It (Dead Horses at Santa Anita) Is Not the Lasix

To “distract,” says the American Heritage Dictionary, is “to attract (the attention) away from its original focus; divert.” The original focus regarding Santa Anita was (is) 22 on-track kills since Christmas, 26 dead racehorses overall. The distraction is Lasix, and the ban thereof (The Stronach Group, Santa Anita’s owner, has announced that it and California trainers and owners have reached agreement on a phased-in ban, the particulars of which are wholly irrelevant). Don’t believe me? Fine. Here is how the California Horse Racing Board’s chief vet, Rick Arthur, explained it to the LA Times:

…there “is virtually no relationship whatsoever” between Lasix and catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries, the almost universal cause of breakdowns on the track.

And Stronach COO Tim Ritvo: “Everyone has advised [Belinda Stronach] that that’s not the case. Lasix has not contributed to breakdowns. Lasix does not mask pain. I think we all know that.”

This is so grossly transparent that even a 10-year-old should be able to see through it. They distract, deflect, deceive, and dissemble because when your product is intrinsically cruel and deadly, what other choice do you have?

26 Comments

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  1. The Stronach claim that Lasix is the problem is false, fake news!

    Lasix saves horses from bleeding in the lungs during training or racing. Without it horses can drown in their own blood. Eliminating it and even decreasing some dosages can be catostraphic! The belief that it makes horses lighter and they run faster is not true. Lasix helps a horse lose water and decreases blood pressure. This prevents the bleeding. However, losing excess water can be a downside since all athletes need an abundance of water & salts to compete to their best ability. That is why products such a Gatorade are used in sports competitions. Like with all medications there are disadvantages. From a racing perspective there are other problems with Lasix. It can mask illegal medications if there isn’t sophisticated drug testing. Also horses may run better after their first treatment . That is why racetracks alert the betting public. They print FTL next to the name of the horse. This way the public is informed the horse could perform much better.

    Stronach andTim Ritvo changed track maintenance by allowing the best race track manager walk out the door last December. He still is track maintanance at two other tracks. See the December Bloodhorse magazine article on how Tim Ritvo was going to shake things up. They are a cost cutting company that obviously doesn’t appreciate the best and brightest employees. Because they do things on the cheap they created this mess. They need to lose their pari-mutual license. Ritvo & PJ Campo need Federal investigation!

    • Former trainer – Lasix can be used, and has been reportedly used, to mask other dope and to chemically influence the outcome of doping tests.
      That’s why all Lasix should be eliminated on race day and given 24 hours prior to a race, which studies show has the same benefit on “bleeders.”
      Furthermore, when you get right down to it why in hell are they training and running a horse that bleeds?
      If a horse bleeds enough to require Lasix then it shouldn’t be on a track.
      Furthermore, this industries brutal effect on a racehorses’ body proves that horse racing is bad for horses.
      They should just shut this death show down, put them out in fields, at their expense (they can use their multi-billion dollar profits) and watch them run out in a field where they are not getting whipped.
      That’s the best solution.
      These horse people will bombard Ms.Stronach and they’ve won the first fight by knocking down her Lasix proposal and then they will just continue from there until there are no new measures in place and they can continue as usual.
      I do agree with you about Ritvo and PJ, but you should also add Lim in there as well.
      He destroyed Woodbine Racetrack in conjunction with his buddies.

  2. You seriously think that people are stupid enough to believe your line of bullshit on this drug. Why is there any type of “doping” involved in your shit hole of a track anyways. Stop trying to make yourselves all look like heroes over this recent post. You are all horse killers and it doesn’t matter how you try and mask your line of bullshit.

  3. Lasix is supposedly used to MASK or SMEAR dope put into the horse.
    It’s a general allegation that many of the top trainers with their high level vets have a chemical concoction down pat, knowing exactly what to give, when to give it, and cover it up with Lasix because they urinate excessively possibly getting rid of the markers/tags for a positive test.
    Then it has the potential for cheating, loading up the needle with something else if the testing process is corrupt, and I think it is.
    I think Lasix is part of the problem, but getting rid of it will never prevent racehorses from dying.
    Recent studies have shown that giving Lasix 24 hours before a race will still have the same “benefits” as giving it 4 hours before the race so this would be an excellent compromise because there’s no way that they could use it to “smear” a doping test when giving it that far out.
    So why doesn’t the head vet Rick Arthur suggest this compromise?
    Why is it Lasix or nothing and why do certain owner/trainers vehemently oppose this compromise if there’s no corruption?

