New York Revises Bute Administration Rule for Racehorses

New York is returning to a standard banning the use of phenylbutazone (Bute) in horses in the 48 hours leading up to a race.

The state Racing and Wagering Board on Feb. 29 adopted a final rule revising the time and threshold rules affecting the use of Bute.

The new rule, adopted without comment from any of the panel's board members, seeks to put New York's treatment of the drug in line with other racing states.

Going back to 1971, New York had banned Bute in horses 48 hours before a race. To go along with other jurisdictions, including the Mid-Atlantic Consortium of Racing States, New York in 2006 changed the standard to a 24-hour prohibition.

Since then, New York officials said, the rule has been revisited by other jurisdictions that have since required the 48-hour prohibition, including the American Graded Stakes Committee.

New York officials noted state rules still permit veterinarians to administer the medication flunixin meglumine (Banamine) 24 hours before a race.

In a separate matter, the racing board revoked the license of Felix Monserrate, a trainer at Finger Lakes racetrack in Farmington, N.Y. Investigators last April found that Monserrate possessed at the track eight hypodermic needles and syringes, a vial of injectable Vitamin K, and bottle of clenbuterol.

Racing Board chairman John Sabini said it would be "inconsistent with the public interest'' to let Monserrate continue training horses. The board ruled that Monserrate cannot reapply for a license for two years, though it factored in a 105-day suspension he already has served. He was also slapped with a $2,500 fine.

Monserrate made headlines in the '90s as the owner-trainer of Zippy Chippy, who was winless in 100 starts. In 2000, People magazine included him on its list of the year's "Most Interesting Personalities."

Monserrate refused to enter his horse in a claiming race just to get a win.

"I don't want any crazy people claiming him. He's like a member of my family," he said at the time.

Zippy's continued losing streak resulted in the horse being banned from most racetracks by the late '90s, but he continued to run at the Three County Fair in Northhampton, Mass. It was there on April 10, 2004, that Zippy made his 100th and final start, finishing last. He retired with earnings of $30,834.

Zippy briefly had a second career as an outrider's pony at Finger Lakes before being sent to an equine retirement facility in New York.

About the Author

Tom Precious

Tom Precious also writes for The Blood-Horse, sister magazine to The Horse.

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