Pain and Disdain
By Chuck Simon
No one likes lasix. No one says I can’t wait to treat my horses with lasix. No one says my training program revolves around lasix. No one says I feel great when they give my horses lasix before a race.
No one likes when their horse bleeds. No one likes seeing a endoscope full of blood. No one enjoys training a horse prone to EIPH. No one loves seeing blood trickling out of their horses nostril after a race.
It should NOT be a moral or ethical argument despite the misinformation and propaganda that is used to on both sides to try to influence who ever it is that people are trying to influence. It should never have come to this. It should never have been used as a weapon, as a leverage tactic, as an excuse, as a way to sway public opinion one way or another. It’s embarrassing and it’s disgraceful and it’s a primary reason why those who participate in this sport are the ones driving it to its extinction.
If only lasix was as “powerful” as it has been framed by its detractors. If only it did all those horrible things that they claim. Lasix has been blamed for pretty much every ailment that American horse racing has had over the last few decades. Fewer starts? Lasix. Falling handle? Lasix. Shorter careers? Lasix. Poor public perception? Lasix. Now breakdowns? Yup lasix.
It’s a diuretic. It makes horses pee. It’s not sinister. It’s not dangerous. Most of what you might have heard about it in a negative light is likely inaccurate or distorted. Lasix is highly regulated and perhaps the one area of racing where a common ground and a level playing field is found. Every owner can afford it because it’s cheap, there isn’t a better brand or version, it’s all the same. Every trainer has equal access to lasix, it’s the same for stakes horses and cheap claimers. The movement to third party administration is a good but rare example of a fragmented industry coming together to create a positive situation.
Eliminating lasix on the face of it isn’t the end of the world for a sport that is in good shape. Weeding out horses that struggle to compete because of EIPH is not a bad idea when there is a steady supply available to replace them. Being able to claim that racing will have no race day medication will make some people happy but will have little real impact.
Read that last paragraph again. See the key phrases? “…sport in good shape” “…steady supply that is available to replace them” “…have little real impact” That’s the thing that so many in the sport including horsemen and race track management and breeders and every other stakeholder seems to forget when taking sides and giving their opinion.
The sport is NOT in good shape, there is NOT a supply of horses to replace those who are removed and positive PR rarely has much of an effect on our core business, betting.
The most distressing part about the last week and a half of racing headlines is how the entire process has been handled. How there was no cognizant response from the industry in general that quelled or even mitigated the bad news. After the breakdown story became prominent news, The Stronach Group was critiqued and criticized but they were put in a very difficult spot, trying to navigate through the treacherous waters of mainstream media outrage without much support from the rest of the industry. Whether you agree with the way this way handled, disagree with the way it was handled or fall somewhere in between, the silence of so many industry groups and organizations should be noted. It wasn’t until lasix bizarrely became part of the picture that the battle lines were drawn, except it was battle lines between those within the industry, not against those who wish harm on the industry.
Social media is the pulse of our nation now, for better or for worse, and reading comments from the last few days it’s apparent (at least to me) that racing is spiraling down a black hole from which there may be no return.
When we in racing can’t agree to be on the same side against extortionists like PETA, even after they tweeted claiming victory on their way to the ultimate goal of eliminating horse racing…well what the hell can we agree on?
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