Horsemen Wary of Florida Drug Positives

Florida positives for a widely-used therapeutic tranquilizer have horsemen on edge.

At least five Florida positives for a widely-used therapeutic tranquilizer have horsemen’s groups on edge.

The positive tests were for fluphenazine, which is considered a therapeutic drug even though it is a Class II substance. Horsemen’s representatives said the drug is commonly used and recognized as therapeutic by the American Association of Equine Practitioners and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association executive director Kent Stirling said Jan. 12 he received confirmation of two fluphenazine positives but heard there are at least five. Stirling acknowledged the drug isn’t uniformly regulated; cutoff times for administration vary from four days to 30 days, but some states have no guidelines.

“We’re going to be putting a warning on the overnight (sheet at Gulfstream Park),” Stirling said. “I’m told in one positive (the fluphenazine) was administered 39 days out.”

Because the drug is Class II, it carries a substantial penalty, Stirling said.

The tests were performed at the University of Florida laboratory, which also handles equine drug testing for Kentucky. The Kentucky HBPA was notified of the positives and the possibility that testing sensitivity may have changed.

Stirling said there hasn’t been a fluphenazine positive in Florida to his knowledge.

Dr. Thomas Tobin, an adviser to the National HBPA, said in a memo to horsemen the testing most likely was highly sensitive, and there are no threshold levels or withdrawal times available for the drug.

Sensitivity of drug testing and the need for uniform threshold levels and withdrawal times were topics of conversation and debate during industry meetings in December.