Minnesota Makes Racehorse Drug Threshold Changes

A new law that allows for an expansion of racetrack card clubs in Minnesota also permits the Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC) to set threshold testing levels for therapeutic medications used in racehorses.

The commission said it will take about a month to establish the new drug-testing guidelines "based on the latest science, testing technology, and veterinarian expertise." The law states the expense of the testing upgrade will be paid through card club revenue the regulatory agency receives from Canterbury Park, in Shakopee, and Running Aces Harness Park, in Columbus.

The MRC indicated trace levels of therapeutic medications can be problematic (in drug tests) because they have no pharmacological impact or performance-enhancing benefits but are identified under the latest drug-testing technology.

"This legislation is critically important to assure racehorses are given proper medication therapy while preventing any potential abuse," MRC chairman Jesse Overton said in a release. "The MRC uses highly regarded and accredited drug-testing laboratories that have leading-edge technology that can, for the first time, detect trace levels of drugs.

"It is imperative that we re-examine the medication thresholds and establish new levels which prevent any performance-enhancing benefits but still assure the horses get their needed treatments."

The law states the MRC by rule shall allow the use of topical external applications that do not contain anesthetics or steroids; food additives; furosemide or other pulmonary hemostatic agents if they are administered under the visual supervision of the veterinarian or a designee of the veterinarian employed by the commission; and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, provided that the test sample does not contain more than the regulatory threshold concentrations set by rule by the commission.

The previous statutory language said "provided the test sample does not contain more than five micrograms of the substance or metabolites thereof per milliliter of blood plasma." Test samples are described as blood, urine, saliva, or other substance taken from a horse under the supervision of a commission veterinarian.

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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