Thursday, July 28, 2011

Horseplayers Vote Overwhelmingly For Race Day Medication Ban

Recently, Jim Gagliano of the Jockey Club called HANA, asking for support of the RCI's initiative on race day medication. We agreed we would ask you, the horseplayers of HANA, what you thought via a member survey. The results are as follows:

We also added a box that followed the above question, which asked for member comments. For those of you who take surveys surely know, usually only a small percentage of the time a comment question is filled out because people only have so much time in a day, and we all get so many emails.  However, to our surprise your comment section was overflowing. Almost 40% of you entered a comment! There is simply not enough space to paste them all here, but here is the general flavor of the comments, unedited (each comment is in their own paragraph). Your betting/handle profiles follow the comments:

If Europe can race without any medication at all, then America can do without on race day. It may also help lessen the perception that trainers are cheating or gaining an unfair advantage.

It is in the best interests of the horse breed because only the fittest horses will be bred for future generations. Horses that cannot win without medication will not be bred.

It may not be best in the short term as there will have to be adjustments. But long term, I believe it will be very beneficial to the sport as a whole.

I do not feel that Lasix - properly regulated and administered - is a detriment to racing nor a performance enhancer. It is WAY overused, but a documented bleeder should be able to race with a certain level of lasix in their system. Reform is the key, not banning.

Banning drugs does not stop drug use. Testing and enforcement does, and neither is being done. If lasix is banned trainers will use other anti-bleeder medicine, and the public won't know about it-- those betting on information will.

I am actually for a zero-tolerance policy but this meds free raceday policy is a step in the right direction.

We are at a crisis point of short fields and dwindling purses. Foal crops are down, and now this -Why would we do anything to further impede an owner from running his horses and trying to make the game financially viable?

 Furosemide is just the tip of the iceberg. The problem is the trainers on the cutting edge that know what tests and does not.

If they were to eliminate all raceday meds. there wouldn't be enough horses to fill a card.

Insane. Short fields already. Owners leaving the game daily because they can no longer make ends meet. Have you lost your minds????

the industry needs to breed impurities OUT of the breed instead of covering them up with drugs just to get a horse to race day. Traniers, owners, grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, vets, night foremen, etc, need to be held accountable for violations and the penalty needs to be of the utmost severity so that it discourages any person from attempting to cheat the game and the fans (bettors).

The forces against race day med bans have a vested interest in keeping the status quo regardless of whether there is or is not a medical reason for their use. Its time to try another potentially less debilitating and probably fairer and more easily regulated methodology.

Lasix gone will only create more people coming up with nefarious ways to stem bleeding. Let's go after Cobra Venom & the blood-doping stuff from France that costs $5,000. Let Horses Breathe!

there should be a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY The Jockey Club position should mirror the European position of NO MEDS PERIOD

Other nations have found it possible to race without any race-day meds, including furosemide (aka Lasix). The United States should be able to manage. And, with horses racing on fewer (eventually no) permitted race-day medications, hopefully it will be easier for horseplayers to handicap

They use Lasix in Europe, a lot of it. Just not on race day. It is a lame excuse that lasix is ruining our breed. The study in South Africa proved that lasix helps to stop horses from bleeding. Why do we want to let horses bleed when there is an inexpensive cure for it. They have a lot of other drugs in Europe that we cannot use. If you think we have short racing fields now, wait until a lot of horses can't run back on schedule because they are being treated with antiobiotics to clean up theie lungs from bleeding. When there is a lot of horses that can't race back we will see what the race tracks think of that. They're fields are short enough as it is. If all the morons that want to do away with lasix on race day get their wish they will really shorten up the race entries. Most of the people who are on this bandwagon haven't even put a bandage on a horse, much less trained one.

trainers will use worse drugs in place of lasix. moreover, no position should be formulated on medication until there is sufficient proof that such medication is and has actually determined race results to a significant extent. or, are drugs being used just to get horses into the starting gate? there's a big difference and any drug policy should be tailored to the answers to those issues. there has been a lot of free flowing accusations about drugs and the integrity of racing with very little hard evidence. if the drug problem is so bad why do owners still own and trainers still train and professional horse players still bet? or is jeff mullins right - you have to be nuts to play the horses? let's get an empirical basis for these decisions or the lasix ban will be another version of the synthetic surface debacle.

