N.Y. proposal on racehorse medical records draws fire

N.Y. proposal on racehorse medical records draws fire

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Oct 12, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
New York -- A proposed rule aimed at strengthening racehorse medication and drug standards in the state of New York is drawing protests from veterinarians, major racing and horse-owner organizations and prompted the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to weigh in with its own objections and to suggest alternatives.

The rule, under consideration by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, would require horse owners, trainers and veterinarians to provide any racing-board member on demand the full medical records of any horse 45 days before its schedule race. Failure to do so could result in disqualifying horses from races, fines and revocation of occupational licenses.

Most major horsemen's groups and the New York Racing Association, and many racetrack veterinarians, strongly object to the rule, saying it imposes an almost impossible paperwork burden on owners and trainers to provide the data immediately.

The AAEP, in a letter to the racing authority, raised a similar objection, that the proposal would place an undue burden on owners and trainers, in that most owners are absent from tracks most of the time, and that veterinary medical records are confidential and not to be released without owner's consent or a court order.

The letter, signed by AAEP president Dr. Harry Werner, suggests the board enforce an existing New York law that requires veterinarians to keep up-to-date medical records on racehorses and provide them in a timely manner. It also says the AAEP is developing a set of "best practice" recommendations that will address the racing board's concerns.

Some board members, however, say they are determined to reform the system to address numerous complaints of overmedication of racehorses, but might be amenable to making only trainers and veterinarians, and not owners, responsible to produce records on demand.

The board will meet next week with the New York State Veterinary Medical Society to discuss the proposal and possibly work out a compromise.