04/02/2013 3:22PM

New Mexico boosts racing violation fine limits to $100,000, sets aside money for drug testing


New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation Tuesday that will enable the state’s racing commission to levy fines of as much as $100,000 for racing violations and that will steer $700,000 in parimutuel taxes to the state’s drug-testing program.

The legislation garnered wide support from state lawmakers after an article in the New York Times last year focused on New Mexico’s racetracks and its racing regulation. Later in the year, New Mexico was one of several states to call multiple positives for the drug dermorphin, a powerful opoid derived from the venom secreted by South American frogs.

The legislation will double the amount of money that New Mexico’s racing commission will spend on the state’s drug-testing program annually. In addition, it will require the racing commission to use a lab accredited under national standards developed by racing groups and further require the racing commission to adhere to rules devised by the groups to control the use of therapeutic drugs.

Under another provision of the legislation, the racing commission will be able to fine individuals who violate racing rules as much as $100,000 for each infraction, or the earnings of the horse that tested positive, if the earnings are greater. The fines are the largest to be put into law in any state.

“We owe it to owners, jockeys, horses, and fans alike to ensure that everyone in the industry conducts themselves with integrity,” Martinez said in a statement she issued after signing the legislation. “Anyone who endangers a horse or a jockey should face stiff penalties.”