01/21/2009 12:00AM

Auction houses agree to uniform guidelines


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The four auction houses that conduct the major 2-year-old sales in the United States have developed uniform guidelines restricting medications and steroids, prohibiting front toe grabs, and restricting whip use in conjunction with juvenile sales.

The guidelines announced Wednesday by Kentucky-based Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton, Barretts in California, and the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company in Florida mark the first attempt to apply a standard policy for those issues at multiple juvenile auctions in several states and follow the companies' development of similar guidelines for yearling sales in late 2007.

The new guidelines will take effect at a time when racing, breeding, and sales face increased public scrutiny over their practices and standards of care following the highly public fatal breakdown of Eight Belles at the 2008 Kentucky Derby.

The guidelines, effective immediately:

w Allow administration of no more than two non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and no more than one corticosteroid.

w Prohibit administration of any bronchodilator, including but not limited to clenbuterol and albuterol, within 72 hours of an under-tack show or sale session in which the horse is entered.

w Prohibit administration of all exogenous anabolic steroids within 45 days of the sale in which the horse in entered.

w Ban administration of all Class 1 and Class 2 substances, furosemide (also known as Lasix or Salix), and procaine penicillin while the horse is on the sale grounds.

"The medication policy and testing procedures will be administered according to the guidelines of each sales company, subject to state regulations," the guidelines state.

They do not address naturally occurring steroids, such as testosterone. Researchers are still developing threshold levels and testing methods for these steroids.

OBS, in February 2008, was the first auction house to implement steroid testing at its juvenile sales. The new guidelines are largely in line with OBS's existing policy.

The guidelines also prohibit riders from striking a horse behind the girth within an eighth of a mile from the finish line during under-tack shows and will require them to have both hands on the reins at that stage of the breeze. They forbid riders from using the whip past the finish line, except in circumstances where it is needed for safety reasons, when it may be used in front of the girth. Consignors will receive a $500 fine for any rider violating the whip rule, and the sale company will donate any fines it collects to a Thoroughbred-related charity of its choice.

Regarding shoes, the guidelines prohibit front toe grabs exceeding 2 millimeters, as well as bends, turn-downs, stickers, jar caulks, and other traction devices on the front shoes. On hind shoes, the guidelines limit turn-downs to a quarter-inch in height.

Also banned are shock wave and radial pulse wave therapy; acupuncture and/or electro-stimulation with the intent of altering laryngeal function; electrical devices used to increase a horse's speed; any invasive practice that intentionally conceals a material defect or chronic lameness; and internal blistering or other injections to the knee to conceal natural conformation.

Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said the push for uniform standards was the result of marketplace demands rather than public outcry over Eight Belles's death.

"We think it's better for consignors and buyers alike if there can be some consistency in what they're dealing with from one sale to the next," Browning said. "There are opportunities for sale companies, while obviously competitive with each other, to also be cooperative in working together to improve the overall marketplace. We're all trying to be more vigilant and more aware of the world we live in and see if there are things we can do to make improvements."

Browning said the group was still working on some details, such as establishing testing methodologies and medication disclosure procedures that comply with various state laws.

Darby Dan Farm pensions Saarland

Darby Dan Farm has pensioned Grade 2 winner Saarland at age 10 due to declining fertility, farm owner John Phillips has confirmed. Saarland is the sire of Grade 1 winner Collegiate.

According to Jockey Club statistics, Saarland had 34 live foals of 2008 from 70 mares bred the previous season. Those foals constitute his final crop, as Saarland got no mares in foal in 2008, Phillips said.

Saarland, by Unbridled out of Danzig's multiple Grade 1 winner Versailles Treaty, has moved to Jess Jackson's farm in California. Jackson is majority owner in the horse.

* Printing Press, the dam of four-time Grade 1 winner Lite Light, has died, according to a Blood-Horse report. The 28-year-old In Reality pensioner was euthanized earlier this month after having difficulty dealing with the extreme cold Lexington has endured this winter.