Anne M. Eberhardt

NYRA Committee Eyes House Rule on 'Stacking'

The practice involves simultaneous use of multiple legal therapeutic drugs.

A New York Racing Association committee could recommend to the full board of directors adoption of a house rule to combat use of multiple non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

The NYRA Equine Safety Committee at its Feb. 27 meeting discussed the issue of "stacking," which is simultaneous use of legal therapeutic medications. New York Gaming Commission equine medical director Dr. Scott Palmer told the committee groups such as the United States Equestrian Federation prohibit the practice, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems in horses.

"If a horse needs all of that medication, it begs the question of a medical issue that may need to be addressed," Palmer said.

Officials suggested the house rule could state that only one of three common NSAIDs can be used. Committee chairman Anthony Bonamo asked members about making a recommendation to the full board and got no resistance to the suggestion.

In other business Glen Kozak, vice president of facilities and racing surfaces for NYRA, updated injury statistics for the current winter/spring meet at Aqueduct Racetrack. He said there have been 2,037 starts and three racing fatalities, though two involved an accident caused by clipped heels.

If those two are included, the ratio of fatalities to starts is 1.5 per 1,000; if not, its 1 per 1,000, Kozak said, noting the numbers "are tracking consistent with where we were last year."

Bonamo expressed concern about "tip hotline" signs disappearing from barns on the backstretch. He said NYRA doesn't know who is removing them, but trainers will be reminded to be more vigilant.

Palmer said he received three phone calls from horsemen who were "upset because they believe some of their brethren aren't following the rules. Those calls weren't related to the hotline.

Bonamo said he has walked the barn area and asked trainers to become "part of the solution," but he warned against jumping to conclusions.

"We need to be careful with this; allegations and rumors aren't always truthful," Bonamo said. "But I do think we're getting good feedback and good results."