Groups react to Breeders’ Cup drug phase-out

Reporting for The Blood-Horse
July 16, 2011

Industry organizations that have weighed in so far are for the most part supportive of the plan by Breeders’ Cup to phase out race-day medication use in the World Championships beginning in 2012.

Others, however, are walking the line or privately indicated concerns over the plan to end race-day use of anti-bleeding medications, in particular Salix, for 2-year-olds in 2012 and the rest of the World Championships in 2013.

The Jockey Club issued a statement July 15 commending Breeders’ Cup but also encouraged the Thoroughbred industry to take steps to reform medication policies and impose stronger penalties for those who violate them.

“The Jockey Club applauds the exemplary leadership that Breeders’ Cup has displayed with its plan to eliminate race-day medications in its championship events over the next two years,” James Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, said in a statement. “As we said back in April, the integrity of horse racing and the health and safety of our human and equine athletes requires horses to compete free from the influence of medication.

“We hope that other industry stakeholders, and particularly state racing commissions, will see the wisdom of the Breeders’ Cup decision and will reconsider many of the medication policies, drug classifications, and penalty structures we currently have in place. Our policies should mirror those in the rest of the racing world and prevent chronic offenders from having a continued place in our sport.”

When contacted July 15, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association president Dan Metzger said TOBA “commends the decision by Breeders’ Cup to phase out race-day medication. As the rights-holder to World Championships races, Breeders’ Cup is uniquely situated to create policies and structure. This should resonate not only in U.S. racing but around the world.”

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We will have a special report on this in the upcoming week.

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