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DISCUSSION OF REGULATION AND TESTING ON DAY 2 OF 2019 REGULATORY VETERINARIAN CONTINUING EDUCATION CONFERENCE

An emphasis on regulating medication and developing enforcement strategies marked the second and final day of the Regulatory Veterinarian Continuing Education conference (#RegVetCE19) presented by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Safety & Integrity Alliance at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., March 4-5.

The morning was highlighted by an informative panel on U.S. and international out-of-competition testing strategies. Dr. Rick Arthur of the California Horse Racing Board, Dr. Tessa Muir of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Dr. Izzy Trejo of the New Mexico Racing Commission covered subjects such as hair testing and the scope of substances that should be included when performing out-of-competition testing.

Testing matters were further discussed in a talk by UC Davis’s Dr. Ashley Hill on scientific threshold level development and the 95/95 threshold interval, and on a later panel that focused on laboratory issues including sample turnaround logistics and unknown substances. The panel was led by Dr. Lynn Hovda of the Minnesota Horse Racing Commission and featured representatives of RMTC-Accredited testing laboratories, Dr. Anthony Fontana of Truesdail Laboratories and Petra Hartmann of Industrial Laboratories.

Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, presented on the purpose and philosophy behind therapeutic medication regulations, and regulating substances present in the racehorse’s environment.

Afternoon sessions included a talk led by Zoetis’s Dr. Kenton Morgan on adulterated substances, compounded and illegal new medications, misbranding and mislabeling.

The event concluded with a detailed comparison of U.S. and international medication regulations. This discussion featured BHA’s Dr. Muir, RMTC Executive Director and COO Dr. Dionne Benson, and RMTC Chair and NTRA President Alex Waldrop.

“[RegVetCE] was a great reminder that we are here for the welfare of the horse, first and foremost,” stated Meredith A. Steudle, DVM of the New Jersey Racing Commission. “The networking that is created during conferences like this helps us develop strategies to do our job better.”

The sold-out event, which attracted more than 60 regulatory and official racetrack veterinarians from 20 states and six countries (and covering almost 50 North American racetracks), was organized by RMTC’s Dr. Benson and Steve Koch, executive director of the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance.

“The 2019 Regulatory Veterinarian CE conference marked another successful event, which is evidenced by the group of attendees and significant industry support,” said Dr. Robert O’Neil, director of equine health and safety for The Stronach Group. “Our sport’s equine athletes will certainly benefit from the support that continuing education provides veterinarians in the field – from developing their networks and skill sets to expanding access to critical resources. This annual gathering has become the gold standard in training regulatory veterinarians.”

Koch added, “Industry support is a critical component of the RegVetCE’s continued success. Gulfstream Park has generously supported RegVetCE, both financially and as a first-class event host, and we are grateful to The Stronach Group for their leadership on this project.” “The event’s financial supporters are crucial to ensuring that we continue to provide a robust program.”

Koch continued, “We are also grateful to the racing commissions and racetrack operators for enabling the travel and participation of their regulatory veterinarians, and to our U.S. and international panelists, who provided highly thoughtful, scientific content.”

The Regulatory/Official Veterinarian CE is made possible through the generous support of The Stronach Group, Keeneland Association, RMTC, NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, New York Racing Association, ALS-Truesdail, Industrial Laboratories, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Quarter Horse Association, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, The Jockey Club, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Oak Tree Racing Association, Ohio HBPA, Remington Park Racing and Casino, and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.

For an overview of all topics covered over the two-day conference, visit ntra.com/reg-vet-ce/.

The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.

The NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance is a standing organization establishing standards and practices to promote safety and integrity in horseracing and to secure their implementation. Corporate partners of the Alliance include Insurance Office of America and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at NTRAalliance.com.

For additional information, visit the RMTC website at rmtcnet.com or contact Hallie Lewis, RMTC communications and development consultant, at (859) 759-4081.

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RMTC APPROVES OVER $250,000 IN TACTICAL RESEARCH PROJECTS

At its February 11 meeting at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) board approved the funding of two tactical research projects with a combined price tag in excess of $250,000, as a continuation of its ongoing focus on detecting and eliminating illicit substances in racing.

First, the RMTC is seeking to develop an inexpensive screening method for the detection of potential blood doping. The proposed project, if successful, will provide racing laboratories with a relatively inexpensive method of detecting nefarious administrations of EPO and related blood doping agents by detecting changes in the horse’s blood. The goal is to detect many more EPO substances at much lower concentrations than previously achieved. The project goes hand-in-hand with another tactical research project, funded by RMTC in 2017, that has already improved detection of many common EPO products exponentially. Both EPO-related projects are being completed at the University of California-Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory.

