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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lasix ban will end racing in Kentucky

Op-Ed by Dale Romans, Kentucky Based Trainer
Louisville Courier-Journal
Posted: June 8, 2012

I am in New York preparing Dullahan for the prestigious Belmont Stakes, the biggest race of his young career.

In prior years, I would spend maybe a week or less away from my home and family in Kentucky, but it is different now. I’m learning to adjust to life in New York. I live in a flat about the size of the living room of my home in Kentucky.

Oh, sure, I am fortunate and thankful for the success I have achieved in my chosen profession as a thoroughbred horse trainer. At the same time I miss my family. I believed Gov. Steve Beshear’s promise while he campaigned for a second term that he would deliver on his plan to save Kentucky’s signature industry with legislation that would legalize gaming in Kentucky. I encouraged friends and family along with my associates in the racing industry to support Gov. Beshear in his quest to serve a second term.

Based on his assurances, my horse training operation in Kentucky was expanded, a training center was purchased in Oldham County in order to prepare young horses that I purchased at Keeneland and Fasig Tipton sales companies. I employ many fellow Kentuckians at both of my farms along with my continued training operation, but to a lesser degree, at Churchill Downs.

Without competitive purses, we continue to lose horses and horsemen to other states like New York and all adjoining states to Kentucky. In addition, the loss of horses results in diminished racing schedules, forcing many of us to leave the state with some of our most promising equine athletes. While I still support Kentucky racing and remain near the top of the trainer standings, it seems a bit hollow since I cannot share the success with my family, clients and friends.

Now the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission appears poised to put the final nail in the coffin of what once was considered the “horse capital of the world.” On June 13, they are prepared to vote to ban the beneficial therapeutic medication, Lasix, on our finest thoroughbred race horses. In so doing they will end racing for all intents and purposes in Kentucky. This action will result in an overwhelming exodus of our thoroughbreds to many other states, such as Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, etc.

The initiative, orchestrated by the Jockey Club, has ignored the science that has proven Lasix to be effective in treating episodes of bleeding in race horses. In fact, even an unbiased South African study, commissioned by the Jockey Club, proved that Lasix is the most effective treatment for exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), bleeding. The Jockey Club’s reasoning is suspect and the argument that racing has a perception problem has been debunked by Ed Martin, president of the Racing Commissioners International (RCI) when he reported:

“With few exceptions, race horses tested for drugs are found to be clean, a fact that undermines the credibility of those who peddle the perception that racing has an out of control drug problem.”

Bob Evans, chairman of Churchill Downs, and Kevin Flannery respectively have issued a warning: “If Kentucky is an island and no one else implements the Lasix ban, it could prove detrimental to the future of racing in Kentucky.”

The science, the data and the testimony of the very experts and professionals that we would normally respect, listen to and follow their lead substantiates that Lasix on race day benefits the horse by controlling the EIPH occurrences. These facts have not been refuted; however, they have been ignored to the proposed detriment of the health of our thoroughbred horses that are so magnificent in their flight to race to the best of their ability.

The Jockey Club through misinformation and confusion has equated bad drugs to the beneficial and therapeutic properties of race day Lasix. In addition, certain members of the Jockey Club, serving on the Racing Commission, have threatened other commission members with expulsion if they vote against the ban of race day Lasix.

In my opinion, the underhanded tactics must end. We respectfully request that Gov. Beshear assure commissioners that their Kentucky Racing Commission seat is not in jeopardy if they decide to follow the science regarding the beneficial effects of Lasix and vote against a ban of race day Lasix.

Thoroughbred horse owner, breeder and trainer
Louisville 40214

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