Task Force to Reach Out to Other Breeds

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force will attempt to break down barriers that separate breeds in an attempt to shore up drug-testing procedures in horse racing.

Jim Gallagher, executive director of the task force, said his objective is to bring the American Quarter Horse Association and the United States Trotting Association to the table, perhaps by the time the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing rolls around in early December. He indicated that when it comes to testing, a horse is a horse.

"(Quarter Horse and Standardbred interests) are equal stakeholders when it comes to the quality of drug testing," Gallagher said. "It's really hard to separate (the breeds) when you're talking about testing in laboratories."

The initial round of "super testing" focused on Thoroughbred racing, but the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates the country's premier harness meet at The Meadowlands, expressed an interest in supplying harness samples for testing. Given Gallagher's comments, that may become a reality as the task force moves forward.

Gallagher and Dr. Scot Waterman, the task force's director of methods and procedures, will give another report on the super-testing program at the Symposium. It will focus on Class 4, or therapeutic, medications, which currently are being studied by an American Association of Equine Practitioners task force.

During the NTRA's annual meeting in Lexington Oct. 10-11, Waterman discussed a quality-assurance proposal for the industry. It would study voids in testing for non-therapeutics and why those voids occur. The answers, he said, would be used an "educational tool" for the industry, and a "proficiency exam" for laboratories.

Though a small percentage of the 1,272 samples tested in the first round came back positive, Waterman said the number could be potentially higher if multiplied by the total number of samples tested nationwide each year.