Fletcher Signs Emergency Drug Rules In Kentucky

Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed emergency regulations Aug. 19 that will limit race-day equine medication on race day effective Sept. 7. The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority approved the regulations only four days earlier.

The regulations allow for use of the bleeder medication Salix but eliminate non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, of which two are currently allowed up to four hours before a race. There appears to be some confusion, however, over use of adjunct bleeder medications on race day.

An Aug. 19 release from Fletcher's office says one adjunct bleeder medication can be used. But a copy of the regulations received from the KHRA says two of four adjuncts can be used. KHRA executive director Jim Gallagher after the authority meeting also said up to two adjuncts could be used.

The release doesn't spell out whether the new policy pertains only to Thoroughbred racing, though the first page of the regulations mentions "conditions under which Thoroughbred racing shall be conducted in Kentucky." The Standardbred industry has requested its more restrictive medication policy, which allows for only Salix on race day, not be changed for the sake of uniformity.

The race-day medication policy currently in use in Kentucky allows for use of up to five substances: Salix; up to two non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (one must be phenylbutazone, with a choice of Banamine, flunixin, ketoprofen, meclofemanic acid, or naproxen); one steroidal drug (either dexamethasone, prednisolone, or prednisone); and Amicar, an adjunct bleeder medication.

The policy was adopted by the old Kentucky Racing Commission in 2002 but didn't go through the regulatory process. Previously, more than 15 drugs were available for use up to four hours before a race.

The regulation now offered by the KHRA lists four adjunct bleeder medications--aminocaproic acid, carbazochrome, conjugated estrogens, and tranexamic acide--two of which can be used up to four hours before a race. One NSAID can be used up to 24 hours before a race.

The release from Fletcher's office said the regulations fulfill his promise "to move aggressively to address issues such as race-day medications which affect the integrity and perceptions of horse racing in the commonwealth."

Said Fletcher: "This is a critical step in ensuring the integrity of Kentucky's signature industry. This high ethical standard will help us promote Kentucky as a model state for the regulation of the horse racing industry."

"Finally, the regulation of the horse racing industry in Kentucky will be approached with clarity, impartiality, and transparency that had been missing in previous administrations," LaJuana Wilcher, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, said in the release.

The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association opposes the policy change, and the General Assembly's Interim Joint Subcommittee on Licensing and Occupations is currently tackling the issue. The subcommittee planned to discuss equine medication again at its Aug. 26 meeting.

The KHRA will now file permanent regulations with the Legislative Research Commission and will accept public comment on them.