Ray’s Top Ten: Top 10 Reasons to Sue the Breeders’ Cup

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But seriously, folks, has it really come to this? Threatening to sue the Breeders’ Cup because you don’t agree with the medication policy adopted by the organization’s board of directors two years ago.

The reasons for possible litigation in a letter from the attorney representing California horse owners Gary and Mary West were many: the safety and health of horses and jockeys; the “obvious” financial injury to owners and breeders who have raced in an environment permitting race-day medication; the “unfair advantage” it would give to owners of horses from outside the U.S. who don’t use Lasix as a crutch. And then there were the “fiduciary duty” references, namely that discontinuing the use of Lasix for two days a year would “have a devastating impact on every aspect of the American Thoroughbred racing industry.”



The letter says Breeders’ Cup would be “betraying U.S.-based racing interests in favor of foreign interests” if it had gone forward with the ban on Lasix for all of its 2013 championship races at Santa Anita.

“Our clients see no moral, legal or ethical rationale or justification for providing preferential treatment to foreign interests who only marginally participate in the BC’s races,” the letter said. “They provide no jobs in this country, the money does not stay in this country, and almost none of the foreign horses were bred or bought at U.S.-based sales.”

Hogwash.

The influence of internationally owned farms like Ashford Stud, Darley, Juddmonte, Shadwell and others is enormous, both in providing jobs and stimulating the American horse farm economy, Thoroughbred sales, and ancillary businesses.

Someone could play the “fiduciary duty” card every time the Breeders’ Cup was held at a track other than Churchill Downs, which has proven to be the most successful host site from a ticket sales and wagering standpoint. Yet no one has done that.

The letter said the Wests have paid fees to nominate stallions and foals to the Breeders’ Cup “with the expectation that their horses would be competing within a Lasix-permissive environment” that existed in previous years. “This merits judicial intervention,” the letter said.

Let’s go back in time to another major change to the Breeders’ Cup program. In 1988, the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (now Ladies’ Classic) was shortened by a furlong, from a mile and a quarter, the distance at which it had been contested since the inaugural championship in 1984, to a mile and one-eighth.

You may remember that Personal Ensign capped off an incredible career that November day, getting up in the final jump to beat Winning Colors by a desperate nose in a race that many still believe to be the greatest in Breeders’ Cup history.

The late Ogden Phipps bred that daughter of Private Account out of Grecian Banner, by Hoist the Flag, with the knowledge that the Breeders’ Cup Distaff – the crowning event for fillies and mares – was a 10-furlong race, not nine furlongs. Had her furious rally fallen short and she finished second that day, needing another furlong to get the victory, would Ogden Phipps have sued the Breeders’ Cup for shortening the race by 220 yards?

Now, that’s funny.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rob.yetman.7 Rob Yetman

    Ask the people that work at Ashford, if John Mangier “marginally participates” in American racing. The Breeders’ Cup is trying hard to run Darley out of American racing. Very foolish. If American racing and those drinking the Lasix kook-aid run Coolmore and Darley out of American racing it’s game over.

    • Check This Out II

      So what do the big foreign racing operations really contribute to our American racing program?
      I continually read on this site the dire reports about how American racing is
      going to suffer greatly without the support of the large foreign racing
      operations, namely Godolphin, Darley, Juddmonte and Shadwell (the four
      biggest). So, I decided to do something novel and actually look at the
      statistics provided by Equibase, our ‘official scorekeeper’ for American
      racing.

      Here is the ‘dirty little secret’ that no one either knows or conveniently does not
      want to talk about, and I do mean LITTLE. In the entire year of 2012,
      Godolphin, Darley, Juddmonte and Shadwell collectively started a grand total of
      519 horses out of 389,568 starters. That is .0013% of 1% of the total starts or
      1 out of every 750 starts!!!

      Now does anyone honestly think that if they never raced here again that would do
      great harm to our racing program?

      • RayPaulick

        My reference was to their overall participation in racing, breeding, stallions and sales. I think if you start to generate economic impact figures on those market sectors you’ll a far different picture.

  • Glimmerglass

    Ray, I think they might drop you from their Christmas card list.

