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Columbus, OH -- In an announcement from the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium on Wednesday (Nov. 21) regarding NSAID administration time and intra-articular injections, that organization inaccurately portrayed their relationship with the U.S. Trotting Association when they stated that, "The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing." "A review of the RMTC release reveals an unjustified and regrettable misrepresentation," said USTA President Russell Williams. "The RMTC does not represent the Standardbred breed in any way. Only the United States Trotting Association and the Harness Racing Medication Collaborative can speak for the Standardbred breed regarding medication issues." HRMC Chairman Joe Faraldo echoed Williams' declaration. "As chairman of the USTA's Harness Racing Medication Collaborative let me be quite clear that RMTC does NOT represent the Standardbred industry," said Faraldo. "The harness industry operates under an altogether different training regimen and is a more durable breed than our Thoroughbred counterparts," explained Faraldo. "The genesis for such a proposed rule is founded on the unfortunate reaction to the Santa Anita catastrophe, which has gathered significant negative public attention but has no relationship to any Standardbred experience. Our incidence of catastrophic breakdowns is a statistical anomaly as compared to other breeds and hence such rules such as these, should under no circumstances be made applicable to the Standardbred industry. "Rules such as these, referred to any state commission through RMTC or even RCI (Association of Racing Commissioners International), as its conduit, is not representative of rules more appropriately applicable to the harness racing industry and should therefore not be applied to it," added Faraldo. "The HRMC shall provide the state racing commissions and others with appropriate regulations that are consistent with any and all integrity concerns related to permitted, therapeutic medications whether directly or through RCI." On Sept. 25, 2013, the Executive Committee of the USTA unanimously voted to reject RCI proposed model medication rules and in a separate unanimous vote, agreed that the USTA would immediately withdraw its membership from the 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 then USTA President Phil Langley. "We believe both breeds, Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, will benefit from having rules concentrated solely on their needs." On May 8, 2018, the USTA, through the Medication Subcommittee of the USTA Board of Directors, established the HRMC, a group that includes both academic and practicing veterinarians. The HRMC's purpose is to assist in identifying and developing the scientific background for medication regulation in Standardbred racing. The USTA utilizes HRMC's reports and supporting data to present to the RCI for dissemination to regulators in the various racing commissions. From the USTA Communications Department

At its August 21 meeting at Del Mar Turf Club in Del Mar, California, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium board approved the immediate funding of two grant projects focused on inhibiting the use of illicit substances. One will study the detection of compounds called Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARM) LGD-4033, which have the potential to mimic anabolic steroid effects on tissues – increasing muscle mass but lacking the androgenic effects that cause male characteristics. The goal of the second project is to improve the screening of and confirmation sensitivity for EPO-stimulating agents (ESAs) administered in very small amounts (called micro-dosing) to obtain a blood-doping effect while avoiding detection. The RMTC board heard plans for the creation of a four-year grant program beginning in 2018 to encourage tactical research into the detection and identification of illicit substances. The RMTC will pursue contributions from other industry groups and individuals to match funds provided by the RMTC. The funding level has not been finalized but is expected to be at least $500,000. “We want this program to provide researchers a consistent funding source for these types of tactical research projects,” said RMTC Executive Director Dr. Dionne Benson. “This initiative will enable us to make significant advances in targeting emerging threats and developing new techniques to test for them – both of which are essential to effectively regulating our sport.” RMTC Executive Director Dr. Dionne Benson also updated the board on the adoption status of the National Uniform Medication Program (NUMP). According to Benson, the Controlled Therapeutic Substances list has now been adopted in 22 of the 34 harness and flat racing pari-mutuel states, third-party veterinarian administration of furosemide has been adopted in 20, and the Multiple Medication Violations penalty system has been adopted in 15 states. In addition, she informed the board that the University of Florida laboratory’s application has been reviewed and the process of accreditation is underway. With the addition of the Florida laboratory, RMTC-accredited laboratories and those in the process of accreditation are now responsible for the testing of samples for 31 jurisdictions. “While we are encouraged to see University of Florida’s laboratory working to meet the RMTC Laboratory Accreditation standards, we urge the Delaware harness, South Dakota, Louisiana and Iowa commissions to utilize an RMTC-accredited laboratory,” said RMTC Chair Alex Waldrop. “Every laboratory across the U.S. must be RMTC-accredited so that the testing of horse racing samples can consistently and reliably detect a wide variety of substances at low concentrations.” In other business, several Model Rule recommendations were approved by the RMTC board for forwarding to the Association of Racing Commissioners International including: A model rule stating a claim shall be voided if that horse satisfies the regulatory authority’s definition of a claimed horse and dies or is euthanized, or is placed on the Official Veterinarians’ List prior to physical transfer to the claimant   The claimant can override the voiding of a claim for a Vet-Listed horse by so indicating on the official claim form at the time the claim is submitted   A model rule requiring every veterinarian treating a racehorse at a facility under the jurisdiction of the Racing Authority submit a Veterinarian’s Medication Report Form to the official veterinarian or other Regulatory Authority designee in a manner specified by the Regulatory Authority and in an approved format   A model rule requiring trainers or their designee maintain complete records for at least the last 30 days of all corticosteroid and intra-articular injections for all horses in his or her control including the date of the injection, name of the veterinarian performing the injection, articular space(s) or structure(s) injected, medications or biologicals used to inject each articular space, and dose in milligrams of each corticosteroid used   If a horse is successfully claimed by a new owner, the trainer of record at time of race must provide that horse’s complete corticosteroid and intra-articular injection record(s) for the last 30 days   30-day Records: ·         May be provided in paper or electronic form but must be provided in a format approved by the Regulatory Authority ·         Must be provided to the new trainer within 48 hours of the transfer of the horse – the trainer or his/her designee shall notify the regulatory veterinarian when the records have been provided ·         Submission may be delegated to the treating veterinarian, who shall provide the report to the new trainer within 48 hours of the transfer of the horse ·         Failure of the trainer to provide the 30-day Record shall result in disciplinary action The RMTC board decided to seek comments from constituents over the next 30 days on a Trainer’s Treatment Records model rule, which will be presented to them again at a later date. The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.   Racetrack Medication & Testing Consortium (RMTC)

