Florida HBPA pushes for adoption of medication penalty system

Posted: Feb. 12, 2017

The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has reaffirmed its support for uniform medication rules, particularly adoption of the Multiple Medication Violation Penalty System.

The FHPBA in a release said it held a meeting Feb. 1 in Orlando, Fla., to offer recommendations on adoption of the Association of Racing Commissioners International model rules regarding the National Uniform Medication Program. Florida racing stakeholders last year announced progress in that regard.

The FHBPA represents horsemen at Gulfstream Park and Gulfstream Park West. Many of them race at Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association-affiliated tracks in the spring, summer and fall.

“The FHBPA wants the industry to understand that we are a proponent of national uniformity,” FHBPA President Bill White said in a release. “The (Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering) needs to realize that this issue will not go away without a proactive response. It is the FHBPA’s hope that the (Florida DPMW) realizes the seriousness of this issue.”

The FHBPA, as it did last year, made a push for uniformity. White and FHBPA Executive Director Glen Berman testified as proponents of the proposed medication rule changes initiated by a petition filed by the FHBPA in June 2016.

Two others testified: Dr. Robert O’Neil, Director of Equine Health and Safety for The Stronach Group, which owns Gulfstream Park, and Dr. Dionne Benson, Executive Director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. Both veterinarians testified in support of the rule changes, and there were no questions on the record from the Florida DPMW panel following the testimony, the FHBPA said.

The FHBPA said it calls for “common-sense industry guidelines” that are endorsed by the National HBPA and all affiliates of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which began the uniform medication effort in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions several years ago. Florida has adopted two of four NUMP components—the Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule and third-party administration of furosemide, also known as Lasix or Salix.

“There is a movement at the federal level for legislation to control drug testing and penalties that would take away states’ rights to do so,” Berman said. “We don’t need the federal government attempting to solve our problems and in the process possibly modifying the Interstate Horseracing Act in a way that harms horsemen and the industry.”

The FHBPA in its release said national uniformity is necessary so horsemen are away of the rules; that adoption of NUMP would show Florida is an advocate for animal welfare; that horse racing would be shown in a positive light; that lawsuits would be curtailed if rules are in place; and that adoption of model rules would be a “convincing response” to proposed federal law that would “take medication guidelines, testing, and possible enforcement away from the states.”

The federal bill, called the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives in 2015 and hasn’t been heard yet in committee. A revised bill could be introduced this year.

(Gulfstream Park photo courtesy of The Stronach Group)