In my opinion, from a breeding perspective, race day medication has resulted in a weakening of the breed. In addition, the transparency of the sport is weakened with the use of medication. A move to no medication should increase the safety of on track participants and should make clearer the information used by the wagering public.

It is common knowledge to regular players of the game of picking horses in races that many horses in a race are using some form of an illegal substance to improve performance and in some cases to decrease their performance, making the game unwinnable by only the few that are in the know about the enhancing drugs used and on which animals. This is unfair, illegal and no one should be allowed to get away with it now or never. I agree that all medication on race day should be disallowed so that the races can be viewed as being fair to the racing public.

The current system is not working for anybody. There is no reason why we shouldn't normalize our medication policy to the rest of the world.

As a player, it does not really matter to me. Owners are going to be really hurt - if they have a bleeder who needs Lasix to run, this rule essentially destroys their investment in the horse. Fewer horses will get to the races, and we already have a problem with not enough horses (too small fields) in the US right now. Despite this, I am also for the well-being of the horse. Perhaps horses can race more often off Lasix - I have heard its dehydration used to explain the problems with racing frequency.
I favor eliminating race day meds on all graded stakes and a gradual phase out on all racing.

I'm a trainer since 1996 and involved with racehorses for over 35 years. When you give a horse Salix, water, and sometimes hay is withheld after the injection, which is given 4 hours before the race. Before Salix was legal, water and sometimes hay was withheld 24 hours out. Salix just speeds up the time, chemically through its diruetic properties. The problems come from the side effects - I've seen it dull a horse considerably, which is an advantage if you have a highly strung, nervous animal. Also, you then have to give elecrolyte replacements, and such to prevent Thumps, and other imbalances in the body, The electrolyte replacement is in the form of a paste, or an IV injection the day before, more commonly known as a "Jug". So, you chemically dehydrate (lighten up) the horse and then chemically rebalance the salts. It's not an exact science, although some trainers really seem to have perfected all the chemicals. It also all costs money. We certainly can return to the pre-medication days,it will be painful and take some time.

Totally agree horses should be free of medication on race day. This will result in stronger horses & better racing.

Lasix OK. Nothing else.

I also care about the safety of the human and equine athletes. And, as a handicapper and horse player, I want an equal playing field. Every horse in each race should have the same, or no, medication. And if that is not possible, the medication, or its withdrawal, must be in the DRF or it is not allowed on race day. In fact, there should be no changes on race day from what is shown in the DRF regarding medication and equipment,(i.e. bends, blinkers, caulks, bar shoes, etc.).

Too many horses are medicated simply to make them "raceable". If there is a shortage of horses then race dates need to be reduced. Other countries race without medication why should the US be any different?

 Eliminate drugs. It serves to restore integrity. I want to bet on races where the horse's ability, coupled with the trainer's and jockey's, determines the outcome of the race. I don't want to bet on which trainer has the latest designer drug.

Drug eliminations should happen, but need to be done over a period of time that makes sense

Athletes, equine or human, benefit from a myriad of remedial therapies after exhaustive efforts, creating a grey area between 'performance restoring' and 'performance enhancing'. I'm not knowledgeable enough to state clearly where the line in the grey should be drawn.

Lasix is a benefit to horse health. The press, bloggers and the establishment have convinced themselves that it is a performance enhancing drug. Get ready for four horse fields; there will be a bunch of them.

favor zero tolerance. give me the whole loaf of bread not just some crumbs.

Use of race day meds adds to the cost of horse ownership, allows drugs to be masked and makes North America the outlier in the world of horse racing. It should stop.

integrity! Might make the Handicapper on the outside believe he may have a chance!

The correlation between use of race day medication, particularly lasix, and the decrease in annual starts per horse is undeniable. Banning race day meds will also clean up the sport by exposing the so called "super trainers" that improve horses beyond belief on a regular basis and win at unbelieveable rates. It will also reduce the number of catastrophic injuries by not allowing sore horses to pass pre-race inspections. Lastly horses that bleed excessively will not be able to race and therefore will not be sent off to the breeding shed which should in time help increase the durability of the breed.

Note: HANA member betting handle, as shown in our member survey, cuts across all types of horseplayer - from the casual to the professional.

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Anonymous said...

As one announcer would say "lookin like a winner."

Anonymous said...

There is always some clown who arrived way late to the game:

You finally figured out (via a study in South Africa, no less) that Lasix stops horses from bleeding????????

You are a real brainchild!