Animals as They Are in Humans

It’s important to understand that drugs such as steroids and meth are just as dangerous for horses and other animals as they are for humans. 

Photo illustration of a steroid injection

Source: Freepik

When injected, meth produces an almost immediate and wildly intense high, which makes it extremely addicting. Meth is one of the most dangerous drugs on the planet as it’s not only highly addictive, but it also negatively affects organ systems and increases the risk of heart disease, liver damage, and stroke. Not to mention the fact that it can cause severe brain damage. 


Schillaci Deserves to Be Removed from Racing in Ohio

Because of the clear danger Schillaci inflicted on Gardy’s Legacy, Guillermo and the entire PETA organization believes that the trainer should be removed from racing entirely.

Harness horse racing at MGM Norfield Park

Source: MGM Resorts

Guillermo explained, “Those who demonstrate such cruelty even one time show a clear disregard for the regulations and shouldn’t be granted the privilege of competing in your state ever again.”


The Ohio State Racing Commission Claims They Can’t Do Any More

In response to PETA’s petition to have Samuel Schillaci removed from Ohio racing for his crime, the Ohio State Racing Commission claimed they do not have the authority to do so.

Judge banging a gavel after deciding on a case

Source: Freepik

A spokesperson for the organization told Fox 8, “The judges gave the maximum penalty allowed by law. Statutorily, the maximum that a judge can issue is a $1,000 fine and a one-year suspension.”


Giving Meth to a Racehorse Is Wildly Unethical

PETA is well known for its often aggressive fight against animal cruelty, and not everyone agrees with its belief system or even how it goes about protecting animals.

Horse running around a tire in a coral

Source: Freepik

And in this case, there are some who believe the trainer received the proper punishment and that PETA doesn’t need to get involved. But whichever side of the PETA and Ohio State Racing Commission debate one falls on, it’s almost impossible to argue that giving meth to a horse isn’t horrific and wildly unethical.