KHRC and the Lasix Debate: ‘We just disagree’

by | 04.17.2012 | 6:34am

I thought about “We Just Disagree,” Dave Mason's hit song from the late 1970s, as I drove away from Monday's meeting of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Minutes earlier, the hay, oats, and water movement suffered a stunning setback after the 14 commissioners were evenly divided over whether or not to approve a phase-out of race-day medication beginning with 2-year-olds in 2013 and a complete ban by 2015. The deadlocked vote meant the proposal was dead, at least for now.

So let's leave it alone, 'cause we can't see eye to eye.
There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys.
There's only you and me and we just disagree.

There weren't any good guys or bad guys in this disagreement. I'm sure everyone, whether they think it's a good idea or bad one to get rid of the anti-bleeder medication furosemide (Lasix) on race days, believes they had the best interests of the horse or the Kentucky horse industry at heart when taking a stand on the issue.

They just disagree.

The defeat on the 7-7 tie was stunning because the KHRC chairman, Bob Beck, surely wouldn't have called the proposal for a vote at the 11th hour if he didn't think he had enough support to get it passed. Beck's move to hire John Ward as the KHRC's executive director may have cost him a vote. Ward, formerly a trainer who is sympathetic to reduced reliance on medication, had to step down as a commissioner in order to take the paid executive director's job. In his comments during the meeting (it was his first day on the job), Ward indicated support for the proposal, saying its “methodical” phase-out was “about as reasonable as you can get.”

But Beck probably was also counting on a “yes” vote from commissioner Tom Ludt, the chairman of the Breeders' Cup, which has adopted rules for its championship races eliminating Lasix from 2-year-old contests in 2012 and all races in 2013. Ludt, who admitted to wearing several industry hats at different times, voted against the proposal saying he “wants to do what's best for horse racing” in Kentucky.

Ludt offered an amendment to soften the phase-out, starting just with 2-year-old stakes races in Kentucky in 2013 instead of all 2-year-old races. That amendment was defeated but will be brought up again within 30 days by the KHRC.

Beck, along with vice chairman Tracy Farmer and veteran horsewoman Elizabeth Lavin of Longfield Farm, talked passionately about the need for Kentucky's horse industry to demonstrate national leadership on an issue that is under increased scrutiny by federal lawmakers, the general public, and international owners, breeders, and racing authorities. The United States (along with its neighbor, Canada) is alone among major racing countries in permitting the race-day administration of any drugs.

Kentucky shouldn't lead the way “just for the hell of it,” said Beck, but do so because “it's the right thing to do.”

“This is the right place and the right time,” said Farmer, a prominent owner and breeder and Jockey Club member. “If no other states go with us, we can withdraw and go back to where we were. But someone has to start.”

At the other end of the leadership spectrum was commissioner Tom Conway, who vociferously opposed the phase-out for Kentucky, calling Lasix a “wonderful drug.” Instead of leading, Conway proposed that Kentucky be a follower. “Let's wait and see what other states take the lead,” he suggested.

Last summer's presentation of a study by McKinsey & Co. consultants at The Jockey Club Round Table in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., reflected the general public's unfavorable view of horse racing, largely due to animal welfare and medication issues. But stakeholders surveyed by McKinsey also believe medication is a serious problem, and as Beck said at the conclusion of Monday's meeting, the phase-out of raceday Lasix was the first of several changes he had hoped the KHRC would make.

The Raceday Medication Committee, which earlier on Monday in a 4-1 vote approved the proposal, added compromise language that gave Kentucky commissioners an escape clause or parachute to reverse course in the event no other states follow suit. That would have made Kentucky racing a drug-free island, which many horsemen might have abandoned, especially those competing in lower-end races. If, by Sept. 1, 2013, no other major states adopted similar rules, many of the phase-out supporters said they would vote to rescind the new rule. Thus, only five or six months of Lasix-free racing of 2-year-olds would have occurred before the old Lasix rules were reinstated.

But that escape clause wasn't enough to appease the opponents of the raceday medication phase-out. They brought out every conceivable reason to fight it: jockeys covered with blood from horses that gushed through the nose; demonstrations by animal rights groups that would think it inhumane not to give medication to horses; a stampede of runners leaving Kentucky to race elsewhere; owners dropping out of the game. Commissioner Frank Jones said the effect of the phase-out would be “catastrophic.”

Commissioner Foster Northrop, a racetrack veterinarian who derives a portion of his income from the administration of Lasix shots, said passage of the proposal would “destroy Kentucky racing.”

I don't doubt his sincerity, but I do question whether or not Northrop has a conflict of interest on the matter.

Owner-trainer Dale Romans, vice president of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, is not on the racing commission but spoke during both the committee and full KHRC meetings.

On one hand, Romans said he didn't see horse racing having perception problems, citing increased winter handle at Gulfstream Park and Aqueduct and a record-breaking weekend of racing at Keeneland. On the other hand, he said, racing has “lost market share faster than any business in the world.”

One thing Romans didn't equivocate about was his belief that more medication is better than less. He criticized a former racing commission's vote to restrict the use of multiple non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Passing a raceday ban on Lasix, he said, would be the “final nail in the coffin” for Kentucky's racing industry.

Commissioner Lavin disagreed. “We now live in a time where perception is reality, and the perception is that racing in Kentucky is a sport based on chemical manipulation,” she said. “We've talked it to death, and I am going to support the motion. If not us, who? If not now, when?”

Representatives of several organization were invited to speak on the subject, including Breeders' Cup Ltd., whose president and CEO, Craig Fravel, said from a personal standpoint he is “amazed” at the industry's resistance to change. “We never want to change anything,” Fravel said. “We just want to keep doing it the way we always have.”

Beck is convinced change is around the corner in the form of federal intervention if state racing regulators do not act. A bill filed in Congress last year by New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and Kentucky Rep. Ed Whitfield would impose a much harsher ban on drugs than the failed Kentucky proposal.

“I frankly don't think federal legislation is the best way to address our issues,” Beck said.

It now looks like it may be the only way.

  • Jimculpepper

    Maybe the tracks  should put a race  for veterinarians on the card.

  • Allynn

    back n Oh! Six @ Turfway Park i was told by a trainer & his owner (both born & raised n Ky.) that one needs the JUICE to win n Ky…i was SHOCKED…nethier mentioned LASIX!!!…GET RID OF THE “CHEATERS/REPETERS” NOT THE LASIX…FAST… 

  • SteveG

    If one thought, as I did, the spectre of imminent federal intervention might have had a galvanizing effect on these proceedings to implement self-reform, one would have thought wrong. 

    I wonder which is more possible?  The feds will go away.  Or, the bull will get into the china shop.

  • Barry Irwin

    This entire mess boils down a matter of will.

    On the one hand you have trainers that want drugs because they are afraid to train without them.

    On the other hand you have owners that want to race drug free but lack the will to confront their trainers.

    Add a leadership vacuum at the alphabet soup level and you have the most dreaded outcome for our industry, which is the status quo.

  • Ace

    The Kentucky Veterinarian’s First Conviction Purse: For Vets 33 and up, not convicted of a Class 3 Misdemeanor or not fined $3000, Ellis Park excluded.

  • John Greathouse

    That was a cheap shot at Dr Northrop. His opinion
    ought to be more highly prized than anyone else voting. We know your opinion on
    this matter and I don’t see your article as responsible reporting but just
    another chance to give your point of view

  • Equine vet

    Sadly KY could have led the way out of this mess.  The fans have spoken as has HANA – NO RACE DAY MEDS PERIOD.  Now lets look at the elephant in the room.  Horses that exhibit EIPH can be managed without drugs as proven in other parts of the world.  The ones that can’t need to be retired or find other careers.  It’s that simple.  If a horse (or greyhound for that matter) needs a drug to race (performance enhancing or not) they should not be able to compete.  Proven bleeders need retired or LONG periods of recovery – not given extra lasix, estrogen, carbazachrome, Vit K, calmers, amicar, clenbuterol and a lifetime of daily antibiotics.  Horses that bleed through lasix (30-40%) are not given time off and are often not even rested from their training schedule and are entered right back. I’m tired of everyone saying in the best interest of the horse that they need Lasix.  What they need is rest or retirement.  Any other approach is economically driven not equine welfare driven.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of AAEP members actually agreed with me. 

  • William Webb

    Ah, well. It certainly appears that it will take “The Feds” to clean up the mess and in the process the resultant publicity will further smear racings reputation. And we were  just beginning to recover from “LUCK”!.

    William Webb

  • Tinky

    Thanks for the sensible post.

  • voiceofreason

    Almost Barry:

    “This entire mess boils down a matter of will.” is correct.

    “you have owners that want to race drug free but lack the will to confront their trainers.”

    I have a different perspective from an owner. I am not afraid to confront trainers for anything. I think owners are motivated by another factor:

    If you are winning, doing well, have horses in the mix, then you WANT your owner to continue to do whatever they are doing. You don’t want to know. You hope for the best. And if you’re a BIG owner, doing well, you want to use trainers that understand “advantage”. Because the bottom line is what matters.

    If you are not, If you are like the other 95%, you want assurance that the playing field is level. That your horses “have a shot”. That’s all you can ask for.

    “Add a leadership vacuum at the alphabet soup level and you have the most
    dreaded outcome for our industry, which is the status quo.”
    Correct. And we will always have the status quo until the Feds step in. As much as they want to fight it, even the industry knows it’s true.

  • Fpope

    Last year, the American Graded Stakes Committee (AGSC) voted
    10-0 to ban meds in 2-year-old graded stakes in 2012. This was to be a
    coordinated effort with The Breeders’ Cup ban in its 2YO races.


    The state racing commissions didn’t go along, so the AGSC backed
    off, with the promise to revisit the issue.


    Then someone decided the Ky racing commission could vote a
    ban, which would force New York and California to go along. The result would
    get the AGSC off the hook and meet the objective of no meds in 2YO graded
    stakes in 2012..


    By the time the issue made it to the KHRC, the 2012 deadline
    was lost and instead of just banning meds in graded stakes, the rule to be
    voted on applied to all 2YO races. Not even Tom Ludt would agree to that.


    There are individuals of strong character on the AGSC, both
    the TOBA members and the track representatives. Twice now, they have been
    misled by some bad strategy to meet the objective of getting meds out of our
    “proving “ races, the graded stakes.


    The AGSC is the only body that can remove meds from 2YO
    graded stakes this year.  Nobody is going
    to do it for them. There is time to implement of strategy of the AGSC requiring
    owners to make their 2YO eligible for graded stakes status.


    The one person on the AGSC with the history, tradition and
    character to lead the other members of the AGSC is Seth Hancock. 


    Seth knows better than any of the others what the breed
    needs to change from road to disaster, to a road with a future.


    Getting drugs out of our proving races will be messy. It
    will require hard work and resolve. People with great resources, who want a
    cleaner sport will need to step forward and provide funding to the AGSC which
    has none.


    This week Ireland was chosen by China to partner in the
    growth and development of Thoroughbred breeding and racing. That puts the
    current position of Kentucky in perspective. The Thoroughbred Capital of the
    World is at risk.


    2012 is the line in the sand for Thoroughbred breeders. Don’t
    wipe it away because it was hard to accomplish.

  • Ridindirty3

    The Racing Commissions, JC, BC, NTRA, AGSC…soon may find the only guys that can make them look GOOD….The Feds!

  • Barry Irwin

    Your conclusion unfortunately seems inevitable. But unless the Feds have support from the racing industry, nothing is likely to happen. While everybody is scared by Federal intervention, it may be the only hope.

  • Barry Irwin

    Here is a question for David Greathouse: Dave, would you agree that American-bred and based horses are less valuable than their foreign counterparts because they race on drugs and the perception is that they are being juiced to obtain their maximum performance? Be honest Dave. I want to know what you really think because you make your living dealing in horses in the public and private market. Thanks for your response in advance.

  • Equine vet

    I took the article to be entirely a commentary by Ray – not news reporting.  Most racing commissions would not allow a practicing vet to have a chair at the table as any appeal for license misconduct goes through the commission.  I respect Dr. Northrop’s opinion as well – but his “job” is akin to that of a team doctor.  Get the player to perform his best to the benefit of the team owner.  He may care deeply for the athlete (and I suspect he does) but his bread and butter comes from getting them to perform to their max potential.  Unlike a Dr. Scollay, who has no vested interest other than what is best for the horse. 

  • maggi moss

    Ray       I find your comment on Dr. Northrup to be grossly unfair, and a tainted point on what is obviously your feelings.  I would think vets that work around horses would be a valuable voice;   As I wrote you yesterday,   horses are still being slaughtered in massive numbers,       injected until they are bone on bone,   no uniformity in any drug testing, and a creation of new ande dangerous drugs not being addressed-   and all Ky can do is worry about Lasix?           

  • RayPaulick

     I don’t question Dr. Northrop’s sincerity, and certainly not his knowledge. I do question whether or not he should recuse himself on a vote that could directly impact his business.

  • RayPaulick

     I don’t question Dr. Northrop’s sincerity, and certainly not his knowledge. I do question whether or not he should recuse himself on a vote that could directly impact his business.

  • Bob Reeves

    Yes, I breed and own horses that race in Kentucky.  Yes, all of my horses get lasix on race day.  Very simply, I never want my horses to taste blood.  I was on the race track before lasix was used and have had horses bleed after a race.  Bleeding affects them mentally and physically.  The use of lasix is good for the horse and horse racing. 

    I support the banning of all drugs other than therapeutic medication except race day lasix.

  • Red And Gold

     I agree, but let’s not stop.. or start more appropriately.. there.  Let’s mandate that breeders retire any and all stallions and broodmares who were known bleeders and restrict the sale of bleeders at all levels.  Since the problem seems to be passed down through breeding, this would greatly curb the influx of bleeders into the market, and consequently, racing.  Once all of the offspring of known bleeders are taken out of the equation, it will be much easier to eliminate lasix and adjunct medications.. neither owners nor trainers will need to compensate for bad choices in the breeding shed.  Ultimately, they are the end users and change must start at the top.  Proactively, if a horse bleeds during its racing career, they must not be allowed to breed.  If a horse is sold, it should be clearly noted he or she is a known bleeder.. Heck, if a horse is a cribber, that has to be disclosed!  I think it’s time that people at all levels of the game “put their money where their mouth is”. Enough of this “don’t do as I do, do as I say” mentality.  If you want change, be that change. 

