DEL MAR, Calif .– For the first time, all 14 Breeders’ Cup races this weekend in Del Mar will be drug-free on race day, the final step in a process that has banned the anti-bleeding drug Lasix in the races for 2 years. -old at the world championships last year.
Irish coach Aidan O’Brien called the extension of the rules “definitely a good thing”.
Breeders’ Cup CEO Drew Fleming said he believed the ban led to a record 46 overseas-based horses competing on Friday and Saturday, including seven from Japan.
“We don’t meditate our horses here at all,” said O’Brien, “and the only medicine they get is any type of antibiotic for colds, flu or infections.”
O’Brien, second all-time Breeders ‘Cup scholarship winners among trainers, has previously used Lasix on his horses in the Breeders’ Cup to be on a level playing field.
Formerly known as furosemide, Lasix is a diuretic widely used in the United States to prevent or reduce exercise-induced pulmonary bleeding. Most other major racing jurisdictions around the world prohibit it on race days.
“It’s a legal drug, it’s a therapeutic drug, and I’m not sure the general public understands it,” said Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, Breeders’ Cup coverage analyst by NBC. “Less drugs for the general public, I think that would be good.”
This year’s Triple Crown races went without Lasix, as well as most of the ranked stakes on tracks as important as Churchill Downs, Belmont and Saratoga in New York, Santa Anita and Del Mar in California and Keeneland in Kentucky. This includes the races in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, which guarantees winners a spot in the two-day world championships.
“For the public, this is probably an impressive rule,” said Hall of Fame coach Richard Mandella.
Breeders’ Cup officials began on-site pre-competition testing a day earlier this year, collecting blood and urine samples from the 166 registered horses. The results are expected before the scratch Friday.
Breeders’ Cup and California Horse Racing Board vets will have their sights set on every horse, from the paddock and warm-ups to the start gate and gallop across the finish line.
The top four in each race will undergo post-race testing that will look for more than 600 compounds in blood and urine samples, said Dr Jeff Blea, CHRB’s new equine medical director.
Strict whip rules adopted in California a year ago will have to be followed by jockeys, many of whom come from out of state or overseas for the richest two days of North American racing.
Riders are limited to six sneaky strikes in a race and are allowed two strikes before giving their horses a chance to respond. Whips can only be used on the hindquarters or shoulders of a horse, cannot break skin, cannot be used in a motion that begins above the shoulder, and cannot be used when a horse is hors de combat or has reached a maximum rating.
Violators can be fined or suspended.
“It’s different and they’re going to have to adapt,” Bailey said.
He called the rules “crapshoot” because, compared to the stock market money at stake, the fines seem insignificant. The value of Breeders’ Cup races ranges from $ 1 million to $ 6 million. A jockey typically earns 10% from the winning purse owner’s share.
“If you’re nose and nose for a win and only have to pay $ 500 or $ 1,000 to break the rules, the incentive could be there for that much (purse) money,” said Bailey.
The most scrutinized coach at Del Mar this weekend will be Bob Baffert, who leads all coaches in the Breeders’ Cup purse winnings, with nearly $ 36 million.
In order to participate, he agreed to unprecedented screening, observation and testing of his horses at his own expense.
The closer observation is the result of the fact that Baffert has had five drug violations in the past year.
He has eight horses entered, including three in the $ 2 million Juvenile on Friday. Her filly, Gamine, is the 3-5 favorite in the $ 1 million Filly & Mare Sprint on Saturday.
Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit who failed a post-race drug test is competing in the $ 6 million Classic on Saturday.
“We are looking forward to two safe days of racing,” said Fleming.
More changes await next year, when the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority is expected to take over testing, enforcement and sanctioning standards across all American races.