The Breeders’ Cup Forum: Lasix – An International Veterinary Perspective

by | 03.14.2013 | 11:11am

Brian Stewart is the head of Equine Welfare and Veterinary Services for Racing Victoria, the primary authority overseeing horse racing in the region of Australia that includes Melbourne.  Formerly a private practitioner in Caulfield, Stewart was the head of Veterinary Regulation and International Liaison for the Hong Kong Jockey Club from 2002-2011. He has served as chairman of the International Group of Specialist Racing Veterinarians and in senior positions with the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, among other roles in the industry.

This week's Breeders' Cup Forum with Stewart, conducted via email, is a counterbalance to the views of Southern California racetrack practitioner Don Shields, a staunch advocate for the race-day use of the anti-bleeding diuretic furosemide, or Lasix, to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. Shields was the subject of last week's Forum, which can be read here.

Dr. Stewart made the following introductory comments prior to the Paulick Report's questions:

I'd like to make a few points to explain why we will not consider the introduction of race-day furosemide medication in Australian (or Hong Kong) racing.

This is despite the fact that we acknowledge that furosemide does work to ameliorate EIPHS and is undoubtedly good for the individual horse that suffers significant EIPH, but we believe that its use would not be good for the business of racing, would not be good for the overall future good of the Thoroughbred breed and would not be good for the general Thoroughbred population because its use encourages/permits over-training and over-racing of horses.

—Furosemide has been clearly demonstrated to improve racing performance by means unrelated to its effect on EIPHS, that is by causing significant weight loss by the excretion of excess fluid.  This effect has also been demonstrated to be inconsistent and unpredictable which must impact on the quality of the wagering product.

—There are suggestions and significant anecdotal reports that there is a degree of heritability associated with EIPHS.  Until that possibility is disproved, there is significant risk for the overall quality and durability of Thoroughbred breed associated with breeding of horses that have been selected on the basis of performances assisted by furosemide.

—In my opinion, EIPHS is often associated with over-stressed horses, often with poor lung health (often associated with poor air quality and inflammatory airway disease.  The occurrence of EIPHS detected by regular endoscopic examinations is a very good indicator that a horse is not coping with its workload/environment and is a warning sign to modify its training regime and attend to lung health problems.  The use of furosemide may mask these warning signs and cause a horse to be over-worked and over-stressed leading to higher risk of injury.

Brian Stewart

Brian Stewart

—There is a philosophy that racing should be a test of the suitability and excellence of the individual for racing, both to identify the best athlete and to identify the best future breeding stock.  If an individual is unsuitable for the purpose of racing, be it because of a susceptibility to EIPHS or a lack of durability or whatever, that individual's best interests and the best interests of the breed and the industry are best served by removing that individual from the racing population.

—Every racing chemist I speak to outside of the USA, has absolutely no doubt that the use of race-day furosemide would interfere with their laboratory's capability to detect prohibited substances.  This fact alone is enough to cause us to have grave reservations about the introduction of race-day medication.  It is interesting to note that WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) classifies furosemide as a masking agent.

—Sudden death caused by EIPHS is extremely rare in Hong Kong and Australian racing and, when it does occur, is much more likely to have been caused by ventricular fibrillation than by the EIPHS syndrome.

How have horsemen in Hong Kong and Australia dealt with EIPH?
Horsemen manage EIPHS by regular endoscopic monitoring of horses in training, modification of the training regime, avoiding swimming horses, maintaining high air quality in stable, maintaining lung health by promptly and aggressively treating respiratory disease by the use of mucolytic, bronchodilators, vitamin c, and other supplement products.

Reducing gut fill prior to racing by withdrawing water and ‘soft feed' for about four hours prior to racing is common and seems to have no adverse effects on horses…presumably by minimizing the ‘gut piston effect' but possibly by causing mild dehydration and perhaps reducing pulmonary vascular pressures.

Horses that show reoccurring significant EIPHS are often retired from racing.

