05/13/2014 3:01PM

New medication withdrawal times in Kentucky begin June 6


LEXINGTON – New withdrawal times for regulated medications will go into effect in Kentucky on June 6, officials for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission said at a meeting of the commission on Tuesday at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The date for the advent of the new regulations was established earlier in the day when a legislative committee informed commission staff that it would not need to review the regulations further before they went into effect, according to Dr. Mary Scollay, the equine medical director of the commission.

The new regulations were passed by the racing commission last year with near unanimous support. The regulations are based on new withdrawal guidelines developed over the past several years in an effort to devise uniform rules in all U.S. racing jurisdictions. The rules establish threshold levels for 26 different medications that can be used therapeutically in horses, though only one, the diuretic furosemide, will be able to be used on raceday, to treat bleeding in the lungs.

Dr. Scollay said that the commission’s veterinary staff held a meeting during the Keeneland meet in April for horsemen and veterinarians regarding the new rules. She said only one trainer attended the meeting despite extensive outreach through the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, among other organizations.

“We had to conclude from that there aren’t very many questions about the changes” to the rules, Dr. Scollay said.

Also at the meeting, the racing commission approved requests by Churchill Downs to amend two aspects of its “Single 6” jackpot-style bet. First, the minimum will be lowered to 20 cents, from 50 cents. Second, 70 percent of the pool will be paid out to the people who select the most winners during the bet’s sequence, with the remainder devoted to the jackpot. The bet had earlier paid out 80 percent of the pool each day to those with the most winners, with 20 percent being withheld for the jackpot.

The Single 6 is modeled on the Rainbow 6, a progressive-jackpot bet at Gulfstream that has become extremely popular. In the Single 6, the jackpot only pays out if there is a single ticket with the correct sequence of winners.

Handle for the Churchill bet has been far lower than the Gulfstream wager, according to track officials. Last spring, handle for the bet averaged about $7,000 to $9,000 a day, according to Ekumene Lysonge, Churchill’s vice president of legal affairs, and it averaged less in November, when the bet was hit three times and there were fewer carryovers.

** The racing commission went into executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss an investigation requested by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals into the operation of trainer Steve Asmussen. A racing official said that commissioners or commission staff would be unable to make any comment about the investigation following the executive session, describing the probe as “ongoing.”

PETA has alleged that Asmussen and employees in his barn treated horses inhumanely and forged documents for illegal workers, based on video footage shot by a member of the organization and on written transcripts of conversations the member recorded. The PETA member worked for Asmussen for four months last year in Kentucky and New York.

In an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas for the network’s Kentucky Derby broadcast, Asmussen has denied that anyone in his barn broke any rules of racing.