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Schenectady, NY – Harness Racing’s top guns descended upon the New York State Gaming Commission public hearing to advance concerns over proposed drug levels for racehorses.  U. S. Trotting Association President, Phil Langley, and Standardbred Owners Association of New York President, Joe Faraldo, led a group of distinguished veterinarians and research experts to counter the “one size fits all” approach being forwarded by the Thoroughbred-based Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) proposals. The appearance of the Standardbred leaders at the public hearing, called by the agency formerly known as the NYS Racing and Wagering board, was to hear “testimony about adoption of per se regulatory thresholds for 24 approved equine medications and amending pre-race restricted time periods for various drugs.” One particular therapeutic substance, respiratory aid Clenbuterol, has been at the forefront of a debate over uniform medication rules approved by the RMTC. Although there is widespread Thoroughbred support for the measures, the Standardbred industry has argued that the two breeds have very distinct differences and therefore should be treated differently.  The proposed rule would prohibit the bronchial dilator from being administered within 14 days of racing, effectively eliminating its potential benefit to Standardbreds that generally race every week. Langley noted that, “Our horses are so durable, they do not even look [like Thoroughbreds.]  Many of our horses race 30 to 40 times each year.  In fact, the leading money-winning horse of all time started 198 times.  We are not trying to get the standards lowered.  We just want to conduct [racing] the way we are.” Dr. Kanter, an expert in equine medicine and pharmacology, with over 40 years of experience as the track vet at Buffalo and Batavia.  “This measure could be denying horses the benefit of years of research of these useful therapeutic drugs, while the efficacy of known substitutes is yet unproven.” Dr. Janet Durso of Goshen, NY, reiterated those concerns.  “Clenbuterol is one of the best drugs for treating blood and discharge from a horse’s lungs.  Remedies would be problematic without it!” One of the contributing factors toward this proposal is the concern that some Thoroughbred trainers are abusing Clenbuterol by overdosing in order to achieve a repartitioning effect, or to build muscle mass.  That appears to be a non-issue in Standardbreds as they race too often for long-term dosages to be administered effectively. Dr. Tobin, a renowned expert from the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center, stated, “Clenbuterol did have a repartitioning effect and increased muscle mass, but this did not translate into an increase in performance.  In fact, it decreased performance.” Although the prospect of catastrophic injury of racehorses was discussed, Dr. Tobin noted that “Harness Racing was one of the safest sports in North America.  Only 1 in 15,000 fatal injuries occurred in Standardbreds, where 1 in 2,000 occurred in Thoroughbreds over the same time period.” Several other items were addressed, such as the list of 24 drugs that would provide for the basis of drugs that would have established levels for testing.  All others would be considered “off-limits” for use and result in positive tests if found in race-day blood or urine testing.  In addition, the proposal of special corticosteroid regulations sparked added debate. Of the nine speakers, eight of the experts gave convincing testimony toward the need for separate rules for each breed.  Dr. Dionne Benson, the executive director of the RMTC (Racing Medication and Testing Consortium), was the last speaker and lone dissenter.  She noted that the ad hoc committee for all breeds felt that the thresholds are appropriate, and that the state of Pennsylvania was “on-board” with her groups recommendations. Nonetheless, Joe Faraldo is not convinced that the RMTC proposals are suitable for Harness Racing.  “We heard today that not all of the scientific bases have been covered.  I believe that the [NYS Gaming Board] is cognizant of that fact.  Because this board took the time to listen to all of these points of view, and the science behind them, it is a good indication that Harness Racing will be treated fairly.” by Chris Tully for Harnesslink.com

What has been described in some quarters as the biggest doping scandal in racing history occurred in England last month. The magnitude of the incident aside, there is a lesson to be learned from this notorious event that has little to do with doping. The message developed is this: Advocate for others only that which you truly practice yourself.

Darren Binskin is fuming with Harness Racing New South Wales officialdom after what he has termed a 'Miracle Mile' (A$750,000) disgrace. The Australian trainer now intends to confront them with all guns blazing in a hearing in Sydney at 2.30pm on Wednesday.

Due to an overwhelming positive response, Equine Guelph has opened registration for a second offering of their eWorkshop on colic prevention. Over 80 students from local and international background gained valuable knowledge over the course of 2 weeks in March to combat the number one killer of horses (other than old age!) with Equine Guelph's new eWorkshop on colic prevention.

In the Paulick Report’s “The Breeders’ Cup Forum: Lasix – A Racetrack Practitioner’s Perspective” (March 7, 2013), Dr. Don Shields, who has been a practicing veterinarian at Southern California racetracks for more than 25 years, makes a compelling argument for the use of furosemide (Lasix) to treat horses for exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) in both training and racing.

The Board of Directors of Racing Commissions International has voted to move forward with a major revision of the association's model medication rules for horse racing.

The key to a horse's health lies beneath its appearance. A growing number of horse owners rely on the misconception that if their horse appears healthy and fit, then chances are it is. What if we had the tools to help us look beyond a horse's appearance so that good decisions could be made for its optimal health and management?

'Equine Stress and Transportation' is the over-arching theme of the upcoming Horse Management Seminar hosted by the Rutgers Equine Science Center and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. The seminar, scheduled from 8:00 am - 3:30 pm on Sunday, February 10, 2013, will feature presentations by several equine industry experts.

Colic is the number one killer of horses (other than old age!) and Equine Guelph is launching a comprehensive colic survey across Canada to better understand colic management practices in the industry and how people are dealing with colic. "Understanding the horse owners' experiences with colic will assist in developing targeted educational programs," says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph.

The time to expect thoroughbred and harness racing and its current regulatory framework of state commissions to reform medication policies has come and gone.

Whoever said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions must have been thinking about the horse racing industry.

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.

Other racing states may be affected by the stance of two New York senators who believe that the anti-bleeding medication furosemide, which is used in harness racing, should not be banned on race-day.

Imagine a 3 decade journey - a quest for an insidious bacterium possessing elusive qualities equivalent to that of the Holy Grail. Dr. John Prescott, University of Guelph Professor and Chair of the OVC Department of Pathobiology, has been unwavering in staying the course on his quest to find a vaccine able to combat the deadly Rhodococcus bacterium.

Dr. Koenig began studying shock wave treatment when a particular horse with a broken leg came in for treatment. Koenig was interested in all the work that had been done in humans using shock wave therapy and preceded with her studies using a wound healing model.

Canadians and Danes were the first to source equine umbilical cord blood for regenerative medicine. The anticipation over the exciting applications of this research were clearly indicated by the massive number of downloads which occurred within two weeks of the first report published back in 2007 - a whopping 3500+!

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