Almost 98% of thoroughbreds in Kentucky use it on race day, according to studies. It's been used on horses since the 1970s. Some critics call it a performance-enhancing drug. Furosemide, commonly known as Lasix, is an anti-bleeding medication used in race horses, because exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage is common. Experts say horses with less bleeding are more likely to win or finish in the money. The use of furosemide has created controversy for decades. The proposal to ban the medication failed to make it past the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Monday but it was a close call. The vote ended in a 7-7 tie, which by commission rules means it fails.
"We had a great turnout. We had a lot of people interested in the subject, a lot of discussion. We had other states coming to us to see what we were going to do," explains KHRC Chairman Robert Beck.
And Beck says even though the ban failed, he doesn't think the discussion is over.
"I'm disappointed because I thought it should go through. I voted in favor of it. I think it was a good proposal but I do think it wasn't in vain because I think it helps focus the industry," comments Beck.
Longtime Kentucky trainer Dale Romans explains that the ban would've completely crippled the horse industry here in Kentucky.
"It is helpful medication that people, if they don't understand it, need to be educated about. But, from an economic stand, we cannot be the only state not using it because we're fighting for horses to run now and if we give them a reason to leave, they can to these other places and they're going to leave," says Romans.
If the ban had passed, Kentucky would have been the first prohibit the drug on race days. Commission members said the proposal may resurface again after some changes are made.