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and long-time Maryland Racing Commission executive director Michael J. Hopkins have received the highest awards given by the organization that represents racing regulators. The Association of Racing Commissioners International honored the RMTC with its William May Award and Hopkins with the Len Foote Award at its awards luncheon Thursday, closing day of the three-day ARCI’s 83rd annual conference on Equine Welfare and Racing Integrity at the Charleston Marriott. The William May Award recognizes an individual or entity that has had a profound positive impact on professional racing. It is named for the the late William May, who in the 1970s was one of the most powerful chairmen in the history of the Kentucky racing commission. The RMTC strives to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level, along with coordinating research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of the sport and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants, while also protecting the racing public’s interests. “Without their contributions, I’m not sure many of us would have been as successful as we’ve been in the areas of drug testing, medication and medication uniformity, funding of research, development of lab standards, model RFP for bidding for lab services,” said ARCI president Ed Martin. “Running that organization is, frankly, kind of a thankless job. But the effort made is enormous. The executive committee thought that if RMTC was not here, how much harder all of our jobs would be.” Said RMTC executive director Dionne Benson: “If we were to bring everybody up on this stage who contributed — members of our scientific-advisory committee, our board, those who serve on committees — there would be very few people left in the audience. Combine that with the trust put into RMTC and our recommendations by the regulators, we wouldn’t be an organization without those groups. “This is a great reflection of the collaboration among all the industry groups that RMTC represents. We are very honored to accept this award on behalf of all the people who work so hard for RMTC.” The Len Foote Award recognizes exemplary service and contribution to racing integrity by a commission executive director as chosen by his or her peers. The award is named in honor of the late Len Foote, longtime executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, and is considered the highest distinction for racing officials in North America and the Caribbean. Hopkins grew up on his family’s farm, helping care for six stallions and more than 100 broodmares. At age 12, he was working the Fasig-Tipton yearling sales at Saratoga for Maryland’s famed Windfields Farm. His first racetrack job came in 1980 at Pimlico, taking tickets from fans entering the infield tunnel on Preakness Day. Hopkins, who spent 12 years as a steward and remains an accredited official, became deputy director of the Maryland Racing Commission in 1984 and executive director in 2002. He also is ARCI’s chair-elect. Now here are the bear facts: As best that can be determined, Hopkins is the only racing regulator who has wrestled a 500-pound black bear. That came back in his early 20s, when an old professional wrestler toured towns and taverns with a declawed bear, challenging young bucks to wrestle the animal. Hopkins admits that the stewards would have declared the bear the winner. “My brother called me and said, ‘What are you doing tonight? … We’re all going to this bar. We’re going to wrestle a bear,’” he recalled. “The way it was described to me is that to beat the bear, you had to get the bear on his back, feet up in the air. That wasn’t going to happen. I think the bear won; the bear did win. Let’s put it this way: I was watching my brother try to tangle with it a little bit, and the next thing I know, my brother’s head is bouncing off the wrestling mat like a sack of potatoes and the bear jumping on him.” Hopkins said he benefited from great mentors, including “Mr. Preakness” Chick Lang, Bowie general manager Al Karwacki, Bowie board member Joe McLoone and Laurel general manager Ken Shertle. “Just a multitude of people,” he said. “Even growing up, there was Joe Hickey, the writer who worked for Windfields when I worked for them.” Past winners of the William May and Len Foote Award  Ed Martin, ARCI president

