October 30, 2014

Enhanced Emergency Warning System for SB tracks

The board of the Ontario Racing Commission has announced that it has approved revisions and new rules directing all Standardbred racetracks to upgrade their emergency warning light systems to now include a siren.

According to a release by the ORC, the changes/upgrades must be implemented by January 1, 2015.

The ORC has explained that the rule change was a recommendation following an investigation and report by the ORC’s Equine Accident Specialist into an incident which occurred at Flamboro Downs. The ORC held a meeting to review enhanced race protocols with a number of racetrack operators, drivers, veterinarians and horsepeople, as well as a number of ORC judges and investigators.

The recommendations discussed ways to stop the race when, in the opinion of the judges, the situation warranted such action.

The new and revised rules will provide the judges with the authority and ability to turn on warning lights when they view a situation that could negatively affect the health and safety of the participants. The lights indicate to drivers that they should proceed with caution.

Under the new and revised rules, when a more serious emergency situation occurs, the judges will have the authority and ability to stop the race and communicate this to the Drivers through the use of both the warning lights and the siren.

The ORC has announced that racetracks will have until January 1, 2015, to install an enhanced emergency warning system, approved by the ORC. Failure to comply may result in fines or suspensions or both.

To view the ORC’s notice on the issue, click here.

To view the ORC’s Standardbred Directive #3 – 2014, which includes new rules and revised rules, click here.

(Standardbred Canada)

Change To Woodbine Draw Schedule

The Woodbine race office would like to advise horsepeople of a change to the draw schedule for the Woodbine Fall/Winter meet.

Effective immediately, Saturday cards will now be drawn on Wednesdays, while the draw for Friday cards will remain on Tuesdays.

Here is the full draw schedule for the Woodbine meet.

Enter Monday for Thursday.
Enter Tuesday for Friday.
Enter Wednesday for Saturday.
Enter Thursday for Monday.

The entry box closes at 10:30 a.m. each day.

(Standardbred Canada)


Update On Waples Tribute Night

Due to the overwhelming response for tickets to the upcoming Tribute Night for Keith and Ron Waples, the event has been moved from the Sports Dining Room at Mohawk to the main dining room meaning there are 50 tickets now available which will be sold on a first come first served basis.

To order tickets, or to donate items for the silent auction, please contact Jack Darling (jackdarling@rogers.com – 519-653-2698), Ian Fleming (ifleming@clintonraceway.com – 519-482-5270) or Bill O’Donnell (billodonnell01@aol.com – 905-854-2672).

The online auction is currently underway and will end next Monday evening. Note that for all stallion services, a non-refundable deposit of $500 is due at the conclusion of the auction with the remainder due upon the birth of a live foal.

Fall Four Brings Stars To Woodbine

Harness racing action returns to Woodbine Racetrack this Thursday evening, and fans will be treated to plenty of firepower during the first weekend of the fall/winter meet thanks to the elimination round for this year’s Fall Four stakes.

Friday evening’s program is dedicated to the fillies, with trotters doing battle in a set of Goldsmith Maid eliminations and pacers sparring in a pair of Three Diamonds eliminations.

On Saturday night the boys will be in the spotlight as the Rexdale, Ontario oval will feature four elimination races. Pacers will go at it in a pair of Governor’s Cup eliminations while the trotters will butt heads in a set of Valley Victory eliminations.

Here’s a preview of this weekend’s elimination races:

Friday – Race 1 – $25,000 Three Diamonds Elimination

The undefeated JK Shesalady totes an 8-for-8 record into the first elimination for the tandem of driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Nancy Johansson. The daughter of Art Major-Presidential Lady has drawn Post 3 in her quest to add to her $444,850 bankroll. Since setting a world record in the final of the Shes A Great Lady Stake the precocious youngster has added wins in the Kentuckiana Stake at Hoosier Park and more recently a division of the International Stallion Stake at The Red Mile.

Among the other headliners in the first elimination are five-time winner Happy Becky (Post 1) and two-time winner Shakai Hanover (Post 2).

Friday – Race 6 – $25,000 Three Diamonds Elimination

Band Of Angels will be shooting for a bounce back performance for trainer Ron Burke, who watched the daughter of Rocknroll Heaven-Time N Again kick off her career with six straight wins. The filly has since missed the board in back-to-back starts, but she qualified in good order at Harrah’s Philadelphia on October 7. Yannick Gingras will be paired up with the filly from Post 4.

The Show Returns (Post 1) enters the assignment with a 3-for-8 record for Chris Ryder, while Ideal Nuggets (Post 2) has only missed the board once in her first 10 tries for trainer Ed Lohmeyer.

Friday – Race 2 – $25,000 Goldsmith Maid Elimination

Jolene Jolene destroyed the foes she faced when she established a career-best clocking of 1:52.1 in her division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile on September 25 for trainer Jonas Czernyson. The daughter of Muscle Hill-Celebrity Speedie improved her rookie record to 4-2-1 from eight tries with the win while her bankroll climbed to $212,507. Sylvain Filion will catch-drive the talented youngster.

