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End of the Road for This Race Day Drug
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End of the Road for This Race Day Drug

For those who love horses and are passionate about their well-being, we have a good news indeed. It is well known already that race horses are being drugged so that they can perform on the tracks in conditions under which they should have been taken care of clinically. The use of a medication on the race day that goes by the name “Lasix” to administer in horses to enhance their performance, so far, has been legal. Thanks to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and the a Club of Jockeys along with some other philanthropic organizations, their progressive campaign is, evidently, bringing an end of the road for this race-day drug; the impact is already felt throughout the tracks of horse racing.

So, the good news is that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is going to put a ban on the use of this “race-day” drug; they have already approved a plan to eliminate this medication gradually from the race tracks. Step by step, they plan to make the Kentucky Derby “Lasix-Free” by the year 2015. In 2014, it will be illegal to administer Lasix for lower graded races that have stakes. In 2015, the same will be done for all higher graded stakes races. From the subsequent years, there will be no Lasix on all stakes races irrespective of the age. Although this step could have been taken years earlier, nevertheless, its better late than never; finally it is a victory for the horses and for the racing industry.

Lasix (also known as Salix) is a powerful drug that enhances the performance of horses in such magnitude that even injured horses, while on the drug, are able to run on the tracks. A horse that literally should be in a healing process through various medications to prevent breakdown, is thrown on the tracks with the help of Lasix. PETA and other well-wishers (organizations) of horses deserve millions of thanks from us for their relentless efforts that succeeded in turning the tide; finally, this harmful drug is going to be prohibited. Just as human athletes are prohibited from taking drugs before they take part in any event, “race-day” drug hours before entering the tracks will be banned for horses as well.

The medication we are talking about is a kind of furosemide that may cause devastating complications for horses. If the horses knew about the impacts of the drug, and they had a choice, they sure would have not chosen to take Lasix. What moral strength do we have to force this harmful drug on the horses of which we know the effects but the horses don’t? The answer is, we really don’t have any. We have no right to make the horses take this drug to run on the tracks, hiding a severe injury or a dreadful disease. It is bad already that the physical illness of the horse is being ignored, but drugging the horse on top of that for our own financial gain, is simply disgraceful.

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  1. PonyGirl
    While I believe that Lasix is overused and racing would indeed be better without it, the issue is much more complex than you have presented here. Lasix was originally used to prevent bleeding (of the lungs) in horses and was used only in a few horses who were predisposed to this problem. Now it's use is widespread and is sometimes used as a performance enhancer rather than as a therapy. Lasix is a hotly-debated issue among racetrackers. Some people believe it is beneficial and necessary for the horse's well being, while many of us feel the drawbacks outweigh any benefit derived. However it does not mask or eliminate pain in the horse. I would not trust any information which PETA puts out. They are more interested in their own agenda than in anything resembling the truth. I have always been concerned with the welfare of all horses, but publishing propaganda and outright lies as PETA does is not the way to go about it. They have no credibility as far as I'm concerned. I believe that there is over-reliance on drugs in US horse racing, just as there is a tendency to be over-reliant on drugs in our society. Most trainers try to give their horses the best care possible- the best feed, the best athletic training, the best daily care, and the best vet care. Unfortunately, while trying to give the horse's the best vet care, trainers and vets over time, took something which is beneficial in small amounts and began using it more and more to fix short term problems without understanding the long-term consequences. I think the tide is turning and that the US will follow in Europe's footsteps and ban all race day medications in the near future. I personally think is a good idea for many reasons. I think it is a good idea for people not closely involved with the track to follow this issue. But I also think it's important for people to realize that this is not a simple black and white issue of unscrupulous people who don't care about their horses. Most horsemen and women on the track care very much for their horses and try to do the best for them.

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