The Maryland Jockey Club, The Stronach Group and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association have reached an agreement for a Lasix-free pilot program through 2023 that will facilitate Lasix-free races for 2-year-old horses, Lasix-free graded stakes, a minimum number of racing days per week during any Maryland Jockey Club meet and a substantial increase in committed funding for the Beyond The Wire aftercare program.
The program, which was the result of weeks of good-faith discussions among all parties, was reviewed and approved subject to the adoption of emergency regulations, which will hopefully be advanced in short order, by the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) at its July 16 meeting.
Under the agreement, in 2020 Lasix will not be administered to 2-year-olds within 48 hours of a race. From 2021 through 2023, 2-year-old races and graded stakes will be carded Lasix-free. As a result of COVID-19, live racing has been held only twice a week since Laurel Park reopened at the end of May. This agreement provides for a minimum of three live racing days per week during all Maryland Jockey Club meets at current purse levels beginning July 23.
The agreement also calls for a study with respect to Lasix-free racing and states, “The parties agree to discuss in good faith, in consultation with the MRC, the development, implementation and funding of a study and related protocols for post-race scoping of horses to obtain relevant data. The protocols for such study shall include, but not be limited to, establishment of study research parameters and objectives; identification and selection of the horse population for the study; development of scoring, criteria and other scientific methods; selection of persons to conduct the study; and other matters relevant to the study.”
Importantly, the joint agreement paves the way for an enhanced commitment to racehorse aftercare in Maryland through the Beyond The Wire program, which relies heavily on an $11 per-start contribution from owners. That revenue wasn't generated when Laurel was shut down for two-and-a-half months because of COVID-19 restrictions.