Horse Racing Industry Told to Drop Hammer to Force Reforms

Horse Racing Industry Told to Drop Hammer to Force Reforms

The National Uniform Medication Program is in place in four states, 10 others are in the adoption process, and another 10 jurisdictions have laid the groundwork for passage.

Photo: Erica Larson, News Editor

Horse racing regulators and other industry officials were told April 7 they should use existing tools to push states to adopt the National Uniform Medication Program.

Breeders' Cup president Craig Fravel, in comments made on the first day of the Association of Racing Commissioners International's three-day conference in Lexington, Ky., offered his thoughts on the Thoroughbred industry, particularly in the area of integrity and uniformity. He urged regulators to adopt the uniform model rules for equine medication use, drug testing, and penalties.

"What I need you to worry about is the integrity of the game," Fravel said. "You need to redouble your efforts to implement uniform rules. The work done over the past two years (on medication and safety initiatives) are the building blocks to a better further. What's left is our commitment to do it."

Fravel noted the urgency in the wake of allegations by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) of horse abuse and mistreatment. He said much of the commentary on the PETA allegations and related video from within the industry dismissed industry progress as insignificant.

"That may be a symptom of frustration," Fravel said. "But time moves slowly in the Thoroughbred industry, which is not quick to grasp change. I think we can grasp an opportunity here and look at it as a positive (development)."

Though the National Uniform Medication Program is in place in only four states, about 10 others are in the adoption process, and another 10 jurisdictions have laid the groundwork for passage, industry organizations say. Fravel said it's not in racing's best interests to have any jurisdiction not in compliance.

Fravel told regulators to use their power to enforce rules and regulations. He said the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978, which governs interstate simulcasts, gives parties the authority to withhold racing signals. He also said the American Graded Stakes Committee has the power to threaten to remove grades from races in non-compliant states.

Whether either method is used to force uniformity remains to be seen. Fravel suggested the changing culture of horse racing has been an impediment to progress.

"Racing lacks a spirit of trust and a spirit of community these days," he said. "We've moved from a culture of trust and honor to a different sort of world. There are extraordinary people in horse racing, but the lowest common denominator brings us all down."

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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