- DRF Bets
- Handicapping & PPsHorsemen's ProductsReports
Access past performances
- The Wizard
- DRF Gameplan
- Quick Sheets
- DRF Picks
- Today's Racing Digest
- Key Race Report
- Positive ROI Report
- Moss Pace Figure Reports
- Debut Reports
Racing and Wagering InformationTools
- DRF EasyForm PPs
- DRF Classic PDF PPs
- DRF Formulator PPs
- DRF HarnessEye PPs
- DRF Daily Harness Program PPs
- Daily Racing Program PPs
- NewsCategoriesTrack Reports
- StorePast Performances
- Compare all DRF PPs
- DRF Formulator PPs
- DRF Classic PPs
- DRF EasyForm PPs
- Daily Racing Program PPs
- See all Pricing/Plans
Crist: On Lasix, practice what you preach
By Steven Crist
By a single vote, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission last week failed to pass a resolution that would have banned the use of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide, commonly known as Lasix, in Kentucky racing. The 7-7 vote within the commission – a majority is required and a deadlock is a failure – surprised and frustrated proponents of the ban, who have vowed to renew their efforts in the months ahead.
In the meantime, here’s a suggestion for them: If they really believe that furosemide is bad for horses and racing, why don’t they just stop racing their horses on it? By failing to do so, the small but vocal group of owners and breeders who are crusading against the use of furosemide come off as being opportunistic at best and hypocritical at worst.
The furosemide debate in American racing has become downright bizarre. At one time, there was widespread uneasiness about the use of the diuretic because of its masking qualities. A generation ago, administering it could flush illegal substances out of a horse’s system and make them undetectable in post-race tests. Now, though, more precise testing and a greater reliance on plasma than urine has made that argument moot. Objections now focus on furosemide’s being part of a so-called “culture of drugs” that is allegedly diminishing public support for the sport.
“Perception is reality today,” said one of the Kentucky commissioners, explaining her vote for the ban. Others have argued that it doesn’t matter whether or not furosemide is a humane treatment that allows horses to race without choking on their own blood – if the public believes it has something to do with drugging up defenseless animals, it must be banned.
The problem with this approach, in addition to its inherent deceptiveness and insincerity, is that it proceeds from a highly questionable assumption – that if furosemide were banned tomorrow, people would suddenly believe racing is squeaky-clean and they would begin attending the races in greater numbers.
Perhaps some owners and breeders actually think this is true, but I have yet to meet a racetrack operator, horse trainer, or horseplayer who believes this. Banning furosemide will have no positive impact with civilians, who barely know what it is, and who will hardly be reassured or attracted to the game once it has been explained to them that racing has banned a medication that is used to keep horses from hemorrhaging during a race.
It is very tricky to crusade against a medication while simultaneously acknowledging its usefulness. The Jockey Club, which supports a ban, could not have made this clearer than it did in a presentation at its annual Round Table last August: It put up two slides, the first of which read “Lasix is good for horses,” followed by one reading “Lasix is not good for horse racing.”
I think they were trying to say that the drug has its efficacious properties but is being overused and has contributed to misperceptions about the sport. But by following up the “good for horses” declaration with a call for a ban, it seemed to be proposing that we stop doing something that is good for horses.
You can’t have it both ways. Most ban proponents continue to race all of their horses on furosemide, and over 95 percent of runners are treated with it on race day at every level of the sport, from claiming races in New Mexico to next month’s Kentucky Derby, where every entrant is expected to have an “L” for Lasix next to his name in the program. Some of those owners say they support a ban – so why not put some teeth in their position and impose one on themselves?
It just doesn’t cut it to say you want to ban a medication from racing but that you will continue to race your own horses on it until it becomes the law of the land that you may not. Every time a furosemide opponent races one of his own horses on the medication, he is tacitly approving of the drug and confirming its efficacy. Obviously furosemide is being overused when 95 percent of horses race on it and no one believes that even half that many horses have a legitimate bleeding problem. So who among the country’s most prominent owners races even less than half of his horses on furosemide?
So what approach to the use of lasix do you endorse? Limiting its use to horses with documented bleeding issues, an outright race day ban on the use of lasix , no limitations on the use of lasix?
2:45 on 4/23/12... There's an interesting post re new Hall of Famers that leads right back into this discussion. The "Life at Ten" mess at the Breeders Cup mess is brought up which led me to a comment by Pletcher (!) which appeared in The Bloodhorse. Where was google when was a schoolboy???
I am not sure who first posted it, ( the idea never occured to me ), and I believe, of everything I have read, it is the best fix, can be done immediately (if Tracks co-operated) and the whole world can find out the effects of Salix......write weight allowances into the conditions for trainers/owners that don't want their Horses on it!! No furosemide, 5-8 lbs, no drugs of anykind...10 lbs.......after all isn't lowering the weight the primary accusation with horses that don't need it? And isn't that the idea behind Handicap Races? Whoever posted that idea you should send it to the various racing comissions, because I believe they might go for it......
I am not sure if anyone else pointed this out yet or not, but Bill Casner has made the decision to race his horses strictly without lasix. Hats off to him for both being a proponent of banning lasix while at the same time backing his talk up.
most of you are missing the point,no one tests to see if a horse that is listed as on lasix actualy is on it,so i can run a horse that does not need lasix medicaly,but is moved up performance wise when on lasix,and simply pick and choose when to have him run well or not,and bet accordingly,simply one more way to cheat.
If Lasix is administered to 95% of racehorses, then the playing field IS level.
Why not just write up a race a day with no " L" allowed for starters? This would put the horsemen on even terms and give them a chance to put there horse where there mouth is.
Performance enhancing drugs in horse racing and the subsequent punishment guilty trainers receive is preposterous. Let us advocate no substances are off limits,no lab-coat police, and may the best chemist win. Let the horses eat, drink or have injected anything that will make the run faster, or grow stronger. Dicks Drugstore/Aqueduct/
Ben, Just because of the fact, that lasix is an legal diuretic in the US, and therefore an race enhacer, one puts himself at an disavantage by not using it. The best would be an race program for anybody that would accept the new medication rules set up by the grayson jockeyclub
I don't often disagree with your take on issues like this Steve. However, I applaud those who are trying to move the game in the no Lasix on race day direction. I've felt for a long time that the introduction of Lasix was the result of simple human expediency. The need for racing jurisdictions to increase field size, generate handle and feed the machine trumped other considerations. We've come a long way since then, maybe to the point that the proverbial cure might kill the patient. Where would we be in two decades or so if the sport could gradually and with compromise get to the point that race day meds were not allowed? I'd like to hope that we'd have a situation where horses unable to race without such treatments would be phased out of the racing population. I think it's the right direction to head in, and I think it's obvious. I am, however, not optimistic. I do think that was a rather sneaky logical box you threw at your readers in the last paragraph.
- 1.Posted 05/21/2013 09:35AM
- 2.Posted 05/20/2013 02:10PM
- 3.Posted 05/21/2013 04:22PM
- 4.Posted 05/20/2013 09:48PM
- 5.Posted 05/20/2013 04:24PM