02/18/2015 8:15PM

California board moves closer to third-party Lasix administration

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The California Horse Racing Board moved closer to implementing rules for third-party administration of Lasix, voiding claims when a horse bleeds from the nostrils, and amending the criteria for disqualifications when interference occurs during races at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

The racing board is expected to authorize third-party administration of Lasix later this year. On Wednesday, the board voted to allow a 45-day public-comment period on the subject, which is part of the rulemaking process. If the measure is approved, the language must be reviewed by the state’s office of administrative law before taking effect.

The medication would be administered by veterinarians or veterinary technicians who will be prohibited from working as private veterinarians or technicians at the racetrack and do not have a business relationship with trainers. Such a policy is in effect in several states, including Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.

The board launched a 45-day public-comment period on a rule change that would void the claim on horses who bleed from the nostrils during a race. Currently, claims are voided on horses found to be unsound in post-race examinations conducted by the state or official track veterinarian. 

Some racing board commissioners were skeptical of voiding claims on bleeders, but the measure has the support of the California Thoroughbred Trainers association.

The racing board approved a change to the decades-old absolute insurer rule that penalizes a trainer when a horse tests positive for a banned medication or shows an excessive level of a permitted medication. The amended rule would make an owner liable for a penalty if a horse housed at a location not subject to racing board regulations is sent to a trainer at a racetrack within a week of a race and later tests positive.

Under the new rule, a horse must be at the racetrack for seven days before a race.

The rule change is aimed at reducing the number of instances, notably in Quarter Horse racing, in which a horse is trained at a farm, sent to a trainer in the days before a race, and then tests positive. In some of those cases, the racetrack trainer was not aware what medications a horse had been given in advance of the race.

“This puts the owner on the hook,” said executive director Rick Baedeker.

The racing board tabled an item regarding a potential change to the criteria for a disqualification in a race. In a one-hour discussion, board members debated three potential versions of rules guiding stewards on the definitions of interference and when to disqualify a horse in incidents of interference or bumping.

No action was taken after Baedeker said that some of the proposed language of the rule change may not be approved by the office of administrative law.

“I have been pushing this a little too hard and trying to move it too quickly,” Baedeker said. “We should come back to the board with a version that will go to the office of administrative law and pass muster.”

Discussions on rules dictating interference and disqualifications have been held since mid-November, first with track stewards at a conference that brought together officials from throughout the state, and later by racing board members. On Nov. 1, Santa Anita stewards were roundly criticized in some circles for not disqualifying Bayern from first place in the Breeders’ Cup Classic after he severely bumped Shared Belief shortly after the start of the race at 1 1/4 miles.

Baedeker said on Wednesday that the issue was scheduled for discussion before the BC Classic was run.

“The goal was to achieve more precise wording,” he said.

On Monday, a similar event took place when Bert’s Melody bumped with Marina Del Heat shortly after the start of an optional claimer at 1 1/8 miles on turf. After an inquiry, the stewards did not change the order of finish, stating that Marina Del Heat broke slowly and contributed to the trouble.

Marina Del Heat is co-owned by racing board commissioner Madeline Auerbach, who used Wednesday’s meeting to question Santa Anita steward Scott Chaney on the reason for the decision not to disqualify Bert’s Melody.

“We got taken out at the start of the race,” Auerbach said. “Not only did they not take the horse down, but they blamed my horse for part of the problem.”

She later said that an emphasis should be placed on safety if rules are changed.

“My view is our first priority, when we’re looking at this, is the safety of the riders, and our second priority is the safely of the horses,” Auerbach said.

Racing board chairman Chuck Winner disagreed with Auerbach and sided with the stewards regarding Monday’s inquiry.

“I looked at the race 50 times,” he said. “I would not have disqualified that horse. I think the decision we made was right. That’s based on the rule we currently have. I would not have taken the horse down.”

Much of the racing board’s conversation with Chaney focused on situations similar to the Bayern-Shared Belief incident in which interference occurs, but it is unclear whether it affects the eventual order of finish.

“This is not a perfect situation,” Winner said. “There will always be subjective judgments. We want it to be as consistent and clear as it can be. It’s a difficult task. Maybe there is better rule to be written. I do think this is worth evaluating.”

Winner said the subject would be discussed in the coming months at the committee level before being addressed again by the racing board.

