11/29/2012 4:30PM

New York Racing Board sets rules for shock-wave therapy


The New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Thursday passed rules regulating the use of shock-wave therapy on horses that will prohibit a horse from receiving the painkilling treatment 10 days prior to being entered for a race.

The rules were adopted as part of an ongoing effort by the board to craft new regulations recommended in a study of a rash of breakdowns at Aqueduct earlier this year. While that report did not explicitly link shock-wave therapy to any breakdowns, the task force that prepared the report examined the treatments, which are used to stimulate blood flow to problem areas in horses.

The rules will limit the administrations of the treatments to veterinarians, who will be required to report the treatment within 24 hours to a state stewards. The stewards will be required to place a horse on a list that will prohibit the horse from “high-intensity exercise” for 10 days. In addition, trainers will be unable to enter the horse in any race during that time.

The board proposed the rules several months ago. Initially, the rules prohibited a horse from exercising during the 10-day period. However, after receiving comments from the Jockeys’ Guild and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the board changed the wording of the rules allowing for light exercise, which includes galloping, but not breezing, according to Tom Casaregola, the board’s director of audits and investigations.

Shock-wave therapy began to be used by veterinarians to treat soreness in horses within the past decade. Some critics of the practice have contended that the treatments can compromise a horse’s ability to feel pain for as much as a week after the treatment is administered.

Also on Thursday, the board formally adopted rules that will require that claiming races have a minimum claiming price that is at least 50 percent of the value of the purse. The board adopted a version of the rule on an emergency basis earlier this year following the spate of breakdowns at Aqueduct. The task force had recommended the rule be adopted permanently, under the possibility that trainers were enticed to enter cheap and possibly injured horses in claiming races that featured outsized purses.

– Matt Hegarty