Flirting Filly (Post 2) will be on the lookout for an effort similar to the one she turned in when winning her division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile earlier this month for trainer Jimmy Takter, while trainer John Bax will be hoping for a bounce back performance from Juanitas Fury (Post 4) following her off-the-board effort in last weekend’s OSS Super Final.

Friday – Race 3 – $25,000 Goldsmith Maid Elimination

Mission Brief enters her Friday evening assignment following her awesome performance at the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile earlier this month. The scary-fast daughter of Muscle Hill-Southwind Serena annihilated the world record for two-year-old trotting fillies when she roared to a 16-length triumph in 1:50.3 in her latest assignment for the duo of driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke. The six-time winner enters the weekend with a cash stash of $314,900.

She’ll take on last weekend’s OSS Super Final winner, Danielle Hall (Post 3), and this summer’s Peaceful Way Stakes champion, Stubborn Belle (Post 2).

Saturday – Race 2 – $25,000 Valley Victory Elimination

Billy Flynn, who lost for the first time in his career when he was second in his division of the International Stallion Stakes in Lexington on October 3, will shoot for his ninth win of the year for trainer Staffan Lind. The multiple NYSS-winning son of Cantab Hall-Zeta Jones will depart from Post 7 as he tries to add to his already-impressive bankroll of $331,337.

He’ll take on a talented, Jimmy Takter-trained trio which consists of Uncle Lasse (Post 3), Pinkman (Post 4) and The Bank (Post 5).

Saturday – Race 3 – $25,000 Valley Victory Elimination

Habitat, the winner of this year’s William Wellwood Memorial Trot, totes a two-race winning streak into his elimination assignment for trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras. The five-time winner has only been worse than second on one occasion during his eight-race career. He’s schedule to depart from Post 8 on Saturday evening.

He’ll take on a trio of $100,000-winning foes in Walter White (Post 2), Jetpedia (Post 4) and Southwind Stryker (Post 6).

Saturday – Race 6 – $25,000 Governor’s Cup Elimination

The first elimination is as wide-open as it gets thanks to the likes of Lyons Levi Lewis, the runner-up in the Metro Pace, and Lost For Words, a suddenly-streaking son of Well Said, being in the field.

Lyons Levi Lewis, who starts from Post 1 for driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Ron Burke, last raced in a division of Champlain Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack on September 6. He won that assignment in a career-best 1:52.1, and he has since come back to win a pair of qualifiers at The Meadows. The son of Well Said has banked close to $270,000 this season.

Lost For Words has won four of his last five outings including three straight wins for trainer Brian Brown. The colt, who is scheduled to start from Post 6 for driver Ron Pierce, blew away the foes he faced in his division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile on October 4.

Saturday – Race 8 – $25,000 Governor’s Cup Elimination

All eyes will be on Artspeak in the second elimination as the previously-undefeated son of Western Ideal-The Art Museum will try to right the ship after breaking and settling for a third-place finish in his latest outing in a division of the International Stallion Stakes. Tony Alagna trains and Scott Zeron is scheduled to drive the seven-time winner. In order to get back on track the colt will have to overcome Post 9. He’s stashed away earnings in excess of $520,000.

With regards to the finals of the Fall Four events, the Governor’s Cup will go for $565,000, the Valley Victory will be contested for $521,000, the Goldsmith Maid goes for $464,000 and the Three Diamonds will be raced for $424,000.

The finals will be contested at Woodbine Racetrack part of the October 25 card of racing.

To view entries for Friday’s card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Entries – Woodbine Racetrack.

To view entries for Saturday’s card of harness racing, click the following link: Saturday Entries – Woodbine Racetrack.

(Clockwise from top left: Artspeak, Habitat, Mission Brief, JK Shesalady. Photos courtesy New Image Media, Nigel Soult Photo)

(Standardbred Canada)

Meadowlands Races Scheduled Around Breeders Crown

To All Owners and Trainers,

The Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment has now posted events that have been scheduled around the Breeders Crown events.
No payment is necessary.  Just enter and pay starting fee.

For more information on these events click here.

Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals Set

The fields have now been established for this Saturday’s eight $250,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals at Mohawk Racetrack, which will showcase the top performers in the provincial program and provide an exciting conclusion to the 2014 OSS season.

The races have been carded as Race 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10. To view the entries, click here. For a free, printable program page, courtesy of TrackIT, click here.

Another special race on Saturday is the Wendy Hoogeveen Memorial (Race 6), in honour of the Ontario Racing Commission’s director of industry development and support, who passed away in August at the age of 56.

In addition to all of the exciting races on track, there will be a multitude of activities to enjoy off track, including EquiMania, a youth education program presented by the University of Guelph. Designed to delight horse enthusiasts of all ages, EquiMania features games, workbooks, fun materials and true to life displays and offers a unique hands-on adventure into the wonderful world of horses.

