Beshear overrides Kentucky legislative vote on medication reform

by | 08.30.2012 | 5:48pm

In a highly anticipated move, Kentucky Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said he is overriding the vote taken earlier this week by the state legislature's Interim Joint Committee of Licensing and Occupations that rejected three key changes in medication rules approved earlier this year by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

“In order to protect the integrity of horse racing and the safety of the horses and jockeys in the Commonwealth,” a press release stated, “Gov. Steve Beshear announced today that he would implement administration regulations regarding Thoroughbred and Standardbred medications.

“In a letter to the Legislative Research Commission, Gov. Beshear noted that the proposed regulations were the result of more than a year of work by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which held nearly a dozen public meetings that included partcipants from all areas of the horse industry, such as veterinarians, trainers, and owners.”

The regulations – drafted as model rules by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium – require third-party or commission veterinarians to administer Lasix on race-day (instead of a trainer's private veterinarian), ban the race-day use of adjunct bleeder medications, and lower the allowed threshold level for the anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone.

Monday's 19-1 committee vote, orchestrated by the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and its one-time honoree as “man of the year,” Democratic Rep. Larry Clark, ignited a firestorm of protest from supporters of medication reform. The Kentucy HBPA's president, Rick Hiles, indicated the defeat meant it was unlikely the KHRC's efforts to phase out Lasix in stakes races, beginning with 2-year-olds of 2014, would get through the legislative process.

“All of the regulations were approved unanimously by the relevant KHRC committes, and by the KHRC staff,” Beshear said. “The regulations were heard by the Administrative Regulation and Review Subcommittee without objection from any member of the committee. The interest of the industry demands that these well developed and fully vetted regulations go into effect as promulgated.”

In his letter to the Legislative Research Commission, Beshear wrote: “Members of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, veterinarians, trainers, owners, and other licensed participants in Kentucky horse racing attended and participated in those meetings. Valuable input was gathered at these meetings, which the KHRC took into consideration in finalizing the proposed amendments.”

The press release from the governor's offie said the regulations go into effect Friday (Aug. 31).  The KHRC will issue an advisory detailing how and when the new regulations will be implemented.

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