Kentucky HBPA Targets Drug Council's Conduct

The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has taken issue with the conduct of the state's Equine Drug Council and has asked the Kentucky Racing Commission to make sure the council complies with regulations.

The horsemen's group has targeted use of council funds and the manner in which council members conduct their business. The issues will be addressed Dec. 19 when the Equine Drug Council will next meet to approve a 2002 budget and issue a list of medications to be studied.

At the conclusion of that meeting, the racing commission, which oversees the drug council, will meet to approve its new drug-testing contract. A request for proposals from laboratories was issued earlier this year.

Don Sturgill, counsel for the Kentucky HBPA, said the law that created the drug council -- funded by one-tenth of 1% of pari-mutuel handle in the state -- calls for the money to be used in Kentucky. Sturgill questioned the hiring of consultants, specifically Dr. Richard Sams from Ohio State University, from other states.

"This has caused a great deal of consternation among Kentucky horsemen," Sturgill said. "The Equine Drug Council is at odds with members of the Kentucky HBPA about the conduct of the program."

Sturgill also took issue with a Nov. 26 meeting held at the Louisville, Ky., office of attorney Ned Bonnie, a member of the Equine Drug Council. Sturgill produced a "highly confidential" memo that notified about 15 industry officials of the meeting, called to discuss the medication and drug-testing proposal released Tuesday morning by the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

No one from the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association was invited, Sturgill said. The National HBPA in October issued its own list of recommendations on medication drug-testing in advance of the Dec. 4 Racehorse Medication Summit planned by the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Commission vice chairman Frank Jones Jr. said people "shouldn't be paranoid about fact-finding" meetings and must consider all proposals, even those that may conflict with Kentucky policy. Sturgill claimed the meeting held in Bonnie's office wasn't about fact-finding.

"When you're calling in people from New York to California, it's not about fact-finding," Sturgill said. "It's about trying to drum up support for it."

Bonnie wasn't present at the commission meeting Tuesday and couldn't be reached immediately for comment.

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky HBPA, said the THA proposal conflicts with Kentucky's medication rules. He therefore asked why a member of the state's Equine Drug Council would facilitate such a meeting. Shoop said he knew nothing about the meeting.

During a Tuesday morning teleconference on the THA proposal, Alan Foreman, the organization's chief executive officer, said he believes the Kentucky "medication management program" would not become a standard for the country.

"Look, it's obvious some elements in Kentucky are going to have a problem with this program," Foreman said, "but that shouldn't be an obstacle to the rest of the country adopting a uniform program. I'm interested in hearing the Kentucky response. I hope they will open to the recommendations in our plan.

"This shouldn't be an us-against-them thing."