Approval of Bute Rule Slowed in Louisiana

Horsemen said there is no emergency, so a hearing must first be held.

A Louisiana Senate committee rejected an emergency rule approved by the Louisiana State Racing Commission to lower the testing threshold level for phenylbutazone from 5 micrograms per milliliter to 2 micrograms.

The Louisiana State Senate Commerce Committee took the action Jan. 20 after horsemen protested the manner in which the LSRC approved the rule. The Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association claimed the change isn’t an emergency, and therefore interested parties should have had time to comment.

“We’ve got no problem with the rule, and the last thing we want to do is interfere with any of the tracks in Louisiana,” Louisiana HBPA president Stanley Selig said in a statement provided by the National HBPA. “We just want the commission to do this the right way. Conduct a hearing, let people state their views. There’s no reason this was an emergency.”

The lower testing threshold for the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone, commonly called Bute, is among the model rules adopted by the Association of Racing Commissioners International in recent years. It is in the process of being adopted in various jurisdictions that haven’t already done so.

The American Graded Stakes Committee made the lower Bute threshold part of its approval process for graded stakes effective January 2012. The LSRC acted on the emergency rule to protect grades of stakes at racetracks in the state.

Seeling said he expects a hearing will be held so “all sides can come together and have their say on the subject before a decision is made.”

A Bute testing threshold rule is making its way through the approval process in Kentucky. The rule and related penalty provisions were approved by the Equine Drug Research Council, but the two regulations still need to go before the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for approval.