Thursday, March 14, 2019

Santa Anita Implements Lasix Ban, Increased Restrictions On Therapeutic Drugs Following 22nd Fatal Breakdown

by Belinda Stronach | 03.14.2019 | 4:26pm
Santa Anita Implements Lasix Ban, Increased Restrictions On Therapeutic Drugs Following 22nd Fatal Breakdown:

The following statement was distributed to media Thursday afternoon as an “open letter” from Stronach Group chairman and president Belinda Stronach following the track's 22nd fatal breakdown during morning training at Santa Anita.

What has happened at Santa Anita over the last few weeks is beyond heartbreaking.  It is unacceptable to the public and, as people who deeply love horses, to everyone at The Stronach Group and Santa Anita.

The sport of horse racing is the last great sporting legacy platform to be modernized.  If we expect our sport to grow for future generations, we must raise our standards.

Today, I'm announcing The Stronach Group will take the unprecedented step of declaring a zero tolerance for race day medication at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields.  These Thoroughbred racetracks will be the first in North America to follow the strict International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) standards.

We have arrived at a watershed moment.  The Stronach Group has long been a strong advocate for the abolishment of race-day medication, but we will wait no longer for the industry to come together as one to institute these changes. Nor will we wait for the legislation required to undertake this paradigm shift.  We are taking a stand and fully recognize just how disruptive this might be.

This mandate encompasses a complete revision of the current medication policy to improve the safety of our equine and human athletes and to raise the integrity of our sport.

These revisions comprise best practices currently employed at racetracks around the world:
  • Banning the use of Lasix.
  • Increasing the ban on legal therapeutic NSAIDS, joint injections, shockwave therapy, and anabolic steroids.
  • Complete transparency of all veterinary records.
  • Significantly increasing out-of-competition testing.
  • Increasing the time required for horses to be on-site prior to a race.
  • A substantial investment by The Stronach Group in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.
  • Horses in training are only allowed therapeutic medication with a qualified veterinary diagnosis.

Additionally, it is time to address the growing concern about use of the riding crop.  A cushion crop should only be used as a corrective safety measure.  While we firmly believe our jockeys have not purposely been mistreating their mounts, it is time to make this change.

These modernizations are in addition to the previously announced commitment to the continued engagement of outside experts to regularly review our dirt, turf and synthetic courses for consistency, composition and compaction to create the safest racing surfaces in the world.

We will be continuing our daily conversations with industry stakeholders to further define these transformative guidelines.  But make no mistake: these changes will be implemented. The time to discuss “why” these advancements must take place is over.  The only thing left to discuss is “how.”

Wow. (It's been a busy day.)

--Jeff Platt, HANA President


Where have all of the so called racing journalists gone?

There was another fatal breakdown at Santa Anita this morning. (The 22nd fatality at Santa Anita since opening day Dec 26, 2018.)

Last week, when The Associated Press picked up the story about the situation at Santa Anita, their reporters wrote about microfractures. | By PAUL NEWBERRY | Friday March 8, 2019
Column: Horse racing needs to clean up its act _ or go away:

"These are orthopedic failures, not single-step failures. The horse didn’t step in a hole. The horse didn’t take a bad step," she said. "If you bend a paper clip back and forth 200 times, then put it back in shape so it looks brand new and hand to me, the next time I bend it, it might come apart in two pieces even though I insist I did not bend it hard. That’s how these fractures occur."

It starts with a microfracture. Then a small, partial fracture. Finally, in the heat of a big race or perhaps just a light training session, the bone shatters.

It seems sudden, a fluke.

Most likely, it’s not.

"This is really just the normal physiological consequence of an increasing workload," Lyons said. "Take a human runner. Most runners know that when they increase their distances and then say, ‘Boy, my shins were killing me last night after a run,’ that they need to back off for the next week. They need to let it heal. What they do with horses is give them anti-inflammatories without a diagnosis, then keep training and racing."

Lyons said new technology is being developed that would allow a CT scan to be performed in a matter of minutes on a horse’s front and rear legs, which could be a revolutionary step forward in equine medical care. But the industry must be willing to pay for the machines, which are expected to cost about $300,000 apiece. Also, there must be enforcement in place to ensure that when a potential problem is discovered, the horse is kept off the track until fully healed."

I find it interesting -- alarming -- that none of the so called racing journalists writing about the situation at Santa Anita have even mentioned the word microfracture.

Why do you think that is?

Six of the 21 horses suffering fatal breakdowns at Santa Anita between Dec 26, 2018 and Mar 11, 2019 raced on a sealed surface within a few weeks of their fatal breakdown. (See the chart posted by Psychotic Parakeet at here:

In my opinion:

  • It's not the track surface. (At least not track surface the way they want us to think about track surface.)
  • The time has come for actual transparency. (As opposed to the smokescreen they've been giving us these past several weeks about it being the track surface.)

  • The CHRB has been compiling data on fatal breakdowns and microfractures for years.

Is there not one racing journalist out there who's willing to write a hard hitting story connecting the dots?

--Jeff Platt, HANA President