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The Horsemen's Journal: Current Issue

Message from the CEO
Summer 2014 Issue

Dear Horsewomen and Horsemen of the National HBPA:

Claiming Crown planning for this year is well underway. We (Gulfstream Park, TOBA and the NHBPA) are looking at changing some of the distances and surfaces for various races to make them more attractive for owners and trainers. Our hope is that the new race conditions will result in fields of 12-14 horses for all the Claiming Crown races. These field sizes will make the Claiming Crown races more attractive from the horseplayer’s point of view. The exact date for the Claiming Crown has not been set yet as we wait to see if Gulfstream and Calder Race Course can work out their differences in such a way that benefits the tracks, owners, trainers and the wagering public.

The NHBPA Summer Convention will be hosted by the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma (Oklahoma HBPA) in Oklahoma City. The dates for the convention are August 14-17, which coincides with opening weekend at Remington Park. As I write this column, we are in the process of contacting speakers for our educational forums. We plan to build on the success of recent forums, and I urge all affiliate officers and directors to plan on attending the convention. Again, thanks to the TRAO and its board for agreeing to host the convention, and thanks to Remington Park for hosting us for an evening of racing on Friday, August 15.

Medication issues continue to be at the forefront of both the industry in general and the NHBPA in particular. On the industry level, we experienced the PETA video, which did not paint our industry in a flattering light. The Paulick Report posted the NHBPA’s response to the PETA video where we stated, “So far we have only heard PETA’s allegations. We have not heard Mr. Asmussen’s or Mr. Blasi’s responses to the allegations, nor has the adjudicative process run its course. Until these events take place, any statement would be premature.” Various racing jurisdictions and agencies are currently investigating the claims made by PETA. As of the date I am writing this column, the results of these investigations have not been announced.

As one might expect, the PETA video energized the push for federal medication legislation by various individuals and organizations within our industry. As the NHBPA has stated in the past, we support the industry-wide movement toward uniformity via the model rules process.

The recent industry action in this regard discussed below provides concrete proof that the industry can, and is, regulating itself. While some would want this process to be faster, it is better that we take the time to get it right and make rules and regulations that are in the best interests of our equine athletes and that promote safety and integrity throughout our sport.

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) met in March. Kent Stirling, the chair of the NHBPA’s Medication Committee, along with Dr. Tom Tobin, attended the RMTC meeting on behalf of the NHBPA. Matters approved by the RMTC were then addressed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) at its April meeting. NHBPA Model Rules Committee Chair Dave Basler, NHBPA President Robin Richards and I attended the RCI’s meeting in Lexington, which took place just before the NHBPA’s Executive Committee meeting.

The changes approved by the RCI include the following: (1) the list of 24 controlled therapeutic medications was amended to add isoflupredone and albuterol, so there are now 26 “standard” therapeutic medications, and the current regulatory threshold for ketoprofen was reduced from 10 ng/mL of plasma or serum to 2 ng/mL and the withdrawal time for flunixin was increased from 24 hours to 32 hours; (2) the Multiple Medication Violation rules were amended to give stewards and racing commissions more discretion in the application of penalties; and (3) the RCI moved away from the concept of “restrictive administrative time” toward the concept of “recommended withdrawal times.” As noted on page 12 of this issue, the NHBPA recognized these are positive changes and supported the fact that the list of 26 uniform therapeutic medications is a living document.

The RCI also approved a model rule change to make it clear that the list of RCI-recognized environmental, dietary and endogenous substances (EDEs) is not an exclusive list. In other words, if a jurisdiction already has regulations regarding EDEs not on the list of currently recognized EDE substances, the jurisdiction has the discretion to continue its existing levels of these other EDEs. The NHBPA will continue to work with the RMTC and RCI regarding EDEs. Cobalt is one such substance that recently received media attention.

The Arizona HBPA and Tom Metzen Sr. brought to the attention of the NHBPA that law enforcement officials in Arizona and other states were citing some horsemen pulling horse trailers (and other types of trailers) because the drivers did not have commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). In order to educate its members, the Arizona HBPA arranged with local law enforcement officers for a class on CDL requirements as set forth in both Arizona and federal law. As there are federal CDL requirements (and states may also have similar requirements), horsemen across the United States should be aware of these requirements and should obtain the appropriate license.

It is with sadness that I report the death of Tom Metzen Jr. in April. The son of Minnesota HBPA President and Arizona HBPA Executive Director Tom Metzen Sr. and Karen Metzen, Tom was a longtime supporter of the NHBPA, and he served as the NHBPA’s National Insurance Advisor. In recent years, he also successfully solicited many sponsors for our conventions. A memorial service was recently held for Tom in Minnesota. He will be missed.

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.


Phil Hanrahan
Chief Executive Officer


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