03/30/2012 10:10AM

Jockey Club calls for stronger medication penalties, ban on furosemide


The Jockey Club on Friday morning released an updated version of rules it is seeking to have adopted by state racing commissions. The changes include stronger penalties for trainers whose horses repeatedly positive for medications violations, the Jockey Club said, and reiterates the Jockey Club’s opposition to the raceday use of furosemide.

The rules say that “horses should be allowed to compete only when free from the influences of medications,” and they call for “stricter regulatory thresholds with increased recommended withdrawal times.” In a change, the rules also say that “contact with a horse within 24 hours of post time shall be subject to surveillance” and that “certain regulations and track ship-in policies may be subject to adjustment.”

The Jockey Club first released a set of proposed rules last August at its Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing as part of its effort to roll back rules that allow for the raceday use of furosemide, a diuretic that is used as an anti-bleeding medication. All North American racing jurisdictions currently allow for the raceday use of furosemide, though the raceday use of the drug is banned in nearly all other foreign racing jurisdictions.

The call to ban the raceday use of furosemide has been aggressively resisted by many horsemen’s groups. The horsemen’s groups contend that the drug is effective in treating a common exercise-induced malady that is suffered by horses worldwide.

Jockey Club officials have said over the past week that the reformed rules have been in development for several months. Last Sunday, a front-page article in the New York Times examining deaths and injuries at U.S. racetracks claimed that a “culture of drugs and lax regulation” in racing was a major contributor to racehorse injuries. The article has led two federal congressmen to resurrect a push for a bill that would subject racing to federal regulation.

The reformed Jockey Club rules do not provide details on how current regulations should be modified so that horses run “only when free from the influences of medication.” Current rules allow horses to run with trace levels of a panoply of drugs that could have been administered several days and even weeks prior to a race. The levels are set at a point in which the medications are not considered to be pharmacologically meaningful, allowing horsemen to treat horses for common ailments or pains that they may suffer while training.

As for modifying ship-in regulations, most tracks require ship-ins to be on the grounds of a racetrack at least six hours prior to post.

The reformed rules also call for the expansion of a racing commission’s regulatory authority to any facility where official workout times are recorded, and the availability of the medical records of horses.

Mike More than 1 year ago
Nothing will happen, same old tiring lip service on a dying industry
karl More than 1 year ago
The jockey club is delusional as are most people not associated with horse racing directly are. If you needed a bronchial inhaler to drive a bus if were your job are you not allowed to use it?? Any professional athlete competing is allowed medications to help themselves with pain and problems associated with their sport and anyone not allowing that is being inhumane to these professional athletes. In horse racing we do have these trainers that have no regard for their animals health because they do "juice" their animals up... For example a trainer that can improve their horses overnight when they receive them from other competent trainers... The Jockey Club does not care for the horses either, their sole purpose for this is to increase sales numbers of horses through the sales ring and thus profiting those large breeders whom back the jockey club. That is just a dirty little secret that they won't divulge.
TBGreats More than 1 year ago
The horsemen should have a say on the issue. That being said they should WANT to win with healthy horses, and many trainers do. Some horses are going to bleed and that means they need a new job, not to be juices with Lasix. But its all about money...there is no reason to pay millions for these horses, it makes it harder to cut your losses on a horse that shouldn't race. And let's start breeding horses that can breath and have strength and durability! Strong legs and strong lungs/hearts! Let's five these horses a fair chance to do what they were bred to do! Run! I love horses but the sport is heading downhill REAL fast. Once you lose the fans you will lose the sport. And fans are dropping like flies.
mm mm More than 1 year ago
All these lovely statements trying to respond to yet another piece of bad publicity, and most likely, when the smoke dies down, things will go back to business as usual. The usual, ambiguous statements, with no clear definition or details on how these rules are to be implemented. It has nothing to do with the horsemen, who naturally will push as far as they can get away with. They are fixated on banning Lasix race day and that's not even the major problem. Lets start by banning all anti inflammatory medications at least 72 hours out and see how many sound horses go to post.
John More than 1 year ago
Lets get the same day ban on medication approved by all major state commissions. If horseman balk, so what? If they want to race these are the new rules. It is past time to end the horseman's hold on racing.