NYRA stakes races to be run without Lasix in 2021
by Pat McKenna
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced that, in accordance with its commitment to eliminate race day medication, the use of Furosemide (Lasix) will be prohibited within 48 hours of all stakes races conducted at NYRA tracks beginning January 1, 2021.
In April of 2019, NYRA led the formation of a coalition of leading racing organizations founded to address race day medication in a uniform and consistent way throughout the sport. The initiative commenced on January 1, 2020, with NYRA prohibiting Lasix in all 2-year-old races at the three NYRA tracks--Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. Beginning on January 1, 2021, the same prohibition will extend to all horses participating in any NYRA stakes, including New York-bred and New York Stallion Stakes Series [NYSSS] races.
“NYRA is pleased to honor the commitment we made to our coalition partners by greatly expanding the ban on race day medication to all stakes races in 2021,” said Martin Panza, NYRA SVP of Racing Operations. “We look forward to working with racetracks around the country who share our desire to achieve uniform and consistent rules that advance safety and integrity. As evidenced by the passage of The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, there is significant appetite for positive change that will benefit the sport.”
NYRA conducted a total of 127 stakes races in 2020, with the exception of New York-bred and NYSSS races, accounting for 25 percent of all stakes run in the United States. 95 of those stakes were of the graded variety, representing 25 percent of all graded stakes run in the United States. NYRA hosted 33 Grade 1 stakes in 2020, or 35 percent of all Grade 1 races run in the United States. Due to the myriad impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the reorganization of the stakes calendar, 36 stakes races scheduled for 2020 were not run, with 17 of them graded.
NYRA’s 2021 stakes program kicks off on New Year’s Day at Aqueduct with the $150,000 Jerome, a one-turn mile for sophomores offering 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.
The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) rules prohibit the use of Lasix, which is used to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) in racehorses, 48 hours before the scheduled post time of the race in which the horse is to compete - unless a waiver is obtained for the horse to race with the medication. This rule remains in effect and no waivers will be granted for 2-year-olds or horses entered in stakes.
Current NYSGC rules will allow for horses previously entered in stakes who are dropping down to non-stakes competition to apply for a waiver seeking permission from the NYSGC to utilize Lasix after documenting EIPH.
NYRA is a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, a group of the nation's leading racing organizations working collaboratively to advance safety reforms across the sport. For additional information on the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, visit thoroughbredsafetycoalition.com.
The 2020-21 winter meet at Aqueduct Racetrack resumes on Thursday, December 31. The current NYRA stakes schedule, which is updated through April 18, can be viewed at https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/stakes-schedule.