It will be a jam-packed evening at the Campbellville racetrack on October 11, with lots of entertainment for the family, live music, contests, exhibits, great food and of course, some outstanding racing by the very best colts and fillies in the province.

The fun will begin at 5:30 p.m. with racing starting at 7:25. Admission and parking are free.

Here’s a preview of Saturday’s eight Super Finals:

Two-Year-Old Filly Trot – Race 2

Trainer John Bax sends out a strong 1-2 punch to kick off this year’s Super Finals thanks to the dynamic duo of Stubborn Belle and Juanitas Fury.

Stubborn Belle (Post 1 – Paul MacDonell) is the richest filly in the field thanks to a bankroll that stands at $361,286. The upset winner against Grand Circuit foes in last month’s $385,000 Peaceful Way Final has since come back to win an OSS Gold Series division in a career-best clocking of 1:54.1.

Her stablemate, Juanitas Fury (Post 8 – Steve Condren), has stashed away more than $227,000 while assembling a 3-4-1 record in her first nine assignments. The daughter of Kadabra was a lapped-on second to Stubborn Belle in the Peaceful Way Final.

The points leader in the division, Danielle Hall (Post 2 – Jody Jamieson), went 4-1-0 in five Gold Series assignments for Team Jamieson. The six-time winner has racked up more than $250,000 in the process.

Three-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot – Race 3

Harper Blue Chip figures to be one of the biggest favourites in the Super Finals parade, and trainer Mark Steacy can finally say he drew a great post in a big money final. The trainer has been a bit snake bitten in that department in the past, but Post 2 figures to be a great spot for the son of Majestic Son to work from. Sylvain Filion will pair up with the eight-time winner who will try to add to his $678,000 bankroll. He went 3-for-3 in Gold Series events this season and led the division with 150 points.

Two-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace – Race 4

It’s the Casie Coleman show in this Super Final as the five-time O’Brien Award winner as Canada’s Trainer of the Year will send out a five-headed monster in the rich tilt.

Leading her freshman army is the incredibly talented Reverend Hanover (Post 5 – Chris Christoforou). The son of Sportswriter, who is 3-for-3 going into Saturday’s affair, has looked dominant in each of his performances. The colt earned a 1:51.1 career-best clocking in his first OSS Gold Series assignment and followed it up with a 1:51.4 triumph in his follow-up try against Gold Series foes.

Coleman will also send out Southwind Indy (Post 1 – Jack Moiseyev), Bob Ben And John (Post 3 – Jonathan Drury), Sportskeeper (Post 6 – Sylvain Filion) and Rollwiththepunches (Post 10 – Phil Hudon).

Two-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot – Race 5

After racking up three OSS Gold Series wins in the regular season, Dont Rush will try to keep the ball rolling in Saturday’s Super Final. The son of Infinitif will have to overcome Post 8 in his quest for a third straight score for the tandem of driver Chris Christoforou and trainer Dustin Jones. The colt manufactured a 3-3-1 record from 10 trips to the track, and he banked more than $170,000 in the process.

He’ll take on a host of other capable rookies including recent Gold Series winners, Rise Up Rise Up (Post 2 – Mike Saftic) and Alacrity (Post 3 – Eddie Green).

Two-Year-Old Filly Pace – Race 7

Sports Chic has dominated the division for trainer Blake MacIntosh and driver Jody Jamieson, but she disappointed in the final Gold Series event of the season. The daughter of Sportswriter, who went 5-3-0 in her first eight tries, finished a disappointing seventh at Mohawk Racetrack on September 29. Bouncing back won’t be easy based on the fact she’s drawn the dreaded Post 10.

What might help is the fact that recent Gold Series winners, Capela (Post 8 – James MacDonald) and Wrangler Magic (Post 9 – Sylvain Filion), haven’t drawn much better.

Three-Year-Old Filly Trot – Race 8

Riveting Rosie will look to become a repeat Super Final winner for the team of driver Paul MacDonell and trainer John Bax, but it won’t be easy considering she’s drawn Post 10. The O’Brien Award-winning daughter of Muscle Mass came out of the blocks slowly this season, but she’s really found her form in recent weeks. She was second against the continent’s top sophomore fillies, and she has since posted back-to-back Gold Series scores.

Sweetie Hearts (Post 1 – Randy Waples is another filly who got off to a slow start to the season, but trainer Ron Parsons has her firing on all cylinders going into Saturday’s final. The daughter of Angus Hall has been first or second in four of her last five assignments. She’s stashed away more than $280,000 this season.

Three-Year-Old Filly Pace – Race 9

Skippin By (Post 3 – Randy Waples) has won back-to-back Gold Series events since moving into the barn of trainer Corey Johnson, and she figures to get a lot of pari-mutuel support on Saturday night. The daughter of Shadow Play came within one-fifth of a second from matching Michelles Powers’ all-time OSS record for three-year-old pacing fillies when she blazed to a 1:50.2 win in a Gold Series division at Mohawk Racetrack on September 8. She’s won five of 18 starts this season.

