Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has found unconstitutional a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulation that permits racetracks to conduct races for which horses could not be treated with the legal anti-bleeder medication furosemide, according to a release Wednesday from the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
Agreeing with the position of the Kentucky HPBA, Conway’s office wrote in its opinion that the KHRC’s action allowing tracks to stage furosemide-free races is an “invalid delegation of administrative rule-making authority to private actors” and that “determination of whether a race is furosemide-free cannot be left solely to individual racetracks.”
Keeneland had said it wanted to offer several races in 2016 with conditions would ban the use of furosemide–or Lasix–within 24 hours of post time.
Keeneland Vice President of Racing Rogers Beasley said that he had not heard of the ruling when contacted Wednesday.
The KHBPA contended that private tracks do not have the right to forbid use of a therapeutic medication that the state permits to be given four hours before a race.
The Kentucky Legislature’s Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee by a 6-2 vote found the Lasix-free race regulation deficient on Sept. 8. After outgoing governor Steve Beshear allowed the disputed regulation to go into effect Nov. 6, KHBPA executive director Martin A. Maline asked Conway’s office for an opinion on its legality.
“There are a limited number of opportunities for horsemen to run, especially at Keeneland,” Maline said, referring to the Lexington track’s 15-date spring and fall meets that offer some of the highest purses in the country. “If a race is carded as Lasix-free, then that limits the opportunity to run for horsemen who believe Lasix is a therapeutic medication to prevent epistaxis in the horses. This is helping horses. Lasix on race day is allowed in Kentucky, and we feel this Attorney General opinion endorses that regulation.”
Maline pointed out that the horsemen are free to run in any race without Lasix. He cautioned that the regulation offers another slippery slope. While a Keeneland official told the commission that the track would run only a couple of Lasix-free races, according to the release, commission member and KHBPA vice president Frank Jones noted that the regulation does not put a limit on the number of Lasix-free races a track could have.