  • Enio

    Breeders and owners could begin marketing and promoting horses who never ran on Lasix as superior in value. Owners who send young horses to trainers may want to start asking them not to give Lasix unless absolutely necessary to avoid a negative “L” on the horse’s resume. Personally I would find that very attractive in a brood mare.

  • John Greathouse

    Barry I doubt that David reads this name is JOHN!!!American horses are less valuable BECAUSE we have sold all of best bloodlines and imported nothing in the last 25 years! On top of that we don’t have many International Grass Sires in the USA. When there are pedigrees that meet Global needs the buyers are there!Racing on Lasix is not jucing anything and I see that you don’t mind racing on Lasix I am for the HORSE first, and breathing is on the top of my list

  • Stanley inman

    Couldn’t agree more about your china observation.
    As a member of the HBPA
    I’m disappointed in our spokesmen.
    Rick, “make it up as I go along” Hiles Presentation.
    I would think the importance of the subject warranted
    SOME investment in making a prepared speech.
    Marty “don’t pass me the ball” Maline
    Must have felt relief
    When Rick took the mic.

  • Enio

    If it were a toss up between two yearlings at a sale and one was out of a mare who never raced on Lasix, which one would you choose?

  • FlyFilly

    But where are all those suddenly-retired horses going to go? I don’t disagree with the sentiment, but I can see that turning into a huge, huge wave of ‘unwanted’ horses…depending on how they are handled, the bad press from that sudden dump from the breed might be worse PR for us than Lasix is.

  • maggi moss

    Ray    just a quick thought-    with all the alternative remedies for bleeding “before Lasix”,    Dr. Norhtrop would stand to make a great deal more money than a 15 dollar Lasix shot-    One only has to go back to vet bills before Lasix;   banning it would be far more profitable to any vet;  

  • James

     “Bleeding affects them mentally and physically.”

    Then maybe they shouldn’t race?

  • Nucky Thompson

    Forget about the horses it’s the myopic members of the KHRC et al that need Lasix. 

  • Enio

    Why not require the horse to prove he needs Lasix first instead of treating every runner in every race?

    At $25 a shot in CA and 75 or so runners per day that’s a tidy profit.

  • James

    What could Kentucky do to end the massive slaughter of horses?  The majority of racing horses being slaughtered are Quarter Horses anyway. 

    What could Kentucky do bring uniformity to drug testing nationwide?  Other jurisdictions know what the rules are in Kentucky and could easily adopt them.  Or offer to work with them to bring about more uniform rules.  Have they?

    What resources are they supposed to use to fight the creation of new and dangerous drugs?  What can you do about them until the start showing up in tests? 

    Apparently they can’t even get rid of race day Lasix, but you think they have the ability to bring about change in these other areas?

    I hope I’m wrong, but it seems to me that when people start saying “they can’t solve problems A,B,C and D, so why are they worrying about problem E” it is just an attempt to cloud the issue and create even more division.

  • Garrett Redmond

    Well said, Doctor.  Well said.

    Referring to your last sentence, it is a safe bet only racetrack practioners might disagree.

  • Warren Eves

    When I look back on the files I have accumulated over the years of reporting and investigating illegal drug use I just shake my head.  I have had contact with people which are far better versed on the subject than I am.  The one thing I can assure you, and I probably won’t be around when it happens, is the “get” has been altered.  

    Without going into a long winded explanation I can assure you my personal doctor, and the vets who continue to administer, do not have the answers as to what we have done to the very thing we revere–the thoroughbred.  

    Going way back to the days when I was working for the late Ivan Thomas as publicity director at Centennial Turf Club, I had a conversation with a member of our board.  His name was Rube Naumann and he was one of the top cattle breeders in the state.  The year was 1967 and Naumann told me he was giving human growth hormones to his prize winning cattle.  I bring this up because I, and another outstanding journalist who no bone to pick, believe HGH and designer drugs of choice are alive and well in 2012.  And we are not just talking about horse racing.  We firmly believe the NFL and baseball continue to act like they have drugs in check and it simply is not so.  

    It’s mind boggling when I go back through my files and see the same old, same old reasons why those claim race day meds are necessary.  How soon we forget the Scopolomine positives, the milk shakes, and the way things used to be.  

    In March of 2005 T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times’ column head read as follows: “His Outlook Leaves Bitter Taste of Old Milkshake.”

    Simers wrote the following:  On one of the biggest racing days of the year at Santa Anita, including the chance to watch Declan’s Moon, the local favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, claim its fifth consecutive victory, one of the game’s top trainers said anyone who wagers on horses is either “a(gambling) addict or an idiot.”  

    Go Baby Go, all right, and as far as Jeff Mullins sees it, take everyone with you, which by the look of empty grandstands on most days here, is just where this sport is headed. The problem, Mullins said, “are the addicts and idiots crying because they lost a $2 bet,” and then demanding a level playing field.  “It will never be a level playing field.  There are a lot of things people don’t know, and won’t know.”  I interrupted to suggest it’s not fair for the member of the general public who pay $4 for parking, $5 for admission, $2 for a program and $4 for a Daily Racing Form and who think that, with a little work, they might figure out who is going to win a race.  The same idiots, of course, who bet money, which accounts for the purses won by Mullins’ horses.  

    “If you bet on horses, I would call you an idiot,” said Mullins, who finished 11th nationally last year in money earned in horse racing.  “I don’t bet: there’s a reason they call it gambling.  I train to win and that’s all I care about.  It’s not my problem(if the general public is deceived).  They ought to bring in slot machines, then we could run our horses and make a living without worrying about some crybaby calling the stewards and raising a fit.”  

    Mullins, a 30% winner before his horses tested positive for sodium milkshakes three weeks ago, sounded like someone who could use an Alka-Seltzer now that his horses are winning only 9% of their races since being sent to the detention barn.  The statistics would suggest Mullins was caught cheating, but he claims it’s the 24-hour stay in the detention barn that has unnerved his horses, while suggesting the fix is in when it comes to testing horses here.  He said Rick Arthur, who is overseeing the milkshake testing program at Santa Anita, is guilty of a conflict of interest since he’s also the day-to-day veterinarian for more than a half dozen Santa Anita trainers, including Richard Mandella, whose horses finished one-two in the Santa Anita Handicap.  

    “For a guy who has won as many Breeders’ Cup races as Mandella has, I’d like to see his tests,” said Mullins, who didn’t stop there.  “I would think Bruce Headley’s horses are over (the testing limit) every time they run.  How do we know?  The testing results are never released.  Headley’s sister-in-law, Ingrid Fermin, is on the(Californiga Hordse Racing Board), and ever since I claimed Choctaw Nation, one of Headley’s hoirses, Fermin has been after me.”  

    And I thought the Dodgers had problems.  Trainers Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill agreed there appears to be a conflict of interest with the track’s vet, and with Fermin’s relationship to Headley.  “You hear it on the backstretch; there’s too much venom in the Headley camp and when Jeff claimed Choctaw Nation, that was his downfall,” Baffert said.  “Bruce and his sister-in-law are very close, and it might be nothing, but appearance-wise the conflict of interest doesn’t look good.”  

