Compromise nowhere to be found in medication debate

by | 11.15.2011 | 11:16am

It is racing's version of the Hatfields and McCoys, the Tea Party against the Occupiers, Right to Lifers vs. Pro Choice. It has caused a rift between some very high-profile horse owners and their own trainers and veterinarians. It is a debate that appears to have no easy answers or areas for compromise.

Those who believe the race-day administration of furosemide (I'm going to call it Lasix) is the right and humane thing to do to treat Thoroughbreds for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage are not going to change their minds because Bill Casner or Arthur Hancock or organizations like The Jockey Club, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association or Breeders' Cup want them to. And the people who would like to see racing in North America align itself with the rest of the world when it comes to dealing with EIPH are not going to be swayed by veterinarians or scientific studies supporting the use of Lasix because they believe too many questions remain unanswered on the effect this drug may have on horses, their performance and the Thoroughbred breed itself.

Monday's meeting of the Race Day Medication Committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission brought out testimony and opinions from many of our industry's alphabet soup organizations on the issue of race-day administration of Lasix. We had The Jockey Club, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, Breeders' Cup, Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners, Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Association of Racing Commissioners International, and the Jockeys' Guild. Individuals, like the aforementioned Casner and Hancock, along with farm manager Neil Howard of Gainesway Farm and bloodstock agent Lincoln Collins also provided their thoughts on the subject.

There was science, too, with a thorough presentation from Dr. Alice Stack of Michigan State University, who gave a tutorial on EIPH and reviewed some of the existing studies on Lasix.  Dr. Rick Sams, a chemist with HFL Sport Science, which contracts with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for testing, said the masking effect of Lasix in detecting other drugs is “largely eliminated” if its use is tightly controlled.

There was only one tangential comment, from racing commissioner Alan Leavitt, a standardbred owner and breeder, about what some believe is a far more serious challenge to horse racing integrity: blood-doping agents like EPO.

The science and equine veterinary practitioners tilted heavily toward the continued, regulated race-day administration of Lasix. Their conviction, based on scientific studies, is that some degree of EIPH or internal bleeding in the lungs occurs in nearly every racehorse. To not alleviate that condition with Lasix, the most effective treatment currently available, is inhumane, they say.

It should be pointed out, as a South African study on bleeders and Lasix demonstrated, that Lasix is not a cure-all. In that study, Stack pointed out, 55% of horses given Lasix still exhibited signs of EIPH through post-race endoscopic examination. Horses given a placebo exhibited EIPH post-race at a rate of 80%.

Two other speakers, veterinarian Sid Gustafson, representing the Humane Society of the United States, along with Kathy Guillermo, vice president for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said it is inhumane to give horses this diuretic every time they run.

So there is no agreement even on what is humane.

Dr. David Richardson, from TOBA's Graded Stakes Committee, and Craig Fravel, CEO of the Breeders' Cup, are worried about America's standing in the international racing and breeding community and potentially severe economic consequences. Others, like Casner, Hancock, Collins, and Howard, are concerned the Thoroughbred breed in the United States is being weakened because of Lasix and its use by nearly every horse racing in America today.

Both sides of this argument feel they are in the right. But that brings into question the definition of what is “right.”

Dr. Foster Northrup, a racetrack practitioner and a member of the Race Day Medication Committee and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said veterinarians are focused on treating each individual horse and doing what is right for that particular animal. Veterinarians are trained to diagnose and treat diseases and injuries. It is the same philosophy that leads equine surgeons to artificially straighten the legs of thousands of foals born each year, improving their performance capabilities on the racetrack (and their value in the sale ring).

The latter is an example of doing something that may be right for the individual animal but wrong for the breed.

Scientists and veterinarians don't know with certainty whether we are weakening the breed by permitting horses to race on Lasix – whether they suffer from severe EIPH or not – and then sending the best of these performers into the breeding shed. Are they bleeders? Were their performances improved because of Lasix? To my knowledge, no science has addressed the effect Lasix has on the performance of animals that do not need the drug.  Why is Lasix routinely given to horses that are not problem bleeders? The answer seems obvious: because Lasix helps a horse's performance.

In the case of angular limb deformities, there seems to be no question that these are genetic traits that can be passed on from generation to generation, and corrective surgery is masking a defect. If we are going to have a serious discussion about whether or not Lasix is weakening the breed, we also need to begin a dialogue about the long-term effect of these corrective surgeries and whether or not the industry has been transparent enough in disclosing them.

People who believe Lasix is the best currently available treatment for racehorses say they want to help the horse. People who want to eliminate its use say they want to help the breed. If the latter group is to be taken seriously, it's time to address the other factors that some believe are turning the American Thoroughbred into a shadow of its former self.

  • takethat

    Compromise – how about using the Flair nasal strip as discussed by Dr Stephen Reed of Root & Riddle at the conference earlier this year. No weight loss so horses that run without it would incur no penalty. We would now know who the bleeders are. Problem solved.

    Furosemide, a high-loop diuretic, decreases plasma volume, cardiac output and pulmonary vascular pressures reducing EIPH up to 50% (Kindig et al. 2001a).

    The Flair nasal strip decreases EIPH a similar amount by preventing nasal passage narrowing on inspiration thereby lowering airway resistance (Poole et al. 2000; Geor et al. 2001; Kindig et al. 2001a; Holcombe et al. 2002).

  • Noelle

    If in fact horses NEED Lasix to race without suffering, as the pro-Lasix contingent claims, then horses should not be racing. Simple as that.

