Kentucky Tracks to Test for Milkshakes

The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council voted Feb. 18 to recommend to the state's horse racing authority a set of guidelines for testing horses racing in the state for the practice known as "milkshaking." The horse racing authority will vote on the recommendations during its Feb. 22 meeting.

A milkshake is a mixture of a bicarbonate of soda and a liquid force-fed to a horse before it competes. Milkshakes are believed to enhance performance and possibly delay fatigue.

The drug research council plans to recommend a three-prong rule, consisting of a violation defined as: a threshold reading above 37 millimoles per liter; blood samples can be taken pre-or-post race or both; and split samples do not apply.

The harness racing industry in Kentucky and many other states has been testing for milkshakes since the 1990s. Major Thoroughbred tracks and racing jurisdictions recently made such testing a priority.

"This is so we can say that Kentucky will now be testing for milkshaking," said Connie Whitfield, chairman of the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council and vice-chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority. "And this is going to allow for us now to start working on a rule."

Jim Gallagher, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, said it is currently unclear when the rule will take effect.

"It's just a matter if it will be done through an emergency order or through the normal rule making process." he said.

Whitfield said she would like to see the rule in place before the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority will be looking at the testing rules in New York, California, and Virginia.

The Racing Medication and Drug Consortium decided at its January meeting to make milkshake testing a priority for 2005. The board of directors asked the consortium membership to adopt by March 1 recommended uniform penalties and testing protocols for milkshakes.