NY Set to Act on Task Force Findings

Regulators could adopt many of them at a meeting Oct. 11, officials said.

New York racing officials are set to begin implementing new rules based on recommendations by a recent industry task force report to increase safety conditions for horses and jockeys.

The expected action Oct. 11 by the state New York State Racing and Wagering Board comes a couple weeks after the Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety issued a 100-page report outlining deficiencies in state rules and practices at the New York Racing Association that helped contribute to last winter's high number of equine deaths at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The first round of regulations set to be adopted by the NYSRWB pertain to emergency-type rule-making procedures, mostly involving equine medication restrictions. Some broader recommendations by the task force, including creating the position of equine medical director and overhauling veterinarians practice at the racetracks, are still being reviewed by state officials.

One of the expected new rules amends a regulation adopted earlier this year by the NYSRWB that voids a claim if a horse dies on the track. The additional restriction calls for a new owner to void a claim within one hour of a claiming race if a horse has to be vanned off the track.

Another new regulation requires that a claimant be notified, within 48 hours after a claim is finalized, of any intra-articular corticosteroid administrations to the horse within 30 days of the race.

Improved recordkeeping requirements are also on tap, including adoption of a rule requiring trainers to maintain accurate records of all corticosteroid joint injections to horses and a further requirement that records of any such injection be turned over to the NYSRWB within 48 hours of a treatment. The records must be accessible to veterinarians to help with pre-race screenings, the rule states.

Other rules set to be adopted on an emergency basis that were proposed by the equine task force include banning the intra-articular administration of methylprednisolone within 15 days of the date of a race as well as the administration of all other intra-articular corticosteroids within seven days of the date of a race.

Also, systemic corticosteroids will be banned within five days of a race date and clenbuterol, a bronchodilator, will be prohibited within 21 days of a race. One emergency rule originally proposed by the task force pertaining to changing the purse-to-claim ratio is still being studied by the state and will not be part of the Oct. 11 agenda.

"These amendments will implement these important and significant regulatory measures to protect the safety and health of Thoroughbred race horses and jockeys in New York state," said a NYSRWB staff member.

The proposed emergency rules were released the same day The Jockey Club called on New York officials to quickly enact equine safety recommendations recommended by an outside panel of industry experts, saying horse and rider safety issues are at stake. The Jockey Club also recommended many of the ideas proposed by the Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety be put in place in states across the country.

In a letter to NYSRWB officials, the Jockey Club's executive vice president and executive director, Matt Iuliano, said many of the task force's recommendations are similar to those already made in the past by The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee.

"In particular, we commend and applaud the task force for the urgency expressed in its recommendation pertaining to the administration of corticosteroids and the 21-day withdrawal time for clenbuterol," Iuliano wrote state officials. "These measures go even further than we have gone in the Reformed Racing Medication Rules, but we plan to incorporate the task force's recommendations and will encourage other racing jurisdictions to follow the example set by New York."