04/29/2005 12:00AM

Lone Star starts bicarbonate tests

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Testing for alkalizing agents was to begin at Lone Star Park on Saturday in a program the Texas Racing Commission is using only to collect data.

For at least the next month, blood will be drawn from all starters in two randomly selected races on each Lone Star card. Blood will be drawn by the state veterinarian in the holding barn, just before a horse is brought to the paddock for a race.

The program is a joint effort between the commission, Lone Star, and the Texas Horsemen's Partnership.

"We're trying to see if we do have a problem in Texas because there's been a lot of publicity throughout the country," said John Ferrara, director of racing for the Texas Racing Commiss-ion.

As part of the current testing program, no penalties will befall the connections of horses who test positive for alkalizing agents, which are believed to ward off fatigue.

"We will not even know the horse or the trainer of the sample," said Ferrara. "The only thing that will be labeled is the day. So it's definitely for informational purposes."