By: Frank Angst

In a presentation at the Association of Racing Commissioners International conference March 23 in New Orleans, Jockey Club executive director Matt Iuliano highlighted studies examining the efficacy of administering furosemide at least 24 hours before a race.

RCI president Ed Martin noted that some conference presentations will allow member commissioners to see ideas that might be in the pipeline.

Currently horses who receive race-day furosemide, also referred to as Salix or Lasix, receive the administration four hours before a race to prevent exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. Allowed in North America, race-day furosemide is prohibited in most other racing countries.

The possible impact of these studies—if it’s shown that furosemide can prevent EIPH when administered 24 or more hours before a race—could be the elimination of race-day furosemide.

Iuliano said that both studies, one being conducted at the University of California-Davis and the other at Washington State University, will use research horses first on treadmills then in a racing atmosphere to determine the efficacy of furosemide in preventing and reducing the severity of EIPH. He said pre-publication results from at least one study could be available as early as this fall.

The studies are being funded by Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.

The projects are being conducted by Dr. Warwick Bayly at Washington State University and Dr. Heather Knych at University of California-Davis. The similar studies are pursuing data, following preliminary work that indicated the beneficial effect of preventing and reducing severity of EIPH provided by furosemide administered 24 hours prior to exercise may be equal to, and in some parameters better than, furosemide administered at four hours pre-exercise.

Iuliano said the research at California-Davis will use 15 research horses, while the Washington State study will rely on six horses, but those six each had a history of EIPH. Iuliano said the studies will closely examine the horses physiology when they are exercised. They will be examined with an endoscope for levels of bleeding. Pre-race applications and dosage levels of furosemide will be varied.

In announcing its funding of the studies in September, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation noted the American Association of Equine Practitioners is playing a prominent role in funding the projects and Grayson reached out to racetracks to complete the funding. To date, the following racetracks and companies have pledged financial support at an equal level: Churchill Downs, Del Mar, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, New York Racing Association, Oak Tree Racing Association,Oaklawn Park, and The Stronach Group.

Iuliano thanked the AAEP for its interest in the studies, which he noted have the potential to provide a lot of needed information.