01/18/2007 12:00AM

Board to delay process of setting drug rules


ARCADIA, Calif. - Following a meeting with horsemen on Thursday, the California Horse Racing Board has decided to delay the process of establishing rules that would restrict the use of anabolic steroids and clenbuterol. The board was scheduled to possibly take action on steroids and clenbuterol at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Tuesday at Arcadia City Hall, but instead won't address those matters until its medication committee meets in February.

After a 90-minute meeting with approximately 50 trainers and veterinarians on the Santa Anita backstretch on Thursday morning, CHRB chairman Richard Shapiro said the board wants to listen to more opinions from owners and trainers and remain consistent with medication policies in other states.

"I think it's incumbent on us to include all opinions," Shapiro said.

The possibility of restricting the use of clenbuterol and anabolic steroids brought impassioned opinions from trainers at Thursday's meeting.

CHRB equine medical director Rick Arthur said that all but four steroids - boldenone (which has the trade name Equipoise), stanozolol (Winstrol V), nandrolone, and testosterone - would be banned. Arthur said other states are ready to enact steroid guidelines established by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, and that California would change its policy at the same time as other states.

"It's a national movement, and we'll be ready to move, but we won't be an island," Arthur said.

Arthur said that a possible rule change would require that the four permitted anabolic steroids be withdrawn up to eight weeks before a race. He reminded horsemen that anabolic steroids are not permitted in other major racing countries or continents, such as Australia, Dubai, Europe, Hong Kong, and Japan.

Trainers say they use anabolic steroids to help horses recover from races and to help stimulate appetite.

The issue of clenbuterol use was discussed for more than an hour of the meeting.

Many trainers fear that clenbuterol, a bronchodilator, is being abused. At the same time, trainers say they have become reliant on the medication for horses that battle respiratory problems.

The CHRB's medication committee on Jan. 9 proposed a 28-day withdrawal period for clenbuterol, a policy that many trainers insist is too harsh. In order to prevent their horses from testing positive for clenbuterol, it is currently recommended that trainers stop using the medication four days before a race.

At Thursday's meeting, there was concern expressed by trainers that clenbuterol was being used on race day and even in the hours before a race.

"Is it being used for breathing problems, or is it is a performance enhancer?" Shapiro said.

At the meeting, Shapiro distributed an anonymous questionnaire about clenbuterol use. Of the first 19 that were returned, he said, 15 trainers marked on their questionnaire that they felt that clenbuterol was being used illegally.

"A lot of people in this room feel they are at a competitive disadvantage," Shapiro said.

Arthur said after the meeting that he is preparing a rule change that would allow for a smaller amount of clenbuterol to be present in post-race blood tests before penalties are administered. Currently, horses are allowed to have up to 9 nanograms (parts per million) of clenbuterol in post-race urine tests, Arthur said. The new rule would allow only 25 picograms (parts per trillion) of clenbuterol in post-race blood tests to be present before penalties are administered. Arthur recommends a withdrawal time of 72 hours before a race to meet that threshold level.

A former private veterinarian who gave up his practice last September to take his current position, Arthur said that clenbuterol has significant benefits for horses.

"It's a very beneficial drug," he said during the meeting. "There is a perception that horses do better on clenbuterol. It's a question of whether there is an overuse of the medication. The feeling is you to have use it to be competitive."

Migliore for Valenzuela on Bordonaro

Richard Migliore has been named to ride Bordonaro in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita on Jan. 27, trainer Bill Spawr said on Thursday.

Migliore replaces Patrick Valenzuela, who is not riding because of rib injuries suffered in November and a slow recovery from a knee operation he underwent in December, according to his agent, Jim Pegram.

Bordonaro has won 9 of 13 starts and $750,794. The winner of the 2006 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park, he has not started since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Gulfstream Park in November.

Spawr said that owners Daniel Cassella and Fred Carrillo chose Migliore after the jockey won a maiden race on Furioso Star, Bordonaro's full brother, on Jan. 10. Furioso Star is owned by the partnership and trained by Spawr.

Blanc suspended three days

Jockey Brice Blanc has been suspended for three racing days - Jan. 21 and 24-25 - for causing interference aboard race winner On the Acorn in the seventh race on Jan. 13.

The stewards did not conduct an inquiry into the race but sanctioned Blanc for altering course in early stretch.

On the Acorn won the one-mile turf race for claimers by rallying from 11th in a 12-horse field.

* Santa Anita has altered its first post time for the Sunshine Millions program on Jan. 27 to 11:45 a.m.