Lady Shadow (Post 7 – Doug McNair) also racked up five wins this year, including a 1:49.2 triumph for driver Rick Zeron in her elimination of the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk Racetrack on July 12. She won back-to-back Gold Series events before finishing fourth in her elimination heat of the Jugette last month in Ohio.

Three-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace – Race 10

Jet Airway made four appearances in the OSS Gold Series this season, and the speedy son of Jeremes Jet was perfect in those assignments for trainer Tony Alagna and driver Randy Waples. After racking up just over $62,000 last year, the colt has tacked on more than $278,000 in earnings this year. The ten-time winner, who is 7-for-15 in 2014, will start from Post 1 on Saturday evening.

The Dr. Ian Moore-trained Play It Again Sam (Post 9 – Jody Jamieson) and Silverhill Shadow (Post 10 – Chris Christoforou) have both had their fair share of success in Gold Series events this season, but they’ve got their work cut out for them considering they’ve drawn the outside posts in the rich tilt.

(With files from the OSS)

Musings on Equine Medicine

Clara K. Fenger, DVM, PhD, DACVIM * Equine Intmegrated Medicine * 4904 Ironworks Rd. * Georgetown, KY 40324t


Wandering Withdrawal-Times and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium Model Rules: Time for the RMTC to get days

Clara Fenger, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; Andy Roberts, DVM; Jim Casey, DVM, MS

The ARCI Controlled Therapeutic Medication Rules have gone into effect in a number of new states, coming on line rapidly in the last few months.  The regulatory authorities have promised that providing a stringent and well defined set of uniform medication rules would make racing cleaner and safer for all participants.  Gone would be the days of supposed rampant cheating and we could all compete on a level playing field.  In fact, we have known for some time that operating outside the lines of legal and ethical competition in horse racing is extremely rare…representing only 0.015%  of horses passing through the test barn (1).  Clearly, the playing field has been quite level and well regulated for some time.  Nonetheless, it is human nature to suspect “that guy (or gal)” who is winning at a 40% clip must be using something, so we ought to all welcome the ever increasing oversight by our regulatory bodies.  Besides, even the horsemen agree that uniform rules would make racing across state lines easier.

Enter RMTC.  In an effort to produce National uniform medication rules, the RMTC has come up with a plan.  First, limit the number of medications that can be used therapeutically in race horses, and regulate them.  Have uniform National thresholds based on scientific studies which provide valid and realistic withdrawal time guidelines for trainers and veterinarians.  The Executive Director of the RMTC has suggested that adopting these rules actually reduces positive tests(2).  However, recent issues cropping up across the country seem to dramatically refute that claim.

The first uniform medication rule to be implemented across the country was to drop the acceptable phenylbutazone level from 5 µg/mL to 2 µg/mL.  Even though all of the pain relieving effect
of phenylbutazone is eliminated at the 5 µg/mL level(3), racing commissions in various jurisdictions felt that this threshold allowed levels at the time of the pre-race exam that interfered with their ability to determine if a horse was sound.  Nonetheless, at the time the change was made, the recommended withdrawal in many jurisdictions remained 2 g IV at 24 hours(4).  This, despite having data collected at the University of Florida showing that only 95% of the horses that received the original 2 g IV dose were below the regulatory threshold(5).  Which is akin to routinely giving a speeding ticket to one in 20 cars going 55 mph in a 55 mph zone.  Although the 24 hour 2g dose recommendation was continued in several states after the threshold change, the RMTC changed the dose to 9 cc (1.8 g) IV at 24 hours for the model rule, and state recommendations vary from the model rule recommendation to 1 g IV at 24 hours (KY)(6), 2 g IV at 28 (VA) or even 2 g IV at 36 hours (WV)(4).  You have no way of knowing for sure until you get back a positive test.  So much for uniformity.

Flunixin (aka Banamine®) is another example where the RMTC has been flat wrong in their withdrawal recommendations.  The manufacturer’s recommended dose is 500mg, or 10 cc to a 1,000 pound horse.  Originally the RMTC recommended that this dose be administered no closer than 24 hours pre-race(4).  Somehow, the decision was made that the cutoff for a positive test was going to be 20 ng/ml in blood(5).  This, despite the unhappy fact that when you actually read the studies, the science indicates that many 24 h post-race samples will exceed the 20 ng/ml threshold(7).  When post-race samples came up positive in droves, confirming this already-known detail, the RMTC backtracked.  In their meeting this spring at Gulfstream Park, they heard the “positives” message; their solution was to leave the sacred 20 ng/ml threshold in place but to move the withdrawal time out to 32 hours(8).

