Updated on 09/15/2011 1:54PM

California moves to OK clenbuterol

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Clenbuterol may be approved for use in California later this year after the California Horse Racing Board's medication committee voted on Thursday to allow trace levels to appear in post-race tests.

The committee's decision was approved by the CHRB at a meeting on Friday. The issue will be open for public debate for 45 days before the CHRB reconsiders the proposal.

The issue was discussed at a three-hour CHRB meeting, which included the allocation of racing dates in Southern California for 2002.

Currently, clenbuterol is not permitted to appear in post-race tests at any level in California. It has been the subject of controversy since being approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in racehorses in 1998.

That summer, there were several positive tests for clenbuterol at trace levels. Some of those cases remain in litigation.

Allowed for use in training, the medication is used by trainers to aid horses with breathing problems. Trainers must withdraw use of the medication a few weeks before a race to avoid a positive test.

Under the medication committee's proposal, up to five nanograms of clenbuterol would be permitted to appear in post-race tests, a recommendation made by Dr. Cynthia Kollias-Baker, a veterinary pharmacologist at UC-Davis. That level of clenbuterol equates to a dosage administered four days before a race, according to tests conducted at UC-Davis.

Also at the meeting, the board awarded two fewer racing dates for Thoroughbreds in Southern California for 2002.

The Los Angeles County Fair at Pomona will run 17 days, a drop of one day from this year, while the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting will run 65 days, one fewer than this year. Dates were also awarded for the Harness and Quarter Horse circuits.

No decision was made on northern California racing dates following a lengthy debate between representatives of Magna Entertainment, which owns Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows, and CHRB members regarding six days of overlap at those tracks and three county fairs.

The board also approved a rule for trainers to automatically receive 10 percent of purse earnings from top-three finishes. Currently, trainers bill owners and are paid at a later time.

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