New York Regulators Approve Racehorse Health-Related Rules

At a March 12, New York racing regulators passed several racehorse health regulations, including one requiring the previous owner of a claimed horse to provide within 48 hours to the new owner a record of corticosteroid joint injections that were made within 30 days before the claiming race.

The board also approved a rule proposed last year regarding the use of extracorporeal shock wave therapy, radial pulse wave therapy, and similar treatments. Both Finger Lakes Racetrack, in Farmington, and the New York Racing Association supported the rule change. The rule states that such treatments can be performed only by licensed veterinarians who use devices and are done at locations previously approved by the Gaming Commission. Trainers will be required to notify the commission within one day of the use of such treatments.

The commission also amended a rule previously proposed in November 2013, but not yet adopted, involving a range of controlled therapeutic medications. Officials called the amendments substantive and technical, including the threshold for "unapproved drugs." The commission's pre-meeting agenda noted that the "proposal of per se threshold rules for Thoroughbred racing should be revised to omit the proposed zero (limit of detection) threshold for all "unapproved drugs capable of affecting race performance."

"At the heart of the national recommendations was the 'strict' regulation of all drugs capable of affecting a horse's bodily systems that were not among the 'approved' 24 drugs that had been identified by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC)," the commission's agenda stated.

"This recommendation was to have been accomplished by uniformly forbidding any detectable amounts of such unapproved drugs in a racehorse's post-race samples," the agenda continued. "The RMTC and the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) have altered course and now urge all racing commissions not to adopt such a uniform and strict approach for 'unapproved' drugs.

"This abandonment of the national goal of limiting horsepersons to only 24 'approved' drugs close to race day is not irrational, as such an ambitious approach would have required the commitment of all significant racing jurisdictions," the agenda read. "Among other issues, there are numerous beneficial drugs that can be detected long after their therapeutic effects have disappeared, and one would need to have uniform thresholds for the contaminants that are unavoidable in the racehorse environment (and cannot in race-day samples be distinguished from drug administrations). Most importantly, despite efforts, RMTC and ARCI failed to develop a consensus for uniformity because of the inherent organizational limitations of those bodies."

The plan, which is still in a rulemaking phase and so was not given final adoption, also involves clenbuterol. The rule had called for restricting the drug within 14 days of a race, a move backed by the Thoroughbred industry. But harness industry officials said such a time ban would unfairly hit harness horses that run more often than Thoroughbreds. For Standardbred horses only, officials said the revised 14-day rule for clenbuterol will apply to horses that have not raced within 30 days, but imposes a 96-hour ban if the horse races more frequently than once a month.

The commission also proposed a new rule regarding the reporting requirements when a racehorse is gelded. "Information regarding the gelding of a horse is important for racing secretaries, horse identifiers, and the betting public," a commission document states.

Such information would require, under the proposal, to be reported by a trainer within 72 hours of the alteration if done at a track and prior to the next entry of the horse in a race if the surgery is performed at a different site. It notes current rules do not explicitly state that such updates about a race horse be provided to officials. The rule is already in place in three other states, including California.

"A trainer who enters a gelding, or who causes a gelding to be entered on his or her behalf, is responsible for ensuring that the horse's status as a gelding is listed accurately on the horse's certificate of registration on file in the racing office," the new proposal states. It requires the reports to include the name of the veterinarian doing the surgery and the date.

Originally published on

About the Author

Tom Precious

Tom Precious also writes for The Blood-Horse, sister magazine to The Horse.

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