Tracy Farmer: Horse racing’s medication choices

by | 08.29.2012 | 7:13am

A persistent effort by some trainers and veterinarians to continue running racehorses on pain-killing and performance enhancing drugs – even if well-intentioned – is sadly a misguided path to the destruction of the Sport of Thoroughbred racing and Kentucky's signature horse breeding industry.

The handwriting on the wall is clear. By allowing race-day medications, North American racing is out of step with a world that no longer views our competition as the best and our horses as being the highest quality.  For half a century, the Kentucky Thoroughbred was considered the most valuable and sought after equine commodity on the planet. Buyers came from all over the world for no other reason than to buy horses capable of returning here to compete successfully in the Kentucky Derby and the other two legs of the Triple Crown.

That is no longer true. On the horizon is a new consensus that the best horses are raised in Europe and the best and fairest racing is conducted elsewhere, too. And for the first time in the modern era, we are hearing that the best racehorse that ever lived is no longer Man o' War or Secretariat but a European named Frankel that never ate a blade of bluegrass.

If our image as a sport with a drug culture and rules that allow performance enhancing drugs on race-day are not changed, the decline will be continuous and devastating. There is no doubt that furosemide, previously known as Lasix and now called Salix, moves a horse up three to five lengths, which can mean a full second of race time. This is usually far more enough advantage to decide every Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup race and most of the others.

It is well-known that in recent years foreign owners and trainers have sent their few horses diagnosed as bleeders to race in America permanently. And then they send horses that do not bleed over to compete in the Triple Crown, Breeders' Cup and other big purse stakes, giving them what ever trainer domestic and foreign believes to be an advantage of first-time furosemide. They are beating us at our own game, not only on the track.

For the last 20 years, I have been active in breeding, owning and racing Thoroughbreds. My investment has been substantial and I have loved every minute of it. For most of that time, this beloved home state of mine was not only home to the world's greatest race but the clear leader in the breeding and sale of quality horses.

The Kentucky Derby is the shining face of our most glamorous and enviable industry whose very existence and continued good health is critical for the future of the Commonwealth. Entire industries have been spawned under its umbrella. It impacts tourism, restaurants, hotels, veterinarians, farmers, and truck sales. The number of jobs at stake and the potential loss of revenue it represents are both immeasurable and unpredictable.

But during that same 20 years, racing's image as a drug-ridden sport has grown substantially. And Kentucky, which should be a leader in cleaning it up, has earned a reputation as a racing jurisdiction easy on drug enforcement and soft on violators. At the same time, American-bred horses, the overwhelming majority of whom are raised in Kentucky, have come to be viewed as a flawed animal, raised on steroids for sale rather than for endurance and stamina on the racetrack. Foreign buyers, who for more than a quarter of a century spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars for Kentucky-breds, now contend they are no longer as sound and competitive as they used to be. Even though their ancestors now dominate European and Asian bloodlines.

In my opinion it is no coincidence that the decline in the image of the sport and the horse perfectly parallels the introduction and spread of furosemide as a race-day medication. While those who oppose its discontinuance may do so believing it to be in the best interest of the sport, all you have to do is read about the drug's side-effects on the bones of humans for which it was originally intended. A drug that routinely results in the disruption of bone growth in immature animals cannot possibly be in the horse's best interest. In my mind the trauma caused by regular doses of a powerful diuretic, results in a bone-weakening process that inevitably increases the number of breakdowns and shortens the careers of American racehorses.

Look no further than the number of contenders in this year's Kentucky Derby now sidelined by injury or already retired to stud. It is the same every year. By the time the Breeders' Cup rolls around, most Triple Crown stars are out of action, depriving the sport of heroes like Seabiscuit and John Henry.

Why should the world's most important race be the last one the contestants run? How long can its reputation survive being run on rules different from France's Arc de Triomphe and the Breeders' Cup?

Furosemide, which by most accounts may have been first used in the 1964 Derby, has not been good for racing. It needs to go, along with the regular injection of phenylbutazone that usually accompanies it. This is a known painkiller whose use no one has justified to my satisfaction. My understanding is that Bute is an anti-inflammatory designed to offset the inflammatory nature of the impact of furosemide. And together with the electrolytes and other supplements that are given in an attempt to compensate the horse for the dramatic loss of fluids caused by furosemide, the direct cost is more than $100 million annually to owners. And we all know that they are in short supply.

Trainers and veterinarians who believe they cannot survive without Salix need only to look at the long, grand history of the game. The time has come for Kentucky to lead. When Congress and the courts no longer consider it acceptable for human athletes in baseball, football, and the Olympics to compete on drugs they take willingly, how long will it be before the federal government orders that we can no longer give them to animals that have no choice in the matter.

Racing has three choices. It can quit racing on drugs willingly, be forced to do by the government, or continue on the path to self-destruction as a meaningful enterprise.

Tracy Farmer is the vice chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, a member of The Jockey Club, and owner of Shadowlawn Farm in Midway, Ky.  Mr. Farmer, 62, currently owns one of the state's largest new automobile dealerships, Farmer Automotive Group Inc. in Louisville. He also owns dealerships in Atlanta and Florida.

In addition, he heads Farmer Enterprises, a commercial real estate, development and building management company, founded in 1970. From 1979 to 1991, Mr. Farmer served on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees and is a former member of UK Business Partnership Foundation and of the UK Development Council. He served as chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party in 1981, and was Public Protection and Regulation Cabinet Secretary under Governor John Y. Brown, Jr. For more information on Mr. Farmer, please click here.

  • Tbower

    Mr. Farmer, what does a new-to-the-business person that purchases a yearling for, let’s say, $800,000 at the Keeneland September Sale, do when he is told by his trainer that he is worth nothing, as in zero, because, because while has shown the talent to win at high levels, cannot win a bottom claimer because he bleeds.  That new-to-the-business person will quickly become a left-the-business person. Also, the European racing environment is a failed business model, is tiny compared to the US racing industry and is dominated by a few wealthy groups that do not have turning a profit as a consideration or motivation.  Is that what you want here?   

  • “THE IMMORTAL” JOHN HENRY!!!(Frankle will never touch JOHN HENRY)…PERIOD…everything in AMERCIA IS SLIPPING BABY!!!…WELCOME TO ROME!!!…ty…

  • Tinky

    Is racing in Australia a “failed business model”? How about racing in Japan? Hong Kong?

    Those are rhetorical questions, and of course Lasix is not allowed in any of those countries. 

    There is also not a shred of evidence that the purse structures in Europe have anything to do with bleeders, and they quite obviously don’t.
    The notion that banning Lasix would lead to an exodus of owners in the U.S. is nonsense. The sport enjoyed its golden era in the U.S. before the advent of bleeder medications.  

    Finally, your hypothetical owner, the one who spends a stupid amount of money on a single yearling and is in the game primarily to “turn a profit”, is precisely the type of owner that racing does not need.

  • Steve Zorn

    Just wondering how many of Tracy Farmer’s horses are currently running without Lasix. Pretty sure it’s (considerably) less than all.

  • Well said Mr. Farmer! To further medication reform efforts, please read and endorse the Reformed Racing Medication Rules at

  • Nybred

    @CJ_Jennie tweeted recently about a Farmer runner on Lasix. I believe it was first time starter.

