04/28/2014 10:31AM

North Dakota approves new drug rules, penalties


North Dakota’s racing commission has approved a set of medication rules and penalty guidelines that have the support of a handful of national racing organizations seeking to reform how the sport regulates drugs.

At a meeting on April 25, the commission approved the new rules, which contain regulations for 26 medications that will be allowed to be administered therapeutically to horses. The commission also approved new penalty guidelines that carry strict penalties for licensees that have multiple violations, based on a points system similar to that in effect for driver’s licenses.

Only two racetracks plan to operate live racing dates in North Dakota in 2014, according to commission materials. Chippewa Downs in Belcourt has received approval for eight live dates, while Horse Park in Fargo has received approval for six dates. The state is more widely known as a regulatory haven for account-wagering companies that typically award rich rebates to their biggest customers.

“While we are certainly not the largest live racing jurisdiction, the commission and our horsemen are united in the understanding that it is the responsibility of every member of the racing industry to insure the welfare of our horse population,” said Gunner laCour, the director of the commission, in a statement.

The commission will need to hold a public hearing on the new rules before they can be sent to the state’s attorney general and legislative rules committee for final approval. LaCour said in the statement that he expects the rules to be in place by the time that Chippewa holds its first live race date in mid-June.