Crist: Lasix Ban Failed Due To Sensationalism, Lack Of Coherence

by | 03.23.2013 | 8:56am
Lasix (Furosemide, Salix)

A recent editorial by Steven Crist in the Daily Racing Form outlined five reasons why the author believes the movement to completely ban Lasix in the Breeders' Cup has failed. Ironically, Crist claims, proponents of the ban were the reasons for its failure, as they blurred the lines between administering an illegal drug with nefarious intentions and giving a legal, regulated medication, as well as their insistence that Lasix use was harming the sport's popularity.

Additionally, he writes, the lack of support of the ban by “virtually any successful trainer”, and the hypocrisy of some proponents who still raced their own horses on Lasix failed to bring credibility to the argument. Finally, although the differences between American policies on Lasix and those in Europe are stark, Crist doesn't believe that there was a clear illustration from anti-Lasix enthusiasts as to why these differences are bad.

“Whatever the reasons, the impetus to change Lasix policy has evaporated, but that should not mean the topic is permanently closed,” Crist concludes. “Perhaps the next time the issue rears its head – and it will – there can be a more constructive, civilized, and informed discussion.”

Read more at Daily Racing Form

  • lasix, falls on category loop diuretics, but within any standard these medications are harmful to horses. As they work on the kidneys.

    • kevin

      The long term affect I not seen by the general public and most trainers. A high percentage of the mares that show up at my farm to be bred have marked indications of dibilitad kidney finction. and knot’s on their veins on both sides so tough you can hardly pull a blood test.
      Something people forget is more often than not its “Train on lasix work on lasix run on lasix”
      I have been in the test barn and seen what some horses go through . Ever wonder why a horse has to be vaned off and be just fine a few hours later ?
      Cuz they are so tied up in the kidneys they can’t walk.. interisting that only the track vets praise it’s use. Real vets don’t .. … flame away… won’t change my view

      • voiceofreason

        Remember, the decision on Lasix is being made by the same folks who supported unregulated abuse of steroids for decades. They used “good for the horse” argument in that one too. What makes anyone think they will make any change, until forced?

        • Stanley inman

          So true,
          Steven speaks of “coherence”
          Where is
          Stephen’s intellectual
          Over continued defense of
          a Practice-
          by every sport regulating body in the world?
          Stephen that is

      • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

        You raise a very good and valid point. Is the concern about basic use just for the health and welfare of the horse when it is racing…or for the health and welfare of the horse for its entire life. I would love to see a study follow some of these horses that race on it for 4 or 5 years and track its metabolic effect on the animal. It might shed a new scientific light on the subject. While it is not scientific at this point…many trainers have said their horses seemed to rebound from races better and quicker when not raced on basic…that would be another interesting study to conduct.

      • Windways

        Kevin: I have had mares and lay ups at my farm for almost thirty years during no lasix era and lasix era at Woodbine. Can’t say I have seen anything that would support your comments.

  • There definitely needs to be more cohersion, but also the need to realize Lasix can’t be done with overnight either. As originally written in March 2011, this was my five-year plan to do so at the time (which can be seen at:

    2012: No lasix allowed for ALL two year old races along with the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup events AND selected Grade 1 events that would include all such races for three year olds preceding the Kentucky Derby along with the Kentucky Oaks, Arlington Million, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Travers, Santa Anita Handicap, Pacific Classic, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Beldame among others.

    2013: The ban on lasix expands to ALL races restricted to two and three year olds, as well as ALL Grade 1 and Grade 2 stakes events. Three year olds would only be permitted to use lasix when facing older horses in races where lasix would still be allowed.

    2014: The ban on lasix expands to include ALL Graded Stakes and non-Graded stakes carrying a purse of at least $100,000. In addition, non-graded stakes where lasix is allowed would be barred from consideration for Graded status at this point.

    2015: The ban on lasix expands to include all non-claiming races, including Allowance Optional Claiming and starter events.

    2016: Total ban on lasix.

    • nu-fan

      I don’t know enough about horseracing to know whether your detailed proposal will work or not but I do have to agree with your basic idea: gradual elimination. It’s that 10% rule that businesses will often use in making changes. Big changes, overnight, are usually met with fierce resistance. Do it little at a time and it makes it more easy to accept as well as it gives more time to adapt, for everyone, to these changes.

  • At least, the us race jurisdictions, should given owners enough races hold raceday medication free. Starting with 2 yr old maiden races, than allowance, and thereafter the black type races.

  • Tinky

    “The willful attempt to blur the clear lines between administering a legal and regulated medication and the nefarious use of illegal and dangerous drugs to fix the outcome of races was a tactical error that alienated potential supporters who have an open mind on the topic.”

    “Willful attempt”? I’d like to see some examples by Crist. Lasix is unequivocally performance enhancing, but I know of no high-profile proponent of a ban who suggested that it is somehow in a league with the potent PEDs. It would have been nice if Crist had actually supported that assertion with some examples, though I rather doubt that he could find any.

    His next claim is also questionable:

    “Proponents of a ban consistently overstated their case and lost hearts and minds by trying to make Lasix sound inherently dangerous and linking its usage – with little veterinary evidence or support – to a supposed decline in the health and durability of the breed.”