  • Stanley inman

    Myth dept.
    Purchasing a 800k yearling to make money?
    They do it
    because the cash would have ended up
    with uncle sam.
    Easy decision- buy a racehorse (lov that depreciation schedule)
    or kiss it goodby.
    “making a profit?” assuming that is their motivation;
    (So funny.)
    For the zillionth time
    Apologists help us see the connection between drugs and what’s wrong with our sport.

  • herewego

    You are certainly joking with the statement “well said”. Ignoring the numerous grammatical errors, the flawed logic throughout this piece makes it anything but “well said”. However, we can’t let scientific evidence, or the lack thereof, get in the way of a good story can we Clean Horse Racing better known as the Jockey Club.

  • Lifesmajic

    With all due respect to Mr. Farmer-who has been in the horse business as an owner for a mere 20 years-I am much more interested in what people (whether they be trainers, or owners who are hands-on or healthcare professionals)  who are in charge of a horse’s health and welfare on a minute to minute basis. Those are the people who have the most expert opinions about what each horse needs to be able to run (and breathe) and do their best.
    Having wealthy owners opine about the Lasix debate is a smokescreen. If the public choses to listen to that, then that’s their choice. But how many owners have actually looked through a scope after a race, seen the discomfort of their horse when he can’t breathe, or been on their backs when they bleed and hit a stone wall? And what does Mr. Farmer want to do with all those horses, be they stakes winners or claimers that will not be able to run at all, unless they are made more comfortable and allowed to breathe. Easy for people like him to brush sside the fact that there will be unwanted horses at every track in this country.
    Let’s get serious here. Lasix is not the reason that so many three year olds have gotten injured and have been retired this year.
    And lastly, Frankel is a wonderful horse and will go down in history, perhaps, as great  It is the  Europeans that are saying he is the best that ever was, and  that is only because they have never had a “Secretariat” or a Man’O War” grace their shores. This is their “Best Horse” Be sure, and this is from someone that has been in the business 50 years, not 20, Frankel will never be mistaken for either of America’s Big Reds. 

  • Tryandkeepup

    Mr. Farmer, 
    What happens to the horses that need the lasix to run, but because you are trying to set an example of what all your best buddies think is best for the rest and pass it as law, and they can’t have it?  Are you going to retire the horse that you spent so much $$ invested in that animal to allow it alot of time in between races?  With most training bills running between $1,800-$2,200 per month (not including vet bills) are you going to allow your trainer to take his time on what is best for the  horse?  I think not!  Most owners call daily, weekly, etc. to know how there horse is progressing and when it can run.  Most owners order the condition book and the press the trainer on races to “target”.  This will surely run people out of the business, such as Tbower below, to get out of the business, because sure as you run that first race and your horse bleeds, he/she won’t be running back within the next month for sure.  Then you owe another couple of months training bills, not to mention the expensive antibiotic therapy to keep an infection away, then you will have to wait for the medication to leave the horses system, then you will have to re-scope everytime your horse breezes to make sure he didn’t bleed without the lasix.  Then you know what?  Not only are you out of pocket alot of $$, but your trainer will be unable to meet his stall allocation for the amount of runners that he has to have to be allowed to continue his business.  You and your small group of friends are right that something has to give with the people misusing the wrong drugs in racing, but with owners rushing the horses so they can get some purse money to pay for their keep, this is going to continue to be a problem.  Taking away a useful drug is not the answer.   

  • Stanley inman

    Oh my god,
    “Grammatical errors”!!!!!! What’s next
    Spelling errors?
    Downfall of civilization
    Call out the national guard

  • Stanley inman

    I’m your man;
    Been in business since 1976;
    No one smaller than me in the business;
    Owner, breeder, newly admitted to trainer ranks;
    To act like this movement to end raceday meds is
    About rich breeders and owners is a
    You are straying off subject.

  • kyle

    Whenever I see the type of argument put forward above how little thought someone like this must engage in before opining. Where in this is the consideration for the horse and the owner of the horse that doesn’t need lasix to compete or benefits very marginally from it? Every time a compromised runner propped up by lasix beats the less compromised horse that owner loses purse money. And certainly that can add up into the 10’s even 100’s of thousand. Where is your concern for that owner, Tryandkeepup?

  • Tinky

    “Most owners order the condition book and the press the trainer on races to “target”.  This will surely run people out of the business, such as Tbower below, to get out of the business…”

    Excellent! The fewer such owners there are in the game, the better. And appropriately, the owners who recognize the great value of patience, and of leaving important decisions to the professionals whom they employ, are precisely the ones who will thrive in a (race day) drug-free environment.

  • No Penalties in Horse Racing

     That person should have researched the bloodlines for bleeding issues before raising his auction stick.

  • James

    One thing I didn’t understand is this:

    “There is no doubt that furosemide, previously known as Lasix and now called Salix, moves a horse up three to five lengths, which can mean a full second of race time.”

    Is there any evidence that backs up this claim?

    Mr. Farmer is 100% convinced that Lasix is a powerful performance enhancer (3-5 lengths better than without it)

  • Tinky

    There is no doubt that it is a performance enhancer, but I am not aware of any evidence that specifically parses out the number of lengths.

  • Tryandkeepup

    Well said kyle.  You are right, there is was no posting for the owner of the non-bleeder, but concern for each horse is at the upmost of any person that works closely with the horses. Kyle, have you ever seen a jockey covered in blood due to the horse bleeding from both nostrils so badly that it blew backwards?  I have, and it is horrifying experience for all.  This horse competed on the circuit in G2, G3 stakes, as well as listed stakes.  Are you saying that the horse that doesn’t bleed is the best horse of each race just because he didn’t get lasix and others can’t breathe?  I tJames Staples ink not.  I would absolutely love it to get rid of Lasix if it didn’t serve a purpose.  Do you tell your trainer you don’t want a tongue tie on your horse until he finally flips his tongue over the bit and it closes his airways or do you go ahead and tie his tongue just in case he does?  Lasix is not a cure all and never will be, but some of the best horses have run on Lasix and you are breeding to them right now.  I bet when you are selecting horses to breed that you are not looking if that mare or stallion was a bleeder?  No, bet you aren’t.  We are breeding horses alot differently than in the old days and until the breeding industry does more (like identify the stallion or mare as having being a bleeder on his page) then I guess you are going to have to deal with the fact that your horse is just another horse that won’t have as many vet bills.  Tell me this Kyle, what would you do if you had a horse that did bleed?  Would you retire it, continue to race it sparingly and then later take it and breed it?  I don’t think you work with racehorses that much because you sure aren’t thinking about the whole picture.

  • James

    So, if a horse that doesn’t bleed runs 6f without Lasix in 1:10, then the addition of Lasix will allow the horse to run faster than 1:10?

  • Tryandkeepup

    So Tinky, you are one of those owners that have all the condition books in hand?  You are wrong about fewer owners that will drive away the fans too.  You people are not going to help racing with these kind of thoughts but ruin it by driving less horses to run therefore there will be fewer tracks because of this.  Try coming up with a better marketing scheme.  Why would do we hold races during the afternoons when most of the population works?  Solve that before you take away owners.  

  • Tinky

    It’s not quite that simple. Every horse reacts differently to it, and a small percentage even react adversely. But taken as a group, those that are treated with Lasix will run faster than they would without it.

    As I posted yesterday on another thread in response to the ill-informed Dr. Fenger (slightly edited):

    Lasix is considered “performance enhancing” by the Olympics, every other major sporting body, the Mayo Clinic, etc.

    Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of physics understands why a lighter chassis – whether on a race car or racehorse – coupled with the same engine, is a performance advantage. 

    Finally, here’s a recent quote from (CRHB medical director) Dr. Rick Arthur:

    “Lasix is a performance enhancer and the scientific literature is quite clear on this.”

  • James

    I always thought of Lasix, perhaps naively, as being something that allows horses (that need it) to breathe regularly. Therefore, it would be similar to an inhaler that someone with asthma uses.

    That inhaler could be classified as a performance enhancer in the sense that the person could not perform up to the same level without it, but it provides no advantage in terms of running faster to someone who doesn’t need it.

    I always thought that Smarty Jones (who raced without Lasix until the Ky Derby) wasn’t running any faster with Lasix or without it — he ran as fast as he could, regardless.

  • Deltalady

    This is in response to the several comments here defending the status quo:
    It is nonsensical to say Lasix is not performance enhancing, since, by the loss of weight alone 4 hours before a race, from 25+ pounds, is by that very fact alone “performance enhancing”. (Heck, I would run faster if I dropped 2.5 to 3% of my body weight 4 hours before a race.) Otherwise, why do we have “handicap” races?  Why was Larry Jones and Rick Porter so upset about having to give 2 pounds to little ole Blind Luck last year in the Delaware Handicap?  These arguments by the training groups just fall on deaf ears.  It’s over.  It’s done.  It is the wrong side of the argument.  People are starting to laugh at trainers who continually try to make the case for injecting horses with these substances when the rest of the world rejects that approach.  When those who want to continue the use of these substances convince the rest of the world that the rest of the world is wrong, then, maybe, they might have some credibility.  Since the Breeders’ Cup has been steadfast in its stance, I’m betting that not far behind will be the venerable Kentucky Derby. Then, other major races will follow suit. No raceday meds.  It’s coming.

  • Tinky

    The bronchodilating effects of Lasix are negligible. Clenbuterol, on the other hand, is a potent performance enhancer along those lines.

    Bronchodilation is one of the most effective forms of enhancing performance in racehorses, and Smarty Jones certainly would have run faster had he been under the influence of it. But picking a top-class runner, and arguing that he wouldn’t run faster with Lasix, is not a meaningful argument.

  • jorge

    WOW. A whole 20 years!! Why would anyone question this man

  • Charlie Davis

    Those are the people who have the most expert opinions about what each horse needs to be able to run (and breathe) and do their best.”

    They’re also the people with the most to gain/lose based on medication rules.  

  • Concerned observer

    I spent most of my life in a business where a rational presentaion of the facts and a logical argument carried some weight. Now I own race horses and in reading the comment section of the Paulick Report I have learned that logical evaluation of the issues is rare and common sense is not so common.

    There are lots of talented horse people that are good at wrapping a leg,  deciding when to work a horse prior to a race and how to read a condition book to find advantages. None of those very important horse racing skills qualifies the average trainer to chart the future course of Horse racing in America.

    Are they really willing to destroy long term health of the sport in order to make the horse in the 4th stall more competitive this summer? Apparently so.

  • Pluckedduck1

    I simply ask Mr. Farmer to consider in this polemic one word concerning what is best for the (American) horse.  Respectfully–conduct the argument other than an irrational lasix as the cause of all evils mish mash.

    Is it possible for racing leadership to consider Lasix from a scientific point of view as a matter of horse health? Mr. Farmer what would u do with a horse that has EIPH?

  • Tinky

    I know of no one who is pro-Lasix who has articulated a convincing case for why American runners are more likely to bleed than their counterparts around the world. Until they are able to do so, there is no serious case to be made for the “need” to inject our horses with Lasix every time they run.

  • Concerned observer

    “a mere 20 years experience?”

    I learned long ago that some people with 40 years of experience haven’t learned anything since year one…therefore they have one year of experience….40 times.
    Not worth much.

    Other people learn every day and for them 20 years of experience is really significant. Due to his many positions inside racing and business, Farmer has seen more than most day to day hands on trainers can fathom.

  • Pluckedduck1

    Deltlady–1. What does the rest of the world have to do with American dirt racing? 2. What would you do with a bleeding horse? 

    I’d respectfully disagree with ur assumption that there’s a performance advantage.  This has never ever been proven on the race track and is merely an irrelevant argument continually referred by an anti-lasix small minority.  Irrelevant as the amount of performance advantage when all race on lasix = 0.

    I’ve raced the same horse(Jeckimba Bay) with and without lasix. Times were roughly similar. Q–why continue to bring up presumed likely erroneous info concerning horse health?  Should these “assumptions” possibly receive study before final conclusions?

  • Pluckedduck1

     u r unaware of any evidence… might have been enough, since there is none.  even were there evidence, what would be the point, exactly? Can we take note than non-lasix horses also urinate the 4 hours pre race.

  • Pluckedduck1

     he will avoid ur last Q. as they all do. wild guess.

  • Pluckedduck1

     u make pro-lasix sound like pro-abortion.  Trust this–those of use that deal with horses day to day are other than “pro-lasix”. we’re pro-horse and we do what we can to allow our charges to breathe and avoid EIPH, a reality u conveniently overlook with ur tired and irrelevant arguments concerning overseas grass racing.  None that I know of dispute that EIPH is less a problem on grass.

  • Pluckedduck1

     surely u r jesting. health of sport begins with health of horse in Stall #4.

  • Tryandkeepup

    Have you ever thought that a horse treated with lasix runs faster due to the fact that he can actually breathe air without choking on his own blood?  Dr. Rick Arthur is not god and just because he says so, doesn’t make it right.  Tinky, you sound like someone that is in the industry and cares about it, but you don’t actually work with the horses 7 days a week and sees the actual scoping of the horse with the vet and trainer.  Pictures don’t do it justice.  

  • whatever

    I saw plenty of his horses trained by Mike Maker run on lasix in Kentucky this spring.  Practice what you peach!!!

  • Tinky

    First of all, you are in a distinct minority, given that two-thirds of the horses around the world compete successfully without. And it is nonsense to suggest that those who race their horses without medication are not “pro-horse”. In fact, it is quite the opposite, and the irony will likely escape you.

    With regard to grass and dirt, I know of several top vets who make NO such distinction in terms of the probability of bleeding.

  • whatever


  • Concerned observer

    If you really believe that the HBPA position is based upon what is good for the horse versus what is good for the trainer and vet, we really are on diferent ends of the spectrum.

    How about pin firing?

  • Pluckedduck1

    one will do. name this vet.–that is in horse racing and provide link to ur quote.

  • Tinky

    Dr. Hunt, the top vet on the NY circuit, and respected by all professionals. Feel free to ask him. He’ll tell you that surface makes NO difference.

    Furthermore, horses raced for many decades on dirt in the U.S. without any bleeding medications, and they were far more durable than the current runners. If dirt is the culprit, then how do you explain that?

    Horses race in Japan on dirt without medication as well. Why aren’t they dropping like flies?

  • Pluckedduck1

    U r correct. I lack such cynicism, and this is consistent with lengthy personal experience. Most on the race track do what’s best for their horse even though individual belief might be arguable. The few that do otherwise are generally short in the sport instead of long since it’s the mistreated horse that weeds them out.

  • Pluckedduck1

    did u watch the gallant Jap filly win the major stake a year ago with blood spurting from her nose as she crossed the wire?  U continually mix up issues that would take a book to resolve.  Will take ur word for it on Dr. Hunt.

