Kentucky Lawmakers Get Cobalt Update

Kentucky has been part of ongoing research and testing involving high levels of cobalt salts.
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The Kentucky General Assembly Interim Joint Subcommittee on Horse Farming Nov. 12 received a generally positive update on the status of the racing and breeding industry in the state in light of years of declines triggered in part by national economic conditions.

Racing industry officials, including several from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC), brought lawmakers up to speed on the Kentucky Breeders' Incentive Fund, the state's Thoroughbred foal crop, racing dates, drug testing, and the return of the Breeder's Cup World Championships in 2015.

Also at the meeting Mary Scollay-Ward, DVM, KHRC equine medical director, explained to lawmakers the issue of cobalt, a naturally occurring mineral that in large doses is believed to have blood-doping qualities in racehorses. Kentucky this year has been part of ongoing research and testing involving high levels of cobalt salts.

Scollay-Ward said the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) was prepared to recommend a testing threshold level for cobalt in blood at its October meeting but was sidetracked by the release of a United States Trotting Association-commissioned study that suggests a 70-parts-per-billion threshold; that's almost three times the unofficial threshold being used by some laboratories

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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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