By: Frank Angst

The model rules committee of the Association of Racing Commissioners International will consider an industry recommendation to expand out-of-competition testing when it meets July 14 in Seattle, Wash.

The model rules committee will discuss, and possibly act, on a Racing Medication and Testing Consortium recommendation to expand the model rule on out-of-competition testing—which allows samples to be collected from horses before they race. The RMTC said the current model rule on out-of-competition testing is too limited.

“The current out-of-competition rule is very limited as to which horses and what substances may be tested,” the RMTC said. “In order to have an effective out-of-competition program more consistent with other professional sports, the RMTC is proposing new out-of-competition rules that will protect the health and welfare of horses in training and the integrity of racing.”

The proposal would expand the authority of racing commissions who opt to perform out-of-competition testing by subjecting owners and trainers who have a racing license to be subject to testing on the horses in their care and control. The rule would give racing commissions access for testing to any horse—regardless of their location—which has raced in the state for a period of one year and to any horse nominated to their state’s breed or stakes program.

Additionally, unlike the existing rule that limits testing of substances to blood-doping agents, the updated model rule would allow a broader scope of testing.

“Importantly, this does not allow the racing authority to penalize the use of appropriate therapeutic medications but allows a broader scope of testing for illicit medications and provides information about the use of therapeutic medications,” a description of the proposal states. Additionally, the rule provides that some substances—for instance anabolic steroids—must be disclosed to the racing authority at the time of use. Notably, anabolic steroids, when administered, will require the horse to be placed on the veterinarian’s list for six months after administration.

RCI adopts model rules that its members are then encouraged to adopt. Some states, by statute, automatically adopt any updated model rule.

Some of the other model rules up for discussion or possible action at the meeting include:
•    A request from the Jockeys’ Guild that would see riders who earn a purse percentage based on a top finish receive that payment even if the horse is later disqualified for a medication violation.
•    The Nebraska State Racing Commission has asked that the model rule on trainers voluntarily surrendering their license while a case is pending be examined.

Also up for discussion will be New York’s efforts to regulate veterinary practices. New York is working to put rules in place that would prohibit the administration to a horse of any drug except to provide a treatment for a diagnosed medical disorder, or as a preventative medical procedure, that is generally accepted in the field of veterinary care of horses.

Also up for discussion only is a proposal from the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission to determine breed-specific thresholds for medications like Clenbuterol and Albuterol. (In the past the RMTC has opposed such distinctions.)