Drug Test Results Questioned in Kentucky

The results of post-race blood tests in five horses that raced at Keeneland or Churchill Downs have raised some red flags in Kentucky.

Trainers Bobby Frankel, Bob Holthus, Mike Maker, Bob Pincins, and Mike Tomlinson were notified by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority that horses in their care tested over the approved limit for the permitted medication furosemide-- a diuretic commonly called Salix often given to racehorses because it is thought to prevent or diminish the severity of exercise-inducted pulmonary hemorrhage or bleeding from the lungs.

An additional Salix overage was also reported at Player's Bluegrass Downs, a Standardbred track.

In Kentucky, a first-time violation for a Salix overage call for a $250 fine with no suspension or loss of purse money.

Under state regulations, horses may receive up to 10 cubic centimeters of Salix prior to racing. The medication must be administered in a single intravenous dose at least four hours before post time.

Any post-race test result exceeding 100 nanograms per milliliter of plasma is considered a violation.  Drug testing for Kentucky is performed by Iowa State University.

Lisa Underwood, KHRA executive director, said the results of the five trainers in question ranged from 180 to more than 1,000 nanograms.

The trainers in question were permitted to ask for split samples to be tested at a KHRA-approved testing laboratory. If the split is returned to show more than 100 nanograms, then the trainer would be called before the stewards for a hearing.

Underwood said Salix overages are not that uncommon, but the recent number and amount of overages is something her office considers strange.

"It is unusual and we don't understand why it is happening," Underwood said. "We have spoken to the trainers and the vets and we have been trying to think why and how it could have happened but we are yet to come up with an answer. Our lab is doing the same thing they have been doing. Somebody is doing something different , but we don't know what yet."