Mid-Atlantic states prepare HISA exemption requests for race-day Lasix

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Sept. 27, 2022

Mid-Atlantic racing jurisdictions are preparing to ask the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority for a 2023 exemption that will allow Thoroughbred tracks to allow the use of race-day Lasix in races other than stakes and all races for 2-year-olds.

The HISA legislation, signed into law in late December 2020, bans the use of Lasix within 48 hours of a race. But it also states that HISA shall allow states to request an exemption for races other than stakes and those for 2-year-olds for a three-year period during which the therapeutic medication will be the subject of a study on its effects on horses.

The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission and West Virginia Racing Commission at meetings Sept. 27 voted to submit the exemption request form. HISA must receive all exemption requests no later than 45 days prior to the first race of 2023 in each jurisdiction. The Maryland Racing Commission is expected to do the same at its next meeting Oct. 4.

Pennsylvania, like Maryland, New York and other states, already has in place a policy that bans race-day Lasix in graded stakes and 2-year-old races. Lasix has been permitted in non-graded stakes in Pennsylvania and Maryland, but not New York.

PHRC Thoroughbred Bureau Director Tom Chuckas said the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association requested that the racing commission pursue the exemption.

The HISA law states that exemptions may not be requested for any 2-year-old race or any stakes. A request “shall specify the applicable state racing commission’s requested limitations on the use of furosemide that would apply to the state under the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program during such period. Such limitations shall be no less restrictive on the use and administration of furosemide than the restrictions set forth in state’s laws and regulations in effect as of Sept. 1, 2020.”

The WVRC voted to authorize Chairman Ken Lowe and Executive Director Joe Moore to submit an exemption form but also to negotiate with HISA before the form is submitted. The primary concern in West Virginia is the ban of Lasix in 2-year-old races and West Virginia-accredited stakes, Charles Town HPBA President Jim Miller said.

WVRC member J.B. Akers said “the fact that Lasix is the only medication offered an exemption (indicates) there are still legitimate and reasonable discussions” on the therapeutic medication’s use on race day.

Moore also noted that Drug Free Sport International, the organization that will head HISA’s Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit, recently met by phone with WVRC personnel to discuss use of accredited laboratories, assessments for the Anti-Doping and Medication and Control Program that begins Jan. 1, 2023, and personnel costs for the HISA program. Moore said the 2023 assessment for West Virginia—Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort—will be three to four times higher than the six-month assessment paid for the HISA Racetrack Safety Program the last half of 2022.