DEL MAR, CA - North American racing regulators have decided to consider the results of two scientific research studies that have been commissioned to help detect the deliberate administration of cobalt in racehorses before making a formal recommendation of a regulatory testing limit to commission testing. At the RCI Model Rules Committee meeting last week, a proposed threshold was presented and later withdrawn by representatives of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) pending further discussion by the RMTC Board of Directors. That threshold, which is based on an analysis of an RMTC-coordinated project that is funded by the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council and conducted by Dr. Heather Knych, an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, was advanced with the support of 8 of the 14 members of the RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee. A second research project, funded by the United States Trotting Association (USTA), is near completion according to remarks made at the meeting by Ivan Axelrod, Chairman of the USTA. That project is being conducted by George Maylin, DVM, PhD, at the New York Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College in New York. He is assisted by Karyn Malinowski, PhD, and Kenneth McKeever, MS, PhD, FACSM, the Director and Associate Director, respectively, of the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Racing regulators are concerned that cobalt treatments may be given to racehorses with an intent to affect performance by inducing red blood cell production similar to the prohibited use of erythropoietin (EPO). All horses have some degree of cobalt in their system as a result of diet and environmental factors. Excessive amounts may indicate a deliberate administration, above and beyond what would be considered appropriate or normal for vitamin or mineral supplements. Concerns have been raised about horses with extremely elevated levels of cobalt and regulators are eager to better understand if an equine welfare threat exists. In 2009, the Ontario Racing Commission issued a notice from then-Veterinary Supervisor, Dr. Bruce Duncan, who noted that "when administered in appropriate quantities, there is likely very little performance benefit. And when used in excess, this element can be toxic to horses." The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) has issued the following notice to horsemen and veterinarians: "Cobalt toxicity has been associated with myocardial (heart muscle) and other organ pathology in humans and other animals. High cobalt levels have been associated with the parenteral or oral administration of cobalt salts. While there is no documented evidence of cobalt toxicity in racehorses, the CHRB considers the administration of cobalt salts a potential equine health and safety issue." But the New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station at Rutgers University indicates on their website the following: "High blood cobalt probably would indicate high doses of B-12 being given (the trace mineral is easier to test than the actual vitamin). The calming effect would be undesirable in a racehorse. It is virtually non-toxic and rapidly excreted through the kidneys if given in large doses, so there is no negative consequence other than possibly a quieter horse. It is recommended to give B-12 to stressed horses at around 30 microgram/kg of feed. There are no requirements for cobalt established for horses so it is uncertain what normal or excessive blood concentrations of cobalt would be. The National Research Council (2007) has set the maximum tolerable intake for cobalt to be 25 mg/kg (ppm) in the total ration but admits they base that decision on data from other species. There is no indication that horses on normal rations need supplemental cobalt." In addition, Dr. Dionne Benson, Executive Director of the RMTC, reiterated statements at last week's meeting that she has previously made to the press indicating that it is unclear at what point cobalt can become toxic to a horse. The RCI Board of Directors discussed whether to handle findings of excessive levels of cobalt indicating a deliberate administration of cobalt absent a documented deficiency and veterinarian prescribed treatment as "horse tampering". "It's one thing for a horse to be treated for a condition by its veterinarian, but quite another to be tampered with prior to a race," RCI President Ed Martin said. "Tampering is bad enough, but if we find that the tampering endangers the horse, then it's time to throw the book at someone." Although the RMTC-proposed threshold was withdrawn, a number of regulators had lingering questions as to the extent that data from Standardbred horses was included in their recommendation. Duncan Patterson, Chairman of RCI's Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee, recommended that the association consider the two studies before adopting a formal recommendation to commissions and laboratories. by Steve May for the Association of Racing Commissioners International
DEL MAR, CA - North American racing regulators are meeting in Del Mar, California this week to consider various issues, including a proposal by RCI President Ed Martin to expand the jurisdiction of racing commissions over horses in training to better identify those being treated with medications for a condition or injury that might require exclusion from competition or training. Under the proposal, racing commissions which currently license people working in racing would expand their authority to include horses, effectively extending jurisdiction over equines in training. At the Grayson Jockey Club Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit earlier this month, a common theme was the necessity to have a better way to identify those horses that may be at risk as well as to ensure that the information is not only received but clearly understood by the trainer and ownership interests. The United States Congress and the Food and Drug Administration have authorized almost every approved drug on the market for direct or indirect use in a horse based upon the professional judgment of a veterinarian. With the veterinary regulatory policy of twenty-one states requiring the issuance of a written prescription upon client request in lieu of direct veterinary administration, legitimate questions exist as to whether drugs are being used beyond their intended purpose. Unlike the Olympics and other sports that permit athletes to compete with