Lexington Herald-Leader, July 15, 2008
Horse Racing Board Votes to Ban Toe Grabs
Rule change could take effect for fall racing
By Linda B. Blackford
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously Monday to limit toe grabs on the front horseshoes of all Thoroughbreds in training or in competition on Kentucky tracks.
A toe grab is a cleat at the front of the horseshoe to improve traction. Under the new rules, anything higher than 2 millimeters or any other traction device would be banned.
The rule was recommended by the commission's health and safety committee. The committee looked at many years of scientific study showing a significant increase in the risk of front-leg injuries when toe grabs are used.
The rule change follows a Jockey Club recommendation to ban toe grabs. Officials said five other states already have adopted such a rule.
“It's a big deal,” said Mitch Taylor, director of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School, who testified Monday at the commission's meeting at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“I expect to see a significant change, and even if this saves one horse, it's worth it.”
The rule change will need to go through the legislative rules process and a public comment period, but it could go into effect this fall, said Commission Director Lisa Underwood.
“There are going to be horses who benefit from toe grabs, but for the few who might benefit, the vast majority will benefit from flat plates,” said John Veitch, the state's chief steward.
Taylor said that anecdotally, many people believe that toe grabs help horses get a better hold of the dirt with their front legs, even though most of their propulsion comes from the hind end.
But in looking at special videos comparing horses shod in toe grabs, it's clear that it causes horses to overextend their lower front legs.
Underwood said that Eight Belles, the Kentucky Derby runner-up who broke both front legs after the race, was wearing toe grabs, but it was unclear if they affected her.
Her death elicited a frenzy of hand-wringing over the state of horse racing; the ban on toe grabs will solve some of that, Taylor said.
“It's a multi-faceted problem and it needs a multi-faceted solution,” he said.
Another piece of the puzzle is the use of whips, which came under fire in the wake of Eight Belles' death and is also under discussion by the commission's health and safety committee.
Commission members looked at a new prototype for whips that are 28 inches long, rather than the regulation 30 inches long. Jockeys have been trying out the whips at Ellis Park and Churchill Downs, said Jeff Johnston of the Jockey's Club.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the results,” he said. “Most of the jockeys are receptive.”
Penn National Gaming News Release, July 15, 2008
Penn National Gaming Implements Equine Health and Safety Initiatives
WYOMISSING, Penn., (July 15, 2008) -- Penn National Gaming, Inc., the second largest owner of pari-mutuel racing facilities in North America, today announced the implementation of several initiatives intended to ensure the continued health and safety of equine participants at its racetracks. These initiatives include limiting the height of toe grabs on front shoes worn by race horses, endorsing rules for new riding crops for Thoroughbred jockeys, and recommending, at a minimum, the adoption of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) model rule regarding Androgenic Anabolic Steroids.
The initiatives follow the recently issued recommendations of The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee. Founded in 1894, the Jockey Club is dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing and is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds.
“Penn National Gaming endorses and embraces The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee’s recommendations which are sound steps toward ensuring the health and welfare of our equine participants,” said Chris McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National Gaming. “We have outlined a plan to introduce several of these recommendations at our horse racing facilities over the next few months. In addition, we will actively promote the adoption of permanent rules and regulations for these items with regulators in every one of the six jurisdictions where we conduct racing. We have identified several other areas where information, uniformity and cooperation are needed to achieve additional results to benefit the industry and expect that other responsible pari-mutuel facility owners and industry leaders will follow our actions.”
Penn National Gaming owns and operates gaming and racing facilities with a focus on slot machine entertainment. The Company presently operates nineteen facilities in fifteen jurisdictions, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ontario. Penn National is the second largest owner of pari-mutuel facilities in North America and conducts over 1,000 dates of live racing annually. Total wagering at its pari-mutuel facilities on live and simulcast racing totaled nearly $850 million in 2007.
Keeneland Association News Release, July 17, 2008
Keeneland and Turfway Park Jointly Announce New Shoe Policy
Lexington, KY (July 17, 2008) – Officials at Keeneland and Turfway Park today announced a new shoe policy banning the use of toe grabs. The policy is effective at both racetracks beginning September 1.
Rogers Beasley, Keeneland’s director of racing, and Bob Elliston, president of Turfway Park, said in a joint statement: “We applaud the efforts of the Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee, TOBA’s Thoroughbred Action Committee and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to address safety in racing. Their unanimous support for a ban on the use of toe grabs is a significant step toward improving the welfare of horses.”
The policy, which will apply to all horses training and racing on Keeneland’s Polytrack and Turf course, as well as Turfway’s Polytrack, states, “No toe grabs, caulks, stickers, inserts, blocks, turndowns, trailers or heel extensions will be allowed on front or hind shoes. Only flat, Queen’s Plate, Queen’s Plate XT or equivalent may be used on the Polytrack or Turf.”
Breeders’ Cup Ltd. News Release, August 1, 2008
Breeders’ Cup New Policy Bans Steroids in all Breeders’ Cup Affiliated Races
Trainers Could Face Lifetime Ban from Breeders’ Cup World Championships
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 1, 2008) - Trainers of horses that test positive for anabolic steroids at this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park (Oct. 24-25) will face a one-year suspension from the event; and trainers who violate steroid regulations three times will face a lifetime ban from participating in Thoroughbred racing's season-ending championships according to the new policy announced today by the Breeders' Cup.
In addition, beginning in 2009, the Breeders' Cup will neither fund Stakes purses nor award Breeders' Cup Challenge events to racetracks in the U.S. and Canada unless those tracks are in states or provinces that adopt Racing Commissioners International (RCI) model rules on anabolic steroids via either state regulation or house rules. Breeders' Cup currently funds $6 million in purses via the Stakes program and schedules 53 races in the U.S. and Canada designated as Breeders' Cup Challenge races, official qualifiers for the Breeders' Cup World Championships. Anabolic steroids are already banned in all racing jurisdictions in Europe and Asia. (There are Breeders' Cup Challenge races in Hong Kong and Great Britain this year).
“The Breeders' Cup Board believes it's crucial that we take a leadership role in eliminating anabolic steroids from our sport,” said William S. Farish, Jr., Breeders' Cup Chairman. “We encourage each race track and racing jurisdiction to move swiftly in enacting these much needed regulations. It is important that the industry takes a coordinated approach to address medication and safety issues. We pledge to continue to work with the NTRA, The Jockey Club Safety Committee, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association, and other industry leaders in this regard.”
“We must provide an even playing field for all our equine athletes if we are to continue to offer the best Thoroughbred racing in the world,” said Breeders' Cup President and CEO Greg Avioli. “Our number one priority remains preserving the integrity of our competition and protecting the welfare of our athletes.”
In May, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) adopted rules to begin anabolic steroid testing following all of its races. The 2008 Breeders' Cup World Championships will be the first time in the event's history that post-race steroid testing will be conducted. The first four finishers in all 14 Breeders' Cup races, and at least one horse elected at random, will be tested. Violations will result in purse forfeiture and suspensions.
In addition to anabolic steroid testing, there will also be out of competition testing for EPO (blood doping) 10 days prior to this year's Breeders' Cup and TCO2 (milk shaking) testing prior to all 14 Breeders' Cup races in the Santa Anita detention barn. A failed EPO test would make the horse ineligible for competition and the trainer subject to suspension. Failed TCO2 tests will result in purse forfeiture and suspensions. The EPO and TCO2 testing policies were first instituted by Breeders' Cup at the 2007 Championships at Monmouth Park
The official policy adopted today by the Breeders' Cup is below:
Effective with the 2008 Breeders' Cup World Championships, for any horse participating in a World Championships race that is found to have violated the steroid rule in effect where the race is conducted, in addition to any penalties imposed by the racing regulatory agency in the jurisdiction, the following sanctions shall be imposed: (i) the horse shall be disqualified to last in the race and any purse earned by the horse shall be forfeited and redistributed in accordance with the revised order of finish; (ii) in the event of a first violation of the steroid rules in a World Championships race, the horse's trainer and all horses directly or indirectly in such trainer's care shall be ineligible to participate in the World Championships races conducted in the year immediately following the final determination that such trainer's horse violated the steroid rules; (iii) in the event of a second violation of the steroid rules in a World Championships race, the horse's trainer and all horses
drectly or indirectly in such trainer's care shall be ineligible to participate in the World Championships races conducted in the two years immediately following the final determination that such trainer's horse violated the steroid rules; (iv) in the event of a third violation of the steroid rules in a World Championships race, the horse's trainer and all horses directly or indirectly in such trainer's care shall be ineligible to participate in all World Championships races conducted for the remainder of such trainer's life following the final determination that such trainer's horse violated the steroid rules.
Effective January 1, 2009, it shall be the policy of Breeders' Cup Limited to enter agreements with race tracks or racing associations for the Breeders' Cup World Championships, Breeders' Cup Challenge Races and Breeders' Cup Stakes Races only in jurisdictions that have in place, either by executive order, administrative regulation or statute, rules governing the use of anabolic steroids in horses substantially similar, in form and substance, to the model steroid rules of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (“RCI”). In the event a race track or racing association is located in a jurisdiction without an executive order, administrative regulation or statute substantially similar in form and substance to the RCI model steroid rules, Breeders' Cup Limited may, in its discretion, enter an agreement for the World Championships, Challenge Races or Breeders' Cup Stakes Races with a race track or racing association if such race track or racing association has in place
a house rule substantially similar in form and substance to the RCI model steroid rules.
New York Racing Association News Release, August 14, 2008
NYRA to Limit Height of Toe Grabs on Front Horseshoes at Start of Aqueduct Fall Meeting, October 29
Following the recommendation of the Thoroughbred Safety Committee of The Jockey Club, toe grabs with a height greater than two millimeters (.07874 inches) on front horseshoes will be banned from all horses racing at Saratoga Race Course, Belmont Park, and Aqueduct Racetrack. The limitation takes effect on October 29 with the opening of the Aqueduct Fall Meeting, the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced today.
The committee announced its recommendation to ban all toe grabs other than two-millimeter wear plates on June 17.
Earlier this month, the American Graded Stakes Committee, administered by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, announced that graded stakes run at racetracks which have not implemented the Jockey Club limitations on toe-grab horseshoes would lose their graded status on January 1, 2009 (or the date of the track’s first graded stakes).
Both organizations cited research noting a greater risk of catastrophic injury to horses wearing front toe grabs than horses wearing shoes without toe grabs. The NYRA ruling also eliminates bends, jar caulks, stickers, or any other traction device on front hooves.
Thoroughbredtimes.com, July 17, 2008
CHRB Formally Adopts Steroid Regulation
By Jeff Lowe
The California Horse Racing Board moved forward on Thursday with an anabolic steroid regulation that will likely be in place in time for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in October at Santa Anita Park.
The board gave final approval for a reclassification of the anabolic steroids boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol, and testosterone to Class 3 status, which would carry penalties resulting in purse redistribution and trainer suspensions.
