CTT Pledges Funds for Barn Surveillance: The Blood-Horse 8/31/15

By Tom LaMarra

The California Thoroughbred Trainers Aug. 31 said its leadership unanimously agreed to use $150,000 from reserve funds to facilitate race-day camera surveillance in barn areas at California racetracks.

The board of directors met Aug. 29 and approved the measure, the CTT said in a release. The organization also said it supports third-party administration of the race-day medication furosemide, also known as Lasix or Salix; the California Horse Racing Board earlier in August delayed action on Lasix regulation after the CTT expressed concerns about language in the proposed regulation.

“While CTT has supported proper third‐party or independently supervised race‐day administration of Lasix since 2011, and continues to do so, we have always pointed out that backstretch security must be tightened at the same time,” CTT president James Cassidy said. “Administering Lasix takes a few minutes, at most. What we really need is to take steps to be sure nothing improper happens with any horse during all the many hours the rest of race day, not only when Lasix is administered.”

The Thoroughbred Owners of California earlier pledged $150,000 to pay for surveillance equipment. The CTT said the CHRB discussed the plan in March but took no action.

During the CHRB meeting earlier in August, equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur suggested other substances are being administered with Lasix shots.

“Any perception that the trainers’ governing organization is tolerant of misbehavior or outright cheating has to end,” CTT executive director Alan Balch said in the release. “Unfortunately, that perception has been fostered, whether or not intentionally, by some regulatory officials and others through gratuitous comments about Lasix and its administration.

“We want to put a stop to that by tackling the problem properly, not only as to Lasix administration itself, but even more important, by monitoring everything that goes on in the stalls of all horses entered on race day.”

Racing regulators in other states have said having “boots on the ground” in the form of investigators or other forms of surveillance is critical to ensuring integrity. Budgetary cutbacks have greatly reduced regulators’ investigatory capabilities.