Violette jumps into Kentucky debate, charges intimidation, strong-arm tactics

by | 04.16.2012 | 9:57am
KY Gov. Steve Beshear

Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, has jumped into the Kentucky debate over whether or not to ban the raceday administration of the anti-bleeding drug furosemide, better known by its former trade name Lasix, with a strongly worded letter to Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear that charges “strong-arm tactics void of any transparency” to get the proposal passed.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and its Raceday Medication Committee are expected to vote on the subject this afternoon.

Notwithstanding the fact that the NYTHA has no legal or practical standing in the Bluegrass State, Violette has called the proposed ban, expected to begin with 2-year-olds of 2013, “industry suicide for racing in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.” Violette suggested Beshear has been misled by a “one-sided argument in a ‘smoke-filled' back room” on the issue, one that was extensively discussed in a public hearing of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's Raceday Medication Committee last November in Frankfort, Ky.,

Further, Violette charges that “intimidation has been applied” within the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and that those who do not vote “as instructed” face loss of their seats on the commission. Any commission employees who “voiced any dissension against the rule change” could have their jobs in jeopardy, Violette wrote.

Violette wrote the letter while under the impression that Beshear would have to sign off on the bill as an emergency measure, something that hasn't been stated publicly and which the Paulick Report has learned isn't the case in the event it is passed by the commission. He wrote the letter at the same time the NYTHA proposed a five-point medication plan for New York that critics believe doesn't go nearly far enough in curbing medication use in racehorses.

Following is the complete text of Violette's letter to Gov. Beshear:

Dear Gov. Beshear,

It has come to our attention that you have been asked to sign off on an emergency order announcing a ban of the raceday use of furosemide (Lasix). While we think that the move would mean industry suicide for racing in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, we would hope any decisions you have made are based on a clear understanding of the facts and not because you have been misled by a one-sided argument in a “smoke-filled” back room.

As president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, I represent horsemen racing at the New York Racing Association's three tracks, Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. I am also president of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, which represents owners and trainers not only in New York, but in Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as well. I can assure you that eliminating Lasix is not being seriously considered in any of these states, and that the horsemen will, without hesitation, resist any and all attempts to do so.

Without a scientifically proven replacement, it is irresponsible to promote a ban on Lasix. The inference that gradually weaning horses off raceday Lasix will miraculously lead to a reduction in the number of horses that suffer from exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage is completely without merit. The idea that we should allow horses to bleed in competition when we have a scientifically proven effective medication at hand is unconscionable.

Not only do we hope that you decide against advancing an emergency rule eliminating Lasix, we also would encourage you to suggest to your Racing Commission that they focus their attention on achievable medication reform that could have a profound effect on the well-being of our horses and the integrity of our sport.

What is also significantly alarming is the suggestion that, within the commission, intimidation has been applied, threatening the very seats of those who do not vote as instructed, and that the jobs of commission employees would be in jeopardy if they voiced any dissension against the rule change.

While we understand that the use of raceday Lasix is a hot-button issue, it should be settled based on the merits of the arguments, and not by strong-arm tactics void of any transparency.

NYTHA president Rick Violette Jr.

  • Nucky Thompson

    Good old Rick for jumping right in there . He sure aint no bleeding shrinking Violette.

  • Enio

    The rest of the world races without Lasix. Weight loss resulting from Lasix requires more recovery time between races, hence fewer starters. Phasing out Lasix in 2 yo’s and stakes races, from which we get our breeding stock, is the right step.  

  • Noelle

    Racing’s on life support anyway, thanks in some part to all the drug pushers and the kind of thinking they represent.  If a Lasix ban  means “industry suicide” why not get it over with. 


    I think Rick Violette Jr. has some very valid points.  Those of you who don’t really know about lasix should ask to receive the disk put out by Dr. Mark Dediminico, proud owner of Blind Luck.  You will receive knowledge and fact from a first class tutor.  No the likes of Rick Arthur and many of the clueless fools.

  • brussellky

    “hence fewer starters”.  You state this as fact and it seems quite logical.  The problem is that it isn’t true.  Horses in the UK, France, Ireland, Australia etc. don’t average more starts per year than US horses.

  • Don Reed

    “We would hope any decisions you have made are based on a clear understanding of the facts and not because you have been misled by a one-sided argument in a “smoke-filled” back room.”

    Way to go, Rick.  Beautiful opening statement. 

