Arlington and the joys of Lasix

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.

0 Replies to “Arlington and the joys of Lasix”

  1. It’s a shame that a race named after Secretariat has to be sullied by allowing every horse in the event to run doped.

    If that’s the way it’s going to be, they need to remove Big Red’s name from the race… it’s a slap in the face to every fan of the great horse.


  2. I watched Spirit One all week during morning workouts and was impressed. The standard procedure chosen by the colt’s connections each day was to have him canter once around the 1 1/8-mile oval, followed by another circuit of the track at a strong gallop. On Thursday Spirit One concluded his gallop with a half-mile breeze in :49. I loved the way he moved and talked him up so much that Mr. P actually put money on the horse in the Million. If you see M. Demercastel now that he’s back in France, send him greetings from the giant American woman who kept grinning at him during the post-race press conference.

  3. TvNB – I couldn’t agree more.

    And Susan, I’ll pass along your greetings the next time I see Mr. Demercastel, which should be this week in Deauville. It’s yearling sale time!

    Glad you found my little blog – I still have great memories of trolling the barns at Arlington with you.

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