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More On Ohio Medication Discussions

Published: April 20, 2015 10:47 am ET

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Earlier this year, the Ohio State Racing Commission began hearing presentations from a wide variety of individuals concerning the development of model medication rules based upon scientific and fact-based analysis.

“The Ohio State Racing Commission values input from all parties within both the Ohio Thoroughbred and Ohio Standardbred racing communities in order to move forward into developing a sound medication policy,” said OSRC Chairman Robert K. Schmitz.

At the February OSRC meeting, Edward J. Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, and Dr. Dionne Benson, executive director for the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, expressed their opinions on the current research methodology and passage of model medication rules.

Martin stressed his support for adoption of rules that would have all trainers in all jurisdictions racing under the same medication protocols. Martin is also in favour of out-of-competition testing of horses in order to detect possible future lameness or injuries due to racing.

Dr. Benson enlightened the audience concerning the testing procedures at the RMTC-accredited Consumer Analytical Laboratory at the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture (Reynoldsburg), where all of Ohio’s racehorses’ blood and urine samples are tested.

Six personalities from the Ohio racing industry expounded on these same issues at the OSRC March meeting. Phil Langley and Mike Tanner, representing the United States Trotting Association; Dave Basler, executive director of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Thoroughbred trainer William Cowans; along with Standardbred conditioner Virgil Morgan Jr. and Renee Mancino, Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association executive director, all expressed their views on the aforementioned subjects.

"Published research should be the basis for any changes to medication threshold levels," Basler stressed. "Medication policies should be about protecting the welfare and safety of the horse based upon science, not hype. Policies should be established via a completely transparent process with input from all interested parties. We applaud the OSRC for its measured approach on this issue."

Langley and Tanner discussed the need for varying rules between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred breeds, based on the variances in training and race of those equine athletes. Morgan, one of Ohio’s leading harness racing conditioners, discussed the differences in training regimes between the breeds, while Mancino reiterated the need for uniform rules and testing applications.

Cowans, one of the Buckeye State’s top Thoroughbred trainers, expressed dissatisfaction with the RMTC’s process, adding that “no medication in horses? That’s like saying no medication in humans.”

At the April 28 OSRC meeting (10 a.m., 19th floor, Riffe Center, 77 South High St. Columbus), five veterinarians have been invited to speak and will present their views regarding medication protocols for both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing industries. They will also provide their insight into the Racing Commissioners International and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium controlled therapeutic medication proposals.

The veterinarians scheduled to attend include:

  • Dr. John Reichert, partner/practitioner at the Woodland Run Equine Clinic in Grove City.

  • Dr. Dan Wilson, partner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic specializing in racetrack Standardbreds, equine anesthesia, and racing medications and testing.

  • Dr. John Piehowicz, practitioner/owner at Cincinnati Equine, LLC, whose client list includes Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup winning conditioners.

  • Dr. Brett Berthold, owner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic whose area of focus includes lameness evaluation, respiratory health and MRI.

  • Dr. Clara Fenger, a founding member of North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians and a practitioner in central Kentucky.


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