    Any organized activity that requires all participants to be medicated – chemically altered from their natural state – is not a sport – it’s a science experiment.

    Routine drugging of animals for sale and competition is never going to be acceptable to the general public again, if it ever was. The longer it goes on, the worse for racing’s reputation.

  • Tinky

    “And the people who would like to see racing in North America align itself with the rest of the world when it comes to dealing with this problem are not going to be swayed by veterinarians or scientific studies supporting the use of Lasix…”

    Do you know of any scientific studies demonstrating that horses racing in Europe and/or Australia and/or Japan and/or Hong Kong are suffering, or have suffered from the lack of Lasix? I’d like to see such a report.

    “There was only one tangential comment, from racing commissioner Alan Leavitt, a standardbred owner and breeder, about what some believe is a far more serious challenge to horse racing integrity: blood-doping agents like EPO.”

    That’s a complete, and too oft regurgitated red herring. Not a single supporter of a Lasix ban would argue that illicit drug use is not a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. They are separate issues.

    “The science and equine veterinary practitioners tilted heavily toward the continued, regulated race-day administration of Lasix. Their conviction, based on scientific studies, is that some degree of EIPH or internal bleeding in the lungs occurs in nearly every racehorse. To not alleviate that condition with Lasix, the most effective treatment currently available, is inhumane, they say.”

    Then why don’t “they” address the fact that two-thirds of the horses compete successfully around the world without race-day Lasix. Why does all of the available evidence suggest that less than 5% of those horses are difficult to manage without Lasix? What is the evidence that the other 95% are suffering?

    “It is the same philosophy that leads equine surgeons to artificially straighten the legs of thousands of foals born each year, improving their performance capabilities on the racetrack (and their value in the sale ring).”

    What a terrific philosophy. Corrective surgery is an outrageously fraudulent practice. How many end-users (i.e. breeders) have any idea that the “correct” horse they are breeding to (or from) has ahidden confirmation flaw that is likely to be passed on? Glad to se that you addressed this point.

  • David

    It’s been done this way (race day allowances) and inaction now certainly won’t serve to hasten immediate demise or improvement. But the debate is important as, at its core, is the well being of a living thing, one unable to testify or offer an opinion. We breed other living things to consume despite alternative and available food sources, right; and, horse racing is a worthwhile part of our culture, right? I’ve subconsciously subscribed to the theory we’re on the right side of history breeding these magnificent animals for our economic well-being and social pleasure. Personally, the events in Frankfort make me consider my assumption possibly wrong. The darker side of the life imposed on the thoroughbred – meds, rigors of training, poor care, after-race options, etc. – enter my consciousness more these days. If we are so steadfast, so unyielding that we no longer can adopt any reform perhaps its time to acknowledge we longer deserve the right subject living things to our own devices and shortcomings.

  • I disagree with distilling the debate down to “helping” the horse vs. helping the breed. One can be anti-Lasix with both views in mind. For me, all you’re doing when “helping” the horse with Lasix is helping him toward a bigger risk of catastophic breakdown by repeated use of a powerful diuretic with a long list of unpleasant and dangerous side effects. Minimal amounts of bleeding do not compromise performance and the South African study showed that Lasix is really only effective on the most severe bleeders anyway. The risks of repeated use far outweigh the rewards, short and long term.

  • Joe

    It is time for real good people to leave this ugly, toxic, fake, hopeless mess behind and start breeding and racing horses with real bodies, real athletic abilities and real race records.

  • Toast

    It’s not a compromise issue. Either….MAKE A DECISION….to REVERSE the rules that allow use of medications on race day or don’t. As far as I know, the only meds that you get to have in your horses’ systems (that they test for) are bute/banamine/clenbuterol & lasix. Those seem to be the most widely used, garden variety, therapeutic meds people get fined for overages with. EVERYONE has their OPINIONS about the use of race day meds & their effects on racehorses in both the long & short terms. Unfortunately, the public has little chance of EVER getting full disclosure with regard to horses running on ANY form medication…with the possible exception of Lasix. There are now & will continue to be alternative treatments being administered to active racehorses that will NEVER be disclosed to the public….and can’t be tested for…some of which are currently regulated or supposedly regulated by the tracks….so I don’t believe you’re ever gonna get “cooperation” from horsemen that are lookin’ for an edge to make some money and/or tracks that DON’T want the public to have information that might be negative for THEM. An old example might be why have tracks NEVER disclosed STUCK horses? This is a gambling business…NOT a church!

  • Milo

    In Ky. no casino, then no lasix resulting in no racing. I suspect that most of the posters do no own any T/b race horses or gamble on the races. Most of you don’t remember when we did not have lasix. Sure no lasix is idealistic but the methods used on horses to prepare for no lasix races are down right cruel. Lets stay the same.

  • you are right milo most people dont want to know what the euro”s do to their horses to stop them from bleeding on race day, to replace lasix. if they did they may change their mind. if you think they just put a bridle on them and bring them over you are clueless

  • C Simon

    What I find interesting is the idea promoted by some that the American thoroughbred isn’t coveted in oversea markets yet we read stories like this one found right here at th PR which seem to say that this isn’t so

  • C Simon

    The sad truth is that so much time is being wasted debating this topic while there are huge issues that go seemingly unaddressed. Too bad the anti-lasix people dont spend more effort recruiting new owners to invest in the business and lobbying to get better wagering conditions (lower takeout, fair taxation) for our customers.

  • Joe

    Milo, the industry is unwilling to eliminate scum and drugs and protect its horses, that’s why ethical breeders, horsemen and sportsmen must leave this sinking ship and start their own racing circuit and breeding program.

