LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)– In the wake of two dozen horse deaths at Santa Anita Park in California, a huge announcement was made regarding a controversial race-day drug.
Lasix is an anti-bleeding medication that helps treat “exercise induce pulmonary hemorrhage” but it is used much more prevalently, to the point that some argue it is a performance-enhancing drug. Keeneland CEO Bill Thomason said that last year, every horse that ran the Kentucky Derby was on the medication.
“This is really one of the most significant events to happen in our industry in decades,” he said.
Major tracks such as Keeneland and Churchill Downs are planning to ban the use of Lasix. The plan to phase the drug out is as follows: beginning on January 1, 2020, two-year-old horses will not be allowed to be treated with Lasix within 24 hours of a race. The following year, the same rule would apply to all horses participating in any stakes races included in this coalition.
Lasix is already banned in most racing circles outside of the United States and Thomason said that this decision moves American racing in line with the rest of the world.
“This is just the first stage of many where we are going to show the true concerns that we have and have always had for our athletes, now we’re just doing it in a coordinated approach,” said Thomason.