The Indiana Horse Racing Commission Sept. 4 voted 3-0 to approve rules to regulate cobalt levels in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses.
Cobalt is a naturally occurring trace mineral, but excessive administration of the substance may enhance the performance of horses, and potentially become a health hazard as well, according to industry officials.
The action is based on recommendations in a staff report prepared by IHRC executive director Joe Gorajec. The report shows the results of more than 300 blood tests on horses racing this season at Indiana Grand Race Course and Hoosier Park Racing & Casino.
"The integrity of our racing product and welfare of our horses are of paramount importance to us," Gorajec said in a release. "The commission has now taken appropriate action to address this issue."
The threshold level for testing in blood will be 25 parts per billion, and enforcement of the new regulation will begin with races as of Sept. 30. The IHRC said any trainer whose horse's blood tests high for cobalt will be subject to disciplinary action, which could include up to a one-year suspension as well as a fine and forfeiture of the purse.
The release didn't indicate if any samples will be tested for cobalt from now until the end of September, and whether there are ramifications for the connections of those horses that already tested positive for excessive levels of the substance.