Horsemen oppose Lasix rule changes


Proposed Lasix rule changes for Maryland thoroughbreds came under fire at the monthly meeting of the Maryland Racing Commission yesterday.

The commission, meeting at the Timonium Fairgrounds, heard opposition from the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and several veterinarians.

After hearing discussion, the commission requested its medication committee -- made up of members of various sectors of the industry -- to reconvene for possible revisions to the proposals. The commission may consider action next month.

The MTHA is opposed to several proposals that would alter the ways in which Lasix is administered. Lasix, a diuretic, is believed helpful in the prevention of internal bleeding in horses. The group is not opposed to two other proposals, the most significant of which would allow 2-year-olds to receive Lasix.

The proposals originated last year after racing officials from four mid-Atlantic states -- Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland -- agreed on an attempt at uniform rules, largely to alleviate confusion among horsemen and the public.

Alan Foreman, MTHA counsel, said the group had decided that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," and said the consensus of veterinarians throughout the country is that Maryland Lasix rules may be the nation's best.

Veterinarian James Stewart cited reasons for opposing the changes, then blasted the motivation behind them. He said Maryland had been "cajoled and brow-beaten to fall in line" with other states where racing is "on the way down and in trouble."

Said Foreman: "Regulating for the sake of regulating, uniformity for the sake of uniformity, is not necessarily in the best interests of Maryland horsemen nor the best interests of the public."

Dr. Ernest Colvin, commission chairman, said the proposals did not mean Maryland was bowing to other states but were only a preliminary step in attempting to compromise.

In other commission matters, the following were approved:

* Twelve-race programs on weekends for the balance of the meeting at Laurel Race Course, which ends March 12. Rules would otherwise permit only 11 live races and a simulcast, but the approval permits all 12 races to be live.

* A five-day-a-week schedule for the Pimlico Race Course meeting March 14-July 3. Exceptions: April, when the track will run six days with Wednesday the only dark day; and two Mondays in May -- the 6th and 27th -- when the track will be open. Otherwise, Mondays and Wednesdays will be dark.

* A request from Fair Hill Race Course to move one of its fall dates from Sept. 28 to Labor Day, Sept. 2.

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