By T. D. Thornton
Following the Lasix dosage reduction protocol that was approved for Santa Anita Park in March, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) on Thursday voted to approve similar agreements to allow racing secretaries at four other tracks to also establish conditions that will lower the allowable maximum race-day dosage of the drug from 500 mg to 250 mg.
Los Alamitos Race Course, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (DMTC), the California Exposition and State Fair, and the Alameda County Fair all petitioned for that change to take effect for their upcoming race meets.
In order to make that change happen, the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) entered into Lasix-reduction agreements with all four of those venues to satisfy the required horsemen’s group approval as per CHRB Rule 1581, and the California Authority of Racing Fairs similarly gave its permission for the two fairs venues.
“This is substantially the same agreement that we reached with the Stronach Group…with one exception: that this does not address, for now, post-2019 Lasix [usage]. This is for this particular race meet agreement, and we support it,” said Greg Avioli, president and chief executive officer for the TOC, when speaking during the agenda item pertaining to Los Alamitos.
“Our medication reforms are going to match exactly what’s currently in place at Santa Anita,” said Tom Robbins, DMTC’s executive vice president for racing and industry relations.
Each of the four Lasix-related measures passed by unanimous voice vote.
Del Mar’s summer meet dates request also gained CHRB approval on Thursday, and track executives outlined several items of interest to horsemen.
“Regarding training, as we started a couple of years ago, we’re going to continue with ‘workers only’ for the first 10 minutes after the first two renovation breaks. We’re also going to continue with our program of keeping our numbers down to a manageable number of horses stabled at Del Mar,” said Robbins.
“For the first time ever, on [GI] Pacific Classic Day, we’re going to offer five stakes races,” said David Jerkens, the DMTC racing secretary, adding that “we’re happy to report a purse increase across the board at all levels for the upcoming summer meet.”
Although the actionable agenda items unfolded swiftly and with little drama, just like at the previous CHRB meeting in April, the earlier public commentary part of the meeting was once again dominated by anti-racing activists who spoke out against the sport and/or called for an outright ban on horse racing.
On several occasions during 72 sometimes-volatile minutes of public comments, Winner had to impose order upon anti-racing speakers by asking them to refrain from personal attacks on individual CHRB commissioners.
Winner also had to verbally warn jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. after the journeyman California rider used a portion of his allotted three minutes of commentary to make disparaging remarks about women, including one sexism-charged statement likening the anti-racing protesters to female Thoroughbreds that he rides in races.
“Fillies, they liked to be loved, they like to be talked to very sweet. I’m sure you like that, right you women?” Arroyo asked sarcastically, drawing audible gasps from the audience. “Because all I see here is a bunch of single women criticizing what we do here.”
Later in the meeting, just prior to adjournment, Winner announced there would be a policy change for future CHRB meetings aimed at keeping public commentary more concise and civil.
“Going forward, the public comment period will be held as the last item on the agenda [instead of the fourth], and the reason is so that people can have the opportunity to hear what has happened during the course of the meeting, so that when they make their public comments they can tale that into consideration,” Winner said. “This is what’s done at most legislative hearings and other boards, and we think it’s appropriate to do it here.”