Maryland Commission Shelves Lasix Free Baby Races

POSTED ON  |  28-06-2020

The issue of Lasix-free two-year-old races came before the Maryland Racing Commission Thursday afternoon, and it wasn’t pretty. The Stronach Group (TSG), parent company of the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC), which owns the state’s two so-called “mile tracks,” Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, came to the meeting seeking the Commission’s imprimatur on its plan to conduct two-year-old races without Lasix. What it got instead was a tongue-lashing.

By the end, a clearly exasperated Commission chairman Michael Algeo described the meeting, which was conducted by phone because of the covid-19 pandemic, as “one of the most unfortunate and frustrating” meetings he’s experienced in four years on the body.

Ultimately, on the advice of its legal counsel, the Commission told the MJC that it may not card two-year-old races – or any races at all – without permitting Lasix. The Commission stopped short of requiring the MJC to card two-year-old races with Lasix; the company has yet to card a baby race in 2020. It referred the matter of drug-free baby races to its safety and welfare committee – newly constituted as a result of a provision in the legislation providing for the rebuild of Laurel and Pimlico – for further analysis and a recommendation.

Alan Rifkin, the attorney representing the MJC in the matter, replied that he understood the company would “have no intent” to card any two-year-old races if it could not do so Lasix-free. Not carding baby races, said Commission member Tom Bowman, a veterinarian, will have “a devastating effect on Maryland racing.”

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