Call Goes Out to Fund Testing Consortium

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium expects to have enough money to carry it through 2006, but officials with the group indicated not all members are on the same page on how to fund the organization in the future.

The consortium, which met Oct. 16-17 in Lexington, received about $2.5 million from founding organizations and members, including racetrack interests such as Churchill Downs Inc., Del Mar, Keeneland, Magna Entertainment Corp., the New York Racing Association, and Oak Tree, all of which have seats on the board of directors.

The consortium has discussed implementing a voluntary funding formula based on $5 per start from owners, and matching funds from tracks based on the average purse per race, regardless of breed, beginning in 2006.

Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association affiliates in Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York recently contributed $250,000 to the per-start fee program. The Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, along with Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park, have been contributing per-start fees since 2002.

Florida HBPA executive director and consortium member Kent Stirling said the consortium is now considering "lump sum" contributions along the lines of the THA payment plan, which amounts to $50,000 per affiliate. He said Florida interests have contributed about $75,000 a year.

No other associations have adopted a per-start fee program, said Stirling, who noted a consortium conference call was scheduled for Oct. 25.

The funding will allow the consortium to increase research, enhance security, and develop best practices for labs.

THA chief executive officer Alan Foreman said he believes lobbying racing commissions to adopt regulations requiring financial contributions isn't the way to go. "I don't think I'd be in favor of it," he said. "The funding mechanism we're looking at right now would be a phase-in."

The consortium also commissioned Dr. Rick Sams of Ohio State University to develop an action plan to establish withdrawal times for therapeutic medications. Current guidelines are not uniform, and some states have no withdrawal times.

The consortium, which has 25 racing industry stakeholders, has scheduled its next meeting for Jan. 23, 2006, in Los Angeles.     

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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