Changes to Phenylbutazone Overage Penalties in Texas Take Effect on March 15

Texas Racing Commission (TRC) Executive Secretary Charla Ann King has announced new penalty guidelines for Phenylbutazone overages starting with races run on March 15, 2007. Phenylbutazone, more commonly referred to as bute, is a very effective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug useful for swelling, muscular-skeletal pain, and fever. These changes are in response to recommendations made by the Commission’s Medication and Drug Testing Working Group and a unanimous endorsement by
Commissioners of the Phenylbutazone guidelines in the Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) model rules.

Since January of 2000, over half (423 of 794) of all equine drug violations in Texas have been Phenylbutazone overages. The
Commissioners are concerned this is an indication horses are running with injuries and, in turn, this is contributing to a higher rate of breakdowns. The current guidelines are not providing a sufficient deterrent to overuse of the drug and, in the words of Vice-Chairman Mike Rutherford, “... we need to modernize our penalties on bute and to bring them up to modern standards ...”

The main focus of the new guidelines is to stem the race-day administration of Phenylbutazone.

According to Ken Peck, director of the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, race-day administration is indicated when a concentration equal to or greater than 10.0 mcg/ml is detected. Therefore, the new penalty guidelines are two-tiered: 5.1 to 9.9 mcg/ml, and 10.0 mcg/ml and above.

The new guidelines will also provide the Board of Stewards with a much broader range of penalties. In addition to significantly increased fines for trainers, there will be provisions for loss of purses, fines for owners, and placement of horses on the Veterinarians’ List when concentrations equal or exceed the 10 mcg/ml threshold.

Click here to see the chart of penalties that will become effective on March 15, 2007

To help establish acceptable treatment levels of Phenylbutazone for individual horses, trainers may contact any test barn during live racing or Chuck Trout in the TRC headquarters at (512) 833-6699 to request the concentration levels detected in any of their horses that have been tested.

If you have questions regarding the guidelines, you may contact the TRC Director of Racing John Ferrara at (512) 833-6699 or any stewards’ office.

Back to News