“We are very excited about the potential of these advanced testing techniques to detect EPO administration,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, Equine Medical Director for the California Horse Racing Board. “With the 2017 RMTC grant, the Maddy lab has already greatly improved the industry’s EPO confirmation capabilities. Our expectations are that this second grant will enable the industry to close the circle and allow us to more effectively detect EPO micro-dosing.”

The second tactical research project will be completed at the University of Florida Racing Laboratory and will be focused on the detection of the nerve-blocking agent known as liposomal bupivacaine. When misused, this drug has the potential to last for several days and evade detection in the laboratory. The goal of the project will be to determine how long these products last in the horse and to develop methods to detect and identify them in post-race testing.

“The RMTC is excited to be spearheading efforts to fight the abuse of this nerve-blocking agent on the racetrack,” said RMTC Chair Alex Waldrop. “Each of the projects approved by the RMTC board this week represents significant advances that will benefit horse health as well as the integrity of racing. We anticipate no problem finding racing stakeholders who will help us fund them.”

Additionally, the RMTC board heard an update regarding the detection of LGD-4300 – one of the substances known as SARMS. LGD-4300 creates anabolic-like effects in the horse.

“Preliminary results indicate that this research, funded by the RMTC as part of last year’s tactical research efforts, could lead to a broader method to control all anabolic-like substances in the horse,” said Dr. Dionne Benson, executive director of the RMTC. “The RMTC’s support of this and so many other tactical research projects is exciting, because each of them is crucial to the long-term health and vitality of horse racing.

The RMTC board also created a subcommittee to study and develop potential research projects to address bisphosphonates, as very little is known about the effects of these drugs on young, exercised, racing horses. Among the first items to come from this committee will be an educational pamphlet available in the next few months.

RMTC board members also approved educational materials on the risks of compounded medication, nutraceuticals and cannabidiol (CBD). A bulletin on CBD is available on the Tactical Research page of the RMTC website, where the other pamphlets will be posted soon.

The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.

For additional information, visit the RMTC website at rmtcnet.com or contact Hallie Lewis, RMTC communications and development consultant, at (859) 759-4081.

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Mott Reaches Settlement With NY In Medication Case

Four-year-old dispute over alleged positives changed how state handles samples.

 

Trainer Bill Mott has reached a court settlement with the New York State Gaming Commission after a nearly four-year legal battle concerning a disputed medication overage from September 2014.

Mott agreed to take a seven-day suspension, effective July 5-11, and pay a $1,000 fine to end the case, which began when Saratoga Snacks, a horse he trained, was found to have two alleged medication overages in tests conducted after an allowance race at Belmont Park on Sept. 20, 2014. The NYSGC originally imposed a 15-day sanction against Mott for overages of Banamine and Lasix that were for such excessive amounts that they seemed to defy logic.

Mott steadfastly claimed the testing, conducted by New York’s contract lab at Morrisville State College, was incorrect, and he was backed by testimony from the two veterinarians who administered medication to the horse the week of the race.

Further, Mott raised as a central issue the failure of the lab to provide him a sample of the horse’s blood (plasma) with which to do a “split sample” test at an independent laboratory. Mott sued state regulators and stewards, claiming he was denied his constitutional right to challenge the alleged overages. In subsequent testimony, evidence was introduced showing a continuing pattern of New York regulators denying samples to horsemen for split-sample testing for two decades. As a result of the Mott case, a new agreement was reached at the beginning of this year guaranteeing that a second dose of blood would be pulled from horses and kept in a separate refrigerator, making split samples available to horsemen who want to challenge called overages.

“A settlement doesn’t make either side happy,” said Drew Mollica, Mott’s attorney. “But Bill changed the way they do business by holding their feet to the fire. Split sampling is now in New York because of Bill Mott. Off all his accomplishments in his Hall of Fame career, this is his shining hour because he didn’t wage this battle for himself, but for other horsemen.

“We exposed the failure of the prior New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association administration, which let this due process travesty go on, knowing its membership was being prosecuted without the ability to challenge evidence.

“This case could have gone on another three or four years, and we believe in our hearts we would have won.”

Said Mott, “I settled this last week just to get the thing behind me. The testing was flawed, the overages were excessive, and we didn’t get the right to defend ourselves. That’s what the fight was about, them saying you had a right to a split sample when you really didn’t.

“I’ll take a few days away from training and do some work around the house. It’s good to get this behind me, and I’m hoping the horsemen’s group takes the initiative to work on these issues as a group instead of people having to do it individually.”

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