The Maryland Harness Racing Board voted, 3 to 2, yesterday to outlaw the use of Butazolidin and Lasix. The ruling will go into effect 45 days after being published in the Maryland Register.
Testimony revealed that, unlike thoroughbred horses, trotters require much less medication to race effectively. Only 15 percent of the standardbreds need Bute and 8 percent Lasix. About 80 percent of thoroughbreds use both medications.
Chairman Ben Schwartz remarked "It is too bad that the entire racing industry has abused these two medications and others. The resulting bad publicity and loss of confidence in the system has brought about its downfall, since I feel my fellow commissioners will outvote me when the time comes."
Schwartz was joined by Dr. Ernest J. Colin in opposing the measure while Dr. Vincent Palumbo, Norman Diamond and Paul Ewell voted to ban the controversial drugs.
Diamond read a letter from Sen. Charles Mathias (R-Md.) to the National Association of Racing Commissioners that stated. "If racing doesn't clean its own house then the federal government will do it for them."
Palumbo, speaking of Bute, said, "Whether it truly masks other, more exotic, drugs or not, the public has lost confidences in permissive medication. eExperts differ in their views on the matter but we are entrusted with the welfare of the entire public and must keep that in mind."