I stayed up late watching the Arlington Million meeting last night, where horses either bred or trained in Europe swept the top races. I have fond memories of Arlington from my days in Chicago, and I’m still holding out hope that one day all race-day medication will be banned and I might actually run a horse there. But for now, racing authorities in Illinois, like everywhere else in America, allow the drugs, and some European trainers traveling to big U.S. meets feel compelled to lose them or give an advantage to their locally-trained competition. But some trainers stick to their standards, and I was thrilled to learn that Spirit One, trained here in France by Philippe Demercastel won the Million without the use of Lasix.
Dermot Weld, on the other hand, used Lasix on Winchester in winning the Secretariat Stakes. Despite repeated claims that there’s nothing performance enhancing about Lasix, Winchester, who had what could only be described as an uninspiring career before Saturday, blew away the field when given the drug for the first time. Winchester went into the Secretariat, a Group 1 race, with only one win from five starts, that coming in a maiden race at Leopardstown in Ireland.
Hats off to Mr. Demercastel for showing the Americans how to do it right. As for Mr. Weld, he just did what most other American trainers do: Go for the needle because nearly everyone else does. Every runner in the Secretariat Stakes and the Group 1 Beverly D ran on Lasix. In the Million, four horses in the field did not — and one of them was even based in America. Maybe there’s hope yet.