Louisiana Horses Will Go On the Vets' List When They Ship Out

The paddock at Fair Grounds | Horsephotos

One day after the Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) rolled back changes set to go into place on June 8 to allow more permissive use of Clenbuterol and Depo-Medrol, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) sent a memo to owners, trainers, regulatory veterinarians, and track management advising that horses coming out of Louisiana must be placed on the vets' list.

While the LSRC did go back to the ARCI model rules on those two drugs, they did not make changes to tens of others where guidelines for their usage deviated widely from the ARCI rules after an “emergency meeting” established the new, more lax rules.

“The Louisiana State Racing Commission recently approved an emergency update to their controlled medication schedule for thoroughbred racing by adding additional medications and changing allowable dosage and/or withdrawal times (the “Emergency Rule”),” wrote HISA in the memo. “The Emergency Rule, which was modified in part during an emergency public meeting held on June 4, 2024, will reportedly take effect in Louisiana on Saturday, June 8, 2024.

“HISA has reviewed the Emergency Rule (as modified during the public meeting on June 4, 2024) and HISA's Veterinary Team has determined that it poses significant risks to both equine welfare and the integrity of Thoroughbred racing. Some of the changes contemplated in the Emergency Rule contradict the weight of scientific evidence and long-established industry standards for medication controls. For example, the 50 ng/ml threshold (24 hours) for Flunixin is permissive of administration at less than 24 hours prior to a race, which can produce a systemic effect that would mask unsoundness and jeopardize the safety and welfare of the horse. Moreover, the Emergency Rule's dosage specification for Betamethasone deviates significantly from existing ARCI Guidelines developed based on studies funded by the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium and others. These are only two of the serious concerns presented by the Emergency Rule.”

As such, beginning June 8, the memo says, any horse shipping to another track from Louisiana will be considered “medically compromised and unfit to race.”

This includes, but is not limited to, Covered Horses that:

  1. Shipped in directly from Louisiana;
  2. Since June 8, 2024, have performed a workout at a training facility or racetrack located in Louisiana; and/or
  3. Since June 8, 2024, have competed in a race at a racetrack located in Louisiana.

Louisiana shippers will remain on the vets' list until the horse performs a workout under the supervision of the regulatory veterinarian and demonstrates to the satisfaction of the vet that the horse is sound to race, and until a blood sample is collected from the horse at the owner's expense following the workout and the sample has been reported as negative, the memo says. 

“HISA understands some of the horses covered by this memorandum will not be flagged until they have entered a race in your jurisdiction,” the memo continues. “These horses must be scratched unless they have already completed the requirements set forth in the preceding paragraph. Upon leaving Louisiana, trainers may immediately initiate the vets' list protocol set forth in this memorandum by notifying the regulatory veterinarian in the applicable jurisdiction who will then place the Covered Horse on the Vets' List.”

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