Horse Racing: Kentucky Out-of-Competition Regulation to be Permanent

An out-of-competition testing regulation that was put into effect in Kentucky prior to the Breeders' Cup World Championships will soon become permanent.

During a meeting on Nov. 30, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's (KHRC) rules committee made a few modifications before sending the regulation on to the full commission for consideration.

The regulation was implemented on an emergency basis so some testing could take place prior to the Nov. 5-6 World Championships at Churchill Downs in Louisville. The rules committee's action is the final step before the commission votes on making the regulations permanent.

The regulation allows the KHRC to conduct tests on horses regardless of location if there is a likelihood the horse ordered for testing will race in Kentucky. The tests are aimed at detecting prohibited substances, mainly blood-doping agents, that cannot be detected in post-race tests and which are specifically identified in the regulation. KHRC veterinary staff members have said the substances targeted by the regulation can be detected for only a short period after being administered--meaning they would not show up in regular post-race tests--but can have a lengthy positive effect upon a horse's performance.

Despite concerns raised by representatives of horsemen's groups at previous meetings, the out-of-competition testing went smoothly during the Breeders' Cup and the Grand Circuit Standardbred meet at Lexington's Red Mile racetrack, according to Mary Scollay, DVM, the KHRC's equine medical director.

Scollay said 55 Breeders' Cup participants were tested under the out-of-competition testing format and that all tested negative for any of the prohibited substances identified in the regulation. Scollay said there were no problems with KHRC staff or their designated representatives in other states having access to the horses to be tested or the tests themselves.

First-time offenders under the regulation face license revocation of between five to 10 years and up to a $50,000 fine. Also, those same penalties would apply to an owner, trainer, or anyone entrusted with a horse's care refusing to permit a horse to be tested. Horses that test positive under the regulation would be barred from racing in the state for 180 days.

Under the protocol established under the regulation, an offender would be required to apply to the commission's license review committee upon completion of the revocation period in order to be re-licensed. Also, a horse that tests positive under the regulation would be required to have a negative test before it could resume racing following the 180-day ban from competition.

Stiffer penalties would also be imposed for horses that test positive for substances targeted by the out-of-competition regulation in post-race testing.

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), said Nov. 30 that some horsemen had concerns about the testing procedures for a horse located on premises where neither the owner or trainer are present and the property owner/manager refuses to permit a horse to be tested.

Tim West, deputy general counsel for the KHRC, said the regulations provide the horse can be relocated to a location mutually agreed upon by the KHRC staff or representative and the horse's designated representative.

Prior to approval, the rules committee deleted one section of the regulation pertaining to which horses can be designated for testing.

Based on a review of the regulations by the state's Legislative Research Commission staff and feedback from attorney Doug McSwain, the rules committee agreed the provision could be interpreted as being overly broad. Also, West said, other parts of the regulation specifying horses to be targeted for testing make the provision unnecessary.

West noted that no one attended a public hearing held to receive comments on the regulation and that a letter from McSwain, who has represented the Kentucky and National HBPA in the past but was acting on his own behalf in this case, was the only feedback received by the commission.

"I would like for us to have a regulation that withstands legal challenges and I believe this does that," said rules committee member Ned Bonnie.

Originally posted on Bloodhorse.com.

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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