08/23/2013 1:40PM

Lasix to be allowed in all 2014 Breeders' Cup races


All horses running in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita will be allowed to be administered the anti-bleeding medication furosemide on race day, Breeders’ Cup confirmed in a statement Friday, in a rollback of an experimental policy that had divided the racing industry.

Breeders’ Cup officials provided the statement a day after a discussion about the Breeders’ Cup’s furosemide policy at a meeting of the California Horse Racing Board. Following the meeting, it was briefly reported by Daily Racing Form and other publications that a policy currently in place banning the raceday administration of the drug in this year’s 2-year-old races would not be in place for the 2014 event, scheduled to be run at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. This year’s event also is scheduled for Santa Anita.

In the statement, Breeders’ Cup Ltd. officials said that while evaluating host sites for the 2014 event “it became apparent that the raceday medication policy for 2014 would have to be consistent with rules in effect in any eligible host jurisdiction at the time of the event” and that horsemen in California and elsewhere had said they would withhold approval for the simulcasting of the event if Breeders’ Cup continued to restrict the raceday use of the drug.

“To date, no racing jurisdiction in the U.S. has established a policy eliminating the use of all raceday medications, and none of our potential future host sites has been able to offer assurances that such an eventuality is likely in the near term,” the Breeders’ Cup statement read.

Furosemide, which also is known by the trade name Lasix, is legal to be administered on race day in every racing jurisdiction in North America, including California.

Horsemen in the United States have rejected calls to ban the raceday use of the drug, despite aggressive lobbying by many national racing organizations, mostly those representing prominent breeders or owners with international racing operations. Horsemen have defended the raceday administration of the drug as an effective way to mitigate bleeding in the lungs, despite a ban on the raceday use of furosemide in most of the world’s other major racing jurisdictions.

Breeders’ Cup first passed a policy to restrict the raceday use of furosemide for 2-year-olds participating in the 2012 event. The policy was supposed to be extended to all of the races for the 2013 event, but, in a vote that upset several members of the board, the Breeders’ Cup earlier this year suspended the broadening of the policy, again limiting the restriction to 2-year-olds.

In the statement, Breeders’ Cup said it “remains committed” to working toward running its races with a prohibition on raceday medication.

During the 2012 event, field size in the five 2-year-old races dropped an average of 21.6 percent. Handle on the races plummeted 23 percent.

Though it is unclear how much of an impact the furosemide ban had on handle for the 2-year-old races, Breeders’ Cup officials had expressed concern that a wider ban on the raceday use of the drug could have serious financial impacts on the organization because of the possibility of significant declines in handle.