West Virginia Racing Commission Plans Meeting on Salix Use

The West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) in late summer or early fall plans to hold a fact-finding meeting on use of race-day furosemide day, officials said Aug. 4.

The meeting will be similar to one held in Kentucky last fall. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) took testimony on the pros and cons of furosemide, an anti-bleeding medication known Salix or Lasix designed to prevent or lessen the effects of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.

The KHRC this year passed regulations that would phase out race-day Salix in graded and listed states effective Jan. 2, 2014. The regulation, however, must first be approved by the General Assembly.

Racing regulations in West Virginia also must be approved by the state legislature. The deadline for submitting regulations for review is Aug. 31, meaning there's no time to address Salix for 2013.

"I don't know if anyone on the commission has even formed an opinion yet," WVRC commission chairman Joe Smith said. "But we'd be remiss if we didn't become educated on the issue. When we make a decision, we want to make an informed decision."

The boards of directors at two horsemen's groups in West Virginia--National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association affiliates at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort--have signed resolutions supporting continued use of the medication on race day.

"Some horsemen have come to me and asked why we're doing this," said Kelli Talbott, deputy attorney general for the WVRC. "I told them we just want to start a dialogue (on use of Salix)."

Talbott said various parties would be invited to speak on Salix and present information on the subject.

West Virginia currently has two graded stakes, both ranked grade II: the Charles Town Classic and the West Virginia Derby. Charles Town races year round and Mountaineer races for 10 months of the year.

About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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