Many of North America's top trainers are backing a plan to eliminate the use of race-day medication in the U.S. beginning next season.
In a release sent out the afternoon of Aug. 1, 25 prominent trainers said they would favor a plan to gradually eliminate race-day medication in the U.S. Currently the only medication permitted to be administered on race day is furosemide (commonly called Lasix or Salix), which has been used to prevent or lessen the severity of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.
The group of horsemen includes multiple Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher and Racing Hall of Fame trainers Roger Attfield, Neil Drysdale, D. Wayne Lukas, Richard Mandella, Shug McGaughey, Bill Mott, and Jonathan Sheppard. The proposal they are backing would prohibit race-day medication for 2-year-olds next year; in 2016 no horses would be permitted to receive race-day medication.
In addition, the group is supportive of the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium's efforts to approve model rules for 26 controlled medications by the RCI board of directors.
"We believe it's time to take a proactive position regarding the administration of race day medication. American racing has always been a global leader, and it's time to restore confidence in our game and in our international standing," Lukas said in the release.
The group, listed below, includes four of the current top 10 trainers by purse earnings in Pletcher, Mott, Christophe Clement, and Graham Motion.
The Jockey Club, as well as other high-profile owners and breeders, have called for the elimination of race-day medication, noting the policy would bring the U.S. in line with other top racing countries.
Breeders' Cup officials Bill Farish and Craig Fravel released a statement applauding the trainers for their support of eliminating authorized race-day medication.
"The Breeders’ Cup has long advocated for policies that would bring the U.S. in line with other major international racing jurisdictions and we fully support this group of prominent trainers. We believe a broad coalition of tracks and owners also share this view and we are committed to provide support, financial and otherwise, to an effort to implement on a national basis phasing out race-day medications."
Many other horsemen and industry groups continue to support the use of the diuretic drug furosemide, however.
"The position of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has not wavered," New York THA president Rick Violette Jr. said. "The science has not changed. The horses have not changed. Most horses suffer from exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage, and Lasix is the only scientifically proven, truly effective treatment we have to protect them.
"A Lasix ban does not benefit the horse, the owner, or the horseplayer. Forcing trainers to return to using archaic methods to treat bleeders, whether it is the barbaric practice of taking away water for 24 to 48 hours or trying homeopathic remedies with questionable results, is not progress. Absent a researched and reasoned alternative to protect horses from EIPH, NYTHA is vehemently against any ban on Lasix."
Here is the list of supporting trainers:
Neil D. Drysdale
Jeremiah C. Englehart
Michael E. Hushion
D. Wayne Lukas
Richard E. Mandella
Claude R. McGaughey III
Kiaran P. McLaughlin
Kenneth G. McPeek
H. Graham Motion
William I. Mott
Todd A. Pletcher
Jonathan E. Sheppard
Albert M. Stall, Jr.
William Van Meter