Are furosemide or other anti-bleeding medications used routinely in training? If so, when is the withdrawal time?
Furosemide and other diuretics are routinely used in training in Australia.  Very few adjunct products, beyond commercial supplements, are used.  The commonly used withdrawal period for furosemide is three days

Furosemide is not permitted for training in Hong Kong.  This is primarily because of the importance placed on training performances by form analysts in HK and the opinion that training performances influenced by furosemide are an unreliable guide to race day performance and are therefore bad for business.  The lung health of the vast majority of HK horses does not appear to be compromised by this ban on the use of furosemide in training.

When doing post-race endoscopic examinations, how often is a bleeding episode diagnosed as one that would affect performance?
Hong Kong statistics over about five years indicate that significant EIPHS (grade 3+/4+ on scope plus frank epistaxis) was assessed to be a contributing factor to poor racing performances in horses sent for veterinary inspections by the stewards in about 38% of these disappointing performances, which translated to about 1% of all runners.

Hinchcliff's paper on the impact of EIPHS was based on post-race scopes done in Melbourne and may be referred to for information on the impact of EIPHS on performance.

Has there been any movement in Hong Kong or Australia to accept the widely held North American view that Lasix is good for the horse and that denying Lasix is borderline cruel to the animal?
There has been no significant movement in either HK or Australia (or Europe) to advance the position that denying Lasix is cruelty beyond the odd lobbying by trainers.  There is no likelihood of race-day Lasix medication being introduced to Australian or HK racing.

Problem horses are either voluntarily or compulsorily retired from racing and the general consensus is that the welfare of horses is best advanced by not racing these horses that cannot adapt to the stresses of racing.

How are the American medication policies generally viewed where you have practiced?
American medication policies are generally regarded as being mistaken and bad for the business of racing and the overall health and safety of the entirety of the racehorse population and very risky for the future quality of the breed.

What medications are most often used in training in Hong Kong and Australia?
The standard racetrack medications used elsewhere in the world are used in both HK and Australia: NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), corticosteroids, HA (hyaluronic acid), pentosan, anti-ulcer medications, bronchodilators, mucolytics, etc.

What is the withdrawal time for phenylbutazone?
Approximately seven days.

Are intra-articular corticosteroids or Depo-Medrol administered routinely? Do you have any knowledge of how long the injection of corticosteroids suppresses the symptoms of pain?
Intra-articular corticosteroids are routinely administered.  The suppression of inflammation by corticosteroids is not fully known and is the subject of considerable research work.  A reasonable guess for triamcinoline acetonide might be approximately two weeks.  Depo-Medrol is likely to be considerably longer but I do not have any reliable information on which to base an estimate.

We have shorter withdrawal times in North America for most of these drugs, yet seem to have more problems with soundness. I've heard American trainers say 1) trainers and veterinarians are using just as many or more drugs overseas but have substances that can't be detected in tests; and 2) the testing standards are not nearly as high overseas as in North America. How would you respond to that?
Absolute rubbish. That said, there is always the possibility that ‘undetectable' substances may be administered in racing anywhere in the world, although it must also be said that our trainers look to North America for the supply of the  latest and best undetectable drugs.

The comments about low testing standards are incorrect and insulting to our laboratories.

Is any out-of-competition testing conducted in Australia or Hong Kong?
Yes.  Hong Kong has a very intensive program.  The Australian environment is logistically more challenging but there is a regular OOCT testing program which is being expanded.  Recent incidents of the detection of attempts to illegally treat horses on race day in Melbourne racing have been the result of intelligence, surveillance and stable raids by compliance officers.  This has been very successful and is an approach we will be expanding in the future.  It is no longer possible to rely on laboratory testing alone to provide adequate doping and medication control.

What are the biggest challenges in the doping arena in Australia and Hong Kong?
I think the most significant challenge is the use of anabolic-like substances, for example peptide drugs, and blood-building drugs that are either undetectable, have very short detection times and are used to enhance the response to training by either building muscle mass or building blood parameters during training and are extremely unlikely to be detected in race day samples.

