RCI Plan Targets Regulation, Drugs, Wagering

RCI has issued a strategic plan that focuses on the organization's priorities.

As it prepares for its annual meeting April 12-15 in Lexington, the Association of Racing Commissioners International has released a three-year strategic plan focusing on reforms in regulation, equine medication, and wagering security.

The strategic plan, released March 30, calls for creation of an interstate regulatory compact in the United States; a revised policy on use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and reduction in the use of corticosteroids; a public-private partnership to deal with wagering security; and protocol for canine welfare in the Greyhound racing industry.

The document states regulators are committed to working toward reforms and acknowledges the need for a “collective commitment to finding common ground,” something that has been a challenge for the horse racing industry and its many factions.

“RCI members have spent the past year identifying those issues we believe need to be addressed to improve integrity, equine and canine welfare, and uniformity in regulation,” RCI president Ed Martin said in a statement. “We look forward to continued progress working with the industry to advance these items.”

Work on the proposed “Racing and Wagering Regulatory Compact” has been ongoing. RCI and the Council of State Governments already have developed model legislation in conjunction with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, The Jockey Club, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, the United States Trotting Association, and Keeneland.

The groups plan to spend 2010 garnering support for state-by-state legislation, which is needed to enact the compact. RCI said it hopes the compact can be enacted in a core of states in 2011; the NTRA last year identified the top states by total pari-mutuel handle.

As for equine medication, RCI said overuse of NSAIDs, which alleviate inflammation and pain, “may jeopardize the all-important pre-race exam and may be masking ailments that could jeopardize equine and rider safety.” Bute and Banamine are among the commonly-used NSAIDs.

Last year, RCI announced a push to change the cutoff for administration of NSAIDs from 24 hours prior to a race to 48 hours or longer. Representatives of horsemen’s groups questioned the move, citing a need for more research.

RCI said it hopes to get “firm research” from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium this year. It also said reduction in use of corticosteroids hinges on research by the RMTC.

Corticosteroids—those commonly used in horses include dexamethasone, prednisone, and triamcinolone—have strong anti-inflammatory capabilities are designed to be used therapeutically. They are injected into joints to alleviate swelling.

The RMTC previously said it intends to pursue research into corticosteroids.

The RCI strategic plan states a public-private partnership is needed to tackle wagering security issues. The partnership must involve regulators, racetracks, tote companies, and advance deposit wagering providers, the plan states.

A focal point of the canine welfare initiative is a study of track surfaces used for Greyhound racing.

The strategic plan will be discussed at various meetings during the annual conference.