Delaware Moves Ahead on Graded Stakes Testing

The Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission and Delaware Park have decided the drug-testing protocol of the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association be adopted voluntarily.

The committee has pushed back the deadline for implementation of its plan to upgrade drug tests on all graded stakes pending a meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Aug. 12. On July 14, the Delaware commission voted unanimously to proceed with support from Delaware Park, the only Thoroughbred racetrack in the state.

"The Delaware racing commission intends to comply with the recommendations of the graded stakes committee by doing this type of extensive drug testing on our graded stakes and other major events," commission chairman Bernard Daney said in a prepared statement. "The most important thing that the Delaware commission can do in addition to protecting the public's interest is to advocate for the health and welfare of the horse and to limit the use of prohibited medications."

All of the special testing performed on graded stakes July 17-18, Delaware Handicap (gr. II) weekend, produced no positives, the commission said in a release.

In other business, the racing commission is spearheading a movement to have all jockeys use a newly developed "padded whip" to also minimize any abuse to horses. The commission at its last two meetings displayed a padded whip currently used by Steeplechase riders in North America and extensively in Great Britain.

The current sample whip the commission looked at is 26.5 inches in length and weighs 0.30 pounds. The padded portion of the whip reportedly is less likely to cause welts.

The commission is awaiting a sample of a 28-inch whip and a 30-inch whip prior to holding a public hearing on the change. The Delaware Park jockey colony has been positive in its reaction to the new whip.