Barring any complications in the Office of Administrative Law’s regulatory process, the measure will probably become law near the start of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on September 24.
The board has performed race-day testing for the four steroids in a warning phase since July 1, and CHRB Equine Medical Director Rick Arthur, D.V.M., said 320 of 347 horses were within the regulation threshold levels over the first ten days. Arthur said the 27 positive tests all were for stanozolol, which was formerly manufactured as Winstrol.
“Just a brief check has shown that all [of the horses testing positive] were treated within the 30 days [of race day] which is contrary to our withdrawal recommendation,” Arthur said.
Arthur compared the results to a rash of positives when the board began regulating high bicarbonate (TCO2) levels.
“I’m afraid the situation is somewhat similar to the TC02 regulation where there was a small number of trainers who insisted on resisting the regulation,” Arthur said. “Ironically, some of the same names in the TC02 regulation are here [in the steroid violations].”
Bloodhorse.com, August 2, 2008
Model Rules Proposed for Toe Grabs
The Model Rules Committee of the Association of Racing Commissioners International approved several recommendations, including restrictions on the use of toe grabs and annual continuing education for trainers, during an Aug. 1 meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The recommendations, which now go to the full RCI board for consideration, include:
- Impose further restrictions on the use of toe grabs in Thoroughbred racing, limiting their size to 2mm.
- Impose a new requirement on licensed horse trainers to undergo at least four hours of continuing education each year as a condition of maintaining a current trainer’s license. The continuing education program would be required to be approved by the RCI or the commission in a particular jurisdiction.
The committee also voted in favor of making significant changes to the rules concerning the use of riding crops, setting specifications to limit the size and weight of the crop, allowing only flaps, and further defining the proper use of the crop. A subcommittee was formed to draft the proposed language of the model rule. The full committee is expected to consider the rule at its October meeting before sending it to the RCI board.
The committee voted to not adopt a proposal to modify the claiming rule that would provide for the voiding of a claim under certain circumstances where a horse due to injury or distress fails to return to the unsaddling area. There was support but no consensus on the committee to require all claimed horses to be sent to the test barn at the expense of the new owner. The committee took no action on the matter at this time.
Regulatory jurisdictions with representatives present and participating in the Model Rules meeting included: California, New York, Kentucky, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Virginia, Indiana, South Dakota, Ontario
TOBA News Release, August 8, 2008
American Graded Stakes Expands Grade Eligibility Requirements
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The TOBA American Graded Stakes Committee today announced new eligibility requirements for graded stakes races in the U.S.
At its meeting this week in Saratoga Springs, New York, the committee adopted two new eligibility requirements for graded stakes.
States or racetracks through house rules must adopt, at a minimum, the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) model rule on androgenic anabolic steroids by January 1, 2009 or the date of a state or racetrack’s first graded race in 2009, whichever is later. If a state or racetrack does not adopt the model rule, then their races will lose their graded status. Those races will not be eligible again for grading until the rule is adopted.
In addition, the committee adopted a requirement for grade eligibility whereby states or racetracks through house rules must adopt the ARCI model rule on toe grabs on front feet by January 1, 2009 or the date of a state or track’s first graded stake in 2009. If the rule is not adopted, then races will lose their graded status. Those races will become eligible for grading once the rule is adopted.
“There has been much discussion recently about how any recommendations put forth by various groups could be implemented given Thoroughbred racing’s fractured organizational structure,” said Dan Metzger, president of TOBA. “The committee members feel strongly about these two issues and determined that they should be implemented in graded stakes by expanding the conditions of eligibility.”
Also, the committee expanded its drug testing protocol to include testing for alkalinizing agents in graded stakes beginning January 1, 2009. All horses participating in graded stakes are to have blood samples drawn pre-race in accordance with the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium’s recommended best practices. It will be up to the jurisdiction to determine the testing method, either TCO2 or base excess. A race will lose its grade eligibility if this testing is not performed.
TRA News Release, August 15, 2008
TRA Board of Directors Endorses Adoption of Equine Safety Measures
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The TRA Board of Directors endorsed the recommendations of the Thoroughbred Safety Committee of The Jockey Club regarding the elimination of androgenic anabolic steroids in Thoroughbreds in racing and training, as well as other equine safety measures, at its regularly scheduled meeting Friday.
The TRA directors supported the Thoroughbred Safety Committee’s call for the immediate adoption by all North American racing authorities of the RCI (Racing Commissioners’ International) Model Rule on Androgenic Anabolic Steroids that was based on the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium recommendations. TRA tracks committed to work with racing commissions in their respective jurisdictions to implement the elimination of anabolic steroids by the end of 2008.
The TRA also endorsed the Thoroughbred Safety Committee recommendation to have jockeys use only riding crops approved by the RCI Model Rules Committee in consultation with the Jockeys’ Guild.
Adoption of a ban on toe grabs and other traction devices in conjunction with local commission regulations also was endorsed the by the TRA Board of Directors.
Bloodhorse.com, August 25, 2008
Kentucky Panel Approves Ban on Steroids
By Tom LaMarra
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously Aug. 25 to ban the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses, and the rules could be in place the first week of September should Gov. Steve Beshear sign an emergency regulation as expected.
The KHRC amended recommendations from the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, which voted Aug. 14 to regulate steroids. There was some discussion Aug. 25 about how the rules will impact claimed horses, but the racing commission didn’t see fit to delay action.
“This (regulation) was circulated among all the horse groups in Kentucky,” said trainer John Ward Jr., a member of the racing commission. “Everybody is on the same side. For once, Kentucky is in the lead on this issue.”
The anabolic steroids in question—boldenone, nandrolone, and testosterone—will be considered Class B substances, positives for which carry more stringent penalties. Trainers who ship horses to Kentucky may follow reporting requirements or certify a horse hasn’t been given steroids in the last 60 days. If a trainer doesn’t know, he or she must accept responsibility for a positive test.
The KHRC also clarified provisions for a 90-day grace period. The regulation—effectively a ban on steroids on race day—will begin when Beshear takes action. A positive test during the last 30 days of the 90-period will be considered an “aggravating factor” in any subsequent medication violation, the regulation states.
If there also is evidence steroids were administered in the previous 60 days, it will be considered a violation.
Horses will be ineligible to race in Kentucky until at least 60 days after steroids are administered and after the KHRC receives a “clean” test report from an approved laboratory.
People who claim horses at Kentucky tracks can request tests and void claims if horses come back positive for steroids.
KHRC chairman Robert Beck Jr. said the commission received comments from various industry groups, and there was “widespread support” for the action. He said it’s time to dispel the notion Kentucky is the “wild, wild West” when it comes to equine medication use.
Beck also said he expects quick action from Beshear. “The governor has indicated a willingness to sign an emergency regulation,” he said.
In other business, Aug. 25, the commission approved a settlement agreement to extend the suspension of trainer Patrick Biancone through Oct. 31. Officials said the decision followed an investigation of Biancone’s activities while he served a six-month suspension.
Biancone, suspended from Nov. 1, 2007-April 30, 2008, maintains he complied with the parameters of the original suspension, and the settlement in no way implies admission of guilt. The suspension was given in 2007 based on a barn search that produced banned substances.
The Times-Picuyane, August 25, 2008
FG Ranks Shuffled After Soth's Departure
By Bob Fortus
Austin Miller, the Fair Grounds' vice president of slots and off-track betting operations, said Monday that he will be in charge of the track, with a new title to be determined by Churchill Downs Inc.
"It will change to reflect that I'm responsible for the entire operation," Miller said.
Earlier Monday, Miller had his first experience on the hot seat before the Louisiana State Racing Commission.
Commissioner Bob Wright wanted to know what the departure announced Aug. 14 of Fair Grounds President Randy Soth means for racing at the track. Soth is stepping down after almost four years on the job for reasons not explained by Churchill or himself. His last day is Saturday.
After praising Soth, Wright asked Miller, "Is the emphasis going to be on gaming or racing?"
Miller said: "We absolutely continue a very keen focus on the racing program, fully understanding that slots and video poker wouldn't exist without racing."
Wright's questions came before a vote on the Fair Grounds' application for a 10-year racing and OTB license. The commission usually approves such an application with little or no discussion.
Also at the meeting, as expected, the commission passed a rule banning the administration of steroids for racing.
Wright, who eventually voted with the other commissioners to approve the Fair Grounds' license application, said he considered proposing a three-year license for the Fair Grounds, to ensure that racing remains the focus.
"I hesitate to open the door to a 10-year license, because if there's any suspicion they're going to put more emphasis on the gaming side than the racing side, as a member of the racing commission, I want to make sure we're holding Churchill's feet to the fire," Wright said.
Miller said, "I understand your concerns."
Russ Herman, a former racing commissioner, gave a testimonial to Soth, who was at the meeting and appeared moved by Herman's remarks.
"Randy Soth is responsible for getting this track rebuilt and opened," Herman said. "That couldn't have been done without Randy Soth." When Herman finished speaking, nearly everyone in the room broke into applause.
Soth, who came to the Fair Grounds with experience in racing jobs at several tracks, oversaw the racing operation. Miller said his experience is in entertainment and gaming. "On the racing side, I don't have a lot of experience, but I'll be supported by people with a lot of experience," he said.
He also said that racing, slots and off-track betting "stand under one umbrella, and we'll operate them with one voice." All staff will be players on the same team, he said.
Miller said that at least for now, with the 2008-09 thoroughbred meet approaching, people already with the company will share duties in overseeing racing at the Fair Grounds. Assistant general manager Ed Fenasci, who has worked in mutuels, managed OTB facilities and been in charge of account wagering, will play a role in the business aspects of the sport and dealing with regulatory bodies, Miller said. Racing secretary Jason Boulet will run the racing office. Donnie Richardson, Churchill senior vice president of racing, will be available to work with Boulet.
The commission's action against steroids puts Louisiana in step with a national movement to ban them from racing.
The proposed Louisiana rule prohibits exogenous anabolic steroids (those that don't occur naturally in the body) to be in a horse's system on race day. The rule prohibits three endogenous anabolic steroids (naturally occurring substances) "at levels above the normal physiological state of the stallion, gelding or mare."
Also the rule says that "the administration of any of these endogenous steroids within 45 days of a race day shall be considered a violation."
Sanctions are in place against racing states that don't act against steroids.
If a horse running at this year's Breeders' Cup tests positive for anabolic steroids, the horse will be disqualified, and the trainer suspended from the Breeders' Cup for one year. Starting next year, the Breeders' Cup won't provide supplemental purse money to any stakes race run in a state without a rule similar to the anti-steroids model rule proposed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, a national organization of many racing entities.
Also, the American Graded Stakes Committee is requiring that a state (track) adopt the model rule about steroids by Jan. 1, or else the graded status of the state's (track's) races will be taken away.
