John D. Sabini, New York Racing and Wagering Board Chairman

John D. Sabini, New York Racing and Wagering Board Chairman

Courtesy New York Racing and Wagering Board

New York Uncorks New Testing Rules Jan. 1

Regulations greatly expand out-of-competition screening for state authorities.

New York racing authorities are authorized to conduct unannounced drug testing of horses that are expected to compete at tracks in the state even when they are stabled at farms away from those tracks under rules going into effect Jan. 1.

In a statement from the New York Racing and Wagering Board, chairman John D. Sabini said the new “out of competition” rules apply to all horses within 180 days of a race date in New York. The rules, he explained, empower the board to direct licensed owners or trainers to bring horses to New York tracks for testing when those horses are being stabled out of state within a 100-mile radius of a New York racetrack.

“Horses are sometimes drugged by unscrupulous individuals seeking to either strengthen or weaken their performance in the next race,” Sabini said in the statement. “These new rules give us the tools we need to go after the cheaters. By adopting out-of-competition testing rules, the board is protecting not only the wagering public but also the health and safety of the magnificent equine athletes who compete at New York’s four Thoroughbred and seven harness tracks.”

The board can place owners and trainers on notice that it wants to have its veterinarian take samples from horses wherever they are being kept, under the new rules. A trainer or owner who fails to comply with the out-of-competition rules can face serious sanctions, including suspensions, fines and possible license revocation, Sabini noted.

Further, if a horse is not made available for testing in a timely manner when a trainer or owner is directed to do so, that horse can be declared ineligible from participation for 120 days. Sabini said the board will be working closely with racing officials in neighboring states to coordinate testing efforts.

“The overwhelming majority of owners and trainers are meticulous in abiding by our medication rules, but  there are some who deviate and apparently believe they can lessen their chances of getting caught by drugging a horse away from the tracks,” he said. “Anyone who flouts our rules will inevitably find out the hard way that we are very serious in promoting integrity in racing. By introducing an element of surprise, we are sending a loud and clear message that we have zero tolerance for cheating.”

The new rules apply to both Thoroughbred and Standardbred race horses. Prohibited substances that will be tested for include blood and gene-doping agents and protein and peptide-based drugs, including toxins and venoms.