    Instead of just leaving it at “a clear understanding of the facts,” you’ve instantly alienated the letter’s recipient with two implied assumptions:

    That Beshear’s feeble mind is incapable of fending off “one-sided arguments” and that he makes deals in corrupt environments (“a ‘smoke-filled’ back room”).


  • Neville

    The Dedimenico film is about as accurate as a Disney horseracing film, made simply to be pablum to feed an ignorant public.

  • Noelle

    Further to my comment, below, I don’t mean I want racing to end, not at all, sorry if that’s how it reads.  I love horse racing.  I just want a new, drug-free racing era to begin, the sooner the better.

  • Tmazderby

    “Without a scientifically proven replacement, it is irresponsible to promote a ban on Lasix”

    so the breed today is pitifully weak as compared to generations ago is that what you are saying RV and the rest of the horseman?

  • Racer Rex

    um actually they do!!!!!!!

  • What FACTS?……Lasix is a drug!…what other facts is there to find out?…if is a drug that makes the horse breath better during stressful workouts or during racing…..that is artifical….all these nonsense about EIPH are just BS……

  • Knowledge? what are you talking about…It is a drug used to enhance breathing and thus enhance performace…..what else is there to know?…

  • brussellky

    No they don’t (unless you are referring to 1/10 of a start or something miniscule).  Feel free to provide data to prove me wrong but I don’t think you can.  I looked at data about 3 months ago and there was no significant difference.

  • Old Timer

     Holy Cow Billie Boy! Could you be possibly farther off?

    It doesnt’ make them “breath better”, its not a smooth muscle relaxer like Clem or Albut, come on!

    I’m glad to hear that due to the use of Lasix over the last 30+ yrs you have never had to see a disgusting case of epistaxis occur.

    Here’s to keeping horses from

  • Gfpowell

    Europe has proven that racing completely medication-free (no lasix) has been in the best interest of the racehorse and industry at large. Further, do we really want to breed a horse with a bleeding issue that only a drug can supress? While I understand your concern for the well-being of the horse Rick, we need to go forward and get in line with the rest of the world.

  • Barry Irwin

    Sir, that presentation is a bad infomercial. The guy couldn’t carry Rick Arthur’s black bag.

  • Barry Irwin

    Rick Violette is setting himself up for a big fall because he is on the wrong side of this issue.

  • Stanley inman

    So true,
    His choice of action also
    illustrates how out of touch he is in legislative lobbying.
    Keep training horses mr. Violette.


    And that makes you right!!

  • Gorethebears

    Old timer, you forgot to finish your bs…..

  • True, but I rather see a horse bleed and taken out of racing and out of the breeding shed but you rather keep breeding these bleeders so you can brag about how they can run with drugs on their system…..

    no wonder when a horse bleeds in europe they send them to us and snicker….

  • Nucky Thompson

    I agree but what can we small owners do ? I’m going to tell my trainer tomorrow to stop using Lasix on our horses. You should be able to spot my horses as they will be the only ones running at Calder without Lasix. BTW I just noticed that Gary Stevens just tweeted that he is in favor of the phase out and I certainly respect his expert opinion also.

  • Jasonfeldman

    Just because he is not on YOUR side of this issue doesn’t mean he is on the wrong side of it. No matter what you say or think.

  • Bocephus

    I can’t help but notice that horses in other parts of the world are racing sounder and more often that American horses.  Notice that the 2YO colt that won the Golden Slipper in Australia came back and won another G1 race a week later!  Using Lasix leaches calcium out of horse’s bones, making them less sound, not to mention the electrolytes and other minerals that Lasix drains out of their bodies through dehydration.  It takes a horse a significant amount of time to recover from such abuse to their bodies, especially the horses that aren’t bleeders and don’t need Lasix in the first place–99.9 of horses racing in America today!  Lasix is the bane of the industry and should be eliminated as soon as possible.

  • william koester

    If Mr Violette has knowledge of intimidation, commissioners being told they will lose their seats, and back room deals, he should provide proof of his statements. The pro salix group uses fear and inaccuracy when making points. The HPBA spokesman yesterday stated that the Humane Society would be involved if this was to pass. For the record, the Humane Society is against the race day drugging of horses.

