LEXINGTON, Ky. (December 16, 2013) - Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute announced today the results of the endoscopic examinations of juvenile (two-year-old) horses conducted over two days at the 2013 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on November 1 and 2. In conjunction with extending its 2012 medication policy prohibiting race-day administration of furosemide in juvenile races to 2013, the Breeders' Cup committed to the California Horse Racing Board and the Thoroughbred Owners of California that it would fund post-race endoscopic examination of the starters in these races and publish the findings.
Led by Dr. Nathan Slovis, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, CHT, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute conducted the endoscopic examinations and scoring on 55 of 78 starters in all Breeders’ Cup and non-Breeders’ Cup races restricted to two-year-old horses over the two days. Starters in the four Breeders’ Cup Championship races and in the Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes were not administered furosemide, commonly known as Lasix or Salix, on race day while starters in the non-Breeders’ Cup races for two-year-olds were permitted to be treated with the medication on race day in accordance with California regulations pertaining to timing and dosage of administration. Participation in the observational study was voluntary and participating owners and trainers were provided assurance that the identity of those participating or not participating as well as results for individual horses would remain confidential. Statistical analysis of the raw data in the study was performed by Dr. Noah Cohen, VMD, MPH, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM of Texas A&M University.
While careful to acknowledge limitations on the study due to sample size and other factors, the study concluded that there was no evidence that exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) was more severe in 2-year-old horses not treated with furosemide. In the study, horses that were treated with furosemide were observed to have higher frequency and severity of EIPH on a statistically significant basis.
Specifically, the percentage of horses that were observed to have some level of EIPH was significantly greater among furosemide treated horses (71%, 10 of 14) compared to non-treated horses (37% 15 of 41). Similarly, the treated horses showed significantly higher likelihood to have a severity scoring greater than two on a scale of zero to four (four being most severe) with 36% (5 of 14) scoring higher than two while the untreated group had only 7% (3 of 41) that were scored at an EIPH level greater than two.
“Obviously, the subject of EIPH is one that has been a focal point of the Thoroughbred industry both in the US and abroad for many years and we were pleased to work with the Breeders' Cup in developing the protocols for this study and performing the data collection,” said Dr. Slovis. “Although there were limitations on the scope of the study in terms of sample size and others noted in the report, we believe the data can be quite useful in identifying further studies that can advance our understanding of the causes and impact of EIPH on the racing Thoroughbred. We look forward to working with the Breeders' Cup and others to advance our level of knowledge on the subject of EIPH and the use of furosemide as a preventive medication.”
“I want to thank Dr. Slovis and the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute for their efforts as well as the horsemen who agreed to participate in the study,” said Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel. “Beyond the stated conclusions which, given prevailing sentiment are both striking and surprising, this observational study reinforces our commitment to investing in research focused on EIPH. We urge the racing industry to reflect thoughtfully on the results and to support further scientific inquiry into this and other critical areas. We look forward to follow-up on this study to identify further research approaches the work might suggest and expect to meet with colleagues at the CHRB, TOC and elsewhere to advance the science in this critical area.”
The complete results of the study can be found in the link below: