Wanted: Supporters of Change in Bute Rules

The National HBPA will again tackle medication issues during its summer convention.

The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association will address proposed changes in medication rules—including reducing the amount of phenylbutazone that can be given to racehorses—at its summer convention, but as of June 8 the organization was having trouble lining up panelists who support the changes.

The National HBPA convention will be held July 21-25 in Minneapolis, Minn., in conjunction with the 2010 Claiming Crown at Canterbury Park. The organization’s medication committee will hold its panel discussion July 23.

The panel, titled “Medication: Bute—5 micrograms…To be or not to be?” will offer a look at new pre-race inspection policies and related changes to the country’s 30-year-old policy on therapeutic drugs, according to a release. The National HBPA often discusses such issues during its conventions.

Florida HBPA executive director Kent Stirling, who chairs the medication committee, said June 8 he was having trouble finding individuals willing to sit on the panel to offer support for the changes, which will be considered this year by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. He said he hopes to have a few signed up by the convention.

“The policy for Bute has been the same for 30 years,” Stirling said. “The testing threshold is five micrograms, but they want to lower it to two. Even Europe is considering going with eight.”

Stirling will moderate the panel discussion. Thus far, other panelists are Dr. Steven Barker, state chemist for the Louisiana State Racing Commission; Dr. George Maylin, director of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board drug-testing and research program; Dr. Robert O’Neil, chairman of the Florida Veterinary Board; Dr. Thomas Tobin of the Gluck Equine Research Center; and Darrell Vienna, Southern California vice president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers.

Earlier this year the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium lowered the testing threshold for phenlybutazone, a commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, from five micrograms to two. The RMTC, however, kept the administration time at 24 hours prior to a race.

RCI earlier this year said it will look at administration cutoff times for all NSAIDs, and could propose extending them to 48 hours before race time or longer.

Officials have said regulatory veterinarians reported effects of NSAIDs could be impacting pre-race examinations.

The National HBPA convention will feature other panels on technology, the future of pari-mutuel wagering, and the proposed National Racing Compact.

The NRC has the support of RCI, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and other groups. The National HBPA board of directors is expected to take a formal position on the compact during its July 25 meeting.

The NRC panel discussion will be moderated by Turfway Park president and NTRA chairman Bob Elliston. Panelists are Alan Foreman, president and chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; Rick Goodell, assistant counsel for the NYSRWB; Ed Martin, president of RCI; Rick Masters, special counsel for interstate compacts under the Council of State Governments; Virginia HBPA executive director Frank Petramalo; and NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop.