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Beyer: Day one of Lasix ban - distraction but no conclusion
By Andrew Beyer
On a day when Royal Delta delivered a brilliant performance to defeat an all-star field in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, one of the prime topics of conversation at Santa Anita was not about horses. It was about the drug Lasix.
Although the use of Lasix has been an established part of American racing since the 1970s, the Breeders' Cup on Friday instituted a bold change that has stirred intense controversy throughout the U.S. Thoroughbred industry. It prohibited the use of Lasix in its five races for 2-year-olds as a precursor to a ban in all Breeders' Cup events beginning in 2013.
A significant majority of U.S. horsemen object to what the Breeders' Cup has done. The diuretic controls the tendency of horses to bleed in the lungs after exertion - a common phenomenon. Most trainers believe strongly in its benefits and use it routinely. "Eighty to 90 percent of my horses bleed," said trainer Graham Motion, "and the bad [bleeders] . . . need Lasix."
In recent years, some prominent owners and breeders have made efforts to stop the widespread use of medications in U.S. racing. They argue that most countries ban the race-day use of Lasix, and they point to statistics showing that those countries don't have epidemics of bleeding.
The anti-drug forces have clout within the Breeders' Cup organization, which had its own reasons to get rid of Lasix. The Breeders' Cup sees itself as an international championship, encourages European participation and is sensitive to European attitudes - such as their opposition to the liberal medication policies in the United States. The Lasix ban, said Craig Fravel, the Breeders' Cup president, represents an effort to conduct racing "under international standards."
People on both sides of the argument will examine the Lasix-free 2-year-old races - three of them on Friday's card, two on Saturday - to judge how the ban may have affected the races and horses' performance.
The small fields for some of the 2-year-old events caught everybody's attention. The Juvenile Fillies - whose $2 million purse is exceeded by only three races in North America - attracted only eight entrants, equaling the smallest field in its history. The Juvenile, with a $2 million purse Saturday, drew only nine. And although there ought to be a small army of 2-year-olds with good form at six furlongs, only five started in the $500,000 Juvenile Sprint. One owner, New Yorker Mike Repole, declared that he was boycotting the Breeders' Cup as a protest against the Lasix ban, but there was no way to know how many possible starters were missing for this reason.
Fravel anticipated - or hoped - that the absence of Lasix wouldn't affect the outcomes, and that superior horses would win regardless. This is what happened in the three 2-year-old races:
* Beholder, after winning her prior start by 11 lengths when treated with Lasix, led all the way to capture the Juvenile Fillies, holding off the favorite Executiveprivilege by a length. The result was perfectly logical, and Beholder certainly didn't suffer from a lack of medication.
* Merit Man was the heaviest favorite of the entire day, but the 1-to-2 shot was outdueled in the stretch run of the Juvenile Sprint by Hightail, the longest shot in the field. The upset gave legendary trainer Wayne Lukas his 19th Breeders' Cup victory, but did the absence of Lasix have something to do with Merit Man's failure?
* The French 2-year-old Flotilla accelerated powerfully in the stretch to give Europe its first victory in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Unlike her American rivals, Flotilla had raced Lasix-free throughout his short career.
There is no way to draw any meaningful conclusions about Lasix from such evidence. But as the Lasix ban is applied to the entire Breeders' Cup, bettors and horsemen will always be guessing about its effect on individual horses; when horses run after competing in the Breeders' Cup, the impact of Lasix will become a question again.
If the Breeders' Cup ban represented the start of a move to drug-free racing in American racing, it would serve an important purpose - but this is never going to happen. Medication rules are set by state racing commissions, not by any national governing body.
With Lasix permitted, virtually every horse in the Breeders' Cup was treated with it (including the Europeans) and they competed on a level playing field. Lasix was a non-issue. Now it has become a distraction.
There shouldn't have been any distractions from the racing action on the first day of the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. The $2 million Ladies' Classic drew one of the strongest fields of fillies in its history with three Eclipse Award winners (two of them undefeated) in the lineup.
