THA statement on proposed ban of race-day Lasix

Posted: April 18, 2019

Since 2011, following the International Summit on Race-Day Medication at Belmont Park, it has been the Mid-Atlantic region’s collective position, including ours, that in the absence of a more effective treatment for EIPH, the current strictly regulated system for the administration of furosemide on race day should be maintained, because it is in the best interests of the health and welfare of the horse—our number one priority in racing.

Nothing has changed scientifically since that time, except that the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine has strongly recommended that EIPH be considered a disease in horses. Both the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the American Veterinary Medical Association support the use of furosemide as a race-day medication to control EIPH, in the absence of a more effective alternative.

At its recent annual meeting of the Mid-Atlantic regulators, horsemen’s organizations, breeders’ organizations, racetrack operators, veterinarians and other stakeholder organizations held at Delaware Park on March 21, 2019, the Mid-Atlantic discussed the pending proposals for a total or limited ban on the use of the furosemide (Lasix) on race day. The Mid-Atlantic determined to reaffirm its policy, and further determined that any change in the policy should be a regional decision and not a state vs. state, track vs. track policy.

Together with our colleagues in the Mid Atlantic, we have taken the lead in the racing industry on health, safety and welfare reforms, including the recent adoption of the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities. We have been leaders in medication reform. We are committed to doing what is best to protect the health, safety and welfare of the horse, the integrity of our sport, the fairness of competition, and the best interest of the bettors and the fans.

We will continue to work collectively to enact impactful reforms. We believe that the industry’s total focus and priority right now should be determining the causes of racehorse breakdowns and fatalities, and implementing protocols to reduce or eliminate them. Banning furosemide will have no effect on the breakdown rate.

We are certainly open, as we have always been, to having frank discussions with those organizations who are recommending a change to our industry’s medication policies. Any position that we subsequently take will depend on what we believe to be in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the horse.