Posted: Nov. 29, 2016
Thanks in large part to the leadership of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and its affiliates, Thoroughbred racing has made landmark strides in the past several years through the adoption and implementation of the National Uniform Medication Program, which is critical for the proper and uniform regulation of medication and testing in Thoroughbred racing in the United States.
The program was first implemented by the THA as a regional medication program designed to promote uniformity in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. Industry reaction to the program was so strong it served as a catalyst for what is now known as the National Uniform Medication Program.
The National Uniform Medication Program consists of four major components that were part of the original program spearheaded by the THA. They include:
1. A Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule, including administration guidelines and testing thresholds;
2. Independent, third-party administration of furosemide;
3. A multiple medication violation penalty point system for repeat medication-related rule violators; and
4. An RMTC drug-testing laboratory accreditation program to ensure that drug-testing laboratories utilize proficient, uniform testing protocols.
What began as a regional undertaking in 2013 led by the THA–working in collaboration with Mid-Atlantic and Northeast racetracks operators, regulators, and industry organizations–has led to unprecedented and broad nationwide adoption that continues to this day. The current scorecard as of November 2016 demonstrates this substantial progress:
The Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule has been implemented in 20 states representing 94% of the U.S. pari-mutuel handle and 82% of U.S. Thoroughbred races.
When Illinois receives laboratory accreditation (the process is underway), 29 states representing 78% of pari-mutuel handle and 82% of Thoroughbred races will be conducting testing at a lab accredited by the RMTC.
The MMV penalty system has been implemented in 12 states representing 40% of the pari-mutuel handle and 39% of Thoroughbred races.
When California institutes third-party Lasix administration as expected in early 2017, these procedures will be in place in 19 states representing 85% of the pari-mutuel handle and 64% of Thoroughbred races.
The program has been fully adopted in 11 states representing 39% of U.S. pari-mutuel handle and 38% of U.S. Thoroughbred races. Those states leading the way are Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. It is no coincidence that eight of the 11 states that have fully adopted the program for Thoroughbred racing are in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
Indeed, every Thoroughbred racing state in the U.S. is engaged in consideration and adoption of the National Uniform Medication Program.
While much work remains to be done to achieve our goal of uniform regulation of medication and testing in Thoroughbred horseracing in the U.S., we are much closer to achieving that goal largely due to concerted and collaborative leadership efforts including those of the THA.
Alex Waldrop is president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and chairman of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium