LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 22, 2005) -- The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority (KHRA), taking action that had been urged by Governor Ernie Fletcher, today voted to adopt a new, model drug rule for race-day medications at state tracks.
The vote signaled an end to a liberal policy under which multiple medications could be administered to thoroughbred horses on race days.
Governor Fletcher, at a meeting of the newly constituted Equine Drug Research Council (EDRC) in December, urged its members to consider the model rule and to provide national leadership on the issue. The council subsequently recommended the action taken by the KHRA today - adoption of a policy developed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium to permit only Salix, a medication for bleeding, to be given to thoroughbreds on days they raced.
Kentucky had permitted the use on race days of as many as three anti-inflammatory medications under a policy set in 2002 by the former Kentucky Racing Commission. Many in the horse industry considered the policy too lax.
Governor Fletcher, who last year abolished the old commission and created the KHRA, applauded adoption of the new policy which will have to be incorporated into state regulations before it becomes effective.
"I stand firmly with the Authority and the Council on this bold step that will ensure that integrity remains at the heart of every horse race in Kentucky," the Governor stated. "The unbridled spirit of Kentucky and Kentuckians will no longer be tainted by a perception of lax medication rules.
"I want to commend Authority chairman Bill Street, Council chairman Connie Whitfield and executive director Jim Gallagher for providing leadership in ensuring that Kentucky horse racing is first in class, first in excitement and first in integrity," Governor Fletcher stated.
Whitfield said the Authority's action was a significant step forward.
"The adoption of the rule will advance the integrity of racing and the trust of the betting public. It also will protect the safety of the rider and the health of the horse. It will provide a level playing field for racing participants and serve the long-term interests of the breed," Whitfield said.
The KHRA's action did not affect the standardbred industry, whose drug testing policies were considered to be sufficiently stringent.
Also today, the KHRA voted to initiate testing to deter "milkshaking" of thoroughbreds. That practice involves forcibly administering a concoction of sugar, electrolytes and bicarbonate of soda. Some horsemen believe the milkshake wards off fatigue by increasing the carbon dioxide in a horse's bloodstream and reducing lactic acid buildup.
Kentucky prohibits milkshaking but has had no formal testing for it. A test would measure carbon dioxide in the horse's blood plasma.