Eric Mitchell, editorial director and editor-in-chief of The Blood-Horse, shares his thoughts on the path towards racehorse medication uniformity.


Not unexpectedly, The Jockey Club announced Aug. 10 a call to action for federal legislation to support uniform medication testing and enforcement.

The Jockey Club does not advocate having a federal agency actually responsible for enforcement and testing in Thoroughbred racing, however. Instead, the call to action would involve the pursuit of federal authority for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency—known as USADA—to assume this responsibility on behalf of the 38 racing states. The USADA is a nongovernmental, nonprofit agency created by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 2000 to improve its anti-doping initiatives. The agency does get a big chunk of its funding through federal grants.

This push for federal involvement will not be welcomed by many trainers and owners in the racing industry. As one consignor put it during Fasig-Tipton’s recent Saratoga select yearling sale, “The federal government cannot even pass a transportation bill right now; how are they going to get this done?”

The Jockey Club initiative also will be seen as a lack of faith in the tremendous efforts put into the drafting and promotion of the National Uniform Medication Policy, which allows the controlled use of 26 therapeutic medications and includes a program for dealing with multiple violations. Adoption of the National Uniform Medication rules is progressing but not at the pace many had hoped because, in part, many states are beholden t