Jockey Club Strongly Urges Drug-Free Racing

Jockey Club president James Gagliano reiterates call for ban on race-day medications.

The Jockey Club has reiterated its support for the elimination of race-day medications, calling a ban "essential to achieving optimal stewardship of the horse, the sport, the public perception and confidence, and the business of Thoroughbred racing."

In a strongly worded statement, Jockey Club president James Gagliano said U.S. racing is increasingly out of sync with other major racing jurisdictions and has lost consumer confidence at home.
The consequences of continued tolerance of race-day medications could be profound, he said.

"Many observers today believe that the Thoroughbred is not as sound and hardy as he once was, and the generations of horses racing on medication and then dominating the gene pool are suspected of causing or contributing to that decline," Gagliano said. "Thus, the welfare of the breed merges with the welfare of the business. If the rest of the world increasingly looks on the American Thoroughbred as a tainted product, the impact on the international market is easily predictable"

Gagliano urged industry stakeholders to seek ways to manage exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage in horses without the use of  furosemide, or Salix.
"Current race-day medication policies have resulted in the overuse of an under-needed medication that is far from producing a 'level playing field.' Adding to that the use of adjunct bleeder medications—which have failed to demonstrate efficacy in the treatment of EIPH—our overall race-day medication policies have become disconnected from the sport," he said.

Gagliano disagreed with assertions that U.S. horses can't run without Salix, citing the victories of American runners in the Dubai World Cup and at Royal Ascot. He also said the South African study that concluded Salix is a good treatment for bleeding hasn't prompted other racing countries to reserve their ban and permit its race-day use.

Gagliano took issue with the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association's complaint that organizations that support the ban have forced the HBPA's hand.

"Matters raised recently by the HBPA that The Jockey Club does not agree with include the suggestion that all parties and viewpoints have not been sufficiently involved in racing’s dialogue," he said. "For anyone who has followed the virtual half-century of evolution from what was once styled 'controlled' medication to today, it is not credible to suggest that any stakeholder has not been given adequate opportunity to be heard."

He said that while The Jockey Club has long supported equine research no further study is required to conclude that horses should race without medication. 

Gagliano urged organizers of the planned international drug summit to gather international regulators, trainers, and veterinarians to develop alternatives to the use of Salix for EIPH. He also urged the development of a comprehensive plan to phase in "reforms, including medication-free competition."

See also: Feds May Step In on Race-Day Drug Use