09/18/2014 11:36AM

Oaklawn to give bonuses for winning without Lasix


Horses who win races without competing on Lasix during the upcoming meet at Oaklawn Park will receive a purse bonus, Charles Cella, president of the Hot Springs, Ark., track, announced Thursday. The program awards horses a 10 percent supplement to the winner’s share of the purse, with bonuses to range in value from $1,080 to as high as $60,000 for the richest race of the meet, the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby.

Oaklawn will pay out the bonuses, which will not come from purse accounts, according to Cella. He said the volunteer program is “experimental,” and he would like to see it spawn more Lasix-free competition. Debates on the diuretic Lasix have become more frequent recently in the racing industry.

“We know some horses do indeed need Lasix in order to run to potential, and I want to make this very clear: We are not advocating that horses who need Lasix race without it,” Cella said. “However, it is also our belief that many of the horses running on Lasix may not need it. We think it is in the best interest of the sport and the breed to find a way to have more horses run without Lasix. Our hope is this program will be a step in the right direction.”

Oaklawn was one of the last tracks in the country to begin allowing Lasix on race days when the use of the diuretic was first allowed in the United States in the early 1970s, according to the release from Oaklawn.

The Oaklawn program is similar to one Arapahoe Park in Colorado introduced in June. Trainers whose charges won races “void of any race-day medication” in their system earned a $1,000 bonus for each victory. There were 21 horses who ran medication-free from that point through the close of the meet in mid-August, with three of those horses winning a total of four races, according to track official Bill Powers.

Oaklawn opens Jan. 9 and will race through April 11.

Mike Eves More than 1 year ago
Mike Eves says: My Comments to a Bill Shanklin article in 2013 March 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm If the Breeder’s Cup Committee is intent on trying to reduce the use of lasix in the Breeder’s Cup why not consider offering a 50% purse bonus to any 2yo that wins ( or finishes in the money) a Breeder’s Cup race. That way owners who still prefer to run their horses on lasix can do so and those like Coolmore or Darley can run without lasix, but are eligible for the 50% purse bonus. This way you haven’t alienated anybody by forcing them in a direction they don’t want to go but still have a significant enough incentive that may encourage some to re-consider running lasix free. Just a thought.
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
the extra purse bonus did not work in colorado. it doesnt increase your winning percentage. decent claimers who run without lasix get claimed, because trainers know they can improve the horse 2.4 lengths by using lasix. do you call that a level playing field. lasix users need 6 more pounds to offset the 2.4 length advantage they receive. this will get horsemen to change. most horses who do not use lasix already, are turf runners. oaklawn doesnt have a turf course. please release a list of which breeds bleed most often. if such a bleeders list doesnt exist, it means that horsemen could care less about the bleeding problems.
Beth Wolpert More than 1 year ago
YES!!!!! This is number 2, I believe. Keep 'em coming!!!!!!!! Woo-hoo!
russell More than 1 year ago
good for them
Blake Jessee More than 1 year ago
Even if this proves to b a failure, we must commend Oaklawn for trying something new & attempting to be a trail blazer
Mikethemessenger465 More than 1 year ago
I think most owners and trainers will come to the conclusion that 10% of nothing is still nothing.
Jacqueline Schumacher More than 1 year ago
The math checks out! but seriously, I'd like to hope (perhaps naively) that trainers who know they have a horse who would still be competitive without Lasix would give it a shot.