Churchill Outlines "Milkshake" Policy

With only a few differences, Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. will be utilizing the same testing procedures for "milkshakes" that are in effect at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Ky., and similar to those at many other North American tracks during the spring meet that begins April 30.

Under the policy, outlined by Churchill president Steve Sexton during an April 25 meeting with horsemen, all horses racing at Churchill will be tested for total carbon dioxide blood serum levels. (Milkshaking is the administration of alkalizing agents for the purpose of altering the performance of a racehorse during competition, according to the Churchill policy.)

According to the Churchill policy, horses racing at the track will be required to report to the testing barn and undergo a pre-race blood test 45 minutes before post time. Sexton said the only exception to the requirement for horses to be tested at the testing barn would be for horses running in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Those horses will be tested in their individual stalls, which are already under surveillance leading up to the two races.

The tests will be analyzed by Iowa State University's veterinary diagnostic laboratory, with any level of 37 millimoles/liter of plasma or higher deemed to be a positive. No split samples of the tests will be taken and the Iowa State lab results shall be determinative, according to the policy.

The penalties for TCO2 positives, per trainer, are:

  • First offense: "Earned surveillance" for the remainder of the meet, requiring surveillance for any horse the trainer intends to race for 24 hours prior to the race in which the horse is entered;
  • Second offense: Trainer will be deemed a "persistent offender," and will be prevented from entering a horse at any Churchill Downs Inc. owned or managed facility race meet for a period of 30 days, beginning with the day the trainer is notified of the test results; and
  • Third offense: Expulsion from Churchill Downs for six months, during which time they will be precluded from entering any horse within his/her care at any Churchill Downs Inc. owned or managed facility.

Sexton also said the track will be utilizing the Graded Stakes Committee's "supertesting" procedures for all graded stakes run during the spring meet.

About the Author

Ron Mitchell/The Horse

Ron Mitchell is Online Managing Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine. A Lexington native, Mitchell joined The Blood-Horse after serving in editorial capacities with The Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times, specializing in business and auction aspects of the industry, and was editor-in-chief of the award-winning Horsemen’s Journal. As online managing editor, Mitchell works closely with The Blood-Horse news editor and other departments to make sure the website content is the most thorough and accurate source for all Thoroughbred news, results, videos, and data.

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