A group of 39 members of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association announced on Thursday that they will race their 2-year-olds without raceday medication for the balance of the 2012 season.
In the U.S., that’s limited to Lasix (the brand name for the anti-bleeding diuretic furosemide) and adjunct anti-bleeding drugs that are supposed to stop exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging in racehorses.
Spendthrift Farm is not among the 39, but their filly, Fully Living, is conspicuous for the fact that she’ll run in the Grade III Schuylerville at Saratoga Race Course today without Lasix, just as she did in winning her career debut on May 31 at Belmont Park.
It’s further evidence that perhaps the wheels of change are slowly grinding toward a shift away from raceday Lasix in the U.S., a fiercely debated topic in recent years.
The Breeders’ Cup, for instance, won’t allow raceday Lasix for its juvenile races this year in a first step toward a phase-out for all Breeders’ Cup races next year.
In the meantime, Fully Living has a race today against a well-balanced field of 2-year-old fillies.
Running without Lasix at Belmont, Fully Living battled along the rail to prevail by a half-length over Can’t Explain, who is also in the Schuylerville field after coming back to win her next start by 41⁄2 lengths.
“We do that quite a bit with our horses,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “She just doesn’t need Lasix right now. It’s not something that we’ve found that she needs. I’d like to think she could win without it, and feel kind of confident that she can win without it. She’s never had a bleeding issue.”
However, she did have crowding issues in her first start under Rosie Napravnik, but got through on the rail to win.
The daughter of Unbridled’s Song is 4-1 on the morning line, and will break from post No. 5 in the seven-horse field.
“She overcame a lot, being on the inside of horses that day and then fighting back to win,” McPeek said. “We’ve spent some time since that race trying to teach her to finish from the outside, and the post she drew, she’s going to be able to sit outside horses. It looks like all four of the horses to the inside of her went to the lead in their last start.”
The Schuylerville is the first of three Saratoga graded stakes for juvenile fillies.
The New York Racing Association tried to bolster its juvenile stakes program this season by offering a $100,000 bonus to anyone who broke their maiden at Belmont or Aqueduct, then went on to win a graded stakes at a NYRA track in 2012.
Of the seven fillies entered in the Schuylerville, five meet that requirement, including Fully Living.
“I trained her in Kentucky. We had her at Churchill and were getting ready to run her at Churchill, and then that bonus got my attention,” McPeek said. “I said I better get her up here, because we think she’s good enough for that.”
“It seems like the 2-year-old maiden races filled consistently, and filled sooner,” trainer Todd Pletcher told NYRA.
Pletcher has won the Schuylerville four times, and trains Can’t Explain.
Baby J, trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., is the 5-2 favorite off a maiden win at Belmont on June 28.
After the inside trip last time, McPeek said he wants Napravnik to let the pacesetters clear out of the gate, then find a tracking spot behind.
“The fact that she drew inside last time, we didn’t have a whole lot of choice, and she broke well and went on,” McPeek said. “Like any good horse, they need to learn their lessons early, and we’re not going to be trying to chase anything on the inside, we’re going to let her settle and ask her to finish up and gallop out good. Hopefully, she’ll get a piece of it.
“It’s a good race. I guess Dutrow’s horse ran really well first time out, and she looks like she’s fast. We’re not looking at it as an end-all to everything. Hopefully, it’s a step to take her to the Breeders’ Cup.”