Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear Aug. 30 said regulations designed to reform some aspects of the state's equine medication policy will be implemented despite action by a legislative committee that found them deficient.
Beshear's decision came after an afternoon meeting with representatives of racing industry organizations that lobbied for their passage. The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association earlier lobbied members of the bipartisan Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations to reject the regulations, which they did Aug. 27.
The regulations, scheduled to take effect Sept. 6, opening day of the Turfway Park meet, ban adjunct bleeder drugs on race day; mandate regulatory administration of the anti-bleeding drug furosemide, also called Salix or Lasix; and lower the permitted amount of phenylbutazone, also known as Bute, that can be adminstered 24 hours before a race.
In a letter to the Legislative Research Commission, Beshear said the proposed regulations were the result of more than a year of work by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and were subject to public hearings. The regulations earlier were approved by the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, which makes recommendations to the KHRC.
Beshear called for implementation of the rules despite the committee vote to "protect the integrity of horse racing and the safety of the horses and jockeys" that compete in the state.
"All of the regulations were approved unanimously by the relevant KHRC committees, and by the KHRC itself," Beshear said. "The regulations were heard by the Administrative Regulation and Review Subcommittee without objection from any member of the committee. The interest of the industry demands that these well-developed and fully vetted regulations go into effect as promulgated."
The regulations are to take effect Aug. 31, according to Beshear's office. The KHRC, however, in an Aug. 31 advisory said that in order to ensure a smooth transition and to avoid confusion, most of the regulations would take effect Sept. 4 after Ellis Park wraps up its meet.
The provision requiring furosemide to be administered by a KHRC veterinarian will not be implemented until Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, opening day of Keeneland’s fall race meet.
The governor's office said the KHRC will issue an advisory Aug. 31 detailing how and when the new regulations will be implemented. Officials said the regulations deal with Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing.
"We commend Gov. Beshear for his decision to protect the integrity of the sport and the health, safety, and welfare of the horse," said Dan Metzger, president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, which lobbied for the regulations. "These regulations are in place in numerous racing jurisdictions, and we are pleased that Kentucky has joined the medication reform movement sweeping this country."
The regulations don't include the provisions for the proposed phase-out of Salix in graded and listed stakes for 2-year-olds beginning Jan. 1, 2014. That regulation, far more controversial with horsemen, hasn't made its way through the legislative approval process.
Neither Kentucky HBPA president Rick Hiles nor executive director Marty Maline could be reached for comment.