07/16/2007 12:00AM

Breeders' Cup eyes prerace blood tests


Breeders' Cup Ltd. plans to ask the New Jersey Racing Commission to put in place procedures to draw blood from horses before the running of this year's event at Monmouth Park on Oct. 26-27 in order to test for blood-enhancing drugs, a spokesman for Breeders' Cup said on Monday.

If the plan is put in place, horses in the Breeders' Cup would be subject to prerace blood tests for the first time.

Though many details have yet to be worked out, the Breeders' Cup expects to ask the commission to draw blood from an undetermined number of horses in order to test the samples for the banned drugs erythropoietin or darbepoietin, two drugs that boost the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells in a horse's body. Both drugs are very difficult to detect after a race.

According to the Breeders' Cup spokesman, Jim Gluckson, the plan was discussed at a board meeting on Friday. The Breeders' Cup has yet to approach the New Jersey Racing Commission with the plan, though "informal discussions" have taken place, Gluckson said.

Horses that have participated in the Breeders' Cup have been tested for blood-enhancing drugs since 2003, but those tests were conducted on blood samples drawn after races. Since the 2003 event, as part of its contract with host tracks, Breeders' Cup requires the tracks to ensure that horses in the events are tested for a panoply of 130 drugs using a so-called supertest, and erythropoietin is one of the drugs covered by the supertest.

Breeders' Cup operates under the rules of the host jurisdiction, so any request to draw blood would have to go through the New Jersey Racing Commission, which would be responsible for administering the program.

"The board really backs this program, and we're going to ask if the racing commission can put it on the books," Gluckson said.

The Breeders' Cup board also discussed plans to beef up prerace security on the backstretch at Monmouth Park. Security teams put together by the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium have recently been used by racetracks at large events such as the Triple Crown races.