The RMTC doesn’t seem to be any more clued in with Ketoprofen.  When they set the original 10 ng/ml level, they had minimal “positives.”  So, since they couldn’t believe NO ONE was “cheating” (because there were no positive tests) with this drug, at the same Gulfstream Meeting, the RMTC reduced the threshold to 2 ng/ml(8).  Still no problem with cheating (no positive tests), so surely a further reduction is coming.  Seems like every five minutes, the RMTC and subsequently various regulators are changing a rule or a recommendation, all without real, publicly reviewable substantive scientific evidence to support their “new” position.  If you can’t dazzle the horsemen with brilliant science, baffle them with confusing and ever-changing …well you know.  Somehow, the idea of getting the facts straight with scientifically sound research before implementing rules that profoundly affect the lives of the people and horses you regulate has escaped them.

Next, Methocarbamol:  Robaxin is a mainstay of the prevention of muscle cramps (i.e. “tying up”) in training, a painful condition that plagues many racehorses and mostly fillies.  It is an important therapeutic medication to have available to horses in training.  And a rash of methocarbamol positives at Delaware Park(9) has further underscored the problems with both the RMTC studies and the implementation of changes in regulatory procedures.  Firstly, the studies were performed on only 20 horses(10), and when the results are applied across thousands of racehorses with varied management, different metabolism and under a myriad of different specific circumstances across the country, the outcomes are not so clean.  Secondly, medication interactions were apparently not taken into consideration.  The RMTC Executive Director has recently explained in great detail(11) that methocarbamol and phenylbutazone are metabolized by the same pathway in the horse and phenylbutazone is preferentially eliminated, slowing the metabolism of methocarbamol, and thereby resulting in the positive tests.   Except there is no published scientific data to support that statement(8).  And if there were, the RMTC should have been aware and done the studies to provide guidelines for the practitioners and horsemen.  Dr. Rick Sams, Director of LGC Sports Science, the lab that runs the Delaware post-race tests responded:  “While the guidelines that are in place were well thought out and researched, there will, I’m sure, be adjustments made as time goes on.(11)”  Sounds like the horsemen are guinea pigs in a high stakes game of chicken:  let’s figure out the rules as we go, and if you try to adhere to the rules and guess wrong, the penalty is harsh.  This is no way for an industry to act.  The stakes are too high for all concerned, including the horse and rider, to base medication regulations on questionable science.

“There will, I’m sure, be adjustments made…:” not surprising when one considers the history of the RMTC threshold for Methocarbamol, which goes like this: First, RMTC commissioned a study at University of Florida using their 20 exercised horse herd and a 15 mg/kg methocarbamol dose(10)…a typically used dose(12). This study came up with a 20 ng/ml threshold and a 24 hour withdrawal time.  Unfortunately, Pennsylvania already had in place a 1 ng/ml threshold, based on studies with a REALLY low, below any clinical effect, 2.2 mg/kg dose of methocarbamol(5,12).  What to do??  Simple! Just leave the cutoff for a positive test at 1 ng/ml but arbitrarily, and without performing the necessary scientific study to back it up, move the withdrawal time out to 48 hours, and trust that it works.  If it doesn’t work out, come up with something convenient to blame, in this case apparently phenylbutazone.  At the same time tell horsemen that THEY have to move the withdrawal time out again.  The only problem is those pesky horsemen who actually got Methocarbamol positives during this “educate the regulators” “adjustment making” period.

In deflecting the blame towards a heretofore unidentified drug interaction with phenylbutazone, the RMTC is also directing attention away from the simple fact that Methocarbamol has long been known to show dose dependent kinetics.  In other words, as the dose increases, Methocarbamol is eliminated more slowly and tends to accumulate, increasing the likelihood of a positive(13).  Both the RMTC and the University of Pennsylvania studies were single IV dose studies.  We would therefore be not in the least surprised if it turns out that many of the numerous recent positives reported for Methocarbamol are more closely associated with a normal multi-dose therapeutic schedule of Methocarbamol than just with the concomitant administration of phenylbutazone.  The end result of the confusing withdrawal guidelines is to make a safe and effective therapeutic medication, Robaxin, essentially illegal and out of reach for those horses that may get muscle cramps.

For many months preceding the adoption of the RMTC Model Rules regarding uniform medication, racing officials went around the country and were quoted in the press about the new rules regarding joint injections.  Low grade joint inflammation is an extremely common outcome of strenuous exercise, and joint injections are a useful and widely used therapeutic approach to handling this concern.  Modern human sports medicine has included the use of therapeutic joint injections for years, and studies have shown no long term ill effect from repeated injections(14).  Which fits very well with the experiences of racetrack practitioners:  Judicious joint injections are therapeutic and preserve the long term health of the athlete, not just for its racing career, but for the career that follows.  Nonetheless, the racing officials and proponents of the RMTC “driven” Uniform National Model Rule have, perhaps less than logically, insisted that veterinarians should have sufficient time after a joint injection to assess response to therapy.  They argued that horses should not be raced within 7 days of injection with a relatively quick acting corticosteroid like triamcinolone (Vetalog) or betamethasone, or 14 days of injection with a long acting corticosteroid like methylprednisolone (Depo-Medrol).  Veterinarians and horsemen have long agreed that assessing response to therapy should be part of any therapeutic intervention, but felt that the time periods set forth in the Model Rules were well beyond the time frame necessary.  Nonetheless, we were prepared to go along with it.  Unfortunately, we and other practitioners were not prepared for the outcome of the first few weeks of the new medication policy which have resulted in numerous alleged positives in at least 2 jurisdictions (IN,WV).

