The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission unanimously approved two new measures aimed at improving equine welfare during its regular meeting Feb. 20. The first was a drastic expansion of existing language on out-of-competition testing for horses starting in Kentucky. The new language allows the commission to look for a wider range of anabolic steroids, blood doping and gene doping agents, similar to the list of prohibited substances kept by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Approved language of the rule also addresses synthetic analogues of prohibited substances, allowing the rule to adapt as quickly as commercial laboratories.
Some therapeutic substances, including thyroxine, clenbuterol, furosemide, and others are permitted out-of-competition in cases where their administration is part of a valid prescription and subject to certain reporting requirements, which vary by substance.
Compounded medications will be permitted if they are in line with state and federal law and given as part of a valid veterinary treatment.
Anabolic steroids which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration may be used to treat a medical condition if administration is reported, part of a treatment plan, and the horse remains on the veterinarian's list for six months after administration.
Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the KHRC, noted the regulations were discussed extensively with representatives from the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the North American Association for Racetrack Veterinarians.
“An awful lot of work went into these regulations, and an awful lot of thought went into these regulations,” she said.
The commission also approved language voiding claims for horses who die or are euthanized on the track, or those placed on the veterinarian's list for unsoundness or bleeding before leaving the test barn. The rule also subjects claimed horses to post-race drug testing, allowing the claimant to void in the event of a positive for a Class A, B, or C substance.
Claimants will have option of checking a box on the claim form allowing them to designate they don't want the claim voided if the horse is placed on the vet's list. Scollay said this option was suggested for claimants interested in retiring a horse for breeding purposes, although the option exists in Maryland and California and to her knowledge has never been used by a claimant.
“The intent of this rule is not to provide a warranty for the health of a claimed horse, but rather to support the long-term health of the horse by deterring individuals from entering compromised horses into races with the hope of having the horse claimed,” said Scollay.
The commission also heard updates on construction for new gaming facilities at Churchill Downs and Turfway Park. Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said the new facility at Trackside is on track to open in September or October, as grading and underground work is now complete. To start with, the new instant racing facility will contain 600 machines with space for simulcast and automated wagering terminals. Flanery also pointed out the entire property will feature themes and décor echoing the facility's connection to the Kentucky Derby in hopes of reminding customers about its live racing product.
At Turfway Park, plans to make room for up to 250 instant racing machines became stalled after initial construction revealed serious structural issues with the existing facility. Officials there now say new plans are being drawn to redirect the project, and the track may request approval for additional machines to offset their need for a bigger budget.
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