OOCT, intelligence, surveillance, stable raids, cooperation with police and customs perhaps combined with biological passports will be required to address these threats.

  • Randyp

    Somebody forward this to the bc board!!!!!!

  • Abbers last some common sense!!!!!!

  • American trainers and owners choose to medicate based on what is best for the individual horse (and the immediate protection of their financial investment). Foreign trainers/owners choose not to medicate for the advancement of the breed as a whole (and to protect the stability of their long-term financial investment). The difference of philosophy is pretty fundamental. One is concerned with the health and one-track success of today’s horse…the other prioritizes the long-term success of the breed and it’s overall racing product. I totally understand why Lasix is favored by owners and trainers….but if I was an American breeder…I’d be fighting for the long-term viability of the sport and breed.

    • MightveBen

      I am an American breeder/owner and would favor phasing out lasix. Your assessment of Foreign versus domestic trainers/owners is simplistic, niave, idealistic, and incorrect.

  • Amy Spear

    Excellent interview Ray, I really wish we could move to no lasix in racing in the US.

  • Noelle

    Excellent interview – makes the completely logical case against Lasix beautifully. The arguments on the pro-Lasix side make no sense at all – unless the only goal of breeding and racing in America is financial gain for those who breed and train bleeders.

    He has a nice sense of humor too – “…our trainers look to North America for the supply of the latest and best undetectable drugs.” Funny.

  • Nucky Thompson

    Best line of the interview was “our trainers look to North America for the supply of the latest and best undetectable drugs.”. How true, how true. Glad that we are still the world leaders in something.

    • voiceofreason

      Hahahaha, so true.

    • Tinky

      Frankly, that line should be taken with a full shaker of salt. The fact is that the reverse is often true, as Australian trainers have been on the cutting edge of certain PEDs for some time.

      Much as I like and was generally impressed by Dr. Stewart’s responses, this was actually the one exception.

      • Nucky Thompson

        Tinky, in this context you should have said a full shaker of milk :) I am not familiar with all the devious practices going on down under but I need look no further than Tampa Bay Downs to see what is happening with

        • Tinky

          I’m referring to the fact that a number of PEDs were first used in AUS before being adopted here. In no way am I suggesting that trainers aren’t using them here, nor am I suggesting that the problem isn’t worse here than in other countries.

    • Francis

      Yes, quite sensational, but where was the follow up to this dramatic revelation?! This is exactly the kind of good information investigators in the U.S. could use as it seems every other racing jurisdiction in the free world knows how we ugly Americans cheat. Maybe the Australians et al can be more forthcoming with their knowledge. Hopefully, in the spirit of unbiased journalism and fact finding, Mr. Paulick did follow up on this answer and will report his findings to appropriate authorities.

      As for Lasix masking other drugs, there are conflicting opinions and outcomes in research. According to Dr. Stewart horses are given commercial supplements.. so for all practical purposes the hay, oats and water regimen the anti-Lasix crowd wants to advance doesn’t exist. Natural supplements can be very potent and performance enhancing. How can we in America be so sure the trainers overseas aren’t corrupting the composition of the supplements? By the doctor’s own admission, they know all of our dirty, nefarious secrets. Why aren’t they catching more trainers?

      Is this Dr. Stewart related to Australian vet Dr. Rod Stewart who was suspended from American racing for five years for using snake venom? Is that a technique he learned here or down under.

  • giacomoin05 Stephanie Howard

    Great article. Hope US horse racings “powers that be” see this and take it to heart.

