Texas Increases Number of Post-Race Drug Tests

by Raymond Whelan

The Texas Racing Commission has authorized the Texas Medical Diagnostic Laboratory to increase the amount of ELISA tests it conducts and decrease the number of screens it evaluates from urine samples collected for post-race analysis.

Officials have indicated the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test is cost-effective and highly sensitive, and it also tends to take less time to analyze a sample than one analyzed by thin layer chromatography. Plus, the ELISA procedure probably would uncover more Class 2 and 3 drugs, officials said.

Technicians at the lab near Texas A&M University can conduct up to 80 different ELISA tests for substances that could affect the performance of a racehorse, such as amphetamines and opiates.

Texas is the latest jurisdiction to increase the number of tests available for use. Other racing states are upgrading testing to in part accommodate the American Graded Stakes Committee mandate that testing for many more substances will be a condition of grade eligibility for stakes.

In 2004, Texas will host its first Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships when the event is held Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park.