A legislative panel today rejected a proposal that would prohibit horses from using the anti-bleeding medication Lasix in this year's Preakness Stakes and Washington, D.C. International.
All six members of the Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee rejected the Maryland Racing Commission's request for emergency regulations that would ban the use of Lasix in the state's two Grade I stakes races for older horses. Committee Chairman Catherine Riley (D-Harford) said she expected the regulation to be overturned after the remaining 10 members vote.
The commission does not need AELR Committee authorization for non-emergency regulations. It could have enough time to effectively pursue a Lasix ban for the International -- a fall event at Laurel Race Course -- via normal regulatory channels, but probably not for the May 17 Preakness at Pimlico.
The commission voted 4-1 on Jan. 16 to ban Lasix in the two races despite opposition from Laurel and Pimlico representatives, who said quality thoroughbreds would run in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where Lasix is permitted. But E. William Furey, commission chairman, said Lasix is dangerous because it can mask illegal drugs.
Lasix, a diuretic that controls equine bleeding promoted by rigorous exertion, is used in Maryland and 15 other states that have licensed horse racing. Six states forbid Lasix use.
The sloppy condition of the track at Pimlico Race Course today resulted in some bizarre happenings, including a rare match race in the feature event.
Before the official scratch time of 8 a.m., there were 80 horses entered on the nine-race card, including eight in the $13,700 feature for 3-year-olds. At 12:30 p.m., trainers attempted to scratch 41 horses and were successful with 24, including six of the eight in the feature.
That left Meadow Dictator, the "long shot" at 4-to-5 odds, and Akusarre, a 2-to-5 favorite, to race the 1 1/16 miles of the allowance event. The pair raced as a team until the far turn, where Meadow Dictator drew away. At the wire he was 14 1/2 lengths in front. He paid $3.80 to win. There was no place or show betting and no exacta wagering. The win pool was only $17,304.