08/17/2011 3:11PM

Gulfstream decides to put off Lasix ban


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Gulfstream Park owner Frank Stronach’s desire to outlaw the raceday use of Lasix will not go into effect during the upcoming meeting, track president Tim Ritvo said on Wednesday.

Stronach sent a letter to state regulators last month asking for their help to implement a program that would ultimately phase out all raceday medications at the track, including the elimination of Lasix at its 2011-2012 meet, which begins Dec. 3. But after conferring Tuesday in Tallahassee with members of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations, which oversees all parimutuel racing in Florida, Ritvo said the state is not yet ready to make such a commitment.

“Our company’s position is to phase out raceday medications,” said Ritvo. “Frank’s beliefs are basically the same as those being echoed recently by the Jockey Club, Breeders’ Cup and Graded Stakes Committee. We asked the state to help us implement this program in the best interests of racing and they said they’d be willing to take up the matter at a later date following an open forum on the subject.”

Ritvo said he offered to hold that forum at Gulfstream Park during the upcoming meet.

“Frank still believes firmly that raceday medication needs to go away but he’s not going to take any action on his own,” Ritvo said. “He will not do anything without full cooperation from the state. So it will be business as usual here next year, although I expect there will be a good deal of lively debate throughout the winter regarding how to ultimately phase out all raceday medications.”

Stronach said his recent acquisition of all the tracks formerly held by MI Developments allows him the flexibility to make such a seemingly radical request regarding raceday medications. He sent similar letters last month to the racing commissions in other jurisdictions in which he owns tracks, including California, Maryland and Oregon.

Florida horsemen are vehemently opposed to banning the use of raceday Lasix, citing the humid climate in the state.