Unreported Medications Found in Sale Horses

Tests conducted on juveniles that participated in under-tack shows prior to the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March select auction did not detect any performance enhancing-drugs, but therapeutic medications were found in blood samples from three horses whose consignors had not reported the treatments, said Tom Ventura, general manager and director of sales for OBS.

One of the horses was given Butazolidin (phenylbutazone). The other two received Banamine (flunixin meglumine). Both are pain medications. OBS could have ordered the horses to be scratched from the auction, which was conducted March 20-21 in Central Florida. However, sale company officials decided instead to include the horses' test results with the rest of their sale paperwork so prospective buyers could review the information.

Ventura said 71 samples from the March sale were analyzed.

"We thought they were honest oversights on the part of the consignors," Ventura said. "In the case of the Bute, it was at such a low level -- less than two micrograms. That was below the acceptable level at the racetrack."

OBS might not always be so forgiving. "This is something new we are dealing with," Ventura said. "I don't know what we will do in the future."

Under Florida law, performance-enhancing drugs are banned at sales, but consignors can give therapeutic medications to horses within 72 hours of an auction as long as they report the treatments to the sale company. This year, OBS expanded the medication-monitoring procedures at its auctions of 2-year-olds in training to include under-tack shows. Ventura said no medication violations were found at the OBS February select sale at Calder Race Course.

Fasig-Tipton conducted testing in conjunction with the under-tack shows for the first time at its February select sale of 2-year-olds in training at Calder. Barretts had a similar program in place at its March select juvenile auction.

Fasig-Tipton officials said there were no medication violations at their sale. Barretts' president and general manager Gerald McMahon declined to release details about his company's test results, saying, "This is a pilot program. We are learning from it, and we're not going to use it as a marketing device."