Horse Racing Partnerships Debate The Use Of Lasix
Like any major sport in the United States Horse Racing struggles with its medication policies and regulations. It is largely agreed upon that the sport as a whole needs some kind of medication reform. But the issue still remains, which drugs should be regulated and who will regulate them.
The most controversial medications are those that are administered on race days, specifically, Salix (Furosemide) commonly known as Lasix. This drug is commonly given to horses on race day, a few hours before their race to prevent EIPH (exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage) which is bleeding in the horse’s lungs that is caused by exercise. This is a common occurrence in thoroughbreds throughout the U.S. and Lasix helps prevent the bleeding in the horse’s lungs. The problem is that some feel that this drug is a performance enhancing drug that is only masking symptoms that are naturally occurring in the animal.
Major groups that represent thoroughbred racing for horse racing partnerships and owners across the country are in disagreement on whether to ban Lasix or not. Very influential groups like the Jockey Club and the TOBA (thoroughbred owners and breeders association) believe that race day Lasix should be banned and horses that have EIPH should not run and the “bleeders” should not be bred. And on the other side the strongest opposition is the trainers. Trainers feel that most of their horses would not be able to run without Lasix and they would be left with very few horses that do not have EIPH. It would effectively be like taking most of their barn away and starting over.
Whether banning race day medication like Lasix is actually a good idea for the sport or not is a tough question to be answered, but the real problem seems to lie in the fact that there is no governing body in thoroughbred horse racing. Unlike in baseball and every other major sport, horse racing does not have a commissioner or oversight committee that enforces rules and regulations nationally. Without a central body overseeing and regulating horse racing as a whole, states will begin to make decisions on their own, and unfortunately rules may be different from state to state. Slowly but surely different entities will start and have already begun to ban race day Lasix from racing. For Example, the Breeders’ Cup has implemented a ban of Lasix in all of their 2 year old races starting in 2012. It would be hard to imagine all these 2 year olds running in the beginning of the year with Lasix and then trying to run without it come Breeders’ Cup race day.
What seems evident is that more research needs to be done in the U.S. about the effects of race day Lasix both positive and negative. In addition, racing as a whole will need to find a way to come together in agreement so the sport itself is not affected by the infighting because of the lack of leadership in our sport. Hopefully, with more research, information, and debates between trainers, thoroughbred partnerships, and committees everyone can come to a decision on race day medication that puts the welfare of the horse and the sport first. Because at the end of the day, without race horses for sale and new race horse partnerships forming year after year the sport will not be able to sustain itself.
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