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Pimlico’s owner has it backwards: Lasix is good for horses | READER COMMENTARY

In this May 5, 2018, file photo, Mike Smith rides Justify to victory during the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.  All three sites of the Triple Crown are among several major tracks that have agreed to phase out the use of a common anti-bleeding medication. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

In the Mid-Atlantic region, the only race day medication that is allowed is Lasix. Before the fiberoptic endoscope for horses was invented, a horse was known to have bled if blood came out of his nose after a race. It was a fairly common occurrence and would usually be clearly seen by all including the fans. With the endoscope, studies have shown that the vast majority of horses do bleed, contrary to claims by Belinda Stronach (”Pimlico owners want state to ban drug widely used on horses on race day,” July 6). With the use of Lasix, you rarely ever see a horse bleeding from the nose on the track after a race.

This is both a humane issue and an economic issue. Each bleeding event causes cumulative damage to the lungs. The more you can eliminate or minimize bleeding, the safer for the horse and the longer their career will be. Lasix does not always prevent bleeding, but it absolutely delays the onset and lessens the severity.

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A common complaint is that too many horses run on Lasix that aren’t bleeders. Horsemen realized years ago that preventing them from ever bleeding in the first place was in the best interests of the horse and the best way to do that was to treat them with Lasix every time.

Another common assertion is that Lasix is performance enhancing. Lasix does not allow a horse to run faster than their natural ability. They run faster when they don’t bleed! Some say they run faster because of the weight loss, but some alternative management practices cause more weight loss. Some of the suggested alternative management practices to mitigate bleeding have far worse effects on a horse’s well-being.

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The suggestion that Lasix has anything to do with breakdowns is patently false. I agree with Ms. Stronach that we all “must work together to establish a new standard of equine health, safety and welfare.” We have been working on that in the Mid-Atlantic region for years but banning race day Lasix is not in the best interests of our horses. We are committed to finding an effective alternative but until that is found, it is in the best interests of the horses to continue to be treated with Lasix before a race.

Katy Voss, West Friendship

The writer is a horse trainer who co-runs Chanceland Farm.

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