You rarely ever see a trial court sign an 80-page order…especially in a horse case. 

But on September 12, 2011, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan of the Middle District of Florida signed an 80-page order on a motion for permanent injunction in a case stemming from an April 2009 incident involving 21 Venezuelan polo horses that died in Florida. The 21 polo horses died after receiving a compound prepared by Franck’s Compounding Laboratory of Ocala, Florida. A link to the 80-page order can be found here.

In the lengthy order, Judge Corrigan denied the Food and Drug Administration’s petition for a permanent injunction to keep Franck’s from producing and distributing animal medications compounded from bulk ingredients without the FDA’s approval.

Judge Corrigan ruled that the FDA does not have the authority to regulate state-licensed veterinary pharmacy compounding, stating:

The FDA has long been on notice that its statutory authority to regulate traditional, state-licensed veterinary pharmacy compounding was questionable. It has decided to proceed with this enforcement action, asserting a ‘maximalist’ interpretation of its authority.”

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As discussed in a prior post, reining has hit the international scene like wildfire. Not unlike the sports of Thoroughbred racing and eventing, high-level reining events are now being held in a number countries outside North America that have differing customs regarding acceptable medications and dosage levels for equine athletes during performances.

The National Reining Horse Association (“NRHA”) issued a press release on Sunday announcing the vote of their Board of Directors to implement an “Animal Welfare and Medications” rule. This vote occurred after many discussions with NRHA membership both in the United States and abroad. 

This move is widely viewed as being in the best interest of the reining horse and the Association as a whole. The additional benefits are that it accommodates the internationalization of the sport of reining, and it will provide more clearly-understood and uniform medication rules applicable in all nations participating in NRHA events.

The NRHA will soon begin a multi-phase testing and research program to collect data specific to reining and help the Association implement a program that is suitable for the reining industry. Horses at NRHA-sanctioned events may be tested at random to determine which medications reining horses are currently competing on, and the amount of medications that are typically being used. The tests will include physical exams and drug testing by licensed veterinarians or technicians. 

The new rule includes a description of substances that horses are not allowed to compete on, as well as the acceptable limits for approved medications. Christa Morris, NRHA Sr. Director of Marketing, says of the new rules:

The prohibited substances include drugs that are considered to be in the category of a stimulant, depressant, tranquilizer, local anesthetic, psychotropic substance, or other drug which might affect the performance of a horse. Providing a complete list of forbidden substances is problematic, because new drugs frequently come onto the market. For that reason, this definition in the rule will act as a guideline for members.  We will provide an example list of prohibited substances, but it is not intended to be an exhaustive list.” 

The full rule has not been released to the public to-date, but members can access it on the NRHA website by logging in.

The new rule will be included in the 2012 NRHA Handbook. According to Morris, a “medications handbook” providing additional guidance to members to help them navigate the new rules will be provided to members along with the 2012 NRHA Handbook. 

NRHA exhibitors should remember to read labels on herbal and other over-the-counter supplements, to make sure they don’t contain any of the substances prohibited by the new rules.

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Owners of world-class Thoroughbreds and their trainers now have one more rule to comply with and will face liability for non-compliance. The Breeder’s Cup has announced that the administration of Lasix will be prohibited for 2 year-olds at Breeder’s Cup races in 2012, and all race-day drugs will be banned for all Breeder’s Cup races in 2013.

Breeder’s Cup has not yet named the host site for the 2012 Breeder’s Cup, but the organization is considering Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, and Santa Anita Park.

Lasix is a drug used to treat bleeding in the lungs. Some people believe the drug enhances performance because studies have shown that horses who are administered Lasix on race day outperform horses who do not receive the drug.

More than 90% of all North American race horses receive a race-day injection of Lasix, and it is exceedingly rare here to see a horse taken off the drug while racing. However, no other racing jurisdiction outside of North America allows the use of race day drugs.

Most horses who come from overseas jurisdictions to run the Breeder’s Cup are administered Lasix on race day, which is believed to “level the playing field” in races where North American horses are also entered.

Some believe that the move by Breeder’s Cup will spur other racing jurisdictions to implement similar race day drug bans. U.S. Rep. Tom Udall of New Mexico issued a statement praising the move.

One thing is clear…unless other North American tracks and events also ban Lasix on race day for the 2012 season, the new Breeder’s Cup Lasix ban might present complications for handicappers who will have to take into consideration the impact of taking a horse off Lasix after a horse has been racing and training on the drug.

Get the full story from the Blood-Horse here, and from ESPN here.

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