    Another case in point. Several very wealthy owners were none too happy when the BC held the event at Santa Anita (twice) when it was the Pro-ride/synthetic surface. In particular the late Jess Jackson, a billionaire who was also a lawyer, called the surface “plastic” and opted not to run Rachel Alexandra on it. He didn’t sue the BC to revert the decision, he didn’t call up a law firm to send off a threatening letter, he didn’t suggest the bloodstock industry would suffer if he wasn’t happy and I don’t believe he peppered the board members with emails demanding they explain themselves.

    He just didn’t enter the horse that would become HOY which was more of a statement then any edict from a law firm.

    • http://twitter.com/HoopsandHorses Hoops and Horses

      Jackson could have run Rachel Alexandra on the turf in the BC Turf if he really wanted to run her in the BC. She clearly was never the same after the Woodward where she was dueled into submission in a way few horses have and still won.

      • Glimmerglass

        You completely missed the illustrating point. Jackson opening said he didn’t like the track (and thus the BC’s choice of selecting it) and voted against it with no entry. Ergo those who disagree with the BC’s decision could just bypass the event, too, without the threat of legal consequences.

  • Davant Latham

    And the #1 (stupid) reason to sue the Breeders Cup – “everybody’s doin’ it”

  • Noelle

    Funny – but what’s wrong with Ladies Day?

    I’ve wanted to sue the Breeders Cup ever since I paid a few thousand dollars in 2011 for a Churchill Downs 2nd row box (I wanted better seats than I’d had the year before) plus hotel, airfare, car rental, etc., only to have my view (and that of my guests) blocked all day both days by the cretins in the 1st row box who stood on their folding chairs waving Bob Baffert posters over their moronic heads every time they thought a TV camera might be pointed in their direction. We couldn’t even see the infield TV screen.

    Can you tell I’m still steamed? Not our problem, said the ushers and BC. Stand on your own chairs, they said. Yeah, right. We stood on our chairs but we STILL couldn’t see anything over the posters.

    Oh well – I went to Santa Anita last year anyway, but I’ll never buy another BC Box.

  • HappyHarriet

    I love to hear your ideas, Ray, and of course your writing is superb. The BC last year at SA was a joke and I heard nothing but complaining about how it was organized both days. No access to the saddling area, and very little to the paddock, and my view was blocked almost completely by the fat a***d photographers who were standing directly in the line of sight elbow to elbow. It was an all out disappointment. However, I go to see the horses and some friends, and I caught a glimpse of both, but did I get my money’s worth? NO! I wrote a letter of complaint which I’m sure went into the shredder.

    • http://twitter.com/milezinni Myles Graebner

      It wasn’t any better on simulcast…..everything but the post parade and the race itself was blocked out by analysts and constant commercials! The same commercials…….

    • missedgehead

      Hi. HappyHarriet. One of my best friends experienced the same thing. She does not plan to go next year. That really stinks that you had no access to the saddling area, and all. She just felt ripped off. It was way better at Churchill Downs. My beef with the BC is that the IDEA of the event is that it is SUPPOSED to go all around different tracks, NOT be bounced around between SA and CD. What about Lonestar Park or Belmont Park?

  • Sue M. Chapman

    Love it, Ray! Has CBS been in touch?

    • Don Reed

      Probably, with the intent of suing Ray for copyright infringement.
      Letterman’s ex-interns have been signed up as Ray’s defense counsel.

  • Don Reed

    Message down below: “Facebook like box temporarily disabled. Click here to follow us on facebook.”
    Well you’ve gone and done kicked the hornet’s nest, Ray. Who retaliated? Say, have Facebook shares gotten back to their original opening price of ten months ago?
    And – not that I care, because I’ll buy an Amazon “Swindle” ebook before I ever even think about signing up for FB, an Idiot’s Delight – but isn’t the “f” in “Facebook” capitalized?

  • ExactaGirl

    Excellent editorial, Ray! I’m with you 100%.

  • Richard C

    One great voice in a room full of junkies.

  • GENE

    The bottom line on all this is, me first and everybody else second…..wonder why this industry is in the shape it’s in. It will never improve or get better until selfish people start working together, but that might mean the West’s and Barffert’s of the world will have to let go of some of there idea’s and perks……that ain’t going to happen anytime soon.

