Woodbine racetrack’s three Grade 1 races – the Woodbine Mile, Summer and Natalma Stakes – all Win and You’re In events for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, will be run Lasix-free in 2021.

News came from the Breeders’ Cup Feb. 10 that not only will the Nov. 5 and 6 Breeders’ Cup races be run Lasix-free in 2021, but all of the Win and You’re In Challenge Series races will not permit entrants to race on Lasix. In addition, points in graded races that aid in qualifying horses for entry selection into Breeders’ Cup races will only be awarded in Lasix-free stakes.

This will be the first time that Woodbine will hold Lasix-free races since the anti-bleeding diuretic was legalized for racing decades ago.

Eliminating race-day Lasix discussions heightened in the last two years and Woodbine has been involved but has elected to not make the move to some of the early bans of the drug in stakes races, notably 2-year-old stakes races. In addition, a number of horsepeople have noted that Lasix is a necessary aid for preventing horses from bleeding.

The Woodbine Mile is scheduled for Sept. 18 and the Summer and Natalma for 2-year-olds, will run Sept. 19.

Breeders’ Cup issued the following release:

As 2021 kicks off with stakes races being run without Lasix at the leading racetracks and Thoroughbred racing events across the country, including the 2021 World Championships, Breeders’ Cup is pleased to announce that this year’s “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series races will be run without Lasix. Additionally, Graded Stakes points for the purpose of selection into a Breeders’ Cup World Championships race will only be awarded in Lasix-free graded stakes races.

As an operator of world-class racing with the highest safety and integrity measures in place, these initiatives are in keeping with Breeders’ Cup’s efforts to lead by example to move towards elimination of race day medications and to better align the industry with the rest of the world. Breeders’ Cup welcomes others to join these efforts to bring the U.S. further in line with international standards.

2020 saw a successful year of two-year-olds running Lasix-free, including on Future Stars Friday at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland. In addition, the groundbreaking passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, has provided a critical framework for the industry going forward. Under HISA, Lasix-free racing will be the general standard as of July 1, 2022.

“Even before HISA was signed into law, running the World Championships Lasix-free was a goal of Breeders’ Cup,” said Drew Fleming, President and CEO of Breeders’ Cup Limited. “Extending this standard to all races associated with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will hopefully set an example for other racetracks and stakeholders to embrace forthcoming safety and integrity measures, including the elimination of race day medication, as a new, safer era for our storied sport approaches.”

Aligning Breeders’ Cup’s year-round “Win and You’re In” program with the World Championships by modifying the Field Selection Process and allocation of Challenge Race designations to races that prohibit Lasix further strengthens Breeders’ Cup commitment to this effort. The safety of human and equine athletes and the integrity of our sport must always come first, which is why Breeders’ Cup, like so many others around the world, supports eliminating Lasix in racing.

~ with files from Breeders’ Cup