N.Y. Racing Regulators Amend Medication Rules

N.Y. Racing Regulators Amend Medication Rules

The rule affecting administration of the corticosteroid Depo-Medrol, commonly used in joint injections, will change from 15 days to seven days before a race.

Photo: Mathea Kelley

New York racing regulators have amended rules, originally set to take effect today (Dec. 12), on the use of clenbuterol and methylprednisolone acetate (Depo-Medrol) in Thoroughbred racehorses.

The decision by the state Racing and Wagering Board, based upon a revised set of recommendations from a task force on equine safety, pushes back the drug administration rules until Dec. 26 and relaxes the time period restrictions for when the drugs can be administered.

The rules set to go into effect Dec. 12 were adopted on an emergency basis in October following recommendations from the equine task force created in the wake of a high number of horse deaths at Aqueduct last winter.

The board in October banned use of the bronchodilator clenbuterol 21 days before a race; the revised rule lowers it to 14 days. The October emergency rule affecting administration of the corticosteroid Depo-Medrol is changing from 15 days to seven days before a race. The changes affect the state's four Thoroughbred racetracks: Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course, and Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack.

Racing board chairman John Sabini said the changes will still make New York among the nation's leaders in equine drug regulations. "In recommending these changes, the Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety demonstrated an admirable and continued dedication to improving equine safety and the functionality of the industry as a whole,'' he said in a written statement.

In a letter to New York regulators, Scott Palmer, VMD, Dipl. ABVP, chairman of the equine safety task force, noted that the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) last month backed the 14-day rule for clenbuterol.

"In preparing our report, the task force was mindful that a recommendation on clenbuterol would be forthcoming from the RMTC, but we believed that it was appropriate to recommend a 'bridge' withdrawal time pending the RMTC's recommendation," he wrote in the letter.

"We understand that the RMTC's recommendation was based upon assurances that the 14-day withdrawal time could be enforced by the testing laboratories throughout North America, a concern that was expressed when we issued our 21-day recommendation," Palmer added. "We are further assured that the RMTC's recommendation will not undermine the desire of the Task Force to end the inappropriate use of clenbuterol, while permitting its therapeutic use when indicated."

The new revised time period will make New York's rules consistent with new national rules, he added.

The change by the racing board was embraced by the Jockey Club's Thoroughbred Safety Committee based on recent actions by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) and the RMTC.

"We are distressed to read published comments from horsemen indicating plans to race horses in jurisdictions that have more lenient rules than New York,'' James Gagliano, president of the Jockey Club, wrote Dec. 11 to New York regulators. "That certainly epitomizes the importance of uniformity in our sport, which The Jockey Club has long advocated through the RMTC and the RCI model rules."

Originally published on BloodHorse.com.

About the Author

Tom Precious

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

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