  • Toast

    The truth is….NOBODY wants to know what the truth is…they’d rather believe BS!

  • The rest of the world races without Lasix, yet our horses must have it to compete? Last time I checked Cigar, Silver Charm, Captain Steve, Pleasantly Perfect, Roses in May, Curlin and Well Armed all managed to win the Dubai World Cup without the aid of Lasix. Why is it that those horses were able to run to their fullest potential without the aid of Lasix? In the last few years Wesley Ward has taken horses to Europe and several were able to win without Lasix.

    The real problem is that the horse racing industry is opposed to change. The status quo is good enough and until that mindset is changed then issues like race day medication are irrelevant.

  • Dennis Johnson

    Nasal Strips Banned In New York!

  • Frank L

    Tinky #3 —
    Once more you speculate, then present as fact! You state that 2/3 horses around the world compete successfully without race day Lasix — your speculation since there are no procedures in place to address, or, make known to the public “internal bleeding” which is NOT recognized as bleeding in the jurisdictions you reference. In your 2/3 horses around the world it is NOT known how many are competing while having “internal bleeding” problems. So your speculation is worthless, as usual, since YOU DO NOT know that they “ARE”, in fact, competing successfully. They are only competing because the public is being kept in the dark.
    Now, as to you’re reference to less than 5% being difficult to manage without Lasix — what you are referring to, in fact, are external bleeders. As far as “internal bleeders”, it is NOT known that they are managed successfully at all without Lasix since there are NO procedures in place to identify and make known “internal bleeders”. They are “PUSHED” under the rug, not to be mentioned via the policy of NOT recognizing “internal bleeders” as bleeders!!
    How can one even acess the other 95%, as you term them, as suffering when their suffering could be from “internal bleeding” which is NOT even recognized as a problem to be dealt with openly!!
    Inexperience ALWAYS finds a way to show through!!

  • Dennis Johnson

    Cape Blanco Came From Overseas Won With Lasix!
    Treasure Breach Came From Overseas Won With Lasix!
    Ask Aidan O’Brien About Lasix?

  • dennis johnson

    1. Elusive Kate 5-2 8th
    2. Brigantin 5-1 8th
    3. Casper Netscher 5-1 8th
    4. Sarafina 2-1 4th
    5. Alpha 13-1 11th
    6. Byword 10-1 8th
    7. Dear Lavinia 14-1 14th
    8. Announce 9-2 SCR (Cut – Vet)

  • voice of reason

    You’re all very foolish.

    The industry exhibited poor judgement years ago, allowed the breeding pool to be legally compromised, and we are now suffering at the hands of cheats and scoundrels.

    Now you wanna change all that?

  • tonyaz

    The only thing that is going to happen to this industry is that it will eventually hit rock bottom and be similar to greyhound racing. Just a slow death spiral. Except the players–they of course will go broke quicker. More slots and higher takeouts please? Some are already using drugs that Barry Bonds would admire, and of course with no consequences involved.

  • David

    Milo may be right. If its true eliminating this race-day med means we’re headed back to more unsavory deeds of the past (like those supposedly going on this very day in Europe), maybe we’re better off policing that which we can get a handle. All of which pre-supposes there is no integrity, which at least reduces the nuisance of trying to make the public think otherwise. Gosh, that makes me feel a whole lot better. I have owned (in partnership) of a few t’breds, bet on the horses, worked within it (industry) as a livelihood and the more I witness, the more I’m convinced racing simply can’t get out of its own way.

  • Toast

    All of the anti-med people want to conform with the way they think racing is run in other parts of the world & believe the studies that have been conducted with regard to medication…in particular Lasix. I would like to hear from anyone….with any type of proof or study that suggests that the administration of Lasix to a racehorse…on race day…of 5cc or less…given the small amount of starts per year & starts per career….has any effect on that horse himself or his offspring with respect to breeding.

  • Frank L

    tonyaz #20 —
    If you are old enough you would realize that all sports will continually have drug problems — ALL SPORTS!!
    Medication is not a problem in horseracing. The problem is the media, controlled by agenda driven money.
    Lasix is a “POLITICAL” problem, NOW, since there are NO verifiable negatives to its usage, NONE!!
    Europe is EUROPE; leave them with what they got. The U.S. is the U.S. No international rules or procedures are necessary EXCEPT IN THE MINDS OF “BIG MONEY”. The little guy will get taken advantage of as he did during the BC, this year. Have all the dummies already forgot what the BC did as far as advance tickets. Then I get hassled because I term “gamblers” as losers. You have it good in the U.S. You are not told about the dirty laundry of Europe. It is kept quiet like “internal bleeding” is, although “internal bleeding” “directly” affects you and your wagers in the negative.

  • Equus

    David, if you and a few others want to endorse the utterly ridiculous assertions of “unsavory deeds in Europe” then there is no hope for US racing. I have trained horses in five countries on three continents. Without doubt average US racing is the worst in the world. I am not denigrating the major tracks or the top level horses, but Beulah, Turfway, etc – give me a break. I can say with certainty that only a minor percentage of US “trainers” would not even qualify for a license in European jurisdictions. American exceptionalism only exists in a mind closed to the world.

  • Jim Culpepper

    Again, “medication strengthens the weak, and weakens the strong.” Which stock would you prefer to run.?

  • Toast

    Yeah…24…Please….nobody will stop you…bring some maiden 2-yr-olds over….& try to develop them here! Or even try to break some maidens like Wesley does over there! I’m sure your world-class horsemanship skills will just terrify ALL of us over here!

