Texas Renews Equine Drug-Testing Contract

by Raymond Whelan

Just as it has done for several years, the Texas Racing Commission has agreed to renew its contract with the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory to conduct drug testing on racehorses and greyhounds in Texas next year.

In another matter, Manor Downs will switch to a mixed meet during April 2003, instead of the original schedule that called for two weekends of Quarter Horse racing followed by two weekends of Thoroughbred racing.

During a recent meeting, commission executive secretary Paula Flowerday said the laboratory based at Texas A&M University submitted the lone bid for the contract, even though requests for proposals were sent to other testing centers throughout the nation. And next year, Flowerday said, the laboratory plans to raise its fee for equine testing services from $64.75 to $70 per sample.

But during an evaluation weeks before the meeting, Flowerday said the laboratory located in College Station, Texas met every standard required for approval, including equipment, experience, methodology, record-keeping, and quality control.

In regard to Manor Downs, representatives of the Texas Thoroughbred Association, the Texas Quarter Horse Association, and the Texas Horsemen's Partnership indicated support for the program change.

"We think (the mixed meet) will give more weekends for horses to run back, both on the Quarter Horse side and the Thoroughbred side," Manor Downs president Howard Phillips said. "We think it will positively impact attendance and handle, and that's why we're trying it."

Manor Downs, located near Austin, still plans to race Quarter Horses each weekend in March and Thoroughbreds during the first two weekends of May 2003.

In other business, the commission voted 4-2 to suspend the owner's license of James Donnan for 60 days in connection with the accreditation of Chauffe Au Rouge as a Texas-bred.

Last year, Donnan claimed Chauffe Au Rouge and assigned Cole Norman to train the 6-year-old horse. Chauffe Au Rouge went on to win two races only for accredited Texas-breds -- the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame Stakes Oct. 6 at Retama Park, also the $50,000 Richard King Handicap Dec. 1 at Sam Houston Race Park.

But later, stewards disqualified Chauffe Au Rouge and placed him ninth in both races, because they discovered Red Attack -- the sire of Chauffe Au Rouge -- was not an accredited Texas stallion. Moreover, the stewards found Donnan could not prove anyone had intended to breed High Rent -- the dam to Chauffe Au Rouge -- to another accredited Texas stallion.

Earlier this year, Chauffe Au Rouge had his winnings from the Texas Hall of Fame Stakes and Richard King Handicap redistributed, and the TTA decertified him as a Texas-bred.