  • Convene

    I wonder how many sued someone back in the day when they first PERMITTED medications in racing …

  • Anita

    Hi Ray,
    I remember when there was no drugs in racing. Can I sue now because older horses can run on lasix? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Tinky

    …discontinuing the use of Lasix for two days a year would “have a devastating impact on every aspect of the American Thoroughbred racing industry.”

    Yes, the children sob when I recount stories of horses averaging 30 or more starts in their careers prior to the introduction of Lasix to American racing (they now average just over 10), and how weak the industry was back in those days (the #1 spectator sport in the country).

    It is truly hard to imagine how the industry could survive without Lasix…unless you have the slightest grasp of recent history, or happen to take into account that two-thirds of the world’s racehorses have been doing fine without race day drugs for decades (over two hundred years in the U.K.).

    The West’s have set new standards for frivolity.

    • G. Rarick

      Actually, Tinky, American horses now average just over 6 starts per year (according to the latest Jockey Club Fact Book). It’s even worse than you thought!

      • Tinky

        You did not read closely, Gina. I was using career starts, which, in my view, provide a much more accurate picture of the state of soundness in the Thoroughbred than starts per year.

        • G. Rarick

          Right. Sorry about that. So it’s even worse than one would be lead to believe.

  • Patti Davis

    Here’s another reason to sue the Breeders’ Cup:

    It hasn’t returned to Arlington Park.

  • RC

    Where is BC siphoning funds from to pay for all that shipping, less entry fees? Not like they have a new revenue stream. Maybe nominators have a lawsuit!

  • Sandra Warren

    In the San Francisco Bay Area, we just learned to our great shock this week that the NFL expects Bay Area hotels to forego the room tax and other tourist taxes if they are awarded a Super Bowl. As a firm Republican, naturally I could be expected to hate all taxes, but I really just want to say to the NFL, what right do you have to attempt to control local taxes just because you put on a football game? This BC situation reminds me of the same thing. Racing is controlled by the state racing board where that year’s venue is located. All rules of racing should be conducted by that state’s rules, period. And if people don’t want to enter, more money for those that do. BC left their fly open on this one. If they hadn’t sought control over areas where they should not, no one would be thinking to sue them over state issues.

    • Kyle

      That is not an apt analogy

  • TJ

    Right on target Ray. This nonsense is what is ruining the sport, not trying to keep the jockeys and horses safe.

  • Concerned Observer

    Ray, For god’s sake don’t you ever watch TV? Litigation is now Americas major growth industry. Just call the firm of Dewey, Cheatum and Howe and they will get your just rewards for your undue pain and suffering. Why should frivolous lawsuits be the sole bastion of the poor and down trodden? Let the rich and powerful in California join in the lawsuit bandwagon and help grind America to a litigious halt. Say hallelujah! and….. Please, invite the suit bringers to join the boards of all our horsey organizations.

  • Kris

    Will the West’s threaten to sue the U.S. Congress when that group of meddling politicians finally decide to turn their jaundiced eyes towards horse racing? If horse racing doesn’t clean-up its act then someone else will and we may not like how that turns out.

  • Barry Irwin

    Another reason to sue the Breeders’ Cup: when all else fails, throw a tantrum.

    • Jeffrey

      Touche. Seemingly the ways of a three year old are not always shed as one grows to adulthood.

      Money, oftentimes, is deployed as a tantrum disguised as power.

      The enemy of power is truth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.oconnor.35110 Katie O’Connor

    THERAPEUTIC medications, first and foremost, benefit horses in all facets of competition.The ‘hay oats and water’ mantra tossed around by these hollier than thou self serving do gooders most certainly do not benefit the horse and consequently racing. THERAPEUTIC medications such as lasix, bute, banamine, dexamethasone, solu-delta, aspirin, venti-pulmin and (yes, OMG!) anabolic steroids, administered responsibly, aid in a healthier horse with a longer career in competition.I abhor cheating and narcotics, barbituates, stimulants and blocks; they have NO place in training or racing or any equine competition. The end effect of EXTREME use of medication closely parallels the end effect of EXTREME absence of therapeutic medications further compounded by North American training and racing facilities which are the complete antithesis of their European counterpart. The ability to treat and medicate these majestic and mighty -yet fragile- athletes responsibly is all but lost. I applaud the West’s. They are great breeder’s who champion the thoroughbred and thoroughbred racing. I hope they win their battle because it will be a victory for our horses.