  • Ed Brockman

    There you have the real facts from an extremely knowledgeable and respected source. The use of Lasix as a masking agent has been touched on very little in the US I think, but it may be the real reason it is used in many cases.
    The facts are that the Ky Derby, Breeders Cup and other big race events are drawing large crowds to the tracks because they are seen as a large social event of importance to many that have little or no real interest in horse racing. These same people don’t come back to the track regularly because it is complicated to select a horse to bet on, and quite honestly many of them do not trust what goes on at the tracks as being open and above board. The use of common sense would seem to support those general concerns.
    Horse racing in the US will continue its downward spiral unless something of real significance changes, and I don’t mean slots at the track.

  • jetto

    “Furosemide and other diuretics are routinely used in training in Australia.” So, what is the difference between using it in training to stop bleeding and using it on a race day to do the same? I am not an advocate either way, but I always wondered if they used it in training- guess they do. So apparently it is “ok” with them to use the product in training and put the horse into the breeding shed or broodmare band; but it is not “ok” to use the product on race day and then have the horse produce a next generation. I’m not sure how you can have it both ways. Maybe there is a vet on here who can explain that. Just wondering what the basis of the complaint about US use of the drug really is. It appears most countries utilize the drug in racing programs, just not with the same timing.

    • circusticket

      Maybe it’s because racing results are used to determine breeding value and since racing results are not affected by Lasix, neither is the breeding so the long term health of the breed is maintained. Maybe it’s better to put it this way. Breeding is based on racing and Lasix is not used on race day across the big pond.

      • jetto

        Ok that makes more sense when put in that light. Thank you.

    • Matt Clarke

      Shame you did not mention the next paragraph which indicates furosemide is not allowed in HK during training, but HK horses do not seem to be troubled by it.

      • jetto

        Why? The point of my comment was why use it in training and not on raceday. HK does not fall into that category as you aptly point out.

    • Stanley inman

      jetto, let’s see if we can
      dumb this down for the Paulick Report audience.
      if the medication Is used other than raceday
      it meets the definition of “therapeutic” medication.
      On raceday
      The whole world understands the practice as
      Why Every major sport regulating body outlaws the practice.
      Out of racingtherapeutic
      Except for ray’s audience with
      Room temperature IQ
      That should be a sufficient clarification.
      Thanks for lending a hand.

      • jetto

        So someone asks a question to gain more information on the subject and is subjected to being put down for it. I have no financial interest in racing other than the occasional bet. I am a fan that was asking how the Europeans use the drug. Most on here are polite and that is something unusual in today’s society. This response was what I was expecting to get since so many hide behind a screen these days. If the IQ of Ray’s audience is so low- Why are YOU here? Oh wait- I know that answer- to get off on putting people down.

        • G. Rarick

          Jetto, Lasix is not at all widely used in training in France, and is perhaps slightly in wider use in England and Ireland. The French philosophy seems to be more in line with that of Hong Kong. If you don’t race with it, no point in training with it. We do have the luxury of overall better health of the horses than in the United States, because we are not forced to train on the track but rather in better ventilated and less stressful training centers.

          • jetto

            Thank you. It seems an odd drug to use during training, but I guess the ones who use it have their reasons.

        • Stanley inman

          Blogs are about sharing ideas;
          filtered by feelings
          My friend, has little to do with presumed intent of the messenger.
          Not in the habit of apologizing to someone
          Wearing a mask

        • nu-fan

          Jetto: You asked a question that I, also, had wondered about. It was/is a good question. All it was asking was for someone to explain the difference. That’s all. Why do some get upset and use such negative comments? I don’t know. Seems so pointless but, unfortunately, the Internet allows some to be less mannerly than when speaking to others in person. Or, perhaps, they were having a bad day and took it out on someone else. Just ignore it. (Note: We’ve all been on that same receiving end, at times, with those negative comments.) But, then, there are constructive comments such as the one that G. Rarick, so graciously, provided.

