07/20/2012 9:42AM

Major owners make no-Lasix pledge for their 2-year-olds

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A group of 40 owners have signed a pledge to race their 2-year-old horses this year without raceday furosemide, the anti-bleeding medication that has been the topic of a heated debate in racing for the past year.

The owners include the vast Arab-owned stables of Shadwell, Juddmonte, and Darley, according to a list distributed by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, which has been urging racing commissions to ban the raceday use of the drug for the past year. Also on the list, which is dominated by owner-breeders, are Gary Biszantz, Bill Casner, Robert Clay, William Farish, Arthur and Seth Hancock, Barry Irwin, Ogden Mills Phipps, George Strawbridge, and Frank Stronach.

See the full list here

The effort to obtain the pledges was initiated by Casner, a former trainer who is the owner of WinStar Farm in Kentucky, according to owners who have signed the pledge. Casner began the effort after TOBA’s American Graded Stakes Committee rescinded a rule earlier this year that would have required a ban on raceday furosemide in 2-year-old stakes races this year in order for the stakes to retain their graded status.  The stakes committee had passed the rule in 2011.

Irwin, the owner of Team Valor International, a racing partnership, said that none of the 2-year-olds he owns solely or through Team Valor will receive furosemide this year, even if one of the horses has a severe bleeding episode while racing.

“Basically, I want to return to old-fashioned horsemanship,” Irwin said. “If a horse bleeds really bad, we’ll just give it a break.”

Irwin said that he has owned 500 horses over the past 26 years, and that “only three” had ever bled from the nose while racing, while “about ten” had chronic problems with bleeding.

“It’s just not the problem people make it out to be,” Irwin said. “Basically you’ve got a bunch of people using scare tactics” to support the continued legal administration of the drug on raceday.

Critics of the effort to ban the raceday use of the drug have consistently challenged owners who called for the ban to run their horses without furosemide. The drug is legal to administer on raceday in every jurisdiction in North America, and approximately 95 percent of all horses are administered the drug prior to running.

Casner ran most of his 2-year-olds last year without furosemide. He has said that forgoing raceday administrations of furosemide has had health benefits to his horses.

Irwin said that he has already run four 2-year-olds this year without furosemide, which is commonly known by its former trade name, Lasix. One, Jane’s Heir, won at first asking, and she is currently the 7-5 morning-line favorite in Saturday’s $50,000 Tippett Stakes at Colonial Downs.