Lexington, KY - The upcoming version of the ARCI Model Rules for Racing will contain important modifications that will adjust MMV (Multiple Medication Violation) points so minor and isolated infractions are not treated on par with more serious violations in determining extra penalties. The modifications were requested by an almost unanimous vote of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC).  “The MMV system is working, perhaps too well for some,” said ARCI President Ed Martin. ARCI regulators working with RMTC industry members developed the system which was implemented on January 1, 2014 after controversial debate the previous summer. The system is modeled after the approach taken in US federal sentencing guidelines. Under revisions, points will remain the same for the more severe violations of the medication and anti-doping rules, substances warranting a Class A or B penalty, Points are reduced for substances warranting for a Class C penalty and are eliminated for medications qualifying for a Class D penalty warning.  Depending on the number of points amassed by a repeat offender, the enhanced penalty would be in the form of additional suspension days of between 15 to 360 which would be added to the underlying penalty.  Under the revised system Stewards will have a certain amount of discretion in determining the extra suspension days to be imposed as a result of multiple medication violations. The lack of Steward discretion in assessing an enhanced penalty has been cited by some regulatory attorneys as the reason why the Model Rule was not suitable for full adoption in their jurisdiction. “By revising this rule, we not only focus the system on those who consistently violate the medication and anti-doping rules that most affect the sport, but we address a legal issue that has precluded more widespread official adoption,” Martin said.  Out of Competition Testing Rule. The ARCI also modified its existing Out of Competition Testing rule. Last July the ARCI deferred action on a revision submitted by the RMTC based on a need to strengthen certain aspects of that proposal that would have created a “safe harbor” for those wishing to shield horses from testing. While using the RMTC version as a basis, the new version eliminates the proposed one hour advance notice requirement, the ability of the trainer to delay sampling for 24 hours, and the prohibition on collecting samples from 6 pm to 6 am. The rule now includes language permitting OOCT “at a reasonable time”, language commonly used by administrative agencies conducting warrantless searches. This modification strengthens the legal sustainability of the rule while avoiding the creation of “safe harbors”. The ARCI also adopted a Prohibited List to further underscore and clarify many restrictions already contained in the Model Rules and its Uniform Classification Document.  A therapeutic use restriction1 was created for some legal medications. Depending on the substance, restrictions may apply beyond documentation in the vet records and formal prescription. In some cases disclosure to or written permission from the commission may be necessary. Certain Anabolic Androgenic Steroids such as boldenone, nandrolone or stanozolol will require pre-filing of a treatment plan. Depending on the substance used by the veterinarian, some horses may be excluded from competition and placed on the vets list for sixty or 180 days.  The new rule requires no drug be administered to a race horse except in the context of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship between an attending veterinarian, the horse owner (who may be represented by the trainer or other agent) and the horse. No drug may be administered without a veterinarian having examined the horse and provided the treatment recommendation.  The rule also requires that veterinary judgments be independent and not dictated by the trainer or owner of the horse. “It would be in everyone’s interest if those desiring an expansion of out of competition testing work with individual commissions to ensure that they have the necessary resources to do that. That may mean that some organizations may need to refocus their governmental advocacy to specific states as the 2017 budget process unfolds in those states,” Martin said.  The complete language of these modified Model Rules will be published prior to January 1, 2017 in Version 7.0 of the ARCI Model Rules of Racing. The new MMV point modifications will be effective January 1, 2017. Ed Martin .........................................  1.. Not to be confused with the Therapeutic Use Exemptions contained in the WADA Code for prohibited substances permitted to be used in training and competition.