    • Sean Kerr

      Absolutely wrong Katie: According to Dr. Rick Arthur, we are using more medications now than at any time in history. We are a medicine cabinet culture – and our poor training and ill informed owners reflect it. Can you please explain how it is ‘therapeutic’ to dehydrate a horse with Lasix BEFORE a race by giving it an intense diuretic, forcing the horse to eliminate vital fluids, electrolytes, potassium etc. BEFORE the race? Can you explain how it is that since the legalization of Lasix that our horses are starting less, and have shorter careers? Is it any coincidence, that since it takes longer for a horse (or any athlete) to recover from intense hydration that our horses cannot race within a week of a prior race anymore. Is it any coincidence that our horses, with all of these fabulous ‘therapeutic’ medications, cannot run a race one week before the Kentucky Derby, and never a race in between the Preakness and the Belmont. The West’s are wrong on every level. By the way, do you support the public posting of any and all medications used to train the horse during its career? I bet Mr. and Mrs. West don’t. I bet that if we start posting these ‘therapies’ then all the whining about bleeding will disappear overnight. But hey, ask Bob Baffert why he doesn’t whine or complain when taking a horse to Dubai? The use of Lasix is stupid on every level in American horse racing.

      • Barry Irwin

        I’m getting such a headache from reading all of this I think I need a couple of asprin.

        • Don Reed

          Do they test for owner overage?

        • Michael Martin

          I need a drink.

      • Old Timer

        Well Dr. Arthur apparently wasn’t around horse racing much before the 90′s and 80′s then, because there sure as HELL was a lot of drugs in horses way back in the day. NOT until recently with the advances in lab testing did trainers start backing off drugs, because they could actually get caught. Awesome job by commissions for putting the money forward to make it a level playing field. Excellent!

        We have way better veterinarian care now, then ever before in treatment and diagnosis of problems in horses, which aids the trainer in preparing them for outs. I think everyone forgets how far we have come along in such a short amount of time. I wonder what the breakdown rates where in days gone by, and see if there was an improvement now over then. That would be the only true test to see if we are going in the right direction with detection of illegal drugs and practices.

        Now regarding all the other bs about starts, lets look at a few other points too, hmmm longer race meetings with almost year round racing, harder faster sand tracks that are like a wet beach instead of a plowed field to run on, and finally NO breaks like horses used to get in season racing environments. Coupled with breeding to freaking KY Derby winners, who are at their peek at what THREE. These are way way way more devastating to the horse industry than any one drug “lasix” that everyone wants to blame. Fix these issues first then go after something “scientifically” proven to help the horse!!!

        • Sean Kerr

          “Old Timer” – Actually: Lasix is not scientifically proven to ‘help’ the horse: there was a flawed one-dimensional study in South Africa that did not examine the 30 pounds of urine eliminated. Also the Lasix clearly didn’t eliminate bleeding – also the study was never replicated. So your position is weak. Dr. Arthur who has been around longer than the time you mention (I note that you are afraid to state your name so you must be too afraid to stand by your convictions), was talking about legal medications which was clearly communicated in my comment. I am presuming that you are talking about the proliferation of illegal drugs. Clearly illegal drugs have been abuse for a long long time. Some allege that the Keene family was cheating with narcotics in Europe as well as the USA. But if you think that legal medications are not being abused and that veterinarians are not engaged in mass medical malpractice, then you are in denial. The year round racing has absolutely nothing to do with the decreasing rate of starts: too many 3 year olds – as you clearly state – never get to the point to where they can race year round: and the ones that do are clearly over-medicated to get them through the calendar. Scour the internet for yourself. Bob Baffert himself has stated repeatedly that if we take away the medicine cabinet then we can’t race year round. He complained about that when the debates over outlawing the use of steroids came up. But you jump to the wrong conclusion – like pretty much everyone else who is in denial about Lasix – I do not claim that Lasix is the number one problem in horse racing or the cause of it’s demise. But the use of Lasix is just plain wrong. It cannot be justified on any level and what little science there is has been distorted and twisted to the point of mindless hysteria and propaganda.

