SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 31, 2011--While the sport’s two premiere destination meets reaching their zenith this past weekend, the matter of raceday medication enjoyed a reprieve, a summer vacation of sorts.

But the issue has not disappeared, nor should it. It’s odds-on to be reprised in the coming weeks, months, maybe even years. It’s what happens when battle lines are drawn over a matter of economy and ethics..

As previously stated, the continued use of raceday medication Salix, or Lasix, is an emotional and complex subject with serious considerations and consequences on both sides.

Approximately a week ago, I received an e-mail from a retired veterinarian who takes an anti-Salix position. Dr. Rod Cundy, D.V.M.,Canada, was practicing medicine before and after Lasix became a legal medication for raceday use.

Cundy believes the industry would be better off without it in the long term. Proponents believe it’s a humane way to treat Exercise Induced Pulmonary Edema, and that it's cost efficient for owners.Cundy disagrees with this notion, too.

We hope that HRI's readers will decide for themselves and give voice to the issue. Pro-Salix industry members are encouraged to respond, to have their voices heard, their positions stated. HRI will run that response in its entirety with no edits altering context in any way. Organizations can speak as one, if that's the tack they choose to take.

The first of Cundy's emails appeared yesterday. Today is the second, as Cundy explains how some illegal substances work, the difference between them, and in what context those substances are analogous to raceday Salix use:

“Soda doping and milkshaking are one in the same. It entails administering bicarbonate- usually by tubing baking soda via a stomach tube- a few hours before race time. At one time it was legal in our racing jurisdiction and I found that it improved most horses performance substantially- much like blood doping (another serious issue facing racing) is doing today.

“It first started with only a few trainers and their horse would stand out in a race. Eventually, like Salix, almost all starters were using bicarbonate and any advantage was gone. We as veterinarians asked the Commission to outlaw its use but it took another year or so for them to see the light. Today they regularly check blood levels of bicarbonate in enough horses each race day just prior to race time to deter its use.

“In reference to the level of bicarbonate allowed in Salix horses, I assume that regulators have seen that horses using Salix have a higher blood level of bicarbonate than non-Salix horses so they must allow some difference in legal levels, but in essence are allowing a form of soda doping in Salix horses without the trainer having to administer any external forms of bicarbonate.

“EPO and its various related compounds that enable a horse to "finish" because of the enhancement of their own oxygen carrying capacity is a very serious issue facing racing as it is in human sports such as the Tour de France. Substitute some high percentage trainers name for Lance Armstrong and the recent “60 Minutes” episode could be all about horse racing instead of cycle racing.

{Ed. Note: According to the latest Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances and Recommended Penalties and Model Rule, revised in August, 2011 and released earlier this week, Erythropoietin (EPO), manufactured under the trade names Epogen and Procrit, is a Class 2 Drug classified under Penalty A.

A Class 2 Drug is defined by the Association of Racing Commissioners International as having “a high potential for affecting the outcome of a race. Most are not intended to be used as therapeutic agents in the racing horse...”

Under Penalty A, a first offense for trainers carries with it “a minimum one year suspension absent mitigating circumstances. The presence of aggravating factors could be used to impose a maximum three year suspension...”}.

“Since the useful effect of these drugs take several days after administration to display themselves, last for weeks or months afterwards, and yet can only be detected for a few days after administration, it makes it very difficult with present testing procedures to deter their use. The only way this problem is going to be successfully dealt with, and abusers effectively deterred, is through rigorous "out of competition" testing.

“Unfortunately if other racing jurisdictions are like they are here in Alberta, this is not being done. Although we have the legislation to do “out of competition” testing, in practice little is being done. Hopefully people like you who have the ear of racing's participants and the public will pursue this issue much the same way the Salix issue has been pursued until the problem is resolved.”

Proponents, Dr. Cundy has stated his case in approximately 1,000 words. You are afforded equal time whenever you wish