          • jetto

            Yes considering some of the comments I have seen on the facebook pages of race horse owners I should not have been surprised how some responded to my questions here, lol…

    • charles

      Fair question but there is nothing to explain…he answered that question….training is NOT the same as racing…and maybe you just missed this paragraph!!
      —Every racing chemist I speak to outside of the USA, has absolutely no
      doubt that the use of race-day furosemide would interfere with their
      laboratory’s capability to detect prohibited substances. This fact
      alone is enough to cause us to have grave reservations about the
      introduction of race-day medication. It is interesting to note that
      WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) classifies furosemide as a masking

      • jetto

        Why the anger when someone asks a question? I understand it can be used to mask other drugs. However, it doesn’t answer why other countries use it in training. If it is so detrimental to the sport and so detrimental to the horses and to the future of the industry- why use it at all? I saw it used on a foal once many years ago by a veterinarian for a physical injury- the foal subsequently died from dehydration. It’s been years since I was involved directly with horses so I’m asking the “why’s”. If you don’t like the questions- don’t look at my posts.

        • charles

          What anger? Just answering your question…..I said it was a fair question. …Are you angry???…..

          • jetto

            Your use of exclamation points tipped me off, lol…No I’m not angry- just attempting to understand the entire issue. As I said- I have no “side”. I am interested in why or how the drug is used apart from raceday- since the vet in the article brought up this subject.

          • charles

            I put exclamation point because it is what has been debated here in USA ad nauseum lol….it is not the use of “drugs in training”….it has always been “race day medication”….This gentleman was pointing out why they do not use it during race day…..of course I do agree why use any drugs at all that could have some side effects but that is a discussion for another day…..

          • jetto

            I’ve been a very casual fan of racing for the last 30 years or so. Now that I have more time to pursue this “hobby” I have been surprised by the fervent nature of the fans on social media, lol…just trying to play catch-up and this is definitely a hot button subject. Having seen with my own eyes the damage it can do I would be prone to being anti-lasix, but I like seeing all sides of an issue too.

          • charles

            Glad you have more time for this great sport… continues to lose fan base every year due to multiple reasons but in the digital age, it is very difficult to cultivate new fans and tell them that when we race horses we have to give them a drug “Lasix”….to perform…..

          • Lexington 3

            Hey charles, you obviously do not have an answer to the question.

            If a horse is considered genetically inferior because it races on Lasix, why is a horse that TRAINS on Lasix considered genetically sound?

            You did not understand either the article or the question.

  • Billy the Kid

    Dr. Stewart is dead on. Here in NM, trainers try anything to avoid training horses and make an effort to reduce the amount of drugs. Vets encourage traiiners to use more drugs.

  • Tinky

    Well done, Ray. Not only was the interview excellent, but the responses were both thoughtful and balanced.

    I urge readers to note, especially, the contrast between Dr. Stewart’s balanced views and the clearly biased views expressed by the American vet Ray recently interviewed. It is also worth noting that Dr. Stewart’s responses reveal that the rest of the world tends to have a broader, and more far-sighted view of the issue than the near-term, mostly profit driven perspective of many of those in the American industry.

  • rachel

    “inconsistent and unpredictable…impacting quality of wagering product…”…yup, just ask those who had money on LAT…

    • onlytebest

      Rachel, since you mentioned LAT, I have a question maybe you can answer for me. I got sidetracked and only heard bit and pieces. What was the theory behind penalizing the steward and the jockey but I never heard anything about the trainer? Isn’t the trainer held responsible for the welfare of the horse under jockey club rules? Maybe something did happen to the trainer and I just missed it.

      • rachel

        As best as I can tell the punishments meted out in horseracing are like lasix…”inconsistent and unpredictable”

  • How true.

  • The difference between using the stuff in training and in the afternoon is quite obvious. The weight loss will be signiffically less in the morning than in the afternoon. In the afternoon there is much more stress upon horse, due to transport, the crowd etc. I have raced in germany where the stuff is not allowed in training and in racing, just because to protect the breed on the long term.

    • jetto

      So the Europeans use it strictly to control bleeding?

