17 Mar 19
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Santa Anita’s scheduled reopening March 29 is back on after the track’s parent company, The Stronach Group, and the Thoroughbred Owners of California reached agreement Saturday on the Lasix controversy that had swept through the industry the past few days.
The story was first reported by Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form and confirmed by the Southern California News Group.
The deal includes the elimination of Lasix beginning with next year’s crop of 2-year-olds and immediately reduces race-day administration of the diuretic from a maximum of 10 ccs to 5.
On Thursday, TSG announced Lasix would be abolished at both Santa Anita and California’s other Stronach-owned track, Golden Gate Fields. But the TOC, which wields a lot of power, balked at the new rule, putting the resumption of racing on March 29 in peril.
Many trainers agreed with other new rules the TSG announced it was implementing, including more out-of-competition testing, complete transparency of all veterinary records and an increased ban on legal therapeutic NSAIDS, joint injections, shockwave therapy and anabolic steroids, but the Lasix issue was a major point of contention.
Jon Lindo, Southern California radio personality who owns at least a share of eight horses in training, believes the compromise was a positive for Southern California racing.
“It’s something that had to be done. I think it’s the right thing,” he said when reached by telephone. “I’m glad the TOC stood its ground about not banning Lasix right off the bat. To go cold turkey like that, that’s just not the right thing to do.
“Now we have time to figure out which horses can race without Lasix, get on the program and wait until the next crop comes up and deal with that. I think that makes a lot of sense.”
Like many horsemen, Lindo has not been a fan of TSG instituting changes without consulting with owners and trainers.
“I do not like how these announcements have been put on without discussions with the horsemen,” he said. “These things just seem to come out of nowhere, nobody’s discussing these things, and then all of a sudden here it is and you’re like, ‘Well wait a minute.’”
Santa Anita management suspended racing indefinitely March 5 after the 21st racing fatality since the winter meet began Dec. 26. Hours after the 22nd horse was catastrophically injured Thursday, TSG announced it would begin instituting International guidelines, which included the banning of race-day Lasix.
It was also learned Saturday that jockey Tyler Baze, a Southland staple who is seventh in the rider standings, is moving his business to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. Also, trainer Jeff Mullins reportedly is planning to move some of his horses to Kentucky amid the Santa Anita turmoil.
“Tyler’s got a couple of kids, he’s got a family to support,” Lindo said. “We’re all sitting around here starting and stopping, starting and … I don’t blame these guys. I’ve never been so confused and disturbed about this industry as I am right now. I think Jay (Privman) used the word chaotic on our radio show this morning and I think that’s a pretty good word.”
Lindo, who was part owner of multiple-stakes winner Skye Diamonds, doesn’t think you can point a finger at one factor that has been responsible for the rash of deaths. It’s the worst Southern California has seen since 2016 when 17 horses died during Del Mar’s 39-day summer meet.
“I just think, with all the weather (nearly 15 inches of rain) we’ve had this winter … the main track now, when it’s considered fast, is pretty deep and slow,” Lindo said. “To go from that extreme to when it rains and we seal the track and it’s so hard and fast, it’s just harder to (keep it) so horses are training over the same type of surface all the time.
“I don’t think it’s (fatalities) one specific thing, but you go from running on pavement to running on deep sand, all of a sudden problems are going to develop and maybe they get exposed when you’re going full speed on whatever surface you’re on. That’s just an educated guess. I don’t have anything to prove it, but when we’re trying to figure out what’s happening, that’s logical to me.”
Trainer Bill Spawr was contacted by phone but preferred to digest the news before fully commenting.
“Disappointed, but I guess a compromise is better than nothing,” he said in a text message.