Ky. panel: Ban race day horse meds from Derby
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky on Monday was poised to become the first state to ban a race day anti-bleeding medication after a panel recommended the drug be prohibited from the Kentucky Derby in 2014, and the whole state by 2015.
The Race Day Medication Committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted 4-1 for the proposal. The full commission is expected to take up the document later Monday.
The vote against the use of furosemide drew anger from Dale L. Romans, a longtime Kentucky trainer whose horse Dullahan won Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes to put him in the group of likely Derby favorites.
"This just started driving the final nail in Kentucky racing,'' Romans called out from audience after the vote. He had asked to speak but was turned down.
Furosemide, which is marketed under the brand names Lasix and Salix, is the only medication allowed to be given to horses on race day in the United States. Its use is banned in other countries because it enhances performance.
Industry groups such as The Jockey Club support a ban, saying there should be one set of drug rules that applies internationally and that allowing the drug creates a bad public impression.
The proposal would ban the race day use of furosemide for 2-year-olds beginning next year, then expand it to 3-year-olds by 2014. The Kentucky Derby, run the first Saturday of May, is for 3-year-old horses, and would be included in the ban.
A blanket prohibition would be put in place in 2015 for the entire state, according to the proposal.
Foster Northrop, a veterinarian who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the issue is splitting apart the horse racing industry. He added that the proposal "kills racing in Kentucky.''
But Elizabeth Lavin, who voted in favor of the draft, said the perception of horse racing is that it has become reliant on "chemical manipulation.''
Use of furosemide to treat pulmonary hemorrhaging in racehorses began in the 1970s.
In November, the committee had heard from about 20 people during a daylong hearing on the issue.
Last year, a bipartisan pair of lawmakers sought a national ban on performance-enhancing drugs in a bill that came three years after death of Eight Belles at the 2008 Kentucky Derby. A drug test proved that the horse was clear of steroids, but the death helped shine a light on safety problems and the lack of a single governing body for the sport.
Rick Dutrow, trainer of the 2008 Derby winner Big Brown, acknowledged he regularly injected the horse with the then-legal steroid stanozolol.
A 2009 study by three universities found that horses treated with furosemide had less hemorrhaging in their airways and lungs during exercise. The study was conducted by Colorado State University in the U.S., the University of Melbourne in Australia, and the University of Pretoria in South Africa.
In 1987, jockey Pat Day pulled 2-1 Derby favorite Demons Begone after a half-mile when the colt got a nosebleed.