Big Brown's owners to stop using steroids on horses

NEW YORK -- Big Brown's owners said on Sunday that they would immediately stop giving performance-enhancing drugs to any of their horses.

Michael Iavarone, a co-president of International Equine Acquisitions Holdings, told The New York Times that the more than 50 horses owned by his stable would be drug free by October, and that he would pay for tests to be administered by state or track veterinarians before and after each of their races to prove it.

"I know Big Brown or any of our horses do not need this stuff to win," Iavarone said to The Times of the horse that won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes before faltering in the bid for the Triple Crown.

"I'm not worried about an uneven playing field, either. The cost of the drug tests are a small price to pay for the integrity of the sport. I'm urging other owners to join us, and let's turn the game around."

Iavarone also said Big Brown's trainer, Rick Dutrow, backed the self-imposed ban on all medications perceived to be performance enhancing.

The decision comes three days after Congress held a hearing criticizing the drug policies of the horse racing industry.

The hearing was called after Eight Belles broke down at the Kentucky Derby last month and was euthanized on the track.