    Let me get this straight. Not long before Lasix was introduced, the average runner in the U.S. started around 30 times it its career, and now that number is barely above 10. Yet because there is no evidence to show a direct correlation, pointing those facts out “lost hearts and minds”? Really? One would think that those shocking, bare statistics would lead all Lasix proponents to worry about a possible causal connection, yet Crist is predictably silent on that.

    Here he is simply being dishonest:

    “The lack of support for a Lasix ban from virtually any successful trainer left the anti-Lasix proponents not only without an influential spokesman but also with the weak and nasty rebuttal that trainers are either incompetent or shady.”

    As I and many others have pointed out, there is another very likely explanation for the widespread support: FEAR. Few active trainers in the U.S. have ever trained without the Lasix crutch, and are understandably frightened by the prospect of having to do without it. They are also frightened that it will adversely impact their businesses. But Crist, in a clearly dishonest manner, suggests that the rebuttals were all “weak and nasty”. Well golly gee, I sure do wonder what side of the issue he happens to be on?

    Finally, Crist either reveals ignorance on the topic, or is (again) being dishonest when he states:

    “It has become gospel that horses in Europe make more starts per year than American runners, and that Lasix might be to blame, when, in fact, the statistics are almost identical.”

    First, that is a straw man argument, as again, few have made that argument, and it is certainly not “gospel” in any case. Secondly, he conveniently forgets to mention that few horses in Europe race over the winter, and therefore the “almost identical” numbers tell a rather different story in context.

    • Tinky

      I should add that Crist lists “five reasons” why the move to ban Lasix has stalled. Every single one of those (supposed) reasons relate to mistakes that he believes were made by those in favor of a ban. That’ in and of itself, reveals an obvious bias, but what confirms his bias is this: not a single mention of money, and the obvious role that it played in pushing back against the reform movement.

      • Stanley inman

        jockey club fact book
        2012 45,000 races in U.S.
        7 starters per race equals 315,000 doses
        $20. A pop equals $6,300,000. A year
        Owners pay vets
        Doesn’t include scoping & training on lasix

      • Lexington 3

        So, Tinky, M-O-N-E-Y and politics is only on one side of this issue?

        You are full of crap. Bottom Line.

        And reading some of your posts, I would not trust you to babysit a goldfish, much less be personally responsible for the training and welfare of a racehorse.

        • Tinky

          And by extension, you wouldn’t trust two-thirds of the trainers and vets in the world, either.

          Interesting position. Too bad that you apparently can’t offer any substantive arguments to support it.

    • Look a the letter from the wests, it,s only about the money invested a not a single word about the horses, they can not reject an needle.

  • Richard C

    There is something wrong with any sport where essentially every athlete needs a specific drug to compete.

  • jjmsmootie

    If we could get some tracks to write two races a day without any (Drugs ) period.Maybe one going long and one going short. (allowance ) and one( claiming) No lasix no drugs.of any kind you .That way all sides will get to see what happens. I will be first to enter!

    • Rockbarton

      A race or two without any drugs would be a nice first step.How about a Track without any drugs,unlimited out of competition enhanced testing and eviction with one positive.A Super-League of racing.

  • Matt Firestone

    This is typical of any divisive or political issue today. The extremists on both sides are always the loudest. What’s most insulting is when both sides distort the truth through omission of fact or otherwise to promote their position. There are very good reasons to eliminate the use of Lasix, as well as very good resons to continue it’s use. We need to stop vilifying each other for having a different opinion. I think everyone in our industry, on any side of our many issues, wants the sport to thrive, The “my way or the highway” type of thinking is not usually an effective strategy. But sadly, that’s the world we live in today.

    • Matt Clarke

      Excellent points Matt. This lasix debate has some uncanny similarities to the gun debate. Wacko extremists on both sides not prepared to even consider any other opinion. So sad.

    • Rockbarton

      The two sides of this debate are clear,but what about the rarely mentioned third side?When our most successful trainers run their best horses in the biggest races without Lasix.I am talking about the Dubai World Cup,Cigar,Silver Charm,Curlin, etc all performed well with no Lasix.But as soon as they return…

  • Ralph

    Maybe ban Lasix and allow Zilpaterol 4 hours out instead!

  • Kris

    Crist is correct about one thing: Those owners that oppose race-day lasix (and other drugs) have failed to show leadership on this issue. At least one of those owners is a participant on this forum. Leadership by example.

  • Indulto

    Whatever happened to the idea of being required to carry some specified additional weight when using lasix?

  • jumpjockey1

    During my riding career i did try using lasix a few times to lose weight. It was in my younger days and i will say the after effects and cramping that come with it are horrendous. So for me I wont use lasix on the horses i now train. Im fortunate enough to have owners who also wish to not use it. We train in a european manner of longer sets and add more turn out which makes a huge difference. Saying that i do underatand we are lucky to be able to do this and not everyone has the option to train like this and most are subject to track training hours which makes it harder to take longer to train. I believe if some racing secretary somewhere has the balls to right a few maiden races for horses who run lasix free it might start a different approach to getting change. Give people an option either way and see if u can appease both sides.. there are different approaches to most things in life perhaps its time to look into them and not leave either side of the debate feeling like its all or nothing..

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