State regulators in New York are proposing new regulations permitting ownership transfers in a claiming race to be voided if a Thoroughbred horse is discovered to be lame after a race.
The New York State Gaming Commission is also set to give final approval to a proposal first made more than a year ago to further restrict pre-race medications.
The claiming race measure is an initial proposal, meaning it would go to a public comment period if the board approves it next week. The proposal calls for a new veterinarian examination requirement for horses claimed in a race.
In a letter to the commission's board, Edmund Burns, the agency's counsel, noted that ownership of a horse in a claiming race was historically transferred once the horse left the starting gate. The agency in recent years has tightened rules for claiming races, such as letting claimants void a claim if, after the race, the horse was transported in a van from the track.
The new proposal would see claimed horses go to a testing barn. Following a cooling off period, "the state veterinarian, who supervises the test barn, would examine the horse for lameness, i.e, an alteration of the horse's gait. The veterinarian would determine whether the horse had grade two, or higher, lameness,'' Burns wrote. The grading system is from guidelines of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
If a certain level of lameness is found, the claimant of the horse would then have the option to void the claim or keep the horse. Claims also can be voided if the horse experiences epistaxis (visual bleeding) due to exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage during a claiming race. Until after the exam and it is released to the new owner, the horse remains the responsibility of the original owner and trainer.
"The proposal is intended to provide further protection for the welfare of racehorses by removing the incentive to enter a horse prone to such conditions, in the hope the horse might be claimed. A claiming race provides an opportunity to unload a horse that is prone to EIPH or lameness upon participating in high-speed exercise, conditions that would not be apparent to the examining veterinarian during a standard pre-race examination,'' Burns said.
Regulators say the proposal also adds a new layer of medical protection for the horse by having an examination performed after a cooling off period following a claiming race.
"It is not unusual for a horse to leave the racetrack without lameness only to show clinical signs of lameness while cooling out,'' Burns wrote.
Kentucky regulators are moving foward on a similar rule.
In a separate proposal set for final adoption, NYSGC is expected to approve a rule aimed at reducing "stacking" of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the period before a horse races. The agency said such use of drugs often can be used to disguise banned substances in a horse's system.
When the proposal was first made in November 2016, the commission sought to ban the use of more than one NSAID within a period of seven days before a race. After getting industry comment, including from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, the proposed rule was amended to permit administration of up to two NSAID drugs one week prior to the horse's race as long as one of the drugs is not used 96 hours before the race and the other is not administered 48 hours prior to the race.
The revisions also included deletion of a drug formerly marketed as Arquel from the list of NSAID's that could be administered one week prior to a race. The agency said the drug is no longer marketed by a pharmaceutical company and there is no "veterinary necessity" for its use one week before a race.
The revised plan was endorsed by the New York Racing Association and the head of a NYTHA aftercare committee, the state agency said.