The Breeders’ Cup: From the track at Keeneland to a committee in Kentucky on the use of Lasix

TRACK, DRUGS AND THE BREEDERS’ CUP

Use of Lasix

Kentucky committee consider rules allowing Lasix free races
Cross-posted from the Daily Racing Form
By MATT HEGARTY

A racehorse steps onto the track during training. Image by Clarence Alford.
Image by Clarence Alford.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is scheduled to consider a rule next week that would allow tracks to write races that prohibit the use of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide within 24 hours of post time, according to material distributed by Kentucky horsemen’s groups.

The rule, which will be considered during a Rules Committee meeting scheduled for Monday, is nearly identical to an amendment brought before the committee last August. The committee voted 4-1 to table the proposal at that time, and it was not resurrected after that vote.

The rule “authorizes licensed racing associations to require adherence to the International Medication Protocol,” which the rule later defines as prohibiting the administration of furosemide within 24 hours of a race. It is currently legal in all U.S. racing jurisdictions to administer furosemide, also known as Lasix, four hours prior to a race.

Furosemide, Lasix, Salix bottles. Google image.
Google image.

On Thursday morning, the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which has adamantly opposed any prohibition on the race-day use of furosemide in the past, distributed petitions via e-mail to its members in opposition to the new rule. The e-mail states that “it is suspected that this is a precursor to running the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Lasix-free.”

The 2015 Breeders’ Cup event is scheduled for Oct. 30-31 at Keeneland in Lexington. Members of Keeneland’s board of directors have supported efforts to prohibit the race-day use of Lasix in the past.

Craig Fravel, the president of the Breeders’ Cup, said in an e-mailed statement that “the subject of medication at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup has not been discussed by the Breeders’ Cup board,” and added that “we are supportive of Keeneland’s position on the proposed regulation.”

The Breeders’ Cup ran the 2012 and 2013 events with a ban on race-day Lasix in its races for 2-year-olds, but a plan to expand the rule to all of the organization’s races was scrapped between the 2012 and 2013 events, and the ban on Lasix use in the 2-year-old races was rolled back shortly thereafter. Read full report »

Racing Surface at Keeneland

As mentioned, Keeneland will host the 2015 Breeders’ Cup.

For years Keeneland’s polytrack surface was one the safest tracks for horses to race on (by U.S. standards).

Keeneland reverted to dirt in order to attract the Breeders’ Cup.

Wise Dan wins the Ben Ali, 2012.  Keeneland / Coady Photography.
Wise Dan wins the Ben Ali, 2012. Keeneland / Coady Photography.

Top money winning trainers say they prefer dirt because it “runs faster”.

Many bettors here and in the national simulcast market proclaimed their dislike for handicapping Polytrack races. Aah, poor things sitting on their stools in the dark peering at big screens risking their cash while the horses are out running on dangerous tracks risking life and limb.

Wise Dan, the two-time reigning Horse of the Year has trained over the Keeneland Polytrack his entire career.

“I really don’t understand why they’re doing it,” said Charlie LoPresti, the trainer of Wise Dan. “We know the track is safe; all reports have been that breakdowns are fewer. It’s kept a two-time Horse of the Year sound, I know that.”

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

The problems contributing to the continuing deterioration of the U.S. horse racing industry is a maze of complex, inter-related and overlapping symptoms for which there appears to be no cure. There is certainly no one quick fix.

What American racing halfheartedly offers up as a fix from time to time usually has an agenda attached to it and not really a serious attempt at change at all. All you have to do is take a look at the timing.

In this case the agenda is the Breeders’ Cup. There is a lot of prestige and money at stake. Ego and money, the great motivators.

The tragic victims in all of this of course are the vast number of horses that racing breeds, abuses, mutilates and destroys along the way.

Think of Pine Island, George Washington, Barbaro and Eight Belles. Each of their public breakdowns and deaths were heralded as the one that would finally make horse racing mend its way. But they haven’t. They still haven’t.
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NOTES AND FACTS

1. The name Salix / Lasix are used interchangeably for furosemide. Furosemide is a loop diuretic used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and edema. U.S. horse racing states it is used to prevent exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (or bleeding in the airways following exertion).

Along with other diuretics, furosemide is included on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned drug list due to its alleged use as a masking agent for other drugs.

In virtually every major racing jurisdiction outside the U.S. furosemide has either never been allowed or banned outright, not just on raceday. This has neither endangered the health and safety of racehorses nor hampered competition. The use of Lasix should be banned. Period.

RECOMMENDED READING

“So Salix leaches calcium from the bones and bute aids and abets the outcome. Great combination if you are Gumby’s sidekick Pokey, the talking red horse with rubber legs.” — JANE ALLIN (Quote from 2. below)

1. Drugs and Horse Racing — Shades of Grey and Triangle of Deceit; by Jane Allin; The Horse Fund

2. Forgotten Side of the Salix Debate: The Calcium Connection Part 1, Part 2; by Jane Allin; The Horse Fund

3. The Chemical Horse, Part 8: The Unclassifieds — Lasix and Milkshakes; by Jane Allin; The Horse Fund

4. “The Ugly Truth About Horse Racing“; by Andrew Cohen; The Atlantic

2 thoughts on “The Breeders’ Cup: From the track at Keeneland to a committee in Kentucky on the use of Lasix”

  1. “Aah,poor things sitting on their stools in the dark peering at big screens”. Where do you get this stuff..such ridiculous ideas? Almost all players that detest synthetic surfaces choose either not to play them,or play them sparingly. This game is a player’s or bettor’s market..if we don’t like the offerings from 1 track,there are countless others to wager on. The money goes where the players play,and when the money from the players stop,either racing will cease,or horses will run for ribbons instead of purses.

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