Drug Testing Protocol Slated for Graded Stakes in '04

The American Graded Stakes Committee plans to install a drug testing protocol for all graded stakes in 2004 that will require laboratories to perform tests for approximately 140 parent drugs and their analytes.

The number of horses tested will remain unchanged from current state rules and the determination when to initiate administrative action will be left with state racing commissions. Performing the protocol on graded stake samples will be a condition of grade eligibility.

"We believe this protocol is an important step toward the goal of a uniform drug testing standard in this country and will assist the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium's efforts to achieve this goal," said Steven Duncker, chairman of the Graded Stakes Committee. "We look forward to the day that their efforts make this protocol obsolete,"

Said Dell Hancock, a member of the committee, "The American Graded Stakes Committee believes graded stakes should be subjected to the highest possible level of post-race testing because they are our best races and the horses competing in those races are the ones most likely to be sent to the breeding shed and influence the future of the breed."

As part of a pilot program in 2003, the New York Racing Association, Keeneland, and Oak Tree Racing Association, with the unanimous support of their boards of trustees, have agreed to voluntarily use the protocol on graded stakes run at the Belmont Fall, Keeneland Fall, and Oak Tree meets.

The three associations are currently working with their respective racing commissions to receive the necessary regulatory approvals. The protocol will be reviewed after these meets and adjusted as necessary before being implemented in all states conducting graded stakes in 2004.