Split-sample testing program begins at NYRA racetracks

Posted: Nov. 11, 2017

New York’s split sample program, largely funded by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, began opening day of the fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Horsemen racing at New York Racing Association tracks are now assured that, in the event of a positive test, they will have the option of sending a referee sample to an independent lab to verify test results.

NYTHA pays for the dedicated refrigerators for the storage of the referee samples at the three NYRA tracks, the extra tubes and labels required, and the service to dispose of the blood once tests for the initial sample have cleared.

Dr. Kyle Moyer of the New York State Gaming Commission oversees the testing barn at Aqueduct. He explained the protocol for collection of referee samples.

“From our standpoint, the procedure is much the same as it has been,” Moyer said. “We collect an extra tube of blood, and we have developed labeling for the tubes for the referee samples, which is a change from what we had used.

“There is now a third card signed by the representative of the trainer, but it is the same as those for the urine and blood samples. There is no extra work for the horsemen.”

Moyer said there is a three-step system to ensure that the blood taken for testing and the referee sample, while remaining anonymous, are properly marked. The seals for the blood sample and its referee sample have the same number and the same bar code. There is also a tag number for the referee sample noted on the card signed by the trainer’s representative.

“We’ve only just started, but so far, so good,” Moyer said.

NYTHA President Rick Violette Jr. said the split sample program “offers protection that should be available to all horsemen, and is something that NYTHA has advocated for some time. We are pleased that, through our partnership with the New York State Gaming Commission, the program is now a reality, and has launched without a hitch.”