Summit Comes Down to Time and Money

In the aftermath of Tuesday's Racehorse Medication Summit, it was all about time and money. Participants said they wouldn't have much more to say until the official minutes of the meeting are released, and that the success of any proposal hinges on a funding mechanism.

"I think it's important the industry understands that this is going to take money," Churchill Downs president Alex Waldrop said. "Is it going to be millions of dollars a year? Probably."

Jim Gallagher, executive director of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force, said several options for funding were discussed, and would be tackled again when the group next meets, perhaps in 60 to 90 days. The Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has suggested a per-start fee for all Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, and Quarter Horses.

Dan Metzger, president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, said horse owners will have to play a major role in supporting a uniform medication program. "I think owners have an obligation," he said. "They have an awesome responsibility making sure this program gets off the ground."

In related business, summit participants revealed Wednesday that there is a consensus that furosemide be permitted for use in all racehorses. That means they wouldn't need to be certified as bleeders.

"The system now used is somewhat of a mockery," said Alan Foreman, executive director of the THA. "If you want your horse on the bleeders' list, you can get your horse on the bleeders' list."

Officials said there is enough science to support a new policy on Salix, formerly known as Lasix. In comments Tuesday, Dr. Rick Arthur said all racehorses bleed to one degree or another.

Summit participants also said there was no discussion during the about seven-hour meeting on developing threshold levels for about 60 therapeutic medications as was reported earlier on Blood-Horse Interactive. That issue is being addressed separately by an American Association of Equine Practitioners task force on therapeutic medications commonly used in racehorses.

"We need to ask the racetrack practitioners, 'What are the therapeutic medications you need?'" Foreman said.

In yet another matter, officials downplayed the apparent confusion over who was invited to participate in the summit, and whether or not organizations had the right to switch representatives.

An earlier report on Blood-Horse Interactive said the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association requested that adviser Dr. Thomas Tobin sub for executive director Remi Bellocq but was told by the AAEP no substitutions were permitted. On the other hand, Jockey Club steward Dr. Ted Hill was permitted to sub for Jockey Club executive director Gary Carpenter.

Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, a past president of the AAEP, called the report inaccurate and said the AAEP would have approved the switch to Tobin had it been asked. When questioned, Bellocq said an attempt was made to switch representatives, but he wouldn't provide specifics.

Meanwhile, Kentucky HBPA executive director Marty Maline, and Dr. Arnold Pessin, a Kentucky-based consultant who serves as a voice for some racetrack practitioners, insisted they were told there could be no substitutes despite McIlwraith's claim.

National HBPA president John Roark of Texas called it a matter of "miscommunication."

Tobin is an adviser to both the National HBPA and Kentucky HBPA, and a leading pharmacologist. He was in Arizona Tuesday during the summit but returned to Kentucky that evening.

"The meeting was contrived, and it was manipulated," said Pessin, who recently polled racetrack vets on medication issues. "The racetrack practitioners are dead set against it. This is a total farce, and it doesn't represent the racehorse community."

There has been friction between some racetrack practitioners, particularly those in Kentucky, and the AAEP. On the whole, racetrack vets are said to make up about 10% of AAEP membership.

Gallagher said he believes the summit had broad and appropriate industry participation. For the record, here are the people who participated:

Dan Fick and Frank Vessels of the American Quarter Horse Association;

Lonny Powell and Dennis Lee of the Association of Racing Commissioners International;

Drs. Robert Lewis and Rick Arthur of the AAEP;

Stan Bergstein of Harness Tracks of America;

Bellocq and Kent Stirling of the National HBPA;

Hans Stahl and Hill of The Jockey Club;

Gallagher and Dr. Scot Waterman of the NTRA task force;

Ben Nolt and Scott Scepaniak of the North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association;

Foreman;

Metzger and Gary Biszantz of TOBA;

Fred Noe of the United States Trotting Association;

Sam Ramer of the United Thoroughbred Trainers of America;

Chris Scherf of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations;

Paul Berube of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau;

Trainers Richard Mandella and John Ward;

Drs. Tom Brokken and Milton McClure, both racetrack practitioners;

Ed Halpern of the California Thoroughbred Trainers Association;

Dr. Ron Jensen, a regulatory veterinarian from California;

Terry Meyocks of the New York Racing Association;

David Switzer of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association;

John Van de Kamp of the Thoroughbred Owners of California;

Waldrop;

Darrell Haire of the Jockeys' Guild;

and Dr. Rick Sams, a chemist from Ohio State University.

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