  • kyle

    I don’t work with horses at all. And before I continue let me point out an absolute truism of life – the closer you are to something the more limited your perspective. At least think about that for a minute because I think it’s you not I who isn’t seeing the whole picture. I’ve been observing the industry and the game for 30 years – the downward trajectory is unmistakable. That doesn’t mean that this doesn’t remain a great game, and that there doesn’t remain a significant market for it, or that it isn’t a huge societal plus. but there are a couple problems that are existential threats – that means they can actually END the game as we know it. Chief among these is the all too central role of pharmacology in the American game. I don’t think withdrawl will be completely painless. You think it means the sky will fall. I think it’s a lot more likely the sky will fall if something is not done. I think our past experience and the current experience of much of the rest of the world is evidence in my favor. And finally, you see the benefits of lasix but your blind to the side effects. I’m no do gooder. I don’t claim some kind of moral high ground. My opinions come from one place – what is best for this game going forward.

  • Tinky

    Your first question is ridiculous on its face.

    It is a scientific fact that Lasix enhances performance, which is why it is outlawed by every major sporting body in the world. 

    Dr. Arthur is a very well-respected vet, and he is simply stating a fact.

    I have seen too many scopes too recall, and have no problem advocating for the elimination of race day Lasix.

  • FEDavidson

    First of all, if you’re new to the business and spend $800k on a yearling, you either have more money than brains, or you’ve permitted the “consultants” and “bloodstock agents” to invade your psyche and take over the very thought process that put you in a position to “invest” that amount of money at an auction, just to line their pockets with your money.

    Stanley Inman has it right, it’s all about depreciation, not profit.

    As to Mr. Farmer, he’s right on and in this instance should be listened to very closely.  His wisdom is prophetic.

  • Tinky

    Please don’t respond to my posts again if you are going to rely on incidents relating to one horse, in one race. That is not remotely close to a serious argument, and it wastes everyone’s time. 

  • Pluckedduck1

     Did anybody read this?


  • Lifesmajic

    So a business man behind a desk who happens to own and breed racehorses, “has seen more than most day to day hands-on trainers” Is that what you are saying?  You are kidding, right?
    I will say again, 20 years in this business is a drop in the bucket. Mr. Farmer is, I am sure, a very astute business man. And it’s admirable that he has taken a stand with his opinion. Would I want him to make recommendations about how to care for, or train my horses? Absolutely not.
    Most of the talented horsemen that “know how to wrap a leg”, would not want to chart the course of horseracing in America. Not because it’s not important to them , but because it would take them away from what they love to do. But they sure need to be a part of the dialogue. Because they are the ones that know what it takes to keep a horse happy and healthy. The health of the sport is directly related to the health of the horse. People need to be properly educated, esp. when it comes to Lasix. To take it away from a horse that needs it, is not in the horse’s best interest. But if we have people like  Dr.Shiela Lyons go before Congress with vague information about a 12 horse study that she did, and misleading info about a study done on humans and bone loss- then what does that tell you? Certainly not a” rational presentation of the facts. “
    You and I can agree, in order to get a logical evaluation of the issues, the correct information must be garnered. That being said, I’m not really interested in having the Mr. Farmers of the horse world tell me the answers to the Lasix question.  

  • Tryandkeepup

    No my first question is not ridiculous.  Think about it, if you were running a race and you bleed into your lungs and you take a deep breath, does that mean that you will continue to run a great race?  Nope.  You are stopping dead in your tracks and coming in the back of the pack.  Now, same scenario but you CAN breathe as you are not bleeding as bad due to a treatment, and you finish because you can actually breathe with nothing to inhibit your intake of air.  I bet you would run faster too!  

    Other sports aren’t with animals that can’t speak for themselves.

    If you have seen so many scopes, you must be heartless.  Get rid of bute, banamine and other things in horse racing but not something that helps breathing.    There is nothing worse than not being able to breathe…..even for humans.

  • Tinky

    Yes, and it is riddled with unadulterated propaganda.

    Early on, this assertion is made:

    “The vast majority of horses bleed; it’s inhumane  to withhold therapeutic medication.”

    Given that a great majority of horses in the world have, and continue to compete successfully without raceday medication, and that horses in the U.S. have needles stuck in their necks regularly whether they are bleeders or not, reveals the twisted dishonesty of that assertion. 

  • James

    Smarty wasn’t my point. Mr. Farmer, who is a member of the Jockey Club and Kentucky Racing Commission, is essentially classifying Lasix as a powerful performance-enhancer.

    Dirty trainers will use dangerous, pain-reducing drugs to get a horse to run 5 seconds faster in a race. Mr. Farmer implies that Lasix does the same thing for all horses, whether they bleed or not.

    I haven’t seen the data to suggest that Lasix will allow a horse (one who doesn’t need it) to run 3-5 seconds faster in a race. I think Mr. Farmer accepts that as fact.

  • James

    I meant lengths not seconds

  • Tinky

    I disagree with his assertion, and believe that it overstates the case. 

    I also believe that it hurts his cause to exaggerate in an unsubstantiated manner.

  • Phar Lap

    What I’d like to see is a health database where we can track what horses have what genetic disorders (or an open declaration) especially bleeding.  Then knowing this we could attempt to breed it out or at least know what we were dealing with going in instead of being surprized.  Dog breeders have been doing this forever and in some breeds finally have control over the passing of negative genes like those responsible for PRA.  Course this practice could potentially hurt or threaten those people who are only in it for the profit and not for the betterment of the breed.  Seriously, if you are not in this to breed a superior athlete then why are you breeding horses? If you breed only to sell with no thought to the horse making it to the track and actually winning, you have already lost! 

  • Tryandkeepup

    Kyle…probably true that perspectives are skewed, but I don’t agree with saying someone is limited when I would say passionate.  You are correct about the game going downward as I have been in the game for 35 years.  I am not disputing your there.  I believe that we do need more regulation, but I don’t think that lasix being taken away is the best thing for the horse.  I just don’t think that Tracy Farmer and all the rest of the people that don’t handle the horses on a daily basis entitles them to say what is best for the horses.  While they might own them, they employ people to do the physical handling of the horses why they make the money to keep them going.  I see the big picture.  I am also a horse person that passionately believes in the game, I just think that until 15 years ago, racing kings just thought that this would go on forever and never reacted to the changing times.  I would agree to lasix being taken care of when the breeding in this country cleans up too.  I have worked sales for some consignors that get a lot of publicity that drug weanlings and yearlings much worse than the race track.  I have never been so appalled in all my life than to see weanlings getting double doses of vetalog that would probably founder an older race horse.  I could give you a huge list of why your horse can’t make it on the track due to the stuff that horses being sold were put through.  

    This one drug, Lasix, is not killing the industry,  but it is being used as a diversion of the bigger picture.  We, the racing community, got left behind by not forecasting the future better for our industry.  Please take a look at other parts of our industry.  

  • Tryandkeepup

    Well said Phar Lap!  

  • James

    I agree, Tinky — he should have left that out of his argument.

    I hate the abuse of Lasix in American racing and believe wholeheartedly that it results in fewer starts for thoroughbreds that aren’t bleeders.

    It’s no surprise, in my opinion, that there hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since the advent of widespread Lasix use (the game changed when they allowed it in NY).

