KHRC Staff Outlines New Salix Procedures

Mistakes occurred since the new Salix administration policy went in place at the Keeneland Race Course meeting in October, including at least two errors that resulted in scratches at the Churchill Downs fall meet.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) staff outlined changes Dec. 12 that have been put in place to prevent future mistakes in the administration of race-day Salix at the state's tracks.

Since the KHRC took over the administration of Salix (furosemide, previously marketed as Lasix) from private trainers--a policy in line with Association of Racing Commissioners International model rules--some mistakes have occurred. They have resulted in horses receiving the diuretic that were not supposed to, and others who were not given Salix that were supposed to receive it.

Salix can be administered on race day and is designed to reduce or eliminate the effects of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). Last year model rules called for Salix to be administered by regulatory veterinarians, or their representatives, instead of private vets. Rules also called for the elimination of medications not proven to address EIPH, also known as adjunct bleeder medications.

Mistakes occurred since the new Salix administration policy went in place at the Keeneland Race Course meeting in October, including at least two errors that resulted in scratches at the Churchill Downs fall meet. The KHRC formed a two-man committee of commission members Frank Jones Jr. and Frank Kling Jr., who met with KHRC deputy executive director Marc Guilfoil and equine medical director Mary Scollay, DVM, to put new policies in place.

Those changes were outlined to the KHRC at its regular meeting Dec. 12 at the Kentucky Horse Park, in Lexington. Guilfoil said a "Lasix coordinator," position has been added to oversee the daily administration of Salix, which occurs four hours before the race.

At the current Turfway Park meeting, Greg Berry, the office manager of the testing barn, is serving as the coordinator. Berry works with the three veterinarians who administer the shots each day to ensure quality control. Veterinarians call him before each shot is given and afterward. Berry oversees the list which is double-checked first by one of the vets and then by Berry and all of the vets.

Jones said the coordinator position is comparable to a point guard in basketball who solely oversees the procedure without the responsibility of administering shots. Chairman Bob Beck jokingly called the coordinator, "a non-shooting point guard."

"It's someone on the ground that can make decisions," Kling said of the position. He added that a better spreadsheet has been developed to ensure proper administration. He said the regulatory vets had been using an entry list and are working to put the new procedures in place at each track.

While applauding the effort to improve the system, commission member Jerry Yon, MD, noted that Salix administration errors also occurred when private vets administered the shots. He said there were 12 documented mistakes earlier this year under the previous system.

Commissioner Tom Conway suggested a regulatory veterinarian on Dec. 12 at Turfway Park administered a shot and was not present when the horse soon had a reaction and went into "anaphylactic shock." Guilfoil said he was aware of the situation and it was being investigated, but he said initial reports suggest the regulatory veterinarian did return 15 minutes after administering the shot to check on the horse. Guilfoil also noted that while there were initial concerns about the horse's behavior, it was able to race.

Also at the Dec. 12 meeting, the KHRC renewed its agreement with HFL Sport Science, which has an office and lab in Lexington, Ky., to conduct its equine drug testing.

Originally published on

About the Author

Frank Angst

Frank Angst is a staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine. An American Horse Publications three-time winner in best news story category, Angst has covered horse racing for more than a decade. Angst spent ten years at Thoroughbred Times, where he earned awards as that magazine’s senior writer and helped launch Thoroughbred Times TODAY. Besides covering horse racing, Angst enjoys handicapping. Angst has written about sports for more than 20 years, including several seasons covering a nationally ranked Marshall Thundering Herd football team.

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