04/02/2006 11:00PM

Painkiller said to linger


The Kentucky Equine Drug Council approved on Monday an advisory alerting horsemen and veterinarians to refrain from administering the painkiller naproxen within five days of a race.

The advisory states that testing for naproxen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is banned within 48 hours of a race under Kentucky rules, can be "problematic" because the drug accumulates in horse tissue. Council members asked at the meeting that the advisory be distributed immediately to racetracks and veterinarians, even though the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority will not approve the advisory until mid-April at the earliest.

The advisory "gives someone the freedom to use naproxen but also gives them some better guidelines," said Fairfield Bain, a veterinarian who is a member of the council.

Kentucky's rules allow the use of one of three painkillers within 24 hours of a race, but naproxen isn't one of them. The advisory said that trainers and veterinarians should consider using alternatives to the drug.

In late March, the authority rescinded rulings against two Turfway Park-based trainers, Brad Guyton and Gary Montgomery, for having horses test positive for naproxen. The trainers had argued that they had followed the authority's guidelines in administering the drug but that their horses had still tested positive.

Connie Whitfield, the chairwoman of the drug council, said after the meeting that Kentucky's drug-testing laboratory is still being instructed to test for naproxen, and that the laboratory is using an unpublished threshold level to determine whether a positive should be called.

Rogers Beasley, the director of racing at Keeneland Racecourse, which begins its meet Friday, asked that the council set up a meeting at Keeneland on Wednesday or Thursday for horsemen in order to outline the advisory on naproxen. Whitfield said the council would likely do that.