Updated on 03/26/2013 5:30PM

California Horse Racing Board warns of contaminated Purina feed; 48 positives found

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Several brands of sweet feed produced for horses at a Purina mill in Turlock, Calif., contain the banned medication zilpaterol and resulted in 48 positives earlier this year, the California Horse Racing Board has announced.

Zilpaterol, listed as a Class 3 medication, is a feed supplement that promotes muscle gain in livestock.
    
The racing board on Tuesday said that the 48 positives have been found in runners at all California tracks. Currently, there are four venues operating in the state - Thoroughbreds at Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita, Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos, and Standardbreds at Cal-Expo.

The racing board said the contaminations occurred in mid-February and were first detected from a sample taken from a horse who raced on March 1. Executive director Kirk Breed has recommended to the racing board that the cases be dismissed.

According to a racing board statement, traces of zilpaterol have been present in the Purina products Purina Race Ready, Purina Strategy, Purina Omoline-200, Country Acres Horse Feed, and Country Acres Sweet-12 and were milled at the Turlock plant in February.

The racing board has advised trainers with unopened bags of those feeds to contact racing board investigators. The product labels on the feed bags designate when and where the feed was produced. The racing board cited as an example a code that began 3FEB14TRL, which indicated the date of production and that Turlock (TRL) was the originating plant.

Dr. Rick Arthur, California's equine medical director, said racing investigators have been in contact with the California Department of Food and Agriculture regarding the situation.

"Turlock is the main Purina mill in California," he said. "Much of the feed comes from that plant. It's a statewide problem and maybe a national problem."
In a statement, Purina said that the company "is fully cooperating"
with the racing board.

"Zilpaterol is not used at the Turlock facility, and we continue with our investigation, including discussions with our suppliers," the Purina statement said.

In late 2011, Los Alamitos Quarter Horse trainer Adan Farias had six incidents of zilpaterol positives in his stable, resulting in the redistribution of purses of the affected races. One of those races was a $150,000 stakes.