Royal Delta, the defending champion, was the favorite, but few people expected her to win the way she did. Against a field that included two brilliantly fast rivals, jockey Mike Smith let her go to the lead and set a lightning-fast pace: a half-mile in 45.81 seconds. She disposed of the speedsters, then repelled the stretch-runners, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over the previously undefeated My Miss Aurelia.
The fact that all eight fillies in the field ran on Lasix - as they had for most of their careers - hardly detracted from the spectacle. It's hard to imagine that if this were 2013, and they were all Lasix-free, that the race could have been any better.
(c) Copyright 2012, The Washington Post
Mark Casse said he wished all the folks that wanted the lasix ban had seen all the blood that came out of Spring in the Air. Capo Bastone and Monument were also listed as have bled. John B
Hey Andy, Perhaps now you can tip your hat and apologize to Breeders Cup Champion, Jockey Willie Martinez, along with Shivananda Parbhoo for an excellent job with Trinniberg.
Lasix permits a human to unhinge the webbing on a stall of a horse entered that day four hours before post with a loaded needle.//period/// With a ban on lasix a human can't enter a stall with a loaded needle. Also, stop with the lets see what off or on lasix means when one only has to interview a trainer with a runner whose's pps show lasix every race but he wasn't administered lasix the last three races then today the money run the juice.
So, where was the performance drop in Beholder and Merit Man which should have resulted from them not being treated with their SUPPOSED “performance enhancing drug” (Lasix)? Seems to me they ran to their odds … even without the so-called “juice” in their systems. What happened? As, for Hightail at 15-1, well, I guess the Lasix was masking the “performance diminishing” drugs Lukas has been giving him all this time.
"The fact that all eight fillies in the field ran on Lasix - as they had for most of their careers - hardly detracted from the spectacle. It's hard to imagine that if this were 2013, and they were all Lasix-free, that the race could have been any better." And how many of those 8 fillies who have been juiced up on Lasix their entire careers have actually bled after a race Andy? I'm going to guess that none of them have actually bled.
ban lasix, & lets see who will profit from it. the owners will be affected the most. with no prevention of bleeding, when the horse bleeds he will be on the bleeders list & not be able to race,& he will be placed on a farm off track. so lets count the people who will profit. the testing people will profit. because the absents of lasix will make testing cheaper.( this is the main reason that they want to do away with lasix). the vets will profit. as they do any how. the lay up farms will profit. a horse on the bleeders list cant be raced SO the track loses a entry in a race . the trainer loses a potential income from purse money. (as does the owner). the jockeys lose mount money & potential purse money. the track loses the horse at the entry box. i could go on forever with this. but any reasonable person can get what the drift is here. forbiding the use of lasix, does way more to hurt racing, than it will ever help. the only 1s that are pushing this issue, here are the few fans, that far the most part are $25 a day gamblers, that dont own a hair on a race horse of any kind. destory lasix & it is just 1 more rule to take away from the good of racing.
the main issue that was resolved here is that none of the horses bled.the best filly won and won well,merit man was a very close 2nd,against a d wayne lucas horse with a lot of bottom in longer races.so the trainers apocalyptic predictions did not materialize.one interesting note if lasix is only usefull for bleeding why do the euros use it here after their horses have proved they dont bleed or need lasix by racing with out it in europe,some have had 30 starts with out it .suddenly they come over and they need it to stop bleeding?.i dont think so they just want to be able to have the same advantages our needle happy trainers have.
Andy's article is very neutral, presenting both sides of the issue. I'm not complaining about Andy personally, but I'm wondering why there seems to be little support for the lasix ban among the racing media. For years, Andy and others have been moaning about drugs and the need to clean up, but now that someone is starting to do something, there seems to be little support. During the peak of racing's popularity, Lasix was not legal.
One of the on air commentators said there were no reports of any horses bleeding after the races. That was before the Ladies Classic.
I think a 1 to 2 shot like Merit Man, not being able to hold on the 15 to 1 maiden Hightail, seems pretty conclusive to me Mr. Beyer. I didn't lose a dime on the juvenile races because I didn't wager. I won't lose any money on the saturday juvenile races either.
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