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Today, Friday 7 August at Laurel Park Racetrack the Maryland Racing Commission begins its 2YO Laxis-Free Survey Study to determine the extent of exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage.

As of today, all 2yo races run in the state of Maryland, through to 31 December will be run without Lasix being administered to all runners, and with a 48-hour cut-off of the therapeutic medication.

This survey study was partnered by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and The Stronach Group for a Lasix-free pilot program to run through to 2023.

It covers all 2yo races and graded stakes races only, with all graded stakes races in 2020 not included in the pilot program. All Starters will have post-race video endoscopies.

Laurel Park based private veterinarians will conduct the video endoscopies and complete information forms for each horse, plus additional race and race day data.

Each 2yo record will include the horse’s name, its EIPH score, any related comments, and whether the horse trains on Lasix, which will be transferred to an online database.

All survey records are only available to the horse’s owner and trainer with the results of a scope distributed to maintain anonymity.

Owners and trainers will be entitled to the results and will not have to pay for the video endoscopies, as agreed by The Maryland Equine Safety, Health and Welfare Advisory Committee.

Horses will be scored using a range from 0 to 3 for none, mild, moderate or severe bleeding, and for the purpose of simplification.

Dr. John Sivick, a member of the Equine Safety, Health and Welfare Advisory Committee, expressed ‘that endoscopies are usually performed 30 minutes to 90 minutes after a race.’

Also as a Laura Park veterinarian Dr Sivick added ‘but the goal will be a window of 40 minutes to 70 minutes post-race to keep the scores as consistent as possible.’

The Maryland Jockey Club have advised that all 2yo’s running in Maryland for the rest of this year can be expected to be scoped, with all grooms remaining with the horse until scoped.

The Maryland Racing Commission implemented the Maryland 2YO Lasix-Free Survey following The Stronach Group’s refusal to conduct 2yo races unless they are lasix-free.

The Stronach Group announced to impose a ban on lasix in horses born after 2018 at its racetracks following a series of fatal injuries at Santa Anita.

Although acknowledged that lasix was not responsible it was considered a misdirection to deflect criticism of the company’s safety and welfare practices and track maintenance.

As owner of The Maryland Jockey Club, The Stronach Group joined with other racetracks in announcing to seek a lasix ban for 2yo’s beginning in 2020 and all stakes races beginning in 2021.

Previously Belinda Stronach, the Chairman and President of The Stronach Group stated ‘the time has come to phase out Lasix beginning with 2yo horses.’

‘We are following through on the commitment to put horse and rider safety and welfare at the forefront. We believe in the principle that horses should only be racing free of medication.

As with California and Florida, where The Stronach Group also own racetracks, Belinda Stronach expressed ‘how the racing industry in the Mid-Atlantic ensure that jurisdictions adopt the same rules and regulations to build upon uniformity for the benefit of horsemen, racetracks and the public.’

Ms Stronach agreed to work collectively with Maryland leaders on the lasix issue and not impose any mandates that would put Maryland at a severe competitive disadvantage with its surrounding states.

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