The Thoroughbred Owners of California will join regulators from eight states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast by committing to implement the Mid-Atlantic Uniform Medication Program in January 2014, officials announced May 23.
According to a release, the agreement spearheaded by the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association "represents the most dramatic change in medication regulation and testing in the last 50 years, and could pave the way for national uniformity."
Dr. Rick Arthur, medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, said too often officials have played "gotcha" with owners and trainers, who had to worry they would be penalized for race-day residue from drugs that were legal and medically necessary when they were used.
"This is what horsemen have been clamoring for for years," Arthur said.
Arthur said the CHRB Medication Committee approved the regulatory language May 22. A full board review is expected in July.
Other participating states are Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The program includes a two-category drug classification system–controlled therapeutic medications and prohibited substances.
Furosemide (Salix or Lasix) will be the only medication permitted to be administered on race day. Additionally, regulatory thresholds and withdrawal guidelines will be spelled out for 24 controlled therapeutic medications.
Testing laboratories for the participating states will perform uniform testing using the same state-of-the-art technology and detection levels. To ensure the laboratories are working uniformly and to the highest standards, each will be committed to accreditation by the recently enacted Racing Medication and Testing Consortium code of standards for drug-testing laboratories.
"We look forward to working through the process with the California Horse Racing Board and horsemen to begin this program Jan. 1," TOC president Joe Morris said. "It is vitally important to help bring together a national effort and uniformity when it comes to medication."
"Implementing the Mid-Atlantic Uniform Medication Program was an easy decision for the TOC since their regulations practically mirror what we've been doing for the past year," said Dr. Mark Dedomenico, TOC medication chair.
"Horsemen have been asking for this for years," THA chairman Alan Foreman said. "The time has come, and we are finally in a position to do it. Many horsemen race in more than one state and, in some instances, on the same day. We are extremely grateful to the TOC for its support of this very important program."