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OSRC hears presentations on model medication rules and testing procedures
Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - by Kimberly A. Rinker, for the Ohio State Racing Commission

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Columbus, OH --- Presentations by the USTA’s Phil Langley and Mike Tanner, along with the HBPA’s Dave Basler and trainer William Cowan, and the OHHA’s Renee Mancino and trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. highlighted the Ohio State Racing Commission monthly meeting on March 30 on the 31st floor of the Riffe Center, 77 S. High St., Columbus, Ohio.

Chairman Robert K. Schmitz asked the representatives of the various horsemen’s organizations to explain their position regarding the controversy surrounding the approval of model medication rules and testing procedures.

The one common denominator between the United States Trotting Association, Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association and Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association is that all parties said that medication rules should be “breed specific,” meaning that the adopted policies should be defined and clarified to meet exacting standards specific to either the Standardbred or Thoroughbred racehorse.

USTA President Langley was adamant in the need for different rules between the breeds, emphasizing the variances in the training and racing of Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds. He also stressed that Standardbreds use certain medications on a weekly basis for “therapeutic purposes,” as a matter of course, since harness horses typically race every week to ten days.

“I do hope we can come up with a solution for both breeds,” Langley offered. “Ed Martin from Racing Commissioners International said they have no problem coming up with separate rules for separate breeds.”

“Our issues are different, and our horses are as well,” Mike Tanner, USTA Executive Vice President, added.

Langley also discussed the controversial medication Cobalt; how it is being examined by various laboratories, both in the United States and abroad. According to a combined study by the University of California-Davis and University of Kentucky, horses have a naturally-occurring average Cobalt level of 5.8 ppb (Standardbred) and 2.39 ppb (Thoroughbred) or less in their system.

Langley offered the proposed standard limitations being set: 25 to 50 parts per billion signifies suspect elevated levels, with a “warning” being issued, while any level above 50 ppb would clearly indicate an unnatural administration and thus, a more substantial fine and/or suspension as a “Class B” penalty.

Renee Mancino, Executive Director for the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, expounded on Langley’s thoughts, saying that Ohio should “set the standard for uniform rules and testing applications.”

Ohio’s all-time leading conditioner, Virgil Morgan Jr., then enlightened the audience with the training differences between Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds.

Dave Basler, Executive Director of the Ohio HBPA and Chair of the NHBPA’s Model Rules Committee, acknowledged that the Ohio horseracing industry should lead the way in “uniformity rules for both breeds.”

“There truly is no uniformity on medications at this time,” Basler acknowledged. “It’s imperative that uniform medication thresholds and withdrawal times must be based on published research. The horsemen want to know the amount of medication allowed and when administration should end. Our basic recommendation is to maintain existing medication thresholds and administration times.”

“The RMTC is flawed in this process,” stressed William Cowan, one of Ohio’s leading Thoroughbred conditioners. “No medication in horses? That’s like saying no medication in humans.”

The next commission meeting will be held on Tuesday (April 28) at the Riffe Center, 31st floor, at 10:00 a.m. Chairman Schmitz said the commission would hear testimony from veterinarians and scientists regarding these same issues (medication and testing procedures) at the following two OSRC meetings.

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