EIPH Prevention: Use the Scope, Ditch the Lasix

Thanks to blog reader Jared for the heads up on this video from the legendary conditioner D. Wayne Lukas, recent appointee to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, talking briefly about pulmonary bleeding in racehorses.

Mr. Lukas is an anomaly in our sport today; in addition to being extremely competitive here in 2013, he was also around the game in the good old days – and talks about that here. How does D. Wayne figure we should prevent bleeding? By only sending 100% dead fit racehorses to the post, that’s how. Good for him.

He also mentions how veterinary advances such as the endoscope should come into play, although he doesn’t specify how. I did exactly that for him in this blog post from November 2011:


Lots of good pics in there for reference as to what the various grades of pulmonary hemorrhage look like through a scope.  Please check it out before reading on if you want to know the ‘how’.

Lukas will now be in a position with the KHRC to influence how we move forward, away from raceday drugs if he so desires.

In a world without Lasix, perhaps an entry into the high profile 10F Kentucky Derby has to ‘prove’ his horse’s fitness during a 6F work 7-14 days before the big race. It’s not enough just to post a gaudy 6F/1:10 figure on the worktab, but can that same horse show a Grade 2 or better on the scope post workout? Because if he can’t – he’s gonna bleed like a stuck pig on raceday with 4 more furlongs at maximum effort without diuretic use.

That 3yo would have also had to ‘prove’ his fitness a few months earlier before a 9F Derby prep by breezing 5F in 1:00 or better, again demonstrating a Grade 2 or better score. Keep working backwards to his 2yo year and you have 8F races and 4F breeze ‘tests’ for significant EIPH in the absence of Lasix use.

There is still a place for bleeders in this game; give them the injection and race them in non-graded action; but please remove them from the future stallion/mare pool.

I talk to many trainers on the backsides of tracks around the world, and when the camera isn’t on them (and they trust you to keep quiet) they become much more truthful. Just last month a trainer repeated to me a phrase I had read at some point in the past few years that is quite insightful:

With regards to fitness: “Half the time I am guessing, and the other half I am hoping I guessed right.” Judicious use of the scope can remove any ‘guessing’ from this process as pictures don’t lie.

My next post will deal with the concept of ‘Performance Profiling’ – where actual physiological data is collected during/after races to quantify the age old concept of ‘It’s not how fast they go, but how they go fast.’ We need to objectively define racehorse fitness; as doing so can reduce wastage, increase handle, and lessen our reliance on drugs.


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on August 15, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hey Bill,

    I interviewed Michael Dickinson about 8 or 10 years ago – before he was selling Tapeta, regarding the use of Lasix. I kind of got the rug pulled out from underneath me – he scoped all his horses after breezing. His observations, when on Lasix, the scope was ‘clean’. Of course, ‘clean’ is a very subjective term. How pink or red makes a horse a bleeder?

    Just food for thougtht.

  2. I’ve spoken to Mr. Dickinson too, I do remember he was trying to show that Tapeta would lessen EIPH severity as opposed to dirt. Most trainers don’t even see the scope results – their vet sees a Grade 1 and calls that ‘clean’ – which it is, relatively speaking.

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