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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

North America to Remain an Exception

A report has come out indicating the Racing Medication Testing Consortium is going to recommend permitting race day Lasix for horses provided the medication is dispensed by regulatory veterinarians.  This recommendation will be submitted to the Association of Racing Commissioners International at their winter meetings this year.

Of course, this should not surprise anyone.  How many horsemen are willing to forgo the use of furomeside on horses labeled as bleeders?  In the meanwhile, the thoroughbred and standardbred are making less starts than ever per year due to the diuretic nature of the medication.  My question is how come virtually every other racing jurisdiction in the world an do without furomeside, yet North American racing interests seem unable to kick the habit?  Is it a matter of laziness or the cost of letting a horse sit in a stall which keeps North American interests from quitting the habit?

I will be the first person to state I have no expertise on breeding, but by continuing to treat bleeders with anti-bleeding medicine, it would seem we are weakening the gene pool of our horses with respect to bleeding, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Granted, to cut off bleeding medication cold turkey will be a painful experience, perhaps more financial than anything else, but if done right, is the right thing to do.  Animal welfare proponents will not differentiate between Bute or furomeside.  Explain to them that Lasix is used only on horses that suffer from Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhaging (EIPH) and their answer will be "Why then are these horses racing?"  Rest assured, they will not find the answers satisfactory.  Nor may congress which has started making noise about medication in racing.

If furomeside is going to be permitted, the use of it should be tightened up.  At one time, the horse racing on lasix was the exception, not the rule, but these days the opposite seems true.  Does every horse that bleeds need Lasix or should be there tighter restrictions on its use?  For example, does a trickle of blood rise to the same standard as a horse the bleeds more profusely?  Should horses that bleed be banned from breeding?

Fortunately, all is not lost.  The Breeders Cup for the thoroughbreds will be banning the use of furomeside and the Hambletonian Society already bans the use of the medication in the Hambletonian.  Maybe if we get enough of the classic races with such restrictions, the breeding pool with respect to bleeding will improve. 

One thing for sure, we have not heard the end of this.

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