08/30/2012 2:42PM

Kentucky: National industry groups criticize medication rules vote


A decision by a Kentucky legislative committee to strike down new medication rules in the state has been targeted for additional criticism by two national racing organizations, including the industry-wide coalition that endorsed the rules.

Both the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association released statements on Thursday criticizing the Monday vote by the committee, joining the Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. The statements indicate that many organizations in racing plan to exert pressure on Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear to overturn the committee’s 19-1 vote, which was supported by the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

“Adoption of these regulations is an important step for uniform rules, policies and testing standards at a national level,” said the RMTC’s executive director, Dr. Dionne Benson. “The racing public and racing participants deserve a national uniform medication policy.”

The RMTC’s board is comprised of representatives of a wide cross-section of industry organizations, including the National HBPA. The board had endorsed all three rules that the legislative committee said were “deficient” in its Monday vote, a decision that will prevent the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from enforcing the rules without a decision to the contrary from Beshear.

Alex Waldrop, the NTRA president and chief executive, released a statement on Thursday “urging” the state to adopt the rules.

“These rule changes have been developed with industry-wide input and are supported by national racing organizations representing horsemen, veterinarians, tracks and regulators,” Waldrop said. “These important integrity measures need to be implemented by Kentucky and all other racing states now.”

One of the rules under consideration by the committee would have restricted raceday furosemide administrations to state veterinarians. The others would have lowered the threshold level for the painkiller phenlybutazone from 5 micrograms to 2 micrograms, and prohibited the use of so-called “adjunct bleeder medications,” three drugs that are legal to administer on raceday in Kentucky in conjunction with furosemide. The rules were set to go into effect as of Sept. 6.

Following endorsements by the RMTC and other industry organizations, most racing states have adopted the rules or are in the process of adopting them, part of a larger effort to unify racing regulations across state lines and address concerns of the sport’s critics.

Officials for the Kentucky HBPA said after the committee took its vote that they objected to the rules on their merits, pointing out that they had opposed the rules when they were adopted by the KHRC last year. However, the organization also said that horsemen felt emboldened to challenge the rules after the racing commission passed a separate rule this year that will phase-out the use of raceday furosemide prior to stakes races beginning in 2014. The horsemen said that they agreed to support the other three rules in exchange for a promise that the commission would not address the legality of furosemide use on raceday, and that the adoption of the phase-out rule broke that promise.