Following the lead of other U.S. racing jurisdictions, the National Steeplechase Association will randomly test for alkalizing agents or "milkshakes" on race day. The enforcement begins March 26 at the Aiken Steeplechase in Aiken, S.C.The testing procedure will involve taking blood samples of random NSA starters prior to running. The samples will be tested by Philadelphia-based Dalare Associates (the NSA's official testing lab) for levels of total carbon dioxide. The NSA policy mirrors the flat-racing rules in terms of threshold levels, with the only real difference being the testing procedures. The NSA sanctions races at 35 one-day meets, which often have temporary stabling and other issues that limit the ability to do pre-race testing.
"We don't have the means to test every horse, so our rule will involve random testing and a post-race fine and disqualification," said Duncan Patterson, chairman of the NSA's Hearing, Review and Appeals Committee. "We will probably test more horses to start with, and after that the deterrent will be there."Patterson called the move necessary in the improvement of NSA racing. Studies have shown milkshakes to be most effective in longer races and steeplechases are run at distances of between two and four miles."We're following the national trend in testing for it, and we'd be sticking our heads in the sand if we didn't," said Patterson. "It's going to be a little bit of a logistics problem and will increase our drug-testing budget, but it's incumbent upon us to test for it."