The uniform medication rules have put in place a 100 pg/mL blood threshold level of methylprednisolone (Depo-Medrol®), and a withdrawal of 7 days, nominally based on an RMTC sponsored report, where 100 mg was injected into a single knee(15).  And yet in the Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule recommendations(16), right next to the recommended 7 day withdrawal, it states that the withdrawal for 100 mg (2.5 cc) Depo-Medrol is actually 21 days…so which is it?  7 days or 21 days?  Given this uncertainty in the published guidelines, the states have varied from 10 days (IN) to 21 days (WV) for recommended withdrawal times linked to this threshold.  Faced with these ambiguities, practitioners, in an abundance of caution, have adhered doggedly to the recommended withdrawals.  And, despite this care, “cloudy” or possible positives have been coming up at a frightening rate in the first few weeks of the new rules, such as has been seen in WV(17).  It turns out, if you put the Depo-Medrol in a stifle, the clearance time is one thing.  If you put it in a hock, it is something else.  God forbid the horse moves while you inject it, because then all bets are off.   A racing official stated, off the record, that the purpose of the Depo rule was to discourage the use of Depo at all…hey wait, what happened to “so you could assess the response to therapy”?  A little deceptive to say the least.  And another, safe and effective, FDA approved therapeutic medication relegated to being essentially illegal.

To further complicate matters, Veterinarians, trainers and owners are anxiously awaiting the results of their post-race tests, which are taking an inordinate amount of time [a month or more] as a result of a laboratory backlog.  The new Uniform Model Rules mandate that a Depo Medrol positive requires purse redistribution and a fine(18).  All while the racing officials cannot even provide useful practical guidelines for withdrawal times.  As this article goes to press, even the racing commissions are unsure of their own final decision(17).  We all remember Brass Hat’s impressive effort to finish second in the 2006 Dubai World Cup.  The trainer and veterinarian tried to contact the appropriate authorities to identify the withdrawal time for methylprednisolone, and then added 5 days in order to inject the horse’s hocks well outside of those guidelines.  When the horse was disqualified for the positive test, the trainer and veterinarian protested, but to no avail.  After the trainer and veterinarian did everything possible, there was nothing that could be done: surely this can’t happen in America.

Other problems with the Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule (April 17, 2014), the cornerstone of the RMTC Model Rules have not yet reared their ugly heads. The recommendations on a common tying up preventative, dantrolene (Dantrium) is 48 hours.  This is based on a study performed with a single dose of 1 mg/kg, which is well below the therapeutic dose of 2-4 mg/kg(12,16).  Xylazine, a common tranquilizer, used to sedate horses for procedures, including dental work, veterinary procedures and some grooming procedures like clipping is listed as permissible at 48 hours with a published threshold level (cutoff for a positive test), but NO recommended dose and NO research paper to explain where the recommendation came from is listed(16).  Can I use the whole bottle?  Mepivacaine (Carbocaine) has a withdrawal recommendation of 72 hours, and represents a class B penalty i.e., a minimum of a 60 day suspension, loss of purse and fines (RMTC website).  And the RMTC recommendations are based on 1.5 mL of Carbocaine in a 1000 pound horse(16).  This is an amount which is below ANY usual therapeutic use of the product, which would be at least 10 mL for a Caslicks procedure or 5 -10 mL for a typical diagnostic nerve block.  So the actual RMTC recommendations appear to be at best a complete lack of understanding of how therapeutic medications are applied and at worst an intentional set up of any trainer or veterinarian who even thinks of using a therapeutically appropriate amount of mepivacaine.

This seems to be a common theme among the “permitted medication” list:  no good faith effort was made to determine how these medications are correctly and appropriately used as therapeutics before the withdrawal studies were performed or recommendations were made.  As a further matter of interest, the mepivacaine threshold is based on confidential data generated by the European Horseracing Scientific Liaison Committee [EHSLC] and therefore subject to EHSLC non-disclosure requirements apparently signed by all members of the RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee(8); so much for industry-wide transparency and independent scientific review.  Further, the cloak of secrecy does not end there:  a number of other US medications rules, such as acepromazine, albuterol, betamethasone, clenbuterol, dexamethasone, firocoxib, furosemide, isoflupredone, lidocaine, omeprazole, prednisolone, procaine penicillin and xylazine are based on secret data that has never
been subjected to independent review, and is currently unavailable to the horsemen or their racetrack vets(19).