    Mullins would like to believe that’s why he became a target, his own way of dodging accountability for spending a month in the detention barn.  As for the track’s vet, O’Neill said, “How do you have someone police something when they are an active member with the people they are policing.?  Keep in mind the above Simers column appeared in the L.A. Times 7 years ago.  So when I say it’s the same old, same old, I can back it up with gobs of material and facts.  The horsemen don’t want restrictions and one can only draw conclusions.  1.) Winning at all cost appears to be alive and well.  2.)The studies on long range damage to the “get” are not going to be funded.3.) We continue to hear same old, same old reasons why race day meds must continue.We want to thank Fravel, Tracy Famer, Ed S. “Ned” Bonnie, Allan Wade Houston, Sr, Elizabeth Lavin, Alan Leavitt and Dr. Jerry Yon for voting for what’s right.  

    Have to wonder why we have any horseplayers left.

  • JC

     I’m not a horse vet, but I’ve read a lot and this comment makes the most sense. 

    Respiratory/tracheal bleeding is certainly not a good thing in humans.  And there always needs to be a cost/benefit analysis re:  side effects when it comes to the use of any drug, in any animal.  It stands to reason that racing performance would also be better in the absence of bleeding. 

    I can say that I’ve given A LOT of Lasix to humans.  The side effects, if any, were minor.  The therapeutic effect of the drug greatly outweighed any problem or inconvenience for the patients–well, usually you pee more, but that’s the point.  It makes sense that reducing fluid volume can make for less bleeding in horses.  And, as long as it’s not a reduced fluid volume that would predispose to less flow across coronaries and thus arrythmias, I don’t see the big deal as long as, post-race, efforts are made to make sure that the horse is hydrated(enough) in whatever is the proper fashion.  It’s not as if, like people, horses have to worry about running to the bathroom.  :-) 

    As far as I know it’s not like Lasix makes for terrible long-term side effects; such as, with humans, the incidence of cancers and brain tumors post-anabolic steroid use.  But perhaps we need a horse vet or someone more knowledgeable than me here to weigh in. 

    Otherwise, I don’t see the big deal.  It seems beneficial to me.  There are other drugs I’d make a stink about, but not this one, unless someone gives me, or I read, detrimental information re:  its use. 

  • Garrett Redmond

    Mr. Pope,

    Any idea why a “Moderator” found it necessary to edit your comment?
    Did you use some wayward words or was it words beyond the vocabulary of the “Moderator” ??

  • Tony

     May need several divisions based on age and gender   as well as maiden

  • JC

     Thank you very much for this comment because it informs my opinion.  Non-pharmaceutical measures, when successful, should always be employed in place of pharmaceutical measures, however inconvenient.  For lack of a better phrase(and used differently in human care), “breakthrough bleeding” should be a racing deal-breaker.  I’m deeply sorry that in many cases it’s not. 

    I have never minded thoroughbreds doing what they’re bred to do.  I don’t want to see them go away as a breed.  But I would like racing to be equine-welfare-driven in place of money-or-economically driven, even if that makes everyone believe I live in Fairyland, which in this case, I probably do.  Yet, people, please try to do the best by the horses.  Thanks. 

  • JC

     FlyFilly offers a fair question.  And Red and Gold’s idea will take hold only when horse health is the priority, vis-a-vis speed; and thus, winning and money. 

  • Garrett Redmond

    ” … imported nothing in the last 25 years!”  Surely that is because most breeders would not patronize a ‘grass horse’ and certainly not a grass horse with stamina.  If a breeder took the gamble, few – if any – Americans would buy the product.  It is difficult to profitably sell the produce of a ‘grass mare’.

    Most of the rest of the world races on grass.  Foreign buyers want what we do not produce.  Add, our horses are principally dirt-track sprinters and alleged to universally require raceday dope.

    Barry Irwin has the best of the argument.

  • Panzaretta

    If a horse bleeds, it should be treated naturally or culled from the gene pool.99% of all horses racing in America are on lasix, it’s disgusting.GET THEM OFF OF THE DOPE, IT IS DOPE whether it’s legal on raceday or not. All the drugs are ruining the breed.
    WE HAVE PUT NATURAL SELECTION IN A SYRINGE!!! I love racing and it sickens my heart to see what we are doing to our horses. Bottom line, DO AWAY WITH THE DRUGS IN RACING OR THE HORSES WILL BECOME SO FRAIL THAT THERE WON’T BE ANY TO RACE.

  • Oky

    Do you really think that one vet gives all those shots? There must be 5 or 6 practices in S. CA that provide lasix for their clients. Not to mention what should be obvious, that when the vet is spending a good deal of the morning giving those $25 dollar shots and filling out paperwork (this doesnt apply in MD lol) he isnt doing other much more lucrative work such as xraying, scanning, injecting, etc. Anyone who believes that track vets won’t benefit financially from a raceday ban on lasix has no understanding of the issue.

  • voiceofreason

     Have to wonder why we have any horseplayers left.

    Great post. Luckily, the problem will work itself out. Owners are leaving in droves. “true” horse sales are a whisper. We all know the truth. The game is spinning the drain, and those with the choke hold want every. last. drop.

  • Oky

    For a story that begins with “there aint no good guys, there aint no bad guys” it surely appears that there most certainly has been good and bad guys designated…

  • voiceofreason

    Stop nit-picking. The sales are a whisper of what they were, foreign buyers are absent. You could shoot a cannon off in a sale and never hit a buyer, nowadays. It’s over. Our horses NEED lasix to run. They cannot make it around the track without it. Everyone knows it, understands it. Done.

  • voiceofreason

     “The Thoroughbred Capital of the World is at risk.”

    At risk of what? It’s already over.

  • RayPaulick

     Garrett- The vertical spacing between paragraphs was  adjusted to condense the comment.

  • Barry Irwin

    That is totally absurd.

  • Barry,

    Your comments about trainers being “afraid” or owners not wanting to confront trainers are ridiculous.  My trainers employ best practices for bleeders and as a hands on owner I know very much what the daily protocol is.  The bottom line is you can change feed, supplements, bedding, environment and add time between races and at the end of the day you will still have MANY horses that bleed…period.  Or you can give a horse (3) months off and have them bleed by time they start running against because the training process has reaggravated their lungs.  And how do we know the horses are bleeding?  Unlike much of the rest of the world, we perform a fair number of scopes rather than assuming a horse isn’t bleeding if they don’t have blood running out of their noses. 

    At the end of the day, why would you want a horse to run with blood in their lungs even if they bleed 2/5 or 4/10 (depending on what scale you use).  And the SA study that both sides use to make their argument is clear in (1) area…the majority of horses bled at least this level.  Just because it is called “borderline” doesn’t mean the horse isn’t running with blood in its lungs.

    Doesn’t your own primary trainer agree with the use of Lasix?  And Graham is known as one of the best trainers in the game who takes time with a European style approach to training.  Do you know better than your own trainer?

    Will you ar least agree that going after Lasix is simply taking the easy way out rather than addressing the larger issue of designer drugs that are not being detected with current testiing?  And don’t you agree that even if we eliminated lasix today this would do little to change the perception of doping in racing?  The perception that there is doping in racing is still true (although on a MUCH smaller scale than people would like to believe) if lasix was removed.

  • Tom Bower

    I went to see if Casner did not use Lasix and I got to the first horse I saw (Stonemill-Aqueduct Race 7 April 11) and the horse ran on Lasix.  So maybe he is lying.

  • Gorethebears

    They have should have tried to BREED THEM OUT OF THE STOCK LONG TIME AGO…..

  • Gorethebears

     And definitely does not make any sense to keep breeding these bleeders…

  • Hossracergp

    Gonna be empty starting gates then James. None of them like the taste of blood and just because it isn’t trickling out their nostrils doesn’t mean it’s not causing inflammation and scarring in their lungs. Bleeding has a cumulative effect, so the problem only gets worse over time and repeated racing. It’s not a “disease” and it’s not a genetic flaw….if they run, they bleed. Quit racing and they quit bleeding. 

  • Enio

    I did not think one vet does it all, I’m quite familiar with the backstretch. Routine race day proceedures are profitable enough for vets with the $25 shot and post race scope at $65, with perhaps additional lasix and scopes for workouts between races. Not all of these are bleeders, keep in mind we treat every horse every race. There’s something inherently wrong with that.

  • Ridindirty3

    Do you ever look at the sales results? The Japs just paid $450,000.00 each for two colts…. that the studs stand for less than $7500.00 apeice. 

  • Or maybe this “fact” was printed without any research or verification.  Shocking.

  • Ridindirty3

     That’s just ONE of the unintended consequences.

  • Hi Ray, 
    Many thanks for keeping the horseracing journalism fun during this time of change!
    “Hay, water, and oats movement.” Such an apropo turn of words, almost like Bodemeister’s turn of hoof down the lane last Saturday. 
    By the hay water and oats crowd (let’s add straw and salt to that, as well, please, and some grazing, perhaps), you must be referring to the drug-free on raceday hay, water, oats, and locomotion folks, the people who know how to race without raceday drugs! 
    Do not forget locomotion, my goodness, lack of locomotion is what created all the bleeding, you know. 
    Movement is essential to condition and maintain pulmonary and limb health. Racehorses need to get out of their stalls and move in the afternoons. Many horses race in the afternoons, and it is best if their metabolism is acclimated to afternoon activity. To keep horses in stalls, and bring them out for an hour or two each day is insufficient husbandry that leads to bleeding and breakdowns. Raceday drugs have been the crutch that has allowed this deplorable practice of locomotion deprivation to arrive at its current state. Bones, hooves, and joints need movement all day long to maintain racing health, competitiveness, and durability. It is horsemanship and horse-friendly husbandry that prepares racehorses to race safely and successfully without bleeding, not Lasix, my friends. Let’s go back to better days, and see those racehorses properly prepared, stabled, and conditioned please, with movement, locomotion, straw, body work, and all the enrichment stalled horses deserve. Horses require near-constant movement to maintain health lungs and limbs. Improved stable husbandry is the key, rather than raceday drugs. To hit horses with drugs hours before they race is not a practice that favors horses or horseplayers, whatever the drug or drugs. 

  • Ridindirty3

    I have three questions………Why have we in the US been giving racehorses Lasix for 30 years? If it was so bad shouldn’t we have gotten rid of it before now? Why have we been looking to do away with it only for the last few years?

  • Joe

    Great post Equine vet.

    Unless genuinely administered purely to provide comfort and cure off-competition, all legal and illegal drugs given orally and injected into horses (and greyhounds) IA, IM and IV on race-day, race-week and race-month are used and abused to enable and enhance performance, maximize equine exploitation and benefit people to the detriment of horses –and riders who at least have a choice.

  • Tom Bower

    You have to search around for it but I keep finding more.  I quickly saw where Kayce Ace also ran on Lasix at Sunland Park in the Harry Henson stakes on March 25 (in fact, all of that horse’s 13 starts have been on Lasix including 3 this year).  Also, Elkhorn Creek ran at Oaklawn in the 8th race on March 2 on Lasix.  And it looks like all of his 14 career starts have been on Lasix. Owner of all three horses: Casner Racing LP.  The guy tried to blow a fast one by the Kentucky Racing Commission and the Jockey club.  And he almost did.

  • The Judge

    People who have no idea what they are talking about, should know that they have no idea what they are talking about. And shut up!!

  • Big Red

    I’m sure no one noticed but it appears on the sulky side of the game at Pocono Downs, they are having races (just for 3 y’o’s ?) for horses exclusively with no lasix (take a look at the first & few others there today). What’s up with that ? Can these horses really run without lasix ?????? 

  • Bustin Roos

     Agreed- His opinion would carry more weight if he had recused himself   I wonder how many of his clients use his services because he is on the commission:  if there is a positive he would knowledge of it before anyone else. Would his ability to influence other members allow trainers to escape with lesser penalties?  I would think to avoid the real or perceived conflict of interest he would have refused the appointment but sought another equine vet without ties to the racing industry to fill the slot.

  • Joe

    What about being for the HORSE first by facing the truth, taking the high road, investing in equine health, welfare and safety, culling diseases and improving the breed naturally instead of drugging to cover-up, kill pain, enhance performance then breed and perpetuate man-made misery to nowhere?

  • Stanley inman

    When mr. Caster made his comments
    at the hearing yesterday
    about racing without lasix
    he referenced his comments
    specifically to be about 2 yR. Olds.
    Except his comments about WELL ARMED running in Dubai

  • RayPaulick

     Frank Angst did a good piece in Thoroughbred Times on Bill Casner’s philosophy on Lasix and his decision last year to start his younger horses without the drug. The article might explain what you see as him trying to “blow a fast one” by the KRC.


    The article states: “Casner did not think it would be wise to stop administering the
    diuretic to his older horses, who had become accustomed to racing on
    Salix. Those horses continue to receive Salix.”

  • David

    It boils down to whether possible long-term benefit (improved public perception, stemming denigration of the breed, closer alignment on the international stage, etc.) warrants the possible short-term exposure (fewer starts, owner fallout, decrease in number of races, etc.).  Regardless of where you weigh in it is but another example of absence of leadership in an industry in decline.

  • Bustin Roos

    Can someone clarify for me whether the debate in Kentucky is over just using lasix or all medications?
    It seems to me that we should start by banning bute, banamine etc first leaving the lasix issue as the last drug to withdrawl

  • Former Bettor

    This arguing has gone on way too long.  IMO, all of this bickering will soon come to an end one way or the other.  Either ;

     1) Feds step in (unlikely because industry is split and law will never pass), or…… 

     2) Public becomes more aware of drug issues and treatment of horses and uses social media to rally Congress to just outlaw the sport.  It will happen very quickly once it goes viral.  Something similar to what happened over the “Pink Slime” rage.  Once that issue became front and center, WITHIN 2 WEEKS the major Pink Slime manufacturer was forced to close 2 of their 3 plants.  I am guessing many of you believe this cannot happen to the thoroughbred industry.  I sure hope we do not find out.

  • voiceofreason

     You’re right. It is.

  • Oky

    What you stated was clear however considering that there are many vets giving those shots the tidy profit doesnt look quite as tidy. Without raceday lasix more scoping will be needed meaning vets will benefit from the lack of lasix. Not every person who takes an aspirin every day has had a heart attack either. Have an issue with that?

  • Oky

    I would guess none of his clients use his services because he is on the commission. So you are good with a trainer being on the commission but not a vet? Why not just accuse him of being corrupt? Exactly how many equine vets with no ties to the racing industry would be interested in being on the commission? It is a shame that a knowledge person with practical understanding of the racing game is being attacked for stating his educated opinion on a subject that differs from your own.

  • Oky

    At least Casner is willing to stand behind his opinion and race a good deal of his horses without lasix unlike some of the others who just complain about everything

  • Barry? 

  • The confusion comes from your other article that stated “who is now racing many of his horses without Lasix”.  It didn’t mention 2YOs and didn’t reference the article above that clearly states his intent.

    My question is how are these horses doing as 3YOs and are they still running w/o Lasix?

  • The article stated he ran (3) 2YOs w/o lasix (not sure if this is a “good deal” of his horses).

    Good for him for trying something but let’s not blow this out of proportion.  Plenty of owners start horses w/o lasix and only add lasix after they are proven bleeders.  The real question is if any of these (3) horses have bled and if they continue to race as 3YOs w/o lasix.

    The fact that no horse should be on lasix w/o concrete proof they bled is a different story.

  • jorge

    Dr. Northrop will make 3 times as much if they ban lasix. By treating per race and post race

  • jorge

    So it’s ok to have a retired high school basketball coach to vote on this than a prominent vet. Right
    Or Lavin. Let me translate her statement. I ran on lasix for 20 years and made money. Now I have no horses in training and wants what is best

  • jorge

    So your trainers want drugs and can’t train without them, and you are scared of Grahm?

  • dh

    It is beyond belief that of all the drugs used in horse racing, Lasix is being singled out as the Boogie Man. Lasix only works on bleeders, if a horse doesn’t bleed it will not improve his performance unless you believe that a horse that urinates several times before a race has an advantage over one that doesn’t. And if Lasix is banned what are we supposed to do with our horses that bleed, call Kelsey Lefever? You people need to think things through before you put your two cents in. There are bigger fish to fry, like EPO.

  • Barry Irwin

    Stanley, you crack me up.

  • Barry Irwin

    Stewart, I don’t have time to answer this properly as I need to make a living. But your assumptions are just plain wrong. There is no need to bring my trainer into this discussion. The use of designer drugs has absolutely nothing to do with the use of known drugs on raceday

    The vast majority of trainers dread not being able to use Lasix because they have never trained without it. And the vast majority of owners are afraid to confront their trainers.

    That’s just the way it is.

    I don’t put myself in this category of owners.

    If you are different, that makes you special and I am happy for you.

    As for bleeding, it is the single most over rated thing in racing. Most horses simply do not bleed enough to warrant 99 percent of runners racing on it. It has been abused by trainers and now they are just going to have to suck it up and pay the price for abusing this drug.

    And by the way, in case you have not experienced it, horses that really bleed are going to bleed even though they are treated with Lasix.

  • Barry Irwin

    So you are a troll and you are on a steady diet of LSD and you cannot differentiate between day and night, right and wrong and you cannot even make the intellectual investment to capitalize your own phony screen name?

  • Barry Irwin

    I had dinner with an aged woman 2 weeks ago who is on Lasix and it has been very hard on her system. She hates it, but needs it. Horses that need it so badly that they are unable to race should be retired.

  • Barry Irwin

    Maggi, let’s get our house in order and get the public on our side, then we can worry about these other matters. Let’s start by cleaning up our tarnished image.

  • Barry Irwin

    Learn to write.

  • Hopefieldstables

     “Unlike much of the rest of the world, we perform a fair number of scopes
    rather than assuming a horse isn’t bleeding if they don’t have blood
    running out of their noses. “

    Now that is Bullshit canard that keeps being repeated.

    As someone who races outside the US, we not only scope we do BAL as well.

  • Barry Irwin


  • Barry Irwin

    Dear Troll: first of all, any basketball coach, retired or otherwise, has a higher standing in Kentucky than anybody else, including every politician in the state. Secondly, that was a horribly cheap shot you took at Mrs. Lavin and there is no basis for it. Crawl back in your hole and cover up the outside with dirt.

  • Nucky Thompson

    Barry, Sorry to hear that.  If you like I can hook you up with my sister-in-law. She’s cute and she can perform without Lasix :)

  • stillriledup

     I think the perception that lasix masks other drugs is a big reason they’re trying to get rid of it. That, and the concept that lasix ‘weakens’ the breed. Remember, Ky is a breeding state, they want to try and keep the breed from weakening. (i think)

  • dh

    you could be right, but I think both reasons are real stretches, where’s the proof that lasix masks other drugs(hell,they can’t even figure out what these cheats are using let alone masking) and as far as breeding I’ve never seen a KY stud farm tout their stallion “NEVER RACED ON LASIX”.

  • desertrailrat

     I’m with you 100% Barry, thanks taking the time to make your argument and even play a game of whack-a-troll.  It just comes down to $, you know this.  Banning Lasix will put more horses on the vet list, less starts, more animals for the rescues to scramble to find good homes for, etc.. but sometimes you have to swallow a bitter pill for the greater good with the hopes that in time, some sacrifice now will ultimately lead to a brighter future. 

  • dh

    Great post! but why blame lasix for racings woes. Why not just get rid of the guys like Mullins, Dutrow, Ness, Biancone, and the other 4 or 5 at every track that are obvious cheats. No reason given, just barred or excluded until further notice. That would possibly bring fans back to the game more than banning Lasix, but its probably already too late as voiceofreason has pointed out for a long time now.

  • desertrailrat

     That is an excellent post!  If the general public actually could see what is really going on, it would make all of the attempted expose pieces to date such as Real Sports seem like child’s play.  I do not wish to get political with this, but the fact is many that have the money to participate in this sport tend to vote to the right where the prevailing thought is “Government intervention into any business is bad”.  That is going to be a major roadblock in the way of any Federal oversight at all, as many owners and industry types are private businesspeople who see any attempt to help the animals and save the sport from itself as “socializing” racing.

  • There is not a single expert (regardless if they are pro or anti lasix) who will agree that Lasix has the ability to mask anything at this point based on the levels of urine and blood testing performed.  This hasn’t been true for at least (10) years and even when it was, the ability to mask other meds was significantly overblown.

    So if you have experts agreeing that Lasix does not mask other drugs and no one listens, why will people think horses aren’t being doped if Lasix is banned?  They won’t and they will be correct because Lasix is not doping and what DH says is 100% correct.

    And weakening the breed?  Totally subjective and nothing scientific about this argument.  People love throwing stats around that have been simplified without factoring in all potential variables.

  • Gorethebears

    15-20 years tops?

    1. Industry subsidized by it’s number 1 competitor (casino)
    2. A deteriorating customer base
    3. A product that has deteriorated in the last decade or so
         a). The thoroughbreds (and I use that loosely) today barely run 10 furlongs or longer
               the excuse is we really don’t know because the races has been shortened? DUH
         b). We have more grade 1 races today at a mile or less than ever before.
         c). The east coast who whines about tradition when it comes to synthetics does not
              have a single open G1 2 turn 10 furlong race. Personal Ensign just shortened to 9f.
         d). 6 furlongs handicap race? really?
         e). Handicap G1 race where the top weight is 118lbs. really?
         f). There is a 2 furlongs 100K claimer for 2 year olds. I guess using the words
              2 furlongs instead of 440 yards you wont mistake it for a quarterhorse race.
         g). of course horses that cannot run without drugs. Yes, lasix is a drug.
         h). 2 year olds for sale whose value depends on how fast it can run 1 or 2 furlongs.
              Is that why Zenyatta only went for $60K, what was her time for 1 furlong?
         i).  Same boring horses we breed to run 5-9 furlongs.
         j).  talk to change the triple crown races to accommodate these ??

