Monday, August 11, 2008

Steroids Update

In my last post, I mentioned a few things the industry itself could do to put the steroids issue behind us and eliminate at least this one piece of the all-racing-is-drugged-and-crooked perception. It looks like I'm either fairly prescient or, mirabile dictu, some folks with power in the game actually read these blogs. On Friday, the American Graded Stakes Committee, an offshoot of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), adopted a rule, to take effect January 1, 2009, that would strip graded-stakes status from any race where the state regulatory authorities or, if those bodies haven't acted, the race tracks themselves, have not adopted the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) Model Rule on anabolic androgenic steroids.

Under the model rule, the four naturally occurring substances, boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol, and testosterone are only allowed at trace levels, and all other anabolic steroids are banned completely. The effect of the rule will be to prohibit administration of steroids for at least 30 days prior to racing, and, to be safe, most trainers will probably opt to be clean for at least 60 days.

According to the Thoroughbred Times, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Virginia have adopted the model rule, and approximately 15 other states, including New York and Kentucky, have started the process of adopting the rule.

The graded stakes committee also adopted a similar provision requiring states or racetracks to adopt the RCI model rule restricting toe grabs in order to retain graded-stakes status. On August 2, the RCI board of directors voted to ban toe grabs more than two millimeters long, which follows a guideline issued by the Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Safety Committee.

Looks like the dreaded spectre of federal regulation is working its magic.

On a more parochial note, my stable has a filly that we''re thinking of shipping to Delaware for a race in September. Delaware has already adopted a steroid ban, so we took her off Winstrol as of July 1st. Now that it's clear the ban is going to take effect nationwide, thanks to the latest action by the Graded Stakes Committee, I'm telling my trainers to just say no from now on. In any event, we'd have to stop the steroids as of November 1st, so why not just do it now?

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