The Louisiana rule won't take effect immediately. A bureaucratic process must be completed before a rule passed by a state board becomes permanent. Racing commission chairman Jerry Meaux said that if the process stalls and the Jan. 1 deadline appears unobtainable, the commission would pass the rule on an emergency basis. "We'll do whatever it takes to get this implemented by Jan. 1," he said.
The commission also approved a rule banning toe grabs (cleats) longer than 2 millimeters on a horse's front shoes. That's a standard set by the Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee. At a recent Jockey Club conference, toe grabs were cited as a contributing factor to breakdowns.
Thoroughbred Daily News, September 2, 2008
Sales Companies Announce Changes in Under-Tack Shows
The four major U.S. Thoroughbred auction companies -- Barretts, Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland and Ocala Breeders' Sales Company (OBS) --
have announced that they are making significant changes relating to preview shows leading up to their two-year-olds in training sales.
Beginning next year, the use of whips by riders will be strictly regulated during under-tack shows, with the option of stiff penalties and/or
suspensions possible for riders who do not follow the guidelines. Additionally, the use of front toe grabs will also be eliminated, in accordance
with recommendations from The Jockey Club's Thoroughbred Safety Committee now being widely adopted by the racing industry. "The focus on safety and
soundness issues within our industry brought us together and we forged a united front to introduce important changes in the way under-tack shows are
conducted," commented Mike O'Farrell, chairman of OBS. "The changes we have enacted can only enhance for buyers the reputation and image of the
two-year-olds in training sales program."
Bloodhorse.com, September 6, 2008
Ban on Steroids in KY Now in Effect
By Tom LaMarra
Testing for anabolic steroids in racehorses in Kentucky will begin with the start of the Keeneland fall meet under emergency regulations signed by Gov. Steve Beshear Sept. 5.
The regulations, approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in August, are now in effect under the Beshear order. The regulations pertain to the commonly used steroids boldenone, nandrolone, and testosterone.
For the first 30 days of the ban, no testing will be performed, according to a KHRC memo issued Sept. 5. Turfway Park is open during that period. For the next month, which encompasses the Keeneland meet, tests for steroids will be done as part of regular post-race testing; owners and trainers will be notified of positive tests but no penalties will be given.
In the final month of the grace period, when Churchill Downs is open for its fall meet, a positive test will bring an investigation to determine when the steroids were administered. Action will be taken if it is determined steroids were administered after the ban took effect.
The regulations pertain to Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing.
“This is a historic day in Kentucky racing,” Beshear said in a statement. “This action demonstrates our commitment to ensuring the integrity of racing and the safety of its competitors.”
The KHRC is advising veterinarians to discontinue administering anabolic steroids immediately unless they are being used for therapeutic purposes and the horses in question will not race for at least 60 days. Officials said the grace period isn’t intended to allow for continued use of steroids.
“It should not be interpreted as a steroid-permissive period prior to the implementation of the rule and the associated consequences for its violation,” the KHRC said in its memo. “A positive test result during the grace period may be considered an aggravating factor for positive post-race anabolic steroid tests that occur after the grace period has ended.”
Many out-of-state horses will ship to Kentucky to race this fall. According to the KHRC, trainers of those horses can submit treatment reports and follow the therapeutic-use protocol; certify that horses haven’t been administered anabolic steroids within the previous 60 days; or for horses that have not been in the care and control of the trainer for a full 60 days, the trainer must certify that anabolic steroids have not been administered while the horse was in his or her care, and the trainer accepts responsibility should the presence of steroids be detected in a post-race sample.
Anyone claiming a horse can request the claimed horse be tested. If the test results are positive for anabolic steroids, the claimant has the option of voiding the claim and returning the horse to its original trainer.
The testing, however, must be performed immediately post race through the KHRC and paid for by the claimant.
Thoroughbred Times, September 16, 2008
Maryland Racing Commission to Adopt Steroid Rules
By John Scheinman
The Maryland Racing Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt on an emergency basis rules banning the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses beginning January 1, 2009.
The decision reversed a position taken earlier this year to await the results of blood plasma-based research being conducted by Dr. George Maylin, head of the drug testing and research program at Cornell University.
Last October, the Maryland Racing commission joined other racing commissions in the Mid-Atlantic region in an agreement to test horses for anabolic steroids, which was scheduled to begin last spring. The commission pulled out in January after horsemen’s groups objected because of unanswered questions about withdrawal times, therapeutic use, penalties, and whether to test urine or blood samples.
After the vote Tuesday during the monthly commission meeting at Laurel Park, Wayne Wright, executive secretary of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said “it’s time to move forward” since Maylin’s work “doesn’t seem like it’s coming today or tomorrow.”
The commission will follow model guidelines developed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. The rules set quantitative standards for stanozolol, nandrolone, boldenone, and testosterone in urine samples taken from horses.
The American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association announced last month that races would lose their graded status next year in states that failed to adopt RMTC guidelines. Wright pointed out that two nationally prominent winter sprint stakes races—the General George Handicap (G2) and Barbara Fritchie Handicap (G2) at Laurel Park—would be affected if the ban was not adopted.
Penalties were not addressed but John Franzone, chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission, said after the meeting that he would like them to be stringent and to discourage cheating, particularly if state voters pass a slot-machine referendum in November that will galvanize purses at Laurel Park and Pimlico.
Bloodhorse.com, October 7, 2008
Ohio Latest State to Adopt Steroid Rules
Regulation of anabolic steroids will be in effect Jan. 1, 2009, in Ohio.
The Ohio State Racing Commission, at its Sept. 17 meeting, unanimously adopted regulations and forwarded them to the analytical toxicology laboratory at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Officials said the policy ensures that the racing commission will be in compliance with the model rule on steroids.
The Ohio rule, like the model rule devised by the Association of Racing Commissioners International and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, covers four commonly used steroids: boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol, and testosterone.
The lab has been instructed to notify the racing commission of the following:
--any urine that tests positive for 16b-hydroxystanozolol (a metabolite of stanozolol) at a concentration greater than one nanogram per milliliter of urine for all racehorses regardless of sex;
--any urine that tests positive for boldenone at a concentration greater than 15 ng/ml of urine in male horses other than geldings, and any amount in geldings or females;
--any urine that tests positive for nandrolone at a concentration greater than one ng/ml of urine in geldings and females, and any urine that tests positive for 5a-Estrane-3b, 17a-diol (a metabolite of nandrolone) at a concentration greater than 45 ng/ml of urine in male horses other than geldings;
--any urine that tests positive for testosterone at a concentration greater than 20 ng/ml of urine in geldings, and greater than 55 ng/ml in females.
The OSRC said the lab will not report urine that tests positive for testosterone if it comes from male horses other than a gelding. The lab will report any urine sample that shows the presence of more than one of the four androgenic anabolic steroids at concentrations greater than the individual threshold levels.
Bloodhorse.com, October 14, 2008
New York Latest State to Ban Steroids
By Tom Precious
New York is joining other states in cracking down on steroid use in horse racing, state regulators announced Oct. 14.
“For the sake of the betting public, we want to do everything in our power to ensure that racing runs on a level playing field,” said John Sabini, chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, in a statement. “By imposing rigid new limits on four steroids and banning all others, New York is taking a leadership role in promoting integrity in racing. The message to owners and trainers should be clear: If you flaunt our steroid rules, you will be held accountable.”
The new rules go into effect Jan. 1.
Officials were unveiling details about the new effort Oct. 14, but the rules will set new threshold levels for four steroids that are now permitted – and allow only one of those to be permitted in horse racing. The rules affect: stanozolol (Winstrol), one nanogram per milliliter of urine; boldenone (Equipose), for male horses other than geldings; 15 ng/ml; nandrolone (Durabolin), one ng/ml; and testosterone, 20 ng/ml in geldings and 55 ng/ml in fillies and mares.
The rules – which can be found at the racing agency’s web site, www.racing.state.ny.us – affect all Thoroughbred and Standardbred tracks in the state.
“A prosperous industry is good for the communities that host the tracks as well as for the entire state. That is why Gov. David A. Paterson and I are fully committed to working closely with all the stakeholders involved with racing and taking the steps needed to help this storied “Sport of Kings” grow and build on its base of fans,’’ Sabini said in a statement.
In an interview, Sabini said the state was pushing to get the rules in place early before next year’s major stakes races. He said there will be penalties to trainers – the agency has a maximum fine of $5,000 per violation – and suspensions for violation of the rules.
Sabini said the rules will be felt in the industry – by trainers, owners and fans. “The horses will be healthier and people will have more confidence in the product…People want to know that their horses are running on an even playing field and the horses aren’t charged up on drugs,’’ he said.
The New York Racing Association and Jockey Club endorsed the rules, he said.
“This is where the industry is going,’’ he added. The rules are modeled on ones backed by the Racing Medication Testing Consortium and the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
“The only drugs that should be allowed in horse racing are those that are therapeutic in nature,’’ added racing board member Daniel Hogan.
Churchill News Release, October 14, 2008
Toe Grabs Banned at Churchill Downs Incorporated Racetracks
Churchill Downs Incorporated has implemented a new horseshoe policy at its four racetracks that bans the use of toe grabs greater than two millimeters. The new policy is effective immediately.
The policy, which will apply to all horses racing and training at Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, Calder Race Course and Fair Grounds Race Course, states:
“Front horse shoes which have toe grabs greater than two millimeters shall be prohibited from racing or training on all racing surfaces at all Churchill Downs Incorporated racetracks. This includes but is not limited to the following: toe grabs, bends, jar calks, stickers and any other traction device worn on the front shoes of Thoroughbred horses. Any hind shoe with a turndown of more than one-quarter inch will not be allowed on the dirt courses. Hind shoes with calks, stickers, blocks, raised toes or turndowns will not be allowed on the turf courses. This includes quarter horse shoes or any shoe with a toe grab of more than one-quarter inch.”
“Our change in policy is another positive step toward improving the welfare and safety of our equine and human athletes, and it’s consistent with the recommendations of The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee, TOBA’s Thoroughbred Action Committee and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to address safety in horse racing,” said Donnie Richardson, senior vice president of racing for Churchill Downs Incorporated.
Churchill Downs Incorporated (“Churchill Downs”), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., owns and operates world-renowned horse racing venues throughout the United States. Churchill Downs’ four racetracks in Florida, Illinois, Kentucky and Louisiana host many of North America’s most prestigious races, including the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, Arlington Million, Princess Rooney Handicap and Louisiana Derby.
Churchill Downs racetracks have hosted seven Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Churchill Downs also owns off-track betting facilities and has interests in various advance-deposit wagering, television production, telecommunications and racing services companies, including a 50-percent interest in the national cable and satellite network HorseRacing TV™, that support the Company’s network of simulcasting and racing operations.
Churchill Downs trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol CHDN and can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.
The Jockey Club Press Release, November 11, 2008
TCA, TRF and The Jockey Club Announce Checkoff Program
When Thoroughbred owners and breeders in North America submit their foal registration applications on or after January 1, 2009, they will be able to participate in a voluntary checkoff program, created and administered by The Jockey Club, which will assist two organizations that provide post-racing care for Thoroughbreds.