Drugs outside the magic “26” list of therapeutic substances are a no man’s land.  There is only one antibiotic, procaine penicillin, on the list.  States differ from 24 hours to 96 hours4 to “zero tolerance” (infinite in IN?20) on withdrawal for “sulfa drugs,” like Trimethoprim-sulfadiazine, probably the most commonly used antibiotic in horses, which is not even in the magic “26.”  Within the word “race horse” is the word “horse,” and this word is attendant with all the day to day things that might befall any animal.  In addition to scrapes and infections, a horse may get stung by an insect, necessitating an injection with an antihistamine, or scratch his cornea necessitating atropine or other therapeutic medication.  These conditions are not life threatening, but the varied therapeutic medication rules could prevent this otherwise completely healthy horse from competing, depending upon which jurisdiction you are in.  Imagine:  there are likely more than 26 over the counter medications in your bathroom medicine cabinet at home, but the most elite of athletes are prevented from benefitting from modern day sports medicine under the misnomer of “clean racing”.

In 1900, infant mortality among humans was 30% and life expectancy was less than 50 years 21.   Much of the reason for the improvement in health of humans is the advent of modern medicine.  And yet we want to send our most precious charges, horses who have no voice for themselves, back to the dark ages.  Modern equine sports medicine is NOT a crime.  It has been developed to give the athlete the best possible quality of life and as a result to perform to the best of their abilities.  There are substances which may potentially enhance performance, and these are and should be banned.  Severe penalties should be in place and vigorously enforced.  But, folks, let’s get it right.  The rush to implement the RMTC rules has had a mountain of unintended consequences.  Shouldn’t we first and foremost get the science right, perform studies which reflect real world and appropriate uses of therapeutic medications and then establish dosage, thresholds, and withdrawal times.  Finally we should implement an appropriate phase in period allowing us to identify gaps in our scientific knowledge before imposing strict and onerous penalties.   Appears that it is the RMTC that needs to get “days.”

1. Association of Racing Commissioners International.  Drugs in US Racing – 2010:  the Facts.  2011.
2. KAEP meeting, February
3. Hu HH, MacAllister CG, Payton ME, Erkert RS. Evaluation of the analgesic effects of phenylbutazone administered at a high or low dosage in horses with chronic lameness J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2005 Feb 1;226(3):414-7.  4. http://www.rmtcnet.com/withdrawal_show.asp , accessed 8/12/2014
5. Summary of Medication Recommendations: Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission Updated September 8, 2010. 6. http://www.khrc.ky.gov/Documents/24%20Therapeutic%20Medications-TB.pdf, accessed 8/12/2014
7. Sams, R.  Scientific Rationale for Establishing a Regulatory threshold for flunixin.  College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University.  2006.
8. Personal communication, Thomas Tobin 9. http://www.theracingbiz.com/2014/07/21/delaware-horsemen-concerned-positive-drug-tests/, accessed 8/12/2014
10. Rumpler MJ, Colahan P, Sams RA.  The pharmacokinetics of methocarbamol and guaifenesin after single intravenous and multiple-dose oral administration of methocarbamol in the horse. 2013 J Vet Pharm Therap 37:25-34. 11. http://www.drf.com/news/drug-combination-sets-rash-positives, accessed 8/12/2014
12. Hagyard Equine Medical Institute Formulary
13. Muir WW, Sams RA, Ashcraft S.  Pharmacologic and pharmacokinetic properties of methocarbamol in the horse. Am J Vet Res. 1984 Nov;45(11):2256-60.
14. Raynauld JP, Buckland-Wright C, Ward R, Choquette D, Haraoui B, Martel-Pelletier J, Uthman I, Khy V, Tremblay JL, Bertrand C, Pelletier JP. Safety and efficacy of long-term intraarticular steroid injections in osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.  Arthritis Rheum. 2003 Feb;48(2):370-7.
15. Knych HK, Harrison LM, Casbeer HC, McKemie DS.  Disposition of methylprednisolone acetate in plasma, urine, and synovial fluid following intra-articular administration to exercised thoroughbred horses. 2013  J Vet Pharm Therap  37:125-132.  16. http://www.rmtcnet.com/resources/Controlled%20Therapeutic%20Medications%20April%202014.pdf, accessed 8/12/2014 17. http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/86515/wv-hires-new-lab-purse-money-still-in-limbo, accessed 8/12/2014 18. http://www.rmtcnet.com/resources/RCI%20Uniform%20Classification%20Guidelines-December%202012.pdf, accessed 8/12/2014
19. http://arcicom.businesscatalyst.com/assets/arci-controlled-therapeutic-medication-schedule—version-2.1.pdf ;
20. Joe Gorajec quoted during a meeting with the Indiana Standardbred horsemen on 8/12/2014 regarding the positive tests  21. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4838a2.htm, accessed 8/12/2014

Cobalt Study Results Released

On Tuesday, September 30, the results of an intensive, United States Trotting Association-funded scientific study intended to ascertain the appropriate regulatory level for determining the excessive presence of the naturally-occurring substance cobalt were announced.

