“The move, believed to be without precedent in North American racing, came hours after the 22nd horse died at Santa Anita since Dec. 26…”
In response to a baffling surge of horse deaths at Santa Anita that has roiled the sport, the track’s owners Thursday banned the all race day medication and limited the use of whips.
The move, believed to be without precedent in North American racing, came hours after the 22nd horse died at Santa Anita since Dec. 26.
“We have arrived at a watershed moment,” Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of track owner The Stronach Group, wrote in an open letter.
Princess Lili B broke both front legs at the conclusion of a half-mile workout and was euthanized.
Santa Anita suspended racing last week in response to the previous deaths. Training resumed Wednesday and the track hoped to start racing again next week.
The new rules will also be used at Stronach-owned Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, Calif.
“There are some who will take a stand and tell you that it cannot be done,” Stronach wrote. “To them we say ‘the health and welfare of the horses will always come first.’ … The time to discuss ‘why’ these advancements must take place is over. The only thing left to discuss is ‘how.’”
Virtually every country outside North America bans the use of medication on race day. That includes furosemide, more commonly known as Lasix, that is supposed to lessen the risk of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. The drug is so common at U.S. tracks that results sheets note which horses were injected.
According to data compiled by The Jockey Club, only 3.6% of the 279,774 starts in the U.S. last year were made by horses without Lasix.
The drug is a potent diuretic that causes a horse to urinate 15 to 20 liters in the hours before a race…(CONTINUED)