    • I recall reading that NONE of the breakdowns/euthanasia occurred during live racing, but that they happened during training (various times) and exercise sessions. The article went on to delineate the number of breakdowns, attributed to each type of surface the track has. __ on turf, __ on main dirt track, inner dirt track, etc. Of course, Other than “on the internet,”
      I can’t recall (of course) where I read this article, but I greatly respect your combined knowledge & experience. Based on what I’ve written here, does this article sound mostly accurate or way off? Thanks very much!!

      • I’m glad you brought this up Mega because what a lot of people don’t realize is that Lasix is OFTEN given even during training especially in the big barns.
        The only time that it’s mandatory to disclose the use of Lasix is when they are entered to race NOT any other time during their doping experiments on the racehorses.
        The training sessions, not under scrutiny like race day, seem to be a experimental drug session for some trainers
        Those top trainers are giving Lasix frequently especially during an “official workout.”
        I know because a couple in Lexington who sent their horse to a top trainer used to come by our farm for bar-b-ques and they showed us their vet bill and said they were disgusted with what they were doing to their horse.
        They eventually got out of the business and moved out of Kentucky.
        This was confirmed again by somebody else in California that showed me their vet bills and they were being charged for Lasix injections during official workouts.
        Again, their SECRET doping/vet records keeps everything secret.
        Those “top” trainers don’t screw around when it comes to their dope, designer or otherwise, and this is a regular occurrence that I directly saw and know from somebody who became my friend after he worked as a vet assistant in the top trainers barns.
        I also knew this because I saw the vets in one of the top trainers barns giving Lasix injections and I knew the horse wasn’t entered and then I would watch and see him work the horse.
        One top trainer at Del Mar would often ship his horse out to a private vet clinic the day before a stake race and this clinic would only open to serve him.
        I was told, can’t verify, that they would do a complete blood transfusion on the horse, pump them up with some dope via the IV drip, then do the blood transfusion and he describes it as horrific, but also said that this trainer was winning all the races at Del Mar.
        So I tried to make ‘ship-in” and “ship-out” slips mandatory and the “top” trainers refused to participate.
        With shipping lists I would have a record of what’s going on especially if there was a drug positive or drug inquiry i could use these records as some form of evidence.
        Every step of the way they blocked me – the horse was there to be exploited.
        Just think about it, they can put just about anything but the kitchen sink in a horse before a race and nobody knows what the hell is going on because the records are kept confidential.
        Again, this will not prevent racehorses from dying, but I certainly think it greatly contributes to their demise in one form or another.

      • Clarification: I tried to have the lip tattoos INCLUDED on the “ship-in” “ship-out” slips because with the way the system is now they can write down any horse on the slip and nobody knows which horse is in the van.
        The security almost never checks the identity of horses with the slip in/out slips – huge loophole.
        A prior investigation with a prior owner Wygod re: Sweet Catomine disclosed these loopholes and I wanted them eliminated to make a fair playing field.

        Also, the vet records for current vaccinations have the same issue nobody confirms the identity of the horse with the current vaccs, which I think has led to the massive Equine contagious outbreaks.
        When those trainers have 40 horses in their stall, no matter how rich, you can bet they will cut corners.
        So many things going on and the racehorses are paying the price.
        Although I highly respect the D.A’ s office investigation I sincerely hope they have a NEUTRAL horse person that knows about horses because that’s going to be an issue and if they are relying on people from the CHRB they are not neutral in any sense of the word.
        Horse racing depends on ignorant people who don’t know about the ins and outs of this business.

  4. What I’m curious to know is the hidden common denominator. The one they may be attempting to cover up with the bullshit Lasix negotiations, and “expert” analysis of the track’s dirt! So far, a racehorse being on the track (training or live racing) at Santa Anita during this time period, is the only thing common among all the dead horses. I believe there’s got to be more to it.

    • The only solid evidence that can be definitely said, based on reputable equine vet studies, is that masking chronic issues with dope leads to catastrophic breakdowns.
      Everything else – the whipping/beating and hard track surfaces probably exacerbates pre-existing conditions in the racehorse just enough to snap that existing micro-fracture or whatever else.
      I do hope the D.A’s office gains access to the doping/vet records because the necropsy is not enough to give a complete picture.
      That said, even if Ms. Stronach puts her reforms through there’s an awful lot of racehorses out there with pre-existing conditions who will continue to die, PLUS all other tracks are not making the changes so that puts the racehorses right back to square one – competing in their own death pit.
      The only way that racehorses will stop dying is when this business shuts down.

  5. First of all Gina I think your posts are very informative. The 24 hrs Lasix is a viable option..Cathy on the other hand hates what I am saying….I have rescued many horses and often people such as yourself Cathy pontificate and don’t walk the walk…just something to remember. Also, if you shut down racing tomorrow you will be responsible for more equine fatalities than the crooks and here is why…When Ronald Reagan took away the tax shelter for racing the highest number of slaughters occurred…more than is what presently dying on racetracks. Also, immediately racehorses horses were shipped overseas by the thousands to countries that do things that are beyond belief….So while you do your victory dance remember about all of the horses on the tracks, farms including mare, foals, stallions that will be destroyed when racing stops. Unless you plan to feed them all Cathy of which I doubt…the only way we can find out how to fix this mess is to have open discussions and work towards a plan on saving horses on the tracks and finding placement for all of the horses.

    • I’ve rescued lots of racehorses over the years and so have people on this blog, and people all over the country who had nothing to do with their exploitation for starters.
      Where were the breeders, the exploiters, the multi-billion dollar sales and wagering companies or the people who made the money off of the racehorses?
      Nowhere to be found and neither are adequate aftercare funds in the light of multi-billion dollar profits.
      Why do owners/trainers proclaim to “love” their horses and “treat them like family members” while dumping them either into the abusive claiming ranks or at the local kill auctions?
      How can somebody, on a daily basis, order their horse to be doped and whipped for a buck?
      Why would the horse racing industry suddenly start thinking about what will happen to the racehorses when they have never cared before as evidenced by the thousands who end up in their disposal systems: claiming ranks or slaughterhouse floor?
      I wish you all the best in trying to accomplish something that has never been accomplished – racehorse exploiters being held responsible for their live profit commodities after they are done maiming them.
      The responsibility sits squarely on the shoulders of the racehorse exploiters so don’t forget that.

    • Thank-You “Former Trainer” for bringing up the bigger problem of slaughter! It’s the worst fate of all! I agree with everything you’ve said, especially your conclusion. “Former Exercise Rider”

  6. Former trainer – the death of thousands of mares, stallions, and racers is occurring NOW. One of the saddest things I saw a few years ago was watching one of the biggest Thoroughbred auctions occurring in January- and there were many young failed race mares running through the sale as potential broodmares. No one wanted them. And there were many old, barren mares going through that no one bid on- even for 1,000. And seasoned stallions looking for new homes- again, no bids. And young failed race colts as “stallion prospects”- again minimal bids. Where do you think they all ended up?
    I’ll never ever forget those sad, old, heavy, used up former broodmares standing docilely, just waiting for someone, anyone, to even drop a $200 bid on them- but nothing. No bids. I was heartbroken, and crying, watching all this, wishing I could win the lottery and make them a rescue farm to take them.
    This industry uses, abuses, and rejects them when they are no longer useful to them, and that is occurring now. Not if it were all shut down for good.

    • Thanks Peggy for your 100% true comments.
      The horse racing apologists have never done anything for their disposable profit slaves one they are done maiming and exploiting them.
      To Former Trainer and Karlene if you are so concerned about racehorses going to slaughter then STOP BREEDING THEM, STOP RUNNING THEM and STOP KILLING THEM.

