The New York State Gaming Commission unanimously proposed a series of updates to the state's codes for post-race drug testing Thursday, including adding a threshold for cobalt.
The commissioners agreed to language that would make it a violation for a horse to test over 50 ng/ml of cobalt in plasma, with levels above 300 ng/ml punishable as blood doping violations. Although the meeting's materials note that the 50 ng/ml threshold is one recommended by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, New York's proposed language did not go as far as the wording outlined by ARCI that was passed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission earlier this year. That rule set an additional 25 ng/ml threshold at which trainers would get a warning and a fine, the idea being that it would be highly unusual for levels to naturally fall higher than 25 ng/ml. A test of 50 ng/ml or higher in Kentucky results in a fine of up to $1,000, a suspension, and/or purse forfeiture.
In New York, a test over 50 ng/ml will result in a suspension between 15 and 60 days. In both states, offending horses will be placed on the veterinarian's list until their level drops below the legal limit.
In additional rulemaking business, commissioners approved rule updates banning stanozolol (which is not one of the hormones found naturally in horses), adding thresholds to guide the use of the bronchodilator albuterol and the corticosteroid isoflupredone. The addition of isoflupredone to the list of regulated corticosteroids also came with a special provision for the class of drugs—corticosteroid joint injections may not be given to horses within one week of a race; however, if a veterinarian can show in his records that the drug was injected outside of the seven-day restriction, that the trainer notified the commission of its use, and that the trainer had not previously been warned about misuse of the substance, a post-race test over the threshold would not be considered a violation.
According to equine medical director Dr. Scott Palmer, this provision was included because there is evidence that the dosing or presence of other drugs can alter the rate of withdrawal for corticosteroids in joints, and the commission did not want to punish horsemen unfairly.
More language was added guiding the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories in hopes of preventing “stacking” of multiple drugs in the category at once. The commissioners approved a measure to restrict any NSAID administration at 48 hours pre-race to one drug, with any others in that category withdrawn at least a week pre-race.
“It seems like a positive step moving forward to eliminate race-day drugs,” said commissioner Peter Moschetti, Jr.
Rule updates were also passed to require trainers to complete four hours of continuing education credit each year under the supervision of the commission via online presentations and quizzes. The system would fall in line with suggestions made by experts at this year's Jockey Club Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit. A trainer failing to complete the credit hours would not be permitted to renew their license.
Also at Thursday's meeting, commissioners tabled a suggestion to halt post-race testing for claimed horses, citing a need to reduce testing costs. Commissioners expressed concern about the impact of such defunding and require more information to make a decision.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the New York State Gaming Commission is Oct. 26.
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