Issuance of new steroid rules in that timeframe would meet the industry’s start of 2009 deadlines for states and their racetracks to retain eligibility for graded stakes. The Florida DPMW is preparing its steroid rules in tandem with new rules on toe grabs and jockeys’ use of whips.
It held its first workshop Aug. 25 in Fort Lauderdale, with officials of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association. Gulfstream Park racing operations manager Bernie Hettel and several veterinarians also attended.
The Florida DPMW will review comments on the workshop through mid-September and schedule a follow-up workshop with industry representatives for October, said David Roberts, the division’s director.
“We are moving forward to adopt the ARCI model rules,” he said.
The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s American Graded Stakes Committee has required that states and their racetracks must have the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s model rules on steroids and toe grabs in place by Jan. 1, 2009 or by the date of their first 2009 Graded stakes.
Florida’s first 2009 Graded stakes will be the Jan. 1 Tropical Derby (gr. IIIT) at Calder Race Course.
The Florida DPMW also is considering tougher penalties for trainers whose horses’ blood samples show traces of steroids being administered during periods ranging between 30 and 45 days prior to a race, Roberts said.
The current penalty for a first violation is a fine between $100 and $500. For a second violation within 12 months, maximum penalties are a fine of up to $750 and a suspension of up to 30 days. For a third offense within 24 months of the second offense, maximum penalties are a fine of up to $1,000 and a suspension of up to 60 days.
Richard Hancock, executive vice president of the Florida TBOA, and Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida HBPA, each said his association supports the first steps the Florida DPMW has taken to adopt model steroid rules.
“The train is moving, and we need to get this done,” Stirling said.