a Therapeutic Use Exemption when medicated, horse racing has taken a tougher approach by saying if a horse needs a medication that can affect performance, it should not race. In a memo to the RCI Board of Directors, Martin wrote, "The purpose of this effort is not to assess the propriety of veterinary treatment or cite licensees for medication rule violations, but to foster a dialogue between all interested parties - owners, trainers, veterinarians, and regulators - about the health of the horse in making a determination as to whether a horse is plagued with a condition that might require placement on the Veterinarians List to be excluded from competition." Just as motor vehicle regulations require the registration (licensure) of automobiles and state safety inspections, horse owners or the ownership entity would be required to obtain a license for their horse and authorize the regulator access to the horse and the ability to perform a veterinary treatment audit or out-of-competition testing as appropriate. In his concept memo, Martin wrote: "Upon initial registration issued by the appropriate breed registry, notification would be required and appropriate information would be forwarded to the regulator or designee. Horse licensure is best handled centrally and not on a state-by-state basis. The existing National Racing Compact is the logical entity, but RCI could serve as a regulatory designee. In any event the regulatory entity or designee would need to work closely with the breed registries in developing a plan for implementation. Just as with an automobile, changes in ownership would have to be officially filed with the regulatory entity or its designee and appropriate documents generated." "This would obviously need a tremendous amount of work and industry dialogue," Martin said, noting that this concept has not yet been addressed by any national racing organization or any group advocating for legislative intervention. "We have a collective moral responsibility to our horses to do whatever we can to identify those who may be at risk. This is an idea worthy of consideration." In other RCI News: A two-day training session is currently underway at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for new racing regulatory personnel. RCI periodically conducts such training for new commissioners or senior regulatory personnel. The Model Rules Committee will consider matters pertaining to the use of multiple Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). At the request of The Jockeys' Guild, there will be a discussion about regulatory participation in the Jockey Injury Database. At the request of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association there will be a discussion about reciprocity of Veterinarian's and Steward's Lists between the United States and Canada. There will be a demonstration by The Jockey Club of the Electronic Treatment Records Database offered to regulators to assist in the submission of pre-race veterinary records consistent with existing regulatory requirements. by Steve May, for RCI
LEXINGTON, KY - The Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) recently named Marc Laino, Executive Director of the Illinois Racing Board (IRB), the recipient of the 2014 RCI Len Foote Award. The Len Foote Award is the highest honor bestowed on racing commission executive directors in North America. The award was presented at the annual awards luncheon held on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Lexington, KY. Laino has been employed in various capacities since 1987, including Deputy Director, State Director of Mutuels, and Board Investigator. He has served as the Executive Director since 2003, and currently chairs the RCI Wagering Systems Security Committee. "Marc has been a tremendous asset to the Illinois Racing Board and to RCI, and there is a pleasure to honor him with the Len Foote Award," said RCI President Ed Martin. "Marc is not only an expert on flat and harness racing, but his knowledge of wagering security is rivaled by few." RCI also honored James P. Gowen, Vice President and Secretary for the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau (TRPB), with the 2014 William H. May Award. The award is presented annually to an individual or group who has shown "meritorious service" to the pari-mutuel racing industry. Past recipients include Stanley Bergstein, John Gaines, and Steve Barham, the 2013 recipient. Gowen, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, has been involved in racing investigation since joining the TRBP as a field investigator in 1973. Gowen has worked at numerous racetracks across the United States, and was promoted to the TRPB Vice President position in 1996. Longtime friend and colleague John Wayne, the Executive Director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, noted that "Racing is better on a day-to-day basis because of the countless hours that Mr. Gowen has dedicated to the industry". At the luncheon Martin also honored the following individuals with the RCI President's Award for Exemplary Service: David Loregnard, Executive Director, Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority Vince Mares, Executive Director, New Mexico Racing Commission Dr. Mary Scollay-Ward, Equine Medical Director, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission John Wayne, Executive Director, Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission by Steve May, for
LEXINGTON, KY - A Hall of Fame Thoroughbred trainer, long time horse owner, and a leading regulatory veterinarian are the new officers of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) for 2014-2015, RCI President Ed Martin announced today. John T. Ward, Jr., the Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, was automatically elevated to become the RCI Chairman this month. Ward is a long time board member of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and a founding member and past president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association as well as the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). Ward has also served on the TOBA Sales Integrity Task Force and the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council and as a member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. In 2002, he and his wife Donna were named recipients of the 2002 Kentucky Thoroughbred Media's Ambassadors of Racing Award. All RCI officers serve for a term of one year. Ward replaces Duncan Patterson, who is the current Chairman