An Initiative to Enhance Horse Health and Racing Integrity
Kathleen M. Anderson, DVM
Kathleen M. Anderson, DVM — President-Elect, American Association of Equine Practitioners

Stuart S. Janney III:
Good morning, everyone. Last week, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (the AAEP) announced an initiative to help protect the welfare of the race horse and help ensure the long‑term viability of the racing industry in this country. 

We thought it was important for the entire industry to learn more about this initiative, and Dr. Kathy Anderson, the President‑Elect of the AAEP is here to provide a brief overview.

Kathy, thank you very much for being here. 

Kathleen M. Anderson, DVM:
Thank you very much. It is my pleasure both as an offer of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and as a veterinarian who is involved with the health management of racehorses on a daily basis, to discuss the AAEP's newly released 10‑point plan for action known as the Prescription for Racing Reform.

Developed by the AAEP Racing Committee and approved by our board of directors, this multi‑part initiative was designed within our mission to protect the horse and welfare of the horse while working concurrently to help ensure the long‑term viability of racing in the United States.

I would like to acknowledge my colleagues in the audience who are members of the AAEP Racing Committee and contributed to the Prescription for Racing Reform. Doctors Rick Arthur, Larry Bramlage, Scott Hay, Scott Palmer, and Mary Scollay.

We, as veterinarians, wear dual hats in the sport. As doctors of veterinary medicine, the health of the horse must be our priority. But we are also industry stakeholders, and the health of the sport is of great importance.

As stakeholders the AAEP wants to ensure racing's future growth. We believe that our 10-point plan is realistically targeted and can be practically implemented to have a positive impact on horse health and racing integrity.

I will briefly present the key items of the Prescription for Racing Reform.

Number one: continue our support of the national uniform medication program in all U.S. racing jurisdictions. My veterinary practice is comprised of clients who currently race in seven different states, and we have been challenged daily by the lack of uniformity in rules and laboratory reporting. The AAEP was an early supporter of national uniformity and we want to see the continued adoption of this program.

Number two: a ban on the use of anabolic steroids in training. There are legitimate veterinary reasons to administer an anabolic steroid to a horse, but in light of the public perception environment it also in all sports, it is time to put anabolic steroids behind us. They are not permissible for horses racing, and it is time to eliminate them from training.

Number three: restrict the administration of non-steroidal anti‑inflammatory drugs to 48 hours before racing. Canada has had a 48‑hour NSAID rule for several years, and New York has been operating under this rule since January 1st of this year. The 48‑hour rule removes any question that the use of anti‑inflammatories could compromise a pre‑race inspection.

My clients who race in New York have adjusted to this rule, and I'm confident that the rest of the United States can transition as well.

Numbers 4, 5 and 6: support uniform regulations for compounded medication, support the implementation of effective security measures to enforce medication rules and support tougher sanctions for those who violate the rules of racing.

When rules and security measures are not enforced, the advantage goes to those not playing by the rules. Do not put ethical veterinarians and ethical trainers at a disadvantage.

Regarding penalties, the AAEP enforces penalties for any licensee, including when warranted, owners, veterinarians and the suspension of individual horses from racing.

Number seven: the AAEP supports the implementation of a national uniform program for out‑of‑competition testing. This element goes hand in hand with the goal of the previous points, to deter the administration of performance‑enhancing drugs.

I've personally observed an increase in out‑of‑competition testing this year for horses stabled at Fair Hill as many race in graded stakes. Out‑of‑competition testing is yet another tool to ensure the integrity of the sport and the AAEP seeks opportunities to collaborate with others so that this program can be expanded.

Number eight: create national uniform procedures for veterinary's list reciprocity. The veterinarians list identifies horses deemed unfit and ineligible to race to medical reasons. A horse determined to be unsound to race in Maryland, for example, should be considered unsound to race in New York.

This is a system that should protect our racehorses, and they should not be circumvented by simply entering a horse in another racing jurisdiction. We will work with the Regulatory Veterinarian Group to accomplish this.

Number nine: the AAEP will investigate alternative management strategies for exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage with the intent to eliminate race day medication. The AAEP currently supports the use of Lasix as the only medication allowed on race day, and there is solid science to support its benefits to the horse.

The EIPH‑Lasix conundrum, however, is a major challenge for U.S. horse racing, and we recognize the cultural changes around us in regards to drugs and sports. We believe there may be equally effective alternatives to race day Lasix that need to be explored. We will begin our investigation of these alternatives this fall by gathering a group of scientists who have the expertise needed to identify research priorities. Former AAEP president and renowned researcher Dr. Nat White will lead our efforts.

Finally, point number 10: when we are successful in finding an alternative of equal or greater efficacy to Lasix that does not require race day administration, we'll propose the national uniform medication policy be he amended to eliminate race day medication.

Again, the AAEP stands behind the effectiveness of Lasix as a race day treatment, but we're committed to identifying alternatives that would negate the need for race day administration.

The AAEP's Prescription for Racing Reform was developed because we believe racing must change. We hope to collaborate with many of you in the months ahead to create positive change in horse racing.

For, as John F. Kennedy stated over 50 years ago, change is the law of life. Those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

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