By: Frank Angst

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will revise guidance for medication withdrawal times and thresholds in line with the Association of Racing Commissioners International guidelines—or expected Racing Medication and Testing Consortium updates, the most significant of which are changes to anabolic steroids.

At its regular meeting June 19 at the Kentucky Horse Park, the KHRC approved new guidance for anabolic steroids in line with the requirements it previously adopted that a horse receiving an anabolic steroid administration not race for at least six months.

Also the KHRC approved a new threshold for testosterone in plasma for female horses of 100 picograms per milliliter of plasma. That threshold is in line with standards approved by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. The KHRC expects the RMTC to adopt the standard this year.

Also, thresholds and withdrawal guidance have been added for cetirizine, cimetidine, guaifenesin, ranitidine, and omeprazole, and revised for detomidine and xylazine based on Racing Medication and Testing Consortium research.

In other news out of Wednesday’s meeting:

•    Churchill Downs Inc. executive director of racing Mike Ziegler told the commissioners that Churchill’s historical racing facility that is being constructed is on scheduled for a Sept. 1 opening. He said the building should be completed by Aug. 1 and the company will then have a month to install the games and put the finishing touches on the interior.

That interior will include large photos of the 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner Justify and Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Monomoy Girl. He said those photos will be updated from year to year.

Ziegler said Tim Bryant, who in April was named president and CEO of the facility, which will be called Derby City Gaming, is in the process of filling 200 jobs needed at the new facility. It’s located at 4250 Poplar Level Road in Louisville, Ky.

•    Kentucky Downs was approved to increase its historical racing machines from 775 to 1,200. That increase will see an expansion of the track’s building to house the added machines.

•    Kentucky equine medical director Mary Scollay said Kentucky has asked Tim Parkin, the veterinarian and epidemiologist who serves as a consultant for the Equine Injury Database, to examine the number of sudden deaths. Scollay said since 2015 Kentucky has seen nine non-musculoskeletal racing deaths not attributable to catastrophic breakdowns. That is more than the six reported in the state from 2007-2014.

•    The KHRC approved funding of a pair of University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center studies. Funding of both studies had the unanimous approval of the state’s Equine Drug Research Council.

The first study will examine if equine herpesvirus-1 blocks immune responses of infected horses. A total of $69,754 was approved for that one-year study which could lead to new approaches to containing EHV-1 outbreaks.

The second study will see blood samples collected of injured horses to examine if there are any changes that would have suggested that injury was imminent. The two-year, $144,488 study will include the collection of blood from horses tested after racing to act as a control group to compare with the injured horses’ blood. A pilot project determined emergency medications conventionally used in treating injured racehorses will not impact the study outcome.

Scollay said the study has the potential to indicate horses at increased risk of injury.