“All of these are judgment calls,” he said at the conclusion of the discussion. “What is interference and what is not interference? All of these things can be discussed. No one will be real happy with the outcome.”

roger More than 1 year ago
No mention of the DISPUTED 10 year tote contract.....Sportech sent an Objection letter to CHRB claiming Amtote was given special treatment. Sportech claimed their Oral Presentation in Sept,2014 was attended by Stronach Group [Amtote company] executives and when Amtote made their Oral Presentation the next day that Sportech was denied access to attend. Furthermore, Sportech claimed that they submitted their BID at same time of their Oral Presentation in Sept. of 2014 whereas SCOTWINC Head [George Haines] admitted Amtote's BID arrived a month later [October,2014]. Haines later told the Board that Amtote's savings over the 10 year contract were significantly more than Sportech but offered no specifics nor paperwork to support that claim. Hey Steve....how about printing a copy of the Amtote Objection letter so fans can see the entire complaint?
John Megna More than 1 year ago
berts melodythe 8 crushed the 7 and then crushed the 6.....what should be noted is when the race went off he was 7/2 and when it was over 5/2 and won like 3-5 shot so the money was in...
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
i enjoyed watching the video of chaney stuttering to explain why bayern wasnt taken down inthe classic. watch the two stewards standing next to him. one disappears after two minutes and the other one keeps on fading to the left to try to get out of camera shot. the mind acts in peculiar ways when guilt over throws it. glad to see that someone else cares about the safety of horses. when it comes to bleeding, the trainers need more education. why would a california trainer bring soi phet over to japan to run without lasix ?? his breeding spells nose bleed. trainers have no idea who has bled in the past. i thought they were concerned with bleeding problems.
Kyri Freeman More than 1 year ago
I hope they change the rules so that physical contact sufficient to cause another horse to lose its forward momentum, at any point during the race, will result in a DQ.
Bob Rose More than 1 year ago
It nauseates me each time I hear it announced, no change in the order of finish as the fouled horse was not cost a better placing!!! Only the good Lord above would know the actual effect when a tired horse is slammed by another. Beside the 'better placing' BS, it'allows the offenders a free roll unless the fouled horse and or rider is harmed or even killed.. All attention needs to be realized by riders that reckless/careless rides will result in DQ's and suspensions. D U H !!!
Timurlenk Timurlenk More than 1 year ago
What happened on the Breeders'Cup Classic will remain as the greatest infamy in the history of this event. And you can reword the rules as you want in the future, but the damage is already done and unchangeable. Shame on the whole California Racing Board and the inept Stewards they appoint.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Trust me, there have been so many more worse calls made by SoCal stewards over the years. The BC incident was just magnified because of the large audience that day. The three stooges have done it for years. (Yes, it's been different groups of stooges, but same inconsistent calls)
mikey More than 1 year ago
Now all they need to do is let the public know when a horse has a procedure done on them.We hear that after the race a horse had something done that helped the breath or etc.This must come out before the race as the do with being gelded.
M More than 1 year ago
Maybe in the future... racing in the US is making incremental progress. Perhaps in ten years we could see Hong Kong style listing of the medical history of the horse in the pp's. I do like that CA is trying to improve transparency and safety. Some states aren't . I think the voiding the claim of unsound horses will reduce catastrophic breakdowns when we look back at data after a few years (removes incentive to try and move unsound horse through claiming box). That was huge. They have a chance to make a better interference rule--again to discourage improper conduct. Then I think the US generally is making some headway on medications (still no Lance Armstrong moments) with slow state by state steps (several in headlines today).
Lawrence MacSelwiney More than 1 year ago
We know its a difficult task. we the bettor, just want consistencies. The flip flopping on judgement calls is horrendous. One of the most egregious errors the stewards made was taking Ryderoo down. That was over a year ago. Horrible calls and the horrible calls keep coming. The one they got right was the double disqualification in the filly grass stake last meet. Not only does wording need to change, rules need to change. The out of the gate rule needs to change. At least for nothing more than the safety of the horse and rider.
J Vette More than 1 year ago
I remember that call.... HAPPY to see that i am not the only one who thinks it was a horrible call..... BUT, they just keep on keeping these incompetent people working at the race track & at the CHRB....REMEMBER, it's the ole boys club & no one is voted in by us bettors, they are appointed.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Lawrence, We've been playing SoCal racing for so many years now. It seems that the SoCal stewards have been consistent on one thing, that is being wildly inconsistent in their judgement of inquiries/objections. When this takes place year after year, they wonder why people think there is cheating going on? It's not hard to believe that the three stooges are being influenced when they make so many terrible decisions.
Sid Gustafson More than 1 year ago
Banning Lasix and other raceday medications would be the best policy. It is revealing that attending veterinarians cannot be relied upon or trusted to follow the medication rules. It is an unethical practice of veterinary medicine to have itinerant third party veterinarians who have no relationship with the horses they are treating to inject horses four hours before they race with a performance enhancing alkalinizing drug.