Kentucky Race-Day Drug Policy Revised

On September 24, the Kentucky Racing Commission voted unanimously to officially revise its Thoroughbred race-day medication policy to reduce the number of permitted substances from 16 to five. The commission also modified its four-hour race-day rule to permit the use of mouthwashes in racehorses as long as they do not contain prohibited substances.

While the new policy limits horsemen to five medications on race day, it still gives trainers and veterinarians wide latitude in determining which medications can be used. The new policy also allows an undetermined number of drugs to be present in post-race blood and urine samples as long as they do not exceed certain threshold levels that are still to be decided.

Under the new Kentucky guidelines, horses may be treated with not more than two non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, not more than one steroidal anti-inflammatory agent, and furosemide (Salix). Horses may not receive medications, drugs, or substances within four hours of post time.

The new guidelines also reiterated that stimulants, local anesthetics, depressants, tranquilizers, masking and interfering agents, "milkshakes" (alkalinizing agents), and possession and/or use of erythropoietin (EPO) and/or its analogues is strictly prohibited. Regarding EPO, the commission approved Iowa State University's request for $7,500 to aid in its investigation of EPO testing.

The policy was developed by commission staff, veterinarians, and members of the scientific community. It will be enforced, said commission chairman Frank Shoop, who hopes it serves a model for the nation.

"We will not permit any abuse," Shoop said. "I consider this four-hour rule next to an act of God. If anyone violates it, they will pay the price."

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and David Switzer, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, both publicly stated that their organizations support the revised race-day policy.

Racing commissioner Alice Chandler called the new guidelines a major step in the right direction, but suggested there could eventually be a need for modification.

"When the time comes for us to join in with national rules, we need to be part of it," Chandler said. "I'd rather go with the national (position)."

The racing industry began its push for uniformity in drug-testing and medication rules in earnest last year. A national consortium continues to meet on the subject, but thus far no proposed race-day policy has been issued.

Up until recently, the Kentucky HBPA, under the direction of former Kentucky HBPA President Dr. Alex Harthill, had been one of the strongest dissenting voices in discussions about a national medication policy, preferring to adhere to Kentucky's more liberal policies instead of stricter guidelines that were being discussed for possible national implementation. Under the direction of new president Susan Bunning, the organization appears to be more supportive of the industry-wide efforts for a national medication policy that is closer to the one suggested by the National HBPA last fall.

Kentucky's new race-day medication policy will be in place when the Keeneland fall meet begins October 4.

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