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U.S. owners take stand on same-day medications

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Across the Atlantic, thoroughbred owners in the United States are making a voluntary pledge on medications aimed at promoting the welfare and health of racehorses. Will this development have an impact on British horse racing owners?

Earlier this week, notable American owners such as Roy Jackson, Josephine Abercrombie, Bill Casner, Robert Clay, William S. Farish, Barry Irwin and Team Valor International, Darley and Shadwell Stables, and Frank Stronach have pledged to race their 2-year-olds of 2012 without furosemide and adjunct bleeder medications. The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) made the announcement on Thursday.

“The use of race-day medications has grown to the point where nearly every horse in every race is being treated just hours before they go to the saddling paddock,” said TOBA chairman Peter S. Willmott. “This practice is not in the long-term best interests of the horse, nor is it the proper message we need to communicate with our fans if we wish to increase the popularity of the sport. We should all take steps to reverse the use of race-day medication and at this time the best way is to encourage like-minded owners to race their 2-year-olds medication-free.”

Race-day medications are used to treat horses that bled from the nose. However, trainers have increasingly used furosemide as a way to gain competitive advantage in meetings. Veterinarians argue that the chemical causes dehydration and requires more recovery time for runners. Thus, the practice of putting racehorses on furosemide is being viewed as abusive.