The outcome was no shocker. That didn't make the reality any easier for some to swallow.
As expected on Wednesday, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted to approve a plan that will phase out race-day use of the anti-bleeder medication furosemide — commonly called Lasix — beginning with 2-year-old upper-level stakes races in 2014.
The debate over the race-day use of Lasix has been among the most divisive topics in the racing community with several horsemen saying a ban would greatly hinder their stables and force them to move their operations to neighboring jurisdictions where the medication is still allowed.
While the ban still must go through a state legislative review process — which could extend well into next year — the collective angst among horsemen over the commission's decision was swift.
"I think it's very disappointing that some of our commissioners with all the data and research that they have, don't appear to be voting for what's best for the horse," said Kentucky-based trainer Buff Bradley. "I've read a lot of data and a lot of research that supports Lasix, and for them not to see what we're seeing, it's very disappointing to us.
"They didn't have much opposition from us (the horsemen) when they wanted to phase out other race-day medication. This is something that is for the welfare of the horse."
Horsemen say they fear that if no other states join in the ban by 2014, Kentucky racing will suffer.
With no revenue from expanded gaming, Kentucky tracks are already losing horsemen to other racing circuits as they struggle to maintain a competitive purse structure against the likes of New York, Florida, and even Indiana.
"The only presence in New York that is pushing for some sort of Lasix ban is The Jockey Club," said trainer Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "But outside of The Jockey Club, there is no movement in New York and the horsemen will go to whatever lengths possible against it. I think this is a huge danger for Kentucky."
Horsemen also fear that since the proposed ban only applies to horses in graded or listed stakes, it could create other problems.
In addition to the logistics of runners coming on and off the medication, bettors might be turned off by trying to handicap major races in which horses compete without Lasix for the first time.
"I would have rather it not be phased out in any horse but I think it is going to be a problem for a bettor," trainer Rusty Arnold said. "There is a lot they should have worked out before they made this vote."
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com.