Groups Step Up Call for Model Racehorse Drug Rules

Racing industry organizations have stepped up their call for swift adoption of national model rules on medication and drug testing in the wake of investigations into allegations of mistreatment and over-medication of Thoroughbred racehorses.
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Racing industry organizations have stepped up their call for swift adoption of national model rules on medication and drug testing in the wake of investigations into allegations of mistreatment and over-medication of Thoroughbred racehorses.

Trainer Steve Asmussen and assistant trainer Scott Blasi were the subjects of a 2013 undercover investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which alleges over-medication and mistreatment. Documentation of the allegations, as well as video, were turned over to regulators in Kentucky and New York.

Much of the undercover probe revealed the presence of legal therapeutic medication used in training or administered within a certain number of days before a race. The practice isn't uncommon, but the model rules devised by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) are designed to greatly reduce such drug regimens and create a treat-when-necessary environment.

"(The Thoroughbred Racing Association's, or TRA) members in 2012 voted unanimously to advocate the Uniform Medication and Penalty Model Rules, developed by the RMTC and RCI," the racetrack trade group said March 21. "By the end of 2013 those policies had been adopted by many of the leading racing states, and efforts continue to ensure unanimous adoption in the current year

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Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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