        • Hopefieldstables

          You can check the breakdown rates of American horses racing abroad. (as you say to see if you are gong in the “right direction”

    • Hopefieldstables

      A disturbing and complete misunderstanding of pharmacology. No wonder.

    • Michael Martin

      The problem with your point of view is that it is not backed by the record (see above as well): fewer starts per year, fewer starts per lifetime, and the general rise of exactly what you abhor as a needle injected culture has replaced hard training and better horsemanship. Yes, therapeutic medications are absolutely needed. Therapy follows a problem but doesn’t precede clinical signs. Drugging an animal for fun and profit is not therapy. That is the current usage of furosemide. So sue me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.vandenbrink.52 Ben van den Brink

    Missing in the letter, is the diuretic part from lasix, Up to 29 pds within 4 hrs prior to a race is a lot of weight.

    • oldbay

      100% water weight. Not close to the percentage of weight dropped by jockeys that are riding them.

      • Sean Kerr

        Irrelevant ‘oldbay’ – the elimination of electrolytes that come with the forced urination is not a good thing for the horse. Trainers that quit the Lasix note that the horse recovers faster. Like any drug – there is a trade-off. The use of Lasix for ‘bleeding’ is a joke – or rank denial.

  • MazDerby

    United we stand, divided we fall. Horseracing more closely resembles the dysfunctional US Congress right now than a sport that people get excited about.

    When somebody brings up horseracing in conversation (to be nice and bring you into the conversation) do you smile and roll your eyes or do you respond with the same enthusiasm that you once did?

  • http://www.facebook.com/SusanKayne Susan Kayne

    Ray…you are just too damn good! You just might have a career in TV…;)

    • nu-fan

      He used great timing and his delivery was spot on!

  • we’re watching

    It’s never too early to discuss the BC. the Fans need to have their input known, thanks Ray. The racing paper won’t run controversial stories or opinions any more unless they are in agreement.
    Rotate the BC to other tracks. Except for weather, the BC was fantastic at Monmouth and other facilities. not so much at its current anchorbase. Anyone with a sign in front of me would have had their sign ripped up. Where’s the equity there. Try going to the Preakness with all the junk in the infield and try seeing the race. Corporate involvement is necessary, but not at the denigration of fan participation and sightlines. more input into the old outline of the BC day, progress is not necessarily good.

  • Citation1947

    Take away the slot money and other sources fueling purses and watch how fast many of these pro-drug owners and trainers abandon the sport. They are not in it for the love of the equine athlete.

  • FIVE2_THREE

    This is starting to get real nasty, If I were Coolmore or Godolphin I would pack up and go home. these two stables pour millions upon millions of dollars in American racing year after year and this is the thanks they get ? they don’t need America, America needs them.

  • Jeffrey

    Top ten reasons to sue Gary and Mary West?

  • Don Reed

    The hell with Fallon succeeding Leno. Ray, you’re up. Where to broadcast from, LA or New York?

    Good. But what’s with THE HANDS? They distract the viewer.

    That wasn’t a seagull. It was R. Dutrow. He was full of crap, even then.

    You missed the one lawsuit that would put the BC execs in the electric chair:

    — The 3rd World BC held in New Jersey.

  • http://twitter.com/HoopsandHorses Hoops and Horses

    What people need to understand is the sport needs to get rid of lasix, but it has to be phased out over time and NOT all at once. As written two years ago: http://www.toosmarttofail.com/forums/showthread.php/324

  • jttf

    how could the breeders cup committee allow horses to be tortured by running without lasix (oh, thats right, i have two horses running in the juvenile) ? how can the breeders cup committee allow horses a head start by allowing different weights being assigned to horses in our national championship ? how can our national championship encourage the use of performance enhancing meds in our national championship ? dont performance enhancing meds create an uneven playing field ? if the breeders cup classic is our world series, how come the horse of the year award isnt given to the winner ? how come the racing fans money isnt returned when a horse like life at ten is held back by the jockey ? if a winning horse is found out to be racing with illegal drugs, how come the racing fans who had the second place horse are not rewarded ?

