Lexington, KY --- Standardbred industry stakeholders, during a Jan. 21 hearing before the New York Gaming Commission, made their case for separate medication rules for harness racing.
The NYGC, which oversees horse racing in the state, has not yet acted on proposed uniform medication rules adopted in many states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. The public hearing was part of the statutory process.
The Standardbred industry’s primary concerns involve the bronchodilator clenbuterol and corticosteroids. The model rules approved by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and adopted by the Association of Racing Commissioners International lump all breeds together.
Phil Langley, president of the United States Trotting Association, told the NYGC the Ohio State Racing Commission and Pennsylvania Harness Racing Committee have no intention of changing current drug regulations for Standardbreds.
“We’re not asking for anything new,” Langley said. “We’re not trying to get standards lowered. We’ve used (the medications) for 10 years or more, and we don’t have a problem with them. Our breed is just so durable.”
Joe Faraldo, president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, said regular use of therapeutic medications in harness racing has served all parties well. In regard to clenbuterol, Faraldo said there is no evidence in the harness industry the drug has anabolic effects, and that proposed administration times and threshold testing levels “are going to lead to a lot of positives.”
“That doesn’t do any good for the industry,” Faraldo said.
Harness industry officials that support different medication rules for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing note the frequency with which harness horses race; thus, the proposed 14-day cut-off for use of clenbuterol would keep horses from racing once a week as many of them do.
Faraldo also said the small number of breakdowns in harness racing should be taken into consideration when regulators consider changes in medication rules.
RMTC executive director Dr. Dionne Benson toward the end of the hearing outlined the organization’s position and said concerns by the Standardbred industry were addressed via formation of an ad hoc committee that developed white papers on clenbuterol and corticosteroids. She said the determination by scientists and veterinarians was that “said thresholds are appropriate for all breeds.”
Benson also said there are concerns over the effect regular long-term use of clenbuterol can have on racehorses of any breed.