Kentucky Equine Drug Council Forms Testing Partnership with RMTC

The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council has allotted $1.5 million over three years to partner with the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium on a research project to determine withdrawal guidelines and threshold levels of therapeutic medications.

Funding for the project begins Jan. 1, 2007, and will be reviewed annually by the drug council.

Connie Whitfield, chairman of the drug council said during an Oct. 9 meeting, that further details of how the project will operate, such as where the test horses will be housed and trained, and who will be in charge of overseeing the training, would be worked out later.

"Because this is a collaborative effort, three members of the drug council-- Bill Napier, John T. Ward Jr., and Dr. Gary Levin-- will meet with members of the consortium to flush out the details and then return to the full drug council with their recommendations," said Whitfield, who added the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority would also review the partnership.

According to a budget put together by RMTC executive director Dr. Scot Waterman and RMTC chairman Dan Fick, the annual cost of operation, including labor, stable and office expenses, insurance, and miscellaneous costs, will be near $442,000.

The drug council will fund the project with a percentage of the total amount wagered. The money, 0.1%, must be used to finance drug research and testing research in the state, according to state statute.

The project will involve 20 Thoroughbreds trained under saddle, ridden by experienced riders, and supervised by experienced trainers. The horses used in the testing will similar in terms of age, sex, daily routine, housing, husbandry, and level of fitness. These qualifications will make this a unique study, as most equine research of this nature use smaller numbers, maintain fitness with treadmills and often do not use racing breeds.

All samples will consist of serum obtained from whole-blood aspiration. Samples will be frozen until shipped to the testing laboratory. A control sample will be drawn on the first day of the trial, prior to the administration of the medications. Following the treatment, samples will be taken daily for a predetermined amount of time. The samples will then be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Initially the blood sampling will continue until the results of the first run are known and the last samples are negative.

Selections of the medications for testing will represent the more important products used by veterinarians, and an attempt will be made to pair up drugs with similar characteristics or similar ingredients.