01/29/2013 12:24PM

Jockeys' Guild endorses Jockey Club medication rules proposal

Barbara D. Livingston
“Our unanimous vote to support these rules should send a strong signal . . . .” said the Jockey Guild’s chairman, John Velazquez.

The Jockeys’ Guild has endorsed a proposed set of medication rules devised and supported by the Jockey Club, in a statement that specifically referenced the rules’ allowance for the continuing raceday use of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide.

In a release coming out of its annual assembly in Florida the past two days, the guild said its members unanimously endorsed the rules, which were first devised by the Jockey Club several years ago to address its concerns that medication rules need to be consistent in all 38 U.S. racing jurisdictions and that penalties for drug violations need to be stiffened. The rules initially called for a ban on the raceday use of furosemide – commonly known as Lasix, it is the only drug allowed on raceday in the United States – but the Jockey Club amended those rules last year to allow for raceday administrations because of resistance from groups that remain supportive of the drug.

The guild’s explicit endorsement of the section of the rules that allows for raceday furosemide adds to a growing body of support for the proposed rules – as long as furosemide use on raceday is not banned. Many horsemen’s groups have said that they can back the rules as long as it does not prohibit raceday furosemide, even as the Jockey Club and several other high-profile organizations, including the Breeders’ Cup, continue to advocate a raceday prohibition on the drug.

“Our unanimous vote to support these rules should send a strong signal that the Jockeys’ Guild is united in efforts to make racing safer for both jockeys and horses,” said the guild’s chairman, John Velazquez, in a release. “This is our livelihood, and we strongly encourage these efforts which will strengthen the integrity of racing.”

The guild endorsed the rules 10 days after one of its most high-profile members, three-time Eclipse Award winner Ramon Dominguez, was thrown from a horse in a race at Aqueduct racetrack on Jan. 18, suffering serious injuries. Dominguez was initially found to have a skull fracture and was listed in serious condition. He was transferred out of an intensive care unit on Jan. 24.

The Association of Racing Commissioners’ International, an umbrella group for U.S. racing jurisdictions, is in the process of lobbying for support of a section of the proposed rules that would identify 24 specific medications that would be allowed to be administered to horses for therapeutic use. Under those rules, all other drugs would be banned, in the sense that no trace of the medications would be allowed to appear in postrace samples without a violation being called.

The rules are expected to be forwarded to racing commissions for consideration for adoption within the next several weeks.