Drugs and slaughterDrugs are a major contributor to horse deaths, Dane says.Some drugs, like painkillers, are used to mask pain. "If a horse is running with an injury but can't feel pain due to the drugs used, that injury can be exacerbated, leading to breakdowns," he says. "A pain-masking drug known as phenylbutazone is given ubiquitously to racehorses; it's the equine equivalent of aspirin."And others drugs are used to enhance performance. "The drug furosemide, commonly known as Salix - formerly Lasix - is believed to be given to over 90 percent of racehorses, whether they need it or not," Dane explains. "It's purported intended use is to prevent racehorses from bleeding in the lungs, but it's also a diuretic which causes horses to lose water weight and run faster."There are other drugs as well, says Dane, including including steroids, cocaine and cobra venom.In April, four veterinarians were found guilty of administering drugs to horses before a race at Penn National Race Track in Grantville, Pennsylvania.As disconcerting - or shocking - as the drugging or doping of the horses may be, one of the "most reprehensible" aspects of the horse racing industry, claims Dane, is the number of thoroughbreds who ultimately end up in a slaughterhouse. A 2011 Forbes news story reported 10,000 thoroughbreds a year were shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.Dane explains that currently, it is impossible to slaughter horses commercially for human consumption in the U.S. since Congress defunded inspections of horse slaughter plants. But they can still be exported overseas.Ferdinand's storyIn fact, this was the fate of Ferdinand, winner of the 1986 Kentucky Derby and one of the most famous racing horses in history."As a racehorse, Ferdinand won eight of 29 starts and earned $3,777,978, retiring as what was then the fifth leading money winner of all time," reported one article. Ferdinand was also hailed as one of the top 10 Kentucky Derby performances of all time by the Sporting News).But shockingly, after all his glory, his presumed fate was at a Japanese slaughterhouse in 2002. In an emotional article tracing the final years of Ferdinand, journalist Barbara Bayer interviewed a Japanese horse groom. The groom told Bayer that Ferdinand was "the gentlest horse you could imagine. He'd come over when I called to him in the pasture. And anyone could have led him with just a halter on him. ... He'd come over to me and press his head up against me. He was so sweet." (You can see a photo of Ferdinand here.)Dane says Ferdinand is now a poster child for the anti-horse slaughter advocates. And there are those within the racing industry who also want reform. "There are some tracks that have instituted practices that if you send your horse to slaughter, you will lose your privileges at the track," but that is the exception rather than the rule, Dane adds."The career of a racehorse is only a few years long," notes Dane. "But their lives can be 25 to 30 years. We feel strongly that we owe these horses more.""What other athletes," he asks, "do we use up and then dispose of?"How much money will someone pocket by sending a former racehorse to a slaughterhouse, according to Dane?A mere few hundred dollars.