The joint announcement was made today by Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA), the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) and The Jockey Club.
As an incentive to encourage participation, The Jockey Club will match the checkoff on a dollar-to-dollar basis up to $200,000 in 2009. Checkoff proceeds and matching funds will be distributed to Thoroughbred Charities of America and Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
The matching funds will come from The Jockey Club’s four commercial subsidiaries: The Jockey Club Information Systems Inc.; The Jockey Club Technology Services Inc.; InCompass Solutions Inc.; and The Jockey Club Racing Services Inc.
TCA raises funds and distributes grants to a variety of non-profit organizations designed to improve conditions for horses and people in the Thoroughbred industry. Funds from The Jockey Club checkoff program will be directed specifically to TCA’s Thoroughbred re-training and adoption initiatives.
Founded in 1983, the TRF is dedicated to providing humane retirement options for Thoroughbreds at the end of their racing careers and it operates vocational training in equine care for inmates at nine correctional facilities around the country. Funds from The Jockey Club checkoff program will be designated specifically for the TRF’s vocational training at correctional facilities.
Thoroughbred breeders will have the option of selecting one of four graduated amounts ($25, $50, $75, or $100) to be designated for these Thoroughbred aftercare programs or they can fill in the amount of their choice on the Application for Foal Registration form. These contributions will not qualify as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.
“We applaud the efforts of these two organizations through the years to retire, retrain and find suitable homes for Thoroughbred racehorses,” said Alan Marzelli, president of The Jockey Club. “We are confident that the creation of this checkoff program will further those efforts and encourage others to take similar steps to ensure the well-being of our Thoroughbred athletes when their racing careers are over.”
“The checkoff program will provide a tremendous boost to the TCA’s racehorse retraining and adoption efforts and we hope that all owners and breeders will participate in it,” said Herb Moelis, president of the TCA. “We are grateful to The Jockey Club for its support and we hope other industry stakeholders do their part.”
“Today, a new door has been opened and this public recognition of our mission provides us with a vote of confidence as we work toward industrywide funding,” said Diana Pikulski, executive director of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. “We are extremely thankful for The Jockey Club’s endorsement.”
TCA is a 501(c)(3) fund-raising organization which distributes annual grants to non-profits within their mission. The five sectors which TCA grants funds to are: Thoroughbred rescue, rehabilitation, retraining, adoption, retirement and euthanasia; backstretch workers; equine educational organizations; therapeutic riding programs; and research into equine diseases and ailments. Additional information is available at www.thoroughbredcharities.org.
The TRF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to retiring Thoroughbred racehorses after they are finished racing. In addition to its programs at correctional facilities, TRF operates retraining and adoption facilities and satellite farms across the country and currently maintains approximately 1,800 horses. Additional information is available at www.trfinc.org.
The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms, among others. Additional information is available at http://www.jockeyclub.com.
Bloodhorse.com, December 4, 2008
Louisiana Latest to Adopt Steroids Rule
Using emergency regulations, the Louisiana Racing Commission has banned the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses effective Jan. 1, 2009.
Racing commission executive director Charlie Gardiner said the regulations were adopted Dec. 2 via emergency procedure to have them on the books in time for the first of the year. “The end of January was the earliest we could have adopted this regulation via the normal rule-making process,” he said.
The Louisiana rule applies to all forms of steroids that do not occur naturally in a horse, including stanozolol, which is sold under the brand name Winstrol. Naturally occurring steroids, such as boldenone, nandrolone, and testosterone, would be permitted at “normal” levels but cannot be given within 45 days of a race.
The normal level of the steroids in horses, geldings, and mares is still being determined by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which together fashioned the model rule on anabolic steroids.
According to the RMTC Web site, 20 states have adopted the model rule on use of steroids in racehorses; another 13 are in the process of adopting the language. The process hasn’t been started in only three racing states: Idaho, Montana, and Nevada.
Under the Louisiana rules, a steroid positive would be a Class 3 medication violation, which means a trainer with a positive test result would face a suspension between 60 days and six months, a fine of no more than $1,500, and redistribution of purse earnings.
The racing commission also filed a notice of intent to adopt voluntary regulations concerning the use of the anti-bleeder medication Salix, formerly known as Lasix. The rule would make administration of Salix voluntary, rather than requiring evidence of pulmonary bleeding.
Under the regulations, a trainer and veterinarian would request a horse be permitted to receive Salix if they “determine that it would be in the horse’s best interest.”
Once on the Salix list maintained by the state’s official veterinarian, the horse could not race without it unless the trainer and veterinarian make a written request. The horse then could not return to the list for 60 days, “unless it is determined to be detrimental to the welfare of the horse, in consultation with the official veterinarian.”
Gardiner said the voluntary regulation could take effect in April.
Daily Racing Form, December 10, 2008
Florida Set to Implement Tighter Steroid Rules
MIAMI - Florida is on the verge of implementing new rules to regulate the administration of anabolic steroids, according to Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association.
Stirling expects the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to release a hard copy of the new rule by Dec. 15, and to have it take effect at all three of the state's Thoroughbred racetracks - Calder, Gulfstream Park, and Tampa Bay Downs - on Dec. 30.
"Most of the legal anabolic steroids, such as Winstrol, Equipoise, and Testosterone, will be reclassified from Class 4 to Class 3 drugs with the penalties to increase accordingly," said Stirling, a former trainer. "While the exact nature of the penalties is still unclear, they will result in a loss of purse and license suspension for some period."
Stirling also said there is no reason for trainers currently using anabolic steroids to panic over the new rule.
"Withdrawal times for the legal anabolic steroids differ, and we fought for a 90-day phase-in period for those horsemen who just treated horses with one of those drugs," Stirling said. "If a horse tests in excess of the legal limits during that period, trainers will be issued a warning but receive no penalties."
Stirling, for one, is happy to see Florida join the rest of the country in banning the use of steroids.
"I used anabolic steroids when I trained, but some people are abusing them right now," Stirling said. "They are illegal everywhere else in the world, and this is about the first thing we've actually had uniform in racing throughout the country."
Bloodhorse.com, December 18, 2008
New York Imposes Steroid Ban Jan. 1
New York racing regulators have approved a final set of rules restricting the use of steroids in horse racing, effective Jan. 1, 2009.
Coming after moves first by the other states in which the Triple Crown races are, New York officials said the rules send a strong message to those hoping to use illegal performance enhancers.
“New York and increasingly much of the country is saying no steroids to enhance the performance of the horse. It’s the wrong message to the betting public and the wrong practice for the health of the horse,” said John Sabini, chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
The rules set new limits for four steroids currently permitted in New York, and restricts the use of only one of the four at a time. The steroids affected are stanozolol (Winstrol), one nanogram per milliliter of urine; boldenone (Equipose), for male horses other than geldings; 15 ng/ml; nandrolone (Durabolin), one ng/ml; and testosterone, 20 ng/ml in geldings and 55 ng/ml in fillies and mares.
Officials said violation of the new rules carry penalties of suspensions and a maximum fine of $5,000 per violation.
The New York Racing Association and Jockey Club supported the new thresholds, which can be found on the racing board’s web site at http://www.racing.state.ny.us/. They are modeled on similar ones supported by the Racing Medication Testing Consortium and the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The board this week adopted the final rule after a public comment period ended. No changes came following the comment period from what the board approved for the new policy back in October, Sabini said in an interview.
“We will eliminate the use of steroids and make the public feel that everyone is running on the same plane and horses are humanely treated and that there’s less chance of drugs affecting the outcome of the races,’’ Sabini said.
The regulator said there are concerns that some in the industry may try to get around the new restrictions. “We are confident our veterinarian advisory personnel are as good as anyone in the country and have written as strong a rule that can be written,’’ he added.
The rules affect both Thoroughbred and Standardbred race horses.
Racing Board Member John B. Simoni added, “The best menu for a horse is hay, water and oats. Steroids do not belong in the mix. My goal for a long time has been an industry that is free of drugs.”
The New York Times, January 1, 2009
New York Unveils Steroid-Free Racing
When a 4-year-old filly named Chernobyl Princess crossed the wire in front in Thursday’s first race at Aqueduct, she became not just the first winner of a new year but also the first winner of a new era in New York racing. Like all horses in the race, Chernobyl Princess was required to run steroid free.
A new set of racing regulations banning the use of anabolic steroids went into effect Thursday at the state’s racetracks, ending a decades-old practice.
Jeff Odintz, the trainer of Chernobyl Princess, said the rules had little effect on him because he had never used steroids with his horses.
“I’m glad they did this because I think it’s better for the horses if they don’t get them,” Odintz said. “I’m not really sure how much this will level the playing field. I’ve always felt that they are equine athletes and the main thing you needed from them was speed. I didn’t see why steroids would be a help.”
But other trainers apparently felt differently. Some veteran horsemen said they first saw steroid use in the mid-1960s and noted that steroids helped finicky eaters with their appetites. Though steroids may not necessarily increase speed, they could create a stronger, bigger animal. With no federal or state laws preventing the use of most steroids, most racing jurisdictions permitted them. Steroids were legal in 2008 in the three states holding Triple Crown races.
A 2003 study conducted by Pennsylvania racing officials found that 60 percent of horses racing in that state had been treated with at least one steroid. Pennsylvania later banned steroids, but other states were slow to act.
The anti-steroid movement gained momentum when it was revealed that Big Brown, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, was treated with the drug before the Derby. A public outcry ensued, causing many states to act.
In October, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board announced that steroids would no longer be permitted beginning Jan. 1. Trainers were warned to take their horses off steroids immediately because the drugs can stay in a horse’s system for as long as 60 days.
Mike Hushion, a trainer who had his horses on steroids before October, said Thursday that he favored the new rules.
“This was long overdue,” said Hushion, who estimated that 25 percent of his stable had been treated with steroids before the ban. “I couldn’t believe everyone took so long to get rid of steroids. The sport is lucky there weren’t more headlines about this or that people didn’t make a bigger deal out of it.”
Bruce Levine, among the leading trainers in New York, also favored the ban.
“This is a good idea,” he said. “I had stopped using them with most of my horses because they were shipping to states where they were already banned. They help a horse eat a little bit, but I haven’t missed them. I just had the best year I’ve ever had, and I basically did it steroid free. I found out they don’t make that much of a difference.”
The top three finishers in each race, and any horse that is claimed, receive drug tests in New York. The stewards, at their discretion, can also order a test on any horse.
Starting Thursday, the trainer of any horse that tests positive will be penalized. According to Carmine Donofrio, a steward who represents the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, the penalty for steroid use has yet to be determined. In California, a trainer receiving a positive test for steroids is suspended for 30 days.
Vincent Mazzeo, one of only a handful of fans braving the cold and huddling on the rail after the first race Thursday, said he was unaware that horses were no longer allowed to run on steroids. But he said he welcomed any rules that cut down on drug use.
