08/08/2008 12:00AM

Graded stakes committee issues edict


Graded stakes run at racetracks that do not have rules regulating anabolic steroids and prohibiting toe-grab horseshoes will lose their graded status next year under rules adopted by the American Graded Stakes Committee at a meeting earlier this week in Saratoga Springs.

The committee's new eligibility requirements are part of a movement within the racing industry to pressure racing commissions and racetracks to adopt rules designed to address public concerns about the sport's treatment of horses. The Jockey Club, Association of Racing Commissioners International, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association have all called for the adoption of the rules by the end of this year.

The eligibility requirements will require state racing commissions to put the rules in place by Jan. 1, 2009, or the date of the first graded stakes within the state. Alternately, the stakes will still be eligible for grades if the tracks hosting the races adopt house rules that are identical to the rules governing steroids and toe-grabs that have been drafted and approved by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, an umbrella group for state regulatory bodies. If the rules are not in place at the time the race is run, the race will be run as an ungraded race, the committee said.

The American Graded Stakes Committee is administered by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

Twelve states have already adopted the model rule limiting anabolic steroid use to four drugs that cannot be given 30 days prior to a race, according to the medication consortium, and a dozen more are in the process, including Kentucky and New York. Five states have adopted the rules banning toe grabs, a type of horseshoe with a raised ridge on the front that multiple studies have associated with dramatic increases in catastrophic injuries.