CHRB Approves Continuing Education Program For Trainers; Poised To Further Tighten Corticosteroid, Thyroxin Use

The California Horse Racing Board at its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday gave final approval to a continuing education program for trainers and their assistants, adopted a Multiple Medication Violations (MMV) program and took a first step toward curtailing over-use of thyroid medication.

The regulatory agency tabled until its next meeting in December a requirement that would restrict all intra-articular injections of corticosteroids to 30 days prior to racing and 10 days prior to a timed workout.

The latter issue came up in a discussion concerning agreements between the Los Alamitos Quarter Horse Racing Association and the horsemen’s group for 2021. Board chairman Dr. Gregory Ferraro said CHRB Rule 1581 permits a track’s race conditions to set rules on administration of medication, provided the racing association has approval from the respective horsemen’s organization and the CHRB.

Beginning in March 2019, restrictions on intra-articular injections of corticosteroids were part of those agreements with California tracks. Santa Anita and Del Mar, which dramatically reduced catastrophic injuries in racing to the point there were no dirt track breakdowns throughout entire meetings, had a 30-day cutoff before races on fetlock joint corticosteroid injections and 10 days before workouts. The reduction in catastrophic injuries since the new rules went into effect “demonstrated this was a real problem,” Ferraro said.

CHRB executive director Scott Chaney said trainers at Los Alamitos, which was put on probation by the board earlier this year after a spike in fatalities, appear to be more aggressive with corticosteroids. Chaney said a review of necropsies for fatally injured horses found an average of 0.6 intraarticular corticosteroid injections lifetime for Thoroughbreds at Santa Anita, Del Mar and Golden Gate Fields. A similar review of fatalities at Los Alamitos found an average of 3.0 per horse, Chaney said.

Ferraro said he will recommend extending the 30-day stand down prior to racing for all intra-articular corticosteroid injections – not just in the fetlock joint – and at all tracks in the state. The recommendation will include a 10-day stand down prior to speed training.

Los Alamitos has agreed to include those conditions in its horseman’s agreement and has also hired two additional investigators and added security cameras to its barn area.

Under the new regulation for continuing education (CHRB Rule 1503.5), trainers and assistant trainers by June 1, 2021 (and at time of license renewals thereafter) will be required to complete a total of 12 hours of approved continuing education during the preceding 36-month period. Dr. Rick Arthur, the CHRB equine medical director, said he will work in consultation with Thoroughbred Trainers of California to submit a curriculum well in advance of the 2021 deadline so that trainers can fulfill that requirement.

Arthur submitted a proposed schedule of webinars that may begin in January and include courses on basic pharmacology, drug testing, track surfaces, lameness and diagnostic imaging, equine biosecurity, equine fetlock, neurological conditions of racehorses, pre-race examinations, pharmacology of corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, bisphosphonates, fractures and jockey safety, among others.

Arthur expressed frustration that thyroxin has not been more tightly regulated and recommended that the board adopt a rule that requires a thyrotropin-releasing hormone-response test to demonstrate hypothyroidism – which he called “virtually nonexistent” –  before thyroxin can be prescribed. He said New York has adopted a similar regulation and that the Stronach Group has imposed a house rule to that effect at its tracks in Maryland and Florida.

In addition to the CHRB’s reports on sudden deaths in 2013 that cited widespread thyroid medication use in horses that died suddenly, Arthur said the Stronach Group has seen a large number of sudden deaths during racing and training in Maryland involving horses on thyroid supplementation.

From Jan. 1, 2020, until early October, Arthur said, nearly half of 256 thyroid prescriptions at California tracks were for two trainers and 80% involved three veterinarians. He did not name the trainers or vets.

The proposed rule was passed unanimously. It will go out for public comment before it returns to the board for a final vote.

The Multiple Medication Violations rule, an amendment to Rule 1843.4, will specify enhanced penalties for multiple violations and establish a point system under which the the enhanced penalties are imposed and include violations from both inside and outside of California.

The CHRB also approved a 2021 racing schedule for Northern California fairs, with Pleasanton getting June 16-July 13; Sacramento, July 14-Aug. 3; Sonoma, Aug. 4-Aug. 17; Humboldt County (Ferndale), Aug. 18-Aug. 31; Golden Gate Fields, Aug. 25-Oct. 5, and Oct. 20-Dec. 21; and Fresno Oct. 6-Oct. 19.

The post CHRB Approves Continuing Education Program For Trainers; Poised To Further Tighten Corticosteroid, Thyroxin Use appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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