“They got to get all the drugs out of this game,” he said. “I guess steroids is a good place to start.”
Bloodhorse.com, January 21, 2009
Uniform Policies Set for Juvenile Sales
The four major U.S. sales companies – Barretts, Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland, and the Ocala Breeders’ Sales – have issued a set of uniform policies that will govern medication, prohibited practices, riding crops, and horseshoes, effective with the Feb. 17 OBS selected sale of 2-year-olds in training.
According to a statement from the four auction companies, the policies “address the use of therapeutic medications, exogenous anabolic steroids, and other prohibited practices and substances. Permitted medications may only be administered at or below manufacturers recommended dosages.”
The policy on riding crops (formerly known as whips) being used during under tack shows states they will be restricted within one-eighth of a mile of the finish line and beyond. As previously announced, front toe grabs are prohibited, in accordance with the recommendations from The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee.
“The sales companies have spent considerable time and effort developing these parameters,” Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said in the release. “We are optimistic this will further the confidence buyers and sellers have in the auction process.”
The sales companies consulted with various organizations and buyers and sellers before drafting the policies, Browning said.
In the release, Mike Mulligan, president of the National Association of Two-Year-Old Consignors, said: “The NATC is pleased to work with the major sales companies on these new policies. Graduates of 2-year-old sales continue to win the finest races in the world and these changes will further increase buyer confidence.”
Bloodhorse.com, February 27, 2009
NMRC Bans Anabolic Steroids
(Edited Press Release)
The New Mexico Racing Commission unanimously approved a new regulation during a Feb. 12 meeting banning anabolic steroids and stating they are now considered a Class III drug. The penalties for trainers who violate the rule may include a six-month suspension, a fine of $1,500, and loss of purse.
The effective date for the new rule is March 1. The New Mexico Racing Commission acknowledged steroids can still be used on horses that have been injured and are not racing. In such cases, steroids are often used to help the animal’s healing process. However, under the new rule, before that horse can return to competition, it must test below certain thresholds for the four types of steroids covered by the new rule.
Those four steroids are: stanozolol, nandrolone, boldenone, and testosterone. Concentrations of these AAS shall not exceed the following urine threshold concentrations for total (i.e., free drug or metabolite and drug or metabolite liberated from its conjugates):
a) 16B-hydroxystanozolol (metabolite of stanozolol - 1 ng/ml in urine for all horses regardless of sex;
b) boldenone in male horses other than geldings - 15 ng/ml in urine; no boldenone shall be permitted in geldings or female horses;
c) nandrolone (in geldings - 1 ng/ml in urine, in fillies and mares - 1 ng/ml in urine);
d) testosterone (in geldings - 20 ng/ml in urine, in fillies and mares - 55 ng/ml in urine).
Commissioners, along with New Mexico Horsemen’s Association representatives and backside veterinarians agreed there is widespread support for the new regulation.
The commission decided, for now, to use urine samples for the testing; although it indicated it would be willing to look at using blood samples in the future.
The MNRC believes it’s crucial that all vets have a thorough understanding of the new rule in New Mexico and recommends interested individuals contact them at (505) 222-0700 for any additional information or copies of the rule.
Bloodhorse.com, April 1, 2009
Michigan ORC Bans Steroids
(Edited Press Release)
Michigan horse racing commissioner Christine C. White April 1 gave notice to the state’s horse racing industry that effective immediately, the presence of anabolic steroids will be prohibited in all horses entered to race at any pari-mutuel track in Michigan.
"Integrity remains our priority," said White. "By incorporating a testing program for anabolic steroids, we are letting everyone know, both horsemen and those wagering, that we are serious."
Michigan is part of a growing national trend that is cracking down on anabolic steroid use in race horses. While other states have been testing solely through urine samples, Michigan will be using state-of-the-art testing technology that checks for the presence of the drugs in blood samples.
"The blood samples are proving to be more efficient and reflective of the horse’s current condition," said ORC veterinarian Dr. William Frank.
The Michigan Office of Racing Commissioner will follow the nationally accepted residue thresholds for the four recognized anabolic steroids as set forth by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The Jockey Club Press Release, April 15, 2009
The Jockey Club Now Providing Free Tattoo Identification Services
The Jockey Club announced today that it has established Tattoo Identification Services, a free resource to help owners identify tattooed but unknown Thoroughbreds in their possession.
For legible tattoos, an owner can use a free tattoo lookup feature available from The Jockey Club’s website, www.jockeyclub.com, and the Registry homepage, www.registry.jockeyclub.com.
For illegible tattoos or partial tattoos, customer service representatives from the Registry will provide free research of a Thoroughbred’s identity using the information contained in The Jockey Club’s database, including color, markings, and photographs.
Information on procuring identification from illegible or partial tattoos as well as tips for reading lip tattoos and a list of frequently asked questions is available at www.registry.jockeyclub.com.
“We hope that Tattoo Identification Services will be a valuable tool for individuals and organizations seeking to retire, re-train and find suitable homes for Thoroughbred racehorses when their racing careers are over,” said Matt Iuliano, vice president of registration services for The Jockey Club. “We view this as an adjunct to our recently implemented checkoff program, and as a service to both the horses and the people who care for them.”
On January 1, 2009, The Jockey Club instituted a voluntary checkoff program enabling owners and breeders in North America to assist the retirement, re-training and adoption efforts of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Thoroughbred Charities of America when they submit their foal registration applications.
As an incentive to encourage participation, The Jockey Club will match the checkoff on a dollar-to-dollar basis up to $200,000 in 2009. Checkoff proceeds and matching funds are being distributed to those two organizations on a quarterly basis, with over $100,000 distributed thus far.
The Jockey Club Press Release, April 17, 2009
Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory Being Launched with Broad Industry Support
A Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory designed to enhance surface safety for horses and riders is being launched with the financial support of a broad industry coalition, it was announced today by the laboratory’s coordinators Dr. Mick Peterson and Dr. Wayne McIlwraith.
The laboratory will provide science-based testing focused on the unique demands of horse racing. Such testing has long been sought after by track superintendents and will be provided for dirt and synthetic racetrack surfaces in collaboration with industry stakeholders.
The Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory will be constituted as a 501(c)(3) organization. The laboratory traces its roots to recommendations made at the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summits, which were organized and underwritten by The Jockey Club and Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation in October 2006 and March 2008.
Peterson, a professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Maine, and McIlwraith, a professor of surgery and the director of the Orthopaedic Research Center within the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, are both members of the summit’s Racing Surfaces Committee.
Start-up funding in 2009 and 2010 is being provided by Churchill Downs Incorporated, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Charities, the New York Racing Association, the Oak Tree Racing Association and The Jockey Club. Each of those organizations will have one representative on the laboratory’s board of directors, which met in an organizational meeting on April 13. Additional financial commitments have been received from Finger Lakes Racing Association, Keeneland Association and Turfway Park. The laboratory is encouraging other industry organizations to participate in the funding of the laboratory and track surface testing equipment.
“The development of this laboratory will provide a location where reliable tests of surfaces can be obtained and new tests that better represent the needs of the industry can be developed,” said Peterson. “This initiative will also provide a unique tool for studying the performance of new and existing surfaces in a controlled environment.
“It is exciting to see the willingness of the industry to approach these challenges in a systematic fashion,” added Peterson.
The Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, which will be based in Orono, Maine, will focus on composition analysis and performance testing of dirt and synthetic surfaces materials. These measurements will help to increase consistency and reduce the possibility of injury to horses and riders. Personnel from the lab will also:
- Collaborate with racetracks to develop processes to ensure consistent track maintenance
- Perform racetrack testing that enables tracks to monitor changes in track materials and received materials to ensure consistency of the track surface
- Conduct benchmark studies of alternative track surface materials to help track manufacturers and materials suppliers develop safer racing surfaces
- Develop standards for track surfaces and subsequently promote those standards to regulatory bodies
- Develop collaborative relationships that increase the likelihood of adoption by racetracks of best practices for track management
On-site performance testing of racing surfaces will be conducted in collaboration with horsemen, racetracks and regulatory agencies.
According to NTRA President Alex Waldrop, “Members of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance that participate in the laboratory’s racing surface testing will satisfy their track’s requirement to fund and/or participate in independent research to promote a safer racing environment as part of the alliance racetrack accreditation process that is currently underway.”
Testing methods stem from a research project being conducted by Peterson and McIlwraith and funded in part through the ElastikonTM Equine Research Award from Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. Ground-penetrating radar and a biomechanical hoof tester developed by Peterson, which simulates a hoof’s interaction with a track’s surface, are used to establish baseline data about the surface. The baseline data is then supplemented with regular measurement of track surface materials, continuous monitoring of weather conditions and documentation of all maintenance performed on the surface.
“All of this data then becomes the basis for maintaining a consistent and safe surface, ensuring that we understand what type of maintenance protocols are most effective, and maintaining continuity should track personnel changes occur,” said Peterson.
“This is the culmination of an eight-year program that Mick and I have been working on to try and achieve racetrack consistency and provide objective parameters for optimal safety,” said McIlwraith. “The testing lab will be working along with the biomechanical hoof tester and ground-penetrating radar data to validate a racetrack as best as we can. As an equine surgeon and orthopedic researcher I am excited with this initiative as it is a critical part of racehorse welfare.”
The Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory is expected to begin operation within the next 30 days pending the filing of all incorporation documents. Additional information about the laboratory and racing surface testing is available by contacting Jamie Haydon, The Jockey Club's manager of industry initiatives, at (859) 224-2750.
Thoroughbredtimes.com, April 24, 2009
RCI Approves Model Rule on Trainer Suspensions
By Frank Angst
The common practice of suspended trainers transferring their stable to an assistant could become a thing of the past if racing jurisdictions adopt a model rule passed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The RCI updated several of its rules Thursday at its annual conference in Lexington. Member jurisdictions are encouraged to pass the model rules in their states to ensure standardization.
The model rule regarding trainers would prohibit a trainer suspended for 30 days or more from transferring his horses to an assistant or family member. This practice has been quite common in recent years, including moves by high-profile trainers such asTodd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen during suspensions.
The rule also would require suspended trainers to contact owners to make them aware of the suspension.
The RCI also approved a model rule on total carbon dioxide (TOC2) testing, setting a regulatory threshold of 37.0 millimoles per liter of plasma/serum while requiring blood samples to be tested within 120 hours of collection.
The regulators took action on issues regarding the veterinarian’s list, defining official veterinarian duties, defining prohibited horseshoe traction devices, and allowing microchips for identification purposes.
Dan Fick, executive director of the Jockey Club, noted that many European horses are arriving in the United States with microchips.
A model rule change calls for racetracks or regulators to employ a person to identify the types of horseshoes being used by each starter. A model rule also was passed to clarify differences between graded/group stakes listed in “Part I” and stakes listed in other parts of the International Cataloguing Standards for purposes of weight assignments.
The RCI also updated model rules on ownership transfer of claiming horses and registration certificates to allow for electronic filing.
