When they bleed

Anybody who knows me knows I have very strong opinions about the use of Lasix and other medication in America. I have repeatedly criticized the race-day medication to anybody who will listen, and the most ignorant always throw up their hands and say “so what do you do with a bleeder?” The answer is simple: Retire it. That was a situation I faced this week with Rapsodie du Desert. She bled after a workout once, but so lightly I had hoped it was just a vessel in her nose and not a bigger problem. But she worked yesterday and it’s clear it’s a big problem. She bled, and badly. She is the first horse I’ve had who has a bleeding problem. A healthy horse that is trained progressively and fit to do the job is not likely to bleed, or at least not likely to bleed enough to impact performance. Rapsodie ran four races for me quite well, with no sign of trouble. She took a second and a third place, and I thought we were going to get her to the winner’s circle. But about a month ago she started her mysterious “nervous pregnancy” and she hasn’t been quite the same since, and now she’s bled. So I called her owner and said it was time to stop. I cannot even imagine medicating her to run as one would in America. This horse has sent a clear message that she should not be racing, and no amount of medication should change that. So we wish Rapsodie well in her retirement – after what I saw coming out of her nose this week, I have absolutely no regrets about sending her on her way.

7 Replies to “When they bleed”

  1. Yes, I agree with you Gina.
    I noticed that Debussy who won at Arlington a couple of days ago was on Lasix for the first time.

  2. The owner isn’t convinced she shouldn’t race again, but he will put her to grass for a couple of months. I’m afraid he will try to bring her back to racing, which would be a mistake, and I’ve said I would not take her back in training.

    As for Debussy, many European trainers use Lasix when they race in America because they fear they are at a disadvantage without it. It’s a shame, because John Gosden, Debussy’s trainer, has spoken out against medication. Freddy Head also ran Goldikova on Lasix last year at the Breeders’ Cup, when he didn’t the year before. Some trainers do stick to their guns, though; Pascal Bary does not use the local drug regime when he races in the States, which is good.

  3. I’ve wondered what European trainers opinions and practices are on this issue, so this sheds some light on it from your perspective, which I’m sure is shared by many others.

    When I started racing in 1985 in Canada, no medication was permitted. Nor was it allowed in New York, which always led to much debate when a horse would be pulled from the Belmont, or have to run without Lasix and possibly not perform as well as he had done previously. It was a sad day when both New York state and Canada both yielded to the pressure to conform to what the rest of North America was doing. There are some very good horses in North America, but they will always be suspect (in the eyes of the rest of the world) in terms of just how good because of the medication issue.

  4. My theory is that a large majority of race track bleeding observed is a symptom of respiratory infections of the biofilm type. I would also venture to say that these biofilms are made up of different species, i.e. bacteria and fungal. Biofilms are hard to culture, diagnose, and treat. Plain old anti-biotics won’t do! It is also quite likely that this biofilm infection produces a sub-clinical case of scruvy due to the abnormal need for Vitamin C in this infected region. One of the primary symptoms of scurvy is tissue bleeding! An interpretation of this phenomina by Dr. Levy goes something like this: a lung biofilm infection induces “. . . a state of focal scurvy in the capillaries of affected areas of the lungs. This focal scurvy directly facilitates the rupture of capillaries as they lose their structural integrity, resulting in the coughing up of blood.”

  5. Doug – I’ve read your theory before on the Backyard Racehorse group, and I think it is intriguing. There certainly might be something to it. With this particular horse, however, the best option was retirement. She is a five-year-old mare who has already overcome other problems, and at best is a low-level handicapper/claimer. There was no point here in trying to continue.

  6. You practice what you preach, Gina. I believe that most people would agree that a 5-year-old mare is a different situation than a 2-year-old or a 3-year-old. These would engender more difference of opinion, a far as what to do with them is concerned.

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