05/02/2014 1:44PM

Derby, Oaks drug tests come up clean


All 75 blood samples pulled from horses entered on the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby cards at Churchill Downs on Friday and Saturday tested negative for blood-doping drugs and illegal peptides, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced on Friday morning.

The tests were performed on blood samples from every horse entered in the Derby and the Oaks, according to Dr. Mary Scollay, the KHRC’s equine medical director. The KHRC also pulled blood samples from “a random cross-section” of approximately four horses in each of the stakes races on the Friday and Saturday undercard, Scollay said on Friday.

While the KHRC has quietly performed out-of-competition testing for the past several years without reporting a positive test, the program became a matter of renewed interest this year when Carlo Vaccarezza, the owner and trainer of multiple Grade 1 winner Little Mike, pulled his horse on Tuesday from Churchill Downs, citing his objection to the horse being sampled on Monday by KHRC personnel. Although the KHRC does not confirm individual test results, because all of the tests were negative, that means Little Mike’s sample was negative as well.

Under the state’s out-of-competition testing regulations, the KHRC can pull samples from any horse being pointed to a race in the state of Kentucky. Some of the samples were pulled as long as two weeks ago, Dr. Scollay said.

Out-of-competition testing protocols are designed to look for evidence of blood-doping drugs and illegal peptides, the kinds of substances that can be used well in advance of a race for long-term effects. Supporters contend that out-of-competition tests can act as a deterrent to using those types of drugs, but supporters also acknowledge that current testing technology is not adept at catching some designer drugs that may or may not be in use in performance sports, including horse racing.