  • Check This Out
  • DawnP

    Can I sue the Maryland Jockey Club for not DQing Codex in the 1980 Preakness? ;)

  • Stop Removing This Post

    On the DRF website, from Steve Crist – one of the most respected turf writers on earth:
    The movement to ban Lasix from American racing, which looked like an odds-on favorite only a year ago, seems to have pulled up at the top of the stretch with the announcement last week that the Breeders’ Cup has scrapped its plan to enforce a ban in this year’s races.

    Lasix will again be banned in only the four juvenile races while the treatment will be permitted in the 10 others, and insiders expect even the juvenile ban to be gone in another year or two. So, if there are 30,000 races in North America in 2013, Lasix will be permitted in 29,996 of them and prohibited in just four.

    Regardless of which side of the thorny and divisive debate you are on, this is a stunning reversal. A year ago, Kentucky regulators were on the verge of phasing out Lasix completely but now are likelier to phase in a retreat from those rules. Efforts to enact similar legislation stalled in New York and never got off the ground in California. Numerous industry organizations have retreated from strong anti-Lasix stances.

    What happened? Zealots on each side of the issue will call it a triumph of good or evil by forces of enlightenment or darkness, but it may be more valuable to examine why a movement that seemed inevitable suddenly lost its momentum. There probably are dozens of other factors, but here are five that contributed to the sputter:

    ◗ The willful attempt to blur the clear lines between administering a legal and regulated medication and the nefarious use of illegal and dangerous drugs to fix the outcome of races was a tactical error that alienated potential supporters who have an open mind on the topic.

    Proponents of a ban consistently overstated their case and lost hearts and minds by trying to make Lasix sound inherently dangerous and linking its usage – with little veterinary evidence or support – to a supposed decline in the health and durability of the breed.

    ◗ The claim by proponents of a ban that Lasix use was harming the sport’s popularity was unfounded and unconvincing. After more than two decades of widespread Lasix usage, a span in which the sport had periods of both growth and decline, the argument that it had suddenly begun alienating potential customers lacked credibility. This was borne out when in 2012, a year in which racing probably received an unprecedented amount of negative coverage for medication and animal-welfare issues, American betting handle actually increased for the first time in six years.

    ◗ The lack of support for a Lasix ban from virtually any successful trainer left the anti-Lasix proponents not only without an influential spokesman but also with the weak and nasty rebuttal that trainers are either incompetent or shady. Even trainers who ban proponents thought shared their views said they found Lasix a useful and humane treatment.

    ◗ While it may be intellectually defensible (through the “playing by the existing rules” and “level playing field” arguments) to rail against the use of Lasix while continuing to race one’s own horses on it, people both inside and outside the industry found this to be a mixed message at best. Telling people to do what you say, not what you do, never goes over well in general and took the wind from the sails of the position that Lasix was so detrimental to racing that it must be banned.

    ◗ The argument that the United States is out of step with the rest of the world by uniquely permitting Lasix is both true and sobering, but a lack of conformity is not in and of itself a reason to change. What was needed to make that a more compelling argument was some illustration of how the United States could implement foreign procedures to replace Lasix instead of an assumption that we must be wrong.

    There also continues to be a lot of misinformation surrounding comparisons between American and, in particular, European racing. It has become gospel that horses in Europe make more starts per year than American runners, and that Lasix might be to blame, when, in fact, the statistics are almost identical.

    Whatever the reasons, the impetus to change Lasix policy has evaporated, but that should not mean the topic is permanently closed. Even those who have come to accept and defend its use would be hard-pressed to argue that it is commendable that American racing has gone down a path where virtually every horse is treated with it. Perhaps the next time the issue rears its head – and it will – there can be a more constructive, civilized, and informed discussion.

  • Stop Removing This Post

    The movement to ban Lasix from American racing, which looked like an odds-on favorite only a year ago, seems to have pulled up at the top of the stretch with the announcement last week that the Breeders’ Cup has scrapped its plan to enforce a ban in this year’s races.

    Lasix will again be banned in only the four juvenile races while the treatment will be permitted in the 10 others, and insiders expect even the juvenile ban to be gone in another year or two. So, if there are 30,000 races in North America in 2013, Lasix will be permitted in 29,996 of them and prohibited in just four.

