Columbus, OH — In May 2018, through the U.S. Trotting Association Board of Directors Medication Subcommittee, the USTA established the Harness Racing Medication Collaborative to develop reliable, consistent medication regulations for application specifically to harness racing.
On Wednesday (Nov. 28), the HRMC distributed usage recommendations supported with position papers for thresholds and withdrawal times on two therapeutic medications, clenbuterol and betamethasone, to 16 state regulatory agencies.
“The HRMC will close a gap in the science and policy underlying Standardbred medication regulation,” said USTA President Russell Williams in making the announcement last May. “Our primary goal is to improve the quality of medication information available to our regulators.”
HRMC brings together a distinguished panel of academic, practicing, and regulatory veterinarians who are conversant with pharmacological and pharmacokinetic scientific studies, veterinary practice norms, and relevant regulatory issues.
The USTA plans to provide the HRMC’s reports and supporting data to regulators in the various racing commissions as well as the Association of Racing Commissioners International for their consideration in establishing medication rules.
The state agencies that have been sent HRMC recommendations on the two therapeutic medications are: California Horse Racing Board, Delaware Harness Racing Commission, Indiana Horse Racing Commission, Maine State Racing Commission, Maryland Racing Commission, Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Michigan Gaming Control Board, Minnesota Racing Commission, New Jersey Racing Commission, New York State Gaming Commission, Ohio State Racing Commission, Pennsylvania Bureau of Standardbred Horse Racing, Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Illinois Racing Board, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and Virginia Racing Commission.
At their regular monthly meeting last week on Wednesday (Nov. 28), the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission indicated that they will consider the HRMC recommendations at their next public meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 18).
Some regulators have been referring to the Controlled Therapeutic Substances (CTS) list maintained by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, and applying CTS guidelines on withdrawal times, route of administration, dosage, and threshold levels to harness racing. But the CTS list was developed for application to Thoroughbred racing, and harness racing’s vastly different racing and training models require certain differences in the CTS list specifications.
In addition, the CTS list has met criticism in some scientific circles for referencing confidential, unpublished data, inaccurate thresholds (resulting in undeserved infractions), disregard of clinical practice realities (such as intra-articular dosages allowing for treatment of only one knee or hock), and inappropriate statistical application (such as the 95:95 threshold, which puts as many as 1 in 20 appropriately-treated horses at risk of a threshold violation).
Despite the USTA’s years of effort, these concerns have not been adequately addressed.
The Harness Racing Medication Collaborative consists of the following veterinarians who have expertise in the Standardbred racehorse: Dr. Marty Allen, Dr. Richard Balmer, Dr. Clara Fenger, Dr. Peter Kanter, Dr. Brian MacNamara, Dr. George Maylin, Dr. Kenneth McKeever, Dr. Andy Roberts, Dr. James Robertson, and Dr. Thomas Tobin.
The members of the USTA Medication Subcommittee are: Joe Faraldo (Chairperson); Sam Beegle, Robert Boni, John Brennan, Mark Davis, Joe Frasure, Mark Loewe, Steve O’Toole, Brett Revington, Andrew M. Roberts DVM, and USTA President Russell Williams.
Where appropriate and necessary, HRMC will also conduct or help support new research pertinent to harness racing.