  • kyle

    The problems you speak of in the market can and should be dealt with by the market. Why aren’t the horsemen who buy for and advice clients looking out for those clients?

  • Convene

     What’s the new owner to do? Maybe step one might be to GELD the horse if he intends to race him. At least then that would be one horse NOT passing EIPH tendencies to a new generation. Ya think?

    I often disagree with Tinky but this post I applaud. Many of us, who were around before Bute & Lasix, knew this day would come as soon as they were legalized. Not because we’re so damn smart but because – well, what the heck else could happen?

  • Convene

     And he’s been successfully in the game long enough to know!

  • “Bute is an anti-inflammatory designed to offset the inflammatory nature of the impact of furosemide.”  WHAT? Where did that come from??

  • Convene

     Thank you! Nice to see someone posting this besides me! I often think we’re not breeding racehorses any more; we’ll breeding sales horses. Genetics count – and as they say: What you put into the gene pool today someone someday will hear its echo. I think we’re hearing a lot of echoes …

  • John Greathouse

    Tracy and Co
    Had a chance to get what they wanted IF they left Lasix out of the equation. They said they would! For their blatant grand stand play they got nothing!

  • raised in Kentucky, have come to be viewed as a flawed animal, raised on steroids for sale rather than for endurance and stamina on the racetrack.”  and there lies the real issue!!!!!!  lets not forget Transphyseal Bridging and stripping that are done to foals….

  • Bute is not that powerful… more like motrin…
    phen·yl·bu·ta·zone  noun \ˌfen-əl-ˈbyüt-ə-ˌzōn\

    : a drug C19H20N2O2 that is used for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties especially in the treatment of arthritis, gout, and bursitis

  • Tryandkeepup

    Kyle, read Samm Graci’s post.  Seems I am not the only one that thinks we need to start where the problem began, with the breeding.  

  • Stanley inman

    We love solving problems; it’s just so much slower when we ignore the facts before us.
    Why is attendance a problem for some tracks?
    Many reasons
    Let’s start with a historical context that speaks volumnes-winter racing.
    winter racing above the mason Dixon line; the ground is no good / it’s anti horse.
    How many years of evidence will it take to convince you that racing in January, February will impact fan turnout? Fans get it. Insiders? Well…
    It’s there right in front of us, buried beneath
    economic self-interest of track owners, horsemen and government.
    The iron triangle of racing status quo.

  • I have found syringes in sales stalls! plenty of them!

  • since when do we weigh horses??  take lasix away and they will run slower cause their trachea becomes obstructed!!  

  • FourCats

    “There is no doubt that furosemide, previously known as Lasix and now called Salix, moves a horse up three to five lengths”

    Not being a veterinarian, I am not qualified to discuss the pros and cons of Lasix on a horse’s health.  However, the view that is commonly expressed that a horse gains an advantage with Lasix because that horse may lose 20-30 pounds of water weight seems dubious at best.  Dehydration is usually a performance-inhibitor much more than a performance-enhancer.  No athlete of any kind that I know of deliberately induces dehydration during competition.

    Mr. Farmer apparently believes not only that Lasix is a performance-enhancer but that he can put a number on how many lengths it will improve a horse.  If he is going to make such a statement, I believe that it is incumbent on him to cite scientific and peer-reviewed studies to back up that opinion.  Absent of such studies, his stated opinion is basically worthless.

  • Tinky

    I can’t tell you how tiring it is to hear the repeated suggestion – including yours – that Lasix may not be performance enhancing.

    What part of “Lasix is a performance enhancer and the scientific literature is quite clear on this.” don’t you understand?

  • JoA

    Going drug free would certainly even the playing field! We would soon see a max exodus of trainers and only the horsemen would survive! 

  • Just Beachy

    Hard-hitting, true, and well-said. 

    What is said here, and in other places, re:  Lasix and mineral/electolyte wastage stands to reason…it’s a problem in humans, and much mammalian physiology is similar. 

    Bear in mind, too, that a lot of horses to whom this stuff is given are young; at best considered “adolescent”(ie like 2-year-olds) where a lot of bone growth(especially in density, I would guess–disclaimer I do human medicine, not horse) takes place.  Lasix, in human children and adolescents, is only given in extremis(congenital or developed cardiac/renal problems, e.g.); certainly not to pull fluid or weight off a child so it will have less CP bleeding while running or less fluid weight and thus, in theory, be able to run faster.  And you are also talking about CHRONIC use of this in a lot of horses, not EPISODIC–it makes perfect sense it would mess up their bones.  Long-term, it is 100% counterproductive, not to mention unsafe, unhealthy, and unfair to the horse, to possibly ruin the skeletal system of an animal that weighs 1000+ pounds.

    Oversimplified, true, but say a 12-year-old kid and his mother went to the kid’s pediatrician and said, “Doc, I bleed, and/or blood comes out my mouth when I run”.  Not to mention all the diagnostics that would have to follow such a “complaint”, but part of the prescription would be, either temporarily or permanently, “don’t run”. Lasix for this might be a “cure” that is worse than the disease.  Yup, the old medical joke, people or otherwise–“Doc, it hurts me when I do this.”  Doctor:  “Well, don’t do that”… 

    This industry has got itself in a vicious circle and it needs to find a way out.  Or, for further comparison, it’s like the cycle of addiction–you’re on the drug, or drugs, but they hurt you, long- or short-term, and it won’t be pretty but it’s time to break the cycle before you break everything.   

  • Rachel

    Disclaimer: There are grammar errors in the following comment for those who need to find something wrong,

    It was a very pertinent point about the damage done to bones, especially growing bones…any person on furosemide is constantly monitored, and the older you get, you go for frequent bone density tests to monitor bone loss that’s been accelerated due to the drug…now that’s a fact.

  • FourCats

    I believe in respectful debate to try to work to solve the problems in horse racing because I love the sport and have for 50 years as a fan and more recently as a horse owner.  If you don’t like my comments or they tire you, then don’t respond to them.

    I have seen no convincing scientific or peer-reviewed studies proving that Lasix is performance-enhancing.  I have read many comments by people just throwing out an opinion with no evidence presented to back up their view.  If you have knowledge of such scientific studies, please share.  (By the way, I am not a proponent of Lasix but am not willing to take conjecture or assertions on faith.)

    By the way, you are very quick to portray yourself as some sort of authority and quick to dismiss others.  What credentials do you have which would make your opinion more valuable than others?  Are you a veterinarian?  Do you own horses?  Do you train or care for horses?

  • your talking about daily usage… much different for occasional use…

  • Rachel

    No, too many “day to day” people are the ones who use lasix on every animal, irregardless of if it needs it…at least be real and admit it’s a PED and let the argument be what it really is…not some phony baloney. 

  • I’ve met many of addicts on the backstretch yet none ever stole my bute… that tells you its not as powerful as many suggest… at most.. a dab of bute on your tooth can give some relief from a painful tooth….

  • Tinky

    Though I have worked professionally in the industry for over 25 years, I have never made any effort to “portray” myself as anything particular. I have worked in the industry, and have a passion for the game. That’s it.

    The reason that my post sounded dismissive is because every major sporting body in the world, as well as the Mayo Clinic, etc., categorizes Lasix as “performance enhancing”. There is no controversy, no grey area; it’s a fact.

    The quote above is from Dr. Arthur, medical director of the CHRB. Do you somehow imagine that he would say that if it weren’t true? Feel free to contact him and ask him provide you with source material if you remain unconvinced.

