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Emerald Downs

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe

Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association

Washington Horse Racing Commission

President's Message - August 9, 2012

Greetings to the members of the WHBPA:

The 2013-2015 Washington HBPA Board was elected by nomination at our Nominating and General Meeting on July 11.  We returned our president, Ron Maus; all the owner-directors, Jack Fabulich, Karla Laird, Pat LePley, Sue Spooner, and Keith Swagerty; and filled a slate of trainer-directors, with returning directors Robbie Baze, Diane Garrison, and Terry Gillihan; and added two new trainer-directors in Margo Lloyd and Greg Moore.

Current trainer-directors Frank Lucarelli and Blaine Wright will have fulfilled their three year term at the end of our racing season and decided to not stand for re-election, but Frank will serve as an alternate for the coming term.

I would like to thank Blaine and Frank for their service over the last three years, and to congratulate Margo and Greg on joining an excellent continuing board of concerned members of our community.

Elected by nomination?, you might ask.  Yes, due to the fact that our Nominating Committee was unable to identify additional candidates willing to serve in the coming period, we were able to fill the slate of candidates solely with sufficient numbers to fill our requirements; thus no election will take place.

While I would like to think that this result is a reflection of the confidence that our current board has fostered, I fear that instead it may reflect a bit of apathy on the part of our community, or a bit of a sense of fatalism about where we are in the industry.

I can tell you unequivocally that this is not the time to develop any sense of apathy about what is going on in the industry.  The industry has been enjoying improved economic results at sales across the country and ‘across the pond,’ and locally, we have enjoyed increased attendance, increased handle, and increased purses at Emerald Downs.

This is also not a time for any feelings of fatalism as well.  While we continue to face economic and other challenges, such as the summer meeting at Portland Meadows, the economic indicators make clear the facts that the increased attention being paid to Emerald Downs by attendance and handle are positives.  This is a clear improvement over our friends at the track 150 miles to the south, as early returns indicate that while their on-track attendance has been boosted, the handle in the summer meet appears to be suffering versus their winter meet roots.  We wish them well, of course, but from a local perspective, I am personally pleased that the opening of Portland Meadows has not created the challenges that many folks were concerned about when their calendar was announced.

This is an interesting and challenging time in racing, as polarization has taken place and will seemingly be increasing with respect to the growing debate over “race day medication” which can be summarized in one word, “Lasix.”  A small number of financially well-off people who influence the Breeders Cup, the Jockey Club, and TOBA have taken the position that the sport will be much better off without “race day medication.”  To those who favor elimination of Lasix, it is a matter of improving public perception, improving breeding customers’ perception of American bloodstock, or as-yet unproven health concerns over Lasix.  (I say as-yet unproven as there are no known negative effects of Lasix use, but there are those who claim that some maladies must result from its use).

To the National HBPA, and to the Washington HBPA, we believe that the actually proven science demonstrates that the health and welfare of both horse and rider are enhanced by Lasix’s proven ability to reduce the risk or severity of Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage, or EIPH.

Recently, as you may know, 40 members of TOBA pledged to race their two year old horses without Lasix this year.   This garnered quite a bit of headlines.  The National HBPA, which has led the search for the truth about Lasix and EIPH by sponsoring semi-annual conferences of veterinarian scientists and practitioners on the topic, has responded by asking its affiliates, including Washington, to indicate their position on the use of Lasix.  Washington, along with numerous other affiliates, has unanimously supported the use of Lasix, and the underlying science.   As of late last week, the National HBPA put out a press release indicating that affiliates representing 29,000 owners and trainers supported the science and the continued use of Lasix on race day to protect the health and safety of horse and rider.  More affiliates will be meeting and discussing this shortly, and I expect that they too will add their voice to those who call for the continued use of Lasix.

To the extent that any of you have questions regarding Lasix and the science to which we refer, please contact MaryAnn at our office, and she can email to you any of several articles that demonstrate the findings regarding Lasix.  MaryAnn made a presentation at our General Meeting on July 11 on this topic, based upon a presentation made to the National HBPA by Dr. James Casey, a former jockey, and a practicing vet who lectures at schools of veterinary medicine, as well as owns and trains his own horses.

Our general meeting also included a discussion by MaryAnn regarding discussions that are ongoing with the State Department of Labor and Industries regarding a potential “pay as you go” plan, and provided data to us on what people were paying on a daily basis for their L&I costs.  Subsequent to the meeting, our board met and approved the continued pursuit of this option, which MaryAnn continues to address with the Horse Racing Commission and L&I.  We hope to have a program that meets with more popular response in the coming year.

Questions and answers also took place, and we were pleased to have Ron Crockett in attendance, as he was able to provide some comments as well as respond to questions from those attending.

In sum, these are important times, and we thank you for your participation in Washington racing, and your interest in our reports.

We will plan to have one more General Meeting in September, near the end of the meeting to provide you with the latest news at that time.

We now move into the home stretch of the racing season, with the Longacres Mile and Washington Oaks on August 19.  I hope that you will find the time to come out and enjoy one of the greatest of traditions in the Northwest that day, and each and every other day of the meeting.

Best to you in racing,

Ron Maus

 

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