Bloodhorse.com, August 6, 2009
Del Mar 'House Rule' to Require Softer Whips
Jockeys at Del Mar will be using softer equine friendly riding crops in all races under a "house rule" that will take effect at the track on Aug. 12, the Jockeys' Guild announced.
The new crops, which have been in use by several jockeys during the Del Mar meet, conform to the standards of the Association of Racing Commissioners International Model Rules, according to a statement issued by the Guild.
“Both the jockeys and Del Mar are pleased to achieve this milestone,” said Darrell Haire, regional manager for the Jockeys’ Guild, following a meeting between track management and the riders.
Haire credited Joe Harper, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and general manager, and Craig Fravel, the track's executive vice president, as well as California Horse Racing Board member Bo Derek for helping "to attain this goal which will be beneficial to the welfare of the horses competing at the meet.”
“The jockeys deserve all the credit," Derek said. "They were out front on this issue, and I am pleased that they worked with Del Mar management to take this step to benefit horses racing at Del Mar.”
Del Mar has purchased 40 whips from four different suppliers so that an adequate supply will be available. The whips are made of softer leather than standard equipment and emit a popping sound when used.
“This is a great step for racing,” said jockey Garrett Gomez. “All the jocks discussed it and wanted to make this move. One of our biggest problems was getting enough riding crops for everybody. With Del Mar’s help, we were able to get a big enough supply, including for riders who couldn’t necessarily afford them. With the new riding crop, horses seem to react to the sound of the popper rather than from a physical reaction to the whip. It’s good for racing and we wanted to be at the forefront.”
“I’m really happy we have made this change,” said jockey Mike Smith. “I’ve used one for quite a while. They are very equine friendly. With the old crop, if you knew how to use it, it was fine. Sometimes though in the heat of battle you might make a mistake. With these new riding crops, it really eliminates that possibility. They make noise, but they are all cushion and don’t cause any harm to the horse.”
“The quality of the new riding crops has improved dramatically,” said Haire. “The padded flaps are now durable. While most of the riders have experimented with the new riding crop at various racetracks, including in California, this will allow others with less experience with the new riding crops to utilize crops produced by a variety of suppliers.”
“Del Mar management has been exemplary in their cooperation and communication with the jockeys” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Media Notes, August 7, 2009
Del Mar Jockeys to Use Equine-Friendly Riding Crops
Jockeys at Del Mar, with Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s active participation, will begin using equine-friendly riding crops in all races beginning Wednesday, August 12, when their use becomes a house rule at the track.
DMTC purchased 40 crops from four different suppliers so that an adequate number will be available.
“Both the jockeys and Del Mar are pleased to achieve this milestone” said Darrell Haire, regional manager for the Jockeys’ Guild. “Thanks to the cooperation of Del Mar management, especially Joe Harper (Del Mar president and general manager) and Craig Fravel (Del Mar executive vice president), as well as Bo Derek and the California Horse Racing Board, we were able to attain this goal that will be beneficial to the welfare of the horses competing at the meet.”
Eclipse Award winner Garrett Gomez said, “This is a great step for racing. “All the jocks discussed it and wanted to make this move. One of our biggest problems was getting enough riding crops for everybody. With Del Mar’s help, we were able to get a big enough supply, including for riders who couldn’t necessarily afford them. With the new riding crop, horses seem to react to the sound of the popper rather than from a physical reaction to the whip. It’s good for racing and we wanted to be at the forefront.”
“Del Mar management has been exemplary in their cooperation and communication with the jockeys” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “If all segments of the racing industry worked together the way that Del Mar has worked with the riders, many of the challenges that the industry faces could be overcome.”
Bloodhorse.com, August 12, 2009
Graded Stakes Committee Makes Some Changes
The American Graded Stakes Committee Aug. 12 made some changes to the eligibility requirements for stakes.
The AGSC met in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, which oversees the committee.
The AGSC announced three changes. It suspended a requirement that states and/or racetracks must adopt the Association of Racing Commissioners International model rule on toe grabs effective July 22, 2009; reduced the grade I purse minimum for 2010 from $300,000 to $250,000; and said that beginning next year, if a race isn’t run for two or more years or not run in two of the last three years, it’s ineligible for grading.
The grade I purse minimum will go back to $300,000 in 2011, the committee said.
The AGSC will meet again in early December for its annual grading session.
Also during the meeting, Peter Willmott, reappointed to a second three-year term, was re-elected AGSC chairman. Due to a TOBA bylaw change in 2009, TOBA members on the committee will now serve three-year terms instead of five-year terms.
John Amerman and Willmott join prior TOBA appointees Rollin Baugh, Seth Hancock, and Bill Heiligbrodt on the AGSC. Also, the three-year term of Fred Seitz concluded; Seitz asked not to be reappointed to another term.
Daily Racing Form, August 13, 2009
Monmouth has new standards for whips, toe grabs
By Mike Farrell
Monmouth Park will initiate new policies on whips and toe grabs starting Wednesday, the track announced Thursday.
The new crops, mandatory at Del Mar since Wednesday, replace the old stiff leather whips that sometimes inflicted welts and cuts. The newer whips are made of softer or padded material and emit a popping sound, designed to motivate the horse to run from the whip, rather than from the pain of physical punishment.
Monmouth riders have been experimenting with the new whips in the day's last race since July 8.
Toe grabs of up to four millimeters will be permitted on front shoes in dirt races.
The old standard of four millimeters was shortened to two at the start of this meet. The most noticeable impact was an increased number of horses stumbling at the break.
The reversion to four millimeters applies only to front shoes. No traction devices can be used by horses running on the turf.
Special to the Times Union, August 13, 2009
Lighter touch for racehorses
Some jockeys at Spa using softer whip to prevent injuries
By CLAIRE NOVAK
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- On Wednesday, as jockeys in California began to use only the new, softer riding crops championed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, several riders at Saratoga did the same.
Many Saratoga jockeys have already voluntarily switched over to the lighter crops, now mandated at Delaware Park, Philadelphia Park, and Del Mar Race Course. More flexible than their older counterparts, the new crops make a louder noise upon impact but create less risk of injury to racehorses. It is only expected to be a matter of time before the change is required by the state racing board for the New York Racing Association circuit.
"I'm just trying to find a comfort level because I've been using the same kind of whips for 28 years," said longtime journeyman Richard Migliore, who rides about 50 percent of his mounts with the new model. "There's going to be a little bit of adjustment, so I didn't want to jump in all at once."
"I'm using the new crop 100 percent because if I go back to the old one I'd have to get used to it all over again," said Jockeys' Guild president John Velazquez. "I don't want to go back and forth. Eventually, this is going to be mandatory anyway."
The new model is part of efforts to improve the industry's public image and satisfy animal rights activists who believe use of a crop may painfully sting a horse's sides. Veterinarians in California typically file about two dozen complaints per year about welts left by the old style of whips, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
NYRA chief veterinarian Dr. Anthony Verderosa said he sees far less evidence of such accidental injury caused to racehorses on the NYRA circuit.
"We report to the stewards if we see an excessive amount of welts on horses, but it's not something we see a lot," he said. "I can't remember the last time I reported one, actually."
The riders were quick to explain that crops are used as a tool to assist them as they pilot 1,200-pound Thoroughbreds around the track.
"We use them to encourage the horse in the stretch run, to keep him straight if he's getting out or lugging in," said Velazquez. "We also signal to help him change leads. Beating the horse is definitely not the goal."
"A riding crop is used as an aid," Migliore said. "It's not about hurting the horses. And people need to remember that we love these horses. They've given us everything good in our lives."
Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said he understands the reason for switching to the new model, but also realizes some runners may not respond as they did to the stronger style.
"Some horses will laugh at it and some horses will be very sensitive to it," he remarked. "It's not going to be black and white. Horses that need stronger handling, we might not get the best out of. But if it's kinder and gentler and what people want to see at our racetracks, then we've got to do it."
Bloodhorse.com, August 16, 2009
NY Jockeys to Use New Riding Crops
New York jockeys will start riding full time with equine friendly riding crops beginning Wednesday, Aug. 19, at Saratoga.
The new riding crops conform to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Model Rules and The Jockey Club Safety Committee’s recommendations.
“This initiative is great for racing in New York,” said jockey John Velazquez, chairman of the board of directors of the Jockeys’ Guild. “It’s really about what is best for the horse. As a group, the jockeys decided to take this action that will benefit the horses competing on the track as well as the sport of racing. The New York jockeys and the Jockeys’ Guild are pleased to take this step.
“The quality and durability of the new crops has improved significantly, and there are enough suppliers now to meet demand. The first generation of these riding crops, particularly the padded flap, was not sufficiently durable to last a reasonable amount of time. We now feel confident that the quality and the supply are there to implement this change.
“The padded flap is much kinder to the horse,” said jockey Edgar Prado. “Jockeys across the country have been using the new riding crops on a trial basis for quite a while, and in Kentucky the new riding crop is the standard. In New York, now is the right time to make that change and Saratoga is the proper place.”
“The New York jockeys, like the Del Mar jockeys last week, deserve the credit for being proactive in adopting this measure,” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “This action is an example of the commitment of the jockeys to work with all groups in the industry to help overcome the challenges facing it. In New York, the jockeys want to continue to work with NYRA to strengthen the racing industry in the state.”
CHRB News Release, September 1, 2009
Safety Committee Reviews New Vests, Helmets & Whips
DEL MAR, CA – New standards and specifications for safety vests, safety helmets, and whips will be discussed Friday as the Safety Committee of the California Horse Racing Board begins the regulatory process to mandate the use of updated safety equipment utilizing the latest technology and materials available for the protection of racing participants.
Chaired by CHRB Commissioner Bo Derek, the Safety Committee recently was created by CHRB Chairman John Harris specifically to review recommended standards and proposals and to develop regulatory language for amendments to CHRB rules. Jockeys and exercise riders, who would be the principal beneficiaries of any changes, will be attending the meeting at the Surfside Race Place (Del Mar simulcasting facility) to participate in the discussion, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
While moving forward to a new generation of safety equipment, the Safety Committee will take a moment Friday to acknowledge the contributions of John Alessio for developing the first “Caliente” safety helmet back in the 1950s, which is credited with preventing serious injuries to riders over the decades. John Alessio’s son, Dominic “Bud” Alessio, will accept a resolution on behalf of the family.
Proposals to update standards and amend regulations were brought to the full Board last month by representatives of the Jockeys’ Guild and the California Horsemen’s Safety Alliance, who will participate Friday along with manufacturers of safety equipment. The new helmets and vests are constructed to provide better protection to riders. The discussion will include consideration of laboratory standards that all such equipment would be required to meet.
The new whips have been described as being “kinder” to horses. In a recent action, the full Board waived a portion of the existing rule to allow for the use of these kinder whips. Various California racing associations and fairs either already have or are considering house rules to require the use of these “kinder” whips in their races. A CHRB regulatory amendment would go further by mandating the use of such whips in all races.
