Eric Mitchell, The Blood-Horse's editor-in-chief and editorial director, shares thoughts on why he thinks racing needs to beef up out-of-competition testing.
As part of the ongoing debate about the future of medication testing and enforcement in American racing, let’s hope out-of-competition testing takes on a greater sense of urgency.
Being able to test a horse at any time serves an important role in finding banned substances that would otherwise go undetected because they could have cleared a horse’s system by race day. More importantly, putting trainers and veterinarians on notice that a horse could be tested with only an hour’s notice serves as a powerful deterrent. Combine out-of-competition testing with a stricter code of penalties and racing could make significant progress toward culling the cheaters from its ranks.
Right now the United States, compared with other major racing jurisdictions, is way behind the curve on out-of-competition testing.
In a presentation at the recent Jockey Club Round Table conference, Dan Singer of McKinsey & Co. shared the results of an analysis done between various international testing and enforcement programs. Out of all testing conducted, only 1% of samples collected in the United States are done outside of race day. By comparison, 21% of tests conducted in Australia are on out-of-competition samples. In Hong Kong the out-of-competition portion is 11% and in France it’s 10%.
New York, California, Indiana, Delaware, Kentucky, and New Jersey are all doing out of competition sampling for racing, but these jurisdictions still fac