New York Revises Bute Administration Rule

Board also revoked license of Felix Monserrate, who made headlines with Zippy Chippy.

New York is returning to a standard banning the use of phenylbutazone in horses in the 48 hours leading up to a race.

The state Racing and Wagering Board on Feb. 29 adopted a final rule revising the time and threshold rules affecting the use of Bute.

The new rule, adopted without comment from any of the panel’s board members, seeks to put New York’s treatment of the drug in line with other racing states.

Going back to 1971, New York had banned Bute in horses 48 hours before a race. To go along with other jurisdictions, including the Mid-Atlantic Consortium of Racing States, New York in 2006 changed the standard to a 24-hour prohibition.

Since then, New York officials said, the rule has been revisited by other jurisdictions that have since required the 48-hour prohibition, including the American Graded Stakes Committee.

New York officials noted state rules still permit veterinarians to administer the medication Flunixin 24 hours before a race.

The racing board, as expected, also approved updates to various equine rule provisions to bring them into compliance with the state’s new marriage equality law.

Staff of the racing board went through thousands of lines of state racing laws and rules to identify provisions that, in the words of one memo, “could give the appearance of unequal treatment of persons in a different-sex and same-sex marriage.”

The changes do not alter the overall intent of the various rules but are intended to match up with the purposes of the marriage equality law passed into law last June. Gone are what appear to be decades-old provisions that refer specifically to “husband and wife” in statutes pertaining to everything from equine licenses to suspensions.

In one rule change, for example, the reference to “husband and wife” pertaining to stockholders in a corporation obtaining a racing license would be changed to “persons married to each other.”

In a separate matter, the racing board revoked the license of Felix Monserrate, a trainer at Finger Lakes racetrack. Investigators last April found that Monserrate possessed eight hypodermic needles and syringes at the track, a vial of injectable Vitamin K, and bottle of clenbuterol.

Racing Board chairman John Sabini said it would be “inconsistent with the public interest’’ to let Monserrate continue training horses.

The board ruled that Monserrate cannot reapply for a license for two years, though it factored in a 105-day suspension he already has served. He was also slapped with a $2,500 fine.

Monserrate made headlines in the ’90s as the owner-trainer of Zippy Chippy, who was winless in 100 starts. In 2000, People magazine included him on its list of the year’s “Most Interesting Personalities.”

Monserrate refused to enter his horse in a claiming race just to get a win.

“I don’t want any crazy people claiming him. He’s like a member of my family,” he said at the time.

Zippy’s continued losing streak resulted in the horse being banned from most racetracks by the late ’90s, but he continued to run at the Three County Fair in Northhampton, Mass. It was there on April 10, 2004, that Zippy made his 100th and final start, finishing last. He retired with earnings of $30,834.

Zippy briefly had a second career as an outrider’s pony at Finger Lakes before being sent to an equine retirement facility in New York.