In a decision announced last Friday afternoon by Breeders’ Cup Ltd., that entity stated that it had abandoned its efforts to control the use of Lasix in the two-day Breeders’ Cup series of stakes. The juvenile races this year will be run without Lasix, but no restrictions will be in place for next season.
As I understand the situation, the power behind the decision was the California horsemen’s association, which stamped its cloven hoof on the agenda of medication removal and said, “Not in California, baby.”
The BC press release informing the public of the Breeders’ Cup “decision” stated that the “horsemen’s groups in potential host jurisdictions indicated that they would withhold their approval of simulcast rights unless this was the case, jeopardizing our ability to conduct simulcast wagering on our event, and thus the event itself.”
In other words, the national horsemen’s group organized the state collectives at the three or four most lucrative host tracks to freeze out the change in medication.
As a result, the trainers’ organization is running the sport and dictating the rules about how other people’s horses are trained and raced.
Well, blame the aged and clearly senile Interstate Horserace Wagering Act, which ceded veto control of simulcast signals to the horsemen’s groups.
But don’t blame the horsemen. They are just looking for an edge, and if you don’t believe that Lasix provides an edge, look at the way trainers react who come to race in the States from jurisdictions where it’s prohibited. They all use Lasix, aside from a few serious sticks in the mud.
What really irks me is that the Breeders’ Cup bent over and took a public caning.
So who, you might ask, is responsible for that?
The breeders of the thousands of foals annually nominated to race in the Breeders’ Cup events cannot be extra impressed by these results.
The real power at the Breeders’ Cup, however, is not the breeder of foals. It’s the dozen farms that stand stallions and that pay the heavy annual premiums to nominate those stallions and their progeny for the big show. The big stallion farms pay the high rent and have the majority of power to direct the organization.
Those farms also have a massive financial commitment to the future of racing and to its success and integrity. They also have the most to lose as owners and sales buyers, principally from Europe, look elsewhere for yearlings to stock their racing programs.
And the European trainers and buyers unequivocally state that they do not want to buy yearlings from stock that has raced on Lasix for two or sometimes three generations. To prove it, they have focused their buying on the sales in France, Ireland, and England.
This situation will not get better until American racing gets its house in order.