06/23/2012 2:16PM

Belmont Park: No dermorphin positives in New York despite several months of testing

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ELMONT, N.Y. – There have been no reported positive tests for the powerful drug dermorphin in New York, according to a press release issued Saturday by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

Dermorphin, a painkiller believed to be 30 to 40 times more powerful than morphine, has been in the headlines recently with several Quarter Horses and some Thoroughbreds having tested positive for the opioid in Louisiana and Oklahoma.

According to the NYTHA release, New York has had a test for dermorphin for several months.

“Dermorphin has been on our radar screen,” said Dr. George Maylin, director of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board’s drug testing and research program at Morrisville State College. “We’d heard in recent months that the drug was being used in the southwest, and we worked in conjunction with the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania to develop the test.”

Trainer Rick Violette, the president of NYTHA, said his organization believes horsemen caught using illegal medications should be dealt with “harshly and swiftly.” He did, however, reiterate NYTHA’s position that the medication Lasix should not be eliminated from race-day use.

“Thanks to Dr. Maylin and the people who work for him, the testing standards in New York are second to none,” Violette said. “We need to concentrate our efforts, energy and finances on doing away with drugs like dermorphin and ridding our sport of the cheats who use them, rather than wasting valuable resources on the battle over Lasix. Getting rid of Lasix does nothing to address the issues faced by our industry. By focusing on the real problems such as illegal medications, we can have a positive impact on public perception, the integrity of our sport, and most important, the safety of our horses and riders.”