Based upon extensive research, the scientists have concluded that 70 parts per billion in blood is the appropriate regulatory threshold. The recommendation guards against false positives, while identifying those that are engaged in artificial administration with the intent to enhance a horse’s performance.

“I want to thank Doctors Maylin, McKeever and Malinowski for applying appropriate scientific principles and protocols to achieve a regulatory threshold that is both reasonable for the industry and efficacious in deterring those who would choose to violate it,” said USTA President Phil Langley, in praising the contingent’s diligent efforts.

“With substances that are a natural constituent of a horse like cobalt, there is always a fine line between catching the cheaters and protecting innocent horsemen from violation. These scientists worked hard to achieve a proper balance, which should serve as a guidepost for the rest of the industry,” added Langley.

The USTA Medication Advisory Committee will continue to study the overall effects of cobalt and other substances in the racehorse in greater detail.

Research indicates that cobalt stimulates the production of erythropoietin (EPO) to produce red blood cells. Widespread abuse of cobalt by human athletes has been rumored for years, and its purported use in racehorses prompted the USTA to take a highly proactive approach in the prevention of its artificial administration for the purpose of illicit performance enhancement.

In June, the USTA contracted with Dr. George Maylin of New York’s Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College to determine at what level cobalt ceases being considered a naturally occurring substance and becomes a clear attempt at performance enhancement. His work was assisted by Director Dr. Karyn Malinowski and Associate Director Dr. Ken McKeever from the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Based upon the USTA’s funding, Dr. Maylin was able to secure a long-term lease of a specialized state-of-the-art instrument required to conduct proper scientific analysis to determine the presence and levels of cobalt in samples. That new, unique equipment with unrivaled performance differentiates these results from any other scientific study on the artificial introduction of cobalt in horses.

It is anticipated that the regulators in several jurisdictions will consider the suggested threshold when the supporting data is released.


Mohawk Racing, Qualifying Changes

The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to advise horsepeople of upcoming schedule changes for both live racing and qualifiers.

This coming Tuesday (September 30) will be the final Tuesday card of live racing at Mohawk Racetrack.

The following week, Tuesdays will be dropped and live racing will be offered four nights a week on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s, with first-race post time at 7:25 p.m.

This live racing schedule will be in effect until the end of the Mohawk meet (Monday, October 13) and will continue when live racing returns to Woodbine Racetrack on Thursday, October 16.

Horsepeople are advised that the draw schedule will remain the same (details appear below).

• enter Monday for Thursday
• enter Tuesday for Friday and Saturday
• enter Thursday for Monday

Beginning in October, the qualifying schedule at Mohawk will also be changed.

Tuesday morning qualifiers will be dropped and qualifiers will only be held on Friday mornings at 10 a.m.

Qualifiers and training will remain at Mohawk until November 15.

There will be no change to the training schedule, as the track will remain open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.

The full schedule of qualifying sessions at Mohawk is available below.

• Friday, September 26
• Tuesday, September 30
• Friday, October 3
• Friday, October 10
• Friday, October 17
• Friday, October 24
• Friday, October 31
• Friday, November 7
• Friday, November 14


Racing-Gaming Integration Update

“I look forward to the future. I think the right people are sitting at the table to move this forward now, and the cooperation is there.”

In an update posted to the OHRIA website, Sue Leslie discusses the status of the long sought-after reintegration of Ontario’s horse racing industry with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. One problem that’s a current impediment, according to Leslie, is that there is still some lack of clarity on what exactly “integration” means.

“There’s been a little bit of a delay in pushing hard forward because all of us — both on the horse racing side and in the OLG — are trying to make sure that we really understand what Premier Kathleen Wynne and her government means by integration,” Leslie told Norm Borg. “So we’re trying to get a more well-defined description of what the government’s view of integration is and that should be forthcoming very shortly.

“The cooperation is there; obviously with what we’ve all been through, and as much as we really don’t have sympathy for OLG, this has been a difficult two years for them, too. They haven’t had a lot of stability in terms of their leadership at OLG. To [OLG Chair] Phil Olsson’s credit, he is starting now to gel that and gel his board.”

By “very shortly”, Leslie indicated that she’s hopeful that answer would come “in the next couple of weeks.”

On the side of horse racing is, according to Leslie, the majority government in Ontario that should help expedite any future projects. There are some “short-term” projects on the table now that, according to Leslie, would take less time to realize than others. Details on those products were not elaborated on in fairness to those currently working on them.

Leslie and Borg also discuss the recent announcements pertaining to Fort Erie and the Standardbred yearling crop as well as the idea of establishing a marketing fund for racing from the province’s purse pool. To listen to the full interview, click the link below.

Racing-Gaming Integration Update