Wilson: Stronach Group’s move to ban raceday medication was a bombshell


The Stronach Group dropped a bombshell on all of us Thursday, announcing a ban on raceday medication, including Lasix, at its two California tracks, Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields.

The open letter from Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of TSG, came only hours after the 22nd horse fatality at Santa Anita since its winter meet began Dec. 26. Seven of the catastrophic injuries have occurred on the main track during racing, five on the turf course and 10 during morning training.

The announcement touched off a firestorm of reaction within the industry, some claiming it will destroy California racing, a good number supporting the new guidelines and others speculating on the number of trainers that will move their stables out of the state.

Two of the trainers I contacted for comment were firmly behind the stringent new guidelines that will begin immediately at Santa Anita. Racing is tentatively scheduled to resume March 22 after being suspended indefinitely March 5.

“I’m 100 percent behind the Stronach Group’s decision,” Doug O’Neill, Santa Anita’s leading trainer with 28 victories at the current meet, said in an email. “We need to show non-racing fans how much we love our horses. I support their new rules.”

Karen Headley, whose father Bruce has trained numerous Grade I winners and won the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint with Kona Gold in then-record time, also enthusiastically supported the new guidelines, except for one.”I do oppose the Lasix ban,” she said in a text message. “I don’t train on Lasix or Bute. If that’s the rules, I’m OK with it.”

Bute is short for Phenylbutazone, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for the short-term treatment of pain and fever in animals.

“That’s my favorite part of being a trainer, doing what’s best for my horses because my horses take care of me,” Headley said. “During this time we need total transparency and unification.”

Some horsemen wondered why the new guidelines applied to only Santa Anita and Golden Gate, but Headley was not among them.

“We need to worry about our house before we take on anyone else’s,” she said.

Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who will be in Arkansas this week to saddle Kentucky Derby hopefuls Omaha Beach and Extra Hope in Saturday’s split divisions of the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, told Thoroughbred Daily News the changes won’t affect how he runs his barn.

“I’m fine,” he said. “I don’t have a problem. I’m willing to do whatever …read more

Source:: Dailynews – News


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