The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said Aug. 31 it is "frustrated and extremely disappointed" with the decision by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to override a vote by a legislative committee that found new equine medication rules deficient.
Beshear took the action Aug. 30 and said the rules will take effect as planned Sept. 4. The Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations Aug. 27 found deficient the rules, which ban adjunct bleeder medications on race day, mandate regulatory administration of furosemide on race day, and lower the permitted level of phenylbutazone.
The Kentucky HBPA had lobbied legislators to reject the rules, which were proposed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission after more than a year of discussion. The horsemen's group has said it was blindsided when the KHRC moved forward with another regulation that would phase out race-day furosemide, also called Salix or Lasix, in graded and listed stakes.
"It is unfortunate that Gov. Beshear decided to implement the regulation without providing horsemen and veterinarians the opportunity to explain our side of the issue," Kentucky HBPA president Rick Hiles said. "On behalf of the thousands of horsemen we represent and veterinarians, I want to express our sincere appreciation to the members of the (legislative committee) for their consideration of our concerns."
The revised drug regulations weren't on the agenda for the Aug. 27 legislative committee meeting, but there was discussion and a vote. Of the 20 committee members that voted, only Sen. Damon Thayer voted against the motion to find the rules deficient.
Thayer said after the meeting the Kentucky HBPA was responsible for muddying the Salix issue.
The provision requiring regulatory administration of Salix won't take effect until the Keeneland fall meet in October. Lawmakers asked how much it will cost the state; there also are questions how the practice will work in conjunction with the trainer responsibility rule.
The Kentucky HBPA also said there is "no published researched that the identification of lameness is compromised at the time of a pre-race exam" when a horse is administered five micrograms per milliliter of phenylbutazone, also called Bute. The revised regulations lower the permitted amount to two micrograms.