01/24/2005 1:00AM

Oaklawn expands testing


In addition to graded stakes, random overnight races at Oaklawn Park will now be subject to "supertesting" for illegal medication. The Arkansas Racing Commission passed a motion providing for the new policy on Saturday.

The supertest is a more comprehensive and sensitive test for drugs than routine tests, and it has been required for all graded stakes at Oaklawn, according to commission officials, since the commission passed an initial supertest motion on Jan. 5.

The motion passed Saturday provides for testing on 20 other races chosen at random in addition to the 10 graded stakes to be held this meet at Oaklawn.

Dr. George Wadley, a state veterinarian based at Oaklawn, said the policy was designed "to make everything fairer, so that you're not picking on the, quote, higher-quality horses. . . . It might be a $10,000 claimer, or it might be a $30,000 maiden, or it might be an allowance race."

Also at the commission meeting, prerace testing for milkshakes was approved. Last year, postrace testing for milkshakes - combinations of sodium bicarbonate, sugar, and electrolytes - was done on a random basis. At this year's meet, both pre- and postrace tests will be done if certain indicators are present, said Wadley.

Also new this year at Oaklawn, all horses who go to the test barn will be tested for antibodies of erythropoieten, a blood-enhancer known as EPO, said Wadley. Last year, horses were tested at random, and none was found to test positive, he said. This year, a horse who tests positive for EPO will be placed on the vet list and will be unable to race until he tests clean, which can take more than six months, said Wadley.