12/11/2009 1:00AM

BC board tables proposed trainer policy

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The board of directors of the Breeders' Cup on Friday tabled a proposed rule that would bar any trainer from its 14 year-end races if the trainer had received a penalty from a racing commission based on a Class 1 or Class 2 drug positive in the previous 12 months, an official for the organization said.

The policy, which was presented to the board as part of an ongoing effort by the Breeders' Cup to toughen its image on the use of drugs in horse racing, was tabled "pending additional analysis" of the rule's potential effects, according to Jim Gluckson, spokesman for Breeders' Cup.

Breeders' Cup officials had confirmed that the rule was under consideration earlier in the week, and since then, several leading racing officials had criticized the proposal for failing to acknowledge that the vast majority of Class 1 and Class 2 drug positives in the United States over the past decade have been ultimately adjudicated on the assumption that the drugs appeared in the horses' post-race tests as the result of accidental or environmental contamination and not a deliberate attempt to cheat. As a result, the rule, if and when it was triggered, would almost certainly ignite heated controversy over whether an innocent trainer was being unfairly penalized.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International has classified 51 drugs as Class 1 medications and approximately 340 as Class 2 medications. The two classes represent the most powerful performance-enhancing agents that are both known and available, although the Class 2 drugs also have some therapeutic benefit in a horse.

Under the proposed rule, any trainer who was penalized by a racing commission after one of his horses tested positive for one of the Class 1 or 2 drugs within 12 months of one of the 14 year-end Breeders' Cup races would be prohibited from entering any horse in the races, regardless of the circumstances of the case, the severity of the penalty, or any appeals.

Alan Foreman, an attorney who represents Thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen in medication cases, said that the adoption of the rule would chafe against recent efforts in the racing industry to prosecute medication violations with an emphasis on the circumstances of the case, rather than simply relying on the class of the drug.

"You have a real problem with the penalty classifications right now because a Class 1 can be used like a Class 3, or a Class 4 can be used like a Class 1," Foreman said. "You can't pigeonhole these drugs into a particular category without investigating the specific circumstances surrounding the positive, and frankly, I thought we had gone beyond this kind of thinking."

In other action at the Friday meeting, the Breeders' Cup board approved "core components" of a new strategic plan that includes exploring the possibility of using a single host site for all future Breeders' Cup events, the establishment of a new series of races leading up to the Breeders' Cup that would help the organization market the year-end event, the expansion of the organization's marketing efforts that would emphasize "digital marketing and social media," and the possible restructuring of the organization's nomination program, according to a news release from the organization.