Santa Anita will be hosting back-to-back Breeders' Cups in 2012 and 2013PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
BC officials pushing for raceday medication ban
USA: Breeders' Cup officials have underlined their determination to move towards banning all raceday medication by revealing that Santa Anita's ability willingness to host a Lasix-free event in 2013 was a major factor in the California track being granted the event for a second year running.
Only Santa Anita of the major-league tracks in the running to host the Breeders' Cup was able to make the guarantee regarding the potential prohibition of the anti-bleeding medication Furosemide, more commonly known by its former trade name Lasix.
Lasix will not be allowed in all six juvenile races at this year's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita on November 2-3; the ban will be extended to every race in 2013.
Breeders' Cup director of racing Josh Christian emphasised the significance of the organisation's stand on a hot topic that has split US racing down the middle.
"It is very important to us," said Christian, speaking in Baden-Baden before Sunday's Grosser Preis von Baden, which is now part of the Breeders' Cup ‘Win and You're In' Challenge series.
"We consider ourselves and international event, not an American event - and when you're an international event you have to adhere to international standards.
"A lot of my friends are vets and it's not for me to speak about the issue of right and wrong but this is what the rest of the world is doing and we are an international event."
Bill Oppenheim, speaking in his role as one of 39 elected members of the Breeders' Cup committee, said the Lasix question had played a role in the decision to hand the event back to Santa Anita.
"They were the only big-market track willing to do that," he said. "It was a factor in the decision that they were able to reach agreement with horsemen and the racetrack that they would agree to implement the no Lasix in 2013."
Arguments about the use of Lasix, plus other adjunct medication, are raging in North America, where the names of Darley, Shadwell and Juddmonte featured on a list of 40 owners who have pledged not to use raceday medication on their two-year-olds in 2012.
The move, announced in a statement issued by the US Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association (TOBA), is seen as a first step in moving away from the pervasive laissez faire attitude towards medication on American racetracks.
Oppenheim emphasised the Breeders' Cup's stance. "I think the Board is united on this one and I must say I think the Breeders' Cup stands out in American racing," he said.
"We'll do as much as we can but the Breeders' Cup really has no power over anything other than the Breeders' Cup races but it is very definitely intended as a statement to the rest of the world that we want to be included - we do not want to be excluded on the grounds of drug use."