Day At The Track

NJ trainers upset over NJ Commission rulings

05:25 AM 22 Jul 2020 NZST
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Harness racing trainers are fuming over recent positive tests at the Meadowlands on their horses for phenylbutazone or Bute medication.

They now understand that the new medication ruling calls for no use of Bute 48 hours before a Standardbred can compete in a race. The former rule was 24-hours out.

The problems lie in that the trainers, practicing veterinarians and the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) claim they were never sent problem notification of the new rule and when it would go into effect by the New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC). Yet the New Jersey Thoroughbred horsemen and veterinarians were contacted well in advance.

Bute, is probably the most widely used drug in horses of all disciplines. Bute is an inexpensive, highly effective treatment for inflammation and pain that can be injected intravenously or given orally to horses as a powder or paste. 

All of these questions erupted at a New Jersey Racing Commission hearing involving three prominent trainers at the Meadowlands racetrack on Friday, July 17. Since then, other high profile trainers have also received positive Bute tests.

Present at the hearing were the three trainers, Mark Ford, president of the SBOANJ, the judges at the Meadowlands and the new executive director of the NJRC, Judith Nason.

The ruling in question is N.J.A.C. 13:71-23.8, which calls for special procedures for the use of phenylbutazone and that it can only be administered by a licensed veterinarian. The first offense penalties are very strict and call for first offense to receive a $500 fine, loss of purse and a 15-day suspension from racing.

NJRC executive director Nason stated at the hearing that the SBOANJ was sent a letter of notification for the practicing veterinarians in NJ, the same as was done with the Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association. SBOANJ President Mark Ford stated that the SBOANJ was never sent any letter from the NJRC.

All three trainers have appealed the rulings and SBOANJ President Mark Ford stated at the hearing that the SBOANJ would provide legal services for all three trainers in this case.

“Why would all three of us trainers allow our veterinarians to administer Bute only 24 hours out as we always have if we had received proper notification in advance?” said one trainer. “And now more harness racing trainers are coming up with positives. We all can’t be wrong and this includes our vets who administer the Bute. "This is a case of entrapment by the NJ Racing Commission."

Calls and emails to both the NJRC and the SBOANJ have gone unanswered.

By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

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