12/12/2014 9:21PM

Quarter Horse association bans clenbuterol beginning in 2016

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The American Quarter Horse Association announced Friday that the bronchodilator clenbuterol will be banned for use in Quarter Horse racing beginning in 2016 and that stricter penalties will be enacted in 2015 for owners and trainers who have horses test positive for the medication under the rules of individual states.

The announcement comes after numerous violations for clenbuterol occurred in several states, notably California, New Mexico, and Texas. In recent months, Los Alamitos Race Course in Southern California has enacted a house rule banning the use of the medication. Beginning in May, Los Alamitos plans hair-follicle testing for qualifiers of major Quarter Horse stakes to test for long-term use for clenbuterol.

In its announcement, the AQHA, the breed’s official registry, cited concern about the “safety and welfare of the horse and rider” for its decision.

The AQHA’s racing council, a group of nine owners, trainers, and racing executives, and the AQHA executive committee, a group of five people from various aspects of Quarter Horse disciplines, will establish a task force “to develop policies and procedures for dealing with individuals who violate the zero-tolerance policy.”

AQHA president Johnny Trotter of Hereford, Texas, an active owner and breeder of racing Quarter Horses, said in Friday’s statement that there have been 64 clenbuterol violations in seven racing jurisdictions since January, and that other alleged positives have yet to be adjudicated in several states.

The racing council announced that beginning Jan. 15, a horse involved in a medication ruling for a clenbuterol overage by a state racing jurisdiction will be banned from racing for 150 days. A trainer will receive a minimum suspension of five years, and an owner “will be fined accordingly.”

AQHA officials cited concern about illegal compounding and massive overages of clenbuterol.

“The misuse of medications at the hands of a few, to the detriment of the many honest people in our industry, is one of the major issues we are dealing with,” AQHA vice president Don Treadway, Jr. said in Friday’s statement.

Concern over clenbuterol usage has disrupted the stakes schedule for older horses this fall. In early November, Los Alamitos canceled the $600,000 Champion of Champions, which was scheduled for Saturday, because of concern over a nationwide policy pertaining to clenbuterol use. In past years, the Champion of Champions has played a pivotal role in year-end championship voting and has brought together runners from several circuits.

In its place, Los Alamitos is running a $60,000 handicap.