03/03/2017 3:09PM

Oaklawn adds extra layer to pre-race exams

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The board of stewards at Oaklawn Park has instituted a new wrinkle to prerace exam procedures at the track, a move concerning “questionable marks on a horse’s neck.” The new procedures went into effect Thursday.

The protocol requires veterinarians who either conduct prerace exams or administer Lasix to check the necks of entered horses for any questionable marks, and if found, those horses will be scratched. The horses will then be sent to the test barn to have blood drawn and will be placed on the veterinarian’s list until the results of such tests are returned to the commission veterinarians.

Lasix at Oaklawn is administered by independent veterinarians on behalf of the Arkansas Racing Commission rather than by private practitioners working for individual stables.

There were no scratches Thursday as a result of the new procedure, the stewards said on Friday.

The new exam wrinkle is unique. The stewards, when asked, said they were not aware of other jurisdictions employing such a practice. The procedure, said state steward Stan Bowker, complements Oaklawn’s continued efforts to uphold the integrity of racing. Bowker, who also is a steward in Indiana, said there have been some discussions about putting such a procedure in place in Indiana.

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Also at Oaklawn, testing for total carbon dioxide levels in random overnight races began Thursday.

“It’s picking out races other than stakes,” Bowker said. “It’s always been part of the stakes protocol. We’re just expanding.”

Last month, the commission passed an emergency rule concerning the total dissolved carbon dioxide threshold level, making it 37.0 millimoles per liter of blood plasma in all cases. Some rules had provided for higher threshold levels for horses who compete on Lasix. The change brings Arkansas in line with national standards, according to the testimony that was given at the meeting held at Oaklawn.