The symbol (L) is widely used in racing programs to inform the betting public that a horse has been treated with the bleeder medication Salix (formerly known as Lasix). But visitors to Maryland for the Preakness might notice something different.
Beside some horses' names is the symbol (LA) that indicates a horse has been treated with Salix along with one or more of the three adjunct medications that have been approved by the Maryland Racing Commission.
Six of the 13 horses entered in Saturday's Preakness have the LA designator in the track program. They are U S S Tinosa, Magic Weisner, Medalia d'Oro, Harlan's Holiday, Easyfromthegitgo, and Menacing Dennis.
The racing commission has required adjunct bleeder medications to be reported since March. The three that are legal in Maryland are Amicar (aminocoprioc acid), Tranex (tranexamic acid), and carbazochrome, which is known commonly as "Kentucky Red." According to state veterinarian David Zipf, Amicar and Tranex promote clotting while carbazochrome's action is associated with the integrity of blood vessel walls.
The use of adjunct bleeder medications is something "that is done on a widespread basis," said Mike Hopkins, the racing commission's acting executive director. "We thought this was the proper way to let everybody know what is going on."
When a trainer enters a horse that is a bleeder in Maryland, he is required to declare what medications will be used. The veterinarian who treats the horse must also report what medications are given. The commission "spot checks" through testing to make sure the information was correct, Hopkins said.
All horses treated for bleeding in Maryland must receive Salix. But adjunct medications do not have to be administered. If they are, one, two, or a combination of all three approved in the state may be used.
To Hopkins' knowledge, no other state requires adjunct bleeder medications to be reported separately from Lasix. He said the new medication regulation was approved after discussion with a Maryland industry medication committee, whose members include horsemen, practicing veterinarians, state veterinarians, and racing commission members.
"We haven't had any comment from anybody," said Hopkins, a reaction that might indicate "that nobody cares."
But, he added: "I'm glad we did it. We're trying to give people all the information that they can absorb."