      • In some european countries, some trainers are it. But where I live, nobody will use it as we race in germany. We just weeding out bleeders. Lasix is an pure enhacer because firstly it is an diuretic. Diuretics are not allowed

        .IFHA rules are quite clear about this.

        • jetto

          Thank you.

    • Lexington 3

      “The weight loss will be signiffically less in the morning than in the afternoon.”

      Hey Ben, you are ridiculous.

      • Matt

        Actually Ben is not ridiculous. Furesomide is given 4 hours prior to post time. Most trainers who use it prior to working a horse will give it 60-90 mins before.

        • Lexington 3

          Have you ever given a horse Lasix at the track (4 hrs out) and noticed how much they urinate in the first 90 minutes as opposed to the final 90 minutes?

  • steve chambers

    Gary West still has the best idea with panel study idea. Plus he is willing to fund the study himself with a million dollars. Put both these vets on the panel along wih another dozen or so scientific individuals and come up once and for all with the definitive answer about the effects of Lasix.

    • Mark

      It seems like that would be an excellent solution – and a final answer.They are not wiling to do so Steve. By the way, Paulick’s buttons are pushed by his buddy Barry Irwin.

      • onlythebest

        Mark, I’m not sure what you mean by “Paulick’s buttons are pushed by Barry Irwin”. Not criticizing, just don’t understand what you mean.

      • Jeffrey

        Good grief.

        That is what you are going with; Barry Irwin, puppet master?

        So let me get this straight. You are setting aside the scientific literature and advocating for the pro-lasix side because lasix allows the animal to perform to its God-given ability.

        Wouldn’t the “God-given” or natural (I’m agnostic) ability be without medication of any kind? Yes, is the correct answer.

    • Noelle

      Hmm. A panel organized and funded by an American millionaire who threatened legal action against the BC Board unless they reversed themselves on Lasix so he can continue to dose his horses with it…. Who could trust any finding issued by Mr. West’s panel?

      Based on Dr. Stewart’s comments, I think he KNOWS what he thinks of Lasix, based on science, based on experience and based on working with race horses in HK and Australia doing perfectly well without Lasix. No panel of American millionaires or trainers or veterinarians is likely to change his mind.

    • Sean Kerr

      Steve – you don’t honestly think there will be no-interference from Gary West on whatever study he funds? The only way I will take his offer seriously is if he agrees to make ALL of his horse’s and his trainers’ veterinary records for medications and procedures publicly disclosed. Otherwise he can blow all the disingenuous hot air he wants.

    • Jeffrey

      Gary West has made his position well known.

      The idea that he will “fund a study” is just a smokescreen.

      Leadership requires courage in action, not throwing around money to fund a study with “scientific individuals”.

      The landscape of history is littered — some would say polluted — with studies that reached conclusions that amazingly agreed with the views of the person(s) or organizations funding the studies. The conclusions are subsequently found to be lacking in science as a result of side-stepping the application of… the scientific method.

  • onlythebest

    Bravo!!!! Finally, a voice of reason, spoken with authority. The breeding aspect is so important to the future of this sport. I have often wondered if the betting public gets a more honest deal in other countries. With so many states going in the direction of internet wagering internationally, local racing may be forced to offer a cleaner product.

  • Deb Carlino

    Excellent article. US racing needs to wake up. Can’t believe we have another trainer with a high potential Derby contender facing suspension. For shame!!!!!!

  • Mark

    OK, that is one side, not surprisingly he agrees with you and your buddy – now how about an interview with a vet from the pro-lasix side? Will Barry let you publish that?

    • onlythebest

      Matt, that was the first article published a few days ago. Ray inserted a link you may use to access it. This is presenting the opposing view as to why other racing jurisdictions do not allow its use. It generated some lively discussion thus this current article.

    • Sean Kerr

      Mystery Mark – how about Dr. Jerry Bilinski who allowed Lasix to be used legally in NY back in 1995. Look it up: he says that it was the biggest mistake he ever made in his career and regrets it to this day.