Harness racing followers should be interested in this.   It follows a litany of other cases where trainers have been burned based upon arbitrary thresholds and no one stands up against the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and guidelines not science based.   There is but one organization that has withdrawn funding for RMTC and correctly so as it seeks to do independent research that can be peer reviewed.   That entity is the United States Trotting Association.    Commissions calling false positives does not help individuals who follow published rules and is that very harmful to the individuals and industry itself. The RMTC data used to formulate the withdrawal times and threshold levels established for the substance Betamethasone and Dexamethasone by either the American Racing Commission‘s International and/or the National Uniform Medication Program that many, but not all, US Racing Commissions have  adopted,  and are promulgated,are  based upon allegedly data which has not been made available to scientific publications or  Peer Reviewed. Consider the Delaware Ruling regarding Todd Pletcher for the therapeutic medication - Betamethasone. Click here: Uncertainty as Delaware Drops Pletcher Case | RMTC not only has failed to correct  for the erroneous data that it has reported in any timely fashion before horsemen were penalized but has done so long after the erroneous  threshold and withdrawal times led many Commissions to mete out penalties to trainers who followed administration guidelines including days, fines, loss of purse as well as damage to their reputations. By way of additional documented examples, in 2013, RMTC adopted a threshold for Xylazine (Rompun) that was too low. That reportedly resulted in the disqualification and penalization of over thirty (30) horses and trainers.  In 2016, after those horsemen were penalized, RMTC increased the threshold 20 times higher than that used as the basis to penalize innocent horsemen and tarnish the sport. Little  good that did for those Florida horsemen who saw a spike in drug positives or for the sport.  Florida was one of twenty states adopting the much heralded National Uniform Medication Program.  Uniform rule recommendations not based upon scientific fact present a horrible scenario for individual horsemen, as well as for the industry.  Just this year, two more threshold changes occurred; one for the analgesic detomidine, the other for omeprazole (ulcer medicine).   The originally published RMTC thresholds are apparently not based on actual science at all, tantamount to perhaps being pulled out of a hat.  Lastly, the New York State Gaming Commission  considered  that the RMTC recommended threshold and withdrawal guidelines for Flunixin ( Banamine)  were erroneous and refused to adopt them and also the faulty withdrawal time for use of Clenbuteral in the harness industry. Had NY not done its homework the RMTC erroneous withdrawal times would have caused unnecessary or false positives in an estimated twenty (20%) of the race horses on that medication. The most recent evidence of the damage bad science can lead to is reprinted here with the kind permission of the Thoroughbred Daily News. Motion Responds to KHRC Ruling By Graham Motion Editor’s Note: Trainer H. Graham Motion has penned the following response to a KHRC ruling Tuesday fining him for a Robaxin positive with last year’s GIII Bewitch S. winner Kitten’s Point (Kitten’s Joy). Click here to read a TDN article on his initial appeal to the suspension and fine. After over 11,000 starters and more than 2,000 winners over the course of more than 20 years, [Tuesday] I was fined by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for the first positive in my career and Kitten’s Point was disqualified from her win in the 2015 GIII Bewitch S. at Keeneland. This hearing took place in a meeting where I was denied the opportunity to address the commission. Of course I wanted to defend myself, but moreover I wanted to address some of my concerns with this medication and how it was handled. The entire process has been extremely disappointing and troubling to me. I always felt that if the day ever came where, by some unforeseen circumstance, I was charged with a drug violation I would not lawyer up to defend myself, but rather would take my punishment and move on. It would upset me to see trainers go to such great lengths to defend themselves. But, when I found myself in that position I felt differently. I felt that my staff and I had gone to extraordinary lengths to protect myself and my clients. When I was made aware of a withdrawal time I would add plenty of cushion as was the case with Kittens Point. The last time she was treated with Robaxin was seven days before the race, more than double a recommended withdrawal guideline published by the KHRC. After all, if we as trainers can not rely on the guidelines that are given to us, how on earth can we be expected to operate within the rules? More over, I was troubled to learn that the current threshold for Robaxin as set by the RMTC and adopted by the KHRC was not supported by good science, including going completely against the recommendation set by the head of the KHRC’s testing lab Dr. Sams. Unfortunately in my case I was not allowed to defend myself based on the science, including a recently approved paper published by Heather Knych which clearly states that the RMTC guidelines for Robaxin are misguided. In my opinion this is information that should be turned over to horseman as quickly as possible. Surely the KHRC are not looking to trip up horseman with unsupported thresholds and guidelines? In a time of ever changing restrictions on certain medications it should be imperative that horsemen are kept informed. Equally as important to me is the way in which our samples are handled. I strongly believe that it is a good thing that post race testing has become increasingly more sensitive, but shouldn’t there be a responsibility with the commission that our samples are handled with the utmost of care. We are now being tested for nanograms, that is a billionth of a gram. It is disturbing to me that the samples are frequently collected and handled in unsecure environments, very little has changed with regard to this process over the years considering the technology and sensitivity of the testing process. So there, I have said it. All I was asking for was two minutes, it didn’t seem like an unreasonable demand. By all means we need to keep our game honest, but at what cost to the guys that are trying to play by the rules. Ends Harnesslink Media

Lexington, KY - The Model Rules Committee of the ARCI has moved closer to a revision of the Model Rules to facilitate an expansion of out-of-competition testing by forming a subgroup of regulators involving several industry organizations to address what have been identified as deficiencies in a proposal submitted by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium that had widespread at their last meeting. The New York Gaming Commission representative on the committee identified a provision that some regulators said would create a "safe harbor" for blood dopers by limiting the hours out-of-competition samples could be taken. Model Rules Chairman Larry Eliason indicated that the proposal "was not yet ready for prime time" while appointing a committee of regulators chaired by New York Gaming Commission Associate Counsel Rick Goodell to perfect language that could be adopted. The group was instructed to involve Dr. Dionne Benson of the RMTC, Dr. Jeff Blea of the AAEP, Dr. Clara Fenger of the NAARV, Dave Basler of the National HBPA and others as deemed appropriate. RCI President Ed Martin indicated that there was universal support for expanded out of competition testing but no proposals have been made as to how this would be paid for. He indicated that the ARCI Town Hall/Focus Group project is testing concepts that might be used to fund such an effort. It was also noted that the existing Model Rule dealing with Out-of-Competition Testing is far reaching and applies to any horse under the care and control of a licensee, regardless of location, and subjects them to testing for blood and/or gene doping agents without advance notice. Horses could be selected at random, with probably cause, or as determined by the commission. The main difference between RMTC proposal and the existing Out of Competition model rule is that it seeks to prohibit the use of anabolic steroids in training except under defined restrictions. Existing regulatory policy currently strictly prohibits steroids in competition. This proposal seeks to expand authority to regulate substances that some claim have therapeutic value to some horses, in specific circumstances. This is done in human sport and the way the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) deals with the legitimate medical needs of human athletes is to permit exemptions for therapeutic use for otherwise prohibited substances ti be used in training and competition. From Ed Martin for ARCI

