KHRC continues to evaluate Lasix protocols

Despite a series of snafus during its first five weeks of implementation, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission remains committed to the protocol that allows only commission veterinarians rather than private practitioners to administer the anti-bleeder medication Lasix to horses on race day.

During its monthly meeting on Wednesday, the KHRC reported it appointed an ad-hoc committee consisting of commission members Frank Jones and Frank Kling to look at the Lasix procedures in the wake of four separate mistakes by state vets that occurred during the Keeneland and Churchill Downs meets, including miscues that prompted two horses to be scratched.

The new protocols that have been put in place – which include installing test barn office manager Greg Barry as the Lasix coordinator to work with the three vets assigned each day to administer the shots – have been successful in preventing further mistakes from happening, according to KHRC deputy executive director Marc Guilfoil. Still, Guilfoil referred to the situation as a “moving target” and added that all of the methods used are reviewed daily.

“We’ve got standards and protocols right now some might call overkill but I think right now, overkill is okay,” Kling said.

Despite the new rule drawing heavy criticism from several horsemen – particularly those who had little recourse when their horses had to scratch – commission members Dr. Jerry Yon and Betsy Lavin pointed out that there were ample oversights when private veterinarians were in charge of administering Lasix.

“I don’t want the perception to take root that these problems are just caused by the new regulations,” Lavin said. “I think ultimately we will do a better job but lets don’t put it all on the doorstep of the new rules.”

One of the issues raised by commission member and Standardbred breeder Alan Leavitt was why Kentucky’s Thoroughbred tracks don’t follow harness racing’s rule of requiring all horses slated to be administered Lasix to report to one spot.

“To me it’s Mohammed coming to the mountain rather than the mountain coming to Mohammed and it’s worked perfectly,” Leavitt said. “We’ve never had a problem.”

While the above procedure has been the norm in Standardbred racing since the inception of Lasix being allowed, Guilfoil believes it would be a different matter to ask Thoroughbred trainers to alter course.

“One thing I will say is the Standardbred people have been doing in that way so it’s not a change from them,” Guilfoil said. “This would be a change and we both know how change on a racetrack is difficult some times.”

Owner and commission member Tom Conway, however, continued to be a critic of the new regulation. Conway charged that a state veterinarian had left the grounds at Turfway Park on Sunday after a horse they administered a Lasix shot to showed signs of going in anaphylactic shock. Guilfoil said the commission was looking into it but said the state vet who administered the shot did actually return to check on the horse 15 minutes later, found it to be fine and that the horse was cleared by a private veterinarian to race that day.

“The commission vet that gave the shot came back and looked at the horse 15 minutes later, deemed the horse was okay and then turned it over to the private vet from there,” Guilfoil said. “They made the decision and talked to the stewards if they wanted to race or not.”