    • Barry Irwin

      Mark, what do you think that interview was about a few days ago with the California vet right here on the Paulick Report, or did you miss that because you didn’t get involved in this until you got your marching orders? Every time somebody winds up on the wrong side of the PR fence, they hire or recruit a few posters to come on the Paulick Report and take up the side of the person under pressure. It does not take a great deal of imagination to figure out who you are representing. You are not fooling anybody.

  • Sean Kerr

    I can’t for the life of me see how/why anyone with any common sense could justify ‘training’ on Salix. How incredibly ridiculous to 1) dehydrate a horse BEFORE a work out, and 2) think it is good for the horses body to suffer the insult of losing crucial electrolytes, potassium etc BEFORE a workout. So there you have it: it doesn’t matter what jurisdiction one is based, the use of Salix is just plain stupid.

  • Perfect timing for this interview. You have performed a great service and have dealt with the hytsteria surrounding those who insist that our horses have to have lasix to race. You asked all the right “hot button” questions I have been running into in my travels around the social media. This Q&A is going into my archive for easy retrieval. Thank you!

  • I don’t agree

    Funny that Ray had to go across seas for “justification”…. Considering no Vet would answer the questions to his VIEWS in the states! Ray you ONLY blog about horses PERIOD … As your claim to “fame” Expose the unvarnished truth. The truth is horses bleed and you have a CURE! That’s right a CURE! A diabetic cant take insulin before a baseball game because its a unfair advantage and enhances his current biology… Your loosing the fight Ray! Guarantee this gets deleted because I have different position that Raymond

    • G. Rarick

      Has someone stolen Tinky’s computer? This doesn’t sound like him/her…

    • RayPaulick

      “I Don’t Agree,”

      Sorry to disappoint you, but we welcome opposing points of view all the time. The reasons for this particular interview with Dr. Stewart was to get the international viewpoint on medication. Last week, as others have pointed out, we interviewed Dr. Don Shields, a Southern California equine practitioner who supports the continued use of Lasix.

      Are you of the mindset that you’d rather hear just one side of an issue?

  • Susan

    This reminds me of last summer, when the famous Dr Sheila Lyons spoke in front of the Senate, and everybody fell in love with her, until they started digging deeper, only to find out that much of her “research” was based on humans and not horses. And I haven’t talked to one vet yet, in the Northeast who has even heard of her.
    Not saying this is the same thing at all, but Australia and Hong Kong racing is so NOT the same as American racing. Why are we trying to “be like them?”
    Our vets know the particular problems and issues are runners have-our environment is not ideal, and our breeders have been breeding for a different kind of horse now for the last 40 years-these are things that we are facing here. Maybe all the cry baby breeders need to go back to breeding a stronger horse…if you notice, they are the most vocal about the Lasix ban…perhaps they need to step up and make some changes in their programs and not concentrate on speedy two year olds. Until those things can be improved, if our horses show that they need to run on Lasix to breathe properly , then giving them Lasix is the right thing to do.

    Interesting that more and more people are finally learning that the rest of the World uses all the same therapeutic meds that we do. Interesting that Lasix is used in training around the World, does that not indicate that a horse needs it?
    I would rather KNOW that a horse I was buying or breeding to, actually ran on Lasix, rather than one that “ONLY USED IT” during training. *wink wink*…
    Really, think about it…who’s kidding who, here?

    • Tinky

      “Maybe all the cry baby breeders need to go back to breeding a stronger horse…”

      Gee, Susan, ya think that goal might be a tad easier to attain if those breeders WERE ABLE TO DISCERN BAD BLEEDERS? Of course, they can’t do that that when the symptoms are masked by Lasix.


      • Susan

        That’s what scopes are for.

        • Tinky

          I’m sorry to say that your response above reveals a breathtaking level of ignorance of the topic.

          • Susan

            What is breathtaking sir, is the amount of time you spend on this site , and perhaps others, with your insane bloviating. It is evident that you are certainly not part of the industry, because when would you have time to participate in any relevant manner. But every site needs a tinky I guess.

