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Louisiana State Senate Commerce Committee hands Louisiana horsemen victory in striking down emergency rule

January 26, 2012     E-mail this page to a friend!

On Friday, January 20, the Louisiana State Senate Commerce Committee voted to strike down an emergency rule passed by the Louisiana Racing Commission (LRC) in November of 2011 that would have lowered the state’s threshold level for phenylbutazone from 5.0 micrograms to 2.0 micrograms. The vote was a victory for Louisiana horsemen, who opposed the LRC’s use of the emergency rule process in a non-emergency situation because the process does not allow input from affected parties.

In 2010, the American Graded Stakes Committee (AGSC) of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) passed an eligibility requirement that said the provisions of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) model rule on NSAIDs had to be adopted for graded stakes races. The rule was amended by the RCI in October of 2010, and when the AGSC met in November of 2010, it decided to give states conducting graded stakes races until 2012 to adopt the amended rule. A letter was sent to racing commissions in December of 2010 notifying them of the change and the deadline.

One of the provision of the model rule and eligibility requirements stated that racing jurisdictions must lower their threshold level for phenylbutazone to no more than 2.0 micrograms by January 1, 2012 in order for any race run in that jurisdiction as of that date to qualify for graded status. In Louisiana, rules adopted on a non-emergency basis typically take at least six months to be formally adopted, which means there was ample time between commission notification and the implementation deadline of January 1, 2012 to pass a rule lowering the phenylbutazone threshold using the normal rule process.

“We’ve got no problem with the rule, and the last thing we want to do is interfere with any of the tracks in Louisiana,” commented Louisiana HBPA President Stanley Selig. “We just want the commission to do this the right way. Conduct a hearing, let people state their views. There’s no reason this was an emergency.”

Seelig went on to say, “When it comes to very important issues – and medication issues are very important to the horsemen of Louisiana and other racing jurisdictions – it is important to do things the proper way. That means holding a hearing where all sides can come together and have their say on the subject before a decision is made.”

According to National HBPA CEO Philip Hanrahan, “We are pleased with the outcome of this situation. The Louisiana State Senate Commerce Committee’s decision will allow all parties, especially the horsewomen and horseman of the state, to be heard on this matter. The Louisiana HBPA is to be commended on standing up for its members on this issue.”