Lasix ban could hurt cup future at Churchill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Lasix ban could hurt cup future at Churchill

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB-TV) -- One of the biggest events in horse racing -- the Breeder's Cup -- was this weekend in California.

But WDRB has learned there's some doubt over whether the race will return to Churchill Downs.

The track has hosted Breeders' Cup eight times, but a ban on a popular drug could keep it from coming back. The event is always a big draw at Churchill.

"It's like eight Derby races back to back," says race fan Bruce Tromley.

Tromley is from Vincennes, Indiana and has attended the last three Breeders' Cup races at Churchill in 2006, 2010 and 2011.

"You meet people from all over the world here. It's kind of neat, last time we sat with a guy from England," says Tromley.

"It's an exciting weekend. It's one of the highlights of the year in thoroughbred racing," says John Asher, with Churchill Downs.

But any decision to bring the event back to Churchill Downs in the near future could be in jeopardy.

"Any industry, any sport where there's a significant change, it takes a little time to adapt," Asher says.

That change involved a recent race-day ban on the drug Lasix, which prevents internal bleeding in horses.

"And it's something that vets have worked on for years. They still don't know exactly why it happens but they'll bleed in their lungs and Lasix is a diuretic that tends to prevent that," says Asher.

Asher says The Breeders' Cup is trying to get on a level playing field with Europe, which also does not allow race-day medications.  "Some people believe it's a performance enhancing medication, others think it's a therapeutic type of medication. It allows the horse to run to his or her best ability," Asher says.

The ban took effect for the first time in 2012. That's why race fans like Tromley feel confident that Louisville hasn't seen the last of the Breeders' Cup at Churchill.

"If that Lasix thing stays, I don't think it's that big of a deal, they'll come back," Tromley says. "It's not going to keep them from racing, not with that money."

The Breeders Cup is scheduled to be held out west again next year so the next time it could come back to Kentucky is 2014.

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