The Friday Show: A Surprising Derby Trend, And Some Weight With That Lasix?

by | 03.20.2015 | 8:12am

The battle over race-day medication in U.S. horse racing may go dormant from time to time, but the forces pushing for change continue to work towards their goal — despite resistance from many horseman.

In this edition of The Friday Show, Scott Jagow and Ray Paulick discuss a new proposal in Kentucky regarding Lasix. Could it have anything to do with the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland? Plus, several of the early favorites for this year's Kentucky Derby have one historical trend against them when it comes to their pedigrees. And just how useful is the morning line for a race anyway?

Enjoy the latest episode of The Friday Show.

  • race

    Ray — Good Morning–
    Curious what owner brought forth the law suit with regard to implimenting lazix ? At the same time, I would think that the Breeders would put an effort towards phasing out lazix, (as was suggested a few years ago), especially when their offspring would be even more welcomed Internationally–

    • RayPaulick

      Here’s the background on the decision by Breeders’ Cup to reverse the race-day medication ban.

      • Needles

        A spineless decision by the Breeders Cup indeed.

      • race

        Thank you Ray for the Article——interesting I see Oliver Tait resigned his position after the vote to reverse the BC’s original ruling—but like you said in the Article, the BC committee is between the proverbial rock and a hard place when, their ruling might just not hold, (after the 2013 race), when they have no control over the hosting track in future years—geez–

  • David

    Scott’s Storm Cat statistic reminded me of when commentators on a broadcast say “John Doe hasn’t missed an extra point in over three years…” or “Joe Bball has made 97 consecutive free throws…” We all know what happens next, a shanked kick or a missed shot. I think Scott just ensured a Storm Cat descendant will win the Derby this year.

  • Concerned Observer

    Just wanted you to know that as a very involved horse racing guy, I find your Friday show interesting and thought provoking. Keep’em coming.

  • Thoroughbred Watch Dog

    Jockeys have to be able to do the weights that horses are assigned based on the conditions of the race, first.

    • Quinnbt

      Raise the top weight, the difference in weight carried is the key factor. As a by-product many the jockeys live on a near starvation diet could actually eat without “flipping” afterwards.

      • Lynn

        You say “Raise the top weight”
        Physics 101: F= MA (Force Equals Mass Times Acceleration). There is a finite amount of strength in all things including horses legs. You want to add more pounds and disregard the additional stress you are placing on the horse.
        Enough weight can breakdown a freight train.

        • Quinnbt

          I’m not putting sumo wrestlers on them, sorry for not being specific, maybe make scale weight top 132 pounds.

          • Bill O’Gorman

            Two year old maidens carry 131 in Britain, 133 or 135 is not unusual. And they don’t bleed either. It isn’t particularly uncommon for three year old and older to carry over 140.
            Where they were bred – or how they are bred makes no difference to this.

          • Quinnbt

            Thanks for pointing that out.

          • Really?

            They don’t bleed? That’s amazing. How do you know this. I would bet that you are 100% wrong that none of these 2 year old maidens bleed.

          • Ben van den Brink

            Did you examine the results at the BC two yrs ago.

          • Bill O’Gorman

            I’ll rephrase that – and as you ought to have taken from my other posts – ” bleeding doesn’t seem to be a problem”: is that better?

        • LongTimeEconomist

          Studies have shown that horses carrying higher weights do not break down as often. The reason is that the problem is the force with which horses hit the ground, and higher weighted horses run slower, thereby sustaining less impact on their legs when they hit the ground.

      • Concerned Observer

        If they raise the jockey weights, it will only be a different, (but bigger physically) group of people starving themselves to make weight. Suddenly lots of (now too big) exercise riders will begin to stare so they can be jockeys.

        Not a well considered solution.

        • Quinnbt

          Then forget the by-product just raise the weight. I would be interested in your take on the weight-lasix issue.

  • Tinky

    I’ve watched very few of them, but based on this episode, you guys are doing a nice job with this video feature.

    Having said that, you both missed the most important point re: Storm Cat as a negative Derby influence.

    There is no question that he was a real, negative Derby influence throughout his career at stud, as he typically got milers that were unsuited to distances beyond nine furlongs. Yes, there were a small number of anomalies (e.g. Tabasco Cat), but that was always to be expected.

    The reason that the streak is likely to be broken is not because it was simply bound to happen sooner or later, as Ray implies, but because Storm Cat’s influence has, over time, been significantly diluted.

    With only one exception on the list that Scott mentioned, SC appears three or four generations back in those pedigrees, meaning that his negative (stamina) influence has largely been mitigated. The one exception, Carpe Diem, happens to be by Giant’s Causeway, one of the aforementioned anomalies, and one of the very few sons of SC at stud that has proven capable of getting horses that stay 10f.

    • TJ Smith

      I agree. Scott should have mentioned in what generation(s) Storm Cat showed up in the horses that lost the Yum Brands! Derby.

      • Tinky

        You must be looking forward to tomorrow’s Horseshow Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes, or HCCSS as it is affectionately known by no one.

        • TJ Smith

          I’m looking forward to the tv announcers vocalizing it.

  • WelbourneStud

    How can a person call himself a “horseman” when he doesn’t know how to train without drugs?

    • Tinky

      Perhaps you should ask a banker who considers himself to be a “businessman”, even though he has a difficult time keeping the bank solvent while creating “money” out of thin air, and being backstopped by Government largesse.

      • Mimi Hunter

        Agreed – Anyway training without Lasix is called ‘work’ – it takes a long time to condition a horse to be sound of ‘wind and limb’ – nobody wants to take the time when they can just give a few shots.

        • Old Timer

          Most horses in the US do NOT train with lasix….please get facts right.

          Lasix is used to treat or lessen the effect of EIPH, i.e. STOP blood from being in a horses lungs when they run.

          I have no idea how blood in a horses lungs is good. Its honestly incomprehensible to me that this is even an argument anymore. You talk about sound wind and limb, and that’s impossible unless you have a super horse that is perfect in all regards at one end of the bell curve, but guess what happens on the other end? They fall a part no matter what you do. That’s just genetics 101, and has nothing to do with one’s training.

          No you can’t eradicate bleeding in horses by trying to breed it out. Even on the off chance it could be done, it would take millennia to accomplish, not 10, not 20, not even in a 100 years. Evolution, even when manipulated by human intervention, takes a long time take hold, and there’s not even close to enough horses to try this magical experiment the anti lasix group wishes to do.

          Lets take care of the horse and help them so that when we ask them to preform at their highest level it doesn’t mean they have to bleed in their lungs because of some ideological disingenuous arguments.

          • Ben van den Brink

            Within four or five generations, the case could be solved. Just as long as the lasix rules are in place in the US, but given genetics count one or two generations up.

          • Bill O’Gorman

            There probably isn’t a case at all genetically – these horses would very likely do fine in England.

          • betterthannothing

            Your post is the most important one in this entire thread. Thank you!

          • Ben van den Brink

            Most of them, about 98,5% will do fine, without the thought of help by lasix.

            Thanks to the use of lasix in the USA, about nobody is able to confirm whether or not a horse is a bleeder.

            A grade 1 bleeder, just a couple blood drops, I do NOT, classify as a bleeder.

          • Bill O’Gorman

            Ben, are we agreeing or disagreeing? Lasix ought to be banned, but I don’t see how removing horses that did bleed from the breeding pool would help: may as well cull all horses that didn’t achieve what would have been a reasonable expectation of them as a yearling.

          • Ben van den Brink

            Iam against the use of lasix, but also against drawing their water 24 hrs before the factual race time.

            Normal is drawing the water, entering the grounds.

          • Bill O’Gorman

            I didn’t claim that breathing issues might not have a genetic ingredient – although I do think that they, like bleeding, are too readily diagnosed in undertrained horses. Obviously an inefficient [undertrained?] air supply might contribute to bleeding. We took the water away 3 or 4 hours before the race – however I doubt that made much difference one way or the other.

          • AngelaFromAbilene

            We had a terrific race mare that bled. We bred her, that filly bled. We bred her, her colt bled. All of them bled through lasix like stuck pigs. It was not from lack of training or fitness as I don’t know anyone who puts as many miles on their horses as we do.

          • TJ Smith

            Lasix became legal in 1986. Horses ran without it before then and that’s when we had Triple Crown winners.

          • gorgeous gayle

            Thank you for pointing that out to the “we can’t do without it” crowd.

          • togahombre

            It was a bit earlier than that

          • Mimi Hunter

            I;m sorry. Poor choice of words on my part. I didn’t mean to say that they were training with Lasix, but that they are, for the most part, training with the use of race day Lasix in mind. ‘Sound of wind and limb’ is an old and probably out of date term that means the horse is serviceably sound for the use intended. But when you can give shots for pain and just keep working through it, or you give a shot that lowers the blood pressure and reduces the likelihood of EPIH without doing the work that would make the shot unnecessary in some cases, you are not helping the horse. I use a lot of old terms – they still mean what they did – not all that much has changed.

          • Really?

            Please tell me the “work” we need to do to get rid of bleeding. What is it that trainers are not doing? I’m sure they would do it if you shared your secret.

          • Mimi Hunter

            If you don’t know how to condition a horse to improve breathing, stamina,etc, then maybe you shouldn’t have any. That ‘work’ is probably 90% of what a trainer does. The meds just give a shortcut.

          • Really?

            I agree. I don’t think you can breed it away. There is evidence that some bleeding may be from the force of the horse’s gut hitting their lungs at the end of a stride based on where the majority of blood is in their lungs. Plus barrel horses bleed. Sometimes I think it’s basic physics which aren’t going to go away. Also, they say horses with respiratory issues are more prone to bleed, like those with allergies. Allergens in a barn are impossible to eradicate even if the barn is open to the air.

          • Bill O’Gorman

            The idea of a genetic component to bleeding is comforting to some but is likely far-fetched. All TBs are very closely related – I think as much as you or I would be to our respective half sibling – and so the tendency to bleed is probably inherited only in as far as there is no resistant gene [as for instance zebras and some native cattle are immune to tsetse fly and tick borne diseases that are lethal to European livestock]. Nurture is more important than Nature in determining racehorses’ success. According to Cunningham and others the ratio of environmental influence [from conception onwards] to genetic makeup in determining ultimate success is about 70% to 30% . A horse with a high scoring pedigree will do better than one with a lower scoring one – but only if they are both trained similarly well [or badly]. The trick is not to obsess about the genotype [pedigree] but to seek the best phenotype [physique] available for your money – and then to make up the leeway by training the horse to best advantage. 68 + 15 beats 50+29 !! Far from fool proof, but very satisfying.

      • lastromantribune

        Bravo ! excellent comment

  • Needles

    I think weight allowance for lasix and bute free horses is a brilliant idea. No reason tracks can’t implement this quickly as a “house rule”. Let the horseman decide how important lasix is when there are allowances for horses who do not need drugs but continue to get them because trainers are afraid of not using the medication. You’d see a lot of lasix free horses winning races.

  • gorgeous gayle

    Ted and Mary West, one of Baffert’s owners – that is who threatened to sue the Breeder’s Cup over banning lasix. Why? Can’t your horses run without a chemical edge? I wish the BC had the cojones to throw down the gauntlet again, just to shake the bushes for who else might be afraid of running their horses without chemical help. Mike Repole was very vocal against the ban and did not send his two year olds. That would be a Pletcher client. I just don’t recall anyone else getting their panties in a wad over it. :-)

    • That’s because you might have a short memory.

  • Evelyn Waugh

    Just want to tell you how much I enjoy these Friday videos, Mssrs. Jagow & Paulick!

    • Just want to commend you on your body of work Evelyn. You have always been one of my favorites.I especially like “The Loved One.” Read it once every year or so. It never seems dated.

  • PTP

    Other than the obvious – the elimination of Scott’s beard is a travesty of modern horse racing broadcasting – another good show gents.


  • an owner’s perspective

    How many of you calling for an outright ban on Lasix own race horses? How many of you have ever heard a horse trying to breathe when they’ve bled during a race or a work? Granted, Lasix is overused, and I would be all for restrictions to proven bleeders. However, there are many horses that DO NEED the medication. As a small stable owner, I can’t afford to send a horse to the sidelines that I paid $50,000 for as a yearling when a $20 dose of Lasix would get that horse on the track. Its easy for the casual fans and bettors to say we need to ban Lasix, but those aren’t the individuals that need to recoup the cost for putting on the show. The owners are. Take one horse out of my operation because it can’t get the medication it needs, I may very well have to close up shop. Some people say those horses shouldn’t race because they can’t compete without the medication. I beg to differ as the medication controls those symptoms. There are quite a few basketball players running up and down the courts this weekend that can’t play without their asthma medicine. Should we simply tell them tough luck? The inhaler is after all, improving their performance.

    • Ben van den Brink

      I,ve been in that position, and made the best choice I could. Gave her ( a filly) away for becoming a pasture horse. It did cost however quite a few bucks. This was a bad bleeder b.t.w. Send the papers to our jockeyclub and not for breeding. Regarding towards saying: if a horse needs to be culled is damn foolish, as bleeding is very much dictated by inheritance. Without the rules, this would never ever, become this far.

      • an owner’s perspective

        We’ve all been in the position where we have to do what’s right by the horse and have retired horses and taken a big hit in the process. All sorts of injuries happen all the time that lead owners to make those decisions. It is unavoidable. And in the case of serious bleeders, even medication doesn’t always help and you have to retire them. In most cases, however, a simple medication can rectify the situation and keep that horse going. Again, I’m all for reform and adding Lasix free allowances or even Lasix free races, but I don’t think an outright ban is the answer.

        • Ben van den Brink

          An outright ban seems a bridge too far, but at least give owners and trainer the possiblities to race lasix free or with the use of lasix. The latest investigation held in Australia, shows btw, that 54% from the horses active in TB racing never bleed, not even 1 drop, and that 1,5% is a bad bleeder. So the diuretic part, or the enhacement is by far the motive.

          Putting them on medication, will harm them more overtime, Iam pretty convinced about that.

          • Ben van den Brink

            Meant to write, write out races only open to lasix free horses.

            Because a race can also be written: open only for horses which are sold for more then 50K at a public sale.

          • Bill O’Gorman

            We used to have plenty of Auction Races. Obviously races confined to cheaper yearlings didn’t suit today’s big trainers [ although their more grown up predecessors seemed to cope], because without unfettered access to the small track Maiden races their statistics would look woeful. Persistent lobbying meant that they had to go! We do have Median Auction Races, which are a nonsense – they admit a horse of any value based upon his sire’s yearling median price, but, crucially, they still allow the Racecourse to classify the race as the lowest grade and to give the lowest prize money.

          • Tinky

            Good insight, Bill, and this is an issue that particularly bothers me as well.

            Not only do I fondly recall the Maiden Auction races to which you refer, but I have also suggested to a number of American racing secretaries that they write them here. Of course it hasn’t happened, with the most common excuse being that it would dilute the number of entrants in the open MSW races.

            Well, if three of four trainers didn’t have the lion’s share of maidens under their shedrows, then perhaps both types of races would fill, enhancing opportunities for all involved.