  • Tinky

    Wesley Ward being held up as an example of “world-class horsemanship skills”?

    Right. Getting horses to run their best races in April, May and June of their two-year-old seasons, with their careers almost invariably spiraling downhill from that point.

    That there’s some fine horsemanship, all right.

  • SteveG

    “…of 5cc or less…given the small amount of starts per year & starts per career….has any effect on that horse himself or his offspring with respect to breeding.”

    The point is NOT that lasix usage undermines or alters a horse genetically.

    However,the point IS that the virtually universal administration of the medication throughout horses’ careers significantly compromises the ability to discern those who bleed gravely from those who bleed insignificantly & even those who don’t bleed but receive the med anyway.

    That lack of discrimination would certainly affect subsequent breeding unless one takes the rather ludicrous position that propensity to EIPH is a trait that miraculously stands outside genetic influence.

  • Tapit

    How will vets make a living on the backside if they can’t give lasix on race day?


  • Aunt Bea

    Tapit, r u kidding? Vets than can sell Succeed paste (oat bran and oil; “It Just Works!” are laughing at your comment.

  • Frank L

    Tinky #27 —
    Who the heck are you to criticize Wesley Ward? You are a nobody, a flake, a misrepresentation of a horseman, a phony of the first degree. You hide behind the misuse of the term Ad Hominem, when in fact it is because of know nothings as yourself, trying to pass off as knowledgeable, that the phrase had to be invented.
    An ignorant person, as you, cannot, I repeat CANNOT, present an honorable argument because the honor of such argument is negated by his own ignorance — ad hominem would therefore not apply!!
    You have NO actual hands on experience, YET, I say YET, you feel qualified to criticize a trainer, and someone who you cannot compete with, further a profession you continually pass judgment on, yet are unqualified to pursue —just go back to Europe. You obviously like it better there, so pick up your lollipops and GO!!

  • David

    Equus, you misunderstand, I’m not asserting anything about what goes on in Europe; it was Milo (#8) and Jorge (#9) that I refer. I’m not embarrassed to admit I don’t know what the Euros do or don’t do in absence of Laxis on race day. My point is that both sides of this issue can’t seem to tone down rhetoric long enough to actually listen to what’s being said. This issue is important first because it deals with the well being of an animal bred for economic and pleasurable gain and second because the public seems to think drugs are the MO of the game. There are other issues that deserve attention but they, like this one, can’t get out of the blocks amid this industry’s dysfunctional structure and small thinking. That’s my point.

  • Distaffer

    There are a few reasons that the rest of the world races without Raceday medication. Better for the horses and the long term effects on the breed. Better for the “players” who study form, and thirdly better general perception of the sport. We need to eliminate the drugs in racing before we destroy the breed. Focus once again on stamina, soundness and longevity.

  • Toast

    No…..the point is at least Wesley tries it. I’m not the greatest fan of Wesley Ward but I don’t see any foreigners trying it here… you? So I give him credit for that. I HAVE read people saying meds weaken the breed(genetically) ect,ect and I DON’T think there’s ANY proof….you would think that something used so universally(Lasix) for 25-30 years there would be? The ability to differentiate the degree of bleeder on a wide scale…..without being hands-on is not possible…I agree with that.

  • Bocephus

    Gee–I can’t imagine that the vet groups and pharmaceutical reps would doctor study results, considering that the stand to lose millions in revenue. And that’s all that they care about is the revenue. If you think they care about the horses you are deluded.

  • will

    Because the lasix debate coincides with the Keeneland sale it certainly weakens one of anti lasix proponents arguments.
    For those who say it denigrates the breed and makes U.S.horses less appealing to foreign buyers check the Keeneland stable area and the sale results.Most foreign buyers in the history of Keeneland sales.

  • Tinky

    “I HAVE read people saying meds weaken the breed(genetically) ect,ect and I DON’T think there’s ANY proof….you would think that something used so universally(Lasix) for 25-30 years there would be?”

    While it doesn’t prove that Lasix alone is responsible, these well-known statistics tell a damning story:

    From 1950 until now, the average lifetime starts for Thoroughbreds in the U.S. has dropped from 45.2 to 12.97.

    From 1960 to now the average starts per year has dropped from around 11 to six (roughly 50%).

    Presumably you don’t imagine any correlation with the promiscuous use of medications.

  • Tinky

    “You are a nobody, a flake, a misrepresentation of a horseman, a phony of the first degree. You hide behind the misuse of the term Ad Hominem, …”

    Frank L. locks up the 2011 Eclipse Award for Unintentional Irony!

  • Joe

    The drug problem is being ignored because the American dollar is weak, our economy is weak and horses are being liquidated. The shear number of mares offered at Keeneland make it possible to find enough bargains to fill cargo planes. Some of these horses are going to corrupt and barbaric countries like Russia and China, so who cares if those mares raced on drugs?

  • Tapit

    That’s why I like the Industry; it mirrors US Politics so much. This issue is such a no brainer but the people who stand to lose their livelihood (no matter how degenerate it is) will fight tooth and nail ignoring science, facts and good’ol common sense. What do they care they will be dead in 30 yrs.

  • Toast

    Do you ever look at a sales catalog? Your gonna tell me that what you see in there is not every bit if not more to blame than any drug ever given to a racehorse! Come on! Stats from 50 years ago? Are you serious? I thought I’d be driving a flying car by now too!


  • David

    Jennie Rees framed the debate very well in today’s CJ. Seems the issue, while an emotional one, isn’t the problem as much as the individuals involved. My question is just how and why did the rest of the world arrive at the conclusion that, despite being a training staple, no such med will be administered on race days? It does seem counterintuitive.

