Last Monday, a Circuit Court Judge in Franklin County, KY weighed in on a request brought forth by the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and defendants Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
The group was seeking a restraining order and dismissal of a previous ruling which stated that Lasix was no longer allowed to be administered to two-year-olds within 24 hours of a race. That ruling will continue to stand as Judge Thomas Wingate dismissed the suit
Here are some details on Wingate’s decision, courtesy of the Daily Racing Form.
In the ruling, Wingate wrote that the Kentucky HBPA’s complaint “fails to contain a single allegation that a member of the KHBPA was unable to run a horse due to Churchill and Keeneland” writing the Lasix-free races, which are allowed under a rule adopted by the KHRC in 2015. As a result, Wingate said, the KHBPA could not demonstrate standing.
“Because the KHBPA cannot meet the first prong of the test for associational standing, the Court does not need to consider whether the interest that the KHBPA seeks to protect is germane to the organization’s purpose and whether the claim asserted or the relief requested requires the participation of the individual members of the lawsuit,” Wingate wrote.
Several briefs were filed in support of the suit led by KHBPA, including support from Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and The Jockey Club, but it was to no avail. There’s still some legal wrangling going on, but the ruling is also expected to be applied to all stakes races beginning in 2021.
We can count Allied Racing LLC in the camp of those who are opposed to the changes. Allied principal Chester Thomas expressed his opposition in an open letter in no uncertain terms while also noting that he’ll be reducing his investments in the industry as a result.
The welfare of our equine and human participants must always come first. That’s why it’s mind-numbing that the industry’s power brokers point a finger at Lasix while diverting attention from legitimate issues such as track surfaces.
Everything I earned in racing last year was channeled back into buying more horses. Not so in 2020. Until the picture becomes clearer as to how these horses do with no Lasix, I will not be buying any yearlings from Keeneland or elsewhere, nor will I buy any 2-year-olds in training. We will reduce our broodmares by one-third and sell at least two-thirds of our homebred babies.
I’m going to wake up this time next year and I will not have 71 horses, I promise you. It’s very difficult to break even in this business, much less to make money. As we are force-fed these ill-advised rule changes, turning a profit will become even more of an illusion.
Yes, horse racing has problems. Lasix isn’t one of them.
Thomas goes on and makes his case in full detail in the lengthy letter. He notes that the focus on Lasix is not the game-changer that equine protection advocates believe it is.
If our industry is on a quest to eliminate catastrophic injuries then we need to be improving track surfaces – not deflecting the media through a partial elimination of Lasix which actually benefits our horses.
From a legal perspective, the matter seems to be settled for the time being, but we can also safely assume that this won’t be the last we hear of it. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a further push for similar regulations in other jurisdictions.
In a perfect world, common sense solutions that benefit all will be implemented without the need for further legal intervention, but we’ll take a wait and see approach on that.