The Jockey Club, which advocates ending the use of furosemide, or Lasix, in American horse racing, released a study Thursday that shows horses can have long racing careers without the anti-bleeder medication.
Researchers in Australia and Colorado reviewed the careers of 744 racehorses in Australia, where Lasix is prohibited, and found no correlation between exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage and whether a horse had a successful racing career. Only horses with the most severe bleeding had reduced racing careers.
"The lack of significant associations between the most common forms of EIPH and long-term performance can be interpreted as indicating an absence of important clinical, physiological, or management factors that limit performance in these horses," the researchers wrote.
The Jockey Club's stance on banning furosemide has drawn fire from trainers and others who say the drug is necessary for horses to race. Advocates of Lasix argue that it is more humane to control bleeding in the lungs through medication than through other methods.
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But in an essay on the study, Jockey Club executive vice president and executive director Matt Iuliano wrote: "With the latest research showing that less than two percent of the Thoroughbred population may have impaired lifetime racing performance attributable to EIPH, it is increasingly difficult to reconcile 95 percent of all North American starts occurring after the race-day administration of furosemide."