Purse Incentive Offered for Horses that Run Lasix-Free
In 2014, Oaklawn Park implemented a bonus program for horses that won races without competing on Lasix. Horsemen had to declare their horses Lasix-free prior to entering, and winners would receive a purse bonus from $1,200 to up to $60,000 for the $1 million Arkansas Derby, a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby. The amount represents a 10 percent supplement to the winners’ share of the purse.
Charles Cella, president of Oaklawn Park announced the implementation of his idea of the program which started in 2015, and he passed away in December, 2017. Oaklawn became the first track in the country to offer a purse incentive for horses that ran and won without Lasix. Under Cella, Oaklawn is also credited with numerous innovations in the sport including The Racing Festival of the South, full-card interstate simulcasting and Instant Racing.
Cella hoped the program would inspire more owners and trainers to race their horses without Lasix. The vast majority of horses run on the diuretic, also known as furosemide
The program’s end results were consistent at the past three full meetings. According to the Jockey Club Information Systems, there were 14,336 starters in 1,509 races at Oaklawn in 2015-17 (52, 55, and 57 race dates, respectively). Of those, 138 horses ran Lasix-free in 2015, 82 in 2016, and 64 in 2017. Oaklawn had five Lasix-free winners in 2015, four in 2016, and five last year, based on data provided by the track.
“It hasn’t moved the needle,” Oaklawn Director of Racing David Longinotti said of the bonus, adding Oaklawn didn’t know what to expect when it was introduced.
The 14 Lasix-free winners have totaled $30,900 in bonuses to date, funds that come from the track and not its purse account.
John Ed Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable has collected almost half the bonus money awarded to date ($13,110). Anthony also has horses with trainer Brad Cox.
“As far as the bonus program at Oaklawn, it’s not a significant factor in our program, although it’s certainly beneficial and appreciated,” Anthony said. “I encourage it be continued, but apparently too few people are inspired to want to pursue that, and I think that’s unfortunate.”
The program is another way Oaklawn is trying to assist horsemen and those that contribute to the good or racing. Last week, Mourinho won the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oawklan, a Kentucky Derby prep race. The racing interest and momentum continues at Oaklawn leading into the Rebel Stakes on March 17 and Arkansas Derby on April 14, both championship series Kentucky Derby prep races.