Kentucky Horsemen Prepped on New Racehorse Drug Rules

Kentucky Horsemen Prepped on New Racehorse Drug Rules

Furosemide, also called Salix or Lasix, will continue to be administered four hours prior to a race by regulatory veterinarians under the regulations.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Kentucky horsemen March 14 received an overview of impending equine medication changes along with a few tips to avoid headaches when the new regulations take effect later in the spring.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) plans to adopt the national model uniform drug rules already in place in a few states. The rules include threshold testing levels and withdrawal times for 24 legal therapeutic medications commonly used by horsemen.

Kentucky, however, also has opted to provide "guidance" to horsemen on about 30 other substances and their withdrawal times. Policy on such substances differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

"It's not a matter of 24 medications and nothing else," said Mary Scollay, DVM, equine medical director for the KHRC. "We will have uniformity on the 24 substances, but for other substances guidance will continue to be available.

"The list of 24 (drugs) isn't static. If there are other medications you would like guidance for, there is a process in place for submitting those recommendations (to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium)."

Scollay addressed a small group of horsemen gathered in the recreation hall at Turfway Park today.

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, asked how there can be uniformity if racing states handle some drugs differently.

"It's uniform for the 24 drugs, which is much more than we had in the past," Scollay said. "If we have success with this, I believe we'll be able to move forward. The core 24 is not the beginning and the end."

Among the major changes, the current KHRC administration guideline for the bronchodilator clenbuterol will go from 72 hours (three days) before a race to 14 days. Intra-articular administration of three corticosteroids—betamethasone, methylprednisolone, and triamcinolone—will jump from 48 or 72 hours, depending on the substance, to seven days.

"These new rules on corticosteroids require much more thought (by horsemen) in administration," Scollay said. "Stay away from them. (If not), they're going to tie you up for a while."

Also under the new rules, procaine penicillin can't be administered after a horse is entered in a race; the current KHRC recommended cutoff is 21 days. Use of the drug will have to be reported, and there will be mandatory surveillance of the horse in question, at the owner's expense, for six hours before a race.

Scollay said the drug is a local anesthetic, and that the surveillance is necessary "to prevent someone access to a horse to 'block' it."

Furosemide, also called Salix or Lasix, will continue to be administered four hours prior to a race by regulatory veterinarians.

When asked about the status of the furosemide phase-out regulations passed by the KHRC a few years ago, Scollay and KHRC deputy executive director Mark Guilfoil said there has been no movement. The regulations never were filed as part of the legislative approval process.

"Administration by regulatory vets has worked very well in Kentucky," Guilfoil said.

"I would be floored if there is any movement on it," Scollay said. "I think we have found a legitimate middle ground that meets the integrity needs of the game and the medication desires of horsemen."

Originally published on

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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