KY Horsemen Seek Beshear's Help on Medication

Furosemide ban is on horse racing commission's agenda for April 16 KHRC meeting.

The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has requested Gov. Steve Beshear not to sign any request to implement on an emergency basis a ban on race-day use of furosemide.

A race-day ban on the anti-bleeder medication, known as Salix or Lasix, is on the agenda for April 16 meetings of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and its race day medication committee. The committee meeting will precede the meeting of the full commission.

Efforts to obtain a copy of the proposed ban were unsuccessful April 13 and Marty Maline, executive director of the KHBPA, said horsemen are also unaware of what the proposed regulation calls for. Maline said he has heard that it would ban furosemide for 2-year-olds this year and would be applicable to all horses beginning in 2013.

Maline said horsemen also understand that the KHRC will request Beshear to sign any regulation passed by the commission to ban furosemide under an emergency provision, meaning it could take effect much sooner than if it went through the ordinary regulatory process.

"This caught us by surprise," Maline said of the proposed ban being included on the KHRC and committee meeting agendas. "This was so clandestine in the manner in which it was done. That was not the way to do things. To do this end around is terribly disappointing."

"It is our understanding that you have been requested to sign an Emergency Regulation banning the race-day administration of furosemide in race horses," states the letter to Beshear signed by KHBPA president Rick HIles.

The letter also notes that the Kentucky Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee has twice instructed the KHRC to follow the regular administrative regulatory process rather than seeking emergency action from the governor.

The letter, which goes on to outline reasons why horsemen do not believe the medication should be banned, concludes, "The KHBPA and the thousands of Thoroughbred horsemen and women we represent, respectfully request that you not sign the emergency regulation regarding Salix."

Elimination of race-day use of furosemide has been the subject of various meetings and hearings over the past year, including a six-hour public hearing last December conducted by the Kentucky race-day medication committee.

Maline said the scientific evidence presented at the public forums and in testimony by industry professionals has shown that race-day use of furosemide is a "valuable resource" to horses that bleed during competition.

He also noted that the Jockeys' Guild advocates continued use of furosemide because bleeding, known as Exercised Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage, endangers jockeys.

If approved, Kentucky would become the first racing jurisdiction to prohibit Salix in horses on race day.

The Jockey Club has been outspoken on the race-day issue since the current and past chairmen of the Association of Racing Commissioners last year called for a five-year phase-out of furosemide. Breeders' Cup Ltd. has reaffirmed its plan to ban race-day medications in World Championships races for 2-year-olds this year, although the American Graded Stakes Committee has delayed implementation of such a ban in juvenile graded stakes races run in 2012.