The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association said July 24 it supports elimination of race-day medication use with the exception of the anti-bleeding drug Salix.
The National HBPA, in its unanimous action, said it supports continued use of Salix, or furosemide, only if it is administered at least four hours before a race by a regulatory veterinarian in the horse’s stall.
Salix and related drugs called adjunct bleeder medications are legal on race day. The National HBPA, meeting in Seattle, Wash., for its summer convention, said it supports an end to adjunct bleeder drugs.
The National HBPA based its position on race-day medication on scientific evidence that shows most racehorses will bleed sometime in their careers, and that Salix has been proven to reduce or prevent exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging. The group has long said use of Salix is best for the welfare of horses and jockeys.
“The National HBPA will continue to advocate that changes to the industry’s rules and regulations regarding medication be based on scientific fact, not opinions,” National HBPA president Joe Santanna said in a statement. “That’s who we are.”
The National HBPA, the largest horsemen’s group in North America with 30 affiliates, in making its case also cited what it called three “under-reported” facts based on data from the Association of Racing Commissioners International: 25% of all equine participants are drug tested in each race; 99.5% of all horses tested are in compliance with existing scientific standards; and 98% of 6,000 licensed trainers have no Class 1 or 2 medication violations.
The National HBPA also passed a resolution supporting efforts to enforce the “strictest penalties for violations involving pharmacologically significant concentrations of ARCI Class 1 or 2 substances which have no approved or indicated use in the horse and are not detected due to environmental contamination, nor are therapeutic, endogenous, or dietary substances.”
The support is predicated upon insuring suspected violators are afforded their full due process rights in accordance with applicable legal requirements; testing facilities used in confirming a Class 1 or 2 violation are in compliance with ISO IEC 17025 accreditation and utilize uniform standards and procedures due to the severity of penalties capable of being imposed; and that no substance or agent should be added to the list of Class 1 or 2 of prohibited substances without scientific evidence that justifies such action and with prior consultation with the veterinary and scientific community and industry stakeholders.
“I believe that the public positions taken by our board send the message out that while we and industry regulators may still have work to do on how we regulate and penalize horsemen with regard to the use of legitimate therapeutic medications, we are very much united with regulators on passing even tougher penalties for those found guilty of using substances that we all agree don’t belong anywhere near a horse—the performance-enhancing non-therapeutic ARCI Class 1 and 2 listed substances,” Santanna said.
Also at the convention the National HBPA presented its Industry Service Award to Arkansas HBPA president and National HBPA secretary-treasurer and past president Bill Walmsley, who the group said has “been instrumental in uniting and strengthening to organization and raising its prominence and level of respect within the industry.”