EPO Testing to Begin in New York Nov. 1

Testing of post race samples for erythropoietin and darbepoietin antibodies will begin Nov. 1 in New York under an emergency rule approved Oct. 21 by the state's Racing and Wagering Board.

Post race testing for the tranquilizer drugs reserpine and fluphenazine may also begin at that time, The Harness Edge reported.

If a post race sample is found positive for erythropoietin (commonly known as EPO or Epogen) or darbepoietin (commonly called D-EPO or Aranesp), the horse will not be disqualified but will be excluded from competition until the horse is free of the antibodies established and submits a clean test.

Research has found that these antibodies can be present in the blood of horses for as long as 120 days, maybe even longer. Since the exact time of administration cannot yet be determined and could have taken place before the trainer was in charge of the horse, the trainer will not be subject to penalty under the trainer responsibility rule, the board decided.

The Board has worked in conjunction with the Ontario Racing Commission to develop uniform rules and testing procedures. Testing will begin in Ontario on Nov. 1 as well. New York is the first state to approve the move, which is being debated across the country.

Chairman Michael J. Hoblock and board member Cheryl Buley commended the work of Dr. George Maylin, director of the board's Equine Drug Testing and Research Laboratory at Cornell University for his leadership in the scientific community and for developing the test.

Chairman Hoblock said, "I appreciate the working relationship and coordination we have with the Ontario Racing Commission in this effort. Eliminating and deterring the use of prohibited substances in racehorses continues to be a major focus of the board's efforts."