Trainer Gary Contessa Talks Lasix, Drugs, and More in Thoroughbred Horse Racing

October 25, 2019

Feature Image Courtesy of Steve Heuertz

Trainer Gary Contessa weighs in on the controversial subject of Lasix in horse racing. Gary shares his insight and thoughts on this as well as other medications in racing. This is a hot topic that has two sides that do not agree. This subject in particular has gained a lot of attention of the last few years based on the state of public perception versus racing and more. The current state of racing in California also dubbed by many in the industry as the “Santa Anita effect” has re kindled the lasix debate.

Those on one side against using lasix will say that trainers that use such a drug do so for performance enhancing and masking of other drugs. Some say we need to weed out all of the bleeders and move to lasix being phased out altogether just like Europeans did.

I have heard from several trainers (overseas) that have told me that lasix is indeed being used in Europe but in training only. Horses in Europe also run much different than horses here in the states. European horse racing is much slower than racing here in the U.S. and they are trained to gallop at leisurely paces for the majority of the race then actually running the last three-eighths of the race. Are the effects of EIPH limited because they are only actually intensley running for a very short distance? We strive to find the answers.

Those that are for the use of lasix argue that it prevents EIPH by lowering the blood pressure in a horse. This also helps prevent them from bleeding which curbs blood drying in lungs which can cause phneumonia as a result. I have personally researched myself that several studies have been conducted on horses and that state unequivocally that virtually all horses bleed during intense exercise, particulalry more so in horses that are older.

Everyone seeks answers from both sides. In the mean time if we were to weed out the bleeders in racing where do we put all the horses nobody wants to use for racing? We already have a horse slaughter and aftercare problem. Does getting rid of the bleeders add to that?

One of the best articles on the state of emergency of our industry. Hits the nail on the head. If we want to save racing we must band together and actively work to save it. If we want the industry to die...we can continue with what we're doing.

Michael Wilson @michaelsrwilson View testimonials

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