Commission May Appeal Drug Ruling

Louisiana Racing Commission mulls options after Senate committee strikes down rules.

After the Louisiana Senate Commerce Committee struck down the Louisiana State Racing Commission’s adoption of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium model rules for medication Feb. 11, the commission is yet to decide its next move.

The Senate committee said it rejected the regulations due to the racing commission’s failure to properly follow the procedures for adoption. The Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association argued before the committee that the racing commission had abused the “emergency procedure” provision over the past five years.

“The commission is in the process of evaluating the actions of the senate,” Charles Gardiner, executive director of the racing commission, said Feb. 14. “(The commission has) options and will continue to mull over all of its options.”

One of the options, according to Gardiner, is to appeal to Gov. Bobby Jindal to override the Senate committee’s decision. After receipt of the report of the subcommittee, the governor has 10 calendar days in which to disapprove the action taken by the subcommittee. The governor received the subcommittee report Feb. 12.

The model rules, adopted by many other racing jurisdictions, went into effect Feb. 1 after being adopted by the commission in December 2007 following many months of meetings with horsemen and industry officials.

Under the proposed regulations that were stuck down, horses were required to be on the grounds five hours before their respective race time to undergo a pre-race veterinary exam and have their Salix shots administered on track. Also, horses were only allowed one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and an adjunct bleeder medication. They were allowed a flunixin (Banamine) level of 50 nanograms per milliliter.

The reversal by the Senate committee strikes down those regulations. Under the previous rules, Salix shots could be given prior to a horse’s arrival at the racetrack, three NSAIDs could be administered, and the allowable level of flunixin in a horse’s system was 200 ng/ml. Horses can now arrive at any time before their respective races.

“It was not that we were categorically opposed to all the model rules,” Louisiana HBPA president Sean Alfortish said. “Some of the rules which were adopted by the commission had no basis in science or fact. These rules also posed an undue hardship on the horsemen by requiring them to be on track with ship-ins five hours in advance and where necessary stall space was not available to accommodate the horses.

“In general, the rules were not ready to be implemented on an emergency basis because no emergency existed.”