The New York State Racing and Wagering Board has begun soliciting comments on whether a rule change regarding the race-day use Salix is required.
“It doesn’t mean we’re going to change the rule. It doesn’t mean we are going to ban Lasix,” said John Sabini, chairman during a regular meeting of the board April 30. “It means we want people’s opinions. We want scientific opinion. We want casual opinion. The board will take appropriate action going forward. It is time.”
New York's racing board was meeting at the same time a congressional hearing was being conducted about medication and the horse racing industry near Kennett Square, Pa.
Salix, known previously as Lasix, is a medication used to prevent exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging, more commonly known as bleeding. The drug has come under fire in the past year for its reputation as a performance-enhancing substance and for a perception that it is contributing to the perpetuation of unsoundness in the Thoroughbred breed.
New York was the last major racing state to allow the legal use of Salix, adopting the rule change in September 1995.
"It is obviously a contentious issue, but it is also one of great concern," Sabini said. "There are people who really don’t believe a needle should be stuck in the neck of every race horse before a race. The industry needs a fresh look at the issue.
"I think it is appropriate, and the board members think it is appropriate, to relook at that policy to see if it is in the best interest of the horse, the person on the back of the horse, and the person investing in the race—the bettor.”
New York is the second state to take up the race-day Salix debate in the past several weeks. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted 7-7 on a proposal April 16 to phase out the medication’s use over three years. The commission later tabled a proposal to ban race-day medication in only stakes races for 2-year-olds in 2013. The proposal will be reconsidered in mid-May.
Anyone wanting to submit comments to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board are encouraged to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit comments in writing to Kristen Buckley, Acting Secretary to the Board, New York State Racing and Wagering Board, One Broadway Center, Schenectady, NY, 12305. Comments will be accepted through the close of business May 14.