The Thoroughbred Horsemen's Associations Inc. (THA) released an open letter Wednesday regarding the renewed call to ban raceday medications by a group of trainers.
The statement follows and is signed at the end by Alan M. Foreman, THA chairman; Richard A. Violette Jr., THA president and New York THA president; Michael B. Campbell, Illinois THA president; Salvatore M. Debunda, Pennsylvania THA president; John H. Forbes, New Jersey THA president; Michael E. Gorham, Delaware THA president; and Richard J. Meyer, Maryland THA president:
"We have been asked to comment on the Press Release issued on behalf of the group of trainers who propose the elimination of "race day medications" on January 1, 2016, but who support the adoption of the new uniform medication system of 26 controlled therapeutic medications being enacted throughout the racing industry.
It is quite obvious that the proposal and its timing are part of a thinly disguised and carefully orchestrated effort that is now playing out and will continue to do so over the next week by the opponents of the permitted use of lasix (furosemide). The industry can expect to be lectured once again by the opponents of lasix, who apparently will pursue federal intervention in our sport if we do not acquiesce to their view. It is designed to revive a divisive issue that the industry has already debated at great length and settled. It will polarize the industry, cripple the implementation of the uniform medication and drug testing program and put the industry at war with itself once again.
It appears, based on their Press Release and comments attributed to them in various media reports, that some of the trainers who were signatories are either uninformed or have been misled regarding the industry's current uniform medication and drug testing program. First, there are not "multiple permitted race day medications"--the only medication permitted on race day is lasix. Second, those who suggest there has been an absence of a reasonable conversation on the subject are mistaken. Nothing could be further from the truth. We remind everyone that the industry engaged in an extensive and terribly divisive debate about lasix and race day medication several years ago under similar circumstances that culminated in an International Summit on Race Day Medication at Belmont Park in June 2011. Organized by the Jockey Club, NTRA and AAEP because the industry was consumed by the polarizing debate, the Summit brought together international scientists and experts, representatives of every industry organization and racetrack covering every constituency, individual breeders, owners and trainers,to facilitate an understanding of this complex issue, allow for discussion and debate and to hopefully bring an end to the polarizing debate. We participated, as did other individuals and organizations representing every segment of the industry and every point of view on the issue. It was clear that there was neither support for the elimination of lasix nor a phased-in prohibition. To the contrary, there was broad-based consensus that the best approach was the to continue and further enhance the strict industry regulatory controls regarding the use and administration of lasix currently in place throughout the entire industry in North America. These protocols were deemed to be in the best interests of the health and safety of the horse, provided a level playing field for all participants, was voluntary, and was totally transparent and in the best interests of the betting public. Finally, while the signatories purport to give their support for the adoption of the new uniform system consisting of 26 controlled therapeutic medications, perhaps they are unaware that lasix is one of the 26 medications.
Our associations collectively, under the auspices of the THA umbrella, have consistently led the reforms in medication and drug testing that have been implemented in the past two decades. We have been and will always be committed to the welfare of the horse, the integrity of our sport, and providing a level playing field for all participants and our bettors. We collectively represent thousands of honest, hard working and dedicated horsemen (including the 25 trainers and their owners who are promoting the ban), backstretch workers and those in the many support businesses whose livelihoods depend on a strong industry at every level, not just the elite. We are their voice.
While we respect that there are, have been and will always be differing opinions on the use of medication in racing, in particular lasix, our memberships overwhelmingly support the current system, see nothing that has changed in the past 3 years to alter their view and have been quite vocal about it to us the past several days. We want them, and you, to know that we will continue to strongly and vigorously advocate on their behalf to oppose any change in current policy and practice, absent scientific evidence to the contrary or breakthroughs that allow for the horse to otherwise be protected."