By Dan Ross
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) is conducting a follow-up investigation of a class C medication positive detected in a sample returned from Kentucky Oaks day, according to a KHRC statement Thursday. Joe Drape of The New York Times reported in a story published at 6:43 p.m. that it was the Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher Gamine who returned the positive test, citing “two people familiar with the results of the drug test who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.”
“The Derby day samples were 'cleared,' showing no irregularities,” the statement from the KHRC read. “The Oaks day samples returned a finding for a class C medication in one (1) primary sample.”
The Kentucky Oaks was run at Churchill Downs this year on Sept. 4. The results “should be available” in November, a KHRC spokesperson confirmed. This year's Breeders' Cup is scheduled for Nov. 6 and 7.
According to the statement, “the KHRC will follow its established regulatory process in conducting a follow-up investigation of this matter. The name of the horse, trainer and owner will not be released at this time, “in accordance with that process,” the statement read.
Bob Baffert's attorney Craig Robertson expressed concern over Drape's story and the fact that the result had been leaked. He released the following statement.
“The current reporting on Gamine is inaccurate and needs to be cleared up. First, Betamethasone is a legal, commonly used anti-inflammatory medication. It is not a `banned substance.' Second, the medication was administered to Gamine on August 17 by her veterinarian and on the veterinarian's recommendation. Importantly, the veterinarian followed established medical and regulatory guidelines in administering the medication. The withdrawal guidelines published by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission recommend that the medication not be given within 14 days of a race. In this instance, as an additional layer of protection, Gamine's veterinarian last treated her with betamethasone 18 days before the Oaks.
Gamine's test revealed 27 picograms of betamethasone. The current threshold in Kentucky is 10 picograms. The situation with Gamine highlights two issues that are very troubling and must be addressed by the racing industry. First, the thresholds for many lawful medications such as betamethasone are way too low. A picogram is a trillionth of a gram. 27 picograms is a minuscule amount that would not affect a thousand pound animal. The regulations governing racing must be ones that are related to pharmacology in a horse as opposed to how sensitive labs can test. Second, trainers and veterinarians must be able to rely on guidelines given them by racing officials. If they are told by regulators that a medication will clear a horses system in 14 days, they must be able to rely on that information.”
Robertson said he was also troubled by the fact that the results of the initial sample had again been leaked to the New York Times.
“It's very troubling,” said Robertson in an email to the TDN. “There are good reasons why the rules require confidentiality until the split sample comes back and the stewards make a decision. The fact that racing commissions, with increasing frequency, do not abide by their own rules and information is wrongly leaked, poisoning an individual's right to due process, is inexcusable. The rules are applicable to all parties and racing commissions must abide by the very rules they seek to enforce.”
The KHRC's official laboratory, Industrial Laboratories in Colorado, conducted the initial analysis.
Churchill Downs carded 13 races on Kentucky Oaks day, including six stakes. The headline act was the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, won by Shedaresthedevil, with subsequent GI Preakness S. winner Swiss Skydiver second and the favorite, Gamine, back in third.