  7. And as for the lasix argument – it’s all lost on me. When I was still actively racing – I saw many horses on lasix that would finish their race and blood would be flowing out of their nostrils as they crawled back to the finish line. And of course had been incessantly and brutally whipped to get to that finish line- all the while literally drowning in their own blood.
    There was a horse on lasix, of course- that came back bleeding so profusely that his stall became what looked like a murder scene. His trainer shrugged his shoulders. The horse should have been retired, but he still often pulled a good paycheck for his connections. So out he went for quite a few more races. It took a fractured leg to finally retire him. That trainer also had quite a few young horses that he never even knew if they bled or not- out they went for their first races, on lasix, along with all the other babies in the races with them. It is a misused and abused medication that someone is making a lot of money on and is detrimental to the well being of these beautiful animals.

  8. Whatever is used on horses is NOT A GOOD THING! Save our beautiful creatures, NO MATTER WHAT.
    Take care of these magnificent beasts who still provide horsepower for the Police as crowd patrol and are still used on farms. That’s the “greenest solution of all”. Those poor horsies. So much suffering and killing. Life is so unfair to these feeling, loving, and caring beings. NEIGH TO HORSE RACING.

  9. SHUT DOWN this unconscionably depraved Horse-Racing INDUSTRY PERMANENTLY — their cruelty to the horses is beyond the pale.

  10. Blood flowing from the nostrils sounds like pulmonary hypertension to me. Diuretics such as Lasix do not control this. A horse
    that bleeds through the nostrils should not be racing. At the very least, the track vets know this

    The way Lasix is used in racing is an outrage. I blame the AVMA for allowing this to begin with.. Clearly this is a form of animal abuse and inappropriate use of a drug.

    • Exactly why are these medications even able to used “off label”……lets no forget it is considered a proformance enhancing drug in every other competition.

    • Giving every horse Lasix is totally “inappropriate”. At first Lasix was supposed to be for the so called “bleeders”. However, it was soon perceived as giving an edge to the horse. Now it is extremely rare for any horse, from the 2 yr. old to the 13 yr. old, to enter the gate without being dehydrated by the drug. In addition, Lasix is believed to mask other drugs in the horse’s system. It is the king of drugs in the game and a ban will meet with huge resistance,
      As we know, some horses show significant bleeding in spite of Lasix so it is of no benefit to the horses it was initially intended to “help”.
      In no way can it be considered “off label” use. It is more like “off label” abuse!!!

      PS And since there is no national commission in racing a ban by the CHRB alone is meaningless to racing in general. In fact, if it is truly banned in CA, it will be interesting to see how many of the “big” horses will be shipped in to compete if they can’t be given lasix. and how will it effect the Breeders Cup?

  11. Regarding Lasix, I’ve so many thoughts about the false narratives and The Stronach Group’s using its proposed “ban” of it at SA and GG as a much-needed distraction from the 22 on-track racehorse kills at SA since Christmas. The industry cannot even agree on allowing it or banning it – but to those who exclaim Lasix is not performance-enhancing and it does not affect equine bone strength over time, we see right through you – your horses’ welfare is not your priority…your pocketbooks are.

    Does Lasix “treat” exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH)? – For some racehorses, sure. Because of its anti-hypertensive effect of diuresis, the decreased blood volume (only the “water” portion, not the cells) in turn reduces the pressure inside of pulmonary capillaries. During extreme exercise and stress (racing), these capillaries can burst due to the high pulmonary vascular pressures – so dehydrating the horse by administering Lasix (and withholding water prior to racing) decreases intravascular pressure which in turn reduces pulmonary capillary rupture. Now, wouldn’t the HUMANE thing to do for a horse that truly suffers from EIPH is NOT MAKE HIM RACE? But the industry isn’t about humane, it’s about profits. Administering Lasix is big business for racetrack vets.

    Lasix DOES enhance performance – a racehorse can lose as much as 32 pounds or more (via urination) with the “standard dose” of 10cc (500 mg) of Lasix, and a lighter horse expends less energy and therefore takes longer to fatigue. Some telling statements from racing insiders regarding Lasix;

    * “We will run our horses without Lasix when others do as well – but until then, we need to be on a level playing field with those who race their horses on Lasix.”

