Breeders’ Cup to allow Lasix in non-juvenile races for 2013; Juvenile Sprint dropped

The Breeders’ Cup board voted Friday to rescind its previous plan to ban the race-day use of the anti-bleeder medication Lasix in all its race this season and will instead only restrict the use of the medication in juvenile races, as it did in 2012.

Horses participating in all other Breeders’ Cup races will be permitted to race on Lasix, which will be administered only by veterinarians authorized by the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) and approved by Breeders’ Cup.

In addition to changing the Lasix policy, Breeders’ Cup also voted to drop the six furlong, $500,000 Juvenile Sprint from its roster of races in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships after two years, reducing the two-day card from 15 races to 14.

The decision to pull back on the Lasix policy was brought on in part, according to Breeders’ Cup chairman Tom Ludt, by “great divisiveness in our industry over medication rules”. The Board has  also pledged funding, and called upon other Thoroughbred racing organizations, to support an industry wide independent study of the causes, effects, and potential alternative methods of reducing the occurrence of EIPH (Exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage) in racehorses.

“Joining together in the common goal of independent scientific research of the effects of race-day medications, coupled with industry pursuit of uniform rules, will move us toward eliminating such divisions.” Ludt said in a statement. “Our board feels this measure, keeping the policy in place for the Juvenile races and maintaining the 2012 policy on the remaining races, is the most practical course of action at this time.”

A handful of 2-year-olds who competed in the Breeders’ Cup races last year were reported to have bled.

Breeders’ Cup also added that all horses competing in this year’s Championships will be monitored for 72 hours prior to post time of the horse’s race.

The Juvenile Sprint, won by the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Hightail in 2012, is being dropped after just two years of being run. The race drew just nine starters when it was won by Secret Circle in 2011 and only five starters this past November.

“The number of starters and overall quality of the Juvenile Sprint fields for its two runnings did not meet the standards expected for the Championships,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup president and CEO. “We also believe that the Juvenile Sprint had a negative impact on field sizes for both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies.

“Even with the reduction from 15 to 14 races,” Fravel continued, “we anticipate we will pay more than $25 million in purses and awards in 2013, more than last year, which is important to our owners and nominators. As far as the roster of races, during the expansion of the last few years and moving forward, our focus is on providing the most competitive fields for racing fans and ensuring opportunities to run at the highest levels for our horsemen and nominators around the world. We will continue to look at our races on an annual basis to ensure they are meeting those objectives.”

In addition to these initiatives for the Championships, Breeders’ Cup approved a full schedule of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races (“Win and You’re In”), which will be announced in the coming weeks.