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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Race-Day Medication Rules Revised


By Dick Downey

Effective Sept. 4, Lasix is the only race-day medication allowed in Kentucky, but a new rule requiring it to be administered only by regulatory agency veterinarians instead of private veterinarians has been postponed until Oct. 5, the opening day of Keeneland's Fall meeting.

Lasix is designed to reduce bleeding through the nose during races. Critics say its use is harming the Thoroughbred breed and that it may mask the use of illegal substances.

Adjunct bleeder medications have been banned within 24 hours of a race. They go by names like Amicar, Tranex, Estrone, and Kentucky Red.

The new rules, promulgated by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, also lower the permitted amount of phenylbutazone, also known as bute, that may be legally adminstered 24 hours  or more before a race from five micrograms per milliliter to two micrograms. Bute is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for the short-term treatment of pain and fever.

When the new rules take full effect on Oct. 5, trainers must have a representative present with the horse at least 45 minutes prior to administration of the medicine.

Temporary Setback

The new rules were set back when a Kentucky legislative subcommittee found the regulations governing equine medication "deficient" on Aug. 27, in response to criticisms by a horsemen's group, The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (KHBPA).

But three days later, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said the regulations would be implemented, and he issued an official override of the subcommittee's action the next day. That same day, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission issued an advisory officially informing the public of the governor's action.

KHBPA President Rick Hiles said the organization is "frustrated and extremely disappointed" the governor's override of the legislative subcommittee.

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