Lasix and the Betting Public

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By: Wes Bright, staff member

One of the main arguments for the prohibition of Lasix is that it makes the sport fair to the betting public. The Governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, has adopted this view.[i] Beshear says that it is great for the betting public’s perception that the best horses are running on their own abilities, something that the public has wanted to happen.[ii] Yet, the opposite may be true.

Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott are well known trainers that support Lasix. They both rely on the fairness involved when the drug is used.[iii] It is fair to the horse, industry and the betting public. The use of Lasix is known to the public so there is no chance of foul play when it comes to betting on these horses. Lasix tends to be associated with cheating, but these trainers dispel that idea. If everyone knows which horses are given Lasix before every race, the idea of getting inside information is eliminated.[iv] Thomas Tobin, a professor of veterinary Science at the Gluck Equine Research Center on the University of Kentucky, goes as far as to say that it would be much harder for the betting public to evaluate how non-Lasix horses will perform.[v] The chance of bleeding will occur with every race and bettors will have to blindly guess on whether this will be the race that the horse bleeds. If Lasix is banned, trainers may result to other methods such as “drawing” a horse by taking away its water for a day before the race.[vi] Handicappers will have no way of knowing whether or not the trainer has used these methods.[vii] The more information we can give the betting public, the better off they are.

It is true that since Lasix was introduced, the number of favorites to win has gone down.[viii] This is good for the sport. In other sports we praise the thought that anybody can win on a given day. Fans love to see upsets during March Madness and there is a loud cry for a salary cap in baseball so that the little guys can have a chance to win.[ix] This also advantages the bettor because there is more money to be made.
[i] Janet Patton, Kentucky Racing Commission approves lasix ban in upper level contests, (Jun. 13, 2012)
[ii] Id.
[iii] Jerry Bossert, Trainers disagree with newly-approved ban on Lasix, which is used to control horse bleeding, (Aug. 12, 2011)
[iv] Id.
[v] Dr. Thomas Tobin & Kimberly Brewer, Medication Committee Corner: Lasix and Bleeders – A Classic American Horsemen’s Story, (May 16, 2012)
[vi] Bleeders and Lasix,, (last updated Feb. 4, 2006).
[vii] Id.
[viii] Id.
[ix] Kenny Ducy, A Salary Cap in Baseball?, (Jan. 23, 2009) articles/114861-a-salary-cap-in-baseball.