            The concentration of horses in fewer and fewer hands has degraded racing in the U.S. significantly, yet almost no one dares to discuss, let alone seriously address the matter.

          • Bill O’Gorman

            Not only has this concentration drastically reduced the number of proven high class horses, it has virtually destroyed the whole ethos of racing in England. As you can imagine this is even more galling given the antics of some of those involved in other fields.

          • Mike Walker

            do you propose a limit on how many horses a trainer can take?
            Maybe the track stewards or horseman’s committee can assignee trainers to owners, Ha Ha.

          • Tinky

            Funny thing is that they essentially do that in Hong Kong. Of course it will never happen in the U.S.

      • lastromantribune

        been there …done the same…some times its your turn to take a bite of the chit sandwich….terrible but that’s life.

    • c. biscuit

      Well said.
      As I have stated before, no one is holding a gun to your head if you prefer not to run on Lasix and eliminating it will not put more people in the stands.

      • Concerned Observer

        I can not race against lasix horses without it. It moves the Lasix horse up about 5 lengths. It is a performance enhancer. Horses without lasix are at a severe disadvantage due to its “performance enhancing” effects. Believe me, I’ve tried….it does not work to race without it against horse that have it..

    • takethat

      ” As a small stable owner, I can’t afford to send a horse to the sidelines that I paid $50,000 for as a yearling when a $20 dose of Lasix would get that horse on the track”

      This sounds like a management issue. Very few minor bleeders in Europe go to the sidelines. They are just trained with some intelligence. Given the strengh of the dollar right now you should pay a visit to Newmarket (just north of London). After you visit the
      the historic tourist attractions you should go on a stable vist and have a talk with the trainers. You won’t find many of the ‘equine cost accountants’ you see on the backside here – they are real horsepeople.

      • Really?

        Then why do they breeze horses at Newmarket on lasix? Maybe to prevent cumulative damage to their lungs?

        • Ben van den Brink

          Only some are dooiing that, as using lasix in training is not prohibited like in Germany.

        • Bill O’Gorman

          Perhaps “they” are those who imagine that this shows them to be at the cutting edge of sports medicine. Very likely most of them are located North of the Clocktower in Newmarket.

    • Concerned Observer

      Have you read the list of supporters at WHOA…water, hay, oats, alliance. They have a huge investment in horses and farms. It is in many cases their lives and their family fortunes. They are putting it all on the line for a ban to race day medications.
      “As a small stable owner” your (and my) commitment to the sport pales in comparison.
      I salute people that are willing to take a stand on issues, early, before disaster strikes, while there is still time to fix a problem.

      I just wish someone in our government would do the same.

  • Bill O’Gorman

    Most horses do not bleed so as to be impaired by it – although I accepted that the majority had been said to show some blood on scoping, and so I was [pleasantly] surprised by Ben’s Australian study below . Most horses that do bleed enough to show – or to be hampered by it – may not reoffend if they are given a break straight away rather than press on to see what happens next. Perhaps I ought to qualify this as ” most horses that have had a sensible work schedule”.

    • Really?

      Any bleeding effects a horse and hampers it in the long run even if they are rested. The damage is cumulative. It is much better to prevent bleeding in the first place and keep the lungs healthy rather than let them bleed, rest, then let them bleed, rest, etc.

      • Ben van den Brink

        There is much more in case before a horse is a bad bleeder, the group with only a couple of drops just needs some time to recover, nature will get rid of the blooddrops. But as long as you are training on a strict hard regime, your creating bleeders.
        Every horse can be made a bleeder btw, but that is more done because of beiing in a different enviroment, with lots strange things to happen.

        When the hart -and breathening rate are each time up to the max, something will break. Lung outer walls mostly. When the lacking elasticity, damage can occur.

        • Bill O’Gorman

          I suppose I shouldn’t comment on the subject as I never had a “bad bleeder”. Perhaps I was lucky.

