- Trainer: Seth Sullivan
- Career earnings: $135,780
- Running Style: Stalker
- Brief Interesting History: At the beginning of the season, ROS Bashing raised red flags for poor performances in several races. He was immediately laid off for reactive oxygen species intoxicating his body and advised to undergo a month of detoxing. Instead of slurping green tea and chowing down on broccoli, veterinarians recommended Selenium and a slow transition back into work. With a consistent training program dominated by endurance type work, ROS Bashing has beat the odds and consistently won his last several races showing extreme strength and power. When questioned about the secret to this horse’s comeback, the trainer shied away from reporters muttering, “Mitochondria.” Probing for information about how this horse maintains his famed Stalker running style holding steady on the tail of the leader, all the trainer revealed was “Powerhouse of the cell” leaving spectators wondering how third grade science logic trained a Derby contender, but one cannot argue with logic. It seems accumulation of mitochondria within cells are certain to power ROS Bashing into the lead.
by Dr. Caitlin Vonderohe
When training and managing the equine athlete, it is important to feed the equine athlete to maximize the impact of training on muscle cells. White et al. explored ways to improve how we can use nutrition to support athletic training in horses in the rapid communication “Dietary selenium improves skeletal muscle mitochondrial biogenesis in young equine athletes” published in the Journal of Animal Science in September, 2017.
Mitochondria are organelles that are responsible for producing the energy that fuels muscle cells. Muscle cells respond to training by enhancing mitochondrial efficiency and growth in humans and rodents. However, during intense exercise reactive oxygen species may also be produced and damage muscle cells, prompting nutritionists to supplement human and animal athletes with antioxidants. Selenium is supplemented in animal diets to contribute to cellular antioxidant machinery in the cell. Therefore, the objective of this study was to explore how selenium supplementation and exercise training affect mitochondria in equine muscle cells.
The investigators used thirty, 18 month old quarter horse fillies and geldings that had never been enrolled in a forced exercise program. Half of the horses were then either placed in an exercise training program or housed in a pasture with no forced exercise, and fed one of two diets with different levels of selenium. In the second period of the study, half of the horses, in training, that were on the higher selenium diet were switched to the low selenium diet, and half of the horses, in training, on the low selenium diet were switched to the high selenium diet. At the end of the both periods of the study horses underwent a standard exercise test and muscle biopsies were taken. The authors then measured the activity of the enzyme citrate synthase, which has been established a marker of mitochondrial density in muscle tissue and cytochrome C oxidase, an enzyme involved in energy production in mitochondria.
The authors found higher levels of citrate synthase activity, and therefore greater mitochondrial density in horses that were fed a diet higher in Selenium, compared to the control, lower selenium diet. However, they did not observe a difference in mitochondrial density or enzyme activity in horses that experienced the training program compared to the non-trained horses. White et al. concluded that selenium supplementation may be beneficial for performance horses in training.