The New York State Gaming Commission has received at least 35 written reports from its own highly regarded testing laboratory regarding positive tests for Glaucine at New York State tracks.  Other jurisdictions have reported similar positives.  Not only hasn't the Gaming Commission taken any action to call for the return of purse money, much less done anything as required by its regulations; now the Commission has apparently decided that there is some reason to have RMTC ((Racing Medication and Testing Consortium) conduct "research" on Glaucine. The drug is manufactured, and generally available, outside the United States. This has been done despite the Gaming Commission's research lab coming to its own conclusions; something in the past always deemed more than satisfactory. Meanwhile, with no action taken, positive tests continue to be reported in New York and other jurisdictions.  Presumptively, RMTC will issue a report about this drug at some point in time, but more time will obviously pass.  One has to wonder why this unprecedented action is being done via RMTC, and what data is being shared or withheld from RMTC? RMTC was formed with the intent of developing a Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule (CTMS) to achieve uniformity in the use of therapeutic medications in race horses, while preventing medications and drugs from unduly influencing the outcome of races.  The RMTC does not have a very good track record achieving its goals, and its scientific work in establishing thresholds has often left much to be desired.  Dr. Scott Palmer, the New York Gaming Commission's Equine Medical Director who sits on the newly announced Task Force, certainly knows that to be the case. In the past, RMTC sought to provide a guideline to the New York Gaming Commission to adopt for all breeds for Flunixin (Banamine) and for Clenbuterol for harness horses. The recommendations were not only contrary to some of RMTC’s own scientific guidelines; its research, such as it is, remains  hidden under a "confidentiality" agreement which prevents RMTC's members from divulging even the research they reviewed, much less the scientific basis for their determinations of those thresholds.  It is, of course, intuitively obvious that undisclosed, unpublished research can never fail to pass peer review. Had the New York State Gaming Commission adopted those RMTC thresholds, New York horsemen would have suffered false positives, because the RMTC guidelines were, in point of scientific fact, erroneous, and later corrected.  By way of example, in 2013, RMTC adopted a threshold for Xylazine (Rompun) that was too low. That reportedly resulted in the disqualification and penalization of over thirty (30) horses and trainers.  In 2016, after those horsemen were penalized, RMTC increased the threshold 20 times higher; that did little good for those Florida horsemen who saw a spike in drug positives. Florida was one of twenty states adopting the much heralded National Uniform Medication Program. Uniform rule recommendations not based upon scientific fact present a horrible scenario for individual horsemen, as well as for the industry. What in God's name was the basis for those RMTC recommendations in the first instance? Just this year, two more threshold changes occurred; one for the analgesic detomidine, the other for omeprazole (ulcer medicine).  The originally published RMTC thresholds were apparently not based on actual science at all, tantamount to perhaps being pulled out of a hat and conveniently protected under the confidentiality agreement.  The confidentiality agreement shielded RMTC from scientific scrutiny, the kind to which the New York State Gaming Commission laboratory is subjected, as the industry bares witness to in contested cases where all underlying data is subject to legal and scientific challenge.  RMTC, once receiving financial support from the USTA, saw that support come to an abrupt halt because it ignored the harness industry and the apparent failings discovered in push back by the SOA of NY.  Thankfully, due to that aggressive push back, the New York State Gaming Commission did not follow the RMTC’s recommendations for Banamine and Clenbuterol thresholds. Thus, potentially devastating catastrophes for horsemen as a result of ill-conceived guidelines were avoided in New York. The Florida thoroughbred horsemen did not fare as well, and today the HBPA begs to undo the RMTC uniform rule guidelines. Later, RMTC issued a threshold level for Cobalt which also seemed to be out of touch with actual research being conducted on the drug.  Research principally funded by the USTA conducted by Dr. George Maylin, the New York State Gaming Commission's equine pharmacologist, as well as  renowned  researchers Dr. Karen Malinowski and Dr. Kenneth McKeever of the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University, also exhibited clear problems with RMTC's conclusions and recommendation in this area. After the problematic RMTC litany listed, one would think that Dr. Palmer, the Equine Medical Director, himself not a research scientist, would know better than to look to RMTC for assistance of any kind on the reported Glaucine positives in New York.  This is especially so, since the New York State Gaming Commission's lab should have, and did give consideration to possible environmental contamination in the  levels reported to be found in both blood and urine.  It is reported that the New York lab conducted tests to determine just how much a horse would need to eat of its own bedding to hit the levels allegedly found. Astoundingly, in order to achieve these levels, it was scientifically determined that anywhere from 3 to 10 quarts of shavings would need to be ingested during the relevant time frame.  Getting back to the basic problem with the RMTC selection, it should be noted that RMTC also developed an accreditation process for equine drug testing laboratories. Accreditation costs states money in order to meet the accreditation protocols; money that could have been better spent on research on drugs that heretofore, and still today, go undetected.  Interestingly, when the Indiana Horse Racing Commission sent "audit samples" to a second lab for analysis, the second lab found several "positive tests" which were missed by RMTC's accredited Truesdail Laboratories, Inc. So what is the reason to have the RMTC Task Force study Glaucine? One stated reason is to consider where to assign Glaucine in the system of drug classification.  Well, if it is a bronchial dilator like Albuterol, Clenbuterol, Afrin or Fenspiride, which even RMTC calls threats to the integrity of racing, one would not need great intuitive powers to group the drug in the same class.  One has to wonder if the New York State Gaming Commission's Equine Medical Director, Dr. Palmer, is searching for someone, anyone, to provide the Gaming Commission with some rationale for its departure from the normal process of, after the horse test clean, return of the purse for redistribution and affording the trainer the opportunity to present facts proving contamination, if indeed that is the case.  The industry has now been waiting the six (6) months someone predicted this would take and the latter two items remain open in spite of New York State Gaming Commission regulations.  Therefore, one is prompted to ask if something else is going on here?  Is it the pleading to New York regulators from an interested party when these positives first surfaced, telling them he was getting "crucified in the press"?  Is it the fact that levels as high as 11 ng/ml, coupled with the high number of positives, is just too much for the industry to swallow?  With positives allegedly found in many places now, the self-serving mantra that some tracks claim, that of being the pinnacles of integrity, become indelibly tarnished.  In New York, no substance, other than listed permissive medications, are allowed to be present in a horse's system within seven (7) days of racing.  Glaucine has a half-life of only 6-8 hours and is not a listed substance. What will the marriage of RMTC and Glaucine produce? What is the expected gestation period; 6, 9 or 12 months? Will confidentiality be waived? It should be remembered that an industry which rightfully clamors for the need to detect previously unknown and undetectable substances, whose origins are generally in foreign countries as Fenspiride and Clenbuteral were years ago, must acknowledge that it still wants  new substances  detected. If not, we are wasting a great deal of time and effort for naught.  In sum, there is no "cover" for lack of integrity, and while horsemen do push the envelope as far as they can sometimes, neither regulators nor scientists should demonstrate anything less than the responsibility accorded the roles in which they are vested. Often, however, they seem to have difficulties to getting out of their own way. The New York reported Cobalt positives, originally meted-out as career-ending fines and suspensions, were negotiated out to much lesser penalties, but that was not reported. The multitude of horsemen in New York and elsewhere will continue to watch this Glaucine saga quite closely, and with much scrutiny being given to the process itself, to determine if the motive is genuine, or ulterior.  The prime open question here is: with RMTC's questionable track record and its confidentiality requirement which doesn't lend itself to any scientific scrutiny, what is the exercise trying to achieve? Hopefully, for the good of this game, warts and all, the RMTC group assembled, was not cherry picked for some questionable purpose. The industry deserves the facts based upon solid, verifiable scientifically data for the good of all, and especially for the good of the game itself. Joseph A. Faraldo

