Texas Agency Ready for First Breeders' Cup

Plans for enhanced security, drug testing, and licensing by the Texas Racing Commission have been in the making for more than a year in advance of the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Lone Star Park. It's the first time Texas has hosted the Cup.

"Virtually every department has been involved in planning for the Breeders' Cup," said Paula Flowerday, executive secretary for the racing commission. "We've worked closely with the racetrack as to what its needs would be, and made decisions on the requirements."

Flowerday wouldn't discuss the size of the security staff and how it compares to regular racing days in Texas, but she did say Tom Neely, the commission's director of enforcement, has worked closely with local police departments and the state Department of Public Safety.

"Everybody has a heightened awareness of security these days," Flowerday said. "We've met with Lone Star Park security to ensure we've got the area covered from a law enforcement standpoint without appearing overly intrusive. The people in the stable area will have an understanding of how racing works."

Breeders' Cup races will be run in accordance with Texas rules. The only permitted medications are Salix, the bleeder medication formerly known as Lasix, and the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone (Bute).

Flowerday said an enhanced drug-testing program would be in place Oct. 30 at the request of Breeders' Cup. Tests will be run on more substances, and on more horses per race. (About 2.5 horses per race normally are tested, but that figure will increase to at least four.)

The Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at Texas A&M University handles equine drug testing for the state. Flowerday said the lab would have additional personnel available to screen samples and have results ready by the day after the Cup. Usually, results from Saturday races would be ready by Monday.

Stuart Marsh, the commission's chief veterinarian, has been working closely with members of the Breeders' Cup veterinary panel, which inspects all of the Breeders' Cup horses.

As for licensing, Flowerday said the commission has had a busy week.

"With the number of people from foreign countries, we've had to do research on identification documents and address some language barriers," Flowerday said. "I'm pleased to say the licensing process has gone smoothly. We're just excited the Breeders' Cup is here, and we're ready to do our part."