Report: Kentucky Tracks May Test for 'Shakes'

Kentucky racetracks could begin testing for "milkshakes" this spring under their own guidelines, officials said.

A milkshake is a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and a liquid force-fed to a horse before it competes. Milkshakes are believed to enhance performance. The old Kentucky Racing Commission in 2001 adopted a policy that banned the practice, but it never went through the legislative process and hasn't been enforced.

Officials at Keeneland and Churchill Downs told the Louisville Courier-Journal they hope to implement their own testing. Keeneland president Nick Nicholson told the newspaper the track hopes to have a plan in place for its spring meet, which begins April 8. Churchill Downs Inc. president Tom Meeker said the company would like to devise a protocol for all of its tracks.

It isn't known how the testing would be performed, and if it would be random. In Kentucky, random milkshake testing has been performed on Standardbreds only.

The national Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has set March 1 as the deadline for adoption of protocol for milkshake testing. It's possible the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority could prepare a regulation for milkshakes and send it to the legislature for approval.

Kentucky currently operates under medication rules that are "null, void, and unenforceable," according to a statute that governs policy. In January, KHRA executive director Jim Gallagher told The Blood-Horse the old commission's race-day policy for therapeutic medication never went through the legislative process and therefore isn't on the books as a regulation.