Kentucky Equine Drug Council Forms Committees

In the wake of controversy concerning its new medication regulations, the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council has formed two standing sub-committees to oversee the next phase of integrating the new race-day medication regulations. The two new committees, which will report back to the council, are charged with developing medication withdrawal guidelines and better defining permissible medications.

"Ideally, we'd like to see some recommendations that the majority of people are comfortable with -- especially the withdrawal guidelines -- because I do think there is a really honest intention on the part of most trainers to conform with the law," said Equine Drug Research Council chairwoman Connie Whitfield during a Sept. 30 meeting. "I think they (trainers) deserve having the guidelines, and I'm hoping we can come up with some really solidly phased reliable guidelines that everybody feels comfortable with so that everybody wins."

After the guidelines went into effect under emergency regulations with a 60-day transition period Sept. 7, many trainers and veterinarians felt they were not asked for their input. The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association filed suit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, but the new regulations were upheld.

The withdrawal guideline committee includes: John Ward, chairman; Dr. Gary Lavin, vice-chairman; Susan Bunning, Rogers Beasley, Walter Hyde, Scot Waterman, Dr. Andy Roberts, and Dr. Marcus Cheney.

The withdrawal guideline committee will work alongside Kentucky Horse Racing Authority executive director Jim Gallagher who, after conducting meetings with racetrack veterinarians, compiled a list of "everyday" medications which he sent to various veterinarians requesting they provide recommended doses and withdrawal times.

Gallagher said he anticipates receiving the information from the veterinarians soon. He will then pass the recommendations along to the withdrawal sub-committee in order to develop a schedule.

"This is a pressing issue, and we intend to move on it as quickly as possible," Ward said. "We want to get in there and get things moving and continue with quality racing in Kentucky."

The related medications committee includes: Dr. Lavin, chairman; Woody Asbury, vice-chairman; Fairfield Bane, Dr. John Cummins, Dr. Robert Copelan, Dr. Foster Northrup, and Waterman.

Whitfield explained the related medication committee was formed to define "medications veterinarians would like to use but are unclear whether or not they are permissible."

A public hearing concerning medication guidelines is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 24 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Written comments are due to Kentucky Horse Racing Authority executive director Jim Gallagher Oct. 31.

Following the public hearing, all comments will be forwarded to the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission as a statement of consideration.

Kentucky's new medication policy calls for use of only Salix, an anti-bleeder medication, and two of four adjunct bleeder medications on race day up to four hours before a race. It also allows for one of three non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs up to 24 hours before a race. Under the current policy, two NSAIDs can be used up to four hours before a race.