  • Tinky

    It’s not counterintuitive, David. The fundamental reason is quite simple:

    Thoroughbred breeding was originally developed in an effort to refine and improve the breed. It has been, and remains both logical and intuitive to expect that allowing medications to be used on race day has the effect of masking weaknesses which are then likely to be indiscriminately be brought into the breeding pool.

    That conclusion wasn’t arrived at recently; it’s been obvious for a very long time.

  • David

    Then it is the US and Canada that have failed the system? If its true all horses bleed then the breed denigration debate should focus the other stuff, not this med. On that, this business is like others and is populated by a minority of bad guys. The debate should be about going cold turkey otherwise, centralized testing and stiffer (universal) penalties.

  • Tinky

    David –

    It has never been a black and white issue. Just because a high percentage of horses bleed at some point during their racing careers does not mean that it isn’t important to distinguish by matter of degrees. Quite the contrary, and that is part of the problem with Lasix.

    Under the current system in the U.S. it is virtually impossible to identify bad bleeders, which, as a group, are more likely to pass on an exaggerated form of the weakness. Elsewhere in the world it is highly unlikely that a bad bleeder will compile a successful race record, and so even if their weakness is hidden, they will be far less attractive as breeding stock.

    While tangential, the outrageous allowing of “corrective” surgery on foals is a somewhat analogous problem. If you attend a sale in an effort to acquire a horse for breeding purposes, you will be in treacherous waters if you assume that a relatively “correct” horse began its life that way. In other words, it may well have had surgery that in turn masks a defect which may well be passed on to its offspring.

  • David

    Yes, complicated yet complicated. I’ll throw in with Paulick in that if this med isn’t the problem, we sure as hell better figure out the real culprit.

  • Frank L

    Tinky #47 —
    Once again your inexperience trumps your comment. External bleeders (bad bleeders) in the U.S. usually bleed through Lasix. Since less than 5% of horses bleed from the nose (external bleeding), and a percentage of them bleed through Lasix, that leaves a very small percentage unaccounted for.
    Note: I am not aware of any study examining the results of Lasix benefiting external bleeders on a “CONTINUAL”, again “continual” basis. I know it does help, BUT, external bleeding is very difficult to control, even with Lasix.
    External bleeders are banned from racing in the U.S. after 3 times.
    Remember, bad bleeders are rarely bred in the U.S. because their bleeding precludes a reasonable race record to even attract mares. There is a bigger problem in Europe, in that, “internal bleeding”, which can stop a horse as fast as “external bleeding”, is NOT recognized, therefore, NOT aggressively treated.
    Note: “Internal bleeders” are regularly bred in Europe, and constant internal bleeding can lead to external bleeding (bleeding from the nose). The fact is, as far as breeding, the U.S. is NO different from the rest of the world, unless one has an agenda to push.
    David, please understand that Lasix is NOW a political issue having to do with “international racing”, not U.S. racing. There is absolutely no “proof” that Lasix has hurt the breed in the U.S. Yes, you do have subjective conjecture, and speculation, AREAS IN WHICH TINKY SPECIALIZES IN, but no “factual” proof.
    David — look up conjecture, speculation, subjective, and then “fact” to clearly understand what I have stated.

  • Tinky


    “External” bleeders certainly fall into the category of “bad” bleeders, but the reverse is not true. Horses can be bad bleeders without bleeding externally, and anyone who actually has experience in this business should know that.

    The rest of your nonsense has been exposed as such many times, and I won’t waste any more time doing so.

  • Tinky

    Should have read: “not always true”

    In other words, Lasix obviously masks many bad bleeders which do not bleed through the nostrils.

  • Toast

    It’s funny when Tinky totally misses the point…doesn’t read what’s written & then puts words in your mouth! I Tink…that’s a triple! Since ALL of our breeding stock in the US over the course of decades of pervasive & permissive use & mis-use of medications…including Lasix has been tainted….and since more of these fine beasts are entering the production stream every year….how long does it take to fix? If we stopped ALL medications TODAY and ONLY allowed suitable stock to enter the breeding shed what happens 5-10 years from now? What if the the med horses outrun the clean ones? What if we find out….after ALL this BS….that what happened with the weakening of breed was BECAUSE…back in the day… they were using the REAL S#!T on ALL the horses …but nobody knew about it? This game was unpredictable before over use of meds & it will be unpredictable after! Today the rules are what they are…play or don’t play….if they change the rules…play or don’t play. Anyone looking for certainty & predictability….should look elsewhere!

  • Frank L

    Tinky —
    Since you do NOT define what YOU mean by “bad bleeder” your comment falls into your usual misinformation (BUNK). On the “actual” track a bad bleeder IS known as one that bleeds from the nose. If the term “bad bleeder” is used in any OTHER context, that context would be fully explained — which YOU “continually” avoid!! Further, on the racetrack, itself, clarity is of the utmost importance — another area that gives you away as “inexperienced” as far as hands on. You generalize, very rarely being specific, as with this “bad bleeder” example. Why do YOU try to complicate things, if not to confuse, because of lack of hands on knowledge.
    Further, if YOU term a “bad bleeder” in other terms other than bleeding from the nose, then, Europe breeds them as well.
    Let’s make one thing very clear right now, your comment “that anyone who actually has experience in this business should know that” is another misleading statement, made to indirectly plant the idea that YOU have “actual” hands on experience at the track, which we both know NOT to be true!!
    As far as “my nonsense” being exposed many times, yes it has “IN YOUR INEPT MIND”, but NOT “in reality”. We DO deal in reality in this comment section you know? The readers can decide for themselves who/which to believe. I will continue to answer any questions from those who side with you.

