Effect of sodium bicarbonate on racing Standardbreds.

L. Lawrence, K. Kline, P. Miller-Graber, A. Siegel, E. Kurcz, M. Fisher, K. Bump

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Twenty-two Standardbred horses in race training were used in a crossover experiment to determine the effect of oral sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) administration on performance and metabolic responses to a 1.6-km (1-mile) race. Horses were paired and one horse in each pair was treated with either NaHCO3 (300 mg/kg BW) or a placebo, 2.5 h before they raced against each other. Each horse was scheduled to compete in two races, approximately 1 wk apart, one on each treatment. Horses always raced in the same pairs. Fourteen horses successfully completed both races. Jugular blood samples were obtained 1.5 h after treatment (rest), immediately before racing, 5 min post-race and 15 min post-race. In six horses, blood samples also were obtained 30 min post-race. Race times averaged 1.1 s faster after NaHCO3 treatment (P less than .1). Sodium bicarbonate treatment also elevated blood pH (P less than .05). In the horses sampled 15 and 30 min post-race, blood lactate disappearance was faster with the NaHCO3 treatment (P less than .05). The NaHCO3 may delay the fatigue precipitated by i.m. acidosis. Because other factors may limit performance (musculoskeletal soundness, cardiovascular and respiratory ability), NaHCO3 would not be expected to enhance the performance of all horses. However, the effect of NaHCO3 on lactate clearance may have implications for all intensively worked horses; because lactate and the associated hydrogen ions are believed to cause muscle damage and soreness, any mechanism to increase their removal rate could benefit the equine athlete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-677
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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