Ellis Park to Conduct Random Milkshake Testing

Edited press release
Ellis Park will randomly test horses before every race during its 2005 meet for alkalizing agents known as milkshakes.

Under Ellis' milkshake testing policy, the track will require a random number of horses entered in each race during the July 13-Sept. 5 meet to submit to a blood test administered by or under the supervision of a Kentucky Horse Racing Authority veterinarian 45 minutes prior to that race. Horses will not be required to report to a detention barn and will be tested in their own stall. The policy establishes a list of penalties for "positive" results from those tests.

Should an owner, trainer or any other person responsible for that horse refuse or fail to permit the collection of that pre-race blood sample, the horse will be scratched from that race and that refusal would count as a violation of the track's "milkshake" testing policy.

Ellis Park considered implementing mandatory pre-race testing for every horse in every race similar to the testing employed at the start of the Churchill Downs Spring Meet. After consultation with the state veterinary's office and the KHRA, Ellis Park opted for random testing.

Churchill Downs switched to random pre-race testing following the outbreak of equine herpes virus in mid-May.

"After a number of discussions, the state veterinarian's office and the KHRA felt confident that random testing would be as effective a deterrent as mandatory testing, while being much less disruptive to our horsemen," said Paul Kuerzi, vice president and general manager of Ellis Park.

Any horse found to have a blood serum total carbon dioxide (TC02) level of 37 millimoles per liter of plasma or higher will be in violation of the track's policy.

There are three categories of penalties for trainers whose horses are found to be in violation of the Ellis Park policy. They include:
--First Offense. The first horse in a trainer's care to be found in violation of the milkshake policy will be subject to "earned surveillance" for the remainder of the meet, which requires any subsequent horses entered by the trainer to be placed under 24-hour pre-race surveillance. That surveillance could include, but not be limited to, security cameras or direct observation by Ellis Park security officers and the trainer and/or owner is required to pay the cost of the additional security.

--Second Offense. Following a positive test which determines that a second horse in an individual trainer's care has violated the track's milkshaking policy, that trainer will be deemed a "persistent offender" and will be barred from entering a horse at any Churchill Downs Incorporated track for a period of 30 days.

--Third Offense. When an individual trainer has a third horse that tests "positive" for alkalizing agents in excess of accepted levels, that trainer will be expelled from the grounds of Ellis Park for six months and prohibited from entering any horse in his or her care at any CDI facility for six months.

Milkshakes are generally a mixture of items that include bicarbonate of soda, sugar and electrolytes. The mixture is usually administered by a tube inserted in the horse's nose and is absorbed quickly into a horse's system. The milkshake increases the level of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, which curbs the buildup of lactic acid in the horse's muscles and wards off fatigue.