Thoroughbred racing industry leaders launch website on race-day medication

Syringe and vial.
Thoroughbred racing leaders launch an advocacy website calling for a ban on race-day medications.

The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) launch an advocacy website — www.cleanhorseracing.org — and its focus issue is the hotly debated usage of race-day medications, in particular Lasix.

“As the momentum continues to grow for a ban on race-day medication in this country, we want to keep all industry stakeholders properly informed,” James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, said in a statement (pdf). “This website provides a platform for advocates of medication reform to receive the latest updates and take action. It should also prove to be an invaluable information resource for regulators as they reconsider current medication rules in their respective jurisdictions.”

I believe the momentum Gagliano refers to is federal legislation pending before Congress banning the use of all race-day medications, although the one-line summary states “To amend the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in horseracing, and for other purposes.”

Perhaps this new advocacy site aimed at ridding horse racing of race-day medications such as Lasix means to demonstrate that the industry is seriously determined to begin cleaning house. Whatever the motivation, it is good for the horses and racing, and a welcome start by us.

Of course, the idea of banning Lasix has its opposition.

In a report filed by Gregory Hall for the Louisville Courier-Journal, it states:

Rick Hiles, the Kentucky HBPA [Horsemen’s Benevolence & Protective Association] president, said he hadn’t seen the opposition’s website yet but questioned why people who want the drug banned on race day still use it for their horses.

The reason why people continue to use Lasix on a daily basis in horse racing is simple, because they perceive it gives them an edge. Even horse racing nations where the use of Lasix is banned, typically administer the drug when their horses race in the US, such as in the Breeders’ Cup. The common perception is that doing so ensures they are all “competing on a level playing field”.

There are a variety of ways you can support this effort on Clean Horse Racing website’s Take Action page, such as sign a Petition or contact your State Racing Commissioner. We recommend that you do both!

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