    Good Luck!



  • So you don’t put yourself in this category of owners but if I am different that makes me “special” and you are happy for me?  Do you actually think before you type?  This is the typical silver spoon attitude that I have come to expect from you Barry.

    No need to bring your trainer into this?  I would think that your trainer would know just a little more than you do about medications and whether or not they should be used.  Just like I expect my trainers to know more on this subject than me.  So if you have one of the leading trainers in the world and he supports the use of lasix, this means you think you know more than your own trainer.  This makes no sense so maybe you should find a trainer that agrees with your positions or start training your own horses since you know more.

    The use of designer drugs has nothing to do with “known drugs on raceday”?  While that is a brilliant statement, I never said it did.  You avoided my point completely probably because you don’t have a response that makes any sense.  Get rid of lasix and you are still faced with doping by way of synthetic drugs that are not picked up with current test.  And “that’s just the way it is”.  And since you have repeatedly said that perception is reality when it comes to drug use (and I agree with this), getting rid of lasix will do little to nothing in terms of perception because this does nothing to address the real issue of doping horses. 

    My “assumptions”…you “need to make a living”?  I always appreciate the arrogance Barry.  But how about saving the arrogance and putting some intelligent thoughts on the forum when someone challenges your statements.

  • That is shocking news considering that only horses in the US bleed and there is very little proof of horses outside of the US bleeding due to the superior training methods.

    If your horses are not bleeding, why exactly are they being examined for bleeding?

  • nomoralcompass

    If my memory serves me correctly, “Devil His Due” was touted as having not used medications during his racing career. Could be wrong. But at the time it impressed me. 

  • nomoralcompass

    I think you should review the on line petition (in the TDN) that Arthur and Staci Hancock have started to encourage the adoption of federal oversight of horse racing. I don’t think you’ll find too many communists or socialists on the list. 

  • Upstart

    You got there before me.  You are absolutely correct.  I believe it’s mentioned on his Stallion Page.  Classy horse.

  • Hopefieldstables

     Asinine response.

    Horses are scoped to check respiratory health for myriad of reasons including EIPH.

  • Hopefieldstables

     Following your asinine logic since the US uses lasix and lasix “prevents bleeding”, if I scope your horses after a race I will find none have bled right?

  • You would find that the majority of horses have either trace to no blood, correct.  I’m sure you wouldn’t know this because no one outside of the US ever uses Lasix or any other type of medication during training, right?  Of course not, it is only the substandard US horsemen that require this because they don’t know a thing about basic care and training of horses (not really sure how that explains the mainy trainers who have moved from Europe to the US but you know what I mean).

    And don’t get mad at me for repeating what European trainers have been saying….the US has inferior horses, inferior horsemen and that your superior training techniques prevent bleeding without the need for medication. 

    I’m surprised you even know about EIPH since none of the horses outside of the US actually have this condition even though science would argue that all thoroughbreds have this to some degree (just don’t tell this to trainers outside the US….act like you never heard it from me or science). 

    And since your horses defy science and never bleed, I assumed they also never experienced any type of respiratory issues.  Again, I thought your superior training and breeding had basically eliminated all these issues.

    Now, about that horse meat issue….

  • Hopefieldstables

     I am not in Europe

  • Hopefieldstables

     Since the majority of your horses are not bleeding I will direct your original idiotic question back to you ;
    “If your horses are not bleeding, why exactly are they being examined for bleeding?”

  • You are in Barbados, which certainly adds some intrigue to this thread.

    And the answer to your questions is very simple.  Besides the fact that US horsemen are clueless compared to the rest of the world, we openly admit and accept the scientific fact that horses bleed when they race.  And since we accept this scientific fact, we are accept the need for post-race (and sometimes post workout) scoping for bleeding following a subpar performance and / or if they shows typical signs of respiratory distress.  And since the same dosage of lasix does apply to every horse, you also need to scope at times to ensure the dosage is correct.

    Now I realize all this scoping nonsense isn’t really necessary because the truth is we are using lasix for its performance enhancing qualities only.  But if you look at it from a conspiracy standpoint, if we scope the horses it at least maintains the appearance that we think they are actually bleeding and want to provide medication to prevent or limit this (in addition to masking other drugs and juicing the horse….but that goes without saying).

  • Allynn


  • Allynn

    mullins is the reel DUMB @SS!!!…tell him to GMAFB…ty…

  • Allynn

    did u really believe china would pick an AMERCIAN COMPANY???…WHAT R U SMOKE N???…

  • Allynn


  • Allynn

    TY fore put n it on hopes @SS!!!…

  • Allynn

    i thought that the very first day i ever went on the back side…THEY CAN’T B HAPPY under those conditions…PERIOD…CHANGE WILL COME…SOON…

  • Allynn


  • Jimculpepper

    12 plus hours of movement per day apparently helps to prevent colic also.

  • Jimculpepper

    Selective breeding attempts to get around population genetics, which is why it is such a frustrating crap shoot.  Just because a horse bleeds does not mean offspring will, and  those who don’t bleed will invaiably get some bleeders.    Proper conditioning does seem a promising angle to try before you trash stock that was not conditioned to race at speed.

  • Tom Bower

    According to your previous report he did not say those things about his older horses to the Commission.  The way he said it was to make a bold pronouncement that he was having success by not using Lasix (“I have gained a competitive advantage”).  By not disclosing to the Commission that he was still using Lasix “ON MANY OF MY HORSES” was misleading and disingenuous (i.e. trying to blow a fast one by them). He is full of it.

  • voiceofreason

     If we outlawed bleeders, you would simply do what the world does now: Send them to America… or another country that doesn’t care about it’s breeding/racing/integrity practice.

  • Upstart

    Don’t really see how this is a reply to me.  But there are people here who do care,  do run their horses without salix and do win. If you think we can “outlaw bleeders” I don’t think you understand the physiology of EIPH. 

  • jorge

    that’s pretty good Barry , did not know you had that good of a sense of humor. did you stay up ALL DAY to think that up

  • Hopefieldstables

     All your words, none mine.

  • Hopefieldstables

     What is ironic is that you start by intimating that non US horsemen are “clueless” by suggesting we do not scope and we “assume” a horse has not bled because there is no blood visible in the horse. You start by calling us idiots and then in the face of correction, you launch a sarcastic smug tirade feigning that you have been insulted. All your words, none mine. We scope, we use BAL.  Guess what ? for the same reasons, post race, post work. We dont use lasix, we dont race on meds at all. No “threshold” levels either.  Those are facts too.

  • Garrett Redmond


    Will you, PLEASE, consider dropping DISQUS as your “Comments” handler?

    Strikes me it is much more difficult to follow a subject/thread now, than in the past.
    With DISQUS, readers must continuously scan from the beginning to see if there was any reply to a specific comment.

    With your original system, a responder made reference to the name and Comment #.
    So items were a snap to locate.

    Moreover, anyone wishing to make a new comment or respond to an earlier item, simply tacked on following the most recent item.  Now it is required to roll back to the start.  A pain in the butt when, as in this instance, the comments are in the hundreds.

