01/13/2017 2:12PM

Enhanced testing, security measures in place for Pegasus World Cup


Horses entered in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park in Florida will be subjected to additional security and testing requirements that are similar to those that have been put in place for other major racing events, Gulfstream announced on Friday.

The additional requirements will include drawing samples from the entrants prior to the race and testing the samples for prohibited substances. Horses will be required to be on the grounds at least 72 hours prior to post time for the Pegasus, will be subjected to round-the-clock security after their arrival, and will have all medication treatments monitored and logged, in addition to other measures.

The requirements are nearly identical to those put in place over the past five years by racetracks hosting Triple Crown races, the Breeders’ Cup two-day event, or other marquee races, such as the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Gulfstream is owned by The Stronach Group, which also owns Pimlico Race Course, home to the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, and Santa Anita Park, where the Breeders’ Cup has been held four times in the past five years.

P.J. Campo, the vice president of racing at Gulfstream, said he could not provide details about when prerace samples for the horses would be drawn, saying that would defeat the purpose of the program. He said that samples had not yet been collected.

Prerace sampling of horses has been driven into the spotlight in the past three weeks after the horse Masochistic was disqualified from his second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint after a prerace sample tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid that is a regulated medication in California, where the Breeders’ Cup was held last year. Although it is legal to administer stanozolol with a prescription outside of 60 days from a race in California, any trace found in a postrace sample is considered a violation.

In the Masochistic situation, state regulators told the horse’s trainer that the horse had tested positive for the steroid three days before the race in a sample that had been collected eight days prior to the race, and they allowed the trainer to decide whether to run the horse. The trainer, Ron Ellis, has said that he decided to run under the belief that the trace amount would have been eliminated by race time.

Campo said that if a horse tests positive for a regulated medication in an out-of-competition test for the Pegasus, the positive would be discussed “internally” before deciding on a course of action. In Florida, approximately 25 regulated medications can appear in a postrace test as long as the concentration is below the threshold level, while potentially thousands of substances are treated as zero tolerance.

“It’s hard to discuss a hypothetical, but anything like that would be reviewed before we decide on a course of action,” Campo said.

Campo also said that Gulfstream has not yet decided whether to seek reimbursement for the prerace sampling from The Jockey Club, which has made a total of $250,000 available for such testing programs each year for the past three years. Campo did note that Gulfstream has applied for reimbursement in previous years, up to the amount of an individual track’s allotment for each of the last two years.

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