By: Natalie Voss
Nearly 60 percent of this year’s Breeders’ Cup runners have been tested as part of the event’s out-of-competition testing (OOCT) program. According to figures provided to the media Thursday, all horses winning Breeders’ Cup Challenge races, plus a smattering of additional likely contenders, were tested in the weeks and months leading up to Breeders’ Cup. That includes international contenders and out-of-state horses thanks to the cooperation of veterinarians from various jurisdictions.
According to California Horse Racing Board Equine Medical Director Dr. Rick Arthur, some horses were tested as often as five times, and many were sampled more than once. Arthur said investigators tried to avoid a predictable pattern to the testing to increase security, but horses receiving additional tests were often those with Win and You’re In victories early in the season.
“We’ve received very good cooperation from horsemen,” said Arthur. “They actually welcome it.”
Outside the Breeders’ Cup, Arthur estimated 10 percent of California’s testing program is OOCT. As he told the Paulick Report earlier this year, this figure is lower than it is in human sport because OOCT is largely used as a deterrent and fact-finding exercise. The drugs tested in OOCT programs are often long-acting ones like cobalt or other substances believed to mimic the effects of EPO.
Any trainer receiving a violation for a Class 1 or 2 substance within a year of the Breeders’ Cup will be prohibited from sending a horse to the races if that horse was in his care at the time of the violation. Horses receiving Class 1 or 2 violations will be barred from competing in the Breeders’ Cup at all. Repeated findings of anabolic steroids may get a trainer banned from the event.
Additional safety procedures detailed for the media included surface monitoring, security guard sign-ins, and pre-race veterinary inspections. In addition to the state horse racing board’s standard inspection of a horse several hours before a race, the Breeders’ Cup has its own team of veterinarians observing trainees at the barns and during training daily starting a week out from the Breeders’ Cup. By then, officials believe they can have a better idea of what constitutes “normal” for a given horse, helping them spot anything out of place.
Breeders’ Cup officials agreed the presence of high-definition surveillance cameras in the barn area at Santa Anita would prove a tremendous help in their efforts to keep eyes on contenders round the clock. Although this surveillance system belongs to Santa Anita, Breeders’ Cup still owns the cameras that were temporarily installed in barns at Keenelandlast year. According to Dora Delgado, senior vice president of racing, nominations and on-site operations at Breeders’ Cup, those cameras will be set up at Del Mar next year.
“In many senses, a lot of the security things we’ve reviewed are designed to set a great example for the industry to follow,” said Craig Fravel, president and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup. “We’re certainly going to encourage future host tracks to implement those concepts. I don’t think they’re going to need the Breeders’ Cup’s encouragement to do it. I think they’re going to figure out it’s good for the game.”