The 108th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico is history, but the turmoil created all week by the issue of using the diuretic Lasix to treat bleeders could result in a overhaul of the Maryland rules regarding medication.
Fred Sahadi claimed that the Maryland Racing Commission was wrong when it upheld its state stewards' decision prohibiting Sahadi's colt, Desert Wine, from running today's classic with the aid of Lasix. The diuretic aids horses who tend to hemorrhage when put to exertion.
Judge Robert I. Hammerman of the Circuit Court of Baltimore agreed with Sahadi Friday and struck down the commission rules regarding the bleeders. Racing commissioners and stewards now say they will have to reexamine the issue.
E. William Furey, the newest member of the commission, said today, "We are having a meeting Thursday to determine the status of our medication rules regarding Lasix. Obviously, Judge Hammerman, in his wisdom, was not convinced that our rules properly identify bleeders. The horsemen have maintained the same thing for some time. They have an impressive booklet that outlines their argument. We'll hear them at the meeting and take it from there."
State steward J. Fred Colwill was asked if all horses coming to Maryland would now be automatically be eligible to use Lasix.
"We are using the same criteria that the judge spelled out for Desert Wine," he said. "Marfa had a certificate stating that he was in fact a bleeder in California, the same as Desert Wine. We're kind of in the middle. We do not make laws. We carry them out."
State Sen. Melvin Steinberg said, "I would think that the general assembly has an obligation to look into why these rules have been overturned. We will monitor the results of Thursday's meeting and take it from there."
Katie Voss, spokesperson for horsemen who have petitioned for a hearing on the matter of how to determine the eligibility of horses for the bleeders list, said, "Judge Hammerman's decision has given us such a lift. We have a powerful weapon now when we petition the racing commission on Thursday."