03/12/2013 3:41PM

Eight eastern states agree to uniform medication rules

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Eight racing states along the Eastern Seaboard, including New York and Pennsylvania, have agreed to adopt a set of policies designed to tighten the administration of medication to racehorses and align the states under one set of rules, the organization that pushed for the agreement announced Tuesday.

The states have pledged to adopt the rules by the end of 2013 for a universal implementation date of Jan. 1, 2014. Under the rules, 24 medications will be allowed to be administered to racehorses to treat illness and injury, including the anti-bleeding medication furosemide, which will be the only drug allowed to be administered on race day.

Many of the other drugs will be subject to strict limitations on when they can be administered, along with restrictions on dosage and route of administration.

Any post-race finding of a medication that is not on the approved list will be treated as a positive. However, that would not prohibit a trainer or veterinarian from using a medication that is not on the list to treat a horse, as long as it is administered in such a way as to clear the horse’s system by the time it races.

The eight-state agreement was forged by the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, one of the organizations that participated two years ago in the launch of an effort to identify medications that should be allowed to be administered to racehorses. The THA has affiliates in many of the states that have pledged to adopt the rules, and many horsemen in those states routinely ship their horses across state lines.

“The largest concentration of racing in the United States on a daily basis is conducted in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast,” said Alan Foreman, chairman of the THA. “There is no region in the country where uniformity is more imperative.”

The participating states are New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Massachusetts. Rules in the states regarding medication use currently vary widely.

Although the 24 medications that will be allowed have been identified by supporters of the effort, several of the limitations pertaining to the administration of the medications have yet to be finalized. The final rules are expected to be announced by April 1.

Under the rules that the states have pledged to support, any laboratories conducting drug tests for races run in the eight states will have to be accredited under standards devised by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, an industry group that conducts medication and drug-testing research. The purpose of the accreditation is to ensure that the labs are using the same equipment and methodology when subjecting post-race samples to drug tests.

New York regulators have already adopted many of the regulations that have been recommended by supporters of the uniform-rules effort. For example, late last year, New York adopted a rule prohibiting the administration of the bronchial dilator clenbuterol within 14 days of a race. The new rule has been cited by some horsemen in the Northeast for contributing to a decline in field sizes this winter at Aqueduct because out-of-state horsemen have been reluctant to ship in this year under the new restriction.

Similar efforts to adopt the rules are being pressed in nearly all other racing states, but the Mid-Atlantic region has been the most aggressive in committing to a timetable to adopt the rules.