04/16/2009 12:00AM

New York enacts testing fee


As a result of recent legislation, New York state rules mandate that, effective May 7, owners pay a $10 entry fee to run a horse at any track in the state. The revenue will support the New York State Racing and Wagering Board's drug-testing program.

"We see this as the fairest way to raise the funds it requires to enhance our expanded integrity initiatives," said Joe Mahoney, spokesman for the racing board. "As of the beginning of this year, new rules went into effect greatly restricting the use of steroids in racing in New York. Our drug testing lab at Cornell University is equipped to detect hundreds of different substances.

"Given the profound economic difficulties facing this state and nation, we were not at all inclined to seek this revenue from New York taxpayers," Mahoney added. "This nominal entry fee is a far better alternative.''

Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horseman's Association, said horsemen on the New York Racing Association circuit have already donated $500,000 for enhanced drug testing in the state. Violette said this new rule will cost NYRA owners $220,000.

"We've been ahead of the curve without any prodding," Violette said. "We've led the industry to have state-of-the-art testing for steroids. We thought this was a bit piling on and wish it hadn't passed. It's penny-wise and pound-foolish."