Standardbred racing regulators from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware said that they would work to harmonize regional harness racing rules and explore implementation of time-based limits on medication administration following a meeting at the Meadowlands prompted by calls for uniformity by Meadowlands operator Jeff Gural.
In addition, the Standardbred trainers and practicing veterinarians who participated in the meeting indicated a willingness to form a multi-state coalition to support enactment of Racing Commissioners International's (RCI) proposed Interstate Racing Regulatory Compact as a means to achieve greater uniformity in the regulation of racing through creation of a central regulatory body of state regulators.
The informal meeting was organized by Mr. Gural and RCI President Ed Martin to have a frank discussion with the region's regulators of horsemen, veterinarian and track operator issues affecting the conduct of the sport.
"There is a tremendous amount of common ground," Martin said. "We recognize that the best way to focus regulatory efforts on the cheaters is to be clear and consistent as to our rules and their implementation so as to not expend considerable resources chasing innocent mistakes to the detriment of the need to focus on activity that is clearly illegal or demonstrative of a pattern to sidestep rules everyone else must abide by."
New York rules are presently written to prohibit the administration of medications within certain time limits, affording the regulator the ability to detect medication rule violations through a laboratory finding or a review of veterinarian records, as has been done in several instances.
"The group will use the New York rules as a basis to explore whether a time based approach could work in these jurisdictions," Martin said, noting that representatives of eighteen RCI-member state regulatory bodies met via conference call on Wednesday and expressed a desire to explore a move in the same direction.
"The challenge we have is to deter illegal activity and there is a growing sense among the regulators that time based rules afford an additional way to pursue violations. At the same time, horsemen and veterinarians are telling us that this approach would provide a clear line that should not be crossed rather than trying to determine the nuances of the different testing labs operating in the various jurisdictions," he continued. RCI has adopted and recommended uniform lab standards, is supporting the RMTC laboratory accreditation project, and is working on an overall modification of its recommended model drug rules to differentiate between overages of legal substances appropriate for routine equine care and those that have no business being in a racehorse or any horse at all.
The participants in the meeting noted that the implementation of uniform national standards has been sporadic. To address this, the trainers and veterinarians present indicated support for the RCI proposed model state legislation to create a National Racing Commission using the interstate compact mechanism. They indicated they would start a multi-state coalition of horsemen and veterinarians to promote the concept in the jurisdictions in which they race.
In addition to Gural and Martin, the participants included trainers Jimmy Takter, Linda Toscano, Bruce Saunders and Kevin McDermott. Veterinarians involved in the discussion included Dr. James Mitchell, Dr. Paul Nolan, Dr. Stephen Dey, DHRC Regulatory Veterinarian Dr. Annie Renzetti and Dr. Scott Palmer, Chair of the Racing Committee of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Participating regulators included: Frank Zanzuccki, Executive Director of the New Jersey Racing Commission; Ron Ochrym, Executive Director of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board; Hugh Gallagher, Executive Director of the Delaware Harness Racing Commission and George Crawford, Racing Director of the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission. Counsel Rick Goodell and Dr. George Maylin also participated on behalf of the New York regulator.
from Racing Commissioners International