New MRC Safety and Welfare Regulations Now In Effect

Horsemen are reminded that four new Maryland Racing Commission regulations are now in effect.

No non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs  (NSAIDs) can be administered within 48 hours of  a horse’s race.

The presence of more than one NSAID in a test sample (called stacking) will constitute a violation.

The administration of any intra-articular injection is restricted to 14 days before a horse is anticipated to run. The attending veterinarian must report the injection to Equine Medical Director Dr. Libby Daniel, and the horse will not be permitted to run for 14 days from the date of the injection. (The horse may be entered to run at the conclusion of the 14-day stand-down.  The reporting forms for intra-articular injections are available at the MRC website (https://bit.ly/2uW9TrP) and must be timely sent to Dr. Daniel.

Lasix will now be required to be administered four hours before post time for a horse’s race. Those shipping in are advised to arrive five priors to a race.

These new measures are designed to enhance the safety and welfare of the horse and comply with adjustments to the National Uniform Medication Program. Maryland horsemen were first informed of these changes in July 2019, and there has been significant discussion and review both in Maryland and throughout the Mid-Atlantic region since then.

The changes are a part of the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities and all jurisdictions in the region  will be implementing these changes. Maryland continues to take a leadership role in implementing evolving safety and welfare best practices by taking these steps.

Delaware has begun the adoption process and these changes will be in effect for the Delaware Park meet in May. New Jersey has adopted the rules and they will be in effect for the Monmouth Park meet. The Pennsylvania Racing Commission has adopted the changes and they will be effective on February 8. The changes will be in effect in Virginia for the Colonial meet. New York is in the process of implementation, and already has a 48-hour NSAID rule and prohibition on stacking. West Virginia is beginning the adoption process.

In response to concerns about compliance with the stacking rule and inadvertent violations, it is strongly recommended that horsemen choose one NSAID - phenylbutazone , flunixin or ketoprofen – and use that NSAID exclusively the week of a horse’s  race and never within 48 hours of the race. Specific withdrawal time recommendations are contained in recent compliance advisories issued by the national Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

Also, because of the demonstrated variability of clearance from a horse’s system, which prevents the scientific community from giving reliable withdrawal time guidance, phenylbutazone should not be administered ORALLY (tablet or paste) for at least 1 week before a horse’s race, and preferably longer. 

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