    Possibly you could put it to a poll of readers’ preference.

  • Garrett

    One of the advantages of the Disqus system is that you can choose how the comments appear with the drop down box at the top of each comment thread.

  • Rachel

    Replying to Garett Redmond…I agree…it’s impossible to follow a timeline because of the ability to reply to anyone…so if the 50th post was done a day before but now has a new comment, you have no clue except to reread every single post again top see if someone’s added something to the old posts…awful..
    I like the old way, where you could refer to post #50…much, much easier.

  • desertrailrat

    Ok, I read it.  Communists?  That’s funny.  Warren Buffett wants his taxes raised, so I will deduct from that most millionaires are eager to vote Dem and can’t wait to contribute more according to your logic.  The old money families of Kentucky aren’t going to be the problem nor are they the majority.  Instead of reading petitions, go talk to living breathing human beings at the track.  Then we may continue this conversation.

  • voiceofreason

    not so. it’s a discuss thing… unfortunately there is no way to see latest comments within a thread. you must drill down and hopefully find the area of interest. known for its “threads within a thread” style.

  • You can sort by newest and oldest, not sure that I follow.

  • Upstart

    I have “sort by newest first” highlighted in my drop down box.  And the first post is Rachel’s from 7 hours ago, not PR post from 13 minutes ago, have to scroll down for that.  Agree with Garrett and Rachel.

  • Tinky


    I have made this point to you privately on more than on occasion. the system is deeply flawed, and does NOT sort with the “newest” comments first no matter which choice is made.

    Did you imagine that it was only happening to me?

  • The entire thread was mainly sarcasm my man.

    Let’s stick to the main question here….if trainers outside the US claim bleeding is controlled or eliminated through proper training techniques, why are you scoping your horses?  And what percentage of your horses test w/ even trace blood in their lungs.

    Serious question…no ore sarcasm.

  • Tinky

    Case in point. It’s 10:34, and the most recent comment was made by Stewart on this very thread. Not only is it not on the top of the thread (and yes, I am sorting by “newest”), but I had to “load more comments” over a half-dozen times to get to it!

    If it weren’t so sad that the “Mercedes” of discussion software is so flawed, it would be funny.

  • Garrett Redmond


    The ‘newest/oldest’ box does not work.  So that is hardly an advantage.

    Another criticism.  DISQUS decides when it will display my ‘likes’.
    Sometimes it records on the scorecard at left.  Rest of the time it ignores the comments I like. 

     Almost certain some will disagree with my complaint, but right now the responses are all supportive.  Try a poll.  DISQUS can count the votes!

  • dh

    The flaw in the system is “newest” doesn’t work when someone is “Reply”ing to someone else. It places the reply under a post that was put up maybe 23 hours ago. Its a big flaw, and the “Like” thing doesn’t work half the time either.

  • Hopefieldstables

     I do not make the claim that bleeding is controlled through “proper training techniques”. That is your strawman. It is a fact of course that racing and training outside of the US is very very different. To what extent this plays a role is important and certainly very important if lasix is banned and the US finds itself with a higher incident of bleeding. That this could happen should not be surprising, the US has a substantially higher catastrophic breakdown rate. Racing ? Training ? Meds? The higher rate is a fact. Maybe you would also have a higher rate of bleeding. I cant tell you what to do, but I can tell you what we do. It is canard to suggest we do not scope. We do. And we do for much the same reasons you do. Do horses bleed? Yes. For the vast majority it is not an issue. For some it is a problem just like for some a tendon is a problem. When I scope and find a horse “bled” who otherwise had not, we try to understand why. Inflammation is a very common culprit. I would not give lasix as a cure to a bleeder anymore that I would give bute to horse with a inflamed tendon as a cure. You do not have to believe me but you can look at somewhere like Hong Kong where copious records are kept and there are no private vets. Let that be your benchmark. Again no one in HK wants to tell you what to do, but you can look at what they do.

  • Hopefieldstables


  • voiceofreason

    Now you sound like an insider.. Ray, threads within threads can NEVER sort newest to oldest. THAT is what i mean… and what disq can never do. It cuts interactivity and response by 30-40% Does that make sense?

  • desertrailrat

    Or you could go to DRF and wait 8 hours for someone to “moderate” your post.  Disqus is cool.

  • The other thread is getting to narrow so I am moving my response here.

    Hong Kong is not a reasonable benchmark due to many variables and if you don’t understand this then I honestly ask that you don’t reply again and end this thread.

    The bottom line is we constantly hear how a) horses outside of the US do not bleed anywhere near as much as they do in the US and 2) trainers have superior training programs that either limit or prevent bleeding altogether.

    My point is that since bleeding is a scientific inevitability, horses obviously bleed outside of the US.  I appreciate the fact you are agreeing that horses do in fact bleed outside of the US.  My questions to you are:

    1.  What % of your horses have been identified as bleeders via scopes or other testing methods?

    2.  With the absence of Lasix, what has been your most effective treatment for bleeders and have you been sucessful reducing or eliminating bleeding altogether in this horses?

    Again, I am done with the sarcasm….honest questions.


  • Joe

    SaratogaSid, I agree with you 100%.

  • h.schmelz

    the bottom line is regardless of europe or hong kong etc. that us horses seldom if ever win outside their borders, which is not surprising as the seldom race outside. why? it seems to be something of an anticipated or accepted inferiority nowadays. make no mistake, of course eu horses have wind issues of all kinds but their treatment is conservative, and only the certified bleeders are shipped to the us to compete there under lasix. also, lasix is at least in the eu perceived as a masking or washing out treatment for other things the horse may have been treated with. it`s not only the wind and teh lungs, it is the whole system.

  • Allynn


  • As I indicated above, no expert on either side of the lasix argument will agree that lasix is a masking agent in the year 2012 (or even 10 years ago).  Testing is so far advanced from the 1990s when this was somewhat true (although nowhere near what people would like to believe) and the levels at which urine and blood are tested completely remove the myth that lasix is a masking agent.

    I do agree with your other comments but I think it has more to do with rushing horses into a new environment rather than giving them time to get acclimated before running.

  • And the inferiority nonsense is pompous (but typical) BS.  Europe specializes in turf breeding and runners and the US specializes in dirt breeding and runners.  US will win on dirt the majority of the time and European horses will win on turf the majority of the time. 

  • h.schmelz

    sure you can find arguments that everything is in order. but dirt or turf, us horses rearly win major races worldwide, but not vive versa, and sure you can find lots of experts on the topic of lasix, as most of these experts are within an industry that tries to make money out of the use of drugs and not vice versa. and  of course the us racing industry is absolutely free to implement a policy it deems fit to freach certain goals. the question simply is, what goal do you want to achieve? splendid isolation?

  • And European horses come to the US and constantly beat US horses on dirt, right?  You are either a total fool or know that this is not the case and this invalidates the arrogant point you are trying to make.

    And your “conservative” treatment basically means you let horses continue to bleed when they run.  Of course when asked if horses bleed in Europe the majority of trainers will say no.  And certified bleeders?  What a joke…how do they become certified?  Just because a horse doesn’t have blood visibly dripping from their noses doesn’t mean they are not bleeding.

    How about commenting on the horse meat issue while you are at it.  Since you think you are so much better than the US, don’t you think you should at least stop eating the animals you claim to take such better care of?

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