Los Alamitos Owner Urges AQHA To Adopt Hair Testing ‘To Save The Sport We All Love’

by | 05.16.2015 | 9:00am
Dr. Edward Allred, owner of Los Alamitos race course, imposed a house rule using hair testing

Dr. Edward Allred, owner of Los Alamitos, has written an open letter to Quarter horse owners, trainers and nominators to races at his Orange County, Calif., racetrack about the hair follicle testing program he has implemented for some high-profile races to stop abuse of performance enhancing drugs like clenbuterol, albuterol and zilpaterol, including off-label varieties.

In addition, Allred is urging other states and the American Quarter Horse Association to adopt similar testing measures, he says, “to save the sport we all love.”

Following is the complete text of that letter:

Horse Owners, Trainers & Nominators to Races at Los Alamitos Race Course;

The El Primero and La Primera Derby Trials were, as announced as of December 2014, the first to utilize post-race hair testing by the University of California, Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory of all the presumed qualifiers. All were negative for Clenbuterol with the exception of Runaway Fire, owned by San Gregorio Racing Stables, Inc. and World Champion Racing Stables, LLC. This horse was given a non-time and the eleventh fastest horse was advanced to the finals.

It is interesting to compare “bubble” times (the tenth qualifying time) for the past three years for the two races. The La Primera “bubble” was .37 to .43 seconds slower in 2015 than 2014 and 2013. The El Primero was .16 to .23 slower in 2015. One might consider this “the Clenbuterol effect.”

Trainers mostly concur that horses cannot compete at a track in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, etc. without Clenbuterol and its analogues. Until other racing states address this problem seriously, Los Alamitos Race Course will stand alone and a truly national circuit will not exist.

AQHA's challenge finals are scheduled at Los Alamitos Race Course in 2016. If a solution to Clenbuterol use is not in hand by early 2016, it is unlikely that regional qualifiers will come to California and be submitted to pre-race hair testing. This would be an acknowledgement that Quarter Horse racing is dependent on performance enhancing drugs similar to Major League Baseball ten years ago.

We are on the wrong side of history in dealing with this problem. Baseball, cycling, body building, and other sports were reluctant to ban and effectively test for these substances, but were ultimately forced by scandals and public and governmental pressure to do so.

We do not have all the answers on performance enhancing drugs, but we do know that during the past five years Clenbuterol, Albuterol, and Zilpaterol emerged in a major way. In self-defense, even well-established trainers have become part of the problem. Techniques evolved, which made the usual blood testing largely ineffective. The use of “off-label” Clenbuterol also became common place.

Trainers have made inquiries about voluntary hair testing on horses sent to California from jurisdictions with more permissive regulations or lack of effective testing. Dr. Rick Arthur, Equine Medical Director for the CHRB, has an established program for hair testing from the University of California, Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory with hair obtained by an authorized track veterinarian at Los Alamitos for a blanket fee of $400. This can only be done after the subject horse has arrived at Los Alamitos Race Course. There will be no penalties involved for owners or trainers for a positive test, although entry will not be accepted until a negative test is obtained.

We urge AQHA and quarter horse racing states to join us in hair follicle testing and rigid enforcement to save the sport that we all love.

Dr. Edward C. Allred

Owner & CEO, Los Alamitos Race Course


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