A state court is giving a reprieve to three Maine harness racing horsemen who had been suspended and fined by state regulators over horse doping allegations. In all, the Harness Racing Commission suspended the licenses of seven trainers in Maine for as long as 15 months for administering a substance called cobalt to horses. Their blood was tested after they won races last year. Cobalt is a trace element that can stimulate production of red blood cells and blood-oxygen levels in some animals, but whose role in horse racing is in dispute. Three of the trainers appealed to Superior Court, and late last week Cumberland County Judge Lance Walker stayed the suspensions pending a full trial. Walker cited a lack of scientific evidence or consensus about cobalt’s effects on horse performance. And Bill Childs, a lawyer for two of the trainers, says the judge also cited potential problems with the commission’s rules and notice procedures. “When these cases were prosecuted, there was no rule in effect,” he says. “They took the later adopted rule and tried to retroactively apply it.” Childs says that when trainers Randy Bickmore and Drew Campbell administered cobalt to their horses, they did not actually know whether the substance could enhance a horse’s chance to get to the finish line first. They only knew that it’s a component of vitamin B and might work like some similar human performance enhancers. “They were unsure. We think it benefits the horse. It makes for a better coat on the horse. Vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, both those vitamins have been known to enrich the blood or make a person feel better or make an animal feel better,” Childs says. He says that once the trainers were notified that state regulators considered cobalt to be banned above certain levels, they stopped administering it, and there have been no positive cobalt tests in Maine horses since then. Information collected by a national track veterinarian group called the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium does indicate that in large doses, cobalt can harm equine health, causing profuse sweating and gastrointestinal spasms. And trainers have been penalized in other racing jurisdictions for using cobalt. The chairman of Maine’s Harness Racing Commission, William Varney, says there’s a lot at stake in horse doping cases. “The integrity of racing, the fairness to the other people racing in those areas. And it’s also for the health of the horse,” he says. Varney says the commission is trying to sharpen its oversight of potential horse doping. At its meeting last week the commission authorized staff to begin the process of revising its rules with an eye to making them more transparent, and more effective. The three trainers who challenged their suspensions could be back at the track by Thursday. By Fred Bever Reprinted with permission of Maine Public Broadcasting site.

LEXINGTON, KY - The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) announced today that a new committee will be formed to work with individual commissions to complete the implementation of the ARCI medication reforms. The reforms are embodied in the Model Rules, the association's recommended best regulatory practices and policies. Mark Lamberth, who also serves as a commissioner on the Arkansas State Racing Commission, made the announcement following a Monday conference call with racing regulators. The regulators asked to participate will be named in the near future. The goal of the committee is to complete implementation of medication reforms that were developed by ARCI members and staff working with the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC). The committee will identify the jurisdictions that have yet to adopt portions of the reforms and develop strategies to work with the individual commission to advance the reforms. "Racing regulators working together with the racing industry have made tremendous strides over the past few years in some of the biggest racing states to implement sound, uniform medication policies in areas such as therapeutic medication use, laboratory testing standards and accreditation, and increased penalties for repeat offenders. There are some jurisdictions that have not implemented all of these reforms, and the goal of the committee is to aid those jurisdictions in the implementation process," said Lamberth. Lamberth said that all racing regulators were uniform in prohibiting performance enhancing drugs, and the ARCI is committed to resolving relatively minor differences in regulations pertaining to testing thresholds for some therapeutic medications. "Full adoption of the ARCI Model Rules, which have been thoughtfully and carefully developed in conjunction with the RMTC, would accomplish that," he said. Lamberth also said that a model Request for Proposals for laboratory services was an important reform and predicted that racing commissions will rely upon it as laboratory contracts expire and future procurements are implemented. "We know that the racing industry is in a much better position today than it was just five years ago when it comes to medication policy, and the regulators on this committee want to continue that progress for the good of racing," added Lamberth. Lamberth said that the committee will begin work immediately and report to the ARCI Board of Directors in December. by Steve May, for the ARCI

