Race-Day Medication Rules Discussed in Ky., W.Va

Race-Day Medication Rules Discussed in Ky., W.Va

Race-day Salix use is under discussion in both Kentucky and West Virginia.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Two national organizations said Aug. 28 they find it "troubling" factions in Kentucky horse racing are opposing medication regulations proposed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) but shot down by a state legislative committee Aug. 27. Meanwhile, the West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) has officially scheduled a meeting for Sept. 17 to take comments from industry representatives on the use of furosemide, also known as Salix or Lasix, on race day.

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) and The Jockey Club, both of which are pushing for medication reform in Thoroughbred racing, said they find it "disappointing that individual members of the Kentucky (Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association [HBPA]) and racetrack veterinarians, fearful of any changes in the use of the race-day drug Lasix, are attempting to hold hostage new Kentucky racing rules designed to promote the health, welfare, and safety of the Thoroughbred racehorse."

The Kentucky Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations voted 19-1 to find the proposed drug rules "deficient." The rules call for a ban of adjunct bleeder medications on race day: regulatory administration of furosemide on race day; and a reduction in allowable level of phenylbutazone, commonly called Bute.

The regulations aren't related to the proposed ban on race-day Salix in graded and listed stakes. That regulation, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2014, hasn't made its way through the legislative approval process in Kentucky.

"We support the regulatory amendments proposed and approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission," the joint statement said. "We urge the members of the political committee responsible for (the Aug. 27) decision to reconsider and approve the proposed amendments to regulations as designed to protect the racehorse.

"As other states move forward with regulatory reform to improve the safety and integrity of the sport, it is troubling to see elements of racing in Kentucky act in a manner that is so inconsistent with its stated objectives to support clean and safe horse racing."

Kentucky HBPA officials, after the KHRC moved forward with regulations to ban Salix in graded and listed stakes, said they intended to lobby legislators to oppose it. They also said they were amenable to other changes if Salix was left alone.

The National HBPA, Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, and Thoroughbred Owners of California all have said Salix shouldn't be banned in any horse on race day.

The KHRC regulations voted on Aug. 27 follow national model rules approved by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and Association of Racing Commissioners International. They haven't met with widespread disapproval around the country.

The RMTC, a group of about 25 industry organizations, supports regulatory administration of Salix but intentionally didn't call for a ban on the drug in an effort to move other medication reform forward. That effort has been stymied by developments this year.

The Jockey Club earlier in August released an updated version of its Reformed Racing Medication Rules, which reinstated provisions for regulatory administration of Salix. The previous version banned the drug in all races on race day, a move that upset horsemen's groups that believed Salix was off the table.

The KHRC, meanwhile, moved ahead with a vote to ban Salix after the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, which makes recommendations to the racing commission, voted against it.

Along with their statement, TOBA and The Jockey Club listed states that have taken action on medication reform.

States that have acted to prohibit the use of adjunct bleeder medications: Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, and Washington. West Virginia has filed rules to that effect.

States which limited the administration of Salix to regulatory veterinarians: Delaware, New York, and Minnesota. A California Horse Racing Board committee has recommended adoption of the rule.

States that have approved a lower level on Bute: California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia (in all races); rules have been proposed in Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota and West Virginia. Arkansas, Illinois, and West Virginia use the lower level in graded and listed stakes, while Louisiana and Washington have the lower level in graded stakes only.

Originally posted on Bloodhorse.com.

West Virginia
The WVRC is currently extending invitations to organizations and individuals asking if they would like to comment, said Kelli Talbott, senior deputy attorney general for the commission. Among the national organizations invited to speak are the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Jockeys' Guild, National HBPA, and The Jockey Club.

Talbott said the Charles Town and Mountaineer (racetracks) HBPAs have been invited, as has the West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association. Representatives of Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort also have been asked to speak.

In August WVRC chairman Joe Smith said the racing commission is following the lead of Kentucky, which held a similar meeting late last year. Smith said education is needed regarding the therapeutic anti-bleeding medication and its use on race day.

The meeting will be held Sept. 17 at 10 a.m. EDT at the West Virginia Lottery building in Charleston.

Meanwhile, the WVRC has filed the latest version of its rules of racing, which have been updated to ban the use of adjunct bleeder medications (aminocaproic acid, tranexamic acid, and carbazochrome) on race day; lower the threshold level for administration of phenylbutazone; and greatly heighten penalties for drug violators.

Talbott said the rules also allow the WVRC to take action against permit-holders that knowingly or without conducting due diligence sell a horse to slaughter, directly or indirectly.

The new rules don't require Salix to be administered by regulatory veterinarians on race day, though the issue was discussed.

"The commission has deferred that issue to a future rule-making cycle because there are a number of practical and logistical issues associated with implementation that need to be explored and resolved," Talbott said.

The West Virginia legislature must approve the rules for them to take effect. The next session begins in early 2013.

Originally posted on Bloodhorse.com.

About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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