    Finally, do you understand basic physics? Less weight = performance advantage (all else being equal).

  • and more unwanted horses will head to slaughter…

  • Margareta Cowan

    I totally agree with Tracy.

  • It would be wise to heed Mr. Farmers advice.  Unfortunately one only needs to look at racing’s pp’s to glean an inkling of the future.  For fifty years, from the 1930’s to 1980’s racing had a virtual monopoly on gambling with Las Vegas as its only legitmate competitor.  Now you can gamble almost everywhere and racing is still stuck in the past.  Nowhere does a gambler have to invest $25 or more BEFORE they can try and lose their money.  Hopefully change can occur on both sides of the track,  but the pp’s of racing show its a non-starter.

  • Stanley inman

    All it need do is
    get you past the pre-Race exam;
    I call that powerful-
    If it can make a lame horse appear sound.
    Try it without bute; it’s a lot more work- ice, time …attention to detail.
    This aspirin “myth” began with vets dumbing down a story
    to be passed on by trainers to owners.
    ” bute… It’s like aspirin…

    When asked what is a horsemen’s best tool,
    Calumet’s bill wittman once replied,
    “power of observation”
    Observe-with drugs in the equation?
    Waste of?
    (time-what apologists never have enough of.)

  • Ben K McFadden

    If you had taken your own advice, your research would likely reveal an absence of valid genetic studies on the subject.  Perhaps you know of some? I am married to a bio-geneticist who does not discount the possibility or even the likelihood, but is not aware of a scientifically established link.

  • Stanley inman

    Lasix is a gateway drug to horsemen;
    And like the “maginot line”;
    A fortification to slow down the German army’s invasion of France,
    Horsemen see little choice but
    Use the lasix battle to slow down those
    Who would tell them
    how to train a horse.
    By conflating drug use with challenges to their
    They choose to battle over lasix.
    An ill conceived strategy;
    (Like it’s French namesake)


  • Concerned observer

    John,How did previous generations of Greathouses survive without Lasix?

  • Concerned observer

    Get real. Most people are against lawless use of guns in the street, but police men carry them because the criminals do. Same in racing. Unless you are happay to be beaten senseless, then you use lasix…currently a legal drug.

    Your logic is really flawed.

  • Concerned observer

    Facts: at the spring meet: Jan-thru Mar, Turfway Park, Kentucky, 469 different trainers started at least one horse. 

    144 trainers, made less tha $1000 in 3 months.

    189 trainers made less than $2000 in 3 months

    254 trainers made less than $5000 in 3 months

    These guys (experts in horse care?) vote in the HBPA elections and they are deciding the future of racing in America.

    Most have never trained or tried to race a horse without Lasix.

  • nu-fan

    Stan: Is there really a depreciation schedule?  Can an owner also take a business loss on a horse that ends up costing more than what it brought in?  (Maybe, we need a CPA for these answers.)

  • Lexington

    “Due to his many positions inside racing and business, Farmer has seen more than most day to day hands on trainers can fathom.”

    This is beyond ridiculous.

  • Frmdasnp

    In the so called golden age of racing in the us , there was seldom a drug test done . some of the greatest of all time ran every week and once a dead heat was settled by a run off the same day and the second heat was faster then the first (check travers history) think these horses ran 100% clean. in the us most jurisdiction test for 500 compounds and in UK 15 tops. they may not be using lasix but I assure you they are using things we dont even test for. that is why the best of UK dont come here they cant pass a test. Mr. farmer should stick to cars and sipping mint julips . these fat cats buy them run them then they rid themselves of the burden by selling down the ladder till the little guy is stuck finding them a home and the cost of doing so. now they want that same little guy who relys on that horse who has no other issue then some bleeding that can be controlled to bare the burden of prolonged layoffs . if you dont think this will chase owners from the business your wrong . it will start at the bottom and work its way up then when the fat cats have no place to dump their bleeders they will change the rules so they can wash their hands of these gallant animals without any blood on their hands. what if a football player with asma could not use an inhailer, what if they were banned from getting cortezon shots. or how about at halftime no fluid IV’s for the dehydrated. you think the NFL would allow that ?. stop making horse racing a patsy. race day and game day meds are everywhere. I do not approve of pain killers . but theraputic meds are a way of life and every industry has them in some form or another. Heres an idea instead of making breeders cup purses $4,000,000 lets cut the purses by 50% take that money and put it into race horse retirement so the small owner/ trainer doesnt have to foot the bill for every throw away that comes down the pipe. Im sure pletcher or baffert and their owners that end up with the best stock every year wont scratch because the purse is 2mill and not 4. I bet the hair is standing up on the necks of some blue bloods with that one 

  • voiceofreason

    There is no longer room for this type of honesty in the sport. Sorry. An honest appraisal of the industry might lead to ideas… ideas lead to change… and change leads to loss of the advantages cheaters and corrupt leaders enjoy. What’s the incentive to heed these wise words? Nadda. None. Those that have steered the industry for decades would prefer to crash and burn before relinquishing their grip, especially if it cost them one. single. dollar.

    Well written, well intentioned. Sorry to say, irrelevant.

  • Sevencentsstable

    Great post. Unfortunately, in the current environment, I really do no think that common sense is welcomed, much less applauded. There are multitudes who truly drink the All Other Countries Are Pure As the Driven Snow Kool-Aid and do not want anyone in the trenches to disallusion them. They will not stand for anything else.

    I am betting that a lot of Euro, Australian, and Asian trainers are laughing their backsides off at all the antics going on over here.

  • Sevencentsstable

    “Let’s get serious here. Lasix is not the reason that so many three year olds have gotten injured and have been retired this year.”

    We should probably not mention that Ill Have Another and Hansen were retired due to SOFT TISSUE injuries, not bone injuries, huh? Those that “KNOW!” do not want their sentinent points points muddied by actual facts.

  • Tinky

    1) No one has suggested that there weren’t illicit drugs used back then. I specifically referred to the fact that for many decades in the U.S. no bleeder medications were used, and horses raced far more often and made many more starts than they do now. That is entirely inconsistent with the claim that horses require Lasix in order to race.

    2) You don’t have the slightest idea what is tested for elsewhere around the world. Try bringing some facts to the table, rather than rank speculation.

  • Sevencentsstable

    That the industry has seen a downward spiral over the last 20 years is undeniable. It did little to market itself to the next generation and has been doing a poor job of catching up. That being said, the whole debate on Lasix and therapeutics began in earnest less than a year ago. State Lotteries, Riverboat gambling, then Indian Casinos all over the country have contibuted much more to our decline than medications. When racing was in it’s heyday the guy who wanted to gamble had 2 choices : go to his local racetrack, or fly all the way to Las Vegas. One of the big boosts to Japanese racing is that it is the only legal gambling in the country.

  • Chuck

     First off, Frankel is a product of timeform and to say this horse is best ever in europe is lacking history. It is like those who have ignored that lasix was never used to the extent today when the greats of the 60s 70s and early 80s ran.

    What exactly is our breeding program doing? why is there no attempt to breed bleeders out of the stock? and how come they can run horses in europe, asia and Australia without race day medication?

    Well here is the answer, our breeding program has not attempted to breed bleeders out of the stock. On top of that stamina and soundness has been ignored. We have horses that can barely run half a dozen races before they go to stud because of some injury. and the vicious cycle continues.

    Fans are dissapointed when their admiration for potential stars are cut short because the horse is off to the stud farm after a few races because of an injury.

    These are issues that the industry continue to ignore and keep making excuses for.

  • Sevencentsstable

    I read a recent study on EIPH that shows very good evidence that bleeding has a correlation to surface in that the faster, harder the suface the more prevelant EIPH is. Dirt is faster/harder than grass. The article was in the winter issue of The Horseman’s Journal, if you would like to look it up. As another poster pointed out – a lot of the foreigners are using plenty of anti-bleeding meds, just not Lasix, that their jurisdictions don’t test for while the US does test for them.

    When I had a bad bleeder several years ago the ONLY thing that would hold him was “that stuff from Europe” one vet had that didn’t ring the bell here either. So, there ya go.

  • Sevencentsstable

    Surfaces were often deeper and slower back then, too. And who says the horses of yesteryear were not racing Lasix or SOMETHING to stop bleeding? Not much testing back then. Using your constant references to Europe and Yesteryear, one could easily use your own arguements to point out that “Horses ran better, safer, and longer when there was zero, or lax, drug testing.”

    Not what any of the anti-groups want to hear, but 2+3=5 the same as 3+2=5.

  • Sevencentsstable

    Think it came with this :

     “It needs to go, along with the regular injection of phenylbutazone that usually accompanies it.”

    Which just underscores how little time Mr farmer has ever spent in the barns – I have NEVER seen bute “accompany” Lasix and if it did the trainer would get a MAJOR bute overage anywhere. Bute is given 24 hours before a race and Lasix 4 hours out.

    Yet another inconvenient fact that needs to be quickly dismissed or, better yet, ignored.

  • Sevencentsstable

    Actaully, you see most of the honest trainers and not-so-smart cheats leave and those clever cheaters will flourish. Unless you can tell me how they are going to acurately ENFORCE these new rules? Therein lies the rub. The logistics of enforcement are untennable.

  • Sevencentsstable

    *will see*

  • Sevencentsstable

    Ah, but if you are icing your horse so he “can pass the pre-race exam” that horse has no business running, either.

  • nu-fan

    Gotta start somewhere.  Maybe, won’t get it all but, at least, it’s better than just doing nothing.

  • nu-fan

    Maybe, it’s the shot gun method.  If you breed enough, you might get a winner sometime.  We often think only of the exceptional horses which might command a high breeding rate.  What surprises me are the cheap breeding rates for some stallions.  Dirt cheap.  And, they keeping breeding over and over again.  What kind of quality comes out of that???  The question about genetics need to be addressed by those in the veterinary schools.   But, I do have to wonder when I look at the pedigree lines of some horses. 

  • nu-fan

    That’s okay.  We knew what you meant.  For many of us, we are busy at work and can only squeeze in so much time on the Internet–and, in a hurry.

  • nu-fan

    That’s another frightening part of overbreeding.  Questionable quality as well as the casual dumping of these horses.  I wonder how these individuals sleep at night?  What kind of values do they have?

  • Sevencentsstable

    So, in your opinion, it is okay to numb a horse’s legs with ice immediately proir to a pre-race exam,but not ok to give him an anti-inflamatory 12-16 hours prior to a pre-race exam?

  • Just Beachy

     That depends on how you define “occasional”…monthly(for races), regularly?  And how “occasional” use might affect bone growth or density…unless you want to put together an equine study of a large sample comparing bone density tests in “drugged”(Lasix) and non-drugged horses, you have no bloody idea. 

  • Just Beachy

     It’s also up for grabs on whether or not fluid/electrolyte replacement in a 1000+ pound animal would undo or prevent any damage done by consistent use of the drug.  Probably a difficult question to answer, even for the equine vets with access to any studies done on this subject.  And it’s also, I’d bet, a case of the existence of predictable “trends” in medicine, but all “patients”(in this case, horses) are still individuals who tend not to read the textbooks or journal articles.  :-) 

  • Stanley inman

    I love that you are an “outsider”
    Insider lingo tip; it’s
    Fee” not rate; you know-
    Money paid for

  • You are now a trainer Stanley?  How are your horses doing and are you using lasix or other medications as part of your program?

  • Stanley inman

    I meant ice, cold water hosing etc as therapy;
    (Not as a strategy to beat a pre-race exam with a sore horse.
    Point of information;
    Bute can not be given less than 24 hrs. Before a race;
    Yet is routinely given in smaller doses; “topping off”
    Is wide spread,
    It can result in an “overage”,
    Horsemen representatives treat “overages” as an
    Error- ( I made a mistake, gave too much, those numbers are hard to read on the syringe)
    Overages are not put it in
    “Cheater” stats category; (“legitimate” rape come to mind?)
    The rest of us call overages

  • Stanley inman

    Your stats say what horsemen representatives refuse to admit.
    That lasix
    is an economic issue for
    Horsemen; who
    THINK they will take the biggest hit when lasix ends.
    Why wouldn’t they ,
    Lasix is all they know.

  • Cass

     There are no guarantees to this game.  I guess the ‘new-to-the-business’ person that bought the $800,000 yearling had the wrong advice and bought the wrong yearling.

  • Saratoga Visitor

    It’s amusing to see all the new arguments that Mr. Farmer/TOBA/Jockey Club come up with to justify banning lasix.  Now they are resurrecting the bogus “testimony” their “vet” presented before the U.S. Senate (not backed up by ANY scientific evidence — but ignoring the Jockey Club’s own study on lasix). 

    If one accepts for the sake of argument that giving lasix leads to breakdowns, then isn’t everyone who uses lasix knowingly, including Mr. Farmer, guilty of animal abuse?  I’d have to say so, if the treatment is that dangerous.  But at least Mr. Farmer is focusing on skeletal issues. 

    And the prime skeletal issue of horses leading to breakdowns is the surgery, stripping, etc., done to yearlings at the sales — issues the breeders are guilty of, which acts have increased exponentially over the years.  This is the information that the Jockey Club should include in its “at risk” database, and which the handicappers should know about, because it is the rampant surgeries on bone and muscle which change the thoroughbred’s racing dynamics — not lasix

  • Joefalconi

    How dare you guys say that the horseman groups are are attempting to hold hostage new Kentucky racing rules designed to promote the health, welfare, and safety of the Thoroughbred racehorse.” How in your right mind this is promoting the Health,Welfare, and safety of and animal if you guys want to ban adjunct bleeder, all of you guys repeat all this non sense like little monkeys that dont have brains of there own, Adjunct bleeder is very important for horses that bleed thru the lasix but what would you guys know if you dont spend time with horses. Instead of trying to change the rules lets educated the public and teach them the diference between therapeutical drugs and performance enhance drugs. The reason behind why is not good for state vets to administer laxis is because if that takes place and a horse gets hurt after a race who is going to provide the help that that horse needs The State Vet, a person that didn’t study to be in this kind of industry,we don’t even know their qualifications. I would encourage all of you in toba to go and ask questions to the state vets and see if you guys think that they are qualified to work in this industry. Its very easy to say what everybody wants to hear but it much harder to do the right thing. just to let you guys know how hipocritical this business is the is one very prominent owner that in public he condems the use of lasix but most of his horses if not all of them run with lasix and adjuct and in the mix is a very famous horse winner of a G1 race. think about that…………………

  • Tinky

    “Adjunct bleeder is very important for horses that bleed thru the lasix…”

    Terrific! Let’s continue to enable horses that are such intrinsically bad bleeders, even Lasix (alone) is insufficient to stop it! And, as a bonus, those very same runners will enter the breeding pool, and no one – neither breeders nor consumers of their offspring – will be able to distinguish them from non-bleeders.

