In 2018, according to records maintained by The Jockey Club, 10,146 starts were made by horses without Lasix in the U.S. out of a total of 279,774. That equates to only 3.6%.
Lasix is the commonly used name for the potent diuretic furosemide (though its trade name was changed to Salix). This medication can mitigate the episodes of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) — otherwise known as “bleeding” — in racehorses. Compared to the majority of major racing centers across the globe, the United States is an outlier in permitting the use of this drug on race day.
The mindset of Lasix as a necessity among many horsemen in the U.S. has not kept some from successfully racing without it.
Below are the top trainers in number of wins in 2018 without Lasix.
|Van Meter, William||7|
Kenneth (Kenny) McPeek, the leader by non-Lasix wins in 2018, has been a trainer of national renown and has a lifetime accumulation of more than $80,000,000 in earnings. In 2018, Mr. McPeek won 65 races and earned more than $5,000,000. He has accumulated 195 stakes wins and trained such horses as multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady and the 2002 Belmont Stakes winner, Sarava.
Second-leading non-Lasix trainer Larry Rivelli has been a dominant player at Arlington Park for the past decade. He has won the Arlington Park trainers' title six times, including the last five years (2014 – 2018). His 79 wins at Arlington in 2017 is the meet's record.
A model of consistency, Mr. Rivelli has won at least 75 races and his horses have earned more than $1,000,000 in each of the last 10 years. According to statistics maintained in Equibase, Mr. Rivelli set a personal high in 2017 when he won 118 races and his horses earned $2,419,954. Last year Mr. Rivelli won 108 races and had earnings of $2,328,563. During his 20-year training career, Mr. Rivelli has won more than 1,300 races and $23,000,000 in earnings and has to his credit an enviable 24% win percentage.
As one might suspect, a substantial number of horses that competed without Lasix did so early in their careers. Below is the breakdown of non-Lasix starts by type of race.
Mr. McPeek won nine of his 19 non-Lasix starts in maiden races, while Mr. Rivelli had seven of his 18 wins in maiden company.
One venue Messrs. McPeek and Rivelli had in common for racing horses without Lasix is Saratoga Race Course. Arguably the most challenging venue in North America for young horses, Mr. McPeek won four maiden special weight races at Saratoga in 2018, and Mr. Rivelli won two races with horses off Lasix, including the Funny Cide Stakes.
The top two stakes trainers with horses off Lasix in 2018 mirrored the overall standings above — Mr. McPeek first, Mr. Rivelli second. Beyond the top two, many new names emerged with strong stakes success. Below are trainers with three or more top three stakes finishes.
Older horse highlights
Success with racing horses wasn't limited to 2-year-old racing. Some of the highlights of the year were made by older horse in graded stakes. Here is a trio of the most noteworthy accomplishments — all by 4-year-olds:
- On June 8, 2018, Call to Mind, bred and owned by Her Majesty, The Queen, makes its North American debut by topping a field of eight in the $400,000 Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational at Belmont Park. It was the fifth running of the Gold Cup at 2 miles on the Widener turf course. Call to Mind, off as the 9-5 favorite, completed the distance in 3:16:78, a track record, besting the previous mark set by Da Big Horse in the 2016 Belmont Gold Cup. William Haggas trained the English import.
- On July 7, 2018, Kenny McPeek-trained Daddys Lil Darling is ridden out as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park. Daddys Lil Darling, the only horse without Lasix in a field of 12, carries the high-weight of 124 pounds over 1 3/16 miles on the turf.
- On May 5, 2018, James Jerkens-trained Holy Helena wins the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont Park. Holy Helena is the only horse in the seven-horse field racing without Lasix.
Throughout the year I promise to bring you updates and items of interest in the U.S. and around the world of racing without Lasix.
Joe Gorajec served as the executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission for 25 years (1990-2015). He is also a former chairman of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (2008). Currently semi-retired, Joe consults on industry matters through his company Horse Racing Integrity Consulting LLC and blogs on the Horse Racing Reform website.
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