01/20/2005 1:00AM

Arkansas may change shake test

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The Arkansas Racing Commission may begin testing for milkshakes before races, rather than after races, if authorities believe the current system isn't effective enough.

Dr. George Wadley, the state veterinarian, said on Wednesday that the commission was to continue its postrace milkshake testing program this year when the Oaklawn Park meet began on Friday. But he said that after discussions recently with other veterinarians and testing authorities, the state may switch to prerace testing later in the meet.

"We know of certain indicators that tell us a horse may have been administered a milkshake, and if those indicators are present and we don't get consistent positives, then we will see if prerace testing is more appropriate," Wadley said.

Wadley declined to describe the indicators, saying that publication of the methods would jeopardize enforcement of the state's ban on milkshakes, which are mixtures of sodium bicarbonate and other substances that are thought to stave off fatigue.

Like other medication authorities, Wadley said that he is uncertain whether prerace testing or postrace testing is more effective in detecting milkshakes. He said he notified Oaklawn Park and its horsemen this week about the possibility of a change in part to deter trainers from administering the solutions.

Arkansas began testing for milkshakes last year. The postrace test, which is applied to blood drawn 90 minutes after a race, measures the total carbon dioxide content in the blood sample.

Though milkshakes have been a source of suspicion in the racing industry for five years, the issue regained prominence when a federal indictment was released last week claiming that the New York trainer Greg Martin had administered a milkshake to a horse at Aqueduct on Dec. 18, 2003.