  • Ohio Bred Girl

    It’s not so much that Lasix shouldn’t be phased out. (I’m all for 100% hay-oats-water & tough penalties).  But if Kentucky is the ONLY state to ban it, trainers will simply run elsewhere and leave Kentucky entry boxes empty.  Nothing will be accomplished except that Kentucky racing will suffer further declines.  We need a national medication policy.  We have a national group that could facilitate it (the NTRA) but individual track owners and ownership groups won’t give up control.  At the end of the day they’ll be clutching their tattered racetracks while the industry collapses around them.

  • carl larsen

    take more time to train, build them slowly you will have a better chance if they change the rules we have tendency to get them to the track to fast than find that we need drugs to race them.

  • Frank L.

    Barry —

    Because you are pushing
    for the ban, not for the betterment of racing, but for your “OWN”
    gain does not put Violette on the wrong side of the issue. He
    understands what is taking place!! You are not dealing with know
    nothings, as comment on this AGENDA driven site — rather with
    people who understand the in and outs of Lasix.

    As far as the rest of the
    world, only the U.S. has the kind of racing that gives “EVERY”
    horse the same chance — even geldings. I know you would like
    racing to go back to “THE SPORT OF KINGS” (only big money as you
    and your group exhibit) because that would eliminate a good portion
    of the competition — I reference John Henry and Lava Man as two
    horses that would have been prevented from racing in the high end
    races in Europe because they were geldings.

    It is this same reasoning
    that irks people like you when cheaper horses — I reference, Outta
    Tune, winner of the $250,000 Count Fleet at Oaklawn this past
    Saturday, being a 4000 claim — win these type races. U.S. Racing
    gives the little guy a shot at the big time, as the U.S. gives a shot
    to all people, no matter their origins. You talk as an elitist that
    wants less real competition for his horses eliminated so big money
    races could be added to your horses portfolio enhancing their
    breeding “co-op” price — which lesser horses, given the chance,
    interfere with.

    Another thing, I “DO”
    believe that strong arm tactics statement that Violette referenced,
    because that is the very same tactic use in our government/Congress.

    I have stated before and I
    repeat — The Jockey Club has already signed on to an international
    agreement, 2 years ago, that the U.S. be Lasix free, this without the
    consent of the participating parties of racing (States, owners,
    trainers, etc.). This is why this issue has “all of sudden”
    become a major problem. Media control, as the media controls what
    hap[pens in government!! People are led by how the media “portrays”
    any issue.

  • Frank L.

    Ignorant public of which you make up.  What “actual” barn experience do “YOU” have at the race track?  All you know is what you read!!

  • Frank L.

    Gfpowell —

    You obviously do not know
    what your talking about. Understand, UNDERSTAND, Europe breeds
    bleeders also. What “YOU” and others, on this site, don’t know
    is that Europe “DOES NOT” consider internal bleeding as bleeding,
    the U.S. does. Europe does breed bleeders as defined by U.S.
    standards. What is interesting about this issue is that there are
    “NO” studies “actually comparing U.S. racing to European racing
    on this subject — I wonder why? There has never been a study of
    how many European horses bleed in races based on the same definition
    of bleeding (internal bleeding) that the U.S. has, since it is the
    U.S. definition that is being used in the discussion of this issue.

  • Gfpowell

    Frank L. The only way to accurately confirm internal bleeding is via a scope post-race. My point is TBs don’t need Lasix for internal bleeding.

  • Oky

    So if you dont see it it doesnt matter?

  • BuckyinKentucky

    You have to lay off that Jockey Club Kool-Aid, Arthur is nothing more than a “schill”.
    Stick to the REAL facts.

  • Gfpowell

    No not all all. Internal bleeding happens to some degree in any athelete including humans. It is the body’s natural response to over exertion – all athletes push themselves more than the average person. The bleeding becomes a medical issue when it is excessive resulting in the visual bleeding from the nostrils that any lay person can see. It is the non-visual bleeding that is the body’s natural response and we interfere with that when we administer Lasix. We should let it be because the Lasix puts artificial chemicals into the body causing all sorts of chemical balanced such as excessive loss of fluids resulting in dehydration. Consequently, the TBs body can no longer respond naturally and becomes dependent on Lasix. Another thing, many TBs have an allergic reaction to such common medication as Lasix from mild to severe. By banning Lasix we are supporting the racehorse. The individual TB that bleeds excessively and visually are the ones that should not be racing because their body does not have the natural ability to adjust.

  • John Greathouse

    wrong again

  • Gfpowell

    Ohio Bred Girl – good point! Yes, we need a national medication policy that every racetrack adheres to because, at the end if the day, it will be the racehorse that benefits.

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