Owners make pledge on medications

Some of Thoroughbred racing's most notable owners--including Roy and Gretchen Jackson, Josephine Abercrombie, Bill Casner, Robert Clay, William S. Farish, Barry Irwin and Team Valor International, Darley and Shadwell Stables, and Frank Stronach -- are among individuals who have pledged to race their 2-year-olds of 2012 without furosemide and adjunct bleeder medications, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association announced July 19.

"The use of race-day medications has grown to the point where nearly every horse in every race is being treated just hours before they go to the saddling paddock," said TOBA chairman Peter S. Willmott. "This practice is not in the long-term best interests of the horse, nor is it the proper message we need to communicate with our fans if we wish to increase the popularity of the sport. We should all take steps to reverse the use of race-day medication and at this time the best way is to encourage like-minded owners to race their 2-year-olds medication-free."

Other owners who will not run their 2-year-olds on furosemide and adjunct bleeder meds are Willmott, Antony Beck, Gary Biszantz, James Bryant, Nelson Clemmens, Dennis Dale, Shawn Davis, Adele Dilschneider, Karl and Andrea Donaghy, John D. Gunther, Arthur Hancock III, Seth Hancock, Stuart S. Janney III, Corey Johnsen, Juddmonte Farm, Jon and Sarah Kelly, William Koester, Magdalena Racing, Helen Masek, Reiley McDonald, Michael J. McMahon, Ro Parra, John W. Phillips, Ogden Mills Phipps, Dr. J. David Richardson, Fred Seitz, Bill Shively, George Strawbridge Jr., Waterfalls Stable, and Woodford Racing. Horses with fractional ownership may be excluded by prior agreement.

"The original purposes of permitted race-day medication were to treat horses that overtly bled from the nose and to provide a larger pool of horses available for entry at a time when racing was proliferating," said Bill Casner, who has campaigned notable horses such as Super Saver, Well Armed, and Colonel John, among others. "Trainers and veterinarians soon recognized that horses that raced on furosemide could have a competitive advantage, and now almost all horses are being diagnosed as bleeders. Racing commissions, in an effort to level the playing field and eliminate this advantage, relaxed their rules to allow furosemide for any horse.

"I believe the pervasive use of furosemide, and the dehydration stress it causes requiring more recovery time, has contributed to horses making fewer starts and has fueled the public's belief that giving medication to performance horses is abusive and nefarious," Casner continued. "Our racing industry thrived in a time prior to permitted race-day medications. Horses raced often and consistently. We are a global industry and we are out of step with the rest of the world. Race day medications are a failed experiment and it is time for us to do what is right for our horses and our industry."

Dan Metzger, president of TOBA, praised the members that have pledged to race their 2-year-olds this year without the use of race-day medication.

"TOBA commends the owners listed and we encourage others to add their name to the list," he said.

Other owners who want to add their names to the list and campaign their 2-year-olds without race-day medication may contact the TOBA offices.