A bill that requires the California Horse Racing Board to enact rules for testing total carbon dioxide in the bloodstream of racehorses has been signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.The CHRB's testing authorization has been held up by state regulations requiring split samples. The bill, by Assemblyman Jerome E. Horton (D-Inglewood), changes the split-sample requirement for drug testing as it pertains to TCO2 testing. It also designates the Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Laboratory at University of California-Davis as the primary blood gas testing laboratory for the CHRB.Mandatory testing for all Thoroughbreds in the state was instituted at last winter's Santa Anita meeting and has continued under the authority of horsemen's groups and racing associations who formed a committee to oversee the program. The bill allows the CHRB, which adopted a rule in January for TCO2 testing, to take control.
The tests determine whether an alkalizing substance was administered to improve a horse's performance in a race, a practice known as "milkshaking," a mixture of bicarbonate and/or other alkaline substances which is fed to a horse shortly before it competes. The mixture is believed to delay the build up of lactic acid in a horse's muscles, allowing it to run farther before tiring. Because the excess carbon dioxide in a horse's bloodstream quickly dissipates, testing must be done immediately after a race and makes taking a split sample in the case of a positive test problematic.