By Jim Freer
Thursday, Sept. 17 – The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) said on Wednesday that an ongoing survey of its members is showing that approximately 75 percent of them support the same-day use of the anti-bleeding drug Lasix (furosemide) on horses.
In a news release on Wednesday, the FHBPA said that for several months it has been calling account holders with the Horsemen’s Bookkeepers Office, which the FHBPA operates, to update addresses and capture email addresses.
The FHBPA added that it has been asking the account holder (trainer or owner) one question about Lasix: “What is your position on race-day Lasix?” There are three possible answers: “I support it, I’m against it, or I have no opinion.
Through mid-September 1,068 account holders have been called with each account holder permitted one vote. In other words, if a horseperson was involved in five different accounts, he/she would only be entitled to one vote.
The FHBPA said that, at this time, of those that have an opinion on the use of race-day Lasix 90.5 percent support its use while less than 9.5 percent oppose its use.
FHBPA executive director Kent Stirling said the survey shows the strong support among “owners and trainers who are actively racing their horses at Gulfstream Park” for the option of the same-day use of Lasix.
The issue of race-day use of Lasix gained added prominence this summer when Gulfstream ran about a dozen Maiden Special Weight races for 2-year-olds in which same-day use of Lasix was not permitted,
As an incentive for trainers and owners, Gulfstream offered higher purses on some of those races than on MSW 2-year-old races in which use of race-day Lasix was permitted.
Gulfstream officials declined to comment on the FHBPA survey.
The Stronach Group, Gulfstream’s parent company, has been a leader of thoroughbred racing industry members that want to phase out the use of various medications, including Lasix on race days.
Stirling, said, “We began this study because we kept hearing from those that opposed race-day Lasix that we didn’t really represent the true opinion of our membership. Since well over 80 percent of our account holders are owners, it was great to see that we really did represent the opinion of those owners and trainers who are actively racing their horses at Gulfstream Park.”
The actual totals were: 817 in support, 86 against and 165 with no opinion. The FHBPA said this means that even if one were to couple those who voted against Lasix with those with no opinion that still 75.5 percent of the account holders would be in favor of race-day Lasix.
“The ‘vocal minority’ makes a lot of noise with no surveys to back up their assumptions,” Stirling said. “But now the ‘silent majority’ has had an opportunity to speak, and they have spoken loud and clearly. I think any survey of those with actual ‘skin’ in the game done in any other jurisdiction would bear the same results.”
Meanwhile Gulfstream is working with Dr. Stephen Selway, a veterinarian who is conducting a study involving trainers permitting voluntary post-race throat scoping of 2-year-olds racing with and without Lasix this summer at Gulfstream.
A purpose is to determine if there are widespread differences in bleeding in the mouth, during and after races, among horses racing with Lasix and those racing without it.
“The results of the study will hopefully be of significant benefit to the well being of racehorses,” Selway said in July.
“The study has been set up as to eliminate most variables and yield non-bias data,” he added. “The cooperation of Gulfstream Park, the FHBPA, and the trainers and owners is greatly appreciated. Without their support this timely study could not be done,”
Selway’s study also receives private funding from Zayat Stables, which campaigned 2015 Triple Crown Champion American Pharoah. Video endoscopy equipment is provided by R F Systems.
It is expected that results of the study will be released this fall, following the October meet at Gulfstream Park West.