by Tom LaMarra
The New York Senate approved a bill June 23 that would establish a testing program for steroids in racehorses via horsemen’s contributions.
The measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Larkin, was sent to the state Assembly for consideration. In a release, Larkin’s office said the bill would “provide adequate funding from the Thoroughbred horsemen’s organization for the veterinary college at Cornell University to acquire equipment suitable for detecting the presence of steroids in horses.”
The legislation actually would extend by one year—through Aug. 31, 2009—a 2% purse deduction. (A one-year increase from 1% to 2% was included in the legislation that awarded the New York Racing Association a franchise extension.) If the bill passes, it would mandate that up to one-half of 1% of the amount be used to fund the testing program for steroids.
“Testing for steroids in racehorses should be a racing industry priority,” Larkin said in a statement. “The veterinary college at Cornell University does not currently have the equipment needed for detecting steroids in racehorses. However, the horsemen’s organization would provide the funds necessary to establish a new steroid testing program.
“This move would be good for the reputation of the racing industry and as importantly for the animals we should be protecting.”
Jim Gallagher, executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said June 24 the group supports the Larkin bill.
“We’re in support of it,” Gallagher said. “It’s sending the right message that we’re just as involved in trying to self-police the game, and that we’re concerned about integrity as well.”
In a June 19 letter to the New York THA membership, president Rick Violette Jr. said the group gave $50,000 to Dr. George Maylin, director of the state’s equine drug testing program at Cornell, for a study on anabolic steroids in racehorses. “We have also committed to assist Dr. Maylin in funding the purchase of the most scientifically advance equipment to conduct steroids for anabolic steroids and other drugs whose detection is difficult,” Violette said.
The New York State Racing and Wagering Board passed proposed restrictions on use of anabolic steroids in racehorses om May 29. Based on a national model rule supported by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the Association of Racing Commissioners International, the new guidelines would regulate use of four anabolic steroids and establish testing thresholds for each one.
The guidelines were forwarded for review and approval to the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform. The rule will then be submitted to the Department of State for public comment. The rule will not be adopted by the NYSRWB until completion of a 45-day comment period with the Department of State.
On the Thoroughbred side in New York, the regulation when officially adopted will cover horses racing at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Saratoga, and Finger Lakes Gaming & Racing. The New York THA represents horsemen at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga, while the Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association represents horsemen at Finger Lakes.