03/08/2006 12:00AM

Kentucky alkalizing tests stopped in December

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The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority suspended its testing for illegal alkalizing agents late in December and has not yet resumed the tests because of a shortage of state veterinarians, a spokesman for the authority said Wednesday.

The suspension, first reported by the Associated Press, was put in place at Turfway Park after an outbreak of equine herpesvirus at the track gave the three veterinarians currently employed by the authority additional duties, according to Mark York, the spokesman. The authority expects to resume testing once one other veterinarian is hired, York said.

"There's no timetable attached to it, but we'd like to get the position filled as quickly as possible," York said. "We'd like to have the person in place prior to the big spring meets" at Keeneland Racecourse and Churchill Downs. Keeneland begins its spring meet on April 7.

Alkalizing agents, typically administered in a mixture of baking soda and electrolytes known as a milkshake, are thought to help horses stave off fatigue by preventing the buildup of lactic acid in muscles. Most racetracks began testing for excessive alkalizing agents within the last 12 months.

The authority fired its chief veterinarian, Gary Wilson, in December of last year. Another state veterinarian, Camme Miles, was dismissed in January after pleading guilty to charges of fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs.