Following the lead of other states, New York racing officials have formed an advisory panel to bolster efforts to track new developments in legal and illegal drugs used in the thoroughbred industry.
"There's no agenda going into this,'' said Racing and Wagering Board chairman Michael Hoblock, who announced the creation of the Medication Advisory Committee Thursday. He said the idea of such a panel came out of meetings over the past several years the racing board has held with the New York Racing Association's organization of horsemen.
The panel will look at emerging drugs, help steer information about the use of such drugs and their benefits or dangers, and offer advice on adding drugs to the different categories of banned substances the board now regulates in the hours and days leading up to races, Hoblock said.
"Our intent is to have a group of folks who are considered experts with a great deal of experience to meet and discuss medication issues and advise the board on these matters so we can be better prepared on these issues,'' the board chairman said. "There's always a lot more to learn.''
The members of the advisory panel are Dr. George Maylin, the head of the New York equine drug testing program at Cornell University, Dr. Ken McKeever, associate professor of equine physiology at Rutgers University, veterinarians Dr. Robert Tugel and Dr. James Hunt, Dr. Ted Hill, the Jockey Club Steward at NYRA, owner and trainer Richard Violette, horse breeder Dr. Edward Messina, NYRA President Terry Meyocks, and the racing board's executive director Edward Martin.
"This can do nothing but help,'' Hoblock said of the panel that will hold its first meeting in June and then meet at least twice a year. The board cautioned that the panel will not be offering advice on the issue of penalties for drug infractions, which, by law, are under the ultimate purview of the racing board