Kentucky Horse Racing Authority Gives Final Approval to Drug Regulations

The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority on Nov. 14 gave unanimous approval to revised medication rules that had been the subject of controversy when implemented under an emergency order signed in August by Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

The final draft, which is subject to regulatory review and possible change by the state's Legislative Research Commission, differs from the emergency regulations as a result of feedback received during public meetings and correspondence received by the regulatory body and were not the result of "knee-jerk" reaction to the emergency regulations, said Connie Whitfield, vice chairman of the KHRA.

When the emergency regulations went into effect at the beginning of the Turfway Park meet Sept. 7, some horsemen protested by not entering horses at the track.

Under the regulations, the only medications permissible for race-day use are the anti-bleeder medication Salix and two of four adjunct anti-bleeder medications, administered up to four hours prior to a race. Three non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are permitted to be administered up to 24 hours before a race.

While the final draft of the regulations were not immediately available Nov. 14 because the specifics were being worked out before being submitted to the LRC, they differ from the emergency regs in several ways.

Among the changes are the inclusion of threshold levels for the therapeutic medications permitted on race day and the non-steroidals that are allowed up to 24 hours out, clarification on the permitted use of some linaments, ointments, and leg paints on race day, and revision of some penalties to conform to the recommendations from the national Racing Medication and Testing Consortium

The final regulations also give the authority to right to freeze any drug samples, the right to establish and publish threshold levels for prohibited substances other than those specified in the regulations, and allow for discretion on penalties between apparent inadvertent administration of drugs (overages) and intentional violations.

Other specifics include:
--Certain anti-ulcer medications will be allowed with some restrictions.
--An alkalizing substance that could alter serum or plasma pH or concentration of bicarbonates or carbon dioxide may not be given within 24 hours prior to post time for a race in which the horse is entered.
--Possession of a naso-gastric tube no longer is prohibited.
--Medication classifications also were changed, including the creation of a new class of drugs -- Class D drugs -- that will include certain medications, including Omeprozole, Ranitidine and DMSO, that formerly were considered Class C drugs.
--Penalties for violations of Class C and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug rules were modified. Violations involving a Class D drug now includes the penalty of a written warning to the trainer and owner. Multiple violations may result in fines or suspension.
--If a partner in a veterinary practice is suspended, other partners in the practice will not be prevented from providing services to horses as long as the suspended partner does not benefit.

The regulations are scheduled to take effect on or about Feb. 3. Any offenses committed under the emergency regulations would be included in determining penalties under the rules finalized Nov. 14.

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