By: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (DMTC) and The Jockey Club have formally announced that they both will provide additional funding to the Ken Maddy Laboratory at the University California, Davis to enhance the California Horse Racing Board’s (CHRB) medication testing program. The announcement was made at The Jockey Club’s regional members meeting held at Del Mar on Friday, August 19.
Specifically, the funding will allow for the implementation of Athlete Biological Passports (ABP), also known as Biomarkers.
Currently, California Thoroughbred racing medication testing conducted by the CHRB involves analyzing mostly blood and urine samples using highly sophisticated equipment to detect unauthorized substances. Biomarker testing enhances those efforts through specific monitoring of selected biological variables over time that indirectly reveal the effects of doping, rather than attempting to detect the doping substance or method itself.
Accordingly, an ABP is created for an individual horse and then compared to changes outside its normal values. The changes can involve a number of biological processes, including changes in proteins, genes and small molecules. Monitoring of these Biomarkers could signal that a doping agent had been administered to a particular horse.
“California has long been recognized as having the premier medication testing program in the country and it is important to me and the rest of Del Mar’s Board of Directors that we maintain that standard,” said Joe Harper, DMTC’s president and CEO. “Biomarker testing is some of the most up-to-date science available and it makes great sense to embrace it. We need a level playing field in our sport and the safest possible environment for our horses and riders.”
Additionally, DMTC also has increased its veterinarian staffing levels to allow for extra out-of-competition medication testing, an increasingly important tool for detecting substances and practices not easily identified through traditional post-race screening. The Maddy Laboratory at UC Davis is considered the preeminent facility of its kind and will administer the testing and research using horses both racing and training at Del Mar.
“We owe it to the public – as well as the vast majority of trainers and veterinarians who play by the rules – to keep our testing vigilant and state-of-the-art,” said CHRB executive director Rick Baedeker. “So we have doubled the number of out-of-competition tests at Del Mar this season and we’re working with the Maddy Lab to pursue the latest technologies for testing.”
The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine recently appointed a second faculty chemist at the Maddy Laboratory to lead their development of methods to combat emerging threats to horse racing, such as novel anabolic steroids and gene doping. Dr. Benjamin Moeller, an expert in Biomarkers with a PhD focused on equine anabolic steroids, will develop the infrastructure to maintain an equine ABP program.
“We applaud Del Mar and the CHRB in their efforts to combat ongoing challenges in our sport,” said Jim Gagliano, the president and COO of The Jockey Club. “A clean game is the best game for all involved – horses, riders, horsemen and fans. We are glad to be part of this significant effort.”
Del Mar’s summer race meeting continues through Monday, September 5, which is Labor Day.