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Medication Corner

March 12, 2013
By Kent H. Stirling
For this issue’s Medication Corner, we have a follow up article on Lasix and the Breeders Cup by Drs. Kimberly Brewer and Tom Tobin.  The original article was written by Dr. Brewer.  After that article, I have listed all the therapeutic medications that will no longer be permitted in the race horse.  Most of you have seen the list of the so called “Controlled Therapeutic Medications,” but you may not have seen the entire list of therapeutic medications that was established by the RMTC in 2003 by the Veterinary Advisory Committee as the “most frequently” used racehorse medications.  These medications were then placed in priority groups as to which would have research completed first to establish thresholds and withdrawal times.  In my chart below, I have listed those medications that according to ARCI Chairman of the Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee, Duncan Patterson, “would be considered prohibited and violations treated more harshly.”
Aftermath of the Breeder’s Cup 2012:   All Non-lasix 2 year olds return to Lasix.
By Drs. Kimberly Brewer and Thomas Tobin
The 2012 running of the Breeders’ Cup races held at Santa Anita Racecourse marked the first time juvenile races where held without the race day furosemide (Lasix).   As is well known, the Breeders’ Cup juvenile races were run lasix free, in essence a major experiment  to see how young horses would perform “Lasix  free” at the international level.  As discussed in a previous issue of the Horseman’s Journal, a number of horses running without lasix were known to have bled significantly during the running of previous Breeders’ Cup races.
We can now review the post Breeders’ Cup race records of these juvenile horses that participated in the 2012 Lasix free Breeders’ Cup races.  Review of records from the Daily Racing Form as well as Equibase provided information for this process.  A total of only forty nine juvenile (2 year old) horses participated in the Breeders’ Cup in 2012.    Of these 49 horses, according to records reviewed, 22 have started since the Breeders’ Cup.  In round figures, 44% of the horses involved in the Breeder’s Cup have returned to the races since this event.  Of the 22 horses that returned to the races, every single horse, a full 100%, returned to the use of Lasix for their first start after the 2012 Breeders’ Cup.
This is an enormously significant statistic.  All of the owners and trainers had the option of continuing to run without Lasix, but all chose to add Lasix back for their horse’s next start.  Having 100% of the horses return on Lasix for their next start after the Breeders’ Cup presumably reflects the opinion of 100% of the trainers and or owners that they have a better chance at success with their horses when they run on Lasix.    The reasons why Lasix was added back cannot be determined from a mere race records review; however, there have been numerous reasons cited in scientific reports and layman’s opinions as to why Lasix use may be advantageous.  These include such factors as a possible 80% reduction in epistaxis, obvious bleeding from both nostrils, or of Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH), lessening in severity of EIPH, and alleviation of the EIPH related reduction in racing performance.  For whatever reason.