In a powerful column on improving the competition and potential of the Triple Crown, Bill Finley argues that legalized medication (Lasix in particular) is responsible for the drought of Triple Crown winners since the 1970s.
Finley, a prescient observer of the sport, might be right, and if he is, how do we blow away the fairy dust and have our horses racing without “chemical enhancement”?
This is actually a legislative or regulatory question, since the science and testing capability is reasonably straightforward to ensure that any rules barring Lasix, et al., are enforced.
The $64,000 question (or is it actually a $200 billion question) is how to get the rules in place so that a horse races free of medication.
The alphabet orgs can’t agree, and the states, with their private fiefdoms, won’t agree. Nor will trainers and owners race without unilaterally. Without Lasix, all or most of them believe they are at a disadvantage. And they probably are.
So that leaves two entities standing who could reasonably dictate the rules and have them stand up in practice: either the federal government or the Jockey Club.
I can hear your snorts of derision, but those are our options.
So, which do you distrust the least?
Most people want to run the other way on this question, but I don’t believe we have that luxury any more. We — as breeders, owners, trainers, fans, writers, and participants in racing — have to make a decision. What do we want our sport to be?
Do we want to produce the stars of the sport who light up the racetracks, bursting right off the video screens and computers around the world? Do we want our sport to showcase the greatest equine athletes at their best? And do we want the charisma from athletes such as these to lead racing into another golden age of public acceptance and mass interest?
Well, if we do, then our path is straight and clear. We just have to make the decision and act on it.