03/12/2014 11:30AM

New York Gaming Commission to consider gelding notification rule

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The New York Gaming Commission on Wednesday afternoon will consider a rule requiring horsemen to notify track personnel within 72 hours of gelding a horse if the horse is gelded on-track, according to a listing of agenda items added to the commission’s website.

The rule requiring notification of a first-time gelding builds on an existing Jockey Club rule that requires horsemen to “promptly” report the information to the industry’s registry. The New York rule would require trainers to notify the racing secretary at the track where the procedure is performed within 72 hours of the operation. If the procedure is performed off-track, the rule requires the owner or trainer of the horse “to report the alteration at or before the time the horse is entered to race.”

The gelding rule is one of a number of regulations that the gambling commission is set to consider on Wednesday, including a rule on clenbuterol use that would allow Standardbred horsemen to continue to administer the bronchial dilator up to 96 hours prior to a race. The commission had earlier proposed aligning the clenbuterol rule with a regulation prohibiting the administration of the drug to Thoroughbred horses within 14 days of a race, but backed off of the effort under intense pushback by Standardbred interests.

In the meeting materials published on the gambling commission’s website, the commission also states that it will consider a change to an existing rule regarding the list of 24 approved medications for Thoroughbred racing by omitting the “proposed zero (limit of detection) threshold” for the drugs that are not on the approved list.

The materials stated that the commission should consider the omission of the language because the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the Association of Racing Commissioners International “have altered course and now urge all racing commissions not to adopt such a uniform and strict approach for ‘unapproved’ drugs.” The RMTC and RCI have led the effort to devise the list of approved drugs and shepherd them through racing commissions.

The term “zero-tolerance” is generally avoided by many racing chemists and regulators because of the implication that trace amounts of any prohibited substance found in a post-race sample are always called as positives. In reality, testing laboratories in all sports do not test for many substances below certain levels of detection to avoid calling positives for substances at extremely low concentrations, especially for known environmental contaminants like cocaine or easy-to-detect but short-acting drugs like the painkiller naproxen.

Dr. Dionne Benson, the executive director of the RMTC, said that the RMTC and RCI recently decided to back away from the notion that there would be “zero-tolerance” for any substance not on the approved list because of the false impression among some horsemen that trace amounts of any other drug would result in a violation. She said racing laboratories are being told to continue to use the detection limits already in place for many commonly used drugs.

“We’re encouraging the commissions to tell their laboratories that if they already have testing thresholds in place, they do not need to phase them out,” Benson said.

At the same time, Benson cautioned that drugs such as dermorphin, a banned painkiller derived from a toxic skin secretion produced by South American frogs, would result in a stiff penalty at any level of detection.

“There are some things out there that obviously do not belong in a horse at any level of concentration,” Dr. Benson said.