September 19, 2021

Racetrack coalition to implement Lasix ban in stakes, two-year-old races

Churchill Downs is among the 20 tracks in the coalition (c) Coady Photography

American Thoroughbred racing officials have united to phase out the use of Lasix (Furosemide) in two-year-old races and stakes races. Tracks owned or operated by Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI), the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) and The Stronach Group as well as Del Mar, Keeneland, Lone Star Park and Remington Park, Los Alamitos Racecourse (Thoroughbred), Oaklawn Park and Tampa Bay Downs have joined the coalition and plans call for Lasix to be eliminated in two-year-old races beginning in 2020 and all stakes races beginning in 2021.

The 2021 Triple Crown races will be run under the new race-day medication rules. As a group, the coalition tracks represent 86% of the stakes races assigned graded or listed status in the United States.

Breeders’ Cup Limited, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders’ Association (TOBA) and the American Graded Stakes Committee of TOBA, and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association have also joined the coalition in support of this new policy.

“This is a progressive and unified approach to the subject of race day medication, achieving consistency with international standards for young horses and those that form the foundations of our breeding stock,” said David O’Rourke, president and chief executive officer of NYRA.

“This is a huge moment that signals a collective move to evolve this legacy sport,” said Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of The Stronach Group. “While there is still more work to be done, these reforms are a good start. This industry coalition has taken an important step forward toward a uniform policy and we are committed to focusing our attention and resources on how to make further improvements that directly prioritize equine health and safety. We applaud our industry partners and we look forward to continued collaboration.”

“Over the past several years, we have met with numerous stakeholders to drive action on many of our sport’s central issues,” said Bill Carstanjen, chief executive officer of CDI. “This is a significant and meaningful step to further harmonize American racing with international standards. We will continue to work with other stakeholders, including our horsemen and regulatory agencies, to fully implement this and other important reforms.”

“This new program is an essential step as we look toward the long-term sustainability of US-breds on the national and international stages. Protecting the integrity of our sport is core to our mission and is our collective responsibility to the industry,” said Keeneland president and chief executive officer Bill Thomason.

The coalition racing organizations invite other North American race tracks to join this effort and adopt the same policies. Participating tracks include Aqueduct Racetrack, Arlington International Racecourse, Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Del Mar, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West, Keeneland, Laurel Park, Lone Star Park and Remington Park, Los Alamitos (Thoroughbred), Oaklawn Park, Pimlico, Presque Isle Downs, Saratoga Race Course and Tampa Bay Downs. Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita Park will continue to run under the previously announced limitations to race-day medication.