  • Jim Cupepperl

    A brief conversation with any reputable researcher of population genetics will yield the unequivocal statement that chronic drug dependency for chronic defects will be carried forward by the breed, no matter if you breed anteaters, zebras or anything inbetween. I probably should call Dr. Cothran and see what he thinks of all this homeopathic horse breeding.

  • Tinky

    Toast –

    “…how long does it take to fix?”

    Ah, I see. Your position is that nothing should be done because American horses have been racing on meds for so long, it’s unclear how long it might take to “fix” the problem?

    Why does there have to be a finite point? The breed has been degraded (at least in part) through the promiscuous use of medications, so why not reverse the course? Whether it takes 10, 25, or 50 years to develop intrinsically sounder stock doesn’t matter – it should ALWAYS be one of the most important goals of breeders.

    “What if the the med horses outrun the clean ones?”

    Right, like our horses typically outrun the Europeans? That’s a laugh.

  • Tinky

    Frank –

    Do us all a favor: stop lying, and stop rambling.

  • Toast

    Yes….Unclear! Again…words in my mouth. I’m not saying nothing should be done. I’m asking a question…..and hoping other people might be asking some too! Nobody can predict what might happen. Also when the Euros DO outrun us….aren’t the running on meds? THAT much IS CRYSTAL CLEAR! Good point!

  • Noelle

    Tinky – great, logical, comments, as usual.

    Tapit, I couldn’t agree more with your #41. At least with politics we can vote the bums out.

  • David

    Frank, it’s said that truth is more abrasive than fiction. If proponents have successfully forced the debate in order to expose the real toxic underbelly where jurisdictions aren’t willing to go, the play would be worth it. The KRC (that’s Kentucky Racing Commission, Frank) should have you chair this thing in order to save time and energy as few could stand your “truthful” demeanor for more than a single session. That said, you Frank, need to look up “obnoxious” and “condescending” in order to clearly understand what I have stated.

  • Frank L

    Tinky #56 —
    Where am I lying? You are a phony, a person of misrepresentation, a con, never explaining your generalizations — as with this “lying” BULL. You do NOT know, so you try to confuse with generalizations.
    In that vein, you have once again avoided answering my key question in comment #53 — “How do YOU define “bad bleeder” as YOU termed it in your comment #50 — as I said a phony, always trying to confuse the issue with misrepresentations. You WILL answer, as I will continually bring this to the attention of readers in future comments. Once again, Define “bad bleeder” as YOU termed it/misrepresented it.

    Yes, your approach does work at times, BUT, only in the context of ignorance on the part of believers. Anyone with actual hands on racetrack experience (and I don’t mean owner) will see you for what you are — a know nothing phony!!

  • Tinky

    Frank –

    You are lying when, for some reason, you continue to assert that I have no hand-on experience. That is patently false, as I have patiently explained many times. My patience with that repeated lie has run out.

    Argue with the substance of my posts, and forget about my irrelevant résumé. Otherwise you will continue to lose whatever shred of credibility you have remaining on this forum.

    I have also previously defined “bad bleeder” many times before. All available evidence, gathered from various sources in jurisdictions that do not allow race day medication, suggests that less than 5% of all racehorses are difficult to manage without medication. That rough percentage reflects the group of “bad” bleeders. The percentage of those that bleed externally is, of course, far smaller.

  • Frank L

    David #59 —
    You do mean the KRC, the same ones that condone inept stewards as reside at BC, Churchill Downs. Yes, they have proven trustworthy haven’t they? But, it was only the bettors that got shafted both times, excusable?
    What underbelly are you referring to? Don’t become another Tinky, using generalizations with respect to specifics. If you have something to say, then say it! If you are embarrassed to state it, then don’t use generalizations to camouflage your embarrassment!

  • Toast

    Hey…Jim. Does population genetics apply to what we’re talkin’ about here? Does super selective breeding magnify the results vs. population in general? Does the point….. as brought out by Steve….that we/nobody really knows to what extent a horse/zebra/anteater may have naturally bled…without medication….because they ALL got Lasix for 25 years to STOP them from bleeding….. screw up the works in a genetic theory/study?

  • David

    Frank, if nothing else you are good for a hoot or two and therefore good therapy for maintaining at least a degree of perspective. What did make you this angry, why do you care and when did you die? As to generation, whatever the hell you’re talking about, I was so much older then but younger than that now (look it up pal).

  • Frank L

    Tinky #61 —
    Your resume is of great importance in evaluating your posts — that from the standpoint of you understanding what you are posting. Your continued “generalizations” point to a weak resume, as you put it.
    Hands on experience is experience gained under license. You avoid revealing in what capacities you were licensed by racetracks, other than owner. Look at the committee meeting being held — not just anybody, but those with approved credentials to speak!!

    You have stated that you advised owners, trainers, and racetracks on a variety of issues — BUT, you do not state in what capacity. Further, you would NOT be advising trainers and racetracks unless licensed by the State in some capacity. You have also sated, separately, that you have been a consultant and worked for several major racetracks, again not possible unless licensed by the State in some capacity. You seem to think your licensing is irrelevant, BUT, that line of thought puts all your posts in question, since licensing offers creditability to your claims.

    People may think this is NOT important, but it goes to the crux of any discussion — who has the know how, the experience, the credentials, the particular hands on knowledge of the problem being discussed.

