Summit Has Helped Move Medication to Fore

Officials with the American Association of Equine Practitioners acknowledge that their "Racehorse Medication Summit" planned for Dec. 4 appears to have moved some organizations to action. But they admit the complex issue of medication and drug-testing can't be addressed in one day.

"We want every segment of the industry represented and to have the opportunity to state their case," Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, president of the AAEP, said Thursday at Belmont Park. "But I'm not sure why some industry organizations feel the need to come out with something closely aligned to what we're doing. We've been pretty clear--we've told everybody where we want to go (with it)."

The National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association recently release a drug-testing proposal, and the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association plans to issue a medication proposal in time for the December summit. Other groups have proposals in the making.

Use of therapeutic medications will be addressed prominently during the summit to be held in Tucson, Ariz. McIlwraith said the idea is to get a consensus "of a certain level (of a substance) being pharmacologially insignificant. It's too early to be picking medications and saying, 'This is what the threshold will be.' "

Environmental contamination and uniformity among racing jurisdictions will be addressed during the summit. Several trainers, including Bob Baffert, have cases of alleged environmental contamination pending. That issue is compounded by zero-tolerance rules.

Baffert said Thursday he's all for uniformity. "The rules should be the same everywhere, so we don't have to worry about it."

Jim Gallagher, executive director of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force, has said he plans to get regulators involved in the dialogue on medication and drug testing. That process already has begun in New York.

Stacy Walker, special assistant and public information officer for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said the board has formed a committee of industry members to discuss use of therapeutic medications. She said among the things to be discussed are the times (24, 48, or 72 hours before a race) that medications can be administered legally.