Debate Over Lasix Phaseout In Kentucky Continues In Public Hearing

Kentucky moved closer to a Lasix phaseout Wednesday as the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission held a public hearing on proposed medication rule changes. Horsemen took the opportunity to renew their objections to the rules, which would push back furosemide administration to 24 hours before post time of a race for 2-year-olds of 2020 and stakes horses for 2021.

“The result of this proposed administrative regulation would place Kentucky at an isolated disadvantage that is not supported by the vast majority of Kentucky horsemen,” said Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “It creates an economic disadvantage and is proposing the potential that eventually all races could be carded as no Lasix. This represents a type of Trojan horse that has the underlying current to decimate Kentucky racing.”

The phaseout was originally suggested by Churchill Downs officials at a meeting of the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council in July 2019. The EDRC failed rule language outlining the phaseout at an October meeting, then reversed itself in December, sending the language on to the full commission. The commission is required to collect public comments on proposed rules before forwarding them on to Kentucky’s Legislative Research Commission.

Dr. Andy Roberts, a Standardbred veterinarian who is on the EDRC and voted against the measure at both meetings, also expressed frustration that the language is progressing despite what he and others called a lack of scientific evidence supporting a phaseout.

“I think we put those horses at greater risk by not using a legitimate therapeutic medication,” said Roberts, who referenced an unpublished study that purported to show electrolyte imbalances resulting from 24-hour furosemide. “At this time racing is on very frail ground. We need to do things that actually help the horse and create a safer environment.

“These regulations were brought forth by Churchill Downs and I question the legitimacy of racetrack operators setting medication rules, just in general. I’m not sure they have the expertise to determine that.”

Representatives of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Churchill Downs, and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium all appeared at the meeting, held via teleconference, to voice support for the furosemide phaseout and other medication rules up for consideration.

Also on the table Wednesday were a probation of electronic treatments (other than nebulizer treatments) 24 hours before post time, a pushback of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) from 24 hours to 48 hours before post time, a rule against stacking NSAIDs, and a pushback of intra-articular corticosteroids to 14 days prior to race day. The goal behind these changes, which are recommended by the RMTC, is to reduce the likelihood medications could influence a trainer or veterinarian’s assessment of a horse’s soundness pre-race.

Additional proposed rules would require trainers to keep medical records on their horses and present those medical records to officials upon request, require trainers or owners to submit 14 days’ worth of a horse’s medical records to the commission prior to race day, and require a horse be examined by an attending veterinarian in addition to a commission veterinarian pre-race.

Many of those changes echo measures put in place in California by either house rule or commission rule, in the fallout from racing and training fatalities there in early 2019.

Roberts expressed concern about the potential impact of longer intra-articular corticosteroid withdrawal times for Standardbreds, since many of them race more frequently than Thoroughbreds. Longer medication administration timeframes will cost harness horses more potential starts than Thoroughbreds, which he believes is unfair.

Rick Hiles, president of the Kentucky HBPA, also questioned whether additional exams by veterinarians were necessary, and expressed concern that this and mandated additional record-keeping would be unfairly burdensome on trainers and vets.

The commission will take written comments from the public through April 30. Those comments are forwarded to the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) along with comments from the commission in response. The LRC then has the option to forward the language on to the state legislature for a vote and eventually a signature by the governor before the proposed rule language can become part of the state’s racing regulations.

The post Debate Over Lasix Phaseout In Kentucky Continues In Public Hearing appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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