of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission. Arkansas Racing Commissioner Mark Lamberth was elected to be Chair-elect by the newly elected RCI Board. Lamberth has owned horses since 1985 and prior to his appointment to the commission Lamberth served on the Board of the Arkansas Horsemen's Benevolence & Protective Association. He is a prominent business leader in his state and serves on the RCI Model Rules and Equine Welfare Committees. The Director of Racing for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Jennifer Durenberger, DMV, was elected to serve as the association's Treasurer. Dr. Durenberger, who is also an attorney, has been involved as a regulatory veterinarian and racing official in multiple jurisdictions since becoming involved with racing in 1991. She is an accredited Steward and member of the Racing Officials Accreditation Program Education Committee. She serves on the American Association of Equine Practitioners Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee, the RCI Model Rules and Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committees, as well as The Jockey Club's Racing Equipment and Safety Committee. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association and is active with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Safety and Integrity Alliance. "At a critical time for the racing industry RCI continues to demonstrate proficiency and leadership in a number of areas essential to the sport. The collective involvement of our Members, working in consultation with the various breeds and industry leaders has resulted in important advances designed to safeguard horses as well as the integrity of the sport," RCI President Ed Martin said. "Those advances include widespread adherence to RCI/RMTC lab standards, increased reliance on pre-race veterinarian examinations, limits on toe grabs, development of universal totalizator system standards, and increased training and accreditation for racing officials." "The expertise represented in the RCI leadership and Board is balanced and represents every aspect of the sport. Veterinarians, owners, trainers, fans, those who know business, those who know racing, and those who understand government. RCI is truly independent with no agenda other than to protect these great sports by safeguarding our athletes and participants as well as the public interest," he said. RCI is incorporated in the United States as a not-for-profit 501(c)(6). It is the same legal structure as the National Football League, although it is currently only empowered to function in an advisory and supportive role to the government regulators of horse and greyhound racing, who comprise its voting members. by Steve May for the Association of Racing Commissioners International
LEXINGTON, KY - RCI's 80th Annual Conference on Racing and Wagering Integrity opened this week in Lexington with calls for increased diligence on the part of the US federal government to commit resources and enforce its current laws governing compounding pharmacies and the distribution and use of illegal substances which are being confiscated by commission investigators at racetracks. "The failure of the federal government to enforce its laws is making our job harder," RCI President Ed Martin said at the conclusion of a panel on Regulatory Veterinarian and Racing Investigator Needs. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Equine Medical Director Dr. Mary Scollay briefed the attendees on substances coming from compounded laboratories and the difference between those that are legal and those not. In short, appropriate substances are those prescribed by a veterinarian to treat a specific horse following a specific diagnosis utilizing substances that have been authorized by the Federal Drug Administration directly for horses or extra label use. "Veterinarians and individuals who administer illegal compounded substances are crossing the line," Dr. Scollay said. Martin noted that several racing commissions had complained to the federal government more than a year ago, presenting information about illegal substances being marketed and distributed by compounding pharmacies in various states. To date no indictments have come down. Chris Clark, the President of the Organization of Racing Investigators, stressed that it was essential for commissions and racetracks to deploy investigators who are properly trained in order to effectively police the backstretch. In other RCI news: Outgoing Chairman Duncan Patterson encouraged member regulators to continue the push to enact uniform medication rules The Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee recommended to the ARCI Board of Directors that the Model Rules pertaining to restricted administration times for controlled therapeutic substances be changed to recommended withdrawal times Illinois Racing Board Commissioner Allan Monat, Chairman of the ARCI Rider and Driver Safety Committee, called for a renewed effort to ensure that racetracks had adequate insurance coverage to assist jockeys and riders who suffer injuries by Steve May, for RCI
SACRAMENTO, CA - Ralph Scurfield, who served more than eight years on the California Horse Racing Board from January 1991 through September 1999, passed away Tuesday in a Sacramento hospital at the age of 85. Mr. Scurfield devoted 40 years of his life to public service, including terms with the Sacramento Planning Commission, the Sacramento City Council, and the California State Fair and Exposition Board. He was greatly respected within the horse racing community during his years of service on the CHRB. He devoted countless hours of his personal time to the business of the Board and the betterment of the California horse racing industry, especially in matters concerning the health and safety of racehorses and workers in the industry. He was so respected by his fellow commissioners, they elected chairman for seven consecutive years, making him the second-longest tenured chairman in CHRB history. The Association of Racing Commissioners International also named him chairman in 1998. Mr. Scurfield is survived by his wife, Barbara; three sons, Donald, David, and Steven; two stepsons, Ken and Chris, and 14 grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held Tuesday, October 22, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club in Sacramento. by Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo Harness