Lexington, KY --- Racing’s anti-doping rules will continue to withstand legal challenge, according to conclusions reached at a meeting of regulatory attorneys convened by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. “A widely reported decision in Delaware not to pursue a prosecution in a singular case had mitigating factors that were unique. This has been thoroughly reviewed as have been the standards required for a successful prosecution and we are confident that the rules will continue to withstand any future challenge,” said Mark Lamberth, chairman of the ARCI and a member of the Arkansas Racing Commission. Following press coverage intimating that rules based upon the recommendations of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium as embodied in the ARCI Model Rules might be vulnerable to legal attack, the meeting was convened to conduct a vulnerability assessment. “I am not aware of any successful challenge to a drug prosecution based on science. People will try and spend a lot money doing so, but in the end, the courts have upheld racing commission actions,” said Ed Martin, the ARCI’s President, noting that the attorneys identified no vulnerability in current rules. (Note: A recent court decision in Kentucky overturning an action by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission was based on mitigating circumstance relating to the justification of the penalty stemming from Kentucky’s classification definition of the medication Levamisole, not on the science or capacity of the laboratory behind its detection.) Lamberth has asked the RMTC to make as much information as possible available to help the public and industry understand that regulatory policies are based on a solid review and assessment of the science, literature and opinions of recognized experts. Earlier this year, the ARCI convened its own scientific advisory group to assess issues independently from the RMTC. “It’s important for people to have confidence in the process and regulators have a responsibility to consider all views and assessments,” Lamberth said. “Scientific recommendations are based on what it is that we know today. As additional research work is done and completed, we always reserve the right to change policy based on new information. Absent that, those who must defend racing commission actions in court have an extremely high degree of confidence in the integrity of the current system.” by Steve May, Racing Commissioners International 

Racing industry officials in late March and early April said they again expect to see federal legislation filed this year that would authorize the United States Anti-Doping Agency to oversee equine medication and drug testing procedures. Last summer The Jockey Club at its Round Table conference indicated it would advocate for federal involvement in addition to current state-by-state efforts to adopt the National Uniform Medication Program. Also last August Travis Tygart, chief executive officer and counsel for USADA, outlined a strategy at a briefing put together by the Water Hay Oats Alliance. WHOA, which has a growing membership of Thoroughbred stakeholders, in its mission statement supports passage of a federal bill that would "prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing" via an independent anti-doping program run by USADA. During the Racing Officials Accreditation Program conference in late March, industry officials said there will be a heightened push in 2015 for federal legislation that would be similar to a bill introduced in 2013. Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, suggested the legislation would identify USADA to oversee the program. "RCI does not have a position on any piece of legislation," Martin said at the ROAP conference. "It does believe in using a compact that lets states maintain their authority. We can spend a lot of time and money playing musical chairs to address the issue. Organizations are spending money on lobbyists that can be used for equine welfare or funding the TRPB to hire investigators. That's the problem we have to address, not the rearranging of the chairs." Details on the 2015 strategy aren't yet known, though Jim Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, indicated April 2 the organization is maintaining the course it outlined last year. "The Jockey Club continues to closely monitor the progress of the National Uniform Medication Program and, at the same time, consider strategies to broaden our advocacy for improved and uniform regulation for Thoroughbred racing," Gagliano said. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association also predicted lawmakers will be solicited to sponsor federal legislation on medication regulation and testing. The organization, as it has in the past, won't take a position on the issue. "The NTRA has taken no position on these bills as our membership remains divided on the issue of federal or central authority over testing for banned substances and the regulation of therapeutic medications," NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop said. "However, the association continues to provide information and data to interested parties and remains committed to achieving consensus on this issue." The NTRA on its board has representatives of horsemen's groups and racetracks, some of which oppose federal involvement. Others on the NTRA board, such as The Jockey Club, believe more must be done regarding medication and drug testing.  Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association chairman Alan Foreman, who also spoke at the ROAP conference, said whether there is federal oversight or not, the research and scientific advice will have to come from the horseracing industry because USADA hasn't done equine drug testing. He also cited progress on adoption of all or parts of the National Uniform Medication Program. "You'll hear the only answer is for the federal government to regulate horse racing," Foreman said. "If (supporters) a year ago got behind a uniform message that racing has a better story to tell than any other sport, I guarantee you the public's impression of the sport would be different at this time." The National Uniform Medication Program allows for the use of race-day furosemide, also called Salix or Lasix. The proposed Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act of 2013 called for a ban on all medication within 24 hours of a race, with a two-year exception for furosemide. Whether the same language is included in the 2015 version of the bill remains to be seen. Foreman indicated he believes it will be part of the bill. "Lasix is going to be like gun control or abortion," he said. "It's going to divide this industry." Tygart last year made a point to note the issue is about federal legislation, not federal regulation or intervention. If USADA was authorized to handle equine drug testing and enforcement, the organization would have to develop rules, with industry input, that would be unique to horse racing, he said. USADA isn't a federal agency, though it does receive federal grant money. Tygart also said there is an inherent conflict of interest when a sport promotes and polices itself, and suggested horse racing falls into that category under its current structure. Martin of RCI, meanwhile, has repeatedly stated that state regulators are independent by virtue of their responsibilities. Written by Tom LaMarra Reprinted with the permission of Read more on 

