Updated on 12/10/2012 6:04PM

Aqueduct: New York altering medication rules Dec. 26


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Several new rules regarding the usage and administration of certain medications in New York that were scheduled to be implemented with Wednesday's opening of Aqueduct's inner track have been amended and will now not go into effect until Dec. 26, according to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

The racing board has changed the time frame for the administration of clenbuterol, a bronchodilator, from 21 days to 14 days. It previously had been four days.

Further, the racing board has amended the time frame for administration into joints of DepoMedrol, a synthesized adrenal steroid used to reduce inflammation, from 15 days to 7 days.

"Based upon feedback from the Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety and industry-wide discussion, the Board is amending its rules regarding clenbuterol and DepoMedrol," said Lee Park, a spokesman for the racing and wagering board in an e-mail late Monday afternoon. "The Task Force has asked the Racing and Wagering Board to change its time frame for clenbuterol administration from the original 21 days to 14 days and the time frame for intra-articular administration of DepoMedrol from 15 days to 7 days. This will put New York's rules in line with measures approved by the Association of Racing Commissioners International."

"Additionally, the Board is putting finishing touches on a comprehensive data entry system for trainers and veterinarians to input records of corticosteroid administrations," Park said. "The effective date of these changes, expected to be approved by the Board [on Tuesday], will be Dec. 26, 2012."

The Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety was formed in the spring by Gov. Andrew Cuomo following the death of 21 horses during Aqueduct's inner track meet.

Its highly detailed report was released in October, and the state racing board rushed to adopt emergency rules to coincide with the opening of the inner track.

In the interim, several racing organizations, including the Association of American Equine Practitioners, the Racing Medication Testing Consortium, and the Jockey Club have met in an attempt to draft national medication guidelines.

John Kimmel, a New York-based trainer and veterinarian, is on the racing committee of the equine practitioners and said Monday morning he was hopeful that a group of national standards would be adopted soon.

"Hopefully, it'll be adopted by as many racing jurisdictions as it can," Kimmel said. "The guidelines for that are a little different than what we have here in New York. I think New York will have to accommodate the national standard in order to sell it to everybody else."

As part of the new rules, trainers must submit records to the racing board of any corticosteroid joint injections given to horses within 48 hours of treatment. In the case of claiming, trainers must provide new owners of a claimed horse 30-day corticosteroid joint injection records within 48 hours of the claim being made.

Until such time as a national policy is adopted, New York's rules will still be more stringent than many of its neighboring states from which it draws horses. It is likely to cut down on shippers for the upcoming inner track meet. Last year, shippers made up 10 percent of the horses who ran at Aqueduct.

"I think you'll lose your shippers just on clenbuterol," said Bruce Levine, a New York-based trainer who started 103 horses at last year's inner track meet. "I think the injecting rule should be seven days and not 15. . . . I don't think injecting a horse seven days out -- doing the hocks or something like that -- is going to make a horse break down."
Mike Trombetta is a Maryland-based trainer who has started 32 horses in New York the last two winters. Since the rules in Maryland and Pennsylvania allow clenbuterol to be given within four days, Trombetta said he will have to be "extremely selective" in what horses he can send to run in New York.

"If Plan A is to run at Laurel and Parx and the race doesn't go, and the racing office there calls and says we have a race for that horse, I'm going to have to decline," Trombetta said. "What is okay practice in most places is now forbidden in New York. I don't understand what the purpose is."