    Status quo at its finest.

  • SteveG

    Yes!  Why hasn’t the industry educated the public about the benefits of lasix & adjunct bleeding meds?

    Why isn’t the industry shouting from the rooftops? 

    Afterall, it’s something to be proud of & I’m sure the unwashed masses will be suitably impressed.


  • Stanley inman

    Bon jour, Stewart
    Have a 2yr. Old by first crop heatseeker
    that hopefully will make Keeneland-without lasix
    How about you-are you running any 2 yr. Olds?
    Coming to Keeneland?
    Good luck with your horses.

  • Stanley inman

    You got to believe in what you’re doin,
    Even if you give weight;
    Keeneland calls racing
    “the greatest game”

  • Carmine Regusa

    Here is the problem, taking away meds will lead to even smaller fields.  It is already pitiful at most tracks.  So if we want to have Saratoga and a handful of tracks all that is left of the industry push forward. Racing won’t be cleaner though as the less than reputable participants will still medicate and find ways to circumvent the rules.

  • Thomas

    I agree Barry Irwin. (I mean Tinky)

  • nu-fan

    Stan: Thank you. My background is business and marketing. In the business world, outsiders are listened to. Then, products and services are developed to meet the needs and expectations of those outsiders, often referred to as the target market. I don’t get why the horseracing industry doesn’t get that although I am seeing signs that there are some attempts to do so. I know, personally, of so many people who will not go to horseraces because of the injuries that occur and the euthanizing that often results. If the horseracing industry wants to stay viable, they need to understand the mentality of the new generation of potential fans and adapt to it.
    And, Stan, I love to read your comments. You have experience but are not blind to the need for reforms as too many are and, you definitely have class based on how you respond to others. Regarding “rate”: I have time to look at the horseracing comments on the Internet only during a minute here or there during the work day and didn’t have time to look up the right term. I do know that I hesitated about what the correct term for “rate” was but had to move on. Thanks, again. Got to go back to work. Sigh!

  • Kentucky

    This is a bizarre article with facts seemingly pulled out thin air.   Was this guy dozing off during all of the testimony given to the KHRC from vets and other actual experts ?


  • If u feel that way then dont breed to them!!

  • no… we could go back to taking food and water away 24-48 hrs prior..

  • as a rape victim i take offense to your analogy!!

  • Thegospeltruth

    Another Jockey Clubber with a lot of “in my mind” and “my understanding is” and no scientific evidence to back up anything he says.  Im sure Jim, Matt and the boys at TJC HQ will drop one of these letters on us ever couple of weeks, and then Tinky, Inman and others can droll all over it.

  • Pluckedduck1

     thank u for posting this!

  • Pluckedduck1

     Please avoid confusing things with facts.

  • howard zucker

    My understanding is that Bute is an anti-inflammatory designed to offset the inflammatory nature of the impact of furosemide.”   I didn’t know that! That is news to me.

  • Sevencentsstable

    “Dirt cheap. And, they keeping breeding over and over again. What kind of quality comes out of that???”

    Lava Man was by a $5,000 satllion, real poor quality there, huh? His sire alos had winner/foal numbers over 2x higher than the winner/foal numbers put up by Giant’s Causeway or Unbridled’s Song, who command 6 figure stud fees.

  • Sevencentsstable

    How, exactly could you state, so certainly,  that  “I specifically referred to the fact that for many decades in the U.S. no bleeder medications were used, and horses raced far more often and made many more starts than they do now. “???
    If there was no testing, or very primitive testing, how could you possibly state that “no bleeder medications were used”?? They used plenty back then, I have sat in many a shedrow and listened to many a “recipe” from the old timers who ran in the 40s and 50s. They didn’t use much vet work, that’s true, but it’s because they went down to the local pharmacy and had whatever they wanted compounded right there for them, no vet needed.

  • Sevencentsstable

    Unless you are talking about gyp trainers, any self respecting trainer uses ice and hydro therapy on a daily basis and bute only pre-race or pre-breeze. So yeah, even those of us who advocate regulated useage of NSAIDs have heard of, and used icing regularly loooong before you non-horsemen so graciously pointed it out to us.

  • Tinky

    There were NO endoscopes, nor any knowledge that bleeding might have been common or widespread. 

    How, exactly, do you imagine that preventive medications were being used regularly for a condition that was thought to be rare?

    Even if a small minority of obvious bleeders were being treated with home-made concoctions, and even if they were efficacious (doubtful, indeed), the vast majority of horses raced without such “medications”, and yet were far more durable than today’s over-medicated stock.

  • Maureen Tierney

    That is patently untrue.  Most on the race track do what’s best for their business.  The horse surely does not come first.  If trainers are using drugs on their horses it’s about money, not concern about the horse.  Look at Paynter.  Should he have returned to training when he did?  No.  But Baffert trained him.  Now he may die over greed. Period.  Nothing done to him was for his own good.  Trainers are no longer trainers, and in fact, know little about horses at all.

  • Maureen Tierney

     First I’d like to say that European racing is not a business model – it’s a sport!!!  The U.S. has turned it into an industry – and that is a big part of the problems in racing.

    Second, the owner of that $800K horse, might look for a trainer who knows how to scientifically condition a horse so that it is actually FIT and doesn’t bleed.

  • John Greathouse

    No new Med’s in your life in the last 20 years?

  • Scottie

     The reference to Europe in that report is patently false. The British Horse Racing Authority has a database of 2,000 substances that they test for, and trainers can be penalized for additional substances that fall within stated prohibited categories.  That’s double the number of substances that New York tests for.


  • Joe S.

    Yes, and as well as bone issues on growing horses and others I wonder if anyone knows how long it takes a horse to bring electrolytes back into balance following IV Lasix, a very important issue. I see horses racing with as little as 3-4 days between races and IV Lasix. I have said it before but it needs to be said again: Lasix is intended to treat diseases such as conjestive heart failure and pulmonary edema, it is NEVER given to healthy people or healthy animals other than racehorses. Further, Lasix given IV is very powerful and dramatic and that route of administration is only used in emergency situations. Usually the drug is administered in it’s oral form. There are many more issues concerning the use of IV Lasix and I find it difficult to believe how casual and widespread it’s use has become. There is a price to pay whether one wants to believe it or not.   


  • Joe S.

    Check 2nd race Saratoga on 3 sept. Two horses raced, one with just 2 days between starts and the other with all of 3 days ! I notice this occurs quite frequently. There are no rules on this. It looks like nobody seems to care and that is a bad thing.

  • Joe S.

    In which case racing will not survive and maybe it shouldn’t.

  • Jim

    HMMM. Standing in a stall 23 hours a day.  Got to bet that contributes more to the decline of the animal than race day meds.   And Europe bans the meds on race days.  What gets  administered between races?  

  • Tatyannamarotto

    Well down Mr. Farmer! You really know what your talking about on the different types of medication for horses. It seems like you really take care of the horses at the Kentucky Derby. Keep doing it!

  • Tatyannamarotto

     It doesn’t really matter on the grammar it matters what’s it saying in the article…I  can’t believe that’s all you pay attention too. You really don’t have any interest in this article. Would you rather have a horse die of drugs or keep them healthy?

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