In a meeting Oct. 9, the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council committed $1.5 million to fund a three-year program with the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium that will research and determine appropriate withdrawal guidelines for therapeutic medications commonly administered to racehorses in training.In the program, the RMTC will maintain a stable of 20 horses in training to be used for administration trials to establish withdrawal times. The horses will most likely be stabled at a Central Kentucky training facility and will be handled by a staff with racing experience. The details of the project will be developed by a joint advisory committee of the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council and RMTC board members.Many racing authorities in foreign countries that conduct horse racing, including England, France and Canada, maintain a similar stable of research horses. However, most universities in the United States that respond to RMTC requests for research proposals to develop scientifically defensible withdrawal times and/or thresholds for therapeutic substances use significantly fewer than 20 horses (that may not always represent racing breeds) and maintain fitness with treadmills. "In research we have funded in California with horses in race training, we found that they may metabolize some therapeutics differently than horses in a university research setting," said RMTC chairman Dan Fick. "In addition, our scientific advisors have recommended that a minimum of 20 horses be used in these research trials to be scientifically valid."According to RMTC executive director Dr. Scot Waterman, "Another benefit of this project is that eventually we will be able to do administration trials for university researchers at a considerable cost savings."The RMTC is in the process of surveying racing commissions and directly contacting regulatory veterinarians to obtain existing recommended withdrawal times for therapeutic medications. The RMTC will then produce a printed guidebook and offer an online reference for horsemen that will reference therapeutic medications commonly used in race training and provide the recommended withdrawal times for each state. The online guide will be available on the RMTC website at www.rmtcnet.com. As research is completed for each therapeutic medication, the RMTC will recommend a withdrawal time that it will encourage all state racing commissions to adopt.
"We appreciate the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council's commitment to the RMTC," Fick said. "Its pledge will enable the RMTC to shift more research funds to identifying illegal and prohibited drugs and developing tests to detect them."