The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has strongly urged the Kentucky Racing Commission to perform due diligence before it hires a consultant to evaluate the state's equine drug testing program.
In a letter to Bernie Hettel, the commission's executive director, Kentucky HBPA president Dr. Alex Harthill, a veterinarian based at Churchill Downs, asked if a search had been conducted, and if individuals in Kentucky had been considered. In March, the state Equine Drug Council recommended that Dr. Richard Sams of Ohio State University be hired as the consultant.
"At issue is the fact that Dr. Sams, while a very competent chemist, is not a veterinarian," Harthill said in his letter. "While he may be able to determine if a certain substance is present in a sample, he does not have the knowledge or expertise to ascertain the pharmacological effect it may have on the performance of a racing Thoroughbred. That would be the purview of a licensed and practicing veterinarian."
The racing commission on Tuesday acknowledged receipt of Harthill's letter. It also announced that its plan to award a new equine drug-testing contract was on hold because of technicalities. Drug council activities have stalled because of the efforts the Gluck Equine Research Center has put into finding the cause of mare reproductive loss syndrome in Central Kentucky.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners has adopted a resolution that supports medication rules now in place in Kentucky, and supports the "humane treatment of horses that suffer from exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage."
The resolution, which passed unanimously June 20, was signed by Dr. Jerry Johnson, chairman of the KAEP, and Drs. Robert Copelan, Daryl Easley, Arnold Pessin, Mark Cheney, and Peter Pryor.
Last October, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, to which some KAEP members belong, adopted a new medication policy that, among other things, calls for a ban on all raceday medications other than the diuretic furosemide to treat internal bleeding. Kentucky allows administration of other therapeutic medications, such as phenylbutazone, the day of a race.