Fairplex News Release, September 1, 2009
Fairplex Takes Measures to Increase Safety
Fairplex Park has upgraded its safety and emergency care efforts for the 2009 meet which begins on September 10 and runs through September 28.
Fairplex has employed paramedics to work both in the morning and during racing. It will also have its lighting poles inside the inner rail padded for safety and now has a house rule requiring equine friendly riding crops only to be used during the meet. Fairplex has purchased 20 of the new riding crops for the jockeys’ use during the upcoming meet.
The new riding crops conform to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) Model Rules while the padded poles exceed the standards of the same group, which require padding inside 10 feet of the rail.
“The light poles are far enough from the inner rail that we do not have to pad them according to the ARCI Model Rules, but we elected to pad them for enhanced safety,” said Kim Lloyd, Fairplex Park equine manager. “We have paramedics on duty now during training hours and they will also be in place during the races run at the meet. Our mission is to provide top-class racing in an environment that is as safe as possible for both people and horses.”
“We appreciate Kim Lloyd and Fairplex management working with the jockeys and the Jockeys’ Guild to improve safety and emergency care,” said Darrell Haire, the Guild’s regional manager. “Fairplex has gone beyond the minimum of the Model Rules and, importantly, is upgrading the medical care at the most important time, immediately after an injury has occurred. In addition to these modifications, Fairplex has upgraded the jockeys’ rooms during the past few years to the point that they are both cleaner and more accommodating than ever before for both male and female jockeys.”
“The changes Fairplex is making are important to all involved,” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “This doesn’t just benefit the jockeys. The paramedics will also benefit exercise riders as well anyone else who might get injured on the track in the morning. Fairplex deserves a lot of credit for stepping up and implementing these initiatives. Safety has become a major issue for both humans and horses as evidenced by the work of the NTRA Safety Alliance. Fairplex and Del Mar have been in the forefront of tracks responding to this need for improved safety.”
Toronto Star, September 2, 2009
A Gentler, Kinder Horse Whip...but it Still Hurts
Woodbine adopts new rules to give racing ‘a softer look’
By Jennifer Morrison
We've all seen the image: horses thundering down the stretch, the jockeys urging their steeds to the finish line with repeated – and, some say, vicious – whacks of the whip.
It's a sight that will appear at least a little less cruel beginning this week at Woodbine Racetrack.
Aiming to improve horse safety and attract new fans by cleaning up thoroughbred racing's image, the Ontario Racing Commission has brought in a new "urging rules initiative."
In short: A kinder, gentler whip. And jockey.
Thoroughbred jockeys must now use a new, soft-cushion crop with a less severe popper at its end that will give a strike less of a sting.
The practice of hitting a horse during races has also been strictly regulated. The jockey must not strike a horse more than three times in a row and must allow the horse at least two strides before using the whip again.
Penalties for infractions will also be stiffer – so stiff that a jockey could lose thousands of dollars in purse money or face immediate suspension, and a horse could be disqualified from a race.
"This is an effort to change the face of the racing industry, give it a softer look," said Gunnar Lindberg, a former top jockey and a racing commission steward at Woodbine.
"In the old days, not too many people noticed the whipping and flailing and where jockeys were hitting their horses. But if we want new people to come to the track they have to be sure the horse is not being abused."
While excessive whipping isn't common – it happens only about once a week at Woodbine – safety is driving the new rules, Lindberg says.
"We want to protect the health and welfare of the horses as well as the safety of the participants," he said.
In racing, a whip is used to steer a horse or get its attention. It can be used on a horse's shoulder or hindquarters, but no lower.
With the old whip used on it, a racehorse could be cut or suffer welts if hit on the soft flap of tissue connecting its hind legs to its belly.
The cushion crop costs $60 to $100, about 30 per cent more than the old whips and is being hailed as a much kinder tool used to urge a horse in a race.
At no more than 30 inches, the new crop and old whip are about the same length. The crop's padded popper – at least 6 1/2 inches long and seven-eighths of an inch wide – replaces the whip's small leather loop, which could cut a horse if misused or if the leather hardened.
"The difference between the old whip and new crop are like night and day," said Robert King, manager of the Jockeys' Benefit Association of Canada. "It's so much less severe and our jockeys are welcoming it."
Some riders at Woodbine started using the new crop last fall. And in June jockeys were required to use the crop in the first two races of each racing card.
"I'm all for it," said champion jockey Todd Kabel, 43, who has used only the new crop since spring. "I think it has the same effect for me."
Ontario is the latest jurisdiction to introduce the cushion crops and new rules, part of an industry-wide push to improve safety for horses set in motion in part be the death of the filly Eight Belles, who collapsed with broken ankles after crossing the finish line at the 2008 Kentucky Derby.
Jockeys in New York and California have begun to use the new crops over the past month, and in Australia strict whipping rules were introduced along with the crops.
That has led to a mini-revolt Down Under, where jockeys say paying attention to winning a race is their first priority, not counting how many times they strike a horse.
Kabel agrees that restricting the number of consecutive hits "takes something away" from the job of the jockey.
"If I am down in the heat of a race, how do you start counting?" said Kabel. "People know I am an aggressive rider, that's why they hire me."
There has never been a maximum number of times a horse can be struck with a whip, and there still isn't. However, allowing a horse to respond to the crop is key said King, a former jockey.
"I mean, really, three in a row is enough. How many do you need? If you hit a horse eight times in a row how can he respond?"
Penalties likely won't be enforced until after a two-week grace period. But the racing commission confirms there is a no-tolerance attitude toward jockey violations.
What was once a $500 penalty for a third offence now results in a three-day suspension. A fourth offence results in an automatic suspension.
Cutting or leaving a welt on a horse qualifies immediately as a third offence.
"The penalties are too severe," said Kabel.
"I can see (the penalties) if a guy is beating the hell out of a horse and he's not responding."
When Eye of the Leopard won the $1 million Queen's Plate in June, jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva was fined $200 for excessive use of the whip.
Starting tomorrow at Woodbine, Da Silva would be fined $12,000 – 20 per cent of his $60,000 purse – for that same offence, plus a possible five-day suspension.
Harness Racing Communications, December 16, 2009
NJRC Approves New Anabolic Steroids Regulations
By Ken Weingartner
Trenton, NJ --- The New Jersey Racing Commission on Wednesday (Dec. 16) approved new anabolic steroids regulations for the state’s Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing. A testing program could begin by the end of January, following the purchasing of equipment and hiring of employees.
Frank Zanzuccki, the NJRC executive director, said New Jersey’s policies would mirror those in neighboring states.
The regulations call for testing for the presence or levels of boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol and testosterone.
Trainers of horses that test above permitted levels will be subjected to a 45-day suspension and $1,000 fine for the first offense, 90-day suspension and $2,500 fine for the second violation and permanent loss of license for a third offense.
The imposition of trainer penalties will begin on the 121st day after the effective date of adoption. Any horse that tests in violation of the rules during the first 120 days will be disqualified from the race and denied purse money. The horse will be ineligible to compete in New Jersey for at least 30 days.
“This issue came to the regulators as an industry proposal to eliminate what was viewed to be a practice that was unsafe and struck at the integrity of horse racing,” Zanzuccki said.
The new regulations can be found by clicking this link.
N.Y. State Racing & Wagering Board Press Release, December 30, 2009
Racing and Wagering Board Set to Uncork New Equine Testing Rules on New Year’s Day
As part of a major new push for greater integrity in racing, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, effective New Year’s Day, 2010, will be authorized to conduct unannounced drug testing of horses slated to compete at New York tracks even when they are stabled at farms away from those tracks.
Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John D. Sabini said the new “out of competition” rules apply to all horses within 180 days of a race date in New York. The rules, he explained, empower the Board to direct licensed owners or trainers to bring horses to New York tracks for testing when those horses are being stabled out of state within a 100-mile radius of a New York racetrack.
“Horses are sometimes drugged by unscrupulous individuals seeking to either strengthen or weaken their performance in the next race,” Chairman Sabini said. “These new rules give us the tools we need to go after the cheaters. By adopting out-of-competition testing rules, the Board is protecting not only the wagering public but also the health and safety of the magnificent equine athletes who compete at New York’s four Thoroughbred and seven harness tracks.”
Under the rules, the Racing and Wagering Board can place owners and trainers on notice that it wants to have its veterinarian take samples from horses wherever they are being kept. A trainer or owner who fails to comply with the Board’s out-of-competition rules can face serious sanctions, including lengthy suspensions, fines and possible, license revocation, Chairman Sabini noted.
If a horse is not made available for testing in a timely manner when a trainer or owner is directed to do so by the state Steward or the Board’s representatives, that horse can be declared ineligible from participation for 120 days. Chairman Sabini said the Board will be working closely with racing officials in neighboring states to coordinate testing efforts.
“The overwhelming majority of owners and trainers are meticulous in abiding by our medication rules – but there are some who deviate and apparently believe they can lessen their chances of getting caught by drugging a horse away from the tracks,” Chairman Sabini said. “Anyone who flouts are rules will inevitably find out the hard way that we are very serious in promoting integrity in racing. By introducing an element of surprise, we are sending a loud and clear message that we have zero tolerance for cheating.”
The new rules apply to both Thoroughbred and Standardbred race horses. New York has a total of four Thoroughbred tracks and seven harness tracks, all of which are regulated by the Racing and Wagering Board.
Prohibited substances that will be tested for include: blood-doping agents; gene-doping agents; and protein and peptide-based drugs, including toxins and venoms.
NTRA Press Release, April 15, 2010
NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance Releases Updated Code of Standards for 2010
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Safety and Integrity Alliance today released the updated Code of Standards for 2010 that has been adopted by the NTRA Board of Directors. The updated Code will serve as the basis for future racetrack Alliance accreditation. The Alliance, formed in October 2008 with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen’s organization. Eighteen racetracks have been inspected to date by Alliance safety teams. Sixteen tracks are fully accredited.
The Alliance’s Code of Standards for 2010, which has been expanded to include wagering security among the primary areas of inspection, can be viewed at www.NTRAalliance.com. The wagering security portion of the Code establishes guidelines and protocols in areas including stop wagering devices, time stamping, cancel delays and wagering incident investigation. Other new standards pertain to continuing education for trainers; adoption of the ARCI model rule on substance abuse; adoption of the ARCI model rule regarding the jockeys’ scale of weights; medical coverage of at least $1 million per accident for all jockeys; implementation of quality assurance programs at testing laboratories; and the establishment of protocols for infectious disease management and fire safety. Standards regarding fundraising to support the placement of retired racehorses, and safety equipment to be worn by all racetrack personnel while on horseback have been strengthened for 2010.
