How to fix the Triple Crown? Get rid of the drugs

Cross-posted from ESPN

Written by BILL FINLEY

The Derby and Preakness winners are skipping the final leg of the Triple Crown and the Belmont is, to be kind, a bit of a dud. So, here we go again — the hand-wringers say we need to fix the Triple Crown. Sorry, but it’s not the Triple Crown that needs fixing, but the horses that [who] run in the Triple Crown.

The existing structure of the Triple Crown, three races in five weeks at the distances of 10, 9 ½ and 12 furlongs, must not be changed. To do so would forever weaken the enormity of the challenge and cheapen any future Triple Crown sweeps. The Triple Crown Lite would be a sham.

The problem is that most modern thoroughbreds have a hard time racing three times in five weeks and that’s what needs to change. The most obvious reason for the lack of durability in these animals is drugs, particularly Lasix. Is it any wonder that a horse has a hard time bouncing back after competing when every time they race they race with a drug that dehydrates them? (How would you feel after running a mile-and-a-quarter while dehydrated?)

Needless to say, every horse that ran in this year’s Preakness and Kentucky Derby ran on Lasix, not to mention all the other things they still let you run on in this anything-goes sport. Unless a European shipper shows up, every horse in the Belmont field will run on Lasix. This is insanity.

Trainer Ken McPeek is one of the sport’s smartest trainers. He’s won a Triple Crown race and he’s always knocking on the door with a good 3-year-old or two. He knows what Lasix does to a horse. And while he doesn’t advocate banning drugs in all races, he says they don’t belong in top-level events, particularly the Triple Crown events.

“Lasix dehydrates horses,” McPeek said. “They run in the preps. Then they run in the Derby, which is obviously very stressful. Then they run in the Preakness. They’re running, they’re shipping and they’re tired, and they’ve all been treated with medication. A body has to be able to carry fluids to nourish itself. Keeping a horse hydrated is nine-tenths of the battle. The Lasix takes the juice out of them. I strongly believe that Lasix is why horses can no longer make all three races.”

Like everyone else, McPeek runs most everything in his barn on Lasix, including Noble’s Promise, who was fifth in this year’s Derby. He says the reason for the apparent hypocrisy is that he fears owners will not give him horses if he doesn’t use Lasix. Throughout the sport, it is viewed not so much as an anti-bleeding medication but as an edge; to many an edge that simply can’t be done without. Read full report >>

1 thought on “How to fix the Triple Crown? Get rid of the drugs”

  1. Why are thoroughbreds allowed to even take Lasix except for the things it was meant to treat…including ascites, congestive heart failure, kidney problems, pulmonary oedema, hyperkalemia and high blood pressure???? And if the horses have those things why are they considered healthy enough to race.??? Well, of course they do not have these health issues…lasix is given, for god knows what reason, as a performance enhancer. As such it should be banned everywhere, not just the Triple Crown (something I have followed since I was 5, back in the 60’s and loved). The reasons for a ban should be clear…Lasix does not work…it creates health issues for the horses…the side effects of Lasix (furosemide) include depression, weakness and seizures amondst others. How anyone can possibly think that a dehydrated racehorse is going to be a better racehorse or be happy and healthy is beyond me. If more and more drugs are being banned in human competition, why not in all sport…and let us see the athletes, both human and animal, show what they can do with their own natural ability and heart.


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