    * “We have had to put claiming horses on Lasix after running them successfully without because…someone will claim your horse off of you because they know just putting them on Lasix alone will improve the horse’s form.”

    * And from a prominent racing trainer; “I think [Lasix use is] abused in America to the point where 90% of two-year-olds are on it right away, so you don’t know if they’re bleeders or not and you don’t know if they need it or not.”

    Lasix has many side effects that vary in level of severity – some, life-threatening (electrolyte disturbances that can cause fatal cardiac arrhythmias) but regarding musculoskeletal breakdowns in racehorses, calcium depletion from Lasix not only affects heart muscle contractibility but also bone health. It’s a no-brainer…calcium is well-known for its key role in strong (or weak) bones.

    And as harmful as Lasix is, its use is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what racehorses receive and have administered to them – ALL to gain an edge for those selling and/or racing them. In 2015, it was announced that bisphosphonates, a new group of drugs, were to be studied because of their use (and abuse) in racehorses. Now 4 years later, it seems that racehorses have been and continue to be “treated” with bisphosphonates…and being gravely harmed. From a pro-racing site regarding the drug; “The Paulick Report recently received a message from a Florida veterinarian, who asked to remain anonymous, concerning the troubling increase in fatal injuries sustained by horses at Santa Anita, ‘In my opinion, Santa Anita’s recent breakdowns may have less to do with the track and more to do with the rampant use of bisphosphonates,’ the veterinarian wrote.

    ‘I am an equine only veterinarian and work primarily on Thoroughbreds in training. In our practice, we have seen an almost ten-fold increase in catastrophic breakdowns and large long bone stress fractures (humeral/femoral/physeal) in our 2-year-old in training horses (both sales and race-prepping clients).

    ‘These drugs are widely used prior to the yearling sales in Kentucky to supposedly decrease certain radiographic findings, despite these drugs only being FDA approved for the use in horses 5 years of age and older. The scariest part about bisphosphonates is that no one knows the half-life of the drugs in horses. In humans, the half-life can be up to 10 years.

    ‘Even if a horse has not been given a bisphosphonate as a yearling, there are still trainers/vets on the track that are giving this for its almost immediate analgesic effect. It can take a lame horse and make them sound the very next day.’”

  12. Wow I am a horse trainer
    And while I always have an open mind to anyone’s argument
    I would respect that people argue a case with absolute facts! Not just what they have heard form here and from there .
    Regarding Lasix I would like to see arguments based on educated facts not emotional responses on half truths !

    • Kim Marrs – “educated facts” and not “half truths”? That’s actually comical coming from someone in the industry – the industry divided on Lasix.

      Ban it! No, don’t ban it!

      Performance-enhancer! It’s not a PED!

      It only treats the symptoms of a condition! – so STOP! Without it horses would drown in their own blood! – so KEEP using it!

      It has life-threatening side effects! It’s the right thing to administer to a bleeder!

      And on and on and on….

      Just two days ago, a racing rag had ANOTHER article about Lasix and how the industry needs to “come together” on whether to continue using it or to ban it. Some vets say ban it – some vets say keep using it. Where’s the FULL TRUTH? Racetrack vets make a KILLING on Lasix – it doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together.

      And “emotional”? – yes, exploitation and abuse of animals affects my emotions…as it should for any compassionate individual.

    • Spoken like a true apologist, one who constantly rationalizes and defends the ongoing exploitation and/or dying of racehorses.
      The horse racing industry is in a free fall, and it’s just a matter of time.
      So stop throwing stones from your glass house Kim.
      They could come back to hit you in the ass.

    • Kim- I was a racehorse owner and assistant trainer. I can tell you, lasix did nothing for a few of my horses. One bled so badly it looked like a slaughter had taken place in his stall. A few more came back trickling blood from their nostrils, others scoped and were shown to have bled. And guess what?! ALL were on lasix! And even with our babies, we never knew if they bled or not, we just automatically put them on lasix! half- truths? The whole truth is, lasix did NOTHING for my horses!

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