11/27/2001 1:00AM

Race-day tubing barred in Ky.


The Kentucky Racing Commission passed a resolution Tuesday banning the use of nasal gastric tubes on race day, citing an incident earlier this year when a prominent veterinarian was fined for using the tube to administer electrolytes to a horse just before a race at Churchill Downs.

Frank Shoop, the KRC chairman, said the commission took the action to clarify its position on the tubes, which are snaked down a horse's nasal passageways in order to deliver a fluid directly into the horse's gut, where it is more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.

"If the horse is sick enough that it needs a tube, then the horse should be scratched and put on the vets' list," Shoop said.

Nasal gastric tubes are notoriously associated with "milkshakes," concoctions of baking soda and other substances that are designed to increase a horse's stamina. Milkshakes, which had been legal to administer on race day, were banned by the KRC late in 1999 after a public outcry.

The issue of nasal gastric tubes was renewed earlier this year when a trainer accused Dr. Alex Harthill, a veterinarian who is president of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, of tubing a horse just before a race at Churchill Downs on July 4. Harthill was later fined $1,000, although he denied any wrongdoing, claiming he was administering electrolytes through the tube to relieve dehydration caused by a Lasix injection.