CHRB Medication Committee
Meeting November 28, 2007
Neigh Saver Karin attended the CHRB Medication Committee
Meeting held on November 28, 2007 at UC Davis, School
of Veterinary Medicine. Attending were Richard Smith,
CHRB Assistant Executive Director, Ingrid Fermin, CHRB
Executive Director, Richard Shapiro, CHRB Commissioner,
John Harris, CHRB Commissioner, Dr. Rick Arthur, CHRB
Veterinarian and a number of UC Davis veterinarians,
professors, graduate study students and a limited number
of the general public.
The meeting was extremely informative and consisted
of panel discussions and presentations by various professors
and veterinarians. At the conclusion we were invited
to observe a horse running on a treadmill in one of
the labs. We watched the treadmill ramp up to about
25 - 28 miles an hour and to watch this animal in full
out run was incredible. It brought to mind that in racing
we actually ask much more of them in terms of speed
and watching even at this speed brought back the main
mantra of the meeting–we are asking these animals
to do unnatural things every day. Next we toured a lab
where new methods of determining medication levels are
being researched and then to the orthopedic research
laboratory followed by a wine and cheese reception.
The meeting opened with a discussion of whether or not
to allow horses to race unshod. Dr. Arthur position
was that studies show that horses that train unshod
actually have healthier and stronger hoofs. There was
no objection to this and the CHRB moved to vote to amend
the regulation allowing unshod horses to race. Interestingly
enough, at the northern tracks the type of shoe is listed
as equipment, whereby the southern tracks do not list
type of shoe. The CHRB will list a horse as unshod as
part of the equipment.
Dr. Arthur continued to speak about regulating anabolic
steroids in horses and stressed that it was to "regulate"
rather than to prohibit because steroids are a natural
occurrence in both male and female horses. There is
no way to regulate testosterone in non-gelded males.
Dr. Arthur has thus far classified about 40 different
drugs that fall under the umbrella of anabolic steroids.
The goal of the CHRB is to have regulations in place
that will prohibit the use of Class 3 Drugs in racing.
The CHRB wants to publicize the 2008 Breeder’s
Cup scheduled for Santa Anita to be the first in the
history of the event to be free of anabolic steroid
Many people expressed more concern of use of these drugs
for the 2 year old in training and other sales events.
A representative of Barrett’s was there and claimed
that Barrett’s would go out of business if they
couldn’t "properly" prep horses for
sale and that no one would send the stellar and "money
making" horses to California since California had
no real "high-end" inventory of their own.
His remarks were not well received by those attending.
Dr. Nicola Pusterla next presented his slide show entitled
"Learning from Recent Outbreaks of Neurological
Equine Herpes Virus-1 Infection." Dr. Pusterla
carefully monitored the recent outbreak that occurred
last year at Golden Gate Fields and personally tested
every horse at the track and showed how by graphing
location the Herpes virus can spread.
Dr. John Madigan presented a slide show on "Emergency
Preparedness Planning" and used many examples of
photos and experiences from the devastating fires in
Southern California of last month. The purpose of Dr.
Madigan’s presentation was to focus on the creation
of a "CERT" program "Citizen Emergency
Response Teams" with respect to equine rescue.
Apparently in 2001 the state mandated the creation of
a "California Emergency Animal Resources Plan"
that has yet to be put into place today. Each race track
in California will have a CERT program in place with
trained volunteers that are certified and can spring
into action when there is an emergency. CERT volunteers
would be certified county by county as well.
Dr. Susan Stover presented a "Racehorse Injury
Research Update." UC Davis receives nearly all
deceased racehorses for research in a collaborative
program entered into by the racetracks. The "Equine
Postmortem Program at UC Davis" has found that
over 50% of all horses examined had fatal breakdowns
relating to sesamoid injuries. There was no difference
between the left or right sides. In addition, when conducting
postmortem studies it appeared there were weaknesses
in the other leg as well suggesting that these breakdowns
were the result of preexisting lesions. The fetlock/condular
fractures seen in the past have gone down significantly
since the installation of artificial surfaces. Dr. Stover’s
team also studies the blunt force trauma of the horse’s
leg as it impacts the ground on different surfaces.
It appears from preliminary studies that the Tapeta
Footings surface is the kindest of all surfaces thus
far. The most interesting statistic is that on average
racehorses suffered one fatal catastrophic breakdown
in every 400 starts on traditional surfaces. The data
shows that it is about 1 in every 1,200 starts on artificial
The last presentation was by Dr. Rick Arthur who introduced
a new computer software program called "In-Compass."
And that is exactly what it does–bringing all
the data together in one resource. Dr. Arthur explained
that all injuries are logged by track veterinarians
on paper and there is no central database. In addition,
there is really no way to analyze data accurately without
a centralized and accurate database that tracks a horse’s
starts, layoff, prior injuries and sickness and just
about every statistic known. "In-Compass"
analyzes all data concerning a horse’s performance
and statistics making it easier to correlate injuries
and classify them. It has data sharing and reporting
capabilities and will soon be used by all racetracks.
Personally, I am very pleased with the general direction
the CHRB is taking. Richard Shapiro commented again
and again that it was a shame that all those who constantly
complained could not see or understand the amount of
research and dedication and particularly science that
is going into trying to protect the health and welfare
of our racehorses. Since UC Davis recently received
a million dollar grant for further study, Mr. Shapiro
suggested that the UC Davis take this "show on
the road." I must say I agree.