Interesting to read of a respected trainer like Graham Motion speaking out in favor of the use of Salix (fka Lasix) as a race-day medication at the International Summit on Race Day Medication, EIPH and the Racehorse.
“I certainly know I would have horses in my barn who would not be able to race if we took away Lasix,” Motion said. “Is that right or wrong, I’m not sure.”Not surprisingly, these remarks were not reported in the New York Times by Joe Drape in his article on the subject on Tuesday. Imagine, his golden boy Graham Motion, who he's repeatedly lauded for his squeaky clean record (and the trainer of his equine hero Animal Kingdom), actually coming out in favor of a medication which Drape otherwise holds greatly responsible for the industry's decline? Guess he'll just ignore that. All the News That's Fit to Print As Long As It Fits Our Agenda.
“I do think Lasix may be the lesser of the evils,” Motion said. “If we take it away, everyone is going to be looking for something else to control the bleeding. This is more controlled.”
During the veterinary panel, racetrack veterinarian Foster Northrop said he had a problem with people characterizing Salix as a “performance-enhancing drug.”
“I’ve never had a trainer come up to me to say I want to improve this horse’s performance, let’s give him Lasix,” Northrop said, noting that giving a horse too much Salix can hurt performance. “It’s hard to come up with right dosage. Too much can hurt a horse.” [Thoroughbred Times]
Veterinarians and racing officials here from England, Ireland and Hong Kong, backed by data from jurisdictions across the world, told their American colleagues that they were medicating horses who did not need it. There are not that many severe bleeders, and the ones who are are being kept on the track with Lasix and should be not be racing, anyway.Matt Hegarty, writing in the Form, also emphasized the difference in medication rules between here and elsewhere, noting that The United States and Canada are the only major jurisdictions that allow for the raceday use of furosemide.
Dr. Anthony Stirk, the senior veterinary adviser to the British Horse Racing Authority, said that it would benefit American horsemen to get in step with the rest of the world, not only in medication policies but also in racing less frequently. [NY Times]
It makes me chuckle when I hear the notion that we should be more like the Europeans in this particular regard. Since when are we in the habit here of emulating our friends overseas? I mean, Europeans also have socialized medicine, and I don't hear much call for that these days; in fact, quite the opposite! I imagine roughly half of you equivocate that with the end of civilization as we know it.
Besides, our racing culture and industry is markedly distinct from that of other countries, and what might make sense there may not here - significantly less racing probably doesn't work; all grass racing is definitely taboo. Drape writes of Hong Kong:
Over the past five years, it has had only eight sudden deaths among 45,000 runners, or one per 5,692 starters. The American fatality rate is 2.14 per 1,000 starters.However, Hong Kong has only 83 racing dates, so the economics of the industry is vastly different from that over here. So it just might be that a higher death rate constitutes acceptable collateral damage, unfortunate but necessary to keep the vast number of people who make their living in the industry employed. Oh, does that sound cold? The concept of collateral damage seems OK after all when it comes to innocent human Afghans caught up in NATO night raids.
In fact, this country seems to have a more callous attitude overall towards human life than in Europe. After all and for example, unlike in the vast majority of Europe, we execute convicted criminals over here, despite the fact that it's been proven that not all of them are actually guilty. And we've been known to start wars that led to tens of thousands of deaths for no good reason at all. So all of this sudden hand-wringing over horses seems rather incongruous to me. As I've said before, if you're a racing fan or participant, you've already checked your morality at the door and signed off on the fact that these animals are bred and brought to this earth for no other purpose than their sheer exploitation for our pleasure and commerce; and that some of them inevitably and unavoidably become casualties along the way.
None of this is to say that we should totally ignore feedback from overseas, especially when we're told by foreign buyers that they are shying away from American auctions "because we view the performances of U.S. horses with skepticism because of the medication policies." And I'm surely in full support of steps to make the sport safer - including the synthetic experiment that many have derided due to nothing but their own selfish interests and superfluous personal preferences. However, American horsemen need to figure out what works for them and for their industry in this country, and put the views of those from other jurisdictions in the perspective that they belong.