|Message from the CEO|
Spring 2014 Issue
Dear Horsewomen and Horsemen of the National HBPA:
The 2013 Claiming Crown is in the books. It was a great day of racing with perfect weather and large fields. Claiming Crown day was, however, caught up in the head-to-head date fight between Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course. Bett ors had the Claiming Crown races at Gulfstream and three stakes races at Calder to choose from that day. Hopefully, by December 2014 both tracks will have resolved their differences in such a way that is beneficial to horsemen, the betting public and the racetracks. You can read a recap of the event on page 24 of this issue.
Our NHBPA Winter Convention in Pasadena, California, was a great success. I want to thank Joe Morris of the Thoroughbred Owners of California and Alan Balch of the California Thoroughbred Trainers for their assistance in obtaining panel speakers for the convention and for appearing on our Horsemen’s Roundtable along with NHBPA President Robin Richards. We were able to present an exceptionally talented group of speakers and they addressed some “cutting edge” topics. Continuing our convention series regarding equine science, Dr. Jeff Blea, a practicing veterinarian and the president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, explained what shock wave therapy is and what it can be used for. Dr. Sue Stover, from the University of California, Davis, provided updated information on training racehorses and bone remodeling related thereto. As always, the Medication Panel put together by Kent Stirling and Dr. Tom Tobin provided timely insight regarding current medication topics, including the Breeders’ Cup Lasix “study,” the National Uniform Medication Program and acepromazine research. The NHBPA remains committed to our publically stated position that uniform medication rules must be based solely on published, scientifically determined regulatory thresholds, with published, scientifically determined withdrawal time guidelines, all based on and supported by data published in the scientific literature.
Other convention speakers addressed the “business” of the horse business. Workers’ compensation insurance is a challenge across the country. Brad McKinzie, from Finish Line Self Insurance Group; Ed Fenasci, the secretary/treasurer of the Louisiana HBPA; John Unick, the president of the Thoroughbred Racing Division at MOC Insurance Services; and Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida HBPA, provided the audience with a full spectrum of workers’ compensation issues, challenges and recommendations. The importance of establishing relationships with legislative bodies and regulatory agencies was addressed, as was the status of exchange wagering. Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, addressed the coming Thoroughbred racehorse shortage, and then he fielded some animated and passionate questions from the audience.
It was also announced that the NHBPA Summer Convention will be hosted by the Oklahoma HBPA (Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma) in August. As of this writing, the exact date has not been set, but it will be during the live Thoroughbred meet at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. I want to thank the board of directors of the Oklahoma HBPA for their willingness to host the summer convention. I also want to urge all the affiliates, their officers, directors and members to attend. We will have another series of exceptional speaker panels, so I guarantee that you will learn something. You will also be able to network with other affiliates, as well as have the opportunity to see a different racetrack and its facilities.
In November, I testified on behalf of the NHBPA in Washington in front of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. The NHBPA was the only witness that testified against H.R. 2012, “a bill to improve the integrity and safety of interstate horseracing, and for other purposes.” Among other things, this House bill seeks to move all drug testing, education, research and adjudication to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and seeks to phase out the use of Lasix (Salix) over a two-year period. The primary focus of our testimony was that, during the four-year period from 2009 through 2012, there were 368,980 post-race tests and, of those, only 142 tests were positive for Class 1 or Class 2 “cheater” drugs or “doping.” In other words, 0.00038 percent of the tests detected illegal substances like Dermorphin that serve no purpose other than to dope a horse to affect the outcome of a race. Additionally, 99.2 percent of the 368,980 postrace tests in Thoroughbred races were negative for drug use. This rate of “clean tests” by no stretch of the imagination evidences a problem of rampant unregulated drug use that some in our industry would have you believe is the case. Quite to the contrary, these results should be the envy of every sport that tests for drugs.
Medication continues to take center stage in our industry and keeps our Model Rules Committee, chaired by Dave Basler, and our Medication Committee, chaired by Kent Stirling, busy. Dave and I attended the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) Model Rules Committee Meeting in December. In April 2013, the NHBPA presented our proposal to the RCI Model Rules Committee regarding the need to add specified endogenous, dietary and environmental substances (EDEs) to the list of substances that will not result in positive tests. EDEs are naturally occurring substances that might be found in a horse’s blood or urine. The NHBPA’s proposal was reviewed by various committees of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and the RCI between April and December. At the December RCI meeting, with regard to the EDEs, the RCI Model Rules Committee accepted the validity of the existing thresholds for caffeine, total carbon dioxide and DMSO. The RCI Model Rules Committee added plasma thresholds for boldenone, nandrolone and testosterone. The committee also approved thresholds for estranediol, hydrocortisone, methoxytyramine, salicylate/salicylic acid and theobromine. We will continue to work with the RCI and the RMTC regarding the other EDEs.
Additionally, acting on changes requested by the RMTC, the RCI Model Rules Committee voted to recommend to its board the following: (A) using a limit of detection for the regulatory threshold for stanozolol (an anabolic steroid); (B) setting the threshold for boldenone in female horses and geldings at 25 picograms in blood; and (C) with regard to nandrolone in male horses other than geldings, to look to the threshold for estranediol.
Some of the other matters the Model Rules Committee made recommendations on included the following: (A) clarifying the model rules that at the current time only omeprazole (GastroGard®) is approved on the “List of 24” as an anti-ulcer medication, and (B) addressing shock wave treatment matters, including accepting Dave’s argument regarding the list of horses treated with shock wave therapy.
As always, if any of you are in Lexington, please stop by the NHBPA’s office. We welcome your comments, feedback and visits.
May the Racing Gods smile on you, and may you have many visits to the winner’s circle.
Chief Executive Officer