NTRA UPDATE
RACING MEDICATION AND TESTING CONSORTIUM UPDATE
  John T. Ward, Jr. - President, KTA-KTOB; Thoroughbred Trainer

John T. Ward, Jr.: Thank you, D. G.

Approximately three years ago, the AAEP initiated the formation of an industry-wide panel to explore the possibility of developing a set of uniform medication rules and uniform testing procedures to be used throughout the United States.

The idea, though not original, was to have the stakeholders of the industry meet in Tucson during the 2001 "Annual Symposium of Racing." The participants were carefully chosen and this difficult task was started behind closed doors; that, in itself, was criticized but necessary.

The discussions were lively and the group quickly set a tone that was frank, precise and sometimes brutally truthful.

The racing industry with its various regulations has led to fragmented relationships; and the fragmented relationships have led to a fragmented industry.

The consortium members have worked tirelessly. Meetings have been convened from coast to coast; differences have been put aside; rival organizations sit side-by-side; the different racing breeds speak as one. Regulators have kept their regional bias tucked away because everyone knows the time is now, and unity is essential!

Racing must adopt uniform standards for medication, testing, security, penalties, prohibited practices and therapeutic aids.

To do less is the beginning of the end - just look around us!

But the challenge has been met [and] the result is a document called "The Model Rules."

About one half of the 38 racing jurisdictions are already moving towards adoption of these rules. The response has been most favorable thus far, but some of the toughest battles have yet to begin. Passage by every state commission is essential. The process will be tedious at best and will happen because this is an owner-based issue.

Passage of these rules brings our sport to a higher level of integrity, thereby enhancing the prospects for increased industry gains.

As we all know, there are only three sources for "new money" in our game: the owner, the bettor and, most recently, the sponsor. Integrity fortifies their participation.

It is up to all of us in this room to encourage adoption of these "model rules."

  • Owners must assure their trainers that they are in total support of these rules and not to be afraid of productive change.
  • Racetracks must stand strong on this issue or face losing more and more bettors.
  • Jockeys must see this as paramount for their own well-being and safety.
  • Breeders must view this as stability for their long- term investment.
  • Regulators will see this as "unity in our sport."


This is a win-win-win situation. While our first product, "The Model Rules," is out being sold, the Consortium is continuing to work on the support issues of pre-race security, testing and regulation of compounded drugs, as well as any other measures that will ensure that the uniform rules are enforced.

If I may look into the "future" - as many of you know I often do -- I see the next "uniform issue" being that of racing surfaces. With the advances in technology, there is no reason to hold to the ways of the past. Our athletes are bigger, stronger and faster but the surfaces over which they are asked to perform are being compromised by the "budget-cut" and "bottom-line" mentality. This is not a place to save money. If you want to keep our super stars racing longer, you must give them a "cloud" to run on.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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