Kentucky Drug-Test Upgrade Needed for BC

Out-of-competition testing in Kentucky should be in place for Breeders' Cup.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission hopes to expedite regulations for out-of-competition testing and have them in place in time for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs.

Breeders’ Cup has employed out-of-competition testing in New Jersey and California the past three years. Such protocol has involved the testing of horses in other jurisdictions in the United States and internationally before they arrive for the World Championships.

Out-of-competition testing has the support of the Racing Medication and Drug Testing Consortium, which said the practice is employed in six states and the province of Ontario. It mainly entails testing for blood-doping agents and carries with it serious penalties in the case of positive tests.

The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council continued its discussion of out-of-competition testing Aug. 10 but didn’t reach consensus. Given the short time frame—Breeders’ Cup is scheduled for Nov. 5-6—emergency regulations would be necessary.

“We have a draft proposal (for out-of-competition testing),” said Dr. Jerry Yon, chairman of the drug council and a member of the KHRC. “This is going to be a project that will continue.”

The KHRC was notified of Breeders’ Cup testing requirements when Breeders’ Cup signed the 2010 contract with Churchill Downs last year, said Dora Delgado, Breeders’ Cup senior vice president of racing and nominations. Delgado has been working with KHRC equine medical director Dr. Mary Scollay-Ward on the regulations.

“Churchill did not want to enact just a house rule, and the KHRC wanted to have it permanently on the books, but in order to do that they had to draft it as an emergency regulation, which has the benefit of going into effect immediately,” Delgado said Aug. 11. “If they had drafted it as a regular commission rule, it might have taken longer than expected to enact, and that could have pushed it past the event date."

"We're fully confident everything will be in place," Delgado said, noting she hopes the regulations are published by mid-September.

In 2009, the KHRC worked with the California Horse Racing Board to ensure out-of-competition testing samples were taken from Kentucky-based horses that shipped to California for the World Championships, Delgado said.

Because out-of-competition testing isn’t performed on race day, and samples often are taken at facilities other than racetracks, the process is more complicated. It is, however, considered a strong deterrent when regulations are on the books.