Columbus, OH --- The Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association unanimously voted to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International proposed model medication rules last Wednesday (Sept. 25). In a letter to RCI President and CEO Ed Martin, USTA President Phil Langley explained the reasons behind the USTA's decision. So that our members and the industry might further understand and be aware of the USTA’s stance regarding uniform medication rules, that letter may be read by clicking on this link. USTA Communications Department
Columbus, OH --- The Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association unanimously voted to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International proposed model medication rules last Wednesday (Sept. 25). In a letter to RCI President and CEO Ed Martin, USTA President Phil Langley explained the reasons behind the USTA's decision. So that our members and the industry might further understand and be aware of the USTA’s stance regarding uniform medication rules, that letter may be read by clicking on this link. Reprinted with permission from the USTA Communications Department
Chicago, IL --- Members of Harness Horsemen International today unanimously agreed to support the Sept. 25 decision by the Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International proposed model medication rules, and to withdraw the USTA membership from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, Inc. The harness racing industry has provided more than $1 million in funding to the RMTC in the past decade. The consensus from the USTA is that while they support uniform medication policies, breed customization should be mandatory, given that the breed characteristics between Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses are significantly different. “We believe the money can be better spent on research and testing in areas more concentrated on harness racing,” USTA President Phil Langley stressed. “We believe both breeds, Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, will benefit from having rules concentrated solely on their needs. Trying to fit them together makes little sense.” “We work closely with the USTA,” confirmed HHI President Tom Luchento. “We are in full agreement with the decisions they have made regarding this issue.” The USTA, with the combined support of Harness Horsemen International and Harness Tracks of America, will ask RCI to maintain the current rules in effect for Standardbreds, instead of having one set of model rules for two breeds with significantly different requirements. by Kim Rinker for HHI
The Executive Committee of the United States Trotting Association unanimously voted to reject The Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) proposed model medication rules on Wednesday. In a separate unanimous vote, the committee agreed that the USTA will immediately withdraw its membership from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, Inc. (RMTC). "We have carefully considered the RCI proposals and have come to the conclusion that the physical characteristics of the breeds are significantly different. Trying to fit them together makes little sense," said USTA President Phil Langley. "We believe both breeds, Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, will benefit from having rules concentrated solely on their needs. "Many safeguards now in use in harness racing would never be acceptable to the more high-strung Thoroughbreds, including Lasix barns, two- to four-hour paddock times and racing on a weekly basis," added Langley. "On the other hand, both the frequency that Standardbreds race and the lack of catastrophic breakdowns in harness racing make the utilization of some therapeutic medications much different between the breeds." As a result, the USTA, with the support of Harness Tracks of America (HTA), will ask RCI to maintain the current rules in effect for Standardbreds instead of having one set of model rules for two breeds with significantly different requirements. "After studying these proposed rule changes, it is apparent to us that they are entirely focused on the needs of Thoroughbreds with little consideration for Standardbreds," concluded Langley. The USTA supports uniform medical medication policies, but thinks that they need to be customized for each breed. "We want to make it very clear the USTA supports uniform rules," said Langley, "but we strongly believe they should be by breed. Things like blood doping, out- of-competition testing, EPO and Shock Wave Therapy are high on the list of USTA research projects." In other action, it was determined that the USTA will immediately withdraw from RMTC. During the last 10 years, the harness racing industry has supported the RMTC with more than $1 million in contributions. "While we applaud the intentions of the RMTC, we also feel that their efforts concentrate on the Thoroughbreds with little consideration for Standardbreds," explained Langley. "We believe that the money can be better spent on research and testing in areas more concentrated on harness racing." by Dan Leary for USTA
The Racing Commissioners International Regulatory Attorneys Committee has advanced a proposal to enhance penalties for harness racing trainers with multiple drug violations similar to the approach taken by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that imposes an additional penalty to an underlying violation based on multiple offenses.
Reports of federal legislation to be introduced next week have raised concerns that the bill being considered would weaken the current anti-doping program in horse racing.
The Board of Directors of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) has voted to direct its committees to develop a 'One Strike, You're Out' proposal for those licensees found to be responsible for putting substances in horses that endanger the horse.
At the most recent United States Trotting Association annual meeting in February, USTA President Phil Langley appointed a committee of harness racing horsemen and track operators to study drug testing and to investigate what the industry can do to improve testing procedures, including providing more financial support.
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.
Whether controversial harness racing trainer Lou Pena is guilty or not some of the United States best conditioners are now worried and looking over their shoulders in light of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board (NYSRWB) last week suspending Pena for 1,700 equine drug violations in nearly 700 races.