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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Alkalinization, Lasix and Milkshaking: A Veterinarian’s View

Earlier today, a fellow horseplayer sent me an email with a link to the following article at the New York Time Horse Racing Blog.


From Sid Gustafson at the New York Times Horse Racing Blog -
Alkalinization, Lasix and Milkshaking: A Veterinarian’s View:
http://therail.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/25/alkalinization-lasix-and-milkshaking-a-veterinarians-view/

"The more Lasix, and the closer it is administered to the race, the more intense the alkalinization effect of Lasix, according to the science presented at the K.H.R.C. race-day medication hearing. Lasix alkalinizes horses, creating a competitive metabolic advantage similar to milkshaking, rendering the drug Lasix a clear and present doping agent. Human athletic regulators have deemed Lasix a doping agent, and horseracing regulators will eventually have to come to that appropriate conclusion. Lasix has significant potential to alter and enhance racehorse performance."

I realize that the issue of race day meds has rapidly become a divisive one within the horse racing community. I also realize that coherent (sometimes heated) arguments can be made on both sides:
  • We need race day meds. 
  • Race day meds must go. 
 Personally, I found Gustafson's piece informative and (if true) telling - specifically, the sentences towards the end of the following paragraph:
"As well, in my experience as both an attending veterinarian and a regulatory veterinarian, the attending veterinarians administering Lasix are often requested (as long as they are in the stall with the horse before the race to give the Lasix) to administer intravenous sodium bicarbonate, calcium and a wide variety of other substances, including adjunct bleeder medications and undetectable performance-enhancers to stimulate or calm horses while sustaining added endurance. By pharmaceutically altering and manipulating a variety of physiological and neurological parameters for competitive advantage, medicating veterinarians influence the outcome of horse races and racehorse performance. In addition, these race-day medicators put horses at increased risk to break down. The statistics presented at the hearing clearly show horses medicated on race day break down more often than clean racing runners. The connection is indisputable."

In my opinion, the most disturbing thing found in Gustafson's write up is the following paragraph:
"It should be noted here, as well, that California allows trainers to take horses on and off Lasix without public knowledge. The attending veterinarians are allowed to use the steroidal estrogen hormone Premarin instead of Lasix. The California attending veterinarians are at liberty to switch out established race-day Lasix administration for race-day Premarin without the public disclosure of the change. All the while the horse is listed on the program as a Lasix horse race after race, despite differing medication regimens from race to race. This can result in significant variations in the type and dosage of administered medications from race to race, with associated alterations in performance. A horse listed as a Lasix horse may legally receive Premarin instead of Lasix. Next race the horse may receive Lasix, or Lasix plus Premarin, or only Premarin. The betting public is not made aware of these medication switches. Potential performance variations because of medication changes are hidden from the public by the California Horse Racing Board. Its regulatory veterinarians are forbidden to disclose the information to anyone but the testing laboratory, so the lab knows why certain Lasix horses do not have Lasix in their urine. The race-to-race medication choices are orchestrated and controlled by the racing veterinarians administering the race-day medications."

I hate to ask the obvious but...

How can a state regulatory body like the C.H.R.B. have so little regard for the wagering public it was created to protect?  

We at HANA would like to know what you think about this. We invite commentary from players and horsemen alike.

Jeff Platt
President, HANA

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5 comments:

Steve Zorn said...

Gustafson's piece is not an argument against Lasix, but against having Lasix administered in the barn by private vets. In New York, Lasix is administered by NYRA vets, and private vets aren't allowed in the stall. Hence, the additional drugging that Gustafson warns about can't happen.

Cangamble said...

He did call Lasix a performance enhancer early in his article. I didn't get take away from the article that he is for race day meds at all, but he is definitely against allowing vets in the stall on race day (and maybe up to three days before a race as well).

figureman said...

The most amazing aspect of this article is the complete disregard the racing industry has for it's economic engine. (the bettors)

Anonymous said...

If in fact the following statement is true:

"The California attending veterinarians are at liberty to switch out established race-day Lasix administration for race-day Premarin without the public disclosure of the change. All the while the horse is listed on the program as a Lasix horse race after race, despite differing medication regimens from race to race."

Then it follows that the CHRB is perpetuating nothing less than OUTRIGHT FRAUD on gamblers like myself foolish enough to have been supporting the California racing product all these years.

Sirs, THANK YOU for bringing this to my attention.

Anonymous said...

Gustafon posted the previous week that poor horsemanship and training were primarily responsible for EIPH. He claims that horses do not get enough excerise by spending upwards of 23 hours a day in their stalls. The guy certainly sounds like he knows what he is talkiong about.