Mid-Atlantic Regulators to Renew Medication Meetings

Mid-Atlantic regulators and the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association are scheduled to meet June 12 in New Jersey to discuss medication and drug-testing issues on a regional and national scope.

Similar meetings had been held on a regular basis until June 2002, when the group opted to sit back and allow the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium a chance to get off the ground. In the past, the group has focused on uniformity in the Mid-Atlantic region, where horses regularly ship from state to state to race.

THA chief executive officer Alan Foreman has said in the past the Mid-Atlantic serves as a good model in terms of having similar policies state by state. On June 10, Foreman said it is time to renew the meetings, which include regulators from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

"We last met last June, and rather than finalize anything, we made a decision to let the consortium do its work and play catch up," Foreman said. "It's useful for the Mid-Atlantic group to get back together."

Foreman said word of the June 12 meeting has generated suspicion in other quarters in the pari-mutuel industry, which is extremely sensitive to matters pertaining to medication and drug testing. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association earlier this year made uniform medication one of its priorities, if only as an industry facilitator.

"It's the same group of regulators that has been meeting," said Foreman, whose horsemen's association has affiliates in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. "There haven't been any secrets. Hopefully what we discuss will dovetail with what the consortium is doing. There is no hidden agenda."

Foreman said he detected "frustration" during a June 5 NTRA board of directors meeting from the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and racetrack operators at the speed of the endeavor to devise an implement and national medication and drug-testing policy, and the need for "a core group to get it moving."

In April, Dr. Rick Arthur, vice president and director of the Oak Tree Racing Association and a member of the Racetrack Medication and Testing Consortium, said uniformity could be three to five years away. He did say the level of cooperation by various jurisdictions encouraged him.

The consortium basically evolved from the NTRA Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force. The impetus for the uniformity push was the Medication Summit in Arizona in December 2001, but since that time, only one race-day medication--Salix, formerly Lasix--has been accepted by the group.

Just before the Medication Summit, the THA and National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association released their own suggested medication policies. Both remain on the table.

Like the THA, the HBPA has affiliates in the Mid-Atlantic region. The HBPA is represented at two tracks in Pennsylvania, one in Virginia, and two in West Virginia.