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.
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