The hot topic at this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park, to be held Nov. 2 and 3, centers around a new rule involving medication for participating horses.
The Breeders’ Cup has banned the use of Lasix in all five of its 2-year-old races. Lasix (also Salix) is an anti-bleeding medication often administered on race day. The use of Lasix, which is prominent in the United States but less so in Europe, has recently come under scrutiny and some are calling for change within the industry. The topic has caused division among many industry leaders, trainers and owners, as there is a mixed response to the idea of diminishing use of the drug.
Two Kentucky Derby-winning trainers, Todd Pletcher and Graham Motion, discussed their views of the Breeders’ Cup no-Lasix rule during a national teleconference.
Mike Repole, a prominent New York-based owner who has 2-year-olds in training with Pletcher, is not sending any juveniles to this year’s event and cited the rule as one reason.
Pletcher has several 2-year-olds entered, including Shanghai Bobby, one of the top contenders in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He also has the talented Dreaming of Julia in the Juvenile Fillies, Tara from the Cape in the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Kauai Katie in either the Juvenile Fillies or the Juvenile Sprint. Pletcher said all of these juveniles have been using Lasix.
“It’s uncharted territory for me as a trainer with some of these horses, and one of my concerns about removing Lasix from racing in general is that I think it can be disadvantageous to the betting public,” Pletcher said.
“They have the added security that Lasix might prevent one of the horses that they’re wagering on from bleeding,” he said. “I think that’s something as an industry we must look very, very closely at.”
“I’ve been fairly vocal about my stance, which is I’m pro-Lasix,” he added.
Graham Motion will bring 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom to Santa Anita off a layoff to run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf. Motion also has Juvenile Fillies Turf contender Kitten’s Point, who has not been using Lasix.
Motion said he doesn’t feel at a disadvantage because everyone is “on the same playing field.”
“I’m a little disappointed . . . when I saw in pre-entries that the Juvenile Fillies might be a small field, and I think if that’s an effect of Lasix, I think that’s pretty short-sighted of people.”
“I don’t think it’s that big of a hurdle to overcome, let’s put it that way,” he said.
Motion said bleeding occurs quite often.
“I think a large percentage of them end up bleeding at some point, and I don’t get the argument that I hear from Europe and such that horses don’t bleed over there,” he said. “I don’t believe that. Probably 80, 90 percent of my horses at some point bleed. Whether or not they need to be treated with Lasix to run, that’s a different story.”