  • sweet answers dr. stewart. reduce the intake of water by 2 gallons (16.6 lbs) on race day and reduce the feed in bleeders. it sounds like racetracks need to be located outside of smog filled cities. california needs to take that into consideration of the new replacement for hollywood. tell baffert, west and romans to sit down.

    • Bob

      “it sounds like racetracks need to be located outside of smog filled
      cities. california needs to take that into consideration of the new
      replacement for hollywood.”

      Clearly you have never been to Hong Kong.

  • Barry Irwin

    It is so, so obvious that Ray Paulick invented this guy, found a suitable photo on Google images and both asked and answered all of the questions. Ray, who on earth do you think you are fooling with this utter nonsense? 

    • Matt

      Nice Barry nice!

  • MightveBen

    I have yet to meet a racing vet who could not come up with a dozen arguments to justify the practices he wished to promote/defend. Though I happen to generally agree with Dr Stewart, that still does not make his observations scientifically more valid. The one HK post race study is the only scientific evidence he presented, and the controls may or may not have been sufficient to make the results relevant. More significant than science is the success of racing in HK. That alone demonstrates that horses don’t need lasix to run even under conditions of high pollution, high humidity, and restrictive urban stabling.

  • Leavingslowly

    The real truth is that trainers and owners and breeders can’t stop drugging their horses even if they wanted to, or many would be left with unsuitable, unrunnable, and unbreedable horses. They’ve taken it too far over the years and now to unwind drugs from the racing system would be almost impossible.

  • SteveG

    There’s a clear divide between two basic medical philosophies at work from which contrasting practices arise:

    When the view is that EIPH is a symptom of poor lung health, as Dr. Stewart maintains, rather than an inevitable result of “X” amount of exertion, then to treat the symptom with lasix is poor practice because it does not remediate & often masks the underlying cause(s).

    If the view is that EIPH is the inevitable result of “X” amount of exertion, which appears to be the prevalent view among pro-lasix practitioners (otherwise they couldn’t justify their position), rather than a symptom of an underlying problem, then lasix becomes good practice & can even be classified as a preventive.

    • G. Rarick

      So if you subscribe to view No. 2, that EIPH is inevitable, you must also believe that the branch of the thoroughbred running in the United States is different than the breed in the rest of the world, where EIPH is NOT inevitable.

      • SteveG

        Oh, I think the premise of view #2 is faulty. However, without that “inevitablity” then there’s only performance enhancement & pro-lasix practitioners will not, even under torture, concede that point.

        Inevitability also enables the view that furosemide is a prophylactic, irrespective of “need” – even though it only treats a symptom & not the underlying cause(s) while enabling a by-pass of conservative options, like rest, modified training & addressing environmental factors that cause compromised lung health.

        Unless one would also endorse the logic of treating all children with Adderal just in case they show signs of attention-deficit (which they all will at one time or another!) then one can’t endorse lasix as a preventive.

      • SteveG

        Oh, I think the premise of view #2 is faulty. However, without that “inevitablity” then there’s only performance enhancement & pro-lasix practitioners will not, even under torture, concede that point, will they?

        Inevitability also enables the view that furosemide is a prophylactic, irrespective of “need” – even though it only treats a symptom & not the underlying cause(s) while allowing a by-pass of conservative options, like rest, modified training & addressing environmental factors that cause compromised lung health.

        Unless one would also endorse the logic of treating all children with Adderal just in case they show signs of attention-deficit (which they all will at one time or another!) then one can’t endorse lasix as a preventive.

  • dave_parker

    When a thoroughbred bleeds, Dr. Stewart repeatedly states in this article that it is “retired.” I don’t think that the majority of such “retired” thoroughbreds are spending the rest of their lives in a happy place as opposed to in Ikea meatballs. Thank heaven some of them can come to the U.S. and have a productive career !

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