          • Ben van den Brink

            Some lineage are having it, must more then others.

          • Roark

            I’ve read your book on training Mr. O’Gorman, you were not merely lucky. How you managed your stock is the definition of ‘horseman’, whereas today in the US the term is often synonymous with ‘pharmacist’.

            Any of your bozo anonymous commenters who refute this guy must not know who he is. Ah, the internet.

          • Bill O’Gorman

            Thank you, but don’t forget that good decisions are the result of experience – which is the result of BAD decisions! I’ve made most of them.

      • Bill O’Gorman


      • Larry Ensor

        The study that sugests “cumulative damage” does just that, “sugests” IMO from what I have read and experienced it is not something that should be stated as fact. At least not at this time.

  • Ray, good show. I thought your comments re Lasix were spot on. As for Scott’s comments re not making a morning line, I was taken aback.

    • Would love to hear a more specific thought on it, Barry. Taken aback for what reason? How would things be different if there was no morning line?

      • Rather than engage in a conversation about what would be different, I would instead ask you if there is anything about an entry in a race that is MORE of a focal point than the morning line? Other than post position draw, the second most oft-asked question from a player or owner or trainer or jockey is “What is the morning line?” At the risk of alienating you, may I humbly suggest that you: learn the game before you try to change or improve it? There are many reasons the morning line is important. What would sports gambling be like without the spread?

        • Meg Hiers

          As someone living far from the gossip of the backside, I have always found the ML very useful to gauge how likely a horse is to sitting on go. Watching the odds of a horse floating upwards always gives me food for thought.

        • Barry, I apologize if you thought my suggestion was flippant in any way. It was only an exercise in critical thinking. Perhaps I did not come across in that way. Let me ask you this: Is sports betting in Las Vegas pari-mutuel wagering or is it bookmaking (like the old days in racing)?

          You know the answer. Las Vegas is bookmaking. Vegas puts out a line because it wants exactly the same amount of money bet on the favorite as the underdog. And those people who bet the line get locked in at the odds they bet, just like the old days of bookmaking in horse racing. That is not what the morning line provides.

          When the windows open before a horse race, the morning line has zero effect on the outcome, except maybe that some people looked at the opinion of one person who tried to guess the odds the public would bet and thought that would be a useful guideline (no disrespect to linesmakers, but that’s the case). Once the windows open, the public bets the way it wants to bet. And the odds are then what the public determines.

          If there was no morning line, and because we’re talking about pari-mutuel betting instead of Las Vegas locked-in odds, the market would be much more pure. Open the windows, and people would bet how they bet. The odds would be what they would be without the influence of one person making an arbitrary, albeit educated guess, as to what they should be.

          For the sake of argument, at least consider the idea. With all due respect, I believe this opinion is valid.

          • William Waters

            Scott, I respectfully disagree. I follow the NYRA circuit, and Eric Donovan, the morning line maker, is amazingly accurate, the best, I think, in America. When the actual line varies more than a little from his line, it draws my attention to the fact that for some reason a horse is or is not getting the support at the windows that the PPs should warrant.

          • Scott, unfortunately, we are living in an era where the talent pool in racing has diminished to such an extent that there are very few professionals left which are capable of doing a proper morning line. For example, Gulfstream Park and Park have what may be the two worst morning line makers in American racing. They are sooooo bad–how bad are they?–they are sooooo bad that horseplayers pretty much ignore them. They are so bad that the only two explanations are that they guys doing them are totally clueless or they are trying to manipulate the betting, as a guy named Ernie Mason used to do at Del Mar back in the 1970s. The morning line, done properly, give players an important tool in being able to determine whether a horse is a true overlay or where the real action is coming. This is vitally important to seasoned handicappers and is a great tool for newcomers to racing as well. It is the first and foremost point of reference in a horse race.

          • Tinky

            Those last three sentences sum up the issue perfectly.

  • no tolerance


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