Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) licensees and participants involved in horse racing in Ontario are advised to take notice of two rulings issued by the director on December 19, 2008 which deal with the veterinary services of Dr. Murray A. Bonshor, Licence No.P42700 (expired).
The rulings advise that that no horse for which Dr. Bonshor provides veterinary services at any time on or after January 1, 2009 up to and including January 1, 2019 shall be eligible to be declared to enter to race at any racetrack in Ontario.
In addition, any participant entering or attempting to enter a horse for which Dr. Bonshor provided such veterinary services at any time during this same time period may be found to be in violation of the Rules of Standardbred, Thoroughbred, or Quarter Horse Racing, whichever applies.
The rulings state that the director believes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Dr. Bonshor, while licensed by the ORC, did prescribe the drug Aranesp® for the horse Kens Falcon, owned by Ken Hornick. Aranesp is a brand name form of darbepoetin-alfa (DPO) and is known to be a performance enhancing substance and of no therapeutic value in racehorses.
Since June 1, 2008, trainers have been required to use an ORC licensed veterinarian for any medication or drug requiring a prescription and any treatment ordinarily requiring the services of a veterinarian for any horse under his/her care and control.
The measure was prompted by ongoing concern in the racing community about the numbers of positive tests and the use of non-therapeutic medications in racehorses. It is believed that properly ORC licensed veterinarians are much more likely to utilize or prescribe medications which are of benefit only to the health and welfare of the racehorse.
This rule (SB 26.17, TB 29.13) is not intended to limit what a trainer can do lawfully, or do under instruction of a veterinarian, but does make it a requirement to use an ORC licensed veterinarian.
In addition, a trainer may apply to the director for an exemption from this rule, where the trainer trains a horse in an area under-serviced by ORC licensed equine veterinarians. Trainers who require this exemption should make a written application to the director, providing detail as to why they believe their area is under-serviced.
As well, a trainer may use a veterinarian not licensed by the ORC for the purposes of scheduled surgeries or emergency treatment of a horse, provided the trainer advises the Director of the circumstance in writing within a reasonable time, for example two days.
The health and welfare of the horse are of paramount concern to the horse racing community. The requirement to use a licensed veterinarian is just one of a number of Health, Safety and Regulatory Measures that have been implemented to protect the health of the horse, ensure the safety of the participant, and reinforce the integrity of the horse racing industry.