08/17/2006 11:00PM

Forum to detail lab progress


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - One year ago, the Jockey Club announced that it would launch an industry-funded laboratory to develop new tests to detect illegal drugs. On Sunday, at the same forum as last year - the annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in Saratoga Springs - the Jockey Club plans to inform the racing industry of its progress.

The formation of the laboratory, which has been called the Equine Drug Research Institute, was announced with high hopes last year at the annual Round Table, which is put on by the Jockey Club. The Jockey Club was hoping to raise $3 million in private pledges to fund the laboratory, which is headed by Dr. Don Catlin, the head of the Olympic Analytical Laboratory at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Rogers Beasley, the director of racing for the Keeneland Association, is scheduled to discuss the fundraising effort and the lab's work during a speech at this Sunday's Round Table, which annually draws industry leaders to Saratoga Springs for a compact two-hour program.

Beasley said Friday that industry groups have contributed close to $3 million for the laboratory, but he declined to discuss details about the work done so far by Catlin, deferring to his presentation Sunday.

"We're very pleased with the fundraising efforts so far, but we can always use more," Beasley said. "This is not inexpensive work."

Other drug-testing efforts are scheduled to be discussed at the Round Table. Dr. Scot Waterman, the head of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, an industry group that develops policies for the racing industry on drug issues, will speak just before Beasley to provide updates on the RMTC's work over the past 12 months, according to the Jockey Club.

While drug-testing and medication policies have annually become a topic of discussion at the Round Table, issues this year surrounding the New York Racing Association and the politically charged effort by the state to award its franchise have made the future of New York racing a hot topic this year in Saratoga, where NYRA is in the midst of holding its popular summer meet at Saratoga Race Course.

In fact, the keynote speaker at this year's Round Table will be J. Patrick Barrett, the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing, which is overseeing the bidding process for NYRA's franchise.

Barrett will be preceded by Charles Hayward, the chief executive of NYRA, who is expected to give an "update on activities" of NYRA, according to the Jockey Club.