Following in the footsteps of the Triple Crown races, Breeders’ Cup World Championships officials announced Wednesday their Challenge Series races will run Lasix free.

Improbable-Awesome Again-BC Challenge
Improbable’s romp to the Awesome Again Stakes title at Santa Anita last fall came in a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race. This year, the Awesome Again and its other ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup races will run Lasix-free. (Image: Benoit Photo)

The Challenge Series races are the “Win and You’re In” races spread out over the world. Those events give all-expense-paid spots in the various Breeders’ Cup races to the winners. Typically, they’re Grade 1, or at the least, Grade 2 events at major tracks in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Following Wednesday’s announcement, horses will only receive Graded Stakes points toward a Breeders’ Cup starting spot running in Lasix-free graded stakes races. If a horse runs in a graded stakes race that does not ban Lasix, they will receive no points.

This isn’t foreign ground to the Breeders’ Cup. Last year, Keeneland ran its “Future Stars Friday” card of 2-year-old races without the anti-bleeding medication. That fell in line with major tracks banning Lasix for juveniles in 2020.

2021 Breeders’ Cup the First Run Entirely Lasix-Free

This year, the entire two-day, Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup card at Del Mar will run without Lasix.

This latest anti-Lasix domino falling fell in line with the recently passed Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA). HISA set a July 1, 2022 deadline for ending Lasix racing.

“Even before HISA was signed into law, running the World Championships Lasix-free was a goal of Breeders’ Cup,” said Drew Fleming, the Breeders’ Cup president and CEO in a statement. “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.”

One of the Strongest Voices for HISA

Fleming’s organization was one of the industry standard-bearers pushing for HISA’s passage. It said in its announcement that its efforts pushed the industry toward eliminating race-day medication and led it “to better align the industry with the rest of the world.”

This move essentially aligns the organization with many of the major tracks in the US, including those in Kentucky, California, and New York. Those three states are all set to ban Lasix usage in graded stakes this year.