Barretts Steps Up Drug-Testing at Juvenile Sale

Barretts sales company plans to introduce additional drug testing procedures beginning with its 2001 March select sale of 2-year-olds in training.

"There will be some urine testing" conducted in conjunction with the auction's under tack shows, said Gerald F. McMahon, Barretts' president and general manager. McMahon said he would release the details of the new urine testing program in "a month or so." He declined to discuss specifics until that time.

In California, pre-sale medication given to horses within 72 hours of an auction must be disclosed. To enforce that requirement, there already is a random blood-testing program in place at Barretts, where samples are drawn immediately after the animals leave the sale ring.Barretts is not the first sale company to reveal the launch of new drug testing plans in 2001 for juvenile auctions.

Keeneland's board of directors endorsed the implementation of testing based on Kentucky's rules of racing for the company's April sale, and Fasig-Tipton will introduce a random testing program at the under tack shows preceding its Florida auction at Calder.

Barretts is among six major sale companies in North America that recently agreed to establish a standard upset price of $1,000 for their broodmare and paddock sales. The figure is believed to be high enough to discourage buyers seeking to acquire horses that will be slaughtered for human consumption.

"It will not prevent sale horses being sold for slaughter privately back at the barn," said McMahon of the initiative. "But it does send a message to our industry that the sale companies want to discourage the sale of horses for slaughter."

The standard upset price, which is scheduled to take effect no later than January 2001, was revealed in an open letter that appeared in various industry publications. In addition to McMahon, the letter was signed by executives of Fasig-Tipton, Ocala Breeders' Sales, CTBA (California Thoroughbred Breeders Association) Sales, Canadian Breeders Sales, and Keeneland. John Hettinger, a Fasig-Tipton board member and the owner of Akindale Farm in New York, and NTRA (National Thoroughbred Racing Association) Charities provided the push for the initiative.