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) and the Association of Official Racing Chemists (AORC) will jointly hold a major racing industry roundtable and conference on equine welfare and medication policy on April 21-23, 2015 at the Grand Hyatt Resort in Tampa, Florida. “The ARCI is the only umbrella organization encompassing the totality of horse racing whose members create and enforce rules and adjudicate racing disputes.  The AORC is an international organization composed of chemists dedicated to the detection of prohibited substances in racing animals. The members of the AORC are on the front line of the most expansive anti-doping program in professional sport and we rely on them extensively to detect illegal drug use,” ARCI President Ed Martin said. Topics to be discussed at the roundtable include: Coordination of investigatory intelligence Expanded Capabilities of Testing Laboratories Emerging Integrity Threats Effective strategies to combat doping Applicability of hair testing to horse racing “Should We Care About Substances That Do Not Affect Performance or Hurt the Horse?” During the conference the ARCI Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee will consider any recommended policy changes to take effect in 2016. The newly formed ARCI Scientific Advisory Group will hold a face to face meeting during the conference to assess research and published science associated with any pending policy change recommendations. Those interested in attending the conference can find more information, including hotel information and online registration, at by Steve May, for ARCI  

Indianapolis, IN --- The Indiana Horse Racing Commission has contracted with Industrial Laboratories, Inc., of Denver, Colo., on an emergency basis to assist with its equine drug testing program. Industrial Laboratories will be testing Indiana samples beginning in late August and lasting a minimum of five weeks. Indiana is currently racing at Indiana Grand Race Course (Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse) and Hoosier Park (Standardbred). The emergency contract is necessitated by a backlog of screening and confirmatory testing pending at the Commission’s primary laboratory -- LGC Science, Inc., in Lexington, Ky. During this five-week day period, LGC will focus on Indiana’s backlog of confirmatory testing. LGC will continue to perform out of competition testing for Indiana, as well as Indiana’s Standardbred Fair Racing Program. Commission staff will reevaluate the status of their testing program during the next 30 days in order to apportion its testing needs for the remainder of the 2014 race meets. Industrial Laboratories, Inc. is accredited by the International Organization for Standardization and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, Inc. All of Industrial Laboratories' tests on paired samples will meet or exceed current Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association guidelines. From the Indiana Horse Racing Commission

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  

LEXINGTON, KY - Lexington, KY - RCI President Ed Martin called the news that the United States Trotting Association (USTA) will fund research into cobalt and help the New York drug testing program gain access to equipment currently in use elsewhere by racing's leading testing labs a "positive, proactive development that underscores the ongoing efforts of the racing industry and its regulator labs to counter efforts to cheat". A number of racing states have already been testing for cobalt, both in and out of competition, using advanced ICP-MS instrumentation. (ICP-MS is the acronym for Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer). Such instrumentation is commonly found in toxicology and veterinary diagnostic laboratories to detect metal poisoning in livestock (e.g., lead in cattle). Recent concerns about possible attempts to administer cobalt to affect performance have prompted several regulatory jurisdictions to quietly commence efforts in this area. Commissions have been collecting samples for months. A research project being conducted by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium is scheduled for completion this summer to determine an appropriate threshold for cobalt. Cobalt is a naturally occurring substance in the bodies of all mammals as well as being found in the environment. "The challenge is to determine what is an appropriate and normal level and the point in which it can be proven that cobalt levels had been deliberately manipulated in an attempt to affect performance," said Martin. Martin noted that deliberate administrations of cobalt could potentially harm a horse, if used in excess. In 2009, the Ontario Racing Commission issued the following notice: "The Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) advises horsepeople to be very cautious with the administration of the substance cobalt sulphate to their horses. This mineral element is a water-soluble cobalt salt with a variety of industrial and agricultural uses, including being used as an ingredient in feed and mineral supplements. "Used in safe and appropriate formulations, the substance is known to have certain blood building qualities. However, speculation about 'performance enhancing' qualities are doubtful." The ORC's then Veterinarian Supervisor, Dr. Bruce Duncan, 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." Cobalt is a constituent of vitamin B-12, and as a result, there is no recommended dietary allowance for it. Cobalt is one of the microminerals important for blood cell formation. The microbes in a horse's digestive system, particularly the large intestine, use the cobalt from a normal diet to incorporate it into Vitamin B-12. This vitamin is then used in conjunction with iron and copper in the formation and maintenance of blood cells. Although the USTA funded Maylin-McKeever-Malinowski research project may appear redundant to the effort currently underway by the RMTC, RCI's Martin said that "the more data is developed, our efforts to analyze the science and develop sound policies is enhanced." by Steve May for RCI

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  

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