As racing continues its struggle toward the adoption of uniform medication policies from state to state, the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council has resolved to reexamine 170 discrepancies between its drug code and the model rules suggested by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. At a meeting on Friday, the council agreed to study the inconsistencies between the two sets of guidelines, which include differences in drug or penalty classifications, and try to arrive on the same page as the RCI and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
“When the KHRC deviates from that list, we are obligated to raise our game in terms of justification. If it’s part of the industry standard that’s accepted across the board, we are in better waters there,” said Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and member of the KEDRC.
Scollay, who is also a member of the RMTC’s Scientific Advisory Committee, noted that the RMTC is conducting its own internal review of its guidelines and is open to discussion with Kentucky’s regulators who may have concerns about the treatment of specific drugs. Scollay noted that many other states which have adopted the model rules and classification guidelines have done so in full, and to her knowledge there are no other state commissions taking a similar line-by-line look at the regulations.
In additional updates between the RMTC and KEDRC, Scollay informed council members that there was unanimous agreement at the RMTC’s last Scientific Advisory Committee meeting to adopt screening limits for environmental contaminants known to be contained in plants and stall materials such as morphine, DMT, and others. Council members have voiced concern that trace amounts of some substances present in feed could crop up on post-race blood tests outside the control of a trainer. Dr. Andy Roberts, veterinarian and KEDRC member, referenced the use of ground cereals such as Cocoa Puffs in some high-dollar horse feed. The chocolate in the cereal could cause picogram-level readings, Roberts said.
The KEDRC also noted the publication of a request for proposals for post-race drug testing in Kentucky. The commission has reached the limit on the number of times it may legally renew its contract with HFL Sport Science Laboratory and is therefore required to publish a call for proposals from qualified laboratories (those that are accredited by the RMTC). Previously, drug testing was paid for solely by the racetracks, so members of the KEDRC could act on behalf of the tracks and cancel the RFP, review collected proposals, and choose one outside the bounds of the state contracting process. During this next round, however, a small amount of Kentucky Horse Racing Commission cash will be used to pay for the next contract, so the request must go through the state’s guidelines for contracting. Scollay noted that the commission used the RCI’s model language for drug testing RFPs, and the change in finance sourcing does not mean that the technical standards for testing are expected to change.
In a closed session after the meeting, the EDRC voted to continue funding Scollay’s position for another four years at a yearly contract rate of $184,081, including benefits. According to The Blood-Horse‘s Frank Angst, the only council member voting in opposition to the measure was Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association president Rick Hiles. Hiles expressed concerns that the council’s decision to fund the position, which is technically an adjunct faculty position with the University of Kentucky, violates state statute.