The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, which operate as one entity, issued a statement April 12 saying it supports a call by the Association of Racing Commissioners International to phase out race-day medication.
Also April 12 the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors met to discuss the medication issue and “calls by individuals and organizations to embrace a strategy to phase out race-day medication in horse racing within five years.”
The KTA/KTOB, which has a seat on the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, said change is necessary.
“For too long, the industry has not listened to our customers,” the KTA/KTOB said in its statement. “Continuing to do what we like, or want, is not an option any longer. Without change, continuing decline of the industry is certain.
“Our current fan base and those we would like to attract as fans have criticized our treatment of our athletes. Current permissive medication rules are not in the best interest of the horse, the rider, or the industry."
The organization said more stringent equine medication regulations adopted by Kentucky in 2006 have been utilized by other jurisdictions, but that the industry didn’t go far enough.
“With all the negatives surrounding our industry, it is imperative that we provide a safe environment for our human and equine athletes and a level playing field for our horsemen and our fans,” the statement said. “The issue of race-day medication and pre-race medication as recommended by the RCI needs to be addressed in the same timely and efficient manner that we used when the industry banned the use of anabolic steroids.
“The argument that medication is necessary to have full fields and athletes capable of competing is not a valid one, as evidenced by Thoroughbred racing in the rest of the world. We encourage the RCI to move forward, embrace meaningful dialogue with industry stakeholders, and use all of its influence to eliminate the use of performance-enhancing drugs and medication in our sport.”
The NTRA board will meet again April 18 to discuss the medication issue further, officials said. The RMTC, a group of more than 20 industry stakeholders that seeks consensus on medication and drug-testing issues, meets April 19 for a board meeting.