Anne M. Eberhardt

Revised Drug Rules Have Provision for Salix

The Jockey Club wants drug-free racing but acknowledges need for transition.

In a change designed to win support of its Reformed Racing Medication Rules, The Jockey Club has added a provision governing regulatory administration of furosemide on race day as jurisdictions consider phasing out use of the medication.

Rules for regulatory or third-party administration of the anti-bleeding drug also called Salix or Lasix were originally included in a draft of the Reformed Racing Medication Rules. When the document was unveiled this spring, the provision was removed, effectively banning Salix administration on race day.

Only Kentucky has taken regulatory action to phase out Salix, but only in graded or listed stakes beginning in 2014. New York is considering a phase out, and West Virginia is planning a fact-finding meeting on the issue.

The Jockey Club still supports phased elimination of Salix for all races in the United States. The organization didn't discuss the document change during the Aug. 12 Round Table conference in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., but the Reformed Racing Medication Rules do acknowledge the need for a transitional period.

Matt Iuliano, executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club, after the conference said the current climate warranted a provision to "provide guidance for regulation (of Salix) during the transitional period." He said The Jockey Club doesn't want to stymie "thoughtful dialogue" on the Reformed Racing Medication Rules because of one issue.

The rules call for Salix administration of 150 milligrams to 500 milligrams not less than four hours before a race. Samples with more than 37 millimoles of carbon dioxide per liter of blood will result in a positive test.

"The Lasix debate has paralyzed and crippled the industry by stalling much-need reform," said Alan Foreman, chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "I think The Jockey Club is acknowledging that. I think has been great frustration in the industry in that regard."

The Reformed Racing Medication Rules also were changed to say that clenbuterol, a bronchodilator believed to have steroidal effects, can't be administered within 21 days of a race. The previous version of the rules called for a 10-day cutoff.

Racing jurisdictions have gradually been adopting a model rule that lowers the regulatory limit for phenylbutazone, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug known as Bute, to two micrograms per millimeter of serum or plasma from five micrograms. The revised Reformed Racing Medication Rules, however, list the limit at one microgram per milliliter.

The rules have been endorsed by the American American Quarter Horse Association and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. The Thoroughbred Racing Associations earlier this year issued a policy list that basically reflects the revised Jockey Club document released at the Round Table.

Jockey Club vice chairman Stuart Janney III said the American Association of Equine Practitioners has agreed to review the Reformed Racing Medication Rules. The AAEP has not yet endorsed the document.

"We look forward to working with them on an endorsement," Janney said. "The time for a uniform medication rule book is here."