Keeneland: Use 'Pragmatic Approach' on Drugs

Keeneland has weighed in on the issue of race-day medication use.

Keeneland said April 20 it supports “a pragmatic approach” in efforts that could lead to racing being conducted medication-free.

The Keeneland board of directors made the announcement after customary meeting during the spring meet.

“Keeneland supports measures to work with other Thoroughbred organizations to adopt a pragmatic approach for the phasing in of uniform medication rules, testing rules, and penalties that will result in Thoroughbred racing being conducted in a medication-free environment, both nationally and internationally,” the board said in a statement.

Keeneland is the first racing association to publicly comment on the issue, which surfaced in late March after two officials with the Association of Racing Commissioners International suggested race-day drugs--mainly used to prevent bleeding in the lungs--be phased out in five years.

Industry organizations including the National Thoroughbred Racing Association will propose an international summit on equine medication this year in the wake of conflict over calls for the race-day ban of anti-bleeding drugs such as Salix.

A release is scheduled to be issued sometime April 20, sources said. It developed from the April 19 meeting of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium in Dallas, Texas.

The RMTC, a group of about 25 industry stakeholders, hasn’t issued a statement or release on the meeting, though it was said to be contentious. Major industry groups have come out in support of a proposal by the Association of Racing Commissioners International to phase out race-day medication—Salix and related adjunct anti-bleeding drugs—in five years, but major horsemen’s groups in particular oppose such a move and have called for further meetings.

The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association said it will use its summer convention in late July to hold a forum on race-day medication.