Out-of-Competition Testing Results in Several Scratches from Zia Festival Races

The New Mexico Racing Commission's tougher rules went into effect in June.

Paulick Report

Enhanced out-of-competition testing resulted in several horses being scratched from Sunday's Zia Festival Quarter Horse stakes at Ruidoso Downs.

Five Quarter Horses were scratched from stakes races at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, after they tested positive for clenbuterol in a strengthened out-of-competition testing program overseen by the New Mexico Racing Commission.

According to a story in the Paulick Report, four of the scratched horses were trained by Ronald Stephens and included Big Spurs, the fastest qualifier to Sunday's $409,110 Zia Futurity (RG1).

The scratched horses were placed on Ruidoso Downs' stewards' list, where they will remain for 60 days. They will not be allowed to race during this period.

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Also, the New Mexico Racing Commission issued a press release regarding the horse racing industry's summit meeting, held last month in Ruidoso. Organized by New Mexico Horse Breeders' Association president Ralph Vincent, the summit was moderated by Dr. Dionne Benson, executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, and was attended by people representing all industry stakeholders.

"The fact that everyone came together to discuss what is best for New Mexico racing and the range of very important topics that were covered (is what) most impressed me," Dr. Benson said.

One major topic discussed was the development of a racing schedule for New Mexico. Also discussed was the need to review, evaluate and change testing protocols. Several of the summit participants agreed that the testing process needs to be dismantled and rebuilt from scratch.

"The consensus was that changes must be made from A to Z, including the handling, shipping and the storage of the samples," the NMRC press release stated. "According to state statute, it is mandated that the samples must be shipped and stored at a local laboratory, rather than the industry standard of storing the samples at the test barn facilities at the racetrack.

"The process is rather unorthodox when compared to standard practices within the industry," the release continued. "All stakeholders present agreed that changes are necessary to ensure that the chain of custody stays intact and integrity is paramount in the process."

"It may be difficult to reach a final compromise on the subjects that were discussed, but at least we are willing to discuss them," Vincent said. "We are talking about meeting again in September, and then quarterly. Perhaps we will meet more often than that due to the expansiveness of the topics we are covering."

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