INDUSTRY MESSAGES AND ACTIONS IN CONFLICT BUT STATUS QUO WILL NOT STAND

This was a Tweet I sent Monday in reply to story written by T. D. Thornton of Thoroughbred Daily News. It is amplified slightly here only for clarity and because we’re unencumbered by the 140-character restriction. 

“Good job on your story about a $25K claimer who was dropped to $5K after running last, subsequently returning from a four-month layup after a trainer and venue change–New York to Delaware–getting shockwave therapy, declared “racing sound” upon veterinary inspection then broke down as the favorite racing into the first turn, vanned off and subsequently euthanized, [resulting in] an investigation into the incident taking five months.”

(The adjudication period of five months was set after conferring with all parties).

I concluded with: “This game, left to its own devices, will never, ever change.”

Given the variables which included a significant number of dropped red flags, who can defend this? Is this also “part of the game?”

Within 24 hours, I read a new industry notice stating “the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission handed down a suspension and $500 fine for trainer Brian Lynch on Nov. 20 as a result of a Class B medication violation in his trainee Into A Hot Spot on May 16 at Churchill Downs…

“The 4-year-old gelding was found to have the drug gabapentin in his system, a human anti-convulsant [sic] also used to treat neuropathic pain.

“Lynch’s suspension was originally 30 days but he will serve 15 days from Dec. 15-29 with the other 15 days stayed, provided he has no additional positive tests for one year.”

Enjoy the holidays, Mr. Lynch. Snark notwithstanding, the infraction and punishment was for a Class “B” drug.

As climate deniers on Capitol Hill might say, “I’m no doctor,” but whatever the properties of this medication are, how can a neuropathic painkiller not be a more egregious violation?

Then, conversely, I read this: “In a reversal from its vote four weeks ago, the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council voted Monday to support a partial Lasix ban, reports drf.com. The proposal will eliminate race-day administration of Lasix for 2-year-olds in 2020 and expand that to all stakes races in 2021.

“Those horses affected would, however, be allowed to receive Lasix up to 24 hours before the time of the race. The EDRC voted 6-2 in favor, while the same proposal was shot down by a vote of 5-3 four weeks ago. Twenty-four hour withdrawal represents progress but not the ultimate solution.

Said veterinarian Johnny Mac Smith: “There were several things from my perspective at the last meeting that just didn’t sit right and the reason for the way I voted,” who had initially voted no but now supports the proposal.

“What we were presented with was a proposal that lacked the detail I have been given today, and there was not much discussion on the regulatory aspects, or any of the mechanics on how this was going to be done […]

“It’s a very sensitive topic and I think decisions on either end made from a position of fear can never be good. It needs to be talked about more.” The EDRC will forward its recommendation of the proposal to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission at its next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 10.

References here and elsewhere to Kentucky HBPA’s “Lasix 600” might have gotten the attention of an anti-raceday-drugs lobby with the suggestion that it serves neither themselves nor the industry to be on the wrong side of history, existentially speaking.

But as long as the horse gets some benefit, however small, the industry wins. #UNITY

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