California Trainers Make Integrity Recommendations

In report sent to more than 40 members of the industry, the California Thoroughbred Trainers has made 11 recommendations on integrity in racing. Among them are use of surveillance cameras, a five-hour rule, administration of Lasix by state veterinarians only, and a review of medication threshold levels.

In the cover letter to the report, dated Nov. 14, Ed Halpern, the organization's executive director and general counsel, said the report "is not intended to accuse or indict any person, agency, or segment of the industry. Its purpose is to suggest ways of improving on current methodology and practices as they apply to the integrity and image of our sport."

The California Thoroughbred Trainers integrity committee has proposed the following:

n Use of detention barns is impractical, and creates a hardship for trainers.

n A horse found in violation of prohibited substance rules should be ineligible to compete again for 30 to 90 days.

n Horses scheduled to race on a certain day should be identified with stall signs and checked by security personnel.

n Surveillance cameras should be used to monitor horses on race day.

n Lasix should be administered by a state veterinarian, and the savings from reduced veterinarian costs should go toward camera surveillance. All Lasix administration would be on camera, and the syringes collected and tested at random.

n All horses should be on the grounds no less than five hours before they are scheduled to compete.

n Security personnel should make frequent spot checks.

n The California Horse Racing Board should combine efforts with racetrack security personnel to have a more visible presence on the backstretch.

n The CHRB's investigator-training program should be expanded to cover racing-specific training.

n The current practice of race-day inspection of all horses entered by a racetrack or state vet should continue to be a requirement.

n Threshold levels for medication should be reviewed.

As to the last recommendation, the committee said: "It is the belief of the committee that providing penalties for the presence of minute and inconsequential amounts of certain legally administered drug substances serve to mislead the public and tarnish the image of the industry...the danger of being found in violation of the rules prevents trainers from entering horses for unnecessarily extended periods after administration of legal and therapeutic drugs, and thereby reduces the number of horses available for racing."

In regard to enforcement, the document recommends that fines and suspensions be imposed with increased severity, that vets be penalized like trainers for any offenses, and that uniform standards for the industry would be of benefit.