Race-Day Medication Pros and Cons Debated
The pros and cons of race-day medication in racehorses were debated Nov. 14 during a lengthy meeting of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Race Day Medication Committee at the state Capitol.
The meeting, which included 5 1/2 hours of testimony, broke no new ground on research or opinion. If anything, it drove home the split between supporters of continued use of Salix and those who oppose it.
Matt Iuliano, executive director of The Jockey Club, said the organization is against the use of race-day medication. He also cited results of a survey conducted by McKinsey & Company that indicated racing fans oppose use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Iuliano said Salix improves performance; others that offered testimony disagreed, saying it merely combats EIPH. In response to questioning from racing commissions, Iuliano said there is no other known drug that combats EIPH, but he also said The Jockey Club is against race-day medication of any kind.
Dr. David Richardson, representing the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and its American Graded Stakes Committee, said an AGSC pilot program to ban use of Salix in graded stakes for 2-year-olds in 2012 is “designed to move the process beyond discussion and to get action on the issue.” Individual regulatory agencies in each state will have to adopt such a policy before it takes effect.
KHRC member John Ward Jr., a trainer and member of the committee, said if such a plan comes to fruition, he would like to see every 2-year-old that races without Salix in graded stakes be tested so substantive data can be collected. “Let’s get some science from it,” he said.
Some of the testimony dealt with the United States versus other countries that don’t permit race-day use of furosemide. Breeders’ Cup president Craig Fravel said the organization is “interested in a level playing field with respect to international competition.”
“It’s unquestionable that the American breeding industry has been denigrated in international eyes because we use race-day medication,” Fravel said.
No one from foreign jurisdictions spoke during the meeting.
Horsemen's groups and the Jockeys' Guild said they oppose a ban on Salix. David England, a Kentucky-based trainer, said horse racing has a marketing problem, not a drug problem.
"Many fans have never heard of (Salix), and it makes no difference to them either way," England said. "It seems we've pretty much (eliminated race-day medication). It's much more of a marketing problem."
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