WRITTEN BY JOE DRAPE
Cross-posted from the New York Times
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 30, 2012) — Call it uncharted territory, as some horse trainers here have, or the new facts of life, as many breeders and drug reformers prefer, but for the first time in the history of the event, 2-year-old horses at this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup world championships will not be allowed to be injected with a drug that is intended to restrict pulmonary bleeding.
Next year the ban on the raceday drug will be imposed on horses in all 15 of the Cup races, in an effort to get American racing in step with the rest of the world.
Even though Breeders’ Cup officials announced the rule change in July 2011, it has been met with resistance and criticism by prominent American horsemen. It will continue to be debated until Friday, when the first of the series of races worth more than $25 million in purses are run. Leading trainers like Todd Pletcher, Dale Romans and Bob Baffert have expressed their displeasure with the ban on furosemide, a diuretic sold under the name Lasix or Salix.
“We call ourselves a world championship and we attract some of the best horses in the world each year,” said Craig Fravel, the Breeders’ Cup chief executive. “It is time to start moving to the same rules and same formats as the rest of the world.”
Even if the furosemide ban were not the cause of the smaller field sizes, Fravel said that he and his board would remain undeterred.
Finally, a voice of reason in U.S. horse racing. –Editor.
In related news, however, Richard Hannon Jr., assistant trainer to his legendary father, is sending Group 1 winner Sky Lantern to the Breeders’ Cup in Santa Anita to run in the Juvenile Fillies Turf because the drug is banned.
Hannon Jr. tells ESPN:
“We have thrown a few darts in the past without success, but there is no Lasix for two-year-olds this year which makes it a level playing field for all of us, so we will be heading across the Atlantic with our tails up.”