08/01/2014 4:43PM

High-profile trainers support ban on Lasix


A group of leading trainers, including D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher, said in a statement released on Friday that they would support the gradual phase-out of the legal race day use of the drug furosemide, the diuretic that is used by nearly every horse in the United States to mitigate bleeding in the lungs.

The statement is likely to reinvigorate a debate that has been going on in the U.S. racing industry for the past five years without any resolution. Many high-profile owners and breeders, along with the Jockey Club and other national racing organizations, have called for a ban on the race day use of furosemide, which is also known as Lasix, but those calls have been steadfastly resisted by rank-and-file horsemen.

The statement said the trainers would support a ban on the race day use of furosemide for all 2-year-olds beginning in 2015, with a complete ban following in 2016.

“We believe it’s time to take a proactive position regarding the administration of race-day medication,” said Lukas, who was recently appointed to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. “American racing has always been a global leader, and it’s time to restore confidence in our game and in our international standing.”

In addition to Lukas and Pletcher, the statement was signed by 23 other trainers, most of them based in New York, including Bill Mott, Shug McGaughey, Christophe Clement, Richard Mandella, Neil Drysdale, Kieran McLaughlin, and Graham Motion. Many of the trainers are employed by owners who have supported calls to ban the race day use of furosemide. Many of those owners also pledged two years ago to cease using furosemide on their 2-year-olds, pledges that have largely held up at the higher levels of the sport.

The statement was released nine days prior to the Jockey Club’s Round Table on Matters Pertaining to Racing, an annual two-hour conference in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where, over the past five years, Jockey Club officials and other racing industry officials have called for bans on race-day furosemide use. The Jockey Club has also begun canvassing the industry for financial support for a study that would examine the efficacy of the drug when used 24 hours before a race.

Opponents of the race day use of furosemide have contended that the public perception of the sport is damaged by its widespread use. Breeders have also argued that buyers in international racing jurisdictions are put off by race-day furosemide use, depressing prices for American bloodstock. Race-day Lasix use is banned in nearly every major racing jurisdiction outside North America.

Supporters of the drug’s use point to scientific studies that have concluded that furosemide is effective in mitigating bleeding in the lungs, a common affliction for racehorses. A ban on the race day use of the drug would worsen the condition, the supporters argue.

Although some organizations have put in place policies intending to rollback race day use of the drug over the past four years, including the American Graded Stakes Committee and the Breeders’ Cup, those policies were rescinded when it became clear that racing states did not intend to pass rules restricting furosemide use.




Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Their is nothing wrong with Lasix in this sport, nothing. And it is not a performance enhancing drug.
Mary Johnson More than 1 year ago
Wow, Mr. Spathanas! No wonder racing is in trouble - big trouble. I continue to applaud it's precipitous decline.
Mary Johnson More than 1 year ago
For your reading enjoyment, Mr. Spathanas... The bleeding EXITS from the nostrils, but it originates in the LUNGS....where because of the extreme stress on the pulmonary vascular system when the jockey is asking the racehorse to run at full speed for the length of the race (under whipping), capillaries burst under the increased pressure of the increased blood supply which the horse's body is "screaming" for...these capillaries burst, and the bleeding has its "outlet" via the nostrils. This is NOT a simple, harmless, "bloody nose". So how do those in the industry "fix" this?...of course, not by doing the humane thing (not race the horse)...that would affect their wallet. What they do is administer Lasix. Lasix dehydrates. It decreases blood VOLUME by removing "water" from the blood (not cells)...therefore, with less blood volume, when the horse's body is screaming for more oxygen, the heart pumps faster, forcing more blood first through the lungs for oxygenation, but NOW with the lower blood volume, there is not the increased pressure in the vascular system and the capillaries don't burst. They "fixed" the problem of bleeding...by not only dehydrating the horse (what human runner does anyone know that dehydrates before a race!!!...NONE), but by also making the horse's blood "thicker" with less "water" but the same amount of the "solid" portion (the cells). It is no wonder horses drop dead from cardiac events, ie, heart attacks.dirty drug but who cares when there is a bet to be placed.....!!!
Robert Clayton More than 1 year ago
In a related story.....Lukas wants electrical devices approved for jockeys.....Gary Stevens (even though his career is over) seconds the motion
Mary Johnson More than 1 year ago
Get the drugs out of racing - ALL the drugs. Mr. Squires, a TB breeder, had this to say about Lasix. Studies show that furosemide, the generic name of Lasix, causes dangerous electrolyte imbalances, particularly reduced levels of potassium and calcium, and lowers the count of white blood cells because of bone marrow suppression. When given with corticosteroids, a common practice, the drug damages the joints that fail in training breakdowns.
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
This is very exciting news! The future of the sport - long term - depends on breeding horses who have not run on race day medications. The medications do not cause infirmities but they mask them. And so by breeding animals who have been dependent on medications it allows for horses to pass on their issues to their offspring and [perpetuate the cycle. Part of why many trainers are reluctant to give up the meds is they know the horses in their barns will not be effective running without them.
Mark D More than 1 year ago
Lasix is on large contributor to no Triple Crown winner in 35 years. It causes horse to loose so much weight between races, they can't bounce back in a few weeks they used too.
Class_of_78 More than 1 year ago
How about banning corrupt trainers and jockeys as well, that would go a long way to keep this sport alive. Problem is systematic and requires a major culture change.
Gregg Thomas More than 1 year ago
Where there is a potential for making money there will be corruption. Many of our sport's problems have resulted from over-expansion through proliferation of bottom level racing. The golden years of racing were when it was the "Sport of Kings" and the horses ran on water, hay, and oats.
Lefty More than 1 year ago
How would you prove or disprove race day usage or non usage or lasix? I mean cripes testing pro-athletes is an event in of itself, but they are human and they can talk. Horses can't tell you ANYTHING! Actually, a better idea in my opinion is horses can't run in races unless they succeed in qualifying by running a certain time. Also, reducing the purses. I know one of the races being run today has a 1.5 million dollar purse. That's a ridiculous overpay! Believe me, I love races that show passion and that are fought to the bitter end, however you don't see that kind of passion usually. Anyway, my point is reducing drug use won't do that much in my opinion! Making entry into a race more competitive and stop paying outrageous amounts for silly mediocre horses would help racing tremendously!!
william More than 1 year ago
"American racing has always been a global leader" what a cringe-worthy statement.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
Was, perhaps, once upon a time....but now its the laughingstock of the rest of the world and there is not a single horse currently in training in North America that could compete in Grade 1 company anywhere else. Animal Kingdom was the last hurrah...and, of all the trainers that are supposedly supporting a ban on raceday medication, his trainer (Graham Motion) is the only one I would have any faith in putting his words into action.
Class_of_78 More than 1 year ago
Rubbish, UK is the best, always has been and always will be. Best quote I have heard from a horseman, owner of one of track in UK, "Give your wallet a rest today just go out to the relaxing countryside and enjoy good racing."
R. Carlos Nanez More than 1 year ago
What a bunch of hypocrites !, if those trainers, specially Lukas, Pletcher , they run every single horse on Laxis need it or not.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Can they get the everyday cheaters to go along with it.