Lasix being phased out
All three sites of the Triple Crown are among several major tracks that have agreed to phase out the use of a common anti-bleeding medication starting next year.
Starting in 2020, 2-year-old horses won’t be allowed to be treated with the drug Lasix within 24 hours of racing. Lasix is a diuretic given to a majority of horses on race days to prevent pulmonary bleeding.
In 2021, the same prohibition would extend to all horses running in any stakes race at tracks in the coalition that announced the ban Thursday. That’s the year the Triple Crown would be run for the first time under the new medication rules. Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont are the hosts for the Triple Crown races: Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
While many American trainers say Lasix is a vital medication that keeps horses safe, animal-rights activists say it amounts to a performance-enhancing drug and note most tracks in the world do fine without it. Outside North America, most racing countries ban race-day medication.
The Breeders’ Cup, which is thoroughbred racing’s world championships, is part of the coalition announced Thursday. This year’s event is set to be run at Santa Anita in November.
Other major tracks participating are Aqueduct and Saratoga, California’s Del Mar and Los Alamitos, Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, Arlington International outside Chicago, Keeneland in Kentucky, Lone Star in Texas, Fair Grounds in Louisiana, Remington in Oklahoma and Oaklawn in Arkansas. Other tracks involved are Laurel in Maryland and Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania.
Santa Anita in Southern California and Golden Gate Fields in Northern California will continue to run under recently announced limits to race-day medication that were prompted by the deaths of 23 horses since Dec. 26 at Santa Anita. Both California tracks are owned by The Stronach Group.
Santa Anita to continue
Santa Anita will continue racing through the end of the current meet on June 23, despite objections from animal rights activists who urged the California Horse Racing Board to shutter the historic track.
Chairman Chuck Winner said at the racing board’s monthly meeting Thursday that he sees no reason to reallocate any of Santa Anita’s dates to another track.
Since the Arcadia track reopened March 29, one horse died during a turf race. Overall, 23 horses have died in training or racing incidents since Dec. 26.
Lowry in lead at RBC Heritage
Shane Lowry was convinced his game was on the rise, despite his poor scoring. He finally showed that Thursday in the RBC Heritage, shooting a 6-under 65 to take a one-shot lead in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Trey Mullinax, Daniel Berger, Luke List, Ryan Moore and Ryan Palmer were tied for second with 66s.
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson, coming off a second-place tie at Masters last week, rallied with two birdies in his final seven holes for a 68, leaving him three shots back.
Lowry had not broken 70 in a stroke-play event since a 67 in the third round at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am in early February on his way to missing the cut. The Irishman missed three more cuts in the past five weeks, including going 78-73 to end his Masters after two rounds.
Things changed for Lowry at Harbour Town Golf Links, where he birdied three of his first six holes. He made three more birdies on his back nine.
“My scores haven’t been great as of late,” Lowry said. “But I felt like I’ve been playing OK. So maybe this is a reward for the perseverance.”
Culver picks NBA
Big 12 player of the year Jarrett Culver has declared for the NBA draft after helping lead his hometown Texas Tech Red Raiders to the two deepest NCAA Tournament runs in school history.
Culver made the announcement Thursday, 10 days after the Red Raiders finished their season with an overtime loss to Virginia in the national championship game. Tech went to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time last season when Culver was a freshman.
This season, Culver led Texas Tech with 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists a game while the Red Raiders set a school record with 31 wins.
Under new NCAA rules, the sophomore can sign with an agent and still return to school if he chooses. Culver has until May 29 to make a final decision. The draft is June 20.