OSRC Sets Cobalt Limits and Penalties

The Ohio State Racing Commission (OSRC) adopted a resolution on March 23 which established thresholds and penalties for cobalt violations, effective April 15, the day testing begins for cobalt at all Ohio racetracks.

Cobalt is a trace mineral found in B vitamins that horses require in tiny amounts for correct functioning of their physiology. As a result, all horses will have trace amounts of the substance in their systems. However, some horsemen believe that supplementing the substance will help their horses gain a competitive advantage on the track.

The OSRC resolution states that:

  • Cobalt concentrations of less than 25 ppb (parts per billion) in blood serum or plasma will have no penalty.
  • For cobalt concentrations of 25 ppb or greater but less than 50 ppb in blood serum or plasma, the recommended penalty is a written warning.
  • For cobalt concentrations of 50 ppb or greater in blood serum or plasma, the recommended penalty is a B penalty from the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances and Recommended Penalties and Model Rules Version 11.0 (for a first offence, a minimum 15-day suspension, $500 fine, and loss of purse; for a second offence, a minimum 30-day suspension, $1,000 fine, and loss of purse; and for a third offence, a Minimum 60-day suspension, $1,000 fine, loss of purse, and referred to the OSRC for further action).
  • Any cobalt concentration exceeding 250 ppb in blood serum or plasma will be referred to the OSRC for further action.
  • For cobalt concentrations of 25 ppb or greater in blood serum or plasma, the recommended penalty includes the placement of the horse on the veterinarian’s list with removal from this list only after a blood test confirms that the cobalt concentration is below 25 ppb. Testing costs shall be paid by the owner(s) of the horse.
  • These offenses are for any cobalt violation in any jurisdiction within any 365 day period.

Horsemen who have recently claimed or acquired a horse are encouraged to consult their veterinarian and have their horse tested.

James Robertson, DVM, OSRC consulting veterinarian, reported on the Ohio State University’s pilot cobalt study and said the Ohio Department of Agriculture Analytical Toxicology Laboratory has completed analysis of the blood samples for plasma cobalt concentrations.

The first publication from this study, an abstract entitled “Intravenous administration of Cobalt chloride is associated with the hemodynamic alterations in horses” will be presented at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum in Denver, Colorado on June 9. Teresa Burns, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, will present the abstract, which will be published in the meeting proceedings.

Robertson added the study has documented high levels of cobalt chloride administered intravenously can have serious toxic effects on a horse’s cardiovascular system.

Cobalt is a trace mineral found in B vitamins that horses require in tiny amounts for correct functioning of their physiology. As a result, all horses will have trace amounts of the substance in their systems. However, some horsemen believe that supplementing the substance will help their horses gain a competitive advantage on the race track.

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