KHRC Collecting Corticosteroid Information

KHRC Collecting Corticosteroid Information

The KHRC has asked track veterinarians to participate in a study that will document how fast specific corticosteroids are eliminated from a horse's system.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

With Kentucky soon putting more stringent regulations in place regarding corticosteroid administration in racehorses, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) is collecting information on elimination times following specific uses of the medications provided by participating racetrack veterinarians.

On June 6, the uniform medication rules the KHRC approved late last year will become reality at Kentucky tracks. Some of the biggest changes in the rules involve corticosteroids. Recommended withdrawal times for three corticosteroids—betamethasone, methylprednisolone, and triamcinolone—will jump to seven days from the current 48 or 72 hours.

Mary Scollay, DVM, KHRC equine medical director, said the withdrawal times offered as guidance with the uniform medication rules were shaped from a study with controlled parameters, which Scollay noted, are needed for effective scientific study.

While the scientific study looked at single injections into healthy animals, racetrack veterinarians could encounter situations in the field that are not as controlled. For instance, a veterinarian could inject more than one joint on a horse, or a horse might have swelling that wasn't present in the test animals. The KHRC hopes to address those issues by providing information collected in the field.

The KHRC has asked track veterinarians to participate in a study that will document how fast specific corticosteroids are eliminated from a horse's system. Where the scientific study provides controlled insight, the information compiled by the KHRC will provide track veterinarians guidance under specific conditions.

"You can start to get a level of comfort with dose and withdrawal time in order to be in compliance with the regulation," Scollay said.

Participating veterinarians will draw blood in the days following the treatment and those samples will be examined by the KHRC lab, HFL Sport Science, in Lexington, to determine the levels of corticosteroid in the horse's system. Horses' names will not be released in the study but information on the treatment and elimination rates are provided to the participating vet.

All of the information is being compiled on the KHRC website to allow other veterinarians an opportunity to look at specific instances. Information that will be provided includes the joint or joints that are treated, the medication, the dose, and the route of administration.

Racetrack veterinarian Foster Northrop, DVM, who also is a commissioner with the KHRC, is participating in the study. He is comfortable with the guidance on corticosteroids in the treatment of joints but is concerned the medication is staying in the horse's system longer when corticosteroids are used to treat muscle injuries (as opposed to joint injuries).

Scollay noted that she would like to have more veterinarians participate in the study. As of May 13, only four had signed up.

At the May 13 KHRC meeting, commission member and Racing Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas asked if there would be any buffer time for horsemen as the state moves to the new policy. The KHRC staff advised the rule would have to be changed at the state level at this point and there would be no buffer time. They did add that stewards could consider mitigating circumstances if overages occur.

About the Author

Frank Angst

Frank Angst is a staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine. An American Horse Publications three-time winner in best news story category, Angst has covered horse racing for more than a decade. Angst spent ten years at Thoroughbred Times, where he earned awards as that magazine’s senior writer and helped launch Thoroughbred Times TODAY. Besides covering horse racing, Angst enjoys handicapping. Angst has written about sports for more than 20 years, including several seasons covering a nationally ranked Marshall Thundering Herd football team.

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