04/05/2012 12:27PM

Breeders' Cup strengthens medication penalties

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The Breeders’ Cup has approved a rule change that will ban trainers from participating in its year-end event if they have served a penalty for a horse testing positive for a Class 2, Category A drug in the past 12 months, effective with this year’s event.

The new rule expands a policy adopted in 2011 that banned trainers from entering horses in the event’s 15 races if they had been penalized for a Class 1 drug positive. Class 1 drugs include those substances that have no therapeutic value and a high potential for enhancing performance. Class 2, Category A drugs include those that have little therapeutic value and also have high potential for enhancing performance, according to the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which classifies medications.

Steve May, the vice president and business manager of the RCI, said that states have issued 27 penalties since Jan. 1, 2009, for positives in the Class 2, Category A classification, according to the RCI's database. Most of those were for fluphenazine, May said. Fluphenazine is a powerful anti-psychotic that horsemen have allegedly administered to horses in order to relax them. The drug is a banned substance.

The recommended penalty for any Category A drug, both Class 1 and Class 2, is a minimum one-year suspension. As a result, a trainer who had been penalized for a positive finding of a Category A drug would be highly unlikely to be able to participate in the Breeders’ Cup in the same year that the penalty was issued even without the new rule, since the trainer would be barred from racing through the suspension.

The Breeders’ Cup also amended the rule to require a lifetime ban for any trainer who is issued three penalties for a Category A violation.

The Breeders’ Cup is scheduled for Nov. 2-3 this year at Santa Anita Park in Southern California.