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Racing Industry Update

AQHA urges all horseman and racing jurisdictions to adopt RCI Controlled Therapeutic Medication schedule and announces Dermorphin Grant Study.

American Quarter Horse Association
May 24, 2013

Generic Racing Photo

AQHA today is strongly urging all horsemen and racing jurisdictions involved with American Quarter Horse racing to begin the process of adopting, by reference, the Racing Commissioners International Controlled Therapeutic Medication schedule.

With the boards of both the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (consisting of 24 racing industry stakeholders and organizations) and RCI (consisting of representatives from racing authorities across the United States, Canada and other international jurisdictions), these medications and this schedule have been vetted by the scientific experts and rule makers in our industry that should give states and provinces the information they need to move forward with adoption.

“The RMTC’s approval of these last few thresholds and withdrawal times from the set of 24 therapeutic substances identified by the industry represents a significant investment of resources by the RMTC and its stakeholders,” said RMTC Chairman Dr. Robert Lewis in a press release on March 22. “These guidelines will pave the way for uniform adoption of medication regulations across the country.”

In an April 2 press release, RCI gave final approval to the “RCI Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule.” RCI Chairman Duncan Patterson said, “For years, we have talked about uniformity, but today is the first day that we can say there is agreement as to what constitutes a violation.”

RCI President Ed Martin said, “Regulators are being encouraged to achieve uniformity by adding the RCI schedule to their rules ‘by reference,’ a common way to incorporate a nationally recognized standard into public policy.”

Eight states in the Mid-Atlantic region of the Northeast United States have already begun the process for adopting the rules and have set a goal of January 1, 2014, to have the uniform rules in place.

New Mexico and Texas have each taken steps to strengthen their respective commissions and rules. New Mexico increased the budget for investigations, drug testing and other areas. Last October, Texas released a memo stating that it reviewed the ARCI’s Task Force on Medication Science’s proposed changes to the list of approved therapeutics and revised its list of medications and their permissible post-race concentration levels in blood and urine. Texas also adopted new Clenbuterol thresholds on March 28.

AQHA also is announcing today that the American Quarter Horse Foundation is funding a dermorphin study through a private donation to fund a research project being conducted by the RMTC and HFL Laboratories in Lexington, Kentucky. Methods to detect and identify dermorphin have been developed but there is no certified reference material to compare samples to. This project is aimed at supporting the development of a synthetic reference dermorphin that will be provided to racehorse testing laboratories for use as a reference testing standard.

“I am proud that AQHA can take a leadership role, especially with respect to funding the dermorphin study, which will be useful to all racing breeds,” said AQHA President Johne Dobbs of Champaign, Illinois. “I’m also grateful to our members who step up to help the industry in the many ways they have. It is the responsibility of every person involved to do all we can to clean it up and make it safe for all.”

Believed to have up to 40 times more potency than morphine, dermorphin is produced naturally as a skin secretion in certain species of South American frogs, but can also be produced synthetically. It is speculated that the drug is being manufactured synthetically, due to the high doses that would be required to produce an effect in a horse.

“Today is the day,” said AQHA First Vice President Johnny Trotter, an active racehorse breeder and owner from Hereford, Texas. “The various states and provinces will each have to go through a process to get this done but make no mistake – Congress is watching.”

Trotter is referring to the recently introduced Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, written by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA).

“Members in Congress still do not believe that the racing industry will address and fix its problems,” Trotter concluded. “We must demonstrate otherwise.”

“The industry has come a long way the past couple of years and we are close,” added AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway Jr. “We encourage people to start the process to adopt the new medication schedule and, if additional assistance or information is needed, AQHA’s racing office is a ready resource. We are confident we will continue to gain ground, keep cheaters and those who risk harming our horses and riders out of the business, while protecting the trust the wagering public has placed in our sport – and in us as industry leaders.”

AQHA and its numerous committees and groups dedicated to protecting the horse, horsemen and the wagering public will remain vigilant in its pursuit of clean racing, and respected and honorable horsemen. In turn, the fans and public will know they are competing at the highest levels and with the utmost integrity. AQHA will continue to support anyone who pursues better drug testing, harsher penalties and improvements in our industry that is good for the whole.

Leadership at tracks such as Los Alamitos Race Course, Ruidoso Downs, Remington Park, Hialeah Park, Sunland Park, Sam Houston Race Park and others have proven that they are going to do what it takes to punish cheaters and keep horse racing honest. AQHA supports these efforts and the efforts of the racing authorities in the respective jurisdictions.