Horse racing regulators of eight Mid- Atlantic and Northeast states have agreed to institute a uniform medication and drug testing program. The agreement was lead by the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (THA).
The eight states which will participate in the Mid Atlantic Uniform Medication Program are New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Massachusetts.
Under the program, medications will be divided into two new categories: controlled therapeutic substances and prohibited substances. Horsemen and veterinarians will be limited to 24 medications under the controlled therapeutic substances category that have been recognized as appropriate for therapeutic use in racehorses to treat illness or injury.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) and the industry's chemists and pharmacologists were all consulted to identify the medications.
"The largest concentration of racing in the United States on a daily basis is conducted in the Mid Atlantic and Northeast. Some 18 racetracks operate within a 200-mile radius," said THA Chairman Alan M. Foreman. "Many horsemen race in more than one state and, in some instances, on the same day. There is no region in the country where uniformity is more imperative than in the Mid Atlantic and Northeast. The horsemen have been asking for this for years, the time has come, and we are finally in a position to do it. I am extremely grateful to the THA member groups for taking the lead on this critical initiative and to the ARCI, RMTC, AAEP, The Jockey Club and other industry organizations for their collaborative approach and support to make this a reality."
Furosemide (Salix) will be the only medication permitted under the program to be administered to a racehorse on race day. Strict controls on the administration of the medication have been agreed upon by the regulators in the participating states.
"This is indeed a historic moment for racing and long overdue," said Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission chairman Duncan Patterson, speaking on behalf of the regulators. It demonstrates that the racing industry has the means and wherewithal to join together to protect the integrity of our sport and the welfare of our horses. I urge all racing jurisdictions outside the region to immediately join in this effort so that we can achieve long-elusive national medication and drug testing uniformity,"
Patterson is also the current Chairman of ARCI.
Final approval is expected from the RMTC and ARCI Boards on the restricted time limits and uniform detection levels for the 24 therapeutic medications by April 1. Participating states' testing laboratories are to be directed to apply for RMTC Code Accreditation by that date as well.