PHRC tables administrative policy on Lasix in 2-year-old races, graded stakes

Posted: March 30, 2021

The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission March 30 tabled action on an administrative policy that would ban the use of race-day Lasix in 2-year-olds and in graded stakes at the state’s three Thoroughbred tracks.

The administrative policy, which doesn’t affect Standardbred racing, was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin March 6 and was scheduled to be effective April 1. It was moved to the agenda for the next PHRC meeting scheduled for April 27.

The policy reads as follows:

“The State Horse Racing Commission (Commission), in accordance with 3 Pa.C.S. § 9312(6) (relating to additional powers of Commission) of the Race Horse Industry Reform Act and 7 Pa. Code § 401.4(a) (relating to substances of therapeutic value), is authorized to adopt national standards relating to prohibited substances, uniform drug threshold levels or penalties and to regulate substances of therapeutic value, including the use of furosemide (Lasix) in racehorses.

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“The Commission recognizes that Lasix is helpful in the management of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. In overseeing the race-day use of Lasix, the Commission has placed strict regulatory controls on the dose, route and time the medication is administered. These measures are designed to provide a complete regulation of Lasix and to prevent the misuse of the drug, including, where appropriate, the reasonable restriction on the use of Lasix.

“The Commission hereby provides notice that it intends to follow the national racing standard by expressly banning the use of Lasix in 2-year-old Thoroughbred horses racing (at) Thoroughbred racetracks in this Commonwealth and banning the use of Lasix in graded stakes conducted in this Commonwealth effective April 1, 2021.”

Major racing states or individual racetracks have banned the use of Lasix 48 hours before a race in 2-year-olds, graded stakes and in some cases, all stakes. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which became law in late 2020 and is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2022, calls for a total ban on race-day Lasix, though states can request a three-year “exemption”—not including 2-year-old races and all stakes—pending completion of a study.

The first graded stakes of the year in Pennsylvania—the grade II Penn Mile—is scheduled for May 28 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. Parx Racing has not yet released its open stakes schedule.

In other business at the PHRC meeting, Brian Sanfratello, Executive Secretary for the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, told commissioners the organization will be issuing a press release endorsing the federal Safeguard American Food Exports Act (SAFE Act), which would prohibit the slaughter of horses in the United States for food consumption and ban their export for the same purpose.

Sanfratello also said the PHBA supports Pennsylvania-specific legislation regarding horse slaughter, and that it will forward to the PHRC a code of ethics tied to the registration of horses.