12/01/2009 1:00AM

Kentucky adopts new test rules


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky Racing Commission adopted new regulations Tuesday that will drop a requirement to test all race winners for illegal drugs in favor of a new policy that focuses on horses whose performances are suspicious.

Under the new regulations, all winners will be sent to the test barn for the collection of blood and urine samples, along with at least one other horse in the race selected by the three stewards. However, if the winner is among the race's favorites and performed according to its recent past performances, its post-race sample will only be tested 50 percent of the time, while the samples from the horse or horses selected by the stewards will always be tested.

Stewards are supposed to select the horses based on several criteria, including aberrant wagering patterns, performances that are significantly better or worse than a horse's odds or past performances would indicate, or intelligence from racetrack security, according to Dr. Mary Scollay, the commission's equine medical director.

"If you have a horse that has won the last five starts, went off at 2-5, and distanced the field by 20, is that horse of interest in terms of medication issues?" Scollay said after the meeting. "The form is consistent, so there's probably another horse in the race that is, say, 100-1 who finished second, and that horse is of much more interest from a testing standpoint."

Scollay said that the change in policy will result in a 25 percent to 30 percent cost reduction in testing expenditures by the commission. However, Scollay said that the number of horses that are targeted for post-race sampling will likely increase.

The policy is based on recommendations contained in a report prepared by McKinsey Consulting for the Jockey Club in 1991. Isolated recommendations from the report have been adopted in a scattershot manner by racing commissions since then. Kentucky is the first commission to adopt a policy dropping a requirement to test race winners.

Also at the meeting, the commission's chairman, Robert Beck, said that he had asked the commission's wagering integrity subcommittee to postpone any work on recommendations it had made recently so that the commission could have additional time to address concerns about the impact of the proposals. The recommendations included cutting off betting at zero minutes to post and making racetracks liable for all bets issued to customers regardless of whether the bets are transmitted into the pools. Racetracks have aggressively sought to block the implementation of the proposals.

In addition to concerns of commission members and racetracks, Beck said that the commission's director of parimutuel wagering needed time to review the recommendations and their potential impact. The commission announced that it had hired Gregory Lamb, a former auditor with the Colorado Division of Racing Events, on Monday. Lamb started Tuesday.

"It's disappointing, but I understand where [Beck is] coming from," said Tom Ludt, who headed the subcommittee. "Greg is going to be the one who is going to have to deal with all this."