Kentucky Equine Drug Panel Gets New Members

The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, which hasn't met since the fall of 2003, has been officially reconstituted. The council serves in an advisory capacity to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority.

The terms of members of the previous council expired this summer. Gov. Ernie Fletcher announced the new appointments Nov. 23 in a release.

Connie Whitfield, vice chairwoman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, will serve as chair of the drug council. Alice Chandler, who represents the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, was reappointed to the council.

New members are Sen. Damon Thayer, who will represent the Kentucky legislature; Susan Bunning, president of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association; Alan Leavitt, a Standardbred breeder and harness industry representative; Dr. Fairfield Bain, a member of the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners; trainer John Ward, who will serve as the racing association representative; Bill Napier, who will represent the Kentucky division of Harness Horsemen International; and Dr. Woody Asbury, who will represent pharmacologists.

The terms expire Aug. 1, 2008, according to an executive order by Fletcher. The council's meeting schedule wasn't announced.

The drug council last met in October 2003, a few weeks before Fletcher was elected. At the time, it was mired in debate over research projects and their method of payment. There also was a desire by some members of the council to spend money on out-of-state research. Supporters of the University of Kentucky equine drug research program argued the money by statute must remain in Kentucky.

Since then, the UK program, funded by pari-mutuel handle under the auspices of the KHRA, was suspended indefinitely. An April 5 memo to faculty in the Department of Veterinary Science said the decision to suspend the program was made after discussions with representatives of the KHRA failed to provide assurances the program would be supported in the future.

The college and the authority agreed to suspend the program pending a "full review of its past performance and accomplishments," the memo said. The research program, which received about $800,000 a year from the old Kentucky Racing Commission, was under the direction of Dr. Thomas Tobin.