05/18/2008 11:00PM

KHRA hires equine medical director


LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority has hired an equine medical director and authorized the formation of a committee to issue recommendations on health and safety regulations.

Dr. Mary Scollay, the senior association veterinarian at Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park in Florida, will begin as the authority’s equine medical director in early July, according to authority officials. As equine medical director, Scollay will oversee the state’s drug-testing policies and procedures and consult the authority on equine health and medication issues.

For the past 18 months, Scollay has led a nationwide project of gathering information on racing-related injuries through a standardized form. Scollay will continue her work on the project while employed by the authority, according to Lisa Underwood, the authority’s executive director.

Scollay also will work with a committee that the authority established at its regular meeting on Monday to review state regulations in the wake of the death of the filly Eight Belles shortly after she finished second in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3.

Robert Beck, the new chairman of the authority, said at the meeting that he will make appointments to the committee within the next several weeks. Although the committee is not required to a set agenda, Beck said he expected the committee to issue recommendations on medication rules, racing surfaces, racetrack maintenance, jockey health, shoeing, and whips.

Already, the Jockey Club has formed a committee to issue recommendations on health and safety issues. The Jockey Club does not have any enforcement power,

however, and has said that it will make recommendations in the hope that the state racing commission adopt any changes.

Dell Hancock, a member of the authority who is also a member of the Jockey Club committee, said at the meeting that she supported the authority’s decision to create the committee, but she cautioned that the committee should not try to duplicate the efforts of the Jockey Club.

“I would implore this committee to use what the Jockey Club comes up with,” Hancock said.

The commission was initially scheduled to conduct a hearing on Monday to discuss whether trainer Patrick Biancone had violated terms of a settlement he reached with the authority late last year that prohibited him from training horses for one year. But that hearing was postponed after a Franklin County circuit judge requested last week that the authority file additional legal

documents regarding its investigation of Biancone.

Judge Thomas Wingate issued the ruling in response to a request for preliminary injunction filed by Biancone’s attorney, arguing that the authority did not have the power to adjudicate possible violations of the agreement. Underwood said that the association’s lawyers filed the documents requested by Wingate on Monday, and he expects the judge to rule this week.

Biancone reached the settlement with the authority after investigators discovered three vials of a prohibited neurotoxin, cobra snake venom, in his barn at Keeneland during a search on June 22. Authority investigators have said that Biancone may have violated the terms of the settlement by allegedly training horses at a property outside of Lexington.

Also at the meeting:

* Ellis Park received approval to lower the minimum wager for trifectas to 50 cents. The track also received approval to offer a super high five, a wager that requires the bettor to select the first five finishers of a race in order. The wager will be available on the last race of every card. Minimum bet for the super high five will be $1, according to Mark Geary, general manager of the track.

* Representatives of the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association appeared at the hearing to lodge objections to a

20 percent purse cut implemented by Churchill Downs last week. The KHBPA representatives complained that the purse cut was a “retaliatory measure” by the track in response to the KHBPA’s refusal to grant Churchill approval to send its signal to several account-wagering platforms. Beck told the officials that the authority has reviewed its legal basis for intervening in the dispute and has found that it does not believe its has the jurisdiction to intervene.