Expanded out-of-competition testing progressing in Maryland

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: July 18, 2018

More than 200 out-of-competition drug tests have been performed in Maryland since March as part of an expanded program that includes overnight races.

Maryland Racing Commission Executive Director Mike Hopkins said the number of samples taken per racing day has varied from four to one or two. That doesn’t include Preakness Stakes weekend, when far more samples were taken in stakes and graded stakes.

As of early July there had been no positives, Hopkins said. Results are generally received from Truesdail Laboratories in about a week.

“It’s an ongoing program,” Hopkins said. “From what I understand, no one has refused (to allow a sample to be taken). Once the horsemen understood what we’re trying to accomplish, it became more accepted. We told them that with out-of-competition testing, we’re not looking for therapeutic medications. It’s about growth hormones, EPO and other prohibited substances.”

Much of the testing in Maryland is done on a random selection basis that involves the stewards.

“We’ve also done some sampling for tracks in other states as well,” Hopkins said. “There is cooperation among the racing jurisdictions.”

The Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission last year conducted 211 out-of-competition tests, which made up roughly 12% of all equine drug testing. The total number of drug tests—more than 1,900—doesn’t include almost 400 pre-race tests for metabolic alkalosis, commonly called blood-gas tests.

Delaware Park last year hosted 81 days of racing. Maryland races year-round.

(Laurel Park photo by Tom LaMarra)