Consignors, Keeneland discuss drug-testing program

About 15 representatives of the new organization known as the National Association of Two-Year-Old Consignors met with Keeneland director of sales Rogers Beasley last Saturday to discuss the possibility of a drug-testing program for juveniles offered at Keeneland's April sale.

Florida-based 2-year-old seller Becky Thomas said the testing format discussed by Beasley is based on Kentucky's racing regulations. The proposal included mandatory testing of the fastest-working juveniles -- based on a time criteria that has not been finalized -- and random testing of a number of other horses.

Also mentioned, she said, were heightened security in the barn area and the possible use of the "super test" that is a key component of a medication detection program overseen by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Task Force on Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Standards.

Beasley and Keeneland president Nick Nicholson confirmed that the meeting with the 2-year-old consignors took place and said the sellers were asked for their input. But both Keeneland officials declined to discuss the specifics of the proposed testing program. Any new requirements that are implemented, they said, would have to be approved by Keeneland's board of directors, which is scheduled to meet in October.

Thomas is a member of the steering committee and serves as the chairman of the publicity committee for the new organization of 2-year-old consignors, which was formed in August to help improve the Thoroughbred industry's perception of sales of 2-year-olds in training.

Earlier in the month, it was revealed that management at Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton Co., Barretts, and the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. all had been discussing changes in the conditions of sales for juvenile auctions. Such sales have been receiving an increasing amount of bad publicity in recent months, with questions being raised by some horsemen about alleged medication abuse, and training that is too stringent.