Compliance standards now cover six broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; medication and testing; jockey safety and health; and wagering security. Within those six categories, specific standards will focus on many areas including:
· Systematic reporting of equine injuries
· Aftercare of retired racehorses
· Pre- and post-race veterinary examinations
· Post-mortem exams
· Health and safety of jockeys
· Riding crops and their use
· Horse shoes and hoof care
· Safety research, including racing surfaces
· Safety equipment for jockeys and horse handlers
· Safety training
· Anabolic Steroids
· Alkalinizing agents (TCO2)
· On-track emergency medical care for humans and equines
· Out-of-competition testing
· Freezing and retrospective testing of post-race samples
· Continuing education
· Totalizator technology and “stop wagering” protocols
· Wagering incident investigation
“We’ve been complying with the Alliance’s wagering security standards since the beginning of our current meeting, and those very protocols were followed during a recent wagering incident,” said Keeneland’s President and CEO Nick Nicholson. “Integrity and transparency go hand in hand, and both are essential to protect and advance the public’s confidence in our wagering product. We urge other tracks to adopt the Alliance wagering standards on behalf of their customers.”
“HANA supports the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance's new wagering security guidelines,” said Mike Maloney, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs for the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA). “We believe the guidelines are a good step toward proper security of the wagering pools.
“The addition of the wagering security and integrity protocols is the single biggest change to the Alliance’s 2010 Code of Standards,” said Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. “The remainder of the Code reflects our pledge to continuously strengthen all of its standards on behalf of our sport’s human and equine athletes.”
The NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance is a standing organization whose purpose is to establish standards and practices to promote safety and integrity in horseracing and to secure their implementation. Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at www.NTRAalliance.com.
The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, former four-term Governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, serves as independent monitor of the Alliance and will provide public reports on Alliance progress in instituting safety and integrity standards.
NTRA Press Release, May 26, 2010
New Mexico Racing Commission Approves Several Major Rule Changes as a Result of Sunland Park's Application for Accreditation by NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance
On May 19, the New Mexico Racing Commission approved several key rule changes that were advocated by Sunland Park as part of its application to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Safety and Integrity Alliance for accreditation. The changes represent sweeping reforms for New Mexico racing and bring the state into substantive compliance with the Racing Commissioners International Model Rules for regulation of therapeutic medications and proscription of certain practices, such as the use of alkalinizing substances.
In addition to the new rules regarding medication regulation, rules were also enacted on May 19 pertaining to mandatory use of approved safety vests and helmets by all riders and helmets by all assistant starters. Sunland Park is now eligible for full Alliance accreditation pending the successful completion of an independent security assessment. The assessment is expected to take place later in the year, after the Sunland Park barn area re-opens.
On May 13 of this year, Sunland Park was granted provisional accreditation by the Alliance after the track was found to be in compliance with the majority of standards set forth in the Alliance code. The Alliance withheld full accreditation of the New Mexico racetrack, however, pending further upgrades in the specific areas of pre-race veterinary inspections; uniform medication regulations; safety equipment and cushioned riding crops; testing for alkalinizing substances; and independent security assessment and training. Once all standards have been satisfied, a racetrack may be awarded full Alliance accreditation.
“This is exactly how the process is designed to work,” said Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. “We are proud that we were able to work cooperatively with Sunland Park who, in turn, advocated for these important reforms with New Mexico’s racing regulators.”
“Bringing Sunland Park to a level of uniformity with other tracks that have received full accreditation by the Alliance is a matter of great importance to us,” said Harold Payne, General Manager of Sunland Park. “Our horsemen and the New Mexico Racing Commission share that sense of urgency on behalf of the human and equine athletes who compete at our facility.”
“The New Mexico Racing Commission is committed to the goal of adapting our rules and regulations to the best-practice suggestions recommended by the NTRA for racetrack accreditation to conform to the highest standards in animal welfare, jockey safety and sporting integrity,” said India Hatch, Deputy Director of the New Mexico Racing Commission. “We hope that, ultimately, all New Mexico tracks can be accredited.”
The Alliance, formed in October 2008 with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen’s organization. Alliance certification standards cover six broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; uniform medication, testing and penalties; safety research; and wagering security. Within those six categories, specific standards focus on areas including:
• Systematic reporting of equine injuries
• Aftercare of racehorses
• Pre- and post-race veterinary examinations
• Post-mortem examinations
• Health and safety of jockeys
• Riding crops and their use
• Horse shoes and hoof care
• Safety research
• Safety equipment for jockeys and horse handlers
• Exogenous Anabolic Steroids
• Alkalinizing agents (TCO2)
• On-track emergency medical care for humans and equines
• Out-of-competition testing
• Freezing and retrospective testing of post race samples
• Continuing education
• Security assessment and training
• Totalizator technology and “stop wagering” protocols
• Wagering incident investigation
The NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance is a standing organization whose purpose is to establish standards and practices to promote safety and integrity in horseracing and to secure their implementation. Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at www.NTRAalliance.com.
The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, former four-term Governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, serves as independent monitor of the Alliance and will provide public reports on Alliance progress in instituting safety and integrity standards.
InCompass Solutions Press Release, June 9, 2010
InCompass Pre-Race Vet Exam Software to be Offered Free to Racetracks
InCompass Solutions Inc. announced today that it is now offering its Pre-Race Veterinary Exam software free of charge to all racetracks that agree to share their respective examination data with association and regulatory veterinarians at other tracks that are also using the software.
“InCompass has worked closely with The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee since its formation and the committee made this suggestion with the belief that it would enhance safety throughout the industry,” said Brad Kimbrell, the executive vice president of InCompass. “With that in mind, and to encourage universal usage, we have decided to offer our Pre-Race Veterinary Exam software to tracks for free, as long as they are willing to share the exam data.”
A component of InCompass’ Race Track Operations (RTO) system, the Pre-Race Veterinary Exam module was launched in 2008 to enable examining veterinarians at racetracks to record the details of racehorses’ pre-race soundness inspections in a secure central database.
“The pre-race inspection is a critical component in our ongoing efforts to reduce racing injuries to horses and riders,” said Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. “The sharing of pre-race exam information enables regulatory veterinarians to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the horses they inspect.”
“Horses from throughout the country ship in to compete at the New York Racing Association tracks, so sharing soundness information with and from veterinarians at other racetracks will be immensely beneficial to all of us,” said P.J. Campo, vice president and director of racing for the New York Racing Association. “NYRA remains fully committed to protecting our sport’s athletes and we will embrace this latest safety initiative. We hope other racetrack operators will do the same.”
Racetracks interested in using the free Pre-Race Veterinary Exam software may contact Michelle Penna, the manager of business support for InCompass, at (800) 625-4664 or by email at email@example.com.
InCompass is a technology solutions company formed in 2001 to centralize the software applications and systems that serve North American racetracks and simulcast outlets, thereby helping these facilities achieve operational efficiencies, reduce costs and increase revenue. The InCompass RTO system is installed at virtually every racetrack in North America. In 2008, InCompass played an integral role in the development, launch and maintenance of the Equine Injury Database™ and the Jockey Health Information System™, both of which are offered at no charge as an industry service.
The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms, among others.
The Thoroughbred Safety Committee (TSC) was formed in May 2008 to review every facet of equine health, including breeding practices, medication, the rules of racing and track surfaces, and to recommend actions to be taken by the industry to improve the health and safety of Thoroughbreds. Additional information about the TSC, including the entire text of all seven recommendations made to date, is available in the “Safety Initiatives” section of jockeyclub.com.
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Press Release, June 22, 2010
PA Horse Racing Commission Announces New Total Carbon Dioxide Testing Procedure
Harrisburg - The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission will begin testing thoroughbred race horses for total carbon dioxide, or TCO2, after approving a policy to conduct the testing at its meeting on June 17.
The commission first voted to implement TCO2 testing during its March meeting. Since that time, commission staff worked to develop the policy, which strictly prohibits the use of agents or substances that elevate a horse's TCO2 level beyond what is naturally present
TCO2 in horses is believed to have a performance-enhancing quality by limiting muscle fatigue and increasing endurance. Testing for elevated TCO2 levels in horses will take place at the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Lab at West Chester University.
Horses may be tested at random, with probable cause, or at the discretion of race track stewards or the Horse Racing Commission. Penalties for samples that test positive may include a $1,500 fine, a 30- to 60-day suspension, and loss of purse for a first offense.
The racing commission partners with the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center on research matters, given its outstanding reputation for developing and executing tests to detect performance-enhancing substances in horses.
Recent breakthroughs include developing tests for the blood-doping agent Erythropoietin, or EPO, and anabolic steroids. Pennsylvania was also the first state to impose restrictions on the use of intra-articular corticosteroids, which are very potent anti-inflammatory agents.
For more information, visit www.argiculture.state.pa.us, click on "Bureaus Commissions and Councils" and select "Pennsylvania Racing Commission."
Media Contact: Justin Fleming, 717-787-5085
RCI Press Release, October 22, 2010
RCI Lowers Bute Threshold
LEXINGTON, Ky. – In an effort to improve the pre-race examinations of racehorse, the Board of Directors of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) gave final approval today to lower the allowable level of phenylbutazone
The board voted 16-0 in favor of lowering the threshold for penalty from 5 micrograms of phenylbutazone (bute) per milliliter of plasma or serum to 2 micrograms, paving the way to improved pre-race examinations conducted by regulatory veterinarians.
RCI President Ed Martin said “Absent a compelling and convincing medical reason to the contrary, the RCI has concluded that it is in the interest of the horse that the proposed change be adopted.” He noted that RCI will now review the current penalty guidelines to address concerns that have been raised pertaining to potential first-time violations of the new rule. RCI’s Model Rules Committee, in supporting the change, recommended that jurisdictions work with local horseman’s groups to transition to the new policy and consider a grace period so trainers can adjust.
The change to the Model Rule comes after months of research and discussion, beginning with the RCI Regulatory Veterinarian Committee, who voiced concerns that phenylbutazone could interfere with pre-race examinations due to the possibility of analgesic effects of the drug. RCI asked the Racing and Medication Testing Consortium (RMTC) to review the research on the topic, and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the RMTC voted without objection to support the lowering of the threshold.
The RCI Model Rules Committee had planned to vote on the matter during a spring meeting, but at the request of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) delayed that vote until after the topic could be discussed at their Annual Meeting.
After considering alternate viewpoints expressed at the National HBPA meeting, the RCI Model Rules Committee voted in favor of lowering the threshold in September. The lowered threshold received formal support from groups such as the American Association of Equine Practitioners, The Jockey Club, The Jockeys’ Guild, and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.
Because the proposed new racing regulatory compact is not yet in existence, the adoption of the model rule change will occur in different jurisdictions at different times, as individual commissions commence formal rule making on an individual basis.
In related news, the RCI Board of Directors voted 11-1 (4 abstentions) in favor of a change to the Model Rules dealing with fees paid to jockeys of Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, and other flat races. The new rule clarifies when jockey fees are earned by riders, and specifically deals with situations when changes are made to the rider of a horse by an owner, trainer, or the jockey.
For a copy of the RCI Model Rules, please visit www.arci.com and click the link RCI Model Rules.