    Regardless of which side of the thorny and divisive debate you are on, this is a stunning reversal. A year ago, Kentucky regulators were on the verge of phasing out Lasix completely but now are likelier to phase in a retreat from those rules. Efforts to enact similar legislation stalled in New York and never got off the ground in California. Numerous industry organizations have retreated from strong anti-Lasix stances.

    What happened? Zealots on each side of the issue will call it a triumph of good or evil by forces of enlightenment or darkness, but it may be more valuable to examine why a movement that seemed inevitable suddenly lost its momentum. There probably are dozens of other factors, but here are five that contributed to the sputter:

    ◗ The willful attempt to blur the clear lines between administering a legal and regulated medication and the nefarious use of illegal and dangerous drugs to fix the outcome of races was a tactical error that alienated potential supporters who have an open mind on the topic.

    Proponents of a ban consistently overstated their case and lost hearts and minds by trying to make Lasix sound inherently dangerous and linking its usage – with little veterinary evidence or support – to a supposed decline in the health and durability of the breed.

    ◗ The claim by proponents of a ban that Lasix use was harming the sport’s popularity was unfounded and unconvincing. After more than two decades of widespread Lasix usage, a span in which the sport had periods of both growth and decline, the argument that it had suddenly begun alienating potential customers lacked credibility. This was borne out when in 2012, a year in which racing probably received an unprecedented amount of negative coverage for medication and animal-welfare issues, American betting handle actually increased for the first time in six years.

    ◗ The lack of support for a Lasix ban from virtually any successful trainer left the anti-Lasix proponents not only without an influential spokesman but also with the weak and nasty rebuttal that trainers are either incompetent or shady. Even trainers who ban proponents thought shared their views said they found Lasix a useful and humane treatment.

    ◗ While it may be intellectually defensible (through the “playing by the existing rules” and “level playing field” arguments) to rail against the use of Lasix while continuing to race one’s own horses on it, people both inside and outside the industry found this to be a mixed message at best. Telling people to do what you say, not what you do, never goes over well in general and took the wind from the sails of the position that Lasix was so detrimental to racing that it must be banned.

    ◗ The argument that the United States is out of step with the rest of the world by uniquely permitting Lasix is both true and sobering, but a lack of conformity is not in and of itself a reason to change. What was needed to make that a more compelling argument was some illustration of how the United States could implement foreign procedures to replace Lasix instead of an assumption that we must be wrong.

    There also continues to be a lot of misinformation surrounding comparisons between American and, in particular, European racing. It has become gospel that horses in Europe make more starts per year than American runners, and that Lasix might be to blame, when, in fact, the statistics are almost identical.

    Whatever the reasons, the impetus to change Lasix policy has evaporated, but that should not mean the topic is permanently closed. Even those who have come to accept and defend its use would be hard-pressed to argue that it is commendable that American racing has gone down a path where virtually every horse is treated with it. Perhaps the next time the issue rears its head – and it will – there can be a more constructive, civilized, and informed discussion.

  • RayPaulick

    For another take on the subject of race-day medication, read Steven Crist’s column in Daily Racing Form. http://www.drf.com/news/steven-crist-five-reasons-why-effort-ban-lasix-has-stalled

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.vandenbrink.52 Ben van den Brink

    When you are gooiing to google on loop diuretics any one will finds intersting stuff. Like lower bloodpreesure, losses from potassium and calcium up to 20%. This will harm horses in the long run no doubt about that.

  • mhm

    The Wests want to use the same reasoning as Lance Armstrong is still claiming. All the techniques which Armstrong utilized fall under the rubric of therapeutic medication, but were administered preemptively. Using this logic, should we begin chemotherapy now? If we are blocked in that effort, should we then sue our doctor?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.vandenbrink.52 Ben van den Brink

    By training the way they do, the big trainers are creating the problems themselves and not the other way around

  • Sue M. Chapman

    Coolmore, Darley, Shadwell and Godolphin do not run their two year olds on Lasix, nor do Phipps or Janney. On January 1st, the horses turn three. They all get Lasix.

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