KHRA Seeks Legislative Guidance on Fine Powers

A debate over whether the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority has the power to fine violators of the state's new equine medication regulations has led the authority to seek clarification from the state legislature.

The KHRA indicated Dec. 19 the state's Legislative Research Commission has taken a stance that state law doesn't give the KHRA the power to fine violators. But some KHRA members contend the authority can issue fines under existing laws and rules that give it the power to regulate racing in the state.

KHRA member Tom Handy proposed a resolution to seek approval from the legislature to change the wording in the current regulations to clearly spell out the authority's power to levy fines.

Legislative subcommittees, meanwhile, will tackle the penalty phase of the new drug rules in January. The medication-related rules were approved Dec. 13 by the state General Assembly Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee and now go to the respective Licensing and Occupations subcommittees in the House and Senate.

Under the medication regulations, only the anti-bleeder drug Salix and two of four adjunct bleeder medications can be administered up to four hours prior to a race. One of three non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can be administered up to 24 hours before a race.

The regulation includes threshold levels for therapeutic medications permitted on race day and the non-steroidal drugs that are allowed up to 24 hours out.

KHRA executive director Jim Gallagher said he's seeking a change in the regulations so the claim of a horse found to have an illegal substance in its system could be voided. Under the proposal, all claimed horses would be tested following the race instead of just the race winner and one randomly selected runner. If any of the claimed horses test positive for a banned substance, the new owner would have the opportunity to void the claim.

Kentucky wouldn't be the first state to null and void a claim due to a drug positive. New York has such a regulation.

"There is a provision in the drug-testing rule specifically related to claiming races, and we'll try to incorporate the changes that were suggested into that provision of the regulations," Gallagher said. "Originally, there hasn't been a rule on the books that mandated all claiming horses go back to the test barn."

Gallagher said the proposed rule change would be sent back to the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, which would make a recommendation to the full KHRA. "It's going to wind up going through the whole process," he said. "We want to deal with this just in the claiming provision of the rule. Again, I think we'll have to get input from our racing associations because certain racetracks have (more horses claimed than others)."