Wednesday, March 29, 2023

No Race-Day Made, Strict Whip Rules at the Breeders’ Cup

DEL MAR, Calif. (NWN) — For the first time, all 14 Breeders’ Cup races this weekend in Del Mar will be run without race-day medication, the final step in a process that banned the antibleeding drug Lasix from running. 2-year-olds at last year’s world championships.

Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien called the rule expansion “definitely a good thing”.

Breeders’ Cup CEO Drew Fleming said he believed Prohibition saw a record 46 foreign-based horses compete on Friday and Saturday, including seven from Japan.

“We don’t medicate our horses here at all,” O’Brien said, “and the only medicine they get is antibiotics for a cold or flu or any kind of infection.”

O’Brien, second all-time in earning Breeders’ Cup purses among trainers, previously used Lasix on his horses in the Breeders’ Cup to be on an equal playing field.

Formally known as furosemide, Lasix is ​​a diuretic widely used in the US to prevent or reduce exercise-induced pulmonary bleeding. Most of the world’s major racing jurisdictions prohibit it on race day.

“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, an analyst on NBC’s coverage of the Breeders’ Cup. “I think there will be fewer drug positives for the general public.”

This year’s Triple Crown races were run without Lasix, with most classified stakes at major tracks such as Churchill Downs, Belmont and Saratoga in New York, Santa Anita and Del Mar in California, and Keeneland in Kentucky. This includes races in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, which guarantees the winners a spot at the two-day World Championships.

Breeders’ Cup officials began on-site pre-competition testing a day earlier this year, collecting blood and urine samples from all 166 horses. The results are to come before the start of Friday.

Veterinarians from the Breeders’ Cup and the California Horse Racing Board will train their eyes on all the horses, from the paddock to warmup to the starting gate and galloping past the finish line.

The top four finishers in each race will be subject to post-race tests that look for more than 600 compounds in blood and urine samples, said CHRB’s new equine medical director, Dr. Jeff Blia said.

Jockeys have to follow strict whip rules enacted a year ago in California, with many of the richest in North American racing coming out of state or overseas for two days.

Riders are limited to six underhand strikes in a race and are allowed two strikes before their horses have a chance to respond. The whip can only be used on the horse’s hind quarters or shoulders, cannot break the skin, cannot be used in motions starting over the shoulder, and cannot be used when the horse is brawling. is out of or has reached the maximum position.

Violators can be fined or suspended.

“It’s different and they have to adjust,” Bailey said.

He called the rules “nonsense” because relative to the purse money at stake, the fines seem negligible. The value of Breeders’ Cup races ranges from $1 million to $6 million. A jockey usually earns 10% of the winning owner’s share of the purse.

“If you’re going nose-to-nose for a win and you only have to pay $500 or $1,000 for breaking the rules, the incentive could be for that (purse) money,” Bailey said.

The most-checked trainer in Del Mar this weekend will be Bob Baffert, who leads all trainers in Breeders’ Cup purse earnings, with nearly $36 million.

In order to participate, he agreed to unprecedented screening, observation and testing of his horses at his own expense.

Here’s a closer overview of Baffert’s results of five drug violations in the past year.

He has entered eight horses, including three in juveniles worth $2 million on Friday. His filly, Gamine, is the starting 3-5 favorite in Saturday’s $1 million Philly & Mare sprint.

Medina Spirit, winner of the Kentucky Derby who failed a postrace drug test, walks into the $6 million Classic on Saturday.

“We look forward to a safe two-day run,” Fleming said.

More changes await next year, when the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority is set to take charge of testing, enforcement and punishment standards across US racing.


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