08/10/2012 2:24PM

Jockey Club to renew its push for tougher rules

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The Jockey Club is expected to make an additional push for the adoption of a proposed set of tougher medication rules and penalties as part of its presentations Sunday during the organization’s Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing.

The medication rules were developed by the Jockey Club and released at last year’s Round Table, which is conducted annually by the Jockey Club in Saratoga Springs. Since then, the rules have been revised to incorporate harsher penalties for repeat violators of medication regulations, especially those that deal with pain-killing drugs and drugs that have the highest potential to influence a horse’s performance.

The Jockey Club effort to push for the partial or wholesale adoption of the rules has made little headway at the state racing commission level since the rules were released, in part because of the large number of differences among states in the processes that can be used to amend racing rules. The Jockey Club has also encountered resistance because it is a relative newcomer to the arena of racing regulation, and state racing commissions are not accustomed to looking to the organization for guidance.

Over the past several years, however, the Jockey Club has attempted to take leading roles in both the regulation and marketing of racing, and progress on those fronts will take center stage at the Round Table.

The first part of the two-hour Round Table will be devoted to presentations by Jockey Club officials on the organization’s efforts to implement the recommendations of a report it commissioned one year ago examining problem areas in the sport, including a dwindling fan base and marked declines over the past five years in betting handle. Jason Wilson, the Jockey Club’s vice president of business development, will provide updates on the organization’s fan-development projects while Michael Lamb, a partner in the company that produced the report, McKinsey & Company, will follow with a presentation called “Driving Sustainable Growth: One Year Later,” according to the Round Table schedule.

An update on the Jockey Club’s rules and related efforts to address safety and welfare concerns will start off the second half of the program, with presentations by Stuart Janney III, the chairman of the organization’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee, and Matt Iuliano, the organizations’ executive vice president. Iuliano will focus on the Jockey Club’s proposed rules, which include a controversial provision to ban the raceday use of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide.

The Round Table’s keynote speaker, Travis T. Tygart, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, will anchor the second half of the program. Tygart was recruited by the Jockey Club to speak at the conference to draw attention to the organization’s new role in calling for a reassessment of racing’s regulations, and he is expected to outline his agency’s practices and policies for drug-testing Olympic athletes and enforcing penalties.