Bramlage: ‘It Is Clear That More Liberal Medication Policies Are Not The Answer’ by Paulick Report Staff|06.08.2023|3:01pm Dr. Larry Bramlage Following last week's announcement that Churchill Downs will shift racing to Ellis Park for the remainder of its Spring Meet, Kentucky HBPA president Rick Hiles made a statement advocating for “allowing trainers and veterinarians to use therapeutic medications that greatly lessen the risk of breakdowns.” Internationally-renowned equine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage insists that more liberal medication policies are not the answer to solving fatal breakdowns. In an op/ed printed at bloodhorse.com, Bramlage responded to Hiles' assertion. “I don't agree with the premise of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association that our solution for the prevention of racing injuries is more permissive medication,” Bramlage wrote. “Treatments need to have their effect on the disease and then be out of the way before the pre-race examinations occur. “Current treatment methods can solve many lameness-causing issues. But we want these medications to be well below their efficacy thresholds before a race and pre-race examination so they are not covering an underlying issue we should be identifying […] It is likely that electronic sensors and targeted imaging will lend a hand in some of the regulatory veterinarians' decision-making in the not-too-distant future, but at this point we must depend on their observations and judgment. Let's not make it any harder to make those decisions.” Bramlage also pointed to research supporting his opinion. “It is clear that more liberal medication policies are not the answer,” wrote Bramlage. “Data from the Equine Injury Database and post-mortem studies shows that horses with fatal injuries have a higher incidence of previous intra-articular injection than average. So, increasing that statistic is not the way forward.” Hiles' statement, sent to media after Churchill's decision to move the rest of the meet to Ellis Park, reads in full: “Horsemen question the purpose of this unprecedented step, especially without conclusive evidence that there is a problem with the racetrack at Churchill Downs. We all want to find solutions that will improve safety for horses. However, we need to discuss allowing trainers and veterinarians to use therapeutic medications that greatly lessen the risk of breakdowns. Drastic steps, such as relocating an active race meet, should only be considered when it is certain to make a difference.” Read more at bloodhorse.com.