    People can blab all they want on football, baseball, and basketball sites, BUT, on this site (horse racing) since it affects my living; you had better know what you are talking about — and not from what you read. You can’t train horses from what you read, you can’t run a race track from what you read, you can not race ride from what you read, but stupid comments “CAN” be made from what one reads.

    NEXT — you have never defined what you mean by bad bleeder. Your continued avoidance of answering specific questions about your generalizations, and misrepresentations, only supports your lack of hands on experience. Yes, less than 5% of racehorses are difficult to manage without medication, and that 5% reflects external bleeders (bleeding from the nose). When viewing reports that reflect European racing “internal bleeding” is NEVER referenced with respect to bleeding. With respect to U.S. reports the differentiation is always specified to avoid confusion.
    Again, how do YOU define “bad bleeder” in the context YOU used it. Define it today, in NO uncertain terms. You can’t without looking like a fool!!

  • Rachel

    Was Life at Ten a bleeder, or just put on lasix before they knew if she needed it or not? I know TP said LAT had an “allergic” reaction to lasix, but in reading the list of adverse reactions found in such manuals as Mercks Vet Manual (I know Frank, no side effects exist, humor me) cramping and tying up are considered serious reactions, as are fatigue, stiffness, etc…maybe why she could not make a come back if she kept getting dosed with it? Food for thought…
    Who would ever want to continually medicate a healthy horse, anyways.

  • Frank L

    David #64 —
    I am angry because ignorance is ruining my profession.
    You need to re-read the post which you are commenting on. I don’t know what you are talking about when you talk about generations — I said generalizations!! That can be excused because everybody reads a comment incorrectly at times, if that, in fact, is what you did?

  • Toast

    #66. The word is the genius managers handling the private vets who administered the Lasix at CD…LAST YEAR…for the BC….had two different vets treat the horse with Lasix….one not knowing about the other. The horse got double the dose & that’s what turner her into a zombie. Will ANYBODY EVER verify this? No. Is that why the horse was not tested? Probably. Is there proof/evidence? No. Is that why they changed to NO private vets giving Lasix at the BC this year? Yes.

  • Tinky

    “Yes, less than 5% of racehorses are difficult to manage without medication, and that 5% reflects external bleeders (bleeding from the nose).”

    No, Frank, it DOES NOT. Do you seriously believe that one out of twenty horses racing abroad bleed visibly? Nowhere near that percentage does. In fact, the true number is less than 1%.

    For purposes of the Lasix debate, further specificity is not required. Roughly 5% of all racehorses are difficult to manage without medication. That group should be considered “bad” bleeders. The other 95% – the vast majority – are obviously NOT bad bleeders, given that they race successfully around the world without any race day medication.

    Those two, basic numbers are all that is necessary to intelligently discuss the matter.

  • the one thing that i can leave this post with is that frank l is one of the people that has actual hands on experience with a race horse, he tells it like it is . one question: the euro’s train on lasix, workout on lasix, then race lasix free by using other methods to stop their bleeders on race day, why does that not affect the breed the same as in the usa

  • David

    Tired of ‘playin Frank, I’ll leave to others with the time and appetite. Generation or generalizations, if you can’t make an interpretation on toxic underbelly, you’re a big part of the problem for the industry you claim infested with idiots. Ta ta

  • Frank L

    Rachael #66 —
    Let me explain something to you. You obviously never trained OR owned racehorses. Back in 1985, I had a horse race in the Turf Paradise Gold Cup — my first 100,000 race. At that time I was Not using Lasix since my horse had never exhibited internal nor external bleeding. What a horrible sight!! People that argue against Lasix have never experienced a horse bleed “internally”, which is bad enough, BUT, my horse bled from the nose in the race. Coming down the stretch I knew something was very wrong since the jockey was all red, my silks were florescent green. As he pulled up, immediately, blood was gushing from the horses’ nose, GUSHING with every breath!! He was completely covered in blood. The rider said he would not stop trying to run, and every time he pulled on him the horse would automatically respond running against the bit. He ran 5th that day — a race he should have won. The owner and I had a fight right on the track next to the horse because he was infuriated that he was not on Lasix — there was no reason at the time, I THOUGHT!! Needless to say I lost his horses! But, I learned you NEVER know when it is going to happen. My outlook now is — “Better safe, than sorry”! Lasix has been proven the best preventative against bleeding, internal or external — although external bleeding is very tough to manage even with Lasix. This particular horse was the only external bleeder I ever had, and, after that experience I don’t know that I would have ever raced him again, anyway. Now, internal bleeders are a horse of a different color. Internal bleeding CAN stop a horse as fast as external bleeding, the only difference it is not as messy, or sickening.
    I have NEVER had any negative side effects to Lasix, BUT, I did follow a particular mode of management after the race, which not all follow because of cost priorities. One only needs to be around a bleeder, internal or external, to appreciate Lasix!!

  • Jim Cupepperl

    Hi Toast, It is axiomatic in selective breeding that intensive selection for given traits selects against all others not linked to the given ones, which is why cautious breeders often use indexed scores on multiple traits to keep from painting themselves into a corner. If racing on numerous metabolic agents were not associated with damage to everything from soundness to fertility, no one would care. I’m not about to blame all this on the profligate use of Lasix, there are too many other potent endocrine disrupters, etc in play for a well reasoned guess; however the weight loss from lasix is about what a healty horse might drink. Anyway, despite considerable mitigation from the gene pools bell curve, the contemporary bloodhorse is being bred to run on lots of drugs which confuses deliberate selection for all other desirable traits.

  • Frank L

    Tinky #69 —
    What you are “actually” saying is that YOU cannot define a bad bleeder as you term it. Again, why I ask for credentials. You obviously do NOT know what you are taking about, or you could define what you mean? You go by “generalized” info for a “specific” subject. Hands on experience understands what is being talked about, especially if the one talking introduces the phrase!!
    The article I read in the MERCK Veterinary Manual stated Approx 5% epistaxis. Other periodicals has it as high as 13% in Korea. The African study states approx 2%. Bad bleeder needs to be defined, since YOU introduced the term — this is obviously literature from Europe which does not recognize “internal bleeding”, so it follows “bad bleeder’ is an obscure term, with NO definition in YOUR world — I term LaLa Land.
    Tinky, you can only mimic what you read, not understanding it completely, then, you try to present it as fact. Bad bleeder signifies “external bleeding” in the U.S. on U.S. tracks, unless defined otherwise by those discussing the problem. Again, you obviously DO NOT have hands on experience at U.S. tracks, which shows through here; otherwise you would NOT be using European terminology to describe what you don’t understand here in America!!
    I said it once before — Pick up your lollipops and go back to Europe where you obviously belong. Misrepresentation the platform you stand on!!

  • Toast

    So Jim….We’re pretty much totally screwed unless we were hands-on with the horse it’s entire life & KNOW everything that went into him/her. The science doesn’t work if you don’t know what your starting out with. So really the race-day meds debate is irrelevant to the final goal….elevating the quality of the breed in general…..because there’s too many other drugs being given throughout the horse’s life.

  • Jorge (#70) – Where do you get this idea that “the euros train on lasix”??? Very few trainers here use Lasix in training. I can’t say it isn’t done, but it is very, very rare.I’ll tell you what I do to manage bleeding: Let them have all the water they want up until an hour before post time, but send a well-conditioned horse to do the job. If it bleeds anyway, retire it. Sorry if that sounds like animal cruelty to you.

  • 76 when i say train on lasix i am talking breeze days and or vigerous workout days. if you run the way you say you are in a great minority. the euro’s take food and water away up to and maybe over 24 hours before a race on a bad bleeder. that is what tinki calls managing a bleeder

  • and 76 nothing you do sounds like animal cruelty to me, i just want everyone to know horses bleed in europe the same as here, they do use lasix the same as we do here except on race day. at that point they manage their horse the best way they can to stop the bleeding i think a little barbaric myself, why put a horse through that

  • and lets add, the ones they cant stop bleeding or the one suited for big money races , they send to the states and instruct the new trainer to put them on lasix

  • Jim Cupepperl

    Toast, I suspect most of the damage is done once training and racing begins; still, obscuring the favorable genes of the precious few who are both robust and fast makes it impossible to maintain a high frequency of favorable genes, much less to increase the number of them. The eons of equine evolution stacked the genepool in favor of those who started running soon enough to escape predators, rather than for race horses that are fast and sound. This means that mediocrity will be the result of unsound selection, i.e, bloodlines immune to the effects of drugs, except for those we want. Look at the side effects of your own prescription drugs; the only thing we are not warned about is pregnancy by UFO aliens. Probably, securing yearlings from drug abuse would be adequate if a large enough cross section were drug free to select breeders from. I wonder what besides beer and ale was used back when best three out of five, four mile heats were required to win?

  • Jorge, I understand exactly what you mean when you say “train on lasix” and I’m saying you’re wrong. The majority of trainers here do NOT use Lasix to breeze or gallop – we also breeze and gallop our horses far more often than you do in America, so if we used Lasix every time, we’d kill them very quickly indeed!

  • G.Rarick: as i said i think you are in a minority

  • Toast

    82…Why do you care what they do in Europe? Unless you are planning to have skin in the game there? 81…Why do you care what we do in the US? Are you planning to have skin in the game here? I’m sure guys that run lots of horses…and win lots of races… over there like Fabre & Dupre…are not gonna tell anybody what their programs are any more than Pletcher, Baffert & Assmussen are over here!

  • Larry Ensor

    “When breeding a retired athlete, such as a Thoroughbred racehorse, the novice stallion should arrive at the new facility at least 90 days before breeding,” Brinsko advised. “This will allow the horse to become familiar and comfortable in his new environment and will provide time for stress and performance-enhancing drugs to cease exerting their adverse effects.”

    A quote from Dr. Steve Brinsko in The a Blood-Horse publication on breeding the retired competition stallion. Considering that Lasix and Bute are not performance-enhancing drugs just what “drugs” is the good doctor referring to?

  • Old Timer

    Larry I took a look at the quote and figured it was from a couple of years ago, and would have thought it was in direct connection to steroids. Anabolics that used to be allowable could take up to 160 days for them to entirely leave a horse, so his comment would make sense in that realm.

    Problem with the quote is that its apperently from just earlier this year. With that being the case I have absolutely no idea what the heck he could be talking about. The vast majority of “drugs” are out of a horses system in a couple of days to possibly weeks at the longest like a 30 day tranq (reserpine). Some of the blood doping agents (epo); however, can hang around for months before they show their effects and that’s the only thing I could attribute his comment too. There wouldn’t be any 90 day effects from the use of Salix on the horse that’s for sure.

    Obviously this is only my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    For the past 30 years we have been breeding horses that need lasix. It’s a bit much to expect horsemen to quit using lasix in just a few years.

    People say that lasix isn’t used in other countries, but that is not true. They use lasix to train the horses, much like abuterol is used for training here.

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