Kentucky HBPA Survey: 90% Support Medication Rules

The results of a survey of members of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association indicate that more than 90% favor the current medication policies in place in the Bluegrass State.

The survey results, compiled by Crowe, Chizek and Co. of Louisville, Ky., are based on 731 responses received between Feb. 14 and April 2 of this year. The choices in the survey were "I do" favor the medication policies in force in Kentucky, or "I do not" favor the current rules.

Of the 731 responses, 665 (90.97%) favor the status quo; 59 (8.07%) do not support the current rules; and seven (0.96%) were determined to have irregularities such as unmarked ballots. One ballot was returned with a note that said Kentucky HBPA president Dr. Alex Harthill didn't provide enough information to warrant a vote.

The Kentucky HBPA has about 6,000 members. It wasn't immediately known how many were surveyed, but clearly more than 10% of the total membership made their opinion known.

Harthill told The Blood-Horse April 10 the results of the survey didn't surprise him at all. He said the reason for the survey was to "show how evident it is that people in the business are in favor of having medication in racehorses. I don't see how (the results) could have been anything else."

The Kentucky HBPA has been a vocal supporter of the state's medication rules in the face of criticism from other industry groups. (Kentucky allows use of multiple therapeutic drugs up to four hours of a race.) The American Association of Equine Practitioners and some other groups have said only furosemide (Salix) should be permitted on race day.

Harthill and other racetrack veterinarians say therapeutic medications are necessary for the welfare of the horse.

"Some people can't even begin to think that a horse would need an aspirin," Harthill said. "They just can't believe that a horse would need medication."